Category: Fiction

The Funeral by Ecem Yucel

My mother was born into a family that believed in all kinds of superstitions. Growing up, whenever we were alone, I’d watch her pray to her Gods and perform small rituals to be protected from evil. She would never place two mirrors facing each other for instance, believing that the infinite reflections in each mirror would open a gateway for the devil. If she accidentally spilled some salt, she’d take a pinch of it and throw it over her left shoulder to undo the bad luck and repel the devil. She would change her way if she saw a black cat on the street and knock on wood every time she or someone else mentioned something unfortunate, such as accidents, illnesses, or bad fortune.

“It wasn’t just my family,” she told me once. “Everyone in my village believed in them. They lived their lives accordingly.”

A Spaceman Came Travelling by Matthew J. Richardson

Jude Parker’s head is poking out from beneath the fly sheet. Grass rustles around his jug ears but through the noise he can hear muttering. The two brothers in the tent do not like him. They have mocked him for the way he speaks, for taking his tea onto the sofa rather than into the dining room, and for the dogeared sleeping bag he has brought. None of this concerns Jude now, though. Where he has grown up a person doesn’t see the night sky, not like this.

If Jude knew what the word ‘festoon’ meant he would use it, because stars and planets and space dust festoon the sky above the suburban garden. Jude does not, so he simply stares. His foster parents have arranged this sleepover so that he can make friends at his new school (and – whispered for some reason – so that they can get a break). Their reasoning doesn’t bother Jude, just as the reasoning of his next foster parents won’t either. What will bother him is if he falls asleep out here and gives the lads another reason to rip the piss out of him. It is time to retreat inside and get some sleep.

The Matter of the Oilliphéist by Brendan Shea

When Bryce Garner and Deirdre Murphy skipped their morning class at the National University of Ireland, Galway, on the morning of October 7th, their absence was noted by their professor, Dr. Seán Riordan. He spoke with us months later, following the discoveries near Clashganniv, County Kerry.

“I didn’t like the American fella, if I’m being honest,” Dr. Riordan, professor of Early Irish Folklore and Heritage, said. “But Deirdre was lovely. Galway girl. Worked at the sandwich shop. Made a wonderful bap. They had taken to sitting together. Drawing doodles, smiling. Thinking I didn’t notice. It was the lack of giggling—that’s what caught my attention that day, when I realized they weren’t there.”

Time Lord by Jennifer Benningfield

The ceaseless circle of life.

The sour-spirited myth of timelessness.

Not enough people think about those things.

Remember when you learned to count to ten? Big accomplishment. Right up there with potty training and first steps. From early on, the importance of numbers is pressed into us.

“Time flies”….”time drags”…mind tricks. The Egyptians would be wildly disappointed in us.

Chopped by Erika Nichols-Frazer

Since Mike, our youngest, went away to college, Derek and I have been eating a lot of meals in front of the TV, or, specifically, while watching Chopped, which seems to always be on the Food Network. We’ve started to eat dinner in front of it most nights, not sure what to say to each other. We need something to fill the silence.

I’ve never considered myself much of a cook, nothing special, anyway. I made meals the kids liked, homemade mac ‘n cheese, lasagna, hamburgers and roasted potatoes. But now that they’re both in college and thousands of miles away—they both insisted on getting as far away as they could—Derek and I have been eating a lot of premade and frozen meals. It’s different with half as much food to make. I keep buying more than we need and having to throw out rotten apples and potatoes with eyes. I have to halve recipes. Sometimes I buy things out of habit, like beef jerky or Double-Stuf Oreos—Mike’s favorite—and they go uneaten for months.

Encaulled by Steven French

There was a place, it was said, where if you held still, stopped your breath, waited, waited … you could see the ghostly funeral processions pass. Down the long road from the old mansion house, now a nursing home. The family, long since gone, had had the privilege, when one of them died, of having the coffin carried down the long road at midnight. Down through the fields, now housing estates, across the streams and becks, now paved over, past the stores and warehouses, now coffee houses and apartment complexes. If anyone were about, doing god knows what, out with cause, or not, they would turn aside, or step back into the shadows, eyes down, letting the procession step slowly by. Down towards the river, down through the town to the parish church. There to pause, to request admittance, a soft glove against the door, the slow creak as it opened and the priest stepping to one side. The service, brief with few hymns, a short summary of a life, sometimes long, more often not. The crypt opened, the smell of old bones released into the air.

Sprinkles by Eule Grey

Eggs.

Eggs, potatoes, onions, spices, oil, tomatoes, ham. Cheese: optional.

Eggs.

Eggs, potatoes, onions … eggs.

It’s a long list. Miranda can remember the first three items but not the rest. She copies from her ‘Meals for One’ cookbook onto the notepad, making sure to write in quite large letters so it will be legible in the shop. Last week she didn’t do this, and when she stood in front of the supermarket aisles with a page of scribble, it was no good. No good at all.

Freshly Laundered Baby Clothes by Emma Burger

The booth in the back right corner at Emilio’s is mine. The hostess knows just to nod at me as I walk in – no, I won’t be eating. The bright colored fairy lights that trim the bar really do it for me. It reminds me of how I used to do the living room for Christmas with the boys, except Emilio’s keeps them up all year. Dominic works Mondays and Wednesdays, Brady works Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Lacy gets the weekend shifts. They all know my order, although Brady does it the best. Dominic keeps giving me lemons instead of limes, no matter how many times I remind him. He’s like my oldest, Jackson – kindhearted, but things don’t really stick with him. Sometimes I swear, I’ll need to tell Jackson to put his laundry away thirteen, fourteen times before he does it. He gets that from his father. His mind is just somewhere else.

Sui Generis by Ken Wetherington

The experts said life would return to normal. They were wrong simply because, for most, a weary stasis had set in. Like pretty much everyone, my job had come to occupy nearly all my waking hours. But on that day, an inexplicable impulse propelled me to take a radical action. I went for a walk.

In the warmth of a summer afternoon, light sweat broke across my forehead and collected in my armpits, despite the shady, tree-lined street. Large, well-kept houses held silent vigil, shielding their unseen occupants from the outside world. After a couple of blocks, a woman walking her dog appeared on the opposite sidewalk. She kept her head down, though her little dog yapped at me. A little farther along, a landscaper snipped diligently at a hedge. He never looked up.