Another Baby by Kevin Stadt

Emily stood in front of the coffee pot at the kitchen counter, holding her empty mug and trying to talk herself out of pouring another cup. Her teeth buzzed already, and she’d been having trouble sleeping lately.

She listed all the reasons. The caffeine made her sleep for shit and then that led to her being tired and wanting more coffee the next day. And of course it then fed into her drinking more wine in the evenings just to take the edge off, which was a whole other issue. She’d also read lately that it was especially bad for people with anxiety issues and panic attacks.

EXCLUSIVE STORY FEATURE: Cocoon Lucky by Kavita A. Jindal

“Cocoon Lucky” is one of the short stories featured in Where We Find Ourselves, an anthology of stories and poems by UK-based writers of the global majority (Arachne Press).

It is December and I dwell on what fortune-tellers have told me in the past. There is not much else to do when ‘festive season’ occurs while we’re in lockdown. I’m semi-shielding, actually. Everything I do is half-baked and prefixed by semi or demi. Nothing is full-on, not even make-up for work Zoom calls or Zoom parties. Lipstick and a pearl pin in my unruly hair is enough, isn’t it?

City Triptych by HLR


1.

Thursday night in the city / 10pm-ish I think / I’m busy / doing nothing / watching / the girl in green as she trips down the escalator & cuts her knee / it bleeds a little & her friends scream. Apparently / once lost / sanity is hard to find; seeing is believing & I am blind [drunk]. I can’t remember exactly where I lost my mind but I might well have lost it here / Kings Cross no apostrophe / where the streets are mean & the people are mean(er) & I myself have nowhere to be & no one to see (I was meant to party with a drag queen but he’s pulled a sickie) & I must stop praying to a God who doesn’t believe in me & yes, the Eurostar is tempting—Montmartre in the morning—drunken dreaming? clearly: I don’t have the fucking money for properly escaping. And look at the men on a stag-do whistling / grinning / leering. Misery hates company but danger becomes me. Where I end up this evening remains to be seen but for now / for right now / it’s just me, Chablis & Sarrazin (Patti gave me Albertine for free) & the grime of city life trapped between my grinding teeth.

Collapses of the Night Sky by Laysha Ostrow

3:33 a.m. Every night for the past six weeks. In the long moments before dawn, far away but imminent. The sleeplessness wasn’t just annoying, it was persecutory. Waking in a pool of her own sweat, blazing like she was running in her dreams, chased by demons. Quickly falling into sleep only to be woken with a start.

And why 3:33? Or was it sometimes 3:23, or 3:43, or even 4:33?

Lights Out by David Henson

Around dusk, two men and two women in yellow jumpsuits force their way into my house. They claim to have guns and warn me not try to stop them. One ties me to a kitchen chair. 

The four spread out on a ransacking binge. One comes back and puts my phone, tablet and laptop on the table. She yanks the lone landline out of the kitchen wall.

I hear them going through drawers in the bedroom. I expect them to come back with Lucy’s jewelry, but they don’t. 

Clothes Make the Man by Tom Barlow

Sybil had known her brother Wyatt was gay since he was 14 and sold his BMX bike to pay for a ticket to a Madonna concert. However, in the 15 years since he ran away from home, they had avoided the subject during their infrequent phone conversations, he in San Francisco, she back in Columbus.

Although she and her husband Ian worked hard to show no prejudices in that direction, she’d been just as glad to avoid sharing her brother’s orientation with their children rather than try to explain it to Xavier and Bailey. At eight it might just confuse the boy, and Bailey, now a teenager, had reached the point where anything having to do with her family, from her father’s bicycle commute to Sybil’s hand-knit Christmas sweaters, was deeply humiliating.

The Reunion on Glacier St. by Ethan Kahana

It felt funny wearing my brother’s cologne. The fragrances wafted through the moist, trapped air of our old bedroom, the soft smell of the sage coming through the dimly lit room with a small hint of cedarwood and mint. I could tell that the air hadn’t been used in a long time. Years, maybe. I put on my brother’s black suit, the pinstriped jacket with the real-looking white rose lapel, the leather shoes, top hat, everything. It finally fit after years of hanging off my body every time I tried it on. I remember standing on homemade stilts and stuffing the suit with paper towels to try to get into it, much to mother’s consternation. Unable to look at myself in the mirror for too long, I pulled it off and hung each article of clothing with great care, making sure there was not a wrinkle to be found.