Simone Scratches An Itch by Barry Marshall

Madame Simone Dorléac noted with mild indifference that the English still dressed appallingly for summer. For a brief second she idly scratched the back of her head and pondered the true degree of this disinterest, then concluded that it did not especially matter. The important point here was that she was correct.

Simone fanned herself with her bonnet as she peered at the train carriage. It was as though it had been decorated with a fluid wallpaper of obscene floral prints. Worse still, the men had uniformly crowbarred themselves into jean shorts, the poor buttons of which threatened to become projectiles. Were it not for the protection of the sliding glass door, Simone would surely soon lose an eye.

Breath From Strangers by Thomas Elson

His hands trembled as he reached for a shopping cart. He had avoided life for the past five weeks. Now, wherever he looked there were threats. He saw it in the way people veered to the left or the right. He saw it in their eyes.

Past sliding doors into an open area designed to protect customers from winter blasts and summer bursts. He walked around stacks of bottled water, boxes of mac and cheese, and sugared cereal, then to a second set of doors. Clerks who had once smiled now resembled bank robbers – their faces covered and eyes swerving. One employee pointed to a sign.

Answer One Question for The Stay of a Lifetime by Rebecca Houghton

“Have you seen my wife?” says Mr. Blakeney, his hand coming down on the slate tile counter with a thump.

“Ah, hello, sir. We’ve been expecting you,” replies the neatly dressed concierge, his dark red uniform smartly pressed, metallic buttons glinting in the light from the old-fashioned brass desk lamp.

“My wife isn’t here?” says Mr. Blakeney.

Phoebe, or Rapunzel, Revamped by Linda McMullen

Once upon a time, there was a young maiden named Phoebe, blessed with beauty, grace, and intelligence – and enough guile to hide the last, when necessary.

She was the youngest flower of an ancient lineage, the only child of a love-match.  She possessed a wide circle of friends who adored her, and openly envied her loveliness.  She lived in ease in an ancient house in the country.  Indeed, her whole life was a song – except that her parents were in thrall to The Grandmother.

There and Not There by C.J. Dotson

We all read the stories when we were little, didn’t we? A bunch of children go into a wardrobe, or through a tiny door that’s only bricked over sometimes, or find a secret key, go down a rabbit hole, cross a bridge, fall into a book, vanish. Then there’s magic, and adventure, and villains for the children to test themselves against. At the end they come back and no time has passed, no one realized they were gone.

It’s bullshit.