A Change of Heart by Hannah Tougher

‘You take all the time you like,’ he says. ‘Have a browse. Guaranteed we’ve got exactly what you’re looking for.’

His name is Ted. It’s displayed in large letters on the badge pinned to the left side of his blue polo shirt. Over his heart. Underneath, he’s stuck tiny smiley stickers. Three in a row. I try to smile back at his wide face with its blue eyes, big teeth, all bright and shiny.

‘Thanks,’ I say, and shuffle down the aisle. I thought I knew what I was looking for but now I’m not so sure.  Continue reading “A Change of Heart by Hannah Tougher”

The Fever by Emily Harrison

The reddening was getting worse, splitting out across my sclera like the wetlands of southern Louisiana. It was a common symptom according to the experts – bloodshot eyes. A drop of saline could soothe it, but the wine red would still snake across my white; a marker that I was a sufferer – a casualty of the spreading allergen. It didn’t help that I constantly rubbed them, wound my index fingers anti-clockwise to counter the itch that came as a side syndrome, swollen blood vessels abound. I’d circle and circle and circle until the kohl that I’d applied bled as though I was made from coal. I checked the pocket mirror I kept in my bag and licked my thumb to wipe the collection of smudges away. The sweat from the underground train had made it sticky and the more I wiped, the more it dragged like a child’s finger painting. Continue reading “The Fever by Emily Harrison”

Tainted by Iris N. Schwartz

Harriette wasn’t crazy about being admitted to the psych ward of Gut Gezunt* Hospital.

She’d be found out for the lesser Jew she was.

Fridays, when she couldn’t obtain a Shabbos goy** to turn on or shut off the lights, she did it stealthily herself.

She not only didn’t keep kosher but tore from the bone freshly fried pork, greedily devoured this treif***, and let illicit juices escape down chin and neck — onto a blouse relegated to a corner of the bedroom. When roommates were elsewhere Harriette would throw stained clothing into the incinerator, no questions asked. Except of herself. And maybe one day a rabbi. Continue reading “Tainted by Iris N. Schwartz”

Selling Caramel Turtles at the Concessions is Only Going to Confuse Visitors as to the Intended Use of the Reptile Ones in the Tanks by David S. Atkinson

Gary hadn’t visited the zoo in many years. He’d been a child the last time, six or seven perhaps. The sense of wonder was still there for him, love of the penguins and the lions. He was glad he came, eager to revisit that sensation.

Finding his plastic blue elephant key was what did it. Coming across the souvenir in an old desk drawer, pleasant memories sprung forth. Inscribed with the zoo’s name and instructions on the side, it used to be for setting off metal recording boxes by enclosures that would tell people all about the respective animals housed within. He’d loved those. Continue reading “Selling Caramel Turtles at the Concessions is Only Going to Confuse Visitors as to the Intended Use of the Reptile Ones in the Tanks by David S. Atkinson”

Iron Harvest by Joseph Surtees

He noticed the jagged pieces of metal in the dirt before she did. They looked like shark fins, poking up from the tilled field and gleaming in the sunlight.

“What are they?” she asked.

“Armaments from World War One,” he said, “shell casing, shrapnel.”

Her long dark hair lay across her shoulders and sometimes a gust of wind pushed a strand across her face. He always wanted to stroke it away but never asked if he could. On the far side of the field a rabbit lolled in the heat. Continue reading “Iron Harvest by Joseph Surtees”

Lavender by Amy Slack

Elise held a candle in one hand and a knife in the other. The panic that had simmered in her skin subsided, and she could breathe easily again.

The candle was one of Maxine’s. She collected them the way some women collected cats. When Jonathan first introduced Elise to his older sister, he brought up the candle thing within five minutes, as if it were a defining trait. Later, when he took Elise to Maxine’s flat for dinner, Elise noted the malformed skylines of half-melted candles on the mantelpiece and in the windowsills, the spaces where other people would display family photos. Teardrops of solid wax ran down their sides. Charred wicks bowed to the room. Elise pressed her fingers into the hollows the flames had left behind. Continue reading “Lavender by Amy Slack”

The Borinian Snapper by Miguel Guerreiro Lourenço

Eyes closed and a high beats-per-minute synth-wave track. That was how Yana meditated before a cage fight. Slowly inhaling through her nose, she would hum along the song and crack her knuckles. As soon as she felt the beat drop, Yana would snap out of her trance and stand; ready to entertain the crowd in the Guseks Arena.

Step by step, Yana – the Borinian Snapper – moved closer to the main floor, tightly wrapping her hands in red bandages. They contrasted the blue of her spandex pants and white yet sponsored sports crop-top. Yana never cared for fashion, and when her clothes ended up bloody from a cage fight; the way she looked mattered even less. The crowd cheered and hollered; screaming her name alongside many of Borinia’s Gladiators. Some had already fought; but now it was time for the main event: Yana, the Borinian Snapper versus Fett, the Furious. Continue reading “The Borinian Snapper by Miguel Guerreiro Lourenço”