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”

Allegheny Spa by Robert Boucheron

Peace smothers the landscape like apple blossom petals or cottonwood fluff, except that it’s summer, warm as toast. The hour is post meridian. The air is still, and dry leaves hang from the towering beeches, oaks, and maples. Crisp at the edges, yellowing, the leaves filter low-angle sunlight, transmute glare to gold.

I can hardly keep my eyes peeled. Draped in a lounge chair, I stare under lowered lids at the lawn, dark green and evenly mown. Though I go to bed at dusk and rise at dawn, much of the night, I lie awake or read in bed, and then all day I doze. I am idle, lazy, and good for nothing. I read a page and absorb not a word. I write a line, and the pen drops from limp fingers. My mind is blank. Continue reading “Allegheny Spa by Robert Boucheron”