Monthly Archives: August 2016

‘A New Perspective’ by Joshua Perrett

For all the things in the world, only one occupied my mind – boredom. Toy cars had been driven, books read, and the TV was burned onto my retinas; I’d exhausted every stimulus in the house bar one, my mum.

“Mummy,” I said, tugging at her skirt as she washed the dishes. “I’m bored of being bored.”

“You should try being fed up of being fed up,” she replied.

“All I want is to be happy.”

She laughed to herself then leaned in closer. “Sometimes you have to look at things differently to find what you’re searching for.”

Her sentence whizzed through my mind and I couldn’t catch it. “What do you mean?”

“Take these plates for example,” she said, holding one above the sink so its bubbles could flop down into the water. “They may look like things you eat off, but what’s to say they’re not flying saucers in need of a good wash before their next intergalactic mission?”

“I don’t see any little green men driving them.”

“No, but I do see little green stains from the vegetables you had for tea.” She took off her apron and put it on me – it was more like a wedding dress with the way the bottom cloaked my feet and dragged along the floor. “Get scrubbing,” she said, patting my head and leaving the room.

I put my hands into the water and basked in the warmth. Then the realisation that I’d been tricked into housework burned me, my skin hot with embarrassment – what a fool I am. But I knew I had to press on, because who else would do it? Mum looked too tired to do anymore work today. If I were her parent I would’ve sent her to bed hours ago.

The crockery began to pile up on the draining board, ready for drying. All the cleaning had made the bubbles burst, so I turned on the hot tap and added a glug of washing up liquid. I watched the foam grow higher and higher until it became mountains. And then it became clouds and the water was the sky. I took a spoon and scooped it up – now it was frogspawn and I was a biologist. Maybe Mum was right, perhaps you can find what you’re looking for if you change your way of thinking.

As the last of the scum slid down the sink and into the plughole, I finished drying up. Mum was in the lounge fixing the tear in my school trousers.

“I’m done, Mummy,” I said.

She seemed too absorbed in her sewing to notice me as she watched the needle pierce the fabric with ease, weaving in and out quickly and cleanly.

“Mummy,” I said.

She didn’t look up. “Have you finished?

“Uhuh. Can we play now?”

“I can’t tonight.”

“Why not?”

“I’m too busy.”

“But you’re always busy.”

“Look,” she said, her eyes attacking mine. “Things haven’t been easy lately. I’ve been working hard to keep the two of us together.”

“Why do you have to work? We’ll always be together.”

“You try telling your father that.”

“Is he going to take me away?”

“I don’t know.”

“You promised you wouldn’t let him.”

“I can’t promise anything.”

I felt the tears building in my eyes, and then it rained. “But I don’t want to go.” I ran upstairs, crying all the way.

“I’m sorry,” my mother called, but by the time her apology reached me, my head was burrowed in a pillow, soaking up my sorrow.


An hour or so must have passed by the time I woke up. I opened my bedroom door a fraction, enough to see the lounge light split the dark and empty hallway. Mum was still up, but I didn’t want to see her. I felt bad for making her angry.

And so I found myself alone in my room again, not sure what to do. I rummaged through my toy box, dinosaurs and board games spilling out and onto the floor. Mum and Dad have bought me quite a few things over the years, especially Dad. Mum says he’s spoiling me, trying to lure me in, and I agree. Besides, I don’t like most of the stuff he gives me anyway – I’ve outgrown action figures and I’ve never liked football. Dad doesn’t know me very well.

I’d pulled almost everything out when I reached my pink and blue elephants. They’ve been crushed at the bottom of the box and the damage is evident – a missing eye, rips in the stitches, stuffing bursting through the old material. Their appearance is somewhat my fault. I’ve left them there since Mum and Dad split up.

The elephant couple is the last gift they bought me before their divorce. Since then, every time I’ve seen Mr and Mrs Trunk I’ve cried. I’d scream my throat raw and hurl them around the room when I was little, but in recent years I’ve been more mournful, as if the elephants were a gravestone, marking the end of the happy times.

I took the Trunks out of the box and sat them side-by-side. This time I didn’t cry. Maybe it was because I’d drained my eyes earlier, or maybe it was down to my new perspective. Instead of symbols of sadness, I saw beacons of hope; the elephants had seen better days but they were still together. And although my parents aren’t, Mum and I are still united, and we always will be, I know it – Mr and Mrs Trunk hold testament to this.

As I played with the elephants, I heard footsteps grow nearer in the hallway. Bedtime. I waited for Mum to say the dreaded word, but it never came. There was no sound at all until a sniffle ended the silence, and it wasn’t mine. I looked round to see Mum smiling, a tear in her eye, and I smiled back.

Copyright 2016 by Joshua Perrett. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘My Followers’ by Cheryl Russell

I closed the front door with a sigh of relief. My whole body slid down the door on to the patterned carpet. Who could it have been and why? I was so sure I was being followed but couldn’t work out why anyone would want to follow me home. It was a mystery and it wasn’t the first time either. It was only celebrities that had stalkers not an ordinary average person like me.

I phoned the police but as expected they weren’t interested because no one had made an attempt to harm me in anyway. I should let them know if any action was taken against me by the alleged stalker. They didn’t even believe someone was following me, they thought it was a coincidence and someone else was walking the same route.

I shut the curtains not feeling at all safe. I didn’t want anyone to look in through the window and see me. I shivered. I made myself a hot drink with plenty of sugar. I remembered reading somewhere that it was good for shock. I didn’t feel like eating.

I had disturbed night in which I had one nightmare after another about people coming after me. I terrified myself after one such dream by sitting bolt upright with a scream. It really looked as if there was someone in my room. I put the light on but saw no one. I listened hard trying to detect if there was someone in the flat, I couldn’t hear even the tiniest creak. Getting out of bed I went to investigate. There was no one in the flat. I even looked behind the sofa to check for intruders that may be hiding.

I went to work as usual, wanting to keep things normal. Besides I would not achieve anything by staying at home. Everyone commented on how washed out I was and suggested I go home but I insisted on seeing the day through. I was probably safer at work than at home. Here, I was surrounded by people.

I was dreading the walk home that evening. All to soon the day ended and I began the journey home. I kept sneaking glances behind me, trying to work out if anyone was there. I gasped as I noticed a shadow duck quickly into an alleyway when I turned my head to look behind me.

I retraced my steps determined to confront my follower. I was surprised to find myself coming face to face with a young woman.

“What do you want? You’ve been following me.” I asked bluntly, not in the mood to be polite.

“I – I think you may be my mother.”

There was silence between us, needless to say I was stunned. This was the last thing I was expecting.

“Are you ok?” Asked the young woman.

The colour had drained out of my face and everything had started going black. She grabbed my arm and lowered me to the ground quickly. She took hold of my wrist as if to feel for my pulse.

“It’s ok,” she said reassuringly. “I’m a medical student.”

“What makes you think I might be your mother?”

“I was given my adoption papers by my parents. They gave your name as Amelia Long. That is your name isn’t it?” She asked with a sudden note of caution in her voice.

I nodded unable to speak. Tears pricked my eyes and slid unchecked down my cheeks. It had all been so long ago now, but I remembered it as if it was yesterday. The baby had been taken away straight after the birth. I was too tired to argue with my mother who was absolutely convinced I could not keep her. I could see the disappointment in her eyes when she realised I was pregnant at such a young age. She should have protected me from the monster who had got me pregnant. She blamed me of course, refusing to believe her husband could do such a thing to his own daughter.

A day hadn’t gone by when I wondered what had become of my little girl and now I knew, she was standing before me.

Copyright 2016 by Cheryl Russell. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘Is Love A Violent Feeling?’ by Jen Hughes

You see, I don’t know if this is love
I’ve fooled myself before
So forgive me for not going fast enough
And being armed to the teeth.

I’ve got daggers on each hip
I’ve loaded a crossbow
Forgive me for complaining but
My arms are sore, you know.

This wild, raw feeling kicks like a horse
Intimacy is earned not conquered
But I know you already know that.
You’ve said it already.

Yet I’m still on the defensive
You want to see through the gaps in my stitches
What’s so special about a bunch of wounds?
What sight do you think you’re missing?

Back! I’ll shoot! Don’t get too close
You’ll see that I’m just patchwork
Like the monster in Frankenstein
You’ll freak out, leave and I’ll be hurt.

But, you hold me as I tremble.
The crossbow is on the ground
You aren’t going anywhere, are you?

Please stay here. Get your pen-knife
Open up these stitches
You ask me, why?
I need you to see me for what I am

And embrace every bit of it.
I need to clean these wounds
Before they fester and kill me.
Before they see me ruined

Let the ghosts of the past and demons out
Let them out of our ribcages
Take a sword from my hand
And let’s face them


Copyright 2016 by Jen Hughes. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

Featured Image by Sophie McNicol

‘Snapshot’ by Gloria Christie


Standing beside the blue velvet chair, so smooth under my fingers. So pretty. Music filling the room. Bluegrass. Grandpa playing his mandolin, Daddy playing the violin. Aunt Mary playing the piano. Chording. I don’t know what that means.
The music vibrates through me. My family playing faster and faster. Laughing.
“Turkey In The Straw.”


Dust-smelling upholstery. Riding in the back Grandma and Grandpa’s tan coup. Bump. Go. Bump. Go. The tires hitting each seam in the highway.


Sitting on Grandma Christie’s lap. On one side of the great round table, so huge it covered the room nearly wall to wall. Cleared after Sunday’s dinner. The dishes done and put away.
“Your necklace is pretty, Grandma.” They are cool beneath my little fingers.
“You can have my pearls when I die.”
“When are you going to die?”
“When you are sixteen.”
She handed me a tiny set of pink kitchen appliances.
”Grandma, you don’t have very good toys.”
“It’s that or nothing.”


Grandma on her knees. Me on my knees beside here.
“What are you doing, Grandma?”
“I’m dividing the iris.”
“Because they get too crowded and won’t grow right.”


Walking through Grandma’s front yard, past the little hollyhock tree. The smell of cedar.
Stepping down two little steps between the tall bushes blocking the road, blocking the dust.
Grandpa’s big milk can, smelling of fresh milk. Getting the mail.

The first time I stayed over, it was fun.
The second time, Grandma was angry about something.


Grandpa always brought us a little surprise. Raisins in a tiny box, most often.
Dinner was blackberry pie from the thorn bushes and melting vanilla ice-cream.


Walking out to the barn with Grandpa. He was eating Tums. I couldn’t have any. They are medicine.
Sitting on a stool. Watching him milk the cow. Enjoying him gently tease me.
Asking Grandma why she had so many cracks in her tongue.


Watching Grandma Make biscuits, pulling flour from a brown-sugar colored half-gallon jar. Knowing we would cover them with real butter and sweet molasses.
Watching her put away her Fiesta dinnerware. A riot of color.


Sitting at Grandma’s makeup dresser. Carefully lifting the glass lid to the powder jar. My mother yelling at me. Grandma saying it was alright.


Going up the dark stairs to Aunt Mary’s room at night. Coming back down, saying I was scared. Grandma’s no nonsense, go back upstairs now. I did.


Grandma and Grandpa coming over. I begged her to come out and play with me. Daddy saying she didn’t feel good. Her over-riding him and joining me.
Pushing a boundary too far. She takes a little switch off of a tree and switches me. It hurt. I still love her. I knew why she did it.


Sitting in the kitchen for breakfast, next to her huge iron wood-burning cooking stove. The eggs are over-easy. I say I can’t eat them. I say my daddy can’t eat them either.
Grandpa said: Think of all the starving children in China.
I did. And decided I didn’t care about the kids over there.


Grandpa taking his rifle and going down into the woods to hunt squirrels. He was well into his 70’s.
He said: Don’t watch me clean them, you won’t be able to eat them.
I said: Yes, I will.
I couldn’t.


Going up to Grandpa, where he lay on the sofa. Sleeping?
Little kids big whispers to my little sisters, Susan and Mary: Is he asleep?
He opens his eyes.
Grandpa said: I wasn’t asleep. I was just resting my eyes.


Going up town with Grandpa. Hitting the rounds of his friends. The grain elevator. The general store. He puts me on the counter and buys me a 7-Up! All of my own. I don’t have to share it!
Entertaining myself with the water-cooled pop machine. A marvel.


Grandma’s rose-patterned dresses. Grandpa’s suspenders and hat.


Heart attack. I don’t know what that is. I just known I’m sad. I miss him.


Feeding Grandma ice-chips. She was dying of something. I don’t know what. Driving six hours home. Aunt Hazel comes running out of her house, crying. Grandma died. She waited for me to come say goodbye.
But I was only seven. She was supposed to live until I was 16.


Nothing. A black dark screen. All my child’s memories of them are over…..

Copyright 2016 by Gloria Christie. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘Love Letter’ by Jen Hughes

Dear You,

You, whose name strikes me with a mixture of dread and ecstasy. You, whose identity is a badly kept secret. You, who drifted in from across the Atlantic. You never truly fitted in here, and I guess that’s what drew me to you. You, with your black hair like raven feathers. You, with eyes like black stars that seemed to stare into my soul. Your smooth, deep American voice haunted every dream. You consumed me. I’m sorry I scared you, with my intense eyes gazing at you behind thick glasses, and my longing for you to kiss my braced mouth. I’m sorry I couldn’t hold in my feelings. They made a supernova. When your elbows touched mine in history classes, you didn’t pull away from me. Maybe you liked me? When you played your guitar in music classes, I wished you’d stroke my face like you played those strings. My heart broke, over and over, because you couldn’t feel anything like I felt for you. And I repaired it over and over, for maybe one day? It was never to be, you took a plane to the States and vanished. Now I just wonder what I could have done differently. Maybe our paths will cross again? Maybe in another life, you’ll have forgotten how nerdy, socially awkward, dowdy and hopelessly love-stricken I was back then. I’m not that girl anymore. And you know who you are.

Love from Her.

Copyright 2016 by Jen Hughes. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

Featured Image By McKenzie Clark

‘Doll’ by Jen Hughes

Everyone wanted Luke. I was always in black behind the scenes at all the school concerts he played at. I gazed at him from the sides; his head tilting at the microphone, his guitar strap cutting across his angular shoulders. His blonde fringe cut across his face and over his pale grey eyes. I longed for his hands on me as I looked at them caress the strings of his guitar. I dreamed of one day when we would sing together, as he looked lovingly into my eyes. They didn’t know I could sing. No one had ever asked. But I was helpful in other ways. After the Christmas concert the hall was strewn with discarded programmes I had helped to design. Slowly I went from seat to seat growing my pile. And then there it was right at the side of the stage- the unmistakeable red guitar case. Someone could have stolen, or worse, destroyed it, if I just left it there. So I took it home, and gave it back to him the next day at school.

“Thanks Doll.” He smiled, flicking his hair away from his face. “Do you want to go for coffee sometime?”

From then on, we were never seen apart. Oh, the way he smiled at me. The way we called and texted every night without fail; oh, the way he kissed me. I could feel all the other girls glare behind their false eyelashes and fake smiles because I was his “Doll.”

One night, he sang my favourite song to me- “Beneath Your Beautiful.” It’s a ballad by Emeli Sande and Labyrinth.

“Would you let me see beneath your beautiful?
Would you let me see beneath your perfect?
Take it off now girl, take it off now girl
I want to see you shine…”

When Luke sang, he looked right into my dark eyes as if he wanted to see beyond my appearance- red hair, petite frame- and beyond my shyness.

That night he asked me, “Do you like singing, Doll?”

“Yeah, but I’m not very good…”

“I’m sure you’re not that bad. Hey, maybe we could do a duet some time.”

Sigh, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.

Then, when we left school, he started getting bigger gigs. After a while, he got so busy it didn’t even cross his mind to have me there. He put off our dates a lot so he could practice and whenever I saw him, he seemed rushed. He didn’t even phone or text me for a full fortnight! Some dolts at my work were giggling about him picking girls as a finale duet. Audience participation, I think? So last night I thought I’d pop into one of his regular Friday gigs at The Red Lion and surprise him. It would’ve been a nice thing to do, and I thought he’d be delighted to see me. Maybe, this was my chance. I played our song on repeat, singing it quietly as I walked along. I will be good, no, I’ll be great! I thought.
I was lost in it. They always like people who sing with passion.

When I arrived, I found that the place was far smaller than I expected. The show was supposed to start at 8, but I arrived at ten past seven. A burly man in a black fleece and suit trousers stood defending the door.

“You’re a bit early.” He laughed dryly. “The groupies don’t arrive until quarter to 8.”

“Groupie? I’m Luke Wood’s girlfriend!”

But when I walked inside the stench of stale beer and armpits strangled my voice. I parked myself at a small table in a corner near the front, assailed all around by inconsequential chatter like interference. From here, I could see the bare stage. Luke was nowhere to be seen. So I went to the bathroom.

The corridor had the same sticky faded red carpet. The walls were covered with posters, overlapping silhouettes of irrelevant local musicians from days gone by, pieces of themselves torn off. You can always judge a place by its toilets. Inside, the floor tiles were split and cracked, the sinks spattered. Out of three doors, two don’t shut right and one says “Out Of Order”. Under the cubicle door, I heard a group of girls clatter across broken tiles towards the sinks. The only variation between them was the colour of their spiked heels and the room already reeked of hairspray.

“He is so fit. Fucking gorgeous!”

“Don’t get any ideas, Molly, he’s got a girlfriend!” Another interrupted her.

“And? I bet he’s got a different girl every night.” She laughed, cruelly. “What makes her so special?”

They all filed out, hooting. As I opened cubicle door, I snagged my finger on the lock. It throbbed a little, a tiny spot of blood welled up and then it was gone.

I clawed my way back to the table through heaving bodies. Just as I sat back down the house lights dimmed to whistles and jeers. I saw the girls then, a whole gaggle of them, making fools of themselves, cat calling and clapping. Luke made his way onto the stage, carrying his guitar. A smart new look, black jeans, white shirt and tie. His fringe was slicked back out of his face. He scarcely glanced in my direction. His mind was somewhere else tonight. He took the microphone with ease, thumbs up, waving, grinning at them all. The whole set he played cover songs while they pranced around.

Suddenly the music stopped and he stooped to the mike: “Alright guys, I’m going to need a beautiful woman to help me with this final song…”

The duet! This was it. I stood up and quickly smoothed my black dress. When I looked back up, I saw her smiling saccharinely beside him, her clown face and anyone-can-have-a-cleavage bra. Wolf whistles rang in my ears.

Luke sang the first verse, full of his own charm. Our song. My teeth clamped shut. She flicked back her blonde hair extensions and put her hand on her tiny waist. He was singing, “Take it off now, girl. Take it off now, girl.” She had a look of control about her as if Luke was hers and not mine. This can’t be happening. Her verse finally came, and she screeched the high notes. Honestly, it was laughable. Yet she was chosen to sing with him and I wasn’t? Why her? What made her so special?

Then it was over. She was taking a bow and the audience were drunk on her. I stood up, came out of the shadows to reclaim him. The clones had formed a ring, bleating with self-satisfaction. But I was determined. Luke was mine.

“Hey honey, can we talk?” I asked him nicely.

That startled him. He tried for a smile. “Sure, doll.”

Luke walked off to get his coat. The girls each glanced at me briefly a few times, laughing drunkenly among themselves. How much fun would they have had if they hadn’t poured so many cocktails down their throats? They got up from their seats and tumbled out the pub door. Then Luke came back. He looked at the empty table, a little crestfallen, as he put his jacket on.

The minute we stepped out, we were hit by a biting cold wind. We walked side by side along the high piers towards the harbour. He hid in his jacket collar, his hands in his pockets. My curls were blown about everywhere. I tried to make light of it, but in truth we didn’t say much, even when we stopped at the view point. A long way down, Peter’s point jutted up through boiling waves. I bent down to fix my shoe. He looked about, stamping a little, tapping a rhythm on his jeans. I gripped onto the white metal rail, lumps of rust digging into my skin. Underneath us, waves crashed.

“Why did you sing our song with her?”

He studied my face for a moment. “Doll, it’s just a song. It’s not like it means anything.”

“Do you still love me, Luke?”

He looked down at the pavement for a moment, before looking at me again.

“Sure I do, Doll.”

There was doubt in his eyes. How could he doubt us? He looked out onto the horizon, shallow in thought. But not thoughts about me.

Then, the railing snapped off in my hands, right in two. One part was still in my grip, the other bounced and scraped down into the black seas.

“Jesus! That was a close one!” He bent after the fallen piece, watching it sink, then began to pull up; “Are you ok?”

It all happened so quickly. The jagged railing in my hand smashed down on his skull. He dropped to his knees. My heels dug into his spine as I kicked him over the edge. I wobbled then steadied myself.
My grip loosened and I looked down at the bar. Then I threw it as far as I could after him.

I couldn’t cry or laugh. I felt nothing. A seagull howled overhead and in the distance rigging lashed against masts. So many people have fallen to their deaths here. I wouldn’t spend the rest of my life with him, but he spent the rest of his with me.

Copyright 2016 by Jen Hughes. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

Featured Image by Sunshine Herbert

‘The Great Escape’ by Cheryl Russell

She gasped, horrified at what she found when she got up. The lid was off, how could she have done that? She placed her hand in the tank to find out if they were still there. She rustled the bedding to try for a response.

Oh please let them be here, she prayed quietly.

There was no answer from the occupants. She put some food in and changed the water in their bottle, still hoping they would appear. She was worried. Where were they? They always appeared when it was feeding time. She decided to put her hand right into where she knew they had made their nest. If they were there they would soon respond by giving her a little bite as a warning to leave them alone. Nothing stirred. She had to face facts, her gerbils had taken the opportunity to get out.

Where were they? They could be absolutely anywhere. She placed some food and cardboard around various hiding places hoping for a glimpse of them. The sofa was a big possibility and so was the bookcase. Surely they would emerge soon wanting food and to chew the cardboard. If she were to catch a glimpse of them she would have to block of that area so they couldn’t retreat again. She turned, catching a glimpse of a shadow running across the floor. Ah ha, one was visible at least. She moved slowly towards him, wanting to catch him before he had a chance to disappear again. He was too quick and ran as fast as lightning to avoid capture. He moved so fast she didn’t even see him go.

At least she now had some idea where to look and placed some more food at the entrance. A tiny head popped out, just enough to reach the food before disappearing back. She despaired, they were so fast when they wanted to be and they knew exactly how to avoid capture. They were too clever. Out of the corner of her eye she saw another movement, the other little horror had appeared. Reaching down she managed to scoop up the darling and carry him back to his house. He quickly went mad running around excitedly as if it was a new home.

Turning around she spied the other one trying to climb the curtain. She stopped as laughter overtook her. He looked so funny trying to climb up. She just hoped he didn’t chew them at the same time. She didn’t want to find little holes in the brand new curtains, she knew her gerbils only too well. They chewed everything in reach of them. Only the week before she had a new pair of jeans ruined courtesy of the little darlings! She went to this funny little gerbil still trying to climb the curtain and picked him up, placing him back where he belonged. They looked at her, eyes shine brightly with excitement. They stood up tall, sniffing the air looking so innocent. Looking at them she just laughed, they were so much fun and too cute that she had to forgive them. Anyway it was her own fault this time. She hoped they had enjoyed their little adventure because she would make sure it didn’t happen again!

Copyright 2016 by Cheryl Russell. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘The Mirror Seen As A TV Set In The Bedroom’ by Art Metzger

You sit in daytime,
cross-legged on the floor
just inches away from the turned on tv.
In pajamas
one hand plays with a big toe,
the other thrust inside a box of Sugar Pops.
Sound from the speaker,
picture on the screen,
all yours, embracing.

Dad leaves for work,
bends down to kiss you unseen
as you sit, still.
“Not so close,”
Mom says, now and then,
against the bright colors,
cartoon sounds,
and sales pitches.
Nothing can summon you away,
daytime safe.

Almost asleep when Mom comes.
She takes your hand,
you rub your eyes
as she leads you to their bed.
“Dad won’t be home again,”
she says as she lays you in his place,
turned, facing the big dresser mirror.
Thumb in mouth
you watch her robe fall,
she gets into bed,
tucks a pillow between her legs,
takes your hand to hold,
thumb wet with sucking.
You can’t change the channel
or turn it off.
It’s all right there
in the wooden frame,
bigger than any tv screen,
but you’re not pulled in,
awareness remains.
you hear every sound
capture every moment
while she holds onto your hand
and says that she loves you.

Copyright 2016 by Art Metzger. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘Even If Only One Day’ by Daniel X. Morrison

No, I don’t think I would live it all again if given the chance. Laying here in this shithole I call my home, pain constant despite the medication the doctor says is the maximum he can prescribe without it killing me, I don’t see the point of living again. To even consider such a thing is laughable, or would be if I still had the ability to laugh.

My life has been royally fucked from the very beginning: Born prematurely and my mother nearly died bringing me into this miserable excuse of a world. My father was mostly absent, and when he did show his face it was only to beat my mother or beg for money to feed his own addictions. This is no one’s fault, and I’m not blaming him for the intense suffering I feel for the years I’ve spent attempting to navigate this life of mine. Not his fault that I was destined to be diagnosed with stomach cancer at the relatively young age of 45. Not his fault that I realized I was gay when I was only ten years old. Not his fault–not anyone’s–that I made the decisions I made, some of which led me to serve five years in prison for assaulting a man who said he loved me and then stole every dime I had saved for three years. This is all on me, and I can handle the burden with enough meds.

Last week the doctor told me I might have six months left to scrabble around and fight the disease eating me alive from the inside. My stomach is in constant pain, as is my asshole. When I shit, it feels as if fireballs are issuing forth into the bowl. Some nights I just sit on the commode and attempt to fall asleep there so I won’t have to crawl to the bathroom like some sort of half-human half-insect creation come to life from the pages of a Kafka story.

A nurse from the hospice agency came by and asked if I had any final thoughts I could share that might help others in my situation one day in the future. Yeah, I thought, I have one big one: Don’t get stomach cancer! Then again, don’t be homeless for two years and have to offer two buck blowjobs to desperate old men just so you can get a bite to eat. Don’t do any of that. Be sure and take the path of light and happiness. Get the good job, be a model citizen, pay your taxes, go to church every Sunday. Maybe then you’ll get the blessings that have eluded me. Or don’t. Pretty sure we’re all fucked no matter what our status with the dude in the distant clouds might be. We’re all gonna die, but some folks do it better than others. Me? Shit, I can’t even manage any dignity this close to the end. But fuck it! Dignity is so overrated, don’t you agree?


Nights are not the worst, despite that some soon-to-die people like to say. People who claim night is the bad time have never gotten over their fears of the boogieman showing up when the sun sets.

No, it’s the mornings that always cause the most trouble for me. Because when another day dawns you’re forced to come to the horrible realization that you were not, as you so desperately had hoped, allowed to die in your fitful sleep. Instead, you have been given another day to suffer, to languish in more retching and blood. If you happen to see others off to start their days, be they delighted by the prospect or dreading it, at least they have something to look forward to. What do I have? Well, around ten this particular morning I should be having a shit that winds up being mostly blood and bile. How’s that for a wake-up call?

A social worker who came by to check on me said I was bitter and needed to adjust my attitude. Hey, nothing wrong with me that a good cure for cancer and extra morphine can’t cure, sister, but you just go right on believing attitude is some abstract concept you formulate in that space between your ears. Lemme trade you some of this pain for a better attitude. Bet you won’t take me up on that transaction.

Doesn’t matter. Not any of it does. Tomorrow I’ll maybe wake up again and start this fading life once more. Hooray for me! How brave I must be! Bullshit! I am not brave, I am not wise, and I am not getting any insight out of suffering like a fucking wounded animal. I am merely passing this day and the next to get to the last. What does that earn me? Nothing. Not a damn thing.

I don’t want more time. No, not even one more day, one more hour, not even a fraction of a fucking second. I just want it all to be gone and I want to vanish into the blackness of what awaits me, which is more nothingness.


Just after midnight I hear my next door neighbor coughing uncontrollably. Then he falls silent. Guess he got the death I was slated to receive. I take two more pills and curl up for another few hours of empty sleep.

Bring me your cures, but rest assured they will not work. I do not only have cancer of the stomach, it has even infected my soul, which should suit whatever god there is just fine. We’re almost even now, oh great one. But the house always wins. Fuck it! You can keep the hollowed-out body, the faded regrets, and the fragments of a life that remain.

Copyright 2016 by Daniel X. Morrison. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘Uphill’ by Cheryl Russell

Her whole body tensed up, she could feel the anxiety rising, nausea rose in her throat making her feel as if she was being strangled. Could she really do this? Everyone else believed in her but she had her doubts. No choice, it had to be done or she would feel a failure forever. She was sweating despite temperatures being sub zero, anxiety again. She had to do this to prove to herself she was perfectly capable. She would never forgive herself if she couldn’t. The sky was blue and the sun shone brightly, dazzling the brilliant whiteness of the snow. She had on sunglasses to protect herself from the glare that leapt up at her. Her skis were on and she was ready. She glanced with great trepidation where she was supposed to ski. She was terrified, as she noticed it seemed to be a sheer drop down, no gentle slope for her. She wished herself anywhere else but where she was. What made her come back year after year for she only tortured herself? She traversed the slope but as she tried to make the turn anxiety tore at her again, she couldn’t do it, sitting down she turned herself around ready to go back across the slope. Standing up again she made her slow way across. It was pointed out to her that she not only wasn’t any lower down the slope but in actual fact had been skiing uphill. Not bad, she thought, at least she would remember this incident. Every one else skied downhill but as usual she had to be different and ski uphill! Well it was an achievement of sorts if not the usual type. She refused to see it as a negative thing, it had to be positive. Everyone else raced past at high speed while she made her very slow way down the same way as she started, sitting to turn round as she was so sure she would lose control and have a nasty fall. She had been told she had plenty of restraint it was just confidence she lacked but she wasn’t sure about that. Maybe skiing wasn’t really her thing, she acknowledged, but she loved the snow covered mountains and the freezing temperatures. It looked so beautiful and undisturbed. How could anyone not love this. She loved mountains at any time of year. In the summer they would be a lush green, vibrant and alive. Right at the highest peak snow could still be found. She sighed, what a privilege to be in these captivating surroundings. She continued skiing, eventually reaching the bottom and ready for a drink.

Copyright 2016 by Cheryl Russell. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.