Kanchan Chatterjee – Poem

Old lady with her dog

That old lady
lives alone
with her old dog
in her lonely yellow house
just at the bend of the road
where In the
evenings the Kids
go and play
with the dog and
the lady shares some
cookies with them who
in turn share it with the old dog.

Each day,
the lady and the dog
and those kids
wait for the evening
eagerly.

Shawn Misener – Flash Fiction

Harvesting Brains Pastoral

The sky is red and violent and the skinny farmer digs up brains with his shovel.

Pitching them from the earth they shriek in Morse code. A bawdy secretary languishes behind the farmer, translating the squealing gray matter and scratching her rectangular nose obsessively.

As each rusted wheelbarrow fills with minds a donkey appears and slouches away with the load. “Fourteen thousand eight hundred and twenty seven” counts the secretary in whispers born under the prairie wind.

Somewhere behind the far distant trees a monstrous fog horn bellows. Both the farmer and the secretary vanish in identical puffs of heavy dust, leaving behind brains strewn around like so much neglected cauliflower.

A vacuous, slow moment.

Then a new farmer appears, the atmosphere popping violently in his arrival, followed by another short-skirted secretary, her glasses askew and eyes cocked in confusion.

The second shift begins when the farmer scoops his first brain. The sky reluctantly shades from maroon to a painful deep purple, the clouds wrench themselves into loose threatening coils, and the secretary bends an elven ear towards the multitudes of pleading encephalitic vegetables.

Josh Olsen – Flash Non-Fiction

“This ends now”

Katie was convinced we’d all be slaughtered in our sleep – me, her, our son Jack – though she thought our daughter, Gabriella, might be spared.

Just that day, we learned that the girl our 12-year-old daughter had been dating, who we were told was a 14-year-old 8th grader, was actually a 17-year-old junior in high school, and to top it all off, she had been spending the night with her, as well, hiding her lies by claiming she was sleeping over at various friends’ houses.

“We didn’t do anything bad!” she proclaimed, not seeming to comprehend the truly serious nature of her affair with someone who was nearly a legal adult.

“This ends now,” I said, as sternly as possible while fighting to keep my resolve.

For now, the police would be left out of the matter, I told her, but I wouldn’t hesitate to call them if need be.

Their relationship was to end immediately.

“Text her,” I said. “Tell her that I know everything. And then turn off your phone.”

She would be grounded indefinitely – no phone, no friends, no computer, nothing – though I wasn’t quite sure if that was enough.

Or was it too much?

Was I punishing the victim?

I just didn’t know what to do or how to handle the situation.

And Katie was equally clueless, as well.

More than anything else, she was downright afraid.

“What if this girl tries to kill us?” she said. “She’s a pedophile. She’s obviously not right.”

Up until then, the thought hadn’t even occurred to me that my daughter’s girlfriend – ex-girlfriend, whatever – could possibly be dangerous, but now that Katie mentioned it, I found myself paranoid, as well.

Before turning in for the night, I double-checked the locks and flipped on all the outside lights.

“She’s not gonna come here,” I said, attempting to reassure Katie while at the same time attempting to reassure myself. “She’s not that kind of girl.”

But how the hell did I know what kind of girl she was or wasn’t?

She was, for all intents and purposes, as Katie had said, a pedophile.

She was a damaged girl.

By my own daughter’s account, she was a cutter, a suicidal girl.

A girl whose mother died at a young age.

A girl who had been beaten and abused by her father.

All of this had fed into my decision to not call the police, but maybe that’s exactly what she needed.

Legal intervention, counseling, rehabilitation, treatment, recovery…

But, then again, who the fuck was I to judge?

“She’s not that type of girl,” I kept telling myself. “She’s not a threat. She’s not going to kill us.”

And, eventually, I managed to fall asleep, though neither Katie nor I slept very well that night.

We were awakened by each and every single sound – the typical creaks and groans of our house, the rustle of the trees outside our window, the occasional bark of neighborhood dogs – and whenever one of us woke up, the other would immediately follow suit, springing up from the bed, asking, “What was that?” and then fall back to sleep shortly after.

At one point in the night, I was awakened by the sudden and powerful odor of cologne.

Gabriella had doused her bedroom in her girlfriend’s fragrance, Axe Body Spray, no less.

The scent was nauseating, it was so thick that I could actually taste it, and the resulting headache was immediate.

But Gabriella was sleeping soundly, engulfed in her girlfriend’s scent.

“This ends now,” I said to her earlier that day, but I feared that the road ahead of us looked long and tumultuous.

Shawn Misener – Flash Fiction

Red Lady Octopus

We’re in my kitchen, except it’s not really my kitchen.

She is painted red and glowing faintly. Short, she blends into the armpits and ribs of the chatting men around her. They give her no notice and continue sloshing their cocktails around, drenching her in soda.

She emits a light buzz, and I want to wrap my arms around her just to find out from where inside her the hum originates, but I think of my wife and keep my distance.

I realize that the four or five guys – who may or may not be my friends – are speaking in gibberish, like records being pushed backward against their wills.

I open the fridge and look for cheese. There is only a live octopus, imploring me to throw it out the window. I want to oblige, but the men have drawn closer, surrounding me in Old Spice.

I hand one of them the octopus and run out of the room.