Breath of Fresh Air by Dion J. Crowe
So, what’s your
"I’m sorry. What?"
"Your name. What is it?"
"Why do you want to know?"
"So I can introduce myself."
I blinked, confounded by this girl’s forthrightness.
"Peter. My name is Peter."
An enchanting young woman with a sparkle of life in her eyes and two braids in her hair offered her
hand, "Nice to meet you, Peter. I’m Julie."
A Christmas Story by
They say that humanity is possession of a higher intelligence. The thing that
makes man so distinctly human, so much more highly evolved, is his sense of
comprehension, rational thought; or at least, that is what’s commonly said. The
truth, however, lies in the exact opposite. It is one of man’s completely
irrational abilities that makes him so special; to see beauty anywhere, anytime,
Consider a cold, Massachusetts night. It’s one of those nights where you just
can’t seem to get warm, no matter how many jackets, gloves or scarves you wear.
A man, a young man, stands on his back porch, looking out on a dark night in his
crowded neighborhood. Lights shine dimly from scattered windows, trees batter
against windows so thin and brittle that they should have shattered years ago.
His face is grim as he picks fallen leaves off of an old ripped up couch and
sits down, shivering.
Somehow, through some trick of the human mind, he is transported. Transported to
neither a time nor place, but to a feeling reflected through both, a feeling
thought long gone, forever lost, a feeling that would never return.
A Different Love Story by
I remember the day I met my mistress clearly. It was love at first sight. When I
spotted her, I did everything I could to get her to look at me. I played it
cool, smiled and made eyes at her. Confidence works. She took one look at my
sleek, well muscled body, my brown eyes and long lashes, and she was hooked. We
went home together twenty minutes later. Neither of us ever looked back. We’ve
been committed to each other for six years.
Sure, I know what the others were saying, “Why him? What’s he got that we
haven’t got?” Nothing really. It was a matter of picking her out from the crowd
and focusing my powers to get her to cross the room and realize she was in love.
When Julie and I became partners for life, as I like to think of it, it was the
two of us against the world. Before you could say “Bob’s your uncle” we
established territory and routines. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why she
named me "Bob". She pays the bills and pampers me to the best of her ability; I do
all of the things she won’t do for herself.
Oh, you might think that I’ve got it easy and I don’t take my responsibilities
to her seriously. I do. Just because I’m a terrier-poodle mix doesn’t mean that
I don’t have responsibilities. For the last six years, I’ve protected her from
untold numbers of cats who wanted to use her flowers as a sandbox, numerous
newspapers that were in danger of being unopened and unread, and every delivery
person who has knocked on our door.
Glance Out of the Window by
Green (1,055 words)
She was sitting on the tram when she sensed the man by her side.
He stood quite close to her since it was four o'clock in the evening and the tram was packed full of tired people, making the journey home from work.
She considered her luck in getting a seat, one of the perks of having a job on the outskirts of
Prague ... perhaps the only one.
Present for Angelia by
“I can’t remember, last I
had a present,” Angelia said.
The old rocker wheezed on beneath her. Down the narrow
road came a swirl of dust, twisting lazily in the hot
August sun. Angelia tilted her head, thinking.
“I know there was something ...”
From across the road, far back beneath a horizontal
tangle of hoary old live oaks and eglantine, came the
drawn-off cries of children. Angelia straightened and
turned her deep-set eyes toward the sound. The rocker
“Well I remember that day down in Rockville, you know
when we all got sent on with Mr. Thomas to see the
twilight dances. That was when he got the fever, you
know. Of course Misses Johnson always did say he weren’t
doin’ himself no good at all, stepping down in them
ditches with the field hands. I wasn’t so old then, but
I know she was right that time. I know she was ...”
Siren's Finale of Song
Denise Marshall (762 words)
Oh, yeah; looky-looky all you want, we
both know you wanna;
I see you watchin' my vibrant alter ego in her Tina Turnerwear.
Why not just sit there for now? We both know soon you're gonna
inch up real close to the stage to watch with lips parted, and
Yes, it's really true; Jazzi's my given name; mom's mom had a vision
one night as mom, still expecting but I was on the brink of being
Gram dreamt I was in a smoky bar, face in blue light, onstage with
in front of me, a toe-tappin' audience sat listening to Miles on his
A Tale Of Exile
by Theresa Newbill (424
The dawn was just breaking in the sky when the
parade reached the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. The austerity of the place hit me
like a cold wind. It was majestic, clean and in perfect order, but on it was the
zeal of the revolution. I studied in that hall, with its lofty vaulted roof and
its panelled walls, when it was Havana's Gran Teatro, under choreographer and
prima ballerina Alicia Alonso. She was an impressive looking woman with pale
complexion, dark eyes, and fine strong features. Her black hair was short,
curly, with a few wispy bangs that hung down over her forehead. She knew her
music intimately and, when she danced, she became the metronome behind the
melody that stretched muscles and stripped thought, suspended in beautiful
contortions of frozen acrobatics. There were days of ecstasy, and fear, under
Read More ...
Lyell (1,547 words)
Countless infinitesimal glittering diamonds sparkled from the sea like an iridescent paua, swirling in a multitude of colour. The soft breeze hugged the coastline, caressing the bright red flowers sprinkled amongst the pohutukawa's crop of shiny green hair. Skipping over the top of the bush, it climbed the incline seeking out the family that had just poured out of the car. It curled its fragile fingers around her hair, lifting and knotting the long strands with ease. She wrestled with its grip, struggling to tame her hair, ensnaring it into a dark baseball cap.
Anaesthesia by Daniel
In the beginning, when there was no time, our land was in
and desolated for full disobedience and
condemnation. The line
between the living and the spirit was
thin and transparent.
Bed and Breakfast
by Shelley Banks (1,153 words)
The river was dry. Charlie
couldn’t remember the last time water had flowed along it.
She couldn’t remember the last time it had rained either and
the tanks were almost dry. She’d have to order water in
again and that cost money, something she didn’t have a lot
of. How much longer could they hang on? The property had
been in her family for five generations so the thought of
selling made her feel physically sick. But everything was
dying. And since her brother decided he wanted nothing more
to do with the farm and left, she’d been struggling. Her
parents were too old now to do the day to day work and it
was hard to hire help. People were leaving the country, not
moving to it. Charlie had been praying for a solution but,
so far, none appeared.
and Coo by B. A. Llewellyn (1,559 words)
and Coo were white, fan-tailed pigeons who taught my husband
and I to love them, as we also taught them how to fly.
They were supposed to be a Valentines gift, released on
that special day as a symbol of our love flying into the
heavens, safe with one another.
It was a lovely thought, but the pigeons had no idea
that they could be airborne.
They were startled by the possibility.
I think they thought we were being purposefully cruel,
throwing them up into the air … and not catching them.
and a Good Night's Sleep
B. A. Llewellyn
Bob was unhappy. He
hated having to sleep. Every
night he was tucked into bed, and away from all the adventures
he wanted. He
hated it. Bob hated being tired.
couldn’t understand why his wonderful days had to end like this
... in bed. Being tired
meant being away from everyone and everything Bob loved. Being told to sleep meant he had to go sleep and no
asleep meant missing everything for the entire night!
River by Daniel
Akinlolu (944 words)
It started like this, her father appeared to her in the dream and said,
“Fear is a thing of the mind, love is a thing of the mind, death is a
thing of the mind.
Why suicide when life was wrought in meaning?”
Anthony R Pezzula
She popped her head up, instantly alert. Something wasn’t right, a faint odor,
but, more than that, a danger she sensed, unseen, but present nonetheless. Her
eyes widened, pupils dilated while her head swivelled around looking for the
threat and her nostrils flared seeking the origins of the weak odor. She moved
her ears forward and back in an effort to hear the thing’s movement, but nothing
stirred. Her entire body tensed as the invisible presence grew stronger. She
would need to do something and pretty fast.
Her clan mates were not reacting, but that was not unusual. She didn’t know how
she came to this clan, but the other members were not like her. The strangest
cats she could imagine. They were very big, and they walked on their hind legs
only, and not on their toes, like her. They hardly had any fur, especially the
alpha male. His mate had some fur on her head, but not much anywhere else. And
the poor things had no tails at all. She had no idea how they could balance
themselves, what with walking on their hind legs, no tail and no whiskers
either, it was a wonder they didn’t constantly fall or run into things.
Children of the Sun
When I was young, mum told me there was man in the moon. I sat every night staring at the sky, with
a thousand stars dotting the naked sky. Each time I tried counting the stars I kept mixing them up, losing tracks of recorded numbers.
in Bethlehem by Daniel
Four days before Christmas locusts were about to invade our
village, somewhere in Bethlehem province. Everyone panicked at the news. The late rain had caused the locusts to target their invasion towards the Christmas season and at our village. The farmers were confused because the warning came in during a weather forecast in the evening News.
Thing to Look At
The sun rose ripe and warm over the quiet town of
Batavia, Illinois, tucking shadows into the pockets of morning.
People opened their shutters and children ran out to play. Robins
sang high in the trees as squirrels played beneath them.
With a proud smile on his face, a father gently puts his daughter
Emma into a bright red stroller. Seconds later and they’re off,
destined for the local park – the one with all the old trees and a
creek lined with violets. As they follow the sidewalk a breeze comes
along and tickles Emma’s face, lifting her curls. She giggles like
life is at its brilliant best.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the park, a newly emerged swallowtail
spreads its wings in the warm sun, nearly ready for its first
Emma and her father enter the park. An immense, magical world of
flora and fauna surrounds them in all directions. Emma’s eyes light
up, dash from right to left, up then down – there is so much to see!
Fairy Tales by
"Tell me again about the
Fairies, Gran," the tiny girl knelt at her
great-grandmother's feet, picking the lavender blossoms
that sprung up among the meadow grasses.
A tan doe and her spotted fawn grazed quietly nearby,
undisturbed by the presence of the humans encroaching
upon their territory. The old woman had always been one
to blend in well with nature, being from the Highlands
of the Old Country, she'd spent most of her life amongst
the wild things. The little girl, too, being cut from
the same cloth as her grandmother - or so she had always
been told - was as comfortable in the meadow as she was
in her own kitchen.
"Which one is it you want to be hearin' about, my wee
one?" The old woman asked with a smile on her lips, for
there was only one for which the little girl ever asked.
"Tell me the one about the Fairy King," was her reply.
A chuckle rumbled deep in the old woman's throat, as she
stroked the spun gold of her granddaughter's hair,
letting the silky strands slip through her fingers. "Oh,
aye, I'll tell ye then. The Fairy King, he was a grumpy,
old codger ..."
"What's a codger Gran?" The tiny girl interrupted with
her standard question and her great-grandmother chuckled
"It means he was grouchy all the time, with a nasty
"Weel, he was old as the stars and his bones creaked
with his age, ye see. It took him a whole of a half hour
to rise from his bed in the morning, his joints ached
him so. Now hush until I'm finished, my wee one."
Flash Fiction Travel
I press up from my toes, stretch my arms wide, and
plunge into the warm caressing water beneath me. I feel
my feet brush the smooth floor then allow my body to
become lifeless, floating as if one with the natural hot
spring. My hair floats around my face, allowing my ears
to hear the heartbeats of the boulder-like rocks on the
banks of the stream. There is a perpetual thundering
noise in charge of the sea life surrounding me, created
by the waterfall I just repelled off.
I lay there drifting, with my eyes open to the sky above
me. I see flashes of the sun through the enormous trees,
with leaves the size of what should be clouds, draping
over the spring.
Flying Solo by
Willis Whyte (1,830 words)
New York City, April 1953
It was a cold, grey, spring day in Manhattan. The dense cloud cover
made it impossible to catch even a glimpse of the sun. Wednesday
night’s torrential downpour made the sewer run-off drains overflow.
This caused the water to back up and cascade into the gutters all
along East 82nd Street.
Nancy stood at the corner of Third Avenue and East 82nd Street, her
mother close by her side.
“I said ye should have worn yer boots. Look at that water gushing
down the street. Ye’ll be coming back with a cold from getting’ yer
feet soaked. And besides do ye even remember the things we talked
about this morning?”
“I know, I know! Look both ways when I cross the street, and don’t
talk to anybody I don’t know, except for the police. Momma, I
promise I won’t forget. Can I please go now?”
“I’m not sure I want ye goin’ off like this on yer own. Who’ll be
lookin’ after ye? What if somethin’ happens, how would I ever know?”
Nan Kelly squeezed her daughter’s hand.
Grandmother by Asther Bascuña-Creo
miss Lola, Mum,” my five-year-old Anya said woefully, referring to
her grandmother who was in another country.
She was echoed by her three-year-old sister Thea who had gotten
bored of her activity book and was looking sadly out the window. Out
on the street, the trees swayed as the wind howled. It was not a
pretty sight for children who had grown up amidst the tropical
climate, where the sun was almost always out, and where everyday was
ideal for outdoor play.
“Me too, darling,” I said, swallowing a sob that was caught in
Lyell (530 words)
Ugly, she thought. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Standing in the mirror she did not like what she saw. Long crooked toes. Fat white thighs that wobbled when she breathed. A stomach that looked as though the only thing she ate was beer. Tiny little mole hills, no way they could sustain life she mused. Turkey skin arms. Big brown freckles splotched wherever they felt the need to congregate. Pasty white skin. Uneven lips.
How Did You Know? by
“How did you know?” the man asked the
elderly woman seated across the scarred kitchen table from him. They
were a juxtaposition at every level. He was tall, muscular, full of
life. She was older, a little hunched, flabby, and exuded a quiet
“Know what?” she asked.
“That Uncle Matt was the one.”
“I remember it like yesterday, I noticed him at church sitting with
his family. I didn’t hear a word the minister had to say that day.”
The look on her face transformed her and he could see the beauty she
was in her youth. She was the eldest of five sisters, the
responsible one, the one who never had suitors because she was
always looking after the others. She was an old maid when she
finally married at age thirty; not old by today’s standards, old by
those of the times.
“He looked nice.” She glanced at her hands. It was like she was
remembering something special and private.
by Annette Hunter
I sit on the headland, the soft grass below, the warm sun
above. I look out over the ocean, waves beating against the rocks below. I have sat here many times before in this very same spot, in the same town that I grew up in, the same town that my mother grew up in, and I remember.
I Wrestled a Pith-on by
I knew this bench. Hard marble. Set
against the tile wall of the corridor, outside the Principal’s
Office. No back, but who cared. This bench wasn’t for lolling. It
was for crying ... and shame … and waiting for your mother to arrive
… because the Principal had called her … again.
I knew this bench well. I had suffered its humiliation often, like a
Puritan felon in the public stocks.
Why? I didn’t know. I mean, I was just a kid. Seven-year-olds don’t
judge; they ARE judged. At least, in The New York City Public School
System. At least, in 1950.
Why was I a bad kid? Well, I’d heard words: "Slow”, “Unruly”,
“Discipline Problem”. Never directed at me. Directed at my mother
about me … by my second-grade-teacher, Mrs. Lang.
I wasn’t quite sure what she was saying, but I knew it to be true.
Of course it was true. I was a kid; she was a Grownup.
Love Will Burst
Your Heart by
Pierrino Mascarino (554 words)
"Go-or-or do," sung cinnamon-skinned,
pretty, little Graciela up to Gordo through the sputtering smoke of
his sizzling sausage cart.
"Por favor," said Gordo, squeezing onto his grill yet another floppy
bacon-wrapped-sausage; “don’ go calling me Gordo no more, I been
rebajaing my weights."
“But I bring you flores,” Graciella whispered in a tender, husky
voice, through Gordo’s popping sputters, holding her vase-bouquet of
yellow ranunculus, purple anemones, crimson poppies, blinking her
jet black eyes.
"Para mi," he said, "you bring? For why?"
"Saying ‘I love you’, you silly Gordo," stamping her foot and moving
her flowers out of the grease sputters.
"Love? Now? Gotta sell salchiche this morning. If I don't sell, are
dey any no good manana?"
"What you are den yourself?" Graciella demanded, "(cough cough) una
bestia, who don't got no eyes for seeing de mujer here que te quere?"
"Who dis womans who loves me?"
the Two-Inch Tomato by
Margaret has a black thumb. She has
never been able to make anything to grow. She transplants all manner
of cuttings and they blossom for a day or two, then wither and die.
When she plants seeds, nothing happens. They don’t even break the
ground. Her house plants, torn asunder by cats desperate for the
great outdoors, hang bedraggled and limp, branches broken, leaves
Every year, she tries to plant the live Christmas tree she buys.
Every year it dies.
One spring, Margaret notices that her neighbor across the street has
a whole garden full of red, beefy tomatoes. She is so envious. If
the neighbor can grow those beautiful fruit/vegetables, why can’t
she? She’s an intelligent person. She’s not totally incompetent. The
soil is the same on this side of the street as it is on that. She
ought to be able to grow freaking tomatoes.
Burned in the past, Margaret knows better than to buy seeds. She
buys tomato plants in special pots that guarantee they’ll grow. The
tomato plants pop up six inches from their cardboard pots. The soil
they are planted in is dark and marled with special ingredients. She
plants them on the same side of her yard that her neighbor planted
his. He is outside weeding. She waves and he waves back. “I’m
growing tomatoes,” she shouts.
Time by Dianne Hardwick
The mantle clock sits on my study windowsill because I have no mantelpiece. The regularity of its satisfying tick, smooth and precise, beats out the passing moments as I work. Each second is unrecoverable, spent, passed, and part of the long tunnel that is my history. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. I find it pleasant to pause from my work and note its march or drowse in the night to the chime of the hours.
Did you hear them?
The hills are talking to me. They called my name. They dare
climb and see how hard life could be.
Julian by Nicole
had been harder then I expected.
You quickly forget the sweat, tiny cuts on your hands,
broken possessions and heavy grunting from the last time you
endured the task. However
my new “across the hall” neighbour, Julian, at least
provided entertainment by way of hilariously directing all
furniture to the wrong rooms, then directing them back to the
right rooms. Strangely,
the men hired to move the furniture did not seem as amused as
ensconced inside my new residence, I opened some wine, turned
on the radio and gingerly tried to sit on the edge of my new
couch, covered in unopened boxes.
As my mind began to create pictures of a finished
result within the unit, loud but muffled voices caught my
startled, I opened my door to the sounds of a fierce argument
across the hall at Julian’s place.
the next second, Julian’s old-fashioned, wooden door opened
to release a red faced, crying woman into the hallway.
Stammering something incomprehensible, I tried to shut my door
but the woman quickly jammed her red stiletto heel into the
you must be the one!” She glared at me with eyes full of
nervously at her, I replied, “I just moved in today, could
you please move your foot?”
woman turned abruptly and stomped down the hall towards the
time later, after much frenzied unpacking to keep my slightly
bewildered thoughts busy, there was a knock at my door.
Julian appeared shamefaced and apologetic for my less
then enthusiastic welcome to the building.
As this was only my second meeting with him, I assured
him I wouldn’t let it affect me so he needn’t worry about
it further. I
awaited an explanation for his guest’s behaviour, but none
was forth coming. Julian
simply bade me goodnight and closed the door on my bemused
Midnight Conspiracy by
Norma Jean Kawak
The long black bag had lain hidden in the garage for the past two days. Tonight, under cover of darkness, we would drag it out and dispose of its contents. If everything went according to plan we would be finished by midnight.
It had been more difficult to get away from the party then we had expected. We made the excuse that the children were tired and needed to get to bed. It was partly true. But tonight was a special night. After weeks of planning, our secret would finally be out.
Than a View by Nicole
I had two minutes to get to work on time. I opened the front door of my apartment to be greeted by the smiling face of my neighbour, Harry. Not noticing my harassed expression, Harry launched into a detailed story of his upset stomach, brought on by an Indian feast last night.
I smiled, mumbled responses and squeezed past him to the stairwell. Mrs Knightly, from three floors up, was on her way down the stairs. She was carrying a beach chair in one hand and a fluorescent green umbrella in the other, therefore consuming all space on either side.
My Bubble by Dion J. Crowe
In my world, I am complete.
For all of everything means nothing to me. The world. The life outside. Savage
as a lion. Harmful as its claws. Deafening as its roar. This is the life
surrounding me. But I don’t care. I don’t fear anymore. Why?
Because I am in my bubble.
My bubble. Circle and complete. It’s my buffer zone. Like the ozone that shields
me from outside harm. Warm. Fuzzy. At peace. This is my centre. This is my
They come you know? Them the Bubble Busters. They come from afar and attack from
the near. Beating their fists on my bubble. They are the names I give. The
Love Haters. The Snarkers. The Friend Depends. The Bomb Within. These are
the people that test my bubble each day.
My Favourite Place by
I feel calm here, relaxed and happy. The air is filled with a sweet aroma, not a
manufactured scent but a fresh, natural perfume, impossible to bottle.
It isn’t a big space and not small either, I would describe it as ‘cosy’. It
nestles comfortably between wide, open fields to the left and red brick houses
to the right.
It is a haven, my own respite from the world, I sing at the top of my voice
here, from joy, from the sheer happiness of just being here. I can laugh so
loudly tears run freely down my face. And, more than anything I am loved here. I
feel love envelope me and swirl around me whilst I am here. I love here.
When I arrive and glance up I am greeted by the sight of beautiful green grass,
sometimes cropped short, too short. Other times left to grow wild, not in a
magical, delicate way but in a natural, harmonious way.
I never walk over this grass, instead I love to walk around and crunch across
the gravel laid thickly to one side. The gravel, once lovingly raked flat, now
lays, almost forgotten, in waves like the sea in a storm. Pushed up into tiny
rocky mounds and leaving other patches bare and scared by the marks from tiny
Out of the Kitchen
by Carl Palmer
Responding to my desire to learn how to throw a wicked curve
ball, Mom says, without hesitation, “You’ll just have to wait
until the baby bottles finish boiling. If you’re in such a big
hurry you can help by taking them from the kettle.”
Question of Timing by Alison
you ever wished you could go back and change an event in your past?” Gabe asked
with a cocked eyebrow.
Jerry shot a look at the old man who’d planted himself on the park bench beside
him. In his many years as a bartender, Jerry had met a lot of odd people, but
this guy was a bona fide fruitcake.
Frail looking with delicate blue-veined hands and long grey hair tied back with
a leather thong, the stranger had sat down as Jerry had started to eat his cut
lunch, introduced himself simply by his first name and immediately launched into
Rainbow Bridge by Unknown and B. A. Llewellyn
Dedicated to our Darlin'
and all people who love animals.
this side of heaven is a wonderful place called Rainbow
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone
here on Earth, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
Roy the Barber
by Marlin Bressi
When I was a kid, going to the barbershop was a special occasion. Opening the
door and walking past the red and white striped pole was like entering a secret
and forbidden temple; a universe where old men gathered to talk about politics
and women and complain about how things were never as good as they used to be.
I marvelled at the man in the white apron as he swiped his razor across the
leather belt, honing the blade to deadly sharpness before shaving off the
whiskers of one of the neighbourhood men in deft strokes of his wrist. His name
was Roy, and all over town the name "Roy the Barber" was spoken with respect and
a sense of reverence.
Jean Kawak (1,247 words)
After pushing the walker to one side,
Jack eased Sarah into a comfortable sitting position on the side of
her bed. After placing her overnight bag on the bed opposite, he
helped her to take of her "sensible" shoes and put on her well worn
but comfy slippers.
"Now don’t worry about the bag," he told her gently but firmly.
"I’ll empty it just as soon as I’ve made you a nice cup of tea. Then
you can have a nice little nap."
In the kitchen Mary, was already pouring the boiled water into the
fine china teapot, the tell tale teabag strings, Sarah’s only
concession when making tea, dangling, over the side. "What are you
going to do, dad?" she asked.
Ngaire Hart (764 words)
Isabelle had inherited her father’s
height and her mother’s fine English skin. Her looks made men turn
their heads – even with her pale, long hair drawn severely back.
She sighed loudly. There was a time when she looked at her husband
Sebastian as if he was a Christmas present she wanted to unwrap. The
smell of damp rain eased its way around the windows and doors,
finding its way into the old house. The gun-metal sky was pierced
with occasional jagged bolts of lightning and the rain fell in
Her dark, sombre mood matched the dropping temperature. Her finger
traced the rain’s path as it created a tiny river down the
windowpane, and clustered before dropping to the ground below.
Diana Gallagher (165 words)
You fall over the sidewalk. It
happens; those cracks leap in cement waves. The sky is wet tonight
but your shoes are dry.
Your jeans split and grass and pebbles burn skin. But your shoes are
still dry and your dirty palms push you back up onto your feet. Your
head wavers and you laugh to center yourself.
Your face is wet tonight but your eyes are tiny dark sparks darting
in every direction.
The world turns sturdy.
Spring Comes To Bosnia
was one of the United Nation’s peacekeeping officers taken hostage in Bosnia. Every
day he was handcuffed to the park railing and guarded by masked
gunmen who patrolled the area.
Every day he wondered what the hell he was doing here when
he could be back home playing Rugby, or running along some beach
with his dog.
by Gary Kemble (2,996
Rob sat up in bed, surveying the scene. His bedroom was a mess. His sheets were stiff with sweat, damp yet rigid from a week’s worth of bad dreams. All about the mountain. It was one year since he didn’t quite climb Everest. These days it was all he could do to climb out of bed in the morning and stay vertical for the 12 hours or so necessary to assure his parents he was getting his life back on track.
Of A Talking Bird
(Dedicated to the Tsunami victims) by Daniel
Akinlolu (1,338 words)
It was few days to New
Year. At that time I was young, and we were living in a tent.
There were many people living in tents like us. Those who survived the storm couldn’t help than to live in tents, and mourn their lost loved ones.
The Angels of Mons
and Le Cateau
by Paul Curtis
It was August 1914 when Commander-in-Chief, Sir John French ordered the newly
arrived British Expeditionary Force under his command to launch an offensive
against the German Imperial Army at Mons and so began the BEF’s first major
action of World War I and its resulting carnage.
We were heavily outnumbered and, despite the fact we killed or wounded three of
theirs to every one of ours that fell, we were forced to retreat to our second
line of defence.
Mercifully, the Germans chose not to pursue us immediately but elected instead to
lick their wounds.
It was during the respite from the day's exertions that the stories started to
spread through the ranks of weary and bloodied soldiers about the "Angels of
It seemed that every man had either witnessed the event or personally knew a man
The Click Camera
After having bought a car, a second-hand Standard herald, for the first time somewhere around 1968, my better half and I decided to undertake a trip to the hills.
Frankly, we were very proud of our acquisition. It was the best I could afford as a young Flight Lieutenant. Very few Flight Lieutenants could sport a car in the sixties, two-wheelers being the most common mode of transportation. The Leave-Travel grant that the Government doled out was not generous enough to take care of the estimated expenses so, due to lack of funds, I disposed off a few bank shares (gifted by mother) to raise some dough.
The Driving Lesson by
“The El” runs from Yankee Stadium ten
miles North to Woodlawn. A railway on stilts, it stands on
25-foot-tall, rivet-studded metal girders that trisect the entire
length of Jerome Avenue. From the air, it might look like some
enormous, grime-encrusted, cast-iron millipede, preying on the spine
of the Borough.
At least, that’s the way I remember it on this particular day. And I
was only being tormented by one of its million legs.
I was ready to take my driving test. Even in New York, where a car
was a mixed blessing, getting a driver’s license was a huge rite of
passage for a boy — a secular Bar Mitzvah if you will. In
preparation, my father had taken me on a last practice run. All had
gone well — until the final moment.
Jerome Avenue is a wide six-lane concourse. The two rows of the el’s
legs straddle the middle traffic lanes, leaving two additional lanes
on either side — one for traffic and one, next to the curb, for
Finding a parking spot in The Bronx took an extraordinary amount of
luck. Actually getting into one took the skill of a neurosurgeon.
Parkers used every available inch, and it was not uncommon for a car
to be trapped in a parking spot, locked between the bumpers of those
in front and behind. Squeezing into a vacant space was the most
dreaded part of the driving test.
The French Connection by
Rod Gibson (2,980 words)
It’s a miserable, annoying sound, the noise of a
whipper-snipper. Especially when you’re trying to sleep
in, on Sunday morning, and you’re desperately trying to
recapture one of the most beautiful, mysterious dreams
of your life so far – a sloth, your favourite animal
from that wide animal kingdom, is dangling from a tree
branch and seems to be undulating in front of your
dreaming eyes. Undulating has to be the right word for
it; the sloth is like languorous streams of water
pulsing through your warm dreams, and his movements
appear to be saying something to you; it’s not sexual,
but like some sort of indecipherable code about the
meaning of life, or something serious along those lines.
Anyway, try as you might, you can’t recapture the dream
so, now, you must be officially awake, with only the
miserable sound of the whipper-snipper to drive you out
of bed and into the day. But you dally beneath the
sheets, while the torture continues until, finally, you
force yourself to get up.
Who are you? You’re Dr. Cynthia Rowntree, a country G.P.,
and tomorrow begins another week of fourteen hour days,
hospital rounds, and performing surgery all day on
Thursday. There will be short consultations, longer
consultations, and really long consultations, and
scripts to be written. There will be prognosis,
diagnosis, and even a bit of halitosis when one of your
patients inadvertently breathes on you. There will also
be misdiagnosis, possible law suits, and large
overheads. All this because you thought working as a G.P.
in a country practice might be good for you.
Gift of Freedom by B. A. Llewellyn
Many years ago I read about
the charming Asian custom of giving a recently caged dove or pigeon as a special
birthday present. Symbolically, the bird and the gift’s recipient are
spiritually joined to one another, giving the bird’s ability to fly special
meaning and potency.
Traditionally, the new
bird-owner releases their birthday present, soon after receiving it.
They know that by giving freedom to their bird, they are giving freedom
to themselves. The newly released,
and their releaser, are emotionally bonded.
Together, they fly away from all their fears and worries.
Together, they draw a little closer to heavenly bliss.
It is meant to be a deeply spiritual moment, and a profound reminder of
our connection with all forms of life, and with life itself.
I gave my first pigeon to the
strong, forceful and beguiling woman, who was my agent and manager whose
affection and compassion had also turned her into a much-needed mother figure.
It was her birthday. She was
delighted by the symbolism of her present.
She wanted to feel some of that symbolic freedom straight away.
She insisted on releasing the pigeon immediately.
We walked to the local park,
which was under the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
We were both delighted by the dramatic setting, and our own sense of
celebration. My dear friend opened the
small cage with all the aplomb of an opening night.
Well that’s not quite true. The
pigeon looked a little stunned, and cowered further back in its cage.
My friend waved the cage in the air, encouraging our little winged
companion to be free ... but he clung on to the cage as if his life depended on
Great Dunny Disaster by
You know those days when things are just so
dull, and you’re trying to read a comic or do a puzzle, but everything is just too quiet and you can count on it that something dreadful has just got to happen? Well, this is about one of those days.
I had only two brothers then, and a little sister who was so soft-fingered and so powdery, milky smelling that she can have no place in this story. It is about my hard, warty-fingered, brown, dusty smelling brothers, covered in boy-germs and completely yucky. And it’s about me. I was a girl with short red pigtails then, and I was eleven. Warren was nine and Peter was seven.
by B. A. Llewellyn
There were too many people
in the room.
She had been oblivious inside a magazine article
for about fifteen minutes, and now the room was packed.
“Not packed”, her
husband would insist if she tried to convey her
He would demand she view the room, and life, from his
She would find no safety in love and empathy.
There was none to be given.
She felt the panic rising in her chest.
She knew it would soon travel into her throat and
she would want to scream.
There was a door
on the opposite side of the room.
The chairs and couches had been pulled to the
walls, and she was buried in the folds of one of the
many uncomfortable lounge chairs.
Someone had bumped against her, not bothering to
apologise for the personal invasion.
It had brought her mind back to the room, and all
the people who now crowded its space.
She would have to wrestle her way out of the
straightjacket chair, and walk determinedly through the
people and out of the door.
Then there would be a corridor where there might be more
people, and then the elevator might be another endurance
she had no choice.
Whatever dignity and sanity was still available to her
was waiting on the roof.
The roof would give privacy and peace.
It was her secret garden.
There were plants and fountains and comfortable
grounds surrounding the building were compact and
shadowed, but the roof held sunlight and starlight.
It had been her sanctuary ever since her husband
had joined The Company.
She knew her husband would be upset with her for leaving
She also knew he would humiliate her if she sought
solace in his company. She had learnt to look after herself when these attacks
Homeless Angel by B. A. Llewellyn
was cold and I had a touch of the miseries.
I hate the cold. It frightens me with its intensity and its control of my
physical being. And
some colds are worse than others.
Melbourne has a terrible cold.
It chills you right to the bones.
The cold of London is similar.
We were in London.
small nuclear family was living in a basement flat.
Everyone thought we were very lucky to have walked
into a flat that needed “sitting”.
I thought we were lucky too.
Except seeing nothing but people’s feet and dirty
pavement is less than inspiring ...
and it was dark … and cold.
had taken to feeling good and sorry for myself.
Our reason for being in London was not going well.
Our money was running out.
There were personal problems.
And it was cold.
day we were walking through the cold streets of London
towards a warm restaurant and a hot meal.
It felt like an inadequate treat to compensate for
black snow and grey frozen air, and loneliness.
hadn’t made a single friend since we’d arrived in this
frozen land. Cold
weather seems to separate people from their inner warmth,
making them markedly colder in their emotional responses.
I’d first noticed this reaction when living in
had been lonely there too.
Fate was about to give me a reminder.
I may have a right to feel lonely, but I had no
right to be miserable.
I was a blessed lady.
I was about to meet an angel.
The House Guest by Paul
Curtis (12,154 words)
Chestnut Cottage is a rather
quaint, Tudor thatched dwelling with its white walls and black oak timbers, rose covered lych-gate and a wishing well in the garden. It is very much the
stereo typical “chocolate box” image of an English country cottage.
It’s in a fairly remote area situated at the end of Vicarage Lane, some half a
mile from the church and about a mile from Appleby village itself.
My name is Harry Tyler and I lived in the cottage for more than twenty years and,
by the time summer came to an end, I had been in residence another eight months
after I died.
Not in a physical sense, my body did not lie undiscovered, decomposing in my
armchair; I was found and dealt with in the proper manner.
At the time I was happy enough to die though I took no hand in it, I hasten to
add. I died of natural causes.
The last year of my life was a mere existence after the death of my dear wife,
We had no children of our own and what other family that were left, we were not
Rose and I had been happily married for 47 years. We retired to Appleby
village and we had such a nice life together. She was my conduit to the world;
she was the interface that connected me to people. After she was gone, it was
like being stranded in a foreign land without a translator.
To find myself alone in the world, at the age of seventy four, filled me with
dread so I withdrew into the safety of the cottage and became very reclusive, only venturing out when I had to.
When I died, I thought I would be reunited
with my Rose again. But I remained in the cottage and she was nowhere to be
I spent every day confined to the cottage and garden, the same prison I confined
myself to before I died.
In many ways it was no different to when I was alive except I didn’t have to
eat or drink. Nor did I have to wash or comb my hair or trim my beard and, of
course, I didn’t feel anything. I was exactly as I was when I died … a fat, old
man with white hair and a beard, wearing the same clothes I had on when I
breathed my last.
I hoped to God I didn’t have to spend eternity wearing that awful red jumper. I
hated that jumper. The only reason I was wearing it at all was that my
favourite one was still damp and I didn’t want to catch a chill. If I had
realised I was going to pop my clogs anyway, I would have worn the other one.
Debbie McCurry (1,798 words)
beam of bright light, created by the sun reflecting through
the glass of the window, seems to highlight the colours of the
material Maureen is manoeuvring in her hands on the sewing
machine. Her mind
keeps telling her that the red, black and white tartan pattern
looks familiar, and she starts to rack her brains to recall
the memories that seem to want to rush back to the past.
Bitter. That was the
earliest sensation I could remember. Before sight,
sound or smell, there was a bitter taste. Years later, I
learned that the bitterness from those earliest memories
was my first taste of the Imp’s Milk. It was a foul ichor that burned, first down the throat and then
through the rest of the body, through the veins and
muscles and bones. A thousand hot needles clawing
The clacking of the train rumbled in his bones as it
rolled across the steel rails beneath the undercarriage.
The hills and trees ran past the window next to him.
Blurs of green, brown, and blue cobbled and mixed as the
train shook and rumbled through the land. Noah looked
out the window, seeing the world beyond. Forever and
ever beyond his reach. He pulled out his pocket watch.
Its soft ticks were out of tune with the shudders and
shakes of the moving train.
The watch was plain, its cheap brass frame polished yet
stark. No marks of distinction to indicate it or its
owner as anything more or less than ordinary. The owner,
while not short, was skinnier than the rails the steam
engine travelled upon. His gangling limbs seemed almost
too long for his reclined body. His brown eyes were
calm. He turned his gaze from the cabin window and to
the watch. He then spoke, out loud, for the only other
occupant of the cabin, “We are two hours into the
train’s journey.” His voice was controlled and even. He
put away the pocket watch and looked across the cabin to
the older man seated before him.
story is exciting, well written and ultimately uplifting but it does involve
The 50-year-old piano seemed to fill the small room with its enormity. A violin lay in a corner as if condemned to obscurity by its more conspicuous cousin. A single bed cramped the remainder of the room. Clothes randomly crisscrossed over it slightly offset the meticulously set up furniture in the little apartment. Amidst the clothes lay some sheets of music, notes neatly transcribed around the ledger lines. Music, which he had composed in the wee hours of the previous day, for his performance at the city’s concert hall, adorned those pages, and now sprang into life as he practiced the piece.
The Mystic Vagabond
I was five years old when I first
invoked the Moon Goddess. I wasn't a High Priestess, and Wicca was a
foreign word to me. I was just a kid, taking a midnight stroll
around the neighborhood with my mother.
We did that often when my father was home, screaming out in pain,
and waiting for the Nyquil to take effect. Back then, the doctors
sent cancer patients home to die with no more than an
over-the-counter drug to deal with the physical discomfort. That
night, like many nights before it, we walked.
The usual crowd was gathered around Dominick's Social Club. There
were men playing dominoes and cards, challenging anyone to a game,
as a young group of women, watching them, were drinking gin and
tonics. I could see the Go-Go dancers, on stage, every time the door
opened and closed, while a yokel was trying his hand at clever
lyrics and catchy tunes on an acoustic guitar.
The Snow Angels by Paul
It had been an amazing year,
a life changing year, a year never to be forgotten, beginning with love at first
sight and ending with a miracle.
It all began, of course, as all years do, on New Year’s Day. You might think
that very little occurs, let alone starts, on New Year’s Day as everyone is
either nursing a hangover or is just too tired to even contemplate participation
in anything very much at all. Now, that may well be true for some, but not for
For me, New Year’s Day is no different to any other day of the year … after all,
isn’t every day the first day of another year? You might deduce from this that
if I have such disdain for the first day of the year that my feeling for the
last day of the old year might be likewise, and you would be right.
I am, and always have been, a Christmas person, I love every aspect of that
season … but New Years Eve has always left me cold. In fact, I dislike every
thing about it. I hate the crowded pubs, the noisy house parties, “old lang syne”,
first footing and, of course, the bloody fireworks.
I always spent the evening with likeminded people, namely, my younger brother,
Greg, eating Chinese takeaway and watching DVDS. We would prefer to go out to
eat but, to go anywhere decent, you have to book at Easter.
On the other hand, my friends, Dave and his wife, Emma, loved New Years Eve but
didn’t celebrate it for quite different reasons. Dave worked shifts as a porter
at the local hospital. He’d been there since he left school, which was nearly
fifteen years. It didn’t pay well but he really loved it. As a family man he
always managed to trade shifts so he had Christmas off but subsequently he
always had to work New Years Eve.
Emma was a housewife or homemaker, or domestic goddess, or whatever the pc speak
is. She had worked at the hospital as well until she fell pregnant with their
first child. Now they had three boys, all under 5 years old, so she never had
So, with all those in mind who do not participate in the Old years night rituals
either by design, as in my case, or by circumstance, as with Dave and Emma, I
set the scene for this tale. With all that said, let’s get back to the beginning
of the story, the start of that amazing year.
Unexpected Angel by Caroline
Stevenson (2,028 words)
The silence in the room was palpable; it hung ominously over the slight red haired woman sitting alone in the darkness. Cleo stood behind her shimmered slightly, her wings curved protectively around the small form. The angel could sense the dark tendrils of fear, suffocating and oppressive. She has stood over Kate many times as she cried, her sobs heart rending in the silence of the night. This time is different; the despair she can feel radiating out has never been this strong before. She has been mentally and physically broken.
Unsaid by Daniel
For the power to break the land was in fire, but fire wouldn’t come.
And the power to kill the fire was in water and water wouldn’t come.
And the power lap water was in wind but wind wouldn’t come.
Wandering along the West Australian
south coast, wintery elements jostled for control. Our walk was
motivated by a break in bleak storms and driving rain that had
plagued this holiday. But the weather, can’t be changed, so we
didn’t let it get us down. We were surprised to see a group of
people also drifting about, in what seemed like small circles,
gesticulating, and seeming to talk to themselves. A man came up to
us and said, "these people are having therapy, so would you mind not
"What’s therapy?" the child asks, once we were out of earshot.
"It’s when you do something to make yourself feel better. Like ice
and a bandage for a sprain, like drinking hot honey and lemon for a
sore throat or a tablet from the doctor. But what do you think can
be therapy if the sickness is inside your mind?"
"I don’t know."
"Well, you could sit on the beach in winter, listen to wind and
waves. Many people believe, because the ocean is always moving, you
can watch and somehow feel you belong, its shifting makes you feel
Generation Harmonica Player
by Carl Palmer
My dad was a harmonica player. He
always played the same 3 or 4 songs, but he played them well.
Everyone recognized “Skip to my Lou” and “She’ll be coming
around the Mountain”. On his visit to Germany, while I was in
the Army, he played “Ach Du Lieber Augustin” and “Beer Barrel
Polka” to everyone’s enjoyment over there.
Two Kinds of
Heroes in the World
Denise Marshall (635 words)
Here are two kinds of heroes in the world, volunteers and
accidental. There are many thoughts and opinions in the
and, mine is but one.
The Volunteer Hero
These heroes are well-known to everybody, everywhere.
Whether we need defence of armed forces, protection by (or
under) law enforcement, or rescue by fire-fighters and/or
paramedics, we know they'll be there. With the annoying
sound of blaring sirens and lights flashing, we can count on
the cavalry is coming to save the day! They are heroes who
took solemn oaths and dedicated themselves to serve humanity
of every gender, race, creed, belief and color. That means
you, you, especially you, and yours truly, me.
Violet and the Big Bed by
I saw her and I was transported back
to the first time. The first time I slept in the Big Bed.
I don’t know where Mom and Dad had been. I was only six or seven,
not old enough to be left alone. But I had known, instinctively,
that they were not in the house. The details are hazy. It could’ve
been midnight or nearing dawn. Maybe they had snuck out to an early
breakfast, thought they would be back before I woke up.
I remember rolling out of my twin-sized bed, knocking softly on
their door. It was as if there was an ellipsis hanging in the air,
like the ones in my Manga books that hung over characters heads to
indicate speechlessness. Boldly I entered.
And beheld the revered bed.
King-sized. Fit for a king. Forbidden to me.
It was not a curtained canopy bed. There was no frill or mystery to
it. But it was a behemoth of a bed, big mattress on a metal frame.
And it was off-limits.
When It Rains, It
The drops of rain fall
like acid onto his cardboard house. In the minute and
twenty-three seconds you spend stopped at that traffic
light, you watch his home, and most of his life,
disintegrate around him. The rain seeps through his box
and, even though the light turns green, you can’t help
but stay and admire the decay.
He’s wearing a black pea coat he probably found on the
ground, or stole from one of the other homeless men
lining this street. The coat looks almost as old and
withered as he. This is the only satisfaction you’ve had
in weeks - at least you aren’t him. You manage a weak
smile, as you drive a third lap around your block.
You continue to contemplate everything that’s happened
in the last year, as each raindrop beats your window
like a savage, fighting to obstruct your view of the
road. It’s a tempting thought to just shut the wipers
off on your silver B.M.W. 320 coup. You wonder what it
would be like to finally give up and let the rain just
take you in.
When Not to
Listen to the Teacher
Jean Kawak (422 words)
Her big, brown eyes looked up at me pleadingly, as the first tear began to roll
slowly down her soft, six-year-old, innocent face. I was as shocked as she was.
I had been called to my daughter’s new school by the remedial teacher.
Was I aware my daughter had learning difficulties?
Yes I was.
Due to constant ear infections Elizabeth had lost her hearing for the best part
of two years of her young life. Amongst other things, her speech had been
delayed and her reading was behind other children her age.
by B. A. Llewellyn
message was in the words.
Was Wednesday by Christine
We are walking away from school; his jumper over his shoulder, his shirt hanging out the back of his trousers.
"Nanny, you look like my
friend," he says. He jumps up onto a garden wall and walks along the top of it. A man with a grumpy looking face opens the front door and glares at Harry.