Out through the In Door by Alan
Walking in as if the sky never ended, the young man acknowledged to himself that the functionality of time might be lifted if everyone in the room carried with him or her a kind of nod of silent consent. Then the sky and gravity and purpose, the physiognomy of existence even, might shift. And like a great and mighty tectonic plate, a life would overlap with another’s. A wave would lick a pier. Two wings would collapse the light over the earth for, let’s say, prey. Day would turn into night, literally, and the darkness would be lit with the fire of life without borders, history, limitation, or rhyme.
This was the end of summer, of course, and his friends were not there yet. It was in these moments of waiting for something or someone when his mind would race with what might be called absurd or tinged with neon or dandy or whatever his parents would murmur when he was younger in that other language. No good guys or bad guys. Just life. Stepping back outside the door now, he imagined the entire edifice extending an arm around the ghost of him and everybody else in that world of right now and snapping a quick, innocuous selfie before slipping inside to smoke and mirrors.
Burn Against, Speak After by Bill
You know my name. But please, don’t speak it out loud.
And of course, no pictures. Nice enough place here. Quiet, and unlikely. The people seem fine, if hushed and dark, so you have to follow lines of pale light above your head to find the way outside again, but maybe that’ll keep the Wing Grave away.
Our expectations tend toward an irrational awareness, a failed perception of the nature of the people near to us, and the nearer they are the poorer our expectations become as we expect them know us better. Take the manager here, in love with the bartender. I order another bourbon and leave a five on the counter with my current number written on it.
Desire is the enemy of precision. Madness the only bridge between the two.
I let it ring when the bartender calls and go back toward the cabin. Alone all I can do is stare at the moon and hope I don’t pass out drinking too much champagne in the hot tub. Together we could dance in the firelights, listening as the roof buckles and the flames burst through and the low echoing chirp rumbles in the woods as morning comes bringing the Wing Grave.
Dry Creek by Johanna
It was dim and uncertain and he took her hand anyway relieved when she didn’t pull away though his palm began to moisten and stick uncomfortably but she held fast until he gave her a little squeeze and released, that one touch being enough to satisfy him for a time, to assure him that she was still there because although she sat beside him day in and day out, he couldn’t really see her if seeing is truly understanding as she remained an enigma to him and with his other hand he lifted the mug to his mouth and looked up at the mirror behind her where he could see the back of her head blocking out all of his reflection but his eyes and the rim of the mug and he saw for a second that she wasn’t actually there at all, she had been replaced by a more obscure form so he dropped his glass and stood to leave, but she cried out, “Where are you going?” and he said, “I thought it was real, but it’s not real. It’s all dried up. There’s nothing left of us. We’re crackling dirt searching for rain,” surprised that he spoke in metaphors because it wasn’t really like him but it was the first thing he thought of when it came time to explain his sudden departure: the arroyo he used to explore in as a child and the day the rains came and he ran for his life from the flash floods and how the next day there was nothing again, only dark clay – she seemed to understand this though she was from some other world where creeks never dried up, and she nodded her head in agreement, so he left, he left her sitting there alone, the back of her head nodding.
Wash by Lyle
The smoke won’t wash off, he said to me. But I knew it already. My clothes, my skin, even my eyes were a washed out gray. Sometimes I would stand in the room, very still, and people would file right by me as if I wasn’t there. My nostrils, clogged with skin-like layers, smelled only the smoke but I wouldn’t have changed any of that. I sleep in a smokey room at the Dry Creek Cafe. I drink beer in the smokey room there. I am part of the smoke now, ethereal and thick. I know, I said to him, but he was gone already.
Dry Creek Cafe by Nicole
It really doesn’t matter if I’m on the inside or the outside of this bar. I adjust the rearview mirror to check my makeup and attempt to move my bangs, but my fingers are caught in the too stiffly curled hair Jamie teased up an hour ago. The makeup on my face feels heavy and Halloweenish. I shift my knees back and forth to try and adjust my shirt, but my heel hits the brake and red light illuminates the cars parked in the grass lot behind me. The waist of Jamie’s skirt is cutting into the skin around my stomach and I want to unbutton it so I can take a breath. I imagine the irritated red line the waistband will leave on my skin. Jamie’s clothes are always two sizes smaller than what a rational person would wear. I click and unclick the windshield wipers and watch the clock. Why do I always seem to be fifteen minutes early? I should be fifteen minutes late. Make the guy think I’m not coming. Out of washer fluid I move to the blinker and shift the turn signal from the right to the left side of the car. In the dusk the yellow light reflects off the windows and chrome bumpers of the other cars. I want to leave. I run through a list of excuses. A sudden headache? Stomach flu? Food poisoning? I raise the stakes. Make a more believable story so Jamie will stay off my back. Maybe I hit a dog on the way over and have to rush him to the emergency vet and wait for his family to come. I could send a message to the guy through Facebook telling him I am so sorry and I will call him when I get a chance. Is that too much? I could always say I didn’t see him there. Say I looked and no one was wearing the John Deere hat he described on the phone. Jamie would be disappointed, but I could take a hot shower and put on reasonably sized clothes. What does it matter? I jam my fingers under the waistband of the skirt to pry it from my stomach. Move to fix my stiff itchy hair. I turn the ignition off. Ten more minutes of waiting.
There There by Forrest Roth
When he met her there there was nothing but smoke there there even a Sorry For Our Smoke sign with bar girl making extra round to wipe off the residue that smoke accumulates there there by the grace of god go I there there amongst them but it's not so bad there there being a new state law now clearing the smoke so he could see her there there she wanted to be with him eating fried catfish and drinking longnecks by the dock there there he sat coughing in front of her wanting badly to explain he deserved his coughing and what was following very closely behind it but much rather hear her voice inflect there there settling in his last good bronchiole the speck.