CNF

THE COLLAPSE OF A STAR by Jamie Etheridge

We sit in the van parked on the railroad tracks not knowing if the train is coming, or if you are going. You want to die. You said so and we believe you. Momma cries out, “Bill, please,” over and over and we wait, inhale then hold, for you to decide.  It was always like that. Random moments of drama; life or death, on the side of the road. That time in Texas in the middle of the worst blizzard in thirty years. The truck’s engine exploded and we were stuck, freezing, as semis whooshed past on the highway and

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FICTION

RETURN TO PLANET CLOWN by Nathan Hoil

Clowns vomit clown food. Clowns vomit anything dead that they find in the neighbor’s pool. I am looking so sharp I am made out of scissors. I do not remember a happier day.  The lungs in my stomach are hungry for air but I go back in the house and try not to think about all the dead clowns in my yard. Not even my loved ones love me.  “You’re too cute,” I say to a clown moments before they light me on fire.  I always thought I would live to see my own ghost. The horizon is a drug

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FICTION

NOSTALGIA by Timi Sanni

I fumble with my keys and find the odd, crooked one that opens my apartment. Relief instantly douses the fire of anxiety burning through me. At first turn, the door unlocks and opens and I almost fall flat on my face. For a split second, fuzziness fills my mind like a giant wad of cotton. The thought of burglars crosses my mind but is quickly replaced by the overriding smell of onions wafting from the kitchen. Two people had been robbed in this same building last month and I never fail to lock the door behind me when I come

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FICTION

THAT’S MY BOY by Jo Gatford

The cartoon cat hits the cartoon dog over the head with a wooden plank and an angry lump rises from the top of its head. The dog’s face turns red and steam escapes its ears like a whistling kettle. The cartoon cat is frightened. He presses the lump back down with his finger but it returns the moment he lets go. The dog is furious. The kettle blows. The dog chases the cat around and around and around. Frantic music plays.  We teach our son the word ‘gentle’ by stroking the back of his hand over and over but he

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CNF

I DEFINITELY NEVER LOVED YOU by Cory Bennet

It’s that time of year when California burns. It will peak in the Fall when the shadows begin to grow longer. There was a lightning storm across the Bay Area last night and fires today and ash falling from the gray sky. My knee is torn up from skating but I’m restless tonight so I cruise the neighborhood inhaling the poison air.  Once the fire had torn through my parents’ neighborhood, we tried to return but the cops had all the roads closed. My stepdad knew a way through an orchard. We came upon the house and it still stood.

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FICTION

KETCHUP by Rebecca Gransden

Ketchup went missing. I made some posters and taped them around the neighbourhood. Lost Ketchup Black and white cat. 7 yrs old. White socks. White spot on head (see pic). Last seen yesterday (Sept 27th) in the Glenwood area. Reward for information. Call us on ***** **** **** even if it’s bad news. Please return Ketchup if you have him, no questions asked. Ketchup is really missed. Every telegraph pole, lamppost, or empty surface around the nearest blocks had a poster attached. If Ketchup didn’t return, I planned to extend the search area to streets farther away. After a sleepless

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CNF

GRIEF IS AN EMPTY SHELL by Robert Julius

When I left for California in the summer of 2013, I knew what I was leaving behind. I was abandoning a home that had grown toxic over the years, from my mother’s addiction and the ensuing fights between her and my father. I was leaving behind the rural countryside of western Pennsylvania. I was leaving behind two best friends, two brothers, two parents, and a sister who had been in and out of prison for the last five years. I was also leaving behind an old me, and all my old pastimes, including my terrarium of land hermit crabs that

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