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I Meet Your Mother for the First Time by John Grey

She is in exile here.
your mother, the gray-haired female Napoleon, bestriding this St Helena of a kitchen. We find her on a rock between the wall cupboards, stove and table.
Your father moved out years ago, she does not recreate him,
merely nods towards the
remnants of his empire,
the walls, the ceilings,
honored by her choice
of curtain, paper, linoleum,
and this liberating cooking range.
Her eyes peck at me for
signs of constancy. I grip your hand tight. I’m aligning with her hopes

Thanks for Calling by Robert Madden

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Brian's father made some final touches with his pocket knife. He would have much preferred a piece of basswood, or even some pine. But due to the way things were, he had to make do with a lump of MDF scavenged from a skip.
It was painful for Brian to watch. The old man scratching away at a piece of scrap, in a futile attempt to win back his life's worth.
'Dad, will you put it down,' said Brian. 'You know there's no point?'
'Now son, none of that.' He continued to work his knife. 'When this is complete, you'll see. Things will be back on track.'
'But dad, it's . . . over. Forever. It's never coming back.'
When the crash came, it was so ruinous - so finite - that they didn't bother to reopen the markets. All stockholders were abandoned. Total and permanent wipe-out.
'Dad, are you listening? Your holdings were -.'
'Here we go,' said Brian's father. He held up his creation.
In fairness, he had done a decent jo…

A Music Never So Sweet by Anne Britting Oleson

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At the base of a wind-fallen cedar,
roots lifted into the damp air,
a small pond ripples softly, dappled
by this afternoon's sifting sunlight.
Listen, you whisper, leaning close.
Listen to the world turning.

In the time before we stood beneath
this breathing canopy, in the time
before I knew your voice,
I didn't know how to hear this.
The trill of the waxwing which
tumbles down, so many gold coins,
I could not then count among my riches. Nor the hollow fall into water
of the tiny wood frog, now only two eyes
like bubbles in the muddy pool.

And those songs, the ones you sing
under your breath, without thought,
as we step carefully among the ferns.
It's a blessing, you murmur
on the faint movement of air. Listen.





by Anne Britting Oleson

The Rules of Commuting by Janelle Hardacre

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Layla prepped herself to fit into one of the small spaces under the armpits of suited businessmen and hipsters. Her fourth day in her new job and she already understood the unwritten rules of tram travel. No eye contact. No huge rucksacks. No smelly food.

She’d timed the journey exactly. 12 minutes in the crush. So packed you could hear the squeak of uncleared sinuses. It was all worth it to be a Store Team Member in her favourite ever shop. Her new status was advertised on her lanyard, despite her not being allowed to wear it outside work. For Layla there’d be no more clearing trays for people who thought they were better than her because they didn’t wear a hairnet and rubber shoes.

Toes tapped inside her platform trainers as she turned on her playlist. She gripped the yellow pole and tried not to think of all the unwashed hands that had done so before her. The doors slid open and yet more commuters negotiated their way into the horde.

Layla felt moist breath on her neck and saw a stub…

Mrs Stone’s ENT Appointment by Chris Fielden

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The room stinks of disinfectant. You’d think with the amount of tax my Harold paid over the years they’d be able to afford something more fragrant.

The walls look like a paint factory has vomited on them. Modern art, they call it... Makes me feel queasy.

I look up and see my name in large red letters. Now everyone in the waiting room knows who I am. There’s no privacy nowadays.

I lick my lips and taste denture adhesive. It’s too minty. How am I supposed to enjoy a cuppa when it feels like I’ve been force-fed a Polo production plant?

I touch the door handle. It’s filthy. With £350,000,000 a week back in the NHS, you’d think they could afford to employ a few cleaners.

The doctor’s sitting behind his desk. His mouth’s moving.

“What?” I say.

He says something else. Why do young people mumble?

“You’ll have to speak up, dear.”

He stands and puts something in my ear.

“How’s that?” he bellows.

“There’s no need to shout, dear. I’m not deaf.”




by Chris Fielden
First published in Sensorially Challenged, Vol. …

Summer's Garden by Bobbi Sinha-Morey

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In the cool wind of early October I walk down to last summer's garden, morning glories twined among rows of cornstalks and up the ladders of leaves. I hear them calling to me, and I lean in to listen; delicate little trumpeters flaring their clarion tones, pink as the inner lip of a seashell, and I hear my own heartbeat rise and fall, a tide tugging me closer so I can see each one opening to the light, their faith but a star etched across their faces, rejoicing in their manna from the sun, in their day-to-day life.

by Bobbi Sinha-Morey

The Cold by Alice Pegler

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The cold smells like damp laundry that won’t dry. A musk that floats through the air, attaching itself to the lining of your throat like lint on a carpet. My breath pushes out before me like a cloud, commanding its warm existence into the bleak, shivering room.  I used to love the cold. Knitwear, parkas and rosy tipped ears. I loved the cold when I sat by the fire. The virgin snow gently blessing the ground outside. My icicle fingers melting around a deep mug of hot chocolate. Duvet dresses, movies days and mum’s soup.  Back then, the cold was aesthetic. A simple circumstance, resulting in a brisk pace, chattering teeth and a few numb toes before you were back in the kitchen, taking off your boots. The oven like room would envelop you in a soft satin embrace.  Now the cold is a selfish sister that tries to steal the sheets. She emerges from the deep ocean, pale and frozen, wrapping her rope like tentacles around my muscles, slowly constricting.  My limbs become stiff. I guzzle orange juic…