At the End of Hope

[flash creative nonfiction]

Every once in a while, I dream of the impending apocalypse. I dream that I am watching it swallow Manhattan from the shores of Brooklyn—a transmogrified landscape where the outline seems more distant but provides an uninterrupted view from a row of dilapidated brownstones and the “beach” of Kent Ave.

No fences, no condominiums—just grey skies (fire & foreboding) and the abyss of forever, rocked gently by the soft waves of the East River.

—and somehow I am on hope street but not Hope Street because I am by the water. I am surrounded by mutations of its memories: just bricks and gravel and the smell of weed and spray paint and beer and the endless cigarettes, hand rolled and unfiltered (a small circular piece of cardboard at the tip).

In my dreams, my past is now. Breeze carries his machete underneath a Confederate handkerchief and Fumiko and Nozomi make tea in the kitchen and someone somewhere in the loft is inevitably fucking some stranger no matter the time or day. When we paint an angel on the wall, Morgan’s smoking Vinny’s weed and I’m drunk and we’re surrounded by girls with foreign accents, who accessorize and apply bright lipstick for doomed parties on the other side of the L, their matte lips like B&T passports.

In their room, Someone is spending Eternity singing or painting or writing or filming or sewing or crying or memorizing lines or faces or moments in time. The models sit in awkward poses with their eyes burning holes through the lens. Joe organizes them in clean, white lines. We’re all playing like bored children, like we’re all important now.

(with distance, I’m not sure if some things are memories or dreams)

If we’re lucky, at night, we will go to some dark show in the first floor of a warehouse and we will be surrounded by art and candlelight and bodies and bodies of strangers for our beds, for our own art—to make something with our tongues and with our hands. Something “real,” a truth uncovered—all while waiting for the end to reach our island; to wash us, the memories of us, all away.

Picture1

photo: Joseph Clement

Jesi Bender

Jesi Bender is an artist from upstate New York. Her writing has appeared in Zouch Magazine, Split Lip Magazine, Luna Luna Magazine, Chicago Literati, and Winter Tangerine among others. www.jesibender.com.

Remember, Remember

[flash fiction]

The Barrow, the Nore and the Suir. Three rivers. Sister rivers. I remember. Three coins in a fountain. Gallia in tres partes divisa est. A new fountain pen for Christmas. Father was proud of my best copperplate. Miss Quiller pointing to the blackboard. Speak up, child. I emancipated the slaves. Who am I? 

What is this place? Why are my hands so mottled?

Those children slouch and mumble. They appear to be lost. Speak up, child; who am I? I do not understand what they are saying. That woman has no control over them. Belfast was known for linen and shipbuilding. I wish she wouldn’t grasp my hand so. She mistakes me for someone else. She seems a little unstable. Like that woman in the bathroom with the bedraggled hair. She should tie it up.

Tears.

I can taste salt. Tomorrow I shall gallop across the sands on Reuben. My hair will unfurl behind me; my skirts will billow in the wind. Mens sana in corpore sano. Mother will chide me for being unladylike. For wearing my hair untied.

I do not know this room.

Breathe. One, two. In Mississippi, out Mississippi.

I remember my bookshelf. Huckleberry Finn and Shelley. “O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being.” That is Shelley’s most famous opening line.

She sells sea shells on the sea shore. Reuben is a joy to ride now that he has been brought to bridle. Was I unbridled? But Aunt Kitty presented me. How odd to think one would be among the last of the debutants. The newspapers blame it on the Suez business. Be precise, child. Yes, Miss Quiller. 1958, Miss Quiller. My duchesse silk gown is coral pink with side panels of ruching and unique pearl embroidery on the bodice. It was a triumph. Mother would have loved it.

Aunt Kitty knew W. B. Yeats. Or so she said. He used to come to her salons.

So she said. She said he was a womanizer. She always wore a cameo brooch. There was a strand of hair on the inside of the brooch. From one of her lovers. Did it belong to Yeats?

My arm is bruised. Syringes. I want to go home. Who am I? 

Home is where the heart is. Sisters at heart. Three sisters. Rivers. Who am I?

Of course. Abraham Lincoln. I remember. The 5th of November. Gunpowder, treason and plot. I remember.

Carol CaffreyCarol Caffrey is a native of Dublin who now lives in Shropshire, England. At various times a professional actor, teacher, and full-time mother, she now concentrates on writing in between touring a one-woman play written by renowned Irish poet and playwright Paula Meehan, called Music for Dogs. Carol’s stories and poems have appeared in the literary magazines Bare Fiction Magazine, The Fish Anthology (Flash runner-up), Ink Sweat and Tears webzine, and the Wenlock Poetry Festival Anthology 2016, where she supported the headline poets Lemn Sissay and Daljit Nagra. She is delighted that her work is appearing in Lunch Ticket.

Centaur

[flash fiction]

I’m standing outside under a streetlamp, waiting. I’m not supposed to go in there. First, I am an alcoholic and I can’t go near a bar. I turn into a liar within two drinks, spreading gossip and promises, and hinting at extraordinary, eccentric hidden wealth. Two more and I am a beast, busting glass and wood, spurting blood, waking up later with rocks in my head, remembering nothing. Also, I’m a man of faith and I shouldn’t be in those places—places where ladies take off their clothes for money—and third, I’ve been banned. But Amber is inside there, so I stay. Check my watch. Count the time to when her shift ends.

The side door fills with light and she appears. She pulls her coat collar around her long neck, looks straight ahead, then walks down the alley. She wears sunglasses, a defensive act meant to insulate her from sloppy regulars, men who stuff her garter with crumpled ones and fives. I want to tell her it is dangerous after dark. That she needs to be aware of the dirty Lapiths who walk the night. She crosses Main and Whistler then passes the pool hall and the 24-hour Laundromat. I follow, like I do every night.

I’m not a perfect man. I’m veiny and thick and not pleasing to look at, plus I did a two-year bit for something I’d rather not talk about. I wasn’t violent. At least I wasn’t that violent. The guy had it coming. I was headed for worse until two weeks in de-seg, where I met my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What I learned is that some of us are meant to straddle the world between good and evil and that God has made me a protector of the innocent. I have a purpose now. My purpose is her.

She steps into Bogie’s. She’ll order a burger and salad, steamed milk and Jello. I count to thirty, then go inside, slipping into the booth behind her. I order black coffee and cherry pie. Then I hide behind the newspaper and wait. When I look around it, she’s no longer there. She’s slipped away. My heart sinks.

She slides into my booth and says, “Why are you following me?” She is sharp-faced, suspicious. Her neck is thin and fine. I see tendons and ribs of trachea, a pulse fluttering under the skin. I say nothing.

“I see you every night, you know. You’re not that good at this.”

“I’m not trying to hide anything,” I say.

“Then why are you following me?

“Not following,” I say. “Guarding.” This is the truth.

“Why? You don’t know me.”

“It’s my job,” I say. “I protect the innocent. You’re an innocent.”

“I’m not,” she says. “You know what I do.” She cuts her eyes sideways.

“Everybody has a sin nature. Sometimes you can leave it behind, sometimes you have to live with it. Doesn’t mean you’re not precious.” I sip my coffee and look in her eyes for the first time. They are amber, like her name.

“I’m precious,” she says, the doubt catching in her throat.

“You’re precious in my sight,” I say. “Got a problem with that?”

“I don’t know,” she says, but she stays. Tucks her hair behind her ear. Takes a bite of my pie. Sits back.

Dawn DavisDawn S. Davies (www.dawnsdavies.com) has an MFA from Florida International University. She is the 2016 recipient of the Arts and Letters Susan Atefat Prize for Creative Nonfiction, and her essay collection, Mothers of Sparta, received the 2015 FIU UGS Provost Award for Best Creative Project. She was recently featured in the Ploughshares column, “The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week.”  She had a notable essay in the Best American Essays 2015, and a Pushcart Prize special mention for nonfiction in 2015. Her work can be found in The Missouri Review, Fourth Genre, River Styx, Brain, Child, Hippocampus, Cease, Cows, Saw Palm, Ninth Letter, Green Mountains Review, Chautauqua, and elsewhere.

Bases Covered

[flash fiction]

He is nineteen, American, and devout. Today, he wears a backward baseball cap in place of a yarmulke for the first time. This might lead to long, uncomfortable conversations when old, Protestant men chastise him at dinner tables. He decides this isn’t a legitimate concern. He mostly eats with Jews, and such men don’t care about ball caps at the dinner table anymore.

Jaimie Eubanks

Jaimie Eubanks lives, works, and writes in Minneapolis and Miami. She is currently pursuing an MFA at Florida International University. Her work can be found in Buried Letter Press, Literary Orphans, Thought Catalog, and Word Riot. To read more of Jaimie’s writing, visit www.jaimieeubanks.com.

Cloud Glitches

[flash fiction]

We see a glitch in the sky that looks like a pixelated cloud. It bursts into rain, soothing the drought-ridden rainforest, then it implodes.

More glitches appear, raining all over the unusually dry continent. Summer vacationers welcome refreshing relief from sun. Farmers rejoice.

A hacker releases a video taking credit for the rainclouds. She wants her own tropical island in return for saving the country. She gets it.

The source code is released, and others make cloud glitches hail, snow, and change colours. One sells rainbows on demand for events.

Meteorologists and climatologists warn against the use of artificial clouds. One cluster turns into a tornado resembling chaotic Tetris.

Once crops and lawns are green again, people lose interest in rain glitches. The sky returns to natural blue, with wild fluffy clouds.

S.KayS. Kay zaps one tweet at a time on future and fact. She is the author of Reliant, an apocalypse in tweets (tNY.Press Books, 2015), Joy (Maudlin House, 2016), and Spambot Psychosis (2015). Follow her at blueberrio.tumblr.com and @blueberrio.

a little saw

It was the first time she let a man touch her face like that. She wanted a soft warm glow of a room, but instead got clinical. A light bulb shot to her eyeballs. The man’s white fingers were bone delicate. His hands, they swept up the dark strands of her hair, and he looked at her ears. Then he touched them. She could feel herself shiver in far off tiny places.

She never wants to wear her hair up, her mother told him, She’s self conscious about them.

Maggie watched the swirl of photographs on the wall. The office staff had made a collage of their families. Wives and babies and children with smiling faces. The doctor took a fat black crayon and marked on her ear. He said, This is where I would cut.

He explained the procedure. All this could be done during her summer break, if she’d like. She could start junior high new.

Maggie could feel her own self lying on a cold steel table. The knives’ happy blades. Open flap of tangerine skin, and they’d wrap her up. A sterile prison of bleached white gauze.

What about her nose? her mother said.

The doctor held the small of her face, but did not look in her eyes. He marked slowly down the slope of her nose with his black crayon.

This is where I would cut, he said again, and this is where I would cut.

Maggie felt his words like precision. She could feel the blade on her bone. A little saw. He turned her head, so her mother could see. Her profile. He said that it would be lovely. She could have a coin of a face.

MoMonique Quintananique Quintana is an MFA in Fiction candidate and president of the Chicano Writers and Artists Association (CWAA) at California State University, Fresno. She is a Squaw Valley Writers Fellow, and the Senior Associate Fiction Editor of The Normal School literary magazine. Just like all her characters, she was born and raised in Fresno.