You Can’t Always Get What You Don’t Even Want

Cheryl Markosky Editor’s Note from Jan Kaneen: I came across the first version of this flash in a Retreat West workshop that Cheryl and I were attending, and was immediately struck by its sassy, quick-witted, playful voice and the changing pace of the narration. I liked the comedic take on the idea of unwanted things […]

Insolubles

Ali McGrane Editor’s Note from Jan Kaneen: I’ve been an admirer of Ali’s writing for ages. I love her use of lyrical and often startling language, her musical timbre and strange combinations; but I chose this piece because it opens with what might be called a cliche, or an often-used phrase that teachers of flash […]

Alien in the Garden

Gillian Walker Editor’s Note from Sudha Balagopal: Gillian Walker’s stories are layered and dense, the pace of her words allowing for a rich read. Alien in the Garden starts with a mystery―a skeleton that is found in the garden. Yes, this story is about the skeleton, and it’s also not about the skeleton. It’s about […]

Photography by Rudri Patel

Rudri Patel Editor’s Note by Sudha Balagopal: Rudri Patel is both a writer and a photographer. Nature tells us stories, and in the hands of a skilled photographer like Rudri, these tales can sing, they can dance, they can transmit moods. Here are some fabulous pictures–a lonely cactus, an orange sky boasting a ruby pink […]

Bee Costume

Dan Sanders Editor’s Note from Janice Leagra: I’m drawn to Dan’s stories because they are intelligent and entertaining, told from a singular slant. He has a rich imagination, as evidenced by the story below, and an ability to find the humor in a poignant situation. His characters are quirky, but believable. I appreciate his mastery […]

Violently Bashful

Melanie Tomkins Editor’s Note from Ian O’Brien: I heard this poem performed at the Coalition open-mic event, which Mel is co-founder of. I love her poetry – the imagery, the word play, the strong character voices she creates. This poem showcases Mel’s talent with imagery and her love of nature. I love the ambivalence, the […]

A Percussion of Bones

Victoria Buitron Editor’s Note from Janice Leagra: I asked Victoria if she had any pieces to submit because I am drawn to the honesty and tenderness in her work. She writes openly of emotional topics, such as the one featured here today, crafting sentiment without sentimentality.               She tries to hide her fingers’ decline so […]

So Much In Between

Ellen Weeren Editor’s Note from Sara Siddiqui: Ellen Weeren gives us the story of a woman who’s birthing a baby right after the man, the baby’s father, walks out on her. A story that isn’t new but needs to be told again and again for the emotional and physical trauma women are subject to as […]

That Doggie in the Window

Stephanie Austin Editor’s note from Sudha Balagopal: Stephanie Austin’s creative non-fiction is at once poignant and loving. In That Doggie in the Window, Stephanie tells us about her grandmother, Sis, who lived in a group home, a lady with definite opinions and a colorful personality. As is the case with Stephanie’s other work, we come […]

The Red Dress

Gina Harlow Editorial note from Sara Siddiqui: Sometimes, after the death of a loved one, you might hear things about them from others, things that might cast a sliver of doubt in your mind—whether you really knew the person you are grieving for. With time, you accept it’s impossible to know everything about a person, […]

The Forms I Took to Escape From You

Sharon Telfer Eel … you, all slippery sweetness baiting your trap, me, gliding sliding straight in, wriggling slithering bumping those curving lips closing in writhing the edges curling in those grappling fingers the turning back, impossible … Bear I roared. You muzzled my jaw and set hot metal under my feet, clapped as I danced […]

Assembly Instructions For a Love Triangle

Raima Larter LoveTriangle.com Thank you for completing our online questionnaire. See below for your personalized LoveTriangle kit instructions! Materials included in your personalized LoveTriangle kit:Item H: One (1) 58-year-old grocery clerk (female, Helen), inheritance recipientItem A: One (1) 59-year-old geologist (male, Alan), recently widowedItem B: One (1) former high school boyfriend (Bentley), rancherItem F: Two […]

Pale Urn for Hydras

Haolun Xu i.   Am I so bad? All I ever wanted was to simply transcend all things.   But life as a whole will abandon me for this. It has been decided upon arrival that we should live and die as trees. But we eat trees too, don’t we.   My special talent. What […]

The Other Side of Me

Helen Chambers               A confident stranger with newly-cropped hair stares back at me in the mirror. Does she feel lucky, I wonder? She tosses a coin, we both watch it spinning in a low slant of sunlight which elbows its way through the shuttered windows of this closed-up house. Heads means leave tonight: so I […]

Un, Deux, Trois

Helen Chambers ‘Morning all – hope you’re wide awake, cheerful and ready to work hard. Don’t yawn, George, or you’ll set me off again. Hello Mrs Smithson, I can’t talk now as I’ve already started the lesson as you can see, so why don’t you come in after school? You can’t? Tomorrow morning at 8.15 […]

The Counselors of Stelita Tero

Mike Keller-Wilson The counselors of sleepaway camp Stelita Tero are beasts, uncaged till morning. By now, we’ve shed our counselor skins, stripped off first-aid fanny packs and letter-bead bracelets. We’ve unclipped our nametags and go nameless, feral. I am not Shamrock, not until the breakfast bell rings at seven thirty. That’s not Bonsai and Choo-Choo […]

You Never Do

Daniele Nunziata Even God had a day off. Even machines need a day off. Even the moon, once a month, takes an evening off. But you never do. // Do you remember that week when we first saw Rome? I would trade in the sum of the Sistine Chapel and the Parthenon just for you […]

A Horse Named Kairos

Marissa Hoffmann When Dad isn’t reading, he’s talking, and there’s no stopping him when he’s in a good mood. Mum is on a work trip, and Dad hasn’t noticed I haven’t brushed my hair. He’s buttering bread, chatting on about the Ancient Greeks—a special moment they called Kairos. He says it’s when someone does something […]

A Girl Broken Down

Heather Shaw Sixteen fingers and four malicious thumbs hold me to the bed, Then they get to work. Stretch out my arms till S N A P   The cartilage churns up into a thousand pieces A splitting of my atoms, bone into confetti The party pieces float, trapped in the vacuum of human space. […]

In Carini

J. Kenny each afternoon on that ancient dusty hill in a square of smooth slippery stone a crowd gathers in front of a church for a funeral or wedding. the only difference is how the crowd greet the man in the suit at the top of the marble steps worn by the footsteps of mourners […]

While It Snowed

J. Kenny on a Sunday we walked through a cemetery while it snowedand the flowers left at Christmas were now frozen on the tombstones.the snow crunched under our feet and everything else was silentand I watched a single flake fall and melt on your lip. we stopped in a brick archway by a fir tree […]

It Pulls You Under

Laila Amado The season of the fogs brings heat and languor to this island lost in the middle of the sea. Everything sticks. The fabric of my dress, the man I’ve met at the bar the other day. “Where is your husband?” he says, eyes roaming over my left hand. Bed linens cling to my […]

Thistle

Ives Phillips I let the bud poke my palette,Bitter up my tongue,Because I’d rather that thanGrin a grin you don’t deserve. I reserve my honey and blushOnly for those that were thereTo tie a balloon to my wristAnd feed the light in my eyes. I blew a dandelion back thenWishing us all well, only toWatch […]

Driven Home

Rob McIvor Alice stops the car in a quiet spot, a service road behind the Multiplex. The last film ended an hour ago and there won’t be any deliveries to the catering franchises on a Sunday morning. She switches off the lights but leaves the engine ticking over, to keep the heating going for a […]

Cornered

Liz Churchill He’s racing to catch up with his mum when he spots leopard skin between the wheelie-bins. It’s well past his bedtime, well into the meat of the evening but curiosity stops him dead. The shape is roaring softly, red talons scuffing against the plastic. He looks down, sees toes trapped, heels raked up […]

Domestic Blindings

Jenny Wong After my thirty-seventh birthday, I begin to wander the house at night with the lights off, and wonder if this is how it will feel to become like the other women in my family.  10 steps down. A carpeted landing. 3 steps down. Ground floor.  A formula my will body remember long after […]

Brought to Bed with a Good Book

Jacqueline Saville Kerry agreed to be my birth partner eventually. She’d been in greater denial than me about my expanding waist and ballooning ankles. It was the cravings that convinced her, the night I was wearing out her living room carpet, crossing back and forth in front of EastEnders till she had to give up […]

Instructions for Maintaining the Fabric of Your Universe

Karen Jones and soft touches in those first few hours of the honeymoon. Slow caresses, case still full of dresses, this room the only world, his touch all the covering you need. his scent from your skin. Sweat-mingled, salt-taste to tongue, you never want to be clean again. if you have to. But do it […]

The Language of Flowers

Grace Palmer “Dearest,” he began, but as he hesitated over the next word his pen dribbled ink onto the paper and blotter.  Harry tore the draft letter in two and fed it into the grate with fire tongs. The embers coughed up a meagre flame.  How could she? But The Times announcement left no room for […]

He May Be Human, But I Am Not Divine

Rachel O’Cleary He still wants me to finish first, like before. Sometimes he stops himself so that I can. Sidles up to the brink, and then goes still. Retraces his steps right to the very beginning and starts over. Once more, with feeling. I used to encourage him. Lavishly, loudly. His name a series of […]

Double universe

Francine Witte There are forests, there are planets, there is the moon. In this universe, you are nothing but a speckity spec. *** There is another universe inside you. A double universe. Made of blood and bone and goo.  *** On a night of fullest moon, the two universes meet. Ooh, says the inner universe, […]

My Body of Work

Hannah Storm When I was little, my favourite season was autumn. It was when the trees turned the colour of my hair. My dad told me the dancing leaves were celebrating me. My parents never worried about losing me in a crowd, but I hated how my hair made me stand out. Later, it was […]

Papier Mâché

Elizabeth M. Castillo                                            I hate papier mâché the stodge, the sticky remains of the glue the way it gets everywhere, and is always far more effort than whatever activity I promised we’d do. I see through its thickness once the mask is shaped and set, and decorated in all bright, appropriate colours, though the […]

Remediation

Kate Gehan Her son Jonah noticed gray pellets of scat on the roofline leading up to a displaced board under a soffit and suddenly all the midnight rummaging sounds in the attic above Julia’s bedroom returned to her, an aural tilt-shift of something she had been trying to forget. “Probably a squirrel,” said Jonah.  Julia […]

The Soft Th

Rosaleen Lynch My English teacher counted my ‘you knows’ during a debate and the soft ‘th’ that made ‘dis’ out of ‘this’ and ‘dat’ out of ‘that’, that not even elocution lessons purged but now I don’t mind if ‘we three’ sounds like ‘we tree’ or that when I say the letter ‘r’ I think […]

Missing Person Sign at a Rest Stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike

Kate Deimling A blue line of highway snakes across the map.Alongside, a girl named Jean is enshrinedin image on the screen. It’s unmistakably a school picture:heavy blond bangs, face framed by ponytails,wide smile asking to be liked. Here’s her birth date,and I calculate she’d be 59.Contact state police if you have information. Is there any […]

The Ousterbout

E.E. Rhodes The day is spike-sprackled and winter-glorious, the neighbours are primed, and Gran is squawking fit to burst her way out of the prison of the bailiff’s arms. He is new. Worried by the gutterings of the charm-sparse audience.  Every quarter the landlord lickspittles his rent book and sends an ousterbout bailiff after the […]

Dream Baby

Max Hipp Shake your heart like a half-pint of milk, blow in it, put it back in. It’s another night of playing Lost Highway, Long Gone, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, waiting for her to stumble in to find you in your boxers with the cheap guitar, like something out of a sad movie, […]

Panache

T.L. Sherwood The thinness of the envelope puzzles me. Harris has sent a slender, white, unusual feather. Days later, an email explains he broke an international law to send a penguin’s feather. On his honeymoon, he thought of me. Among other places, T. L. Sherwood’s work has appeared in New World Writing, Jellyfish Review, Elm […]

Underworld

Cate West It is morning, early. Sunk on a mattress. The tube isn’t running or she’d feel the joists shaking. If she was home. She’s not home. She opens her eyes. Furrowed mattress, damp with cold. Fag-scarred carpet. An ashtray, half empty, a bottle, rolling. Smirnoff. How did she get here? Swam through the usual […]

Polyamory

Elle Shim He loved me the way an orange peeled in the next room permeates the universe for a night. In the morning   I drove back from Chicago still stinging, trying to scan ditches for deer in the dark, the glint off every mile marker mimicking the eyeshine of a shaking creature ready to […]

Three Poems: Between Two Mouths, Harm, and The Kiss of Judas

Lisa DeCastro Editor’s note: I’m drawn to Lisa’s poetry because it’s both intricate and accessible. Her poems are filled with desire, ache, love, loss and written with control and skill. They are richly written and felt. — Janice Leagra Between Two Mouths Between two mouthsAn exchange of eternityWords utteredSilently at firstWithout baring teeth Lips apart, […]

Three Poems: Lessons in Alchemy, Name Your Poison, Behold, The Universal Uterus

Seanín Hughes Editor’s Note: These poems are taken from Seanín’s debut full collection-in-progress, Reasons for Admission, wherein each poem corresponds to a reason for admission to lunatic asylums during the nineteenth century. In this selection, ‘Lessons in Alchemy’ toys with ‘hard study’, ‘Name Your Poison’ answers to ‘opium habit’, and ‘Behold, the Universal Uterus’ responds […]

So That Light Carries Through

Chris Panatier Editor’s Note: Chris has a talent for writing the uncanny, to which I am very drawn, because of how it reflects the dark mysteries of real-life. Things don’t add up. Humans and the world around us are rife with contradictions. We think we know so much, when, in fact, we know so little […]

Our Last Night (tw: abuse)

Travis Cravey Editor’s note: I am drawn to Travis’s writing because his stories are honest and memorable. He features characters the reader sees, knows, and interacts with often in real-life. These people have dreams, but their choices, misjudgments, or lack of insight can bring on their own disasters, which rings true for this reader. There […]

Between The Nail and The Skin

Hema Nataraju Editorial note from Janus Literary reader, Myna Chang, who asked Hema to submit her work: I love the way humor can heighten the emotional complexity of a story. A touch of levity, or an unexpected quirk, can capture a reader’s attention and lend more power to those poignant “gut punch” moments. “Between The […]

yellow train

Lost Property

Lynda Cowles 13:44 The last train leaves the station. Rails hiss. Cables buzz. Pigeons flap then float back down. On the platform, a suitcase waits. Ludo drags it into the station office; lugs it onto the desk with a thump. It’s old and leathery, like him. Agnes the ticket seller shuffles over, pokes it with […]

writings in a planner

Accommodation

Kim Murdock Her husband worked late and her daughter was made of clothes and music so Miranda decided to arrange the calendar to accommodate herself. That grid of numbers in a sea of unremarkable white space.  On Monday, she locked the bathroom door and ran a bath. Taps full open until musky bubbles crept up […]

pink background with speech bubble

Speech and Language Milestones

Kathryn Aldridge-Morris Between 0-6 months babies should coo, begin babbling and mimic sounds                        Heart rate dipping, something about the umbilical cord around your neck twice, a canula’s pumping pitocin into my hand to restart contractions, but all that’s contracting is my calf with a cramp Manuel says he’s seen grown footballers cry with. When you’re […]

food plate healthy restaurant

Sunshine Sugar

Amy Stone I smile. I can hear those paws in the snow, padding over to where I stand. Sure enough, he’s at my feet. He sits. The pads of his feet are thick but still, it makes me shudder to think of him out in this. Mammy says I’m not to give him the bones, […]