The best vintages have a distinctive character

Eleonora Balsano               Fresh blood is the colour of Pinot Noir, bright red and translucent.               I’ve never said this to the visitors. They all come just to get wasted.               I see it in their eyes as soon as they follow me down to the cellar, tiptoe on the stone steps. As the air […]

However far she runs away from home

Rosie Garland               My mother lives in a house full of gravestones. Every morning, she vacuums around their beds and washes their faces clean of any lichen that bloomed overnight, until they look fresh as the day of their funerals.               I’m sure there are more each time I visit. As a peace offering, I’m […]

She Remembers it Like This

Emily Devane               Always, the sun shines and the black telephone dangles from its cloister wall like a stricken beetle.               Always, the skipping rope circles and the dust rises and the Pujarnol air is thick.               And always, Ruby sits on a tree stump, watching the girls. The younger ones play a skipping game. […]

I took my skeleton for a walk today

K.A. Nielsen               My skeleton tilted their skull up, stretched their bones wide in the cool, crisp sun. We stood in the sun until they turned to me. Ready for whatever came next I suppose, and so we walked. Little golden leaves clung to most of the trees, but one was completely bare. My skeleton […]

A Fable of Two Halves

David Luntz Writer’s Note: Myths and fables have long interested me. So, I tried writing a quirky fable that shows how we lie to ourselves so easily. Originally, the story came to me as kind of thought experiment where I wondered: what if a person had a chance to live two separate lives at the […]

Seed of a Rainbow

David Luntz Writer’s Note: Seed of a Rainbow is the third flash in a series I’ve written about a fictional uncle (“Uncle Kev”). I’m not sure where he comes from, but he’s been visiting a teen version of myself over the last year or so. He’s annoying. He demands to be heard. He’s trying to stop […]

The Psychic Plays Dress-Up

Chelsea Stickle Writer’s note: The psychic snuck up on me one day. She tapped me on the shoulder and introduced herself as someone I already knew. That’s the unusual thing about writing a novel in flash. You get piece after piece but never the whole picture at once. She showed up when I finished the […]

Welcome to the Pixel Exhibition

Paul Thompson On screen you are an abstract masterpiece. I secretly take screenshots as we talk, print and rearrange them on my walls. In a gallery I would label them – laughing, frowning, embarrassed, quizzical, and so on. My exhibition title would be something profound, something only you would understand. Something about friendships and the […]

This Seagull

Richard Barr This seagull was bigger than my cat. Noticeably so. It was rush hour. All at once the people, so many people, emerged from their buildings and out onto the street. Up and down that long industrious stretch, tall, glass-fronted, non-descript buildings haemorrhaging…people…like a mass evacuation of ants from their anthills. People filled the […]

Osmosis

Shannon Frost Greenstein It doesn’t taste as bad as you would expect. I thought it would be like swallowing a mouthful of salt, but eventually, it goes down like regular water. # Did you know, if you’re ever lost at sea, you can buy your life back from Poseidon with a black pearl? There was […]

I’m a Corpse Flower, and I’ve Got a Bone(r) to Pick with You, Botany

Shannon Frost Greenstein So. Botany. Let me just say it, right out loud, because it’s what everyone is already thinking, anyway. I’m essentially a giant penis. I mean, sure. I’m more. I’m more than just my enormous stamen. I know. I am my absolute uselessness for years on end, for example, before I finally bloom. […]

The Vanishing

Jared Beloff 1. The house went without a sound during Mrs. Thompson’s daily trip to the mailbox last fall, her back turned from the crater where the front porch had been. When she looked up from a fistful of circulars and credit offers, the absence announced itself in a plume of smoke, the crumpled paper […]

My Boyfriend’s Wife

Iona Rule When I’m with my boyfriend, who is also her husband, he serves me spaghetti in their pond green bowls. I lick them clean, imagining her tongue. My boyfriend laughs and wipes the red stains from my chin.  My boyfriend’s wife is away a lot. She is a paediatrician, working shifts or headlining conferences, […]

Untied

Al Kratz Skitter scattering critters of the ceiling, we’re trying to sleep around here. I guess boundaries and borders. I guess party time for the nocturnal. Siri, what is the opposite of nocturnal? Oh, that makes sense. Let’s take a moment here. A sleep prayer for the diurnal. Our cat likes to party day and […]

God knows what to do with our bed

Kik Lodge Down in Grignan, a man called Didier has a comfortable clic-clac. He’s a self-diagnosed poet and truffle-hunter, says all treasure lies beneath. What I find confusing is that he calls out Mother! in his sleep and his boar is also called Mother. — I spent last Monday night on a bunkbed. It’s ridiculous, […]

The Man With the Moon

Sabina Wong               Little Ramon Huang was in love. His child’s mind too small for him to process this particular complexity, all he could do was lay on his back, stare at the stars he longed for, and cry.               The older he grew, the more his passion consumed him. He read about space at […]

The Other Mothers

Kelle Clarke               The early morning train passes swiftly through the thick trees below, sending her coffee mug jittering across the counter. She wonders what time they’ll arrive. The noon train rattles her teeth. They are fastened tight to her jaw with industrial epoxy, though they are all her own. Sharp little fuckers, they used […]

How to visit an Irish peninsula in the 1970s

Mary Byrne Take the long way around a coastal promontory on a Sunday afternoon. Floor the accelerator in vain when the clutch cable snaps. Get out of the car and wait a while in the hope that another vehicle will appear, then realise that no one else has any reason to take this road. Recall, […]

Nobody Will Hear Them

David Hartley             Craig knows other Craig sneaks into his shed with his girlfriends. Craig knows other Craig thinks nobody will hear them, going at it, but Craig doesn’t have to hear, he just knows. Craig knows what sounds those walls of his shed hear: every whoop and squeal, every groan and gasp of other […]

With Nothing to Lose (Not Even Her Body)

Mandira Pattnaik               Adori wasn’t always a shadow. When her husband confined her to a window-less room immediately after her twins were born, she remembers sliding into a numbed state, too garbled to comprehend it wasn’t her, it was him.                             As she stretched her body over the branch of the banyan this morning, […]

The Copyeditor’s Lament

JP Seabright             I dream in the margins. My head full of black marks on a page. Several small underlinings; here and there square, curved and pointed brackets; a specific squiggle; a line of dots. I stet in my sleep, indicating that the marked alteration should be ignored. Stet, from the Latin stare, let it […]

Out to the Rain

Lauren Cortese We think we stopped crying on a Thursday. Those of us who were at funerals or who gave birth that day remember it best for the troubling absence of tears. The rest of us only have faint memories of pride for that day when we didn’t cry in the middle of a fight, […]

How Do You Recognize a Good Man?

Kristina Thornton Friday night freedom hangs in the air as she follows him through the packed street. Shouts and laughs surround them. Legs in stumbling short skirts and puffy peacock chests. It could be Benidorm but it’s Barnsley. He says he knows her. She’s seen his smile at work, at the call-centre. Until he galloped […]

Convenience Store Babies

Rosaleen Lynch               Convenience store babies were all the rage back then. Came with pipettes the size of turkey basters. Advertised in windows, posters, zines and on family meals. Cartoon diagrams, a mix of science and wonder, like describing how to grow sea monkeys. The sign below it told customers to read the label carefully. […]

Amicable

Nathan Willis               Say that you need some time alone. It’ll be easier this way. Suggest that your partner visit her friends up north. Call it a vacation even though the kids know better. They’ll say there’s no pool, and no ocean, and they’ll be back before the weekend is even over. That’s not […]

Illumination

Sarah McPherson When I am fired, I take the angle-poise lamp from the edge of the desk. I am not sure why I do it, perhaps out of spite or some sense of entitlement. I have given the place so much of myself that I want to take something back. I spin open the clamp […]

In the City of Philandering Flowerpots

Tara Campbell               How, exactly, does a flowerpot make love? And how does a flowerpot betray? Technically, a pot is a vessel, able to receive more than one seed at a time. But there is more to philandering than that. There is also an act of seduction, a promise made that this union is special, […]

Dentata Non Grata

Kate Doughty               The first tooth came, and the rest of them followed. This would not have been an issue if I didn’t already have a full set to begin with.               It was innocuous enough; a late-season wisdom tooth emerging in the back of my gums. “It’s crooked,” my boyfriend said. “Shows how badly […]

Laughing Tiger Buckles Slowly: A T’ai Chi Lesson

Tom Walsh T’ai chi is going slowly. The instructor’s cat died and we spent a lot of time talking about that. He brought the new kitten to class on Tuesday. There are four of us in the class and I am (by far) the youngest. I love it. # During High Pat on Horse, I […]

Little Limbs

Leonie Rowland               He came to me on his seventy-fifth birthday, when his hands were soft enough to save. They had kept him alive for a lifetime, laying bricks that grew into buildings, cooking food that grew into flesh. He used to say we had that in common, but my skin was smooth like porcelain, […]

Star Guard

Todd Clay Stuart               On the first night of the comet, Beth looks up between the austere poplar trees in their back yard and pretends to see what Jake sees, but the sky—star-smeared and wondrous—is just black gesso to her. Jake puts his arm around her. You’re looking in the wrong place, he says.               […]

Statistically Speaking

Daniel Guy Baldwin               There is a fifty-one percent chance of being born a boy, forty-nine percent chance of being born a girl and a much lower one of actually being born at all. On top of that, the odds of intelligent life developing were three to two. This is higher for unintelligent life; you […]

The Galactic Well at the Edge of Existence

Riley Cross Eo stirred the well with a silver spoon. The waters of space and time rippled in response. He waited for them to calm, watching patiently as galactic stars beaded across the now placid surface. A myriad of tools lay before him, spread across a linen cloth. Using tweezers, he extracted each bright star […]

The Obligatory Alligator

Jesse Millner Last night I dreamed I drove through an army base I’d never been to before. It was huge and filled with movie theatres, shopping malls, apartments, a main street with all the various army departments like War, Peace, Punditry, and Speedskating. The army bases of sleep are indeed strange places. In some Western […]

The Registrar

Abi Hennig He tucks a stray curl behind her ear. She leans into him, rests her head on his shoulder as he picks up the pen. ‘You ok if I…?’ She nods, shifts her weight, places elbows on desk, twiddles the ring on her finger. On the other side of the table, I touch my […]

Workaholic

Katja Sass It’s 9.45 pm. Everyone’s gone except a 30-something woman sitting alone in her 2m2 office cubicle, finishing off the last of the audits in time for the 9.45 am meeting tomorrow. She closes the folder and places it on top of the other folders, smiles at the mountain of completed work. She switches […]

Foreign

Lisa Ferranti Editor’s note from Sudha Balagopal: I’ve enjoyed Lisa Ferranti’s fiction for the gentle intimacy her stories convey. In this tale, too, she draws us inside the lives of her characters with a quiet skill where we learn of their internal fears and uncertainties. She lures us into their relationship and into rooting for […]

The Grapevine

Marcy Dilworth Editorial note from Sara Siddiqui: In her vivid and concise story, Marcy Dilworth describes the wisp of energy and enthusiasm a somber event like death brings to the tedium of small-town life. Imaginations run rampant, facts are distorted, and the truth lays buried alongside the dead under the versions of evolved falsities. Coming […]

How To Tame a Sea Parrot

Rachael Smart (words) and David Smith (photos) Editor’s note from Janice Leagra: This is a very special and exciting feature for me to publish, because it’s the marriage of creativity between two gifted people whose individual talent and work I so enjoy and respect. That Rachael and David are also friends who collaborated on this […]

Lorna

Johannah Simon Editorial note from Myna Chang: This story pulses with desolation and skewed hope, from the powerful narrative voice to the gritty details of the setting. I heard Johannah read this story at an open mic night a few months ago. I encouraged her to start submitting it then, but I admit I’m glad […]

If You Were the Last Man on Earth

Dara Thomas Higgins Editor’s Note from Janice Leagra: I’m drawn to Dara’s writing, in part, for its sly, deadpan wit and strong voice. Dara’s sharp observations of human foibles make for entertaining reading. His stories can often be dark in subject, yet somehow life-affirming – the reader sees him or herself in Dara’s characters. I […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]