Bubble Lights

By: Lauren Spagnoletti

There was a magic to it. The tree was so green. When the room lights went out, the bubble lights on the tree were particularly bright. (What were they filled with? And considering it was the 80s, were they even safe?)

My mother would spray a Christmas-scented room spray from Crabtree & Evelyn. (Christmas decidedly has a scent.)

My father would blast Christmas music from our stereo. If my mother had her way, it was Mannheim Steamroller.

There is a sadness about it all now. Those memories are a flash back to a time before it all crashed and burned.

Winter Spirits

By: Ed Dzitko

He peaked out from the doorway. Not a soul on the street, and too few cars moving far too slowly for any kidnapping and quick get away.

Strange, he thought. Did he imagine those screams? Possibly. But they were so real, so loud, so right outside the window. He looked down. No footprints, either. The snowflakes floated lazily onto the thick blanket already covering the sidewalk.

Again he wondered how something he thought so real could not have happened at all.

He shivered, turned, and headed in. Another brandy was waiting on the end table. Hm. “Did I pour that?”

They Stood

By: Ed Dzitko

They stood, the three of them, staring at the stump.

“It’s a shame we’re going to have such a lovely tree, and we’re leaving this where it used to be alive,” one of them said.

“A moment of silence,” said another. And they stood, longer and quiet, the sun casting a long shadow amid their legs.

I saw one brush a tear from her cheek. I watched longer, as they stood longer.

“Time to go girls,” their Dad yelled. I could hear the collective sigh.

“OK,” said the one who hadn’t spoken yet. And off they went, home to decorate.

The Stand-Off

By: Lauren Spagnoletti

We had been dating just a month. It was getting serious, and important elements of life kept creeping into our conversations.

At lunch, he joked that maybe I could convert to Judaism. I laughed. He wasn’t joking.

He said he would never, ever want a Christmas tree in his house. He didn’t understand why anyone would want such a huge piece of the outside to be inside their home.

I probably looked horrified at the suggestion that I never have a tree again.

We married about a year later. And he carried the huge tree four blocks to our apartment.

The Phone Call

By: Lauren Spagnoletti

“He’s dead,” my brother said, as the phone in his hand slid into his lap and he reached for his brow, his head bowed. My face went numb, and then my whole body felt warm. All my organs twisted, and I was aware that the first stage of grief – denial – was descending upon me.

He’s can’t be dead, I thought. I didn’t say goodbye.

Freefalling while sitting in an armchair is possible.

There was no flashback of life’s most precious moments. Just a void. And the slow realization flooding my veins that I could never call my father again.  

She Rage

By: Melissa Ratliff

The storm in her veins was raging and nothing she did would quiet its call. She needed the trees to root her and the sun to give her life renewed. Her pace quickened. Soon she was running, propelled by the urge to leave it all behind. Could she outrun it? The judgment, guilt, what ifs, expectations, imperfections, heartaches, never good enoughs? Reaching the summit, feet firmly planted on the rocky ledge, she let it all out. Her roar – long and fierce – called forth the winds and rains. Lightening sizzled from her wild hair as the earth trembled from her power.

*Painting by Sara Goodyear

Acknowledgy

By: Steve Fite

I’ve invented a word.  It’s called an “Acknowledgy.”

It’s when someone is supposed to offer an apology, but falls just short.  In fact, it sounds like an apology, but really they’re only acknowledging what that did.  

Let’s say, for example, you’re at a restaurant and the bill comes, and you see there’s a whiskey and potato skins you didn’t order adding another $25.  You point it out to the waitress and she looks right at you, not blinking, and lets you know that she did it on purpose, hoping you wouldn’t notice.

“Oh!  Yeah, I did.  Be right back.”

Acknowledgy.

If Only You Knew

By: Ed Dzitko

If you only knew how much energy it took to go up and down those stairs, following you;

If you only knew how long those walks really were when you count steps times four;

If you only knew what it took to smell those smells and add mine to the mix;

If you only knew how much courage it took for me to bark at those big dogs and protect you;

If you only knew what it took to run up and down the same hallway, grabbing the same toy, to entertain you;

You’d be ready for a rest, too.

Paths

By: Laura K.

Since I was two I loved being the older one. I love giving advice. Our lives weren’t identical of course, but just from having arrived on this earth a little earlier, I’d been there, so I could offer my perspectives.

Then there was so much that you had to go through alone. I could be there with you, but I had no insight to offer.

Now, mostly, I just miss you.

But sometimes, though I’m not proud of it, I have an incongruous pang of jealousy: that you get to know all the secrets of the universe first.

Any advice?

The Attack

By: Melissa Ratliff

The siren had started blasting at 3:27am. Stumbling from their beds, they quickly switched on their datapads to assess the threat. They were prepared for nuclear wars, but not this. They ran to the window, convinced it was some prank. Precious seconds ticked by while they stood slack-jawed as the scene unfolded. It was a full-blown attack. Forget Bigfoot; these hairy beasts were at least 40 feet tall and marched in formation down their dark street, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. Their eyes widened as one approached, ripped off the roof of their house and reached within.

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