By: Laura K.

My grandfather died yesterday, of COVID. He was ninety, but not waiting to die. He used to fly planes into hurricanes and he adored his great-grandkids. 

There will be no funeral, no looking at pictures with my aunts. 

Over in the next universe, there is a hell of a party, with ice cubes in the white wine and everyone acting Midwestern stoic but elated, except my sister, who is just giddy. 

No invite to that party, yet. Instead, I feel guilty, but take my ‘bereavement leave.’ I buy some Christmas presents online and go for a walk.  And….that’s it. 

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.  

Ash Wednesday

By: Laura K.

“Remember you are dust…”

I know the words. Heard them every year, the first twenty years of my life.

I’m back at St. Anne’s, waiting in line behind the fifth-graders, trying to shift and see. Father Mark had smaller thumbs. Father MacMillan was kind but his cross was just a giant smear on your forehead.  Oh, to have bangs… I’d wait an hour or two, then discreetly wipe it off.

Now I don’t go. Partly I forget; partly I feel strange walking around silently yelling I’M CHRISTIAN!

And partly I don’t want another reminder, about how we return to dust.  

What You Get

By: Steve Fite

What you remember isn’t the sickness.  It isn’t the vomiting or the loss of energy or the sense of dread that came with every appointment.  You don’t remember feeling angry with the disease for taking your loved one from you. You don’t dwell on what they could have been or what dreams they had or what they could have accomplished.

You remember you. Then. Suddenly you’re transported back to watch them smile or laugh and every problem you’d have or ever had paused for just a moment while you get a small lesson in what it means to be happy.


By: Laura K.

At the concert, they played my favorite song, the one my mom used to dance with me to, when I was little.

Not so strange; it was a classic. Strange, though, to come from this band.  

I belted out the lyrics, joyful without reason.

Either it was just a coincidence; or my brother had requested it for me. It was the sort of thing he might do. Or it was a message from another realm.

I had four days to ask him. I decided not to.

Then he was gone too, and now I have to listen for two songs.

Pretty in Pink

By: Melissa Ratliff

Her fingers would have bled if she had had any blood left. Any idea the force needed to claw yourself out of a casket 6 feet underground? Consequently, her nails were ruined and bone was definitely showing. And the dirt – ugh. Her hair must’ve been a hot mess.
But it had to be done. What the fuck were they thinking burying her in pink? She would have stayed put, but pink? PINK?!? That was the last straw and someone had to pay…
Streetlights flickered as she lumbered towards her old life, fists balled, face snarled, vengeance in her dead eyes.

The Birthday Question

By: Rochelle Rickoff Wilensky

Every year on my birthday, from ages 18-33, my grandfather would call and scream into the phone, “Are you going to get married before I DIE?” I could never decide whether to feel offended, furious or secretly amused, but once we set our wedding date, he called weekly to share his excitement and anticipation of dancing at my upcoming wedding.

Our wedding date was August 31, 2014. On July 27, 2014, he went swimming and never made it to the other side of the pool. I still mourn that the cruel and eventual answer to his annual question was “No.”

A Single Artichoke

By: Andrew Dahl

There is something to be said for

the sound of the wind.

Something to be said for a throbbing

quiet. And then,

of course,

there is the keen ache of

a pure loss. Something unconfused,

unentangled. Like the death

of a pet.

There is something to be said for


a single steamed artichoke and an

isolated glass of white wine.

Soren rubbed the condensation

on the outside of the glass,

the drops fusing

and tumbling.

He looked out the window,

saw the tarp over the dog house

flapping in the wind,

valiantly. The urgent

quiet pressed

against his ears.

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