Steam Wand Nostalgia

Sometimes things don't work out. The startup fails. The solo career flops. The coffeehouse closes. My favorite part of those early days (before it went to shit) was steaming the milk and wedding it to the fragrant brown espresso. Flooding the cup with lick-your-lips marshmallow foam. Handing the cup over, a little reluctant to let go. Surface tension slick, rosetta bulging. You fall in love and you leave your chest cavity wide open for these sorts of things. Shady landlords. Apathetic customers. Lazy employees. Truth is, I don't care anymore. I managed to salvage my La Marzocco FB80 and a Mazzer Major grinder. My parent's basement has 220 power. Some days I don't leave the house, unless I run out of coffee.
by
Emily McIntyre
@mcintyrewrites
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Funny How the Colors Stick With You

I remember her color: black speckled with serpent's green. Today, when I should be slumping at my desk writing copy for a natural cleaning product made in Salinas, I'm daydreaming about my mother's toes and how my father used to kiss them. I have a date tonight. One of those muscly Crossfit guys. We met near my house on open mic night – he sidled next to me, complimented my blouse (we both knew he liked what was in my blouse, cradled in my faithful pushup bra), and displayed a fair tenor later in the night when he sang his version of The Color of Love. I'm not sure why I mumbled, "Yes", when he asked me out, maybe I was bored. Hours later, spiderwebs crowning me, I find it: a crystal bottle with striations of color, tumbled to the bottom of a crate of her things.
by
Emily McIntyre
@mcintyrewrites
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Danny and Steve have a pint

"Rita said she saw Bob at the Festival Hall. Said 'e had a splint on his nose." "'E 'as got a splint on his nose. He got into a fight with Micky McEntee about um… about string theory. Mick took issue with his views on quantum chromodynamics and glassed him." "Fackin' 'ell. Typical Mick." "Yeah, fackin' typical of Mick. D'you remember when Karl Brady said that Leibniz’s critique of Cartesian dualism was facile, and Mick kneecapped him?" "Yeah. Yeah. 'Arsh." "That was 'arsh." "Karl was out of order tho." "'E was. 'E fackin' was. It’s like that time Micky plunged a corkscrew into Dean Makepeace’s chest, pulled out his heart, and then shoved it into Dean’s mouth before he died. Yeah – that was 'arsh. But what was Dean doing calling Piers the Plowman tonally uneven? You make a provocative comment like that…" "'S gonna be consequences." "'S gonna be consequences."
by
Sam Bowie
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Plugged In

You sweat your way through summer, searching for a room: walkups in the hundreds, flea-pits in Alphabet City. Nobody in this town sweats or eats a damned thing either. You feel the heft of fat sag over your shorts. When the leaves turn, you graduate from a borrowed couch to a small, shared place by the river with a smaller room. Your own. The air has cooled and you watch the runners, see flyers for a restaurant further down the block promising ill beats and good vibes. You want to sweat still. In the cool of a new morning, you shun the elevator, take the stairs out, into the fresh, crisp air. You put in headphones, hear the beat of your new city: join the flow of humanity in all its amazing shapes and hues as it huffs and shuffles, sprints and glides along the river. You move, plugged in.
by
John Herbert
@jherbertwriter
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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A sense of timing

Cheerfully, the doctor plunged the needle into her chubby thigh. "Don't worry about all that grit in your knee," he said, in a mock-serious tone. "Most of it will wiggle out. The rest will work its way to your heart and kill you when you're ninety." Then he laughed. She carried the scars of that fall all her life - a slip on the wet leaves, an ankle twisted over the kerb and then the perfect glide on face and knees, body arched to save the new patterned anorak she'd worn for the first time, that wet October day. She'd been cautious on slippery surfaces ever after, avoiding skating and skiing, distrusting mud. Seventy-eight years of watching her step. No more accidents for her. She looks at her scarred knees and wonders about the doctor's comment. Tomorrow will be her ninetieth birthday. Today, there's no sign of the grit.
by
Roz Levens
@RozLevens
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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The Other Side of the Fence

You look in and see how bright it is. You can almost feel the warmth radiating from them. They know each other inside and out. They've grown together, so closely that each is entangled within the other. They know nothing else, nobody else. Who would spoil such a beautiful thing? You look in and speculate they are only together out of habit, or fear of the unknown. Is it really so beautiful, to never know yourself without another person? You look in and see they're so intricately twisted together, it's impossible to separate them without fracturing them both. Pieces of each of them coming away with the other as they part, forever entwined, even as they finally move their separate ways. You look away. There's no warmth for you here, just heat, that will soon fade to ice. If there was ever anything at all.

Credits

fiction by
Sam Rollings
@sammiloobas

image by
kerry rawlinson
kerryrawlinson.tumblr

©
creators

Breaking Dad

Through the crackled panel of the door you see him lying at the foot of the stairs; a grisly painting in mosaic. Blue of the pyjamas he's been wearing since Thursday, white of the skin that never sees sunshine, and crimson of something terrible... up near his head. The picture is all joined together like the tiles on an ancient temple's floor. Beautiful but damaged. Yesterday he had been more difficult than usual. Said that without her he didn't know what to do with himself. Every morning he got out of bed and just wanted to die. You shrugged it off. He has always been melodramatic. Even before the heavy curtain came to lock his memories down. She is in hospital and your only job was not to break dad while she was gone. You fumble the key in the door, your heart pounding.
by
Debbi Voisey
@DublinWriter
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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A Private Thing

It’s her across the landing’s turn to clean the close. I have to tell her every time, even though she knows the rota fine well. I make sure they know the drill when they move in, but young ones are that lazy these days. Not like it used to be. We took pride in the closes when I was a young bride. Just as important as how you kept your ain flat. Haven’t seen her for a couple of days. The usual shouting and banging, her screaming, weans crying, him stomping off, hasn’t been happening. It’s been quiet for a while. Just the weans crying now and then, but softer. None of my business, mind. Marriage is a private thing. But it’s her turn to clean the close, so I’ll give her door a chap later. Aye. Later. Or maybe tomorrow. Or maybe I’ll just clean the close myself.
by
Karen Jones
@karjon
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Mudskipper

You came in a rush when the river rose, my waters breaking as the dam burst upstream. Your screams rasped like mewling cats. As we clustered on rooftops you sucked hungrily at the air. It was only when the waters receded that your colic calmed. We would lay you on a blanket outside while we dripped sweat over the reconstruction, watching the mudskippers flip and flop across their aqueous domain. Each unlikely flight pulled your eyes wide with wonderment. Today, I read about the mudskippers' gills, and the tiny bubble of air they trap inside, that perfect pocket of survival. Many years have passed since we lost you to the mud. I guess your bubble burst too soon.
by
Dan Coxon
@dancoxonauthor
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Vitruvian Man

Three mirrors hinge in an arc around you. The corners of your eyes catch either side of your face, one in shadow, one in light. Beyond the reflection of your bare shoulder, the sun and moon hang together in a square of sky framed by a veiled window. You twist the lip gloss and trace the fine bristles in a smooth arc across the bow of your epithelium. You fold a tissue and smudge a rose of colour onto the white pulp. The shade reminds you of your wife, gloved hands pruning and planting, weeding and watering. You slide a cap over your crown, lift the hairpiece from the faceless mannequin, and secure it with a few drops of spirit gum. You slip into the silk dress like a second skin. You stand with your arms outstretched, legs parted like the Vitruvian Man. A perfect square, a perfect circle.
by
Christopher M Drew
@cmdrew81
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Digging to Australia

My little brother Danny has decided to dig a tunnel to Australia. He’s out in the yard now, toy spade in hand. ‘You can’t do that,’ I said. ‘It’s too far. Besides, it’s really hot in the middle of the Earth.’ He looks at me. ‘Even hotter than that time we went to Spain and dad got sunburnt and we spent that evening peeling the skin off his back.’ That’s a mistake. I’ve reminded him of something disgusting. He loves disgusting things. ‘I hope that happens to me,’ he says. I shrug and leave him to it. Later I look outside. He’s gone. There’s just a massive hole. As I start to panic, the phone goes. ‘Hello?’ says a voice. ‘I’m calling from Melbourne. I’ve got your lad here. He’s fine, but, strewth, the skin ain’t half peeling off him.’ In the background, I can hear Danny giggling.

Credits

fiction by
David Cook
@davidcook100

image by
Anastasya Shepherd
scarletline.com/ashepherd

©
creators

Days of Yore

Gone are the days when I sat on the stoop talking to neighbours as they passed by - going to work, to school, to the bingo hall, to the park, to the street corner to listen to the soap-box man spout his beliefs of the day. Curtains twitch as mine stays still. We are all behind screens now - watching the stream of cars pass, bumper to bumper on the street where we used to play hopscotch and skip, singing our songs to the world. A world which has passed us by, leaving us unnoticed. We are the ones who shaped progress, who gave it its foundation, who lost fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters to wars for independence, sovereignty, power. All forgotten now as life surges on in the belief that technology will solve everything, where kindness is being overlooked in the rush to save the world from itself.

Credits

fiction by
Alva Holland
@Alva1206

image by
kerry rawlinson
kerryrawlinson.tumblr

©
creators

Hair

When I wake up, I can feel a hair in my mouth. It is woven around my tongue, between my teeth. Saliva builds as I try to suck it free, to pinch it between my fingers, but I can’t grasp it. Is it one of mine or one of hers? I wouldn’t be surprised it was my wife’s. Her hair gets everywhere. She always trimmed her split ends while sitting on the edge of the bed. When the treatment shed her hair, she couldn’t face brushing it up and throwing it away. There is such pain in being a woman with no hair. I shaved my head to show my support; it’s not the same, she said. I have it, finally. Wet and stuck to my fingertip. It isn’t hers. I throw the covers off me, searching the sheets for her, but even the hairs are gone.

Credits

fiction by
Santino Prinzi
@tinoprinzi

image by
Anastasya Shepherd
scarletline.com/ashepherd

©
creators

Rebel Mechanic

I could smell engine oil when Darth Vader threw the Emperor down the pit. All my friends' parents bought cars. My Dad bought 'bargains'. 'Bargains' broke down when it rained so I didn't go to the cinema or play football at weekends. I stood over Dad's legs and handed him spanners and sockets. Billy called round to see if I wanted to watch 'Return of the Jedi' but Dad had already put his overalls on and so I went outside to ask if the car was working today. There was a policeman in the lounge when I got home. I still had popcorn flakes on my jumper. There had been a terrible accident. The car had slipped off the jack and dropped down with Dad underneath it. The lightning bolts shooting out from the Emperor's hands made the same noise as a car jack being kicked out.

Credits

fiction by
Steve Campbell
@standondog

image by
Storm Jarvis
stormjarvis.wixsite

©
creators

The Last Kiss

You said goodbye in the anonymity of Paddington Station. Train announcements echoed off the high roof, flattening your voice with a thousand others. Destinations, track numbers, and your decision were incomprehensible. I should have known you would go back to her. Responsibilities and excuses. Men always go back to your wives. You left your coffee cup on the table, lukewarm dregs in the creases round the base. I studied the place you had last taken a sip, and pressed my lips to the cardboard, tipped it up, drained the cup. This would be our last kiss, moisture enveloping our DNA in the acinar cells of our saliva, embracing in my mouth. I envisioned them sluicing down my oesophagus, swirling through my gut, absorbed through my intestinal wall, flowing through my veins, pumping their way into the tiny embryo that has the shared double helix of us.

Credits

fiction
&
artwork
by

Louise Mangos
louisemangos.com
@LouiseMangos

©
creator

Time Honoured

Marion half stood at the sound of the engine. She placed the cup back on the saucer and hovered, ever-hopeful, at the curtain. Another delivery for number 4. But the driver had just missed Mrs In and Out. Seizing her chance, Marion shakily gripped her stick and shuffled, determined, to the frosty porch, a martyrs face prepared. She knew she would keep the little parcel til Saturday at least. Weekend hours are the longest. She might knock after Sunday lunch, be unexpectedly invited in for a coffee. There was Kendal Mint Cake in the larder. Imagine their delight if she produced that too! Waiting for the kettle once more, steam wrinkled the pristine calendar. Surely Paul will come for his birthday next month. Maybe hold on to that cake. School run soon. She should stand at her gate and warn the rushing mums of that ice. They were always rushing.

Credits

fiction by
Jen Hall
@jmiceling

image by
SB Borgersen
sueborgersen.com

©
creators

The Writing Process

Draft 1: Steve bought a cup of coffee. Draft 2: Steve bought an extra-tall, triple-shot, non-fat latte. Draft 7: Steve bought a grande latte from the pretty girl behind the counter. Draft 11: Steve bought a latte from the smiling waitress who reminded him of his mother. Draft 24: Steven Blake purchased a foamy latte from the waitress who looked uncannily like his mother. Draft 46: Steven Palmer-Blake pulled out his gold credit card and paid the pretty waitress for his triple-shot, extra-tall, non-fat, extra-foam, mocha-latte with extra sprinkles, all the while thinking how much the waitress looked like his recently deceased mother. Final draft: Steve bought a cup of coffee.
by
Scarlett Sauvage
@ScarlettSauvage
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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Striking Time

Every night she would hear his key in the lock exactly as the pips went for the six o'clock news. He was as reliable as the bell chiming the hour. Tonight, something was different. The hour came and went. The hands on the clock slid round to quarter past. When he arrived, he was flushed and merry. "Didn't notice the time," he said, kissing her stiff cheek and spinning her chair in the direction of the kitchen. She thought she caught a whiff of perfume. "Big Ben's getting a facelift, did you know?" She stared mutely at him. He smiled, holding the cup to her lips."About time someone looked after the old chap. It'll give him a new lease of life." He whistled as he raised a spoonful of slop to her mouth. "I might be late again tomorrow night, love. OK?"

Credits

fiction by
Roz Levens
@RozLevens

image by
Safia Begum
@saf_begum

©
creators

Black Ice

Do you know if you spread too much baby oil on the body your skin becomes a slippery slide? If you place your feet on a wooden floor, that floor then becomes like black ice. And as you slip and slide like a novice ice skater without the skates, you try desperately to hang on to something sturdy, something that will keep you upright. But your hands, your slippery hands slide off the bedside table, and the door handle rejects you, and now you’re flapping around wildly like a bird just learning to fly, or a chicken who has just lost its head. And as you call out to me for help, I reassure you that I will get a towel. But what I’m really doing is removing myself, so that when I call for the ambulance I can tell them with complete sincerity, I did not see you fall.

Credits

fiction by
Kereen Getten
@kereengetten

image by
Anastasya Shepherd
scarletline.com/ashepherd

©
creators

One Morning in May

'A cup of tea would be nice.' he said as he looked behind her to the wardrobe which held their lives in clothes and their dead dreams in a box wrapped in a blanket and tied with a sash. Among the shoes and boots which had walked the fields and paced the corridors of sleeplessness for the twenty years it took to raise the sons who wanted a sister whose curl of golden hair occupied the dead dream box. A day of a million tears shed over tea and whiskey in stained mugs and cloudy glasses because no-one noticed the unimportant things that became unseen in a house where, before, a stained cup was a mortal sin, but now the sin was the loss, the theft, the emptiness, the memories. She brought his tea, placed it against his lips and they both sighed as their eyes drifted towards the wardrobe.

Credits

fiction by
Alva Holland
@Alva1206

image by
Linda Grierson-Irish
lindagriersonirish.wixsite

©
creators