Author Archives: Editor

I know the constellations

My father taught me their names. Orion the hunter. His jewelled belt, three bright stars together. The easiest to find, my father said. Behind Orion, Sirius. The twins, Castor and Pollux. He bent down. Pointed. Told me stories. We take the narrow road through the desert, turn towards Elephant Rock. Watch the colours fade from gold, pass round small crescent-shaped biscuits. Tonight there is no moon, the desert quiet, each breath a whisper. The brightness of planets. Jupiter, Saturn, Venus. Milky Way. Orion, Cassiopeia. Falling stars so close I could reach out, cup one in my hand, and run to my father with unfurling fingers crying, "See what I have brought you."
by
Marjory Woodfield
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Poses to Assist Domestic Bliss

I seem to have inadvertently taken up aerial yoga. I was at the top of a ladder, changing a light bulb, when I slipped, grabbed onto the nearest curtain, and landed in the middle of an inverted asana. I've been dangling for hours now. No urge to come back down. Possibly ever. Our downward dog looks up at me as I settle into lotus and block out my teenage children’s demands for food. Goodness, they have terrible posture. I could show them how to fix that, but they wouldn’t listen. My husband tells me he appreciates that I’m taking a stand and he will consider my position – or he would, if I’d choose one and stay in it for more than a minute – when I stop being silly. So I shift into cobbler’s pose, knowing he won’t get the joke. Namaste.
by
Karen Jones
@karjon
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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Rubric

It sleeps in the crook of my arm, head nestled into my chest. It's been three days now but we're surviving. I peel small strips of bark from the trees and it sucks the green tinged sap from the wood. Drops of water shed from the tips of leaves, I open its mouth to catch them. It cries sometimes. I think its the wind, brawling in the trees above us. I cup its ears and after a while it stops. Looks up at me. Smiles. Under shelter, I tell it stories. They fall from my mouth, inviolate and beautiful. These days seem to pass like years of dreaming and forgetting. It's funny. Back home. My name scrawled across newspapers. Official files, rubrics, questions, answers, stories - my name. Pages and pages of my name. Those same pages. Born here. Made from this very wood.
by
Tom Manson
@man_son15
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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Moving

When we moved Kieran's bed, we found a carpet of dust as thick as a fat man's finger, exactly the same shape and size as the bedframe. Dead skin, shed hairs, three red paperclips. "Have we got time to hoover?" I asked. I got a stare: "All the years we've lived here, NOW you want to do some housework?!" We had to step around Kieran on the stairs. I lightly bumped the top of his head with one of my boxes, “Ooh this is heavy!” No offer of help. He wouldn't talk to either of us as we drove off, just stared out the back passenger window. We followed the moving van, listening to Ken Bruce doing 'Pop Master'. Occasionally, we'd hear the odd right answer mumbled from behind us. We hoped the new place would bring happier times. My dad hadn't been the same since his accident at work.
by
Nick Black
@fuzzynick
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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Crazy Angles

I came home and the house didn’t look the same anymore. It was set at crazy angles. When I opened the refrigerator, it slammed shut before I could choose my food. The water in the tub leaked out when I stepped in. The cat tried to climb up the kitchen floor to get her food, which eventually came to her. When the doorbell rang, it rang in strange tones and the man at the door wore his glasses crooked. He asked if I noticed that my house was going to fall. You came home and acted as if nothing had changed though your beer poured with ridiculous curves. “Tonight,” you said, “let’s try something different. Let’s have sex at crazy angles and see how it makes us feel.” “Crazy,” I said, and slipped off the couch and slid down the floor into the bedroom.
by
Trasie Sands
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Erosions

Time has painted us differently. His features have been etched carefully. He has delicate laughter lines around his mouth and eyes; dots and dashes of grey in his thick blond hair; eyes, although a fraction paler, are still a bright, sparkling blue. I, on the other hand, have been coarsely decorated. Thick streaks of grey run through my thinning dark hair; my once chocolate eyes are now a dull, muddy brown; my wrinkles deep and my jowls low. He’s waiting for me at the table in the corner. Waiting for my twenty-year old self, my best social media self, but that’s not who he’ll be getting. I take one last look and walk to the nearest bus stop.
by
Laura Besley
@laurabesley
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Ice Fishing

Once, when I was a kid, I ran out onto the frozen lake near my house and fell through one of the ice fishing holes. Nearly drowned. I don’t know why I keep thinking of it. My wife and I are getting rid of a lot of stuff, trying to get ready to move. We’ve got old records, a complete dining set, an unused cradle, even a vintage gramophone, all pitched out in the front yard ready for sale. We’re headed back to the city, I got a job waiting for me there. To be honest, things are kind of testy between us lately. She’ll go into the bedroom and watch TV or she’ll be in the kitchen doing dishes. And I’ll talk, and it’s like banging on a cellar door, opening it and finding the steps go down for miles. Nothing but pitch black.
by
John Murphy
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Nom de guerre

My name was always inadequate. It got me into fights as a kid. I could hear the whispers whenever I started a new class at uni. At 25, I couldn't take it anymore. I had it legally changed to a striking two syllables that got me laid twice in the first week. It was a new unstoppable me. I was walking on air. I started learning French, went hiking in the Himalayas, got a higher-paying job. I quit after three months and landed a better one. I juggled three girlfriends. Even had a threesome with one of them and her roommate. Yesterday I set up a co-worker to do something illicit and I reported her. Got her fired and got me a raise for being committed to the company. Old me tried to complain but I shut him up. Forever. That wuss wouldn't have made it. Not with that disgraceful name.
by
Javier Gómez
@fictionalroots
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Astronauts

The day they started to build the rocket was the day she had her first kiss; he tasted like marzipan. Afterwards, at school, the boy called her dirty, she didn’t care. They wrote letters to The Committee, which the teacher promised to send. 'I like animals—' 'I have two brothers—' 'Please—' Later she found them in the bin, ripped to pieces. By the time it was finished, there she’d be, on the swings, fizzing with cheap wine and kisses that tasted like earth, its dark bulk waiting like a fist. She graduated from wine and kisses on a dog-haired sofa as the astronauts departed. At the very end, when the rocket was just another star in the sky, it was the taste of almonds she remembered most, and the deep-down gut ache as she swung through the dark.
by
Victoria Benstead-Hume
victoriabensteadhume.com
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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Several Thoughts Run Through Your Mind When You Lock Yourself Out Of Your Hotel Room

Your phone sitting on that little table under the window with the view of the hills for one, the bath filling with water for another. How deep is it now? You hope the overflow works. And why on earth did you ask room service for breakfast in your room, maybe then you wouldn't have opened the door on suspicion of a knock, and maybe you wouldn't have stepped into the corridor to see where they’d got to; and if you'd given any thought to the situation beforehand the suitcase you keep tripping over could have acted as a doorstop. After confirming brute force alone isn't going to open the door the only option left is to ride the lift down to reception, if only you remembered you were naked before the doors closed.
by
CR Smith
@carolrosalind
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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Walter's Quest

You need twelve for a set. Walter looks at the row and sees awkwardness and unevenness in eleven. His eyes jump; he’d rather they flow. Without interruption. And so it is that he sets out to look for the twelfth. He will search the universe if need be, he tells himself with gritty certainty. But Walter sees the answer in a diagram in the new catalogue on his mother’s kitchen table. It means a trip to Ikea. He takes a number thirteen bus. How he wishes it were a twelve and then his odyssey would be unnecessary. The brown sheepskin rugs are on sale in aisle fourteen. If only it were aisle twelve. He shakes his head, taking his mother’s large shears from his knapsack. Walter cuts the sheepskin as per the diagram and drapes the resulting cape around his shoulders. His eyes flow. He has the set.
by
S.B. Borgersen
@sueborgersen
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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Silence Sounds Hopeful

Silence sounds hopeful, but we have been scarred by hope. The ramp’s clank and rumble came after hours of canting and swaying in stifled air. Then, we weaved and juddered, rumbled through a town before the steady roar of open roads. We dared then to lift the covers, breathe cooler air. Now, silence. Or rather, the distant soar of cars, scoring the quiet. No other sounds, no dogs, no questioning voices. No driver. We have only heard, not seen him. We saw the agent, as he called himself, all cheekbones and insistence, ushering us on. We clutched water bottles and our nerves close to ourselves. To move, he said, endangered everyone. Now, the air is thick, the truck cramped with limbs thick from stasis. I recall again the village that I fled, the choice then as guns raged, to hide or run. My legs ache for movement and I rise.
by
John Herbert
@jherbertwriter
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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You Will

You will arrive from the Metro and breath in the eclectic air and wonder about all the things you’ll do. You will rent an apartment on 35th Street overlooking a mural of Dali. You will laugh with new friends. You will play at coffee shops. You will ask and ask, but they won’t listen to it, despite your persistence. You will know poverty. You will sweep floors. You will drag pallets. You will bus tables. You will busk street corners (6th and 33rd will be one of your favorite haunts). You will feel lost at sea. You will meet someone. You will break-up. You will still play at coffee shops. You will sleep on strange sofas. You will cut the fingers off your gloves at the knuckle. And yet, you will sing soft melodies to the cool raindrops that patter your window at night, and you will understand why.
by
John Murphy
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Lamb

Before she had never known men like them, from countries full of space and sheep, following wool North to pack fleece in hessian. They smelled of lanolin, anchovies, sweat, indefinable maleness. Their talk came in bursts over clippers, or between the struggles of ewes. She tried to listen in, heard words but lost meanings. She took them lemonade on trays, an uncertain waitress licking spills from her fingers. She felt their eyes on her skin, liked the way they called her ‘lamb’, and lingered close until they moved their blades near her hair, threatened to trim. They laughed as she ran. But all her life she’ll want men like them who’ll tease her with threats, who’ll twine her curls like apple peel around their fingers. All her life desire will speak in soft accents, use language she longs to steal, hold in her mouth so she can taste men’s secrets.
by
Anne Summerfield
@summerwriter
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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The Shoe Bag

Abdelaziz watched. From the lorry men were delivering the hotel’s supplies. Giant olive oil bottles for the kitchen. Pallets of cleaning products and insect killers to the stores. The noise of the planes and the heat stored up on the runway. He only came to watch one thing. The delivery of the hotel shoes. Huge transparent bags, a hundred pairs in each slung over the shoulders of the delivery men. So many feet. Where would they go? There was nothing as strange as the shape of a human foot. A walking hinge. The migrant’s essential. The black holes like doorways to the shoes’ interior drew his eye as much as the leather. Black circles of darkness into which feet would be placed each day. The sight comforted him. There was a destiny in it. All feet had a resting place allotted to them, inside a shoe. Even his own.

Credits

fiction by
Jeremy Hinchliff
@HinchJeremy

image by
kerry rawlinson
kerryrawlinson.tumblr

©
creators

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
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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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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2. Send your art to dannyandsteve@adhocfiction.com

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.

Credits

fiction by
John Herbert
@jherbertwriter

art by
Nata Tias
@natatiass

©
creators

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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