My New Calling by Madeline McEwen

A year ago, when Covid first hit, I noticed a middle-aged man purposefully walking the streets dressed in his pajamas. I smiled. Oh well, someone’s having an off day.

But I kept an eye on the street, and pajama day, for someone, happened every few weeks.

I spotted a neighbor heading for the strip mall in their pajamas, robe, and slippers. I pondered Was that a thing, an oversight, a fashion trend I missed or the crumbling of civilization?

The weeks melted into months.

Some of my neighbors, dog-walkers, and strangers on the sidewalk wore thick socks stuffed into open-backed slippers, tired slippers, slippers that had seen better days.

While I wasn’t paying attention, the months burped into a year.

The chilly days of January trudged by while February loomed as February always does—the only month that slips our collective memory—the longest shortest month.

I perched on the front porch. Next to me, close-at-hand, my battered sneakers and their threadbare laces glared at me. Was I ready to wrestle them onto my feet?

I heard the slap, slap, slap of slippers on the sidewalk. Ignoring my sneakers, I stood and raised a hand in greeting to the slapper mooching along seemingly without a care in the world. “Good choice,” I called. I knew I was a convert too. “Can I join your club?”

Madeline McEwen [she/her] has enjoyed publication in a variety of different outlets both online and in traditional print. Her fiction and non-fiction focuses primarily on disabilities [ableism] and humor. She has numerous short stories and a few stand-alone novelettes. Her latest short story, Stepping On Snakes, appears in the Me Too Anthology edited by Elizabeth Zelvin published by Level Best Books, and Benevolent Dictatorship published in Low Down Dirty Vote Volume II edited by Mysti Berry.

A Cave of Ghosts by Dustin Engstrom

I sank into a dream. Like drowning. An unavoidable deepening of my mind. Lower and lower. Until I was dead.

In this place, this cave of ghosts, this blackness so empty and silent, I slumbered. I moved without sound. How did I move? If I slept? If I was dead.

And then I stopped. I came upon a woman. Her eyes like glassy pearls. Her heart wide and open, like arms reaching out to embrace and to hold. I felt lighter in her presence. Almost alive.

“Do I still live?” I asked.

“Let go,” she said. “Come.” Her voice calmed me. I pictured in my mind’s eye a light snow fall. Flakes trickling down soft and hushed.

I was pulled from the vision. She pulled me. Like the tug of a child at their parent’s elbow.

And then we moved. We swam deeper into the cave until we came into a light. I stood on firm ground. I had arms and legs and hands and a face. A body. I couldn’t reconcile how it happened.

“Where are we?” I asked, looking about. All around us stretched tall and looming hills, a blueish tint to them from a hazy sun hanging above us in a vast and open sky. We seemed to be at a precipice.

She looked at me. I could truly see her now. Youthful. Hair like flowing sand. Those immense eyes. About her swirled a gossamer swan-white gown.

“We are here,” she giggled and twirled. “And isn’t it grand?”

“I suppose,” I said. “But I don’t know where here is. I don’t know who you are. I don’t know if I live or if I’m dead.”

“You know more than you see. Look with new eyes,” she said. “See those trees off in the distance?”

She pointed beyond my face and I turned to face it. As I did, she pushed me from the cliff, and I tumbled off the edge. Down and down, a sharp wind slapping at my face. Until I stood on the ground again. Straight up. I hadn’t crashed onto the earth. I was steady.

I spun around to face my surroundings, on the lookout for the young woman. All was quiet. No sound. No birds, no insects, no wild animals. The earth below me was full of sand. It felt hot, like a desert. I spotted another cave and figured it would at least be cooler.

I crept inside, still on the lookout for the woman or anything else to jump out at me. But all I found was a chair. Alone. Against a shadow strewn wall. A handcrafted walnut-colored chair. I sat down on it. I felt weary now. Tired. I tried to focus, but my eyes drooped and soon, I sank into another dream.

A dream within a dream.

In the dream, I saw my lover. His face wretched and twisted in pain. Tears cascaded down his delicate face. “I miss you so much,” he cried. “I miss you so much…”

“I’m here!” I called from the darkness. “I’m here, my love. Don’t cry…please…”

But he did. Sank his face into his hands and wailed. It hurt my soul to hear it.

“I’m lost,” I whispered. “But I see you. I know you. I love you. I will be all right. I have to face it. You have to face it too. Live. Love again. Be well. I will come again…”

He looked up, his eyes suspicious. He looked about him. “Hello?”

“I love you!” I sang. I was pulled from the dream, watching him from a distance, growing smaller and smaller. And then black. My eyes flung open. I was in the cave again, sitting up in the chair.

The young woman stood before me, a smile at play upon her lips. She nodded and turned to leave.

“Wait!” I said, springing to my feet. “What do I do now?”

Her head twisted to one side and she whispered, “You do what everyone does. You go on.”

And she slipped from the cave and out of sight. As I pondered her words, I felt suddenly struck with an immense feeling of relief. I would go on. What would I find out there in the strange and lonely wilderness? Were there others like me?

I put a foot forward. And then another.

Dustin Engstrom lives in northern Washington state with his husband and their two cats. He writes mostly crime and speculative fiction. His work has appeared in The Colored Lens, The Dark Sire, and Rock and a Hard Place Magazine.

Duvosky by Cassandra Rittenhause

The alternate universe started one night when my comic boss Carl Rizo showed me the magnificence of a Los Bros Hernandez book. It’s called Love and Rockets. The comics are lurid, luscious, and badass, feminist and bawdy.  I love the hipster adventures of dark haired Maggie and her Latina clique.  It knocked me out.  

At comic book heart, I’ve always been a Veronica girl. She wooed Archie. Even at 10, I wanted Veronica’s life, more than Betty. Veronica exuded sexuality; she was hot, in a raven haired way, and she had a big house.  

One heated Jersey night, I met Jezebel, some 18 year old, at our job, in the Shore comic book store.  This is Jackson, Jersey —  home of the Jersey Devil, or so lore goes.

Jezebel is not tacky, or gauche. She glows like a American Apparel hipster goddess. It’s not like I’m jealous.  I’m 23, which is young too!  Yet, there is something so poignant and perfect about a teenage girl. 

Also, boys can’t take their eyes off her.  She looks like Betty, and acts like Veronica. 

This brutal chick, with a heroin chic body, and that ash blonde hair — a light, light, platinum .  Shingled short as Jean Harlow.  It glows like a potent white fire. Blazing in the dingy Jersey Shore darkness. 

This summer, after college, I hang with high school friends on the Jersey shore.  I can see the stars at night, at my woodsy and big home in Colts Neck. After work at the comic store, Jezebel stops by my house.  She holds up a bottle of red wine, and white Opi nail polish. 

We lounge on the black leather couch, watching Girls on HBO.  She paints my nails French manicure, the pallor glittering.  She’s good with makeup, for a tomboy. We get drunk as sin, as we kvetch about our boss, Rizo. 

Rizo has a good heart.  He’s not a bad person, technically.  But with his accent and sleek hair gel, he’s a little tacky.

By eight o’ clock, guys show up, and it’s an art scene. Some of them are older, bearded art guys from North Jersey.  They’re scoping hot stuff from Monty Heights, like Jez.  

“The bikers come in,” murmurs Jezebel.  “This one place in the eastern section of Monty Heights.  It’s in Ocean County. The senior citizens with their big glasses and Hawaiian shirts take a bus here.  I don’t think they’ve ever been young.”  

Jezebel reaches across the register to read my palm.  She has beautiful white, almost aristocratic, hands.  

“I have the gyspy in me.  That’s what they told my adopted parents.  I predict you will meet someone with a Hungarian accent.” 

She gives me my hand back, with perfect confidence.  

“The young men want to get in your pants.  I don’t date guidos.”

“Really?  Your last name is Mancuso.”

“That’s my foster care family.”

 Her pale face glows.  

“I absolutely cannot date guidos.”

 “Who, then?”

 “I like those artsy 24 year old boys who dig Japanese Manga, Mona.”

Quite suddenly a middle aged man enters our store, with perfect timing.  He was a hot Hasidic Jewish guy with a full, dark, rambling beard and black suit and tie.  

I love the Orthodox men in Duvosky Township, who visit.  

I love all the things outsider people seem to despise.  That they pay no taxes, that they cut you off in traffic, that they keep their women chained to minivans, and become baby machines.  This may be true.  But every time, I pass a Hasidic man with those pale complexions against those starched black jackets, my heart thunders.

He glanced at me, showing some appreciative interest in the sexy dark girl. I blush.  He winked at me, sensing carnal potential.  Under his gaze, I am Liz Taylor in Ivanhoe : the beautiful Rebecca, the stunning, buxom, raven haired Jewess.

“Sorry to bother. Is Jezebel Mancuso in?”

I nod to the back door, as Jez emerges from the bathroom, retouching her red lipstick. She’s wearing those short shorts like Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver, all spaghetti legs.  It is almost cinematic – that girl they’re not supposed to look at, to desire. 

Ah, yes, the untouchable, American shiksa! 

“Darling Jezebel.  You look well.”

So they obviously knew each other.  I gave a peek outside.  A battered minivan was running. 

In the passenger seat was a young woman who looked far too young for Levi.  Clearly the wife.

She had a shoulder length wig, a mahogany brown one, with bangs.  Her skin shimmered like porcelain.  She was shockingly beautiful, as much as Jezebel.

Levi rang up a Spiderman comic, and gave Jezebel a meaningful look.

“Holy cow.”  I slid my zaftig tush onto the counter and poked her. “Tell me what that was about, Jez!”

“His name is Levi.  Mr. Levi Herskowitz. I call him Levi.”

I bundle up my Hernandez comic, as it is late at night, and farewell hug this quirky Jezebel chick who was rough around the edges, dirty under her shore nails, and totally in love.  Someone going someplace with the certainty of a teenage girl.

Cassandra Rittenhause has been in over 20 journals, among them Eunioa Review, and White Ash Review.

Fanny by Michael Beadle

It was sure to be a punchline at neighborhood parties if they ever found out what she unearthed in her backyard. Newly divorced, Mrs. Lillian Thompson was now Miss West, as her students would soon learn to call her. Lily to her new friends at the yoga studio. She’d moved into a brick ranch house on a cul-de-sac one cold Friday morning in March. By Sunday, she’d stuffed the last of her packing boxes in the recycling bin and surveyed the backyard.

The previous owners had left a garden in shambles, but the raised beds were still intact. A short plastic fence held back dead weeds and vines. Like an archeologist, she worked meticulously sorting out the original intentions of the space. With a rake, shovel and trowel, she scraped and dug up pot shards, plastic sheeting, rotten tubing that looked like bits of moldy macaroni. A thatched metal fence buried under wet leaves. Rows of earth where vegetables once grew. Lily imagined cheery signs in chubby letters: green beans, carrots, tomatoes and squash.

Beside a patch of thistle she’d wrestled up in a spray of loose dirt. The earth bulged with something hard she couldn’t dig out. A ceramic bowl? Turtle shell? Wiping away the leaves and dirt, she found a cleft in stone, a slight part down the middle, sculpted curves that gave her pause. A butt? Yep, two cheeks, sunny side up.
Who would leave such a thing? Part of a statue? Where was the rest of it—buried in some shallow grave?

Lily thought of painting each cheek a bright color or maybe spray-painting it with a golden sheen like those Buddha statues in her old neighborhood. No, she’d leave it in the original gray, polish it off and buy a bag of shiny pebbles to place around the mound with a half-circle of new pansies.

It became her garden shrine. A place to meditate, to call upon the Feminine Divine. Lily had been reading so much about the Mother Goddess, her many names and powers. Surely it was no coincidence she’d found this stone, an homage to the female form. Demeter’s derriere in the dirt. Hecate’s holy hind. A gift from Rhea, titan goddess of fertile soil.

What would she call this sacred stone? Lily never cared for ass (too much a reminder of her ex-husband, his snarly tone). Gluteus maximus, sounded like some pompous Roman senator. Not heinie or tushie. Those were names little kids gave stuffed animals. Keister felt awkward as well, the sort of word your uncle used to describe a piece of junk. Lily settled on Fanny, a soft word, gentle even, with a little old-fashioned charm.

By spring, the garden was lush with crisp leaves and bright flowers. Herbs bursting in abundance. Raised beds full of parsley, lavender, sage, oregano, basil. Signs noted sections of kale, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans. A hand-painted post read “Fanny’s Garden.” Cleaned and tended regularly, the sacred stone in the middle was more than yard art, she would tell neighbors who cared to comment.

It’s not some random piece of ass, she would tell them. Not the tail that gets chased or laughed at by men who never outgrow boyhood. No, this Fanny was a seat of power. Bold and bare, round and firm. Its beautiful curve shone in the wet dark earth like a new moon rising. Some nights, Lily would sit beside Fanny, whisper to her, place a hand on the weathered stone, and kiss each cheek.

Michael Beadle is a poet, author and touring writer-in-residence living in Raleigh. A former journalist and magazine editor, he is the author of nine books, including Beasts of Eden (Press 53), which was a finalist for the Roanoke-Chowan Book Award for Poetry.  He recently won first place in the 2020 Ruth Moose Flash Fiction Contest.

Shadows of Light by Yash Seyedbagheri

My older sister Nan and I watch the streetlights flick on every night. She’s eighteen and I’m fifteen. We marvel at the electrical hum, the butter-colored glow that fills the streets and casts shadows of welcome. Come into the night, she whispers, come, come.

We walk up and down neighborhoods of frame houses and even elegant Victorians with Mansard roofs, absorbing the glow, arcs spilling over dark sidewalks. We marvel at the way streetlamps illuminate homes and silhouettes. Laughter and voices seem to be amplified, elegant, lilting, even delightfully discordant, cheerful agreement over disagreement. We watch silhouettes move through windows watching HBO or Netflix, imagine familial units all neatly accentuated by the glow. We observe mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters piling into cars, the streetlamps documenting their motions. We imagine them going to their favorite Mexican restaurants, treating themselves to camarones a la diabla or voluminous burritos. Or maybe they’re going to the movies to see something stupid, but something they can laugh at in unison. Perhaps they’re relishing shared guffaws and childlike giggles over flatulence jokes or someone being comedically blown up.

Of course, we don’t like blue streetlamps. We avoid them. They glow, frozen like ice and stasis, like Mom awakening to a new morning.

During the days, we move about apartments replete with dust, Fat Tires, Wheat Thins knockoffs and onions, lost jobs and electricity withheld. We wait for responsibility to return. But the Fat Tires pile up, along with Mom’s fleeting cackled laughter, and we’re left gnawing on the ruins of onions, crackers, a lone Life Saver that’s somehow survived, orphaned on an empty shelf.

Sometimes, we walk all night. We lean into each other and murmur jokes about poverty and divorce, Nan smelling of sweat, onions, and Camels. We lean into a streetlamp or two, even holding on, as if it were murmuring a glowing lullaby. Sleep, sleep, a butter-colored blanket being pulled over us like the old days before job losses, lost self-esteem and malaise came knocking on Mom’s door. Sleep, the days when bedtime stories and motherly arms hovered, a shimmering, beautiful weight. Sleep, the days when Mom murmured nicknames. Nicky, Nan, and not Nicholas and Nancy and didn’t beg us to keep quiet. Sleep, the days when Mom graded papers on Lolita or Revolutionary Road, her low murmurs from the dining room a marker to hold onto.

But stares from midnight passengers or a slowed-down police car keep us moving. How do you explain your actions to people who see the world in absolutes? How do you explain the beauty of long angled light? They’d just talk about what makes a streetlamp glow, the science behind it. The annoying neatness of order. They’d say focus on the future, take things a step at a time, not knowing what it means to be propelled backward, backward, backward. They’d talk of bootstraps and putting aside senseless dreams and not being idiots.

We just want to absorb the glow of streetlights, long, angled, shapely, before the sun peeks out over the distant hills and garbage trucks whir. Before coffee-shops fling open their doors and expose maudlin walls. We want to savor stillness, before construction workers start constructing and destructing and hangovers arrive in small apartments whose spaces seem smaller by the day. We slink home, eyes half-closed, as responsibility demands and the lights flicker and disappear in a burst, the sun rising over them, dominant and round. We reach into the morning sky, grabbing, lunging for the streetlights even. We even stand on tiptoes. But we only trip and fall, feeling the chill of now-unheated apartments and morning breezes, colder than ever.

Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. His stories, “Soon,”  “How To Be A Good Episcopalian,” and “Tales From A Communion Line,” were nominated for Pushcarts. Yash’s work  has been published in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Write City Magazine, and Ariel Chart, among others.

Perceptive by Lee Petroll

The street is flooded with people walking to and from. Street vendors call out, selling various items. People wave at each other and hug, talking and interacting with each other. Bright lights stream out from windows. Horse drawn carriages clatter across the cobblestone roads, stirring up a little bit of dust behind the back wheels. Flags wave from the balconies as the wind blows past. The glow of the golden towers off in the distance reflect sunlight down into the town square. The fountain bubbles, pushing water up from the pipes hidden under the street. Warm smells escape from certain buildings as the legs walk past, coming off of freshly baked pastries. That smell mixes with the fragrance from wildflowers, sprinkled throughout the patches of grass by street corners and in between the stones of the street.

A cat walks up and rubs against a pair of legs as they stand still, greeting the cat. The orange tabby circles around the legs, attached to what can only be a body, until the left leg moves forward, taking a step. The cat trails behind a couple steps, but is still keeping pace with the pair of legs.

Entering a building, books surround any patron as they cover the room, floor to ceiling. The room is small, crowded with bookcases, too full with books. Multiple lamps cast a soft golden light around the room, not illuminating every dark corner. A person stands at a counter, smiling down at a book in their lap. Picking one book off a shelf, the spine feels rough, worn from other hands. The book with yellowed pages smells of a mix of vanilla and age. Letters decorate the page creating words to form a sentence, which can make a paragraph. These paragraphs fill the pages.

Lee Petroll is an artist and writer based in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Lee is currently focused on writing and creating art surrounding their mental health and stories relating to the queer life. Lee plans to study art in college.

Faith and Funerals by William L. Alton

A snake bit Aunt Faye. It bit her in church. Gethsemane Baptist. It bit her face. She pulled off its head but then she died. She died in church. She died listening to the prayers and shouts. She died because she was sinful and the snake knew it.

Grandpa sat in the dining room staring out the window. He sat as if he were waiting for something. “Stupid,” he said.

We had the funeral in the church that killed her. Grandpa told Pastor Foster there would be no snakes. He told Pastor Foster there would be no speaking in tongues. “It will be a quiet gathering,” Grandpa said. “Eulogy. Prayer. Nothing else.”

The church was too full, too hot. The church smelled of snake skins and dust. They laid Aunt Faye out in her simple pine box at the altar. We all filed by. I expected her to sit up and say something nasty, but she didn’t. She lay there in her red dress. Her hair all done up nice. She was no longer real. She existed, if she existed at all, somewhere else.

Pastor Foster took the pulpit. He murmured from Psalms and from Philippians. Grandpa sat in the pew shaking his head. He had something to say but this was not the time or place. Grandpa respected time and place. When Pastor Foster finished, Aunt Faye’s friends told stories. They talked about Aunt Faye’s evangelism and charity. “She could lead the darkest souls to the light,” they said. They said her death was a pity.

Afterwards, old women in their old black dresses and hats that looked like slaughtered birds gathered in groups, clucking and pecking at each other. They talked about how her red dress. “Made her look whorish,” they said, but not too loud. They talked about the time she poisoned everyone at the Fall Festival with her potato salad. They looked at Leon and shook their heads. “That poor boy,” they said. People thought Leon was stupid but he wasn’t. He just didn’t think like everyone else. “What’s he going to do with himself?” they asked. He held down a job at the slaughterhouse in town but that didn’t matter. These old women saw what they saw and thought what they thought.

William L. Alton started writing in the Eighties. Since then his work has appeared in Main Channel Voices, World Audience and Breadcrumb Scabs among others. In 2010, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has published several books. One collection of flash fiction, Girls, two collections of poetry titled Heroes of Silence and Heat Washes Through, a memoir titled My Name is Bill and three novels: Flesh and Bone, Comfortable Madness, and The Tragedy of Being Happy. He earned both his BA and MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. 

Hunting Angels by Dan A. Cardoza

If you don’t believe in angels or death, then this story isn’t for you. Thus, I’ve issued a trigger warning. 
I was raised a believer in angels, thanks to my mother, Mary. They were part of a magical childhood. Mother would parade them in front of the whole damned neighborhood. At least it seemed so, on special occasions. They’d appear up there, in the refracted light she’d cast against her bedroom wall. Amongst the floral wallpaper, they mimicked fly, colorful birds. She’d morph their delicate bodies smaller, then larger, depending upon where she stood with her double D-cell flashlight and the remaining battery life. 
Up there, on the wall, they’d alter their characteristics from dark to light, not unlike the kinetic clouds at the beginning of the night. Over the years, we’d seen them damned near everywhere, including in churches and cemeteries. Stepfather Franck had said, he’d even seen one in the county jail when he was sleeping off a hangover. 
My name is Sam. Some call me S.E., say it’s because I look like Sam Elliot, the actor. We both have a western vibe about us. Shit-kicker boots and a classically full mustache make the package. But, as far as I know, Sam doesn’t hunt angels. 
I’ll get right to the point. What the hell good are they anyway, angels? They’re useless S.O.B’s. Better off dead than alive. The bastards are everywhere. I lost my loving mother, too young, to breast cancer
I hunt them. We all hunt them. Some of us don’t admit it. I’m intent on their extinction. Consider that a purpose, not a reason. I hunt them because they’ve never answered one single prayer. Sour grapes, you retort? Not really, I’m agnostic. The truth is, I enjoy the meat. I hunt angels to fill the large coffin freezer that I keep in the garage. It is choke-full of homemade ravioli, Chinook salmon, and skinned angels. On the occasion of hopelessness and despair, I especially enjoy cooking some up.

It’s always open season on angels. No law prevents it. There’s anecdotal evidence that their numbers are decreasing with all the hunting pressure, especially in North America. A yellow school bus ran over a grade-school friend in front of my house.
I’ve been told the infestation has grown exponentially since religion arrived in the holds of ships arriving from Europe. Once in North America, the horny angels reproduced in numbers like rabbits. 
Our angel contagion is a modern-day rabbit plague, just like the one that possessed Australia. In Australia, domesticated European rabbits arrived with the first inhabitants. They were introduced as food and sport. Fur and leather were bi-products. 
Here, as the result of natural selection, most angels have lost their girth and stature. Some have lost wings. Evolution is causing them to trend smaller in mass. They often appear as wild pheasants. They are cunning. Culling the disease-resistant curse is the only way to impact a further population reduction. It’s a constant battle.
The Kincaid’s managed the local bowling alley. The hard-working couple couldn’t afford daycare. Anna was almost three the day her mother had forgotten to close the bronze cash register drawer. Anna had attempted to pay her mommy back for the wrack candy she’d taken. Anna was crushed to death by the vintage bronze register and all the dirty money.

Joy, as a child, was passing my hunter safety course and totting a sixteen gauge shotgun. In Northern California, we hunt. It’s something you do to fill the freezer.
In flight, their intent, the angels, is to confuse you with their beautiful wings and feathers of fennel, rosemary, and nutmeg. Sometimes, with all the iridescence, you miss. It’s like shooting rainbows. 
Side-eyed Jack is a purebred American Spaniel. He’s loyal to a fault. Jack is at his best sniffing them out in any unknown, thatched location. He’s gifted at holding them tight until I’m able to walk up on him. When I finger whistle, Jack turns into a leopard and moves in. Then he points. Angels panic and flush. I’m not good at much, but I’m damned good with a Browning. Number six buckshot is plenty good at bringing them down. 

I had a few Coors with Billy after his return from Viet Nam in the late ’60s. A week later, he stuffed a .40 cal Beretta barrel in his mouth. I was told clean up was the worse, all the dark thoughts up there on the ceiling
As part of our ritual, Jack fetches the dead and wounded that have fallen from the sky. If still alive, he dispatches them with an indifferent stiff bite to the neck. He’s quick to lay them at my feet in search of praise. I’m good at applying it on thick, “Good-boy,” I tell him and cuff the top of his head.
Once we return home, I feed Jack and down a few shots of rye whiskey. I get the outdoor fire going real good and boil some fresh water in a hunting cauldron. One at a time, I clasp each angel by their yellow scaled talons, dunking each tiny basilisk into the furious water. The process makes it easier to pluck the feathers. After, I cut off their beautiful wings, gut and skin them. I make sure to keep a few exotic feathers for fly tying: Cutthroat, Brook, and Rainbow. 
I lost a close friend in a drunken-driving accident. He was a passenger. He’d recently celebrated his seventeenth birthday. Death isn’t picky in terms of who’s behind the wheel. He was a great kid. I often hunt the golden wheat fields next to the memorial pine of a shrine and notorious crook in the road.
What do they taste like? Of course, just like chicken. As for me, when in doubt, I save a prayer or two during cross country flights.

Dan’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction: BlazeVOX, Bull, Cleaver, Coffin Bell, Entropy, Gravel, O:JA&L/Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, New Flash Fiction Review, Poetry Northwest, Spelk, and Your Impossible Voice. Dan’s nominations: Best Micro Fiction, Tiny Molecules, 2020 and Best Poetry, Coffin Bell, 2020.