Passing On by Will McMillan

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My grandmother lay unconscious in her bed. She was surrounded by her children, along with their children, who ranged in relation from grand up to great. This woman we knew as our grandmother was dying. With loud, clumsy gasps she struggled for air, driven down into lungs that were slow to disperse the oxygen she needed to sustain her frail body. Her death was as imminent as shadows at sundown, and was being encouraged by her loved ones to embrace the inevitable.

“You can let go now, grandmother. It’s okay. Just let go.” Continue reading

The Morgue by Andrew Manzoline

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Sallyanne Lewis lived alone on the corner of First and Main in a large Victorian style house her father had left her after he hung himself from one of the attic rafters. She was forty years old and had never married and never, to anyone’s knowledge, had a relationship with a man or woman. Her house was a castle compared to the other homes around the area, and it was painted purple—a color I always thought strange for a house. The 19th-Century mansion needed some renovations because the paint was chipping, and there was a large part in the floor underneath the television set that was beginning to sag lower and lower each year. But everyone knew she wouldn’t do it. She didn’t do much of anything but work and go to Big Lou’s Diner on Main Street on Sunday mornings. She worked at the county morgue, which was in Clayton, a fact that added to people’s suspicions about her. Everyone that died in Morrison County would pass by ‘ol Sallyanne and my father always said he was going to go to Greenville County a couple miles south to die because he didn’t want to be handled by a nut-job. It was a small town of 1,200 people and common knowledge that she, and she alone, would be taking care of your cadaver. Continue reading

Forced to Dance by Cherylyn Petersen

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Their bodies spin in chaotic motion, pink tights, black leotards and dance class begins.  My daughter watches with studied intensity the motions of her instructor, then carefully points her toes and executes a child’s pirouette.  She is strong before she is graceful and she dances because I force the issue not because it’s her dream.  I smile enjoying the missteps, the focused trying.  It’s all part of a whole and that matters so much more than turning into beautiful ballerinas.  Though, none of these girls know that yet, and many of their parents may not fully grasp it either.

My daughter is not in dance to turn her into a famous dancer.  It’s not to present her on a stage, knowing her she won’t ever agree to perform anyway.  It’s not to live out my own childhood fantasies.  Though I must admit I would have loved the opportunity to be in such a class.
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Adele Entombed by Victor de Paula

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The van’s interior was studded with blue LED’s that blinked softly in the smokey haze of the dark like tiny light bugs. Melting snowflakes were crawling across the windshield, the wind pushing, an artificial stutter before being swiped away and annihilated to the peripheries by the broad sweep of the wipers.

Noan could hardly breathe in the van but Charlie didn’t care at all about that. So Noan watched Charlie sitting there, smoking, like a brownstone pyramid spewing thick soot. The large man was hunched over on one of the cracked, black leather benches lining the perimeter of the van’s cab.

Charlie puffed on his cigarillo anyway, the ancient thing, as Leer swung the van less than smoothly around an icy bend in the road. Tu was glaring at him through the bluish smoke from where she sat across the narrow, carpeted aisle of the van. Noan wondered if she’d try and hit Charlie before they got to the museum. She looked like she might.

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Joy in the Season by Cherylyn Petersen

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She steps soft on the quiet snow.  Winter hushes in it’s heavy cold and holds suspended the whimsy of dreams and fancy of living.

The stream cuts a black path through the glistening white.  A lonely figure, she carries carefully, the steaming cup of coffee.  Mittened hands grip for warmth and her red mouth tastes deep.  This act of living spirals hope to her soul and she pauses for a moment to take in the beauty that surrounds.  No one would know how alone she feels.  The clamor of children calling to one another, the joy filled sounds of family sharing stories, and life happily lived; lead one to imagine that she must be consumed with the bliss of family and the season.  The glow of lights from the Christmas tree shine through the window and the red berries peak out of the green on the wreath that hangs with pride on the front door.

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The Brevity of Youth by Cherylyn Petersen

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The wheels on his shoes took him zipping ahead of me and still I checked the dark parking lot to make sure he wasn’t in any danger.  The streetlights glowed.  Most of the shoppers had already settled into their evening rituals.  He really should have been getting ready for bed, but it’s not often he wants to go to the store with me; so when he asked, I found it easy to say yes.
This blonde, blue eyed boy of mine, the angel child that has tested every limit and pushed me beyond what I ever imagined.  This boy that can make me want to pull out all of my hair and in the next moment completely melt my heart. This boy that made me a mother.  This boy, who will only be a child for a little while longer.  It’s all going so fast.  And they tell you that.  Yet, even in the middle of it – I know I’m not ready for the tomorrows.  I’m not ready for the day he’ll leave.  I’m not even ready for the day that he’ll grow too big to sit on my lap.  It’s all painfully quick.

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Revolver by Samuel Collet

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His eyes watched the fiery clouds lift vertically from the planet’s surface. Wispy pillars of prismatic hues. Pastel yellows and garish pinks blended, stretching out from the tumbling folds below. They strained into the sky as fingers grasping oblivion.

He watched the floating spheres that dotted the distance, drifting so lazily above the cloud covers. Their glass hemispherical domes, their sheen metal cups. He studied their casual disposition. He watched them slowly bob and sway towards an unknown destination all the while flickering with the sun’s engrossing rays.

He looked up. The class was staring at him. His name had been called.

“Yes?” The word came out softly.

“I assume you did the assignment, Manuel?” asked the instructor.

“Yes.”

“What did you think of the twenty-first century lifestyles? The people especially. Tell us your thoughts.”

Manuel’s shoulders sank. He swallowed through an unexpectedly dry throat. His eyes darted and he slowly began to sit up.

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