Poetry/Short Story: Cash Card by Mark Anthony Smith

CASH CARD 

 

Alex Maxwell leaves his house on Morrill Street at 12.20pm. He always does, like
clock-work, for the 2 pm shift at the aerosol factory. It’s a comfortable job and they
have a laugh. He’s worked his way up over four years and gets left alone by The
Management now.
He crosses the busy road. Alex doesn’t see the Police sign asking witnesses to come
forward with details about a car accident last month. Not many do come forward.
But that’s a different story altogether.
He walks towards the betting shop and steps around a bundle on the path. He
doesn’t take much notice. The shops have their wheelie bins out for collections. It’s
Monday. He shoulders the betting shop glass door open as be rummages through his
jacket pocket. His cash card isn’t there. “Damn!” Alex panics. He checks the time on
his mobile phone. It’s 12.32 pm on Monday 20 th January 2020. Where did he last have
his card?
He last had it yesterday as he withdrew some money out at the bank. He questions
the odds of his card still being in the cash machine or of being handed into the bank.
‘Someone will have pocketed it.’ There’s no chance of it being found. He’ll have to
cancel it at the bank. He leaves the betting shop. He still has plenty of time to pop in
at the branch. Alex worries about his balance as he dashes. He had barely registered
the body he stepped around to avoid. From the corner of his eye, it could have
passed for bin bags, perhaps. He dashes past the homeless man sitting outside the
convenience store. There’s a queue in the bank.
Alex is fidgeting in line. There’s only ever one cashier serving. The older lady is
telling her life story as she’s being seen to. A child in a pram, before Alex, starts
crying. He doesn’t make eye contact with the child’s Mother. He feels an anger
growing in his chest as the older customer rambles.
Another staff member makes her way to the pedestal by the door. Alex goes over.
He doesn’t acknowledge her name badge. “I need to cancel my card,” he fumbles.
“Your name?” Alex tells the staff member his name, “Mr. Alex Maxwell,” he states.
Nadia replies, “Just one minute, please.” She heads out the back. Alex is sure his card
is missing. People aren’t as honest as they used to be. Nadia checks his date of birth
and address. “You’re a Pisces,” she smiles. Then she hands him the card. “Someone
handed it in yesterday afternoon.”
Alex is relieved. He notices how bright the sun is for an afternoon in January. He is
heading for the bus. The child is still crying. He goes over to the pram and drops to
his knees. “Can I give him one of these?” He shows the Mother a small cake from his packed lunch. She smiles and nods. Alex unwraps the bun and the little boy stops
crying. There’s plenty of time to catch the bus.

 

Mark Anthony Smith was born in Hull. His writings have appeared in Spelk, Nymphs, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, Pink Plastic House and Eerie River. Hearts of the matter is available on Amazon.
Facebook: Mark Anthony Smith – Author
Twitter: MarkAnthonySm16

Poetry: Failed Hypothesis by David Ralph Lewis

Failed Hypothesis

We triple checked the results.
Today, with it’s heavy skies,
is an impossibility. We are

between ourselves, stuck in
the gaps between electrons
without any observation,
that nebulous space
of possibility, despair
and hope merging together
to create endless static.

The charts are incoherent
the data now unreadable.
We halted the experiment
early, filled up beakers
with tears and released
chemical compounds into
the fragile atmosphere,
just to see what would happen.

All textbooks are now runes
from a lost civilisation
too poorly studied for
comprehension. Under this
fractal tree, I breathe
and try, unsuccessfully
to forget all I know.

David Ralph Lewis is a poet and short story writer based in Bristol, UK, When not writing, he enjoys dancing badly at gigs, attempting to grow vegetables and taking photos. His debut chapbook, Our Voices in the Chaos was released by Selcouth Station in October 2019. He understands a very small amount of what is going on in the world. You can follow him at www.davidralphlewis.co.uk

Poetry/Short Story by Mark Anthony Smith :A Sidewalk Romance

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A Sidewalk Romance

Solid grey slabs
are sheened by the shortish
downpour that shimmers –
these blocks awash with the neon
signs that dance ‘open’
outpours in sudden puddles.
Here, there
are splashes of worn splaying
chewing gum or chalked
marks scrawling underfoot;
are they drawn to draw those niggles
away from the cracks? Perhaps,
you are shivering
or shaking that umbrella
when a weathered man or two
still holds onto values and holds
each door open. The rain
trickles down the nape –
roused by a nodding gratitude.
Shop the Spring
sale if you will for
that special occasion to
be snapped from a future lover.
Then, perhaps, later you’ll blow
to cool a green or Chai tea
and remember that we, once
hand in hand, had shared

the same hard pavement.

Mark Anthony Smith was born in Hull. His writings have appeared in Spelk, Nymphs, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, Pink Plastic House and Eerie River. Hearts of the matter is available on Amazon.

 

Facebook: Mark Anthony Smith – Author
Twitter: MarkAnthonySm16
 

Poetry/Short Story: Cash Card by Mark Anthony Smith

Skeleton Tree by Kaitlyn Luckow

Skeleton Tree

It’s not like she didn’t plan on coming here. In fact, if she was brave enough to be honest, a part
of her yearned to be here. It all led up to this: home.

The forest, with its skeleton trees that still produced impenetrable shadows, made her feel as if
this was where she belonged.

She looked down at her t-shirt that used to hug her chest, but she didn’t need to be hugged
anymore. This was no place for that. This was a place where all around you moved in. The trees
enveloped you in their arms and held you as close to their ragged trunks and fallen leaves as
they could.

She had been here before; the trees creaked to her and sang her a song that hallowed out her
soul so that she could make it whole again.

****
“You feel like you deserve this?”

“Yes.”

“And why is that?”

“I don’t know.”

“I think you do know. Can you tell me?”

“I’m nothing.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Because it’s true. It doesn’t matter. I don’t matter.”

“Why do you think you tell yourself this?”

“It’s all I’ve ever been told.”

“By others or yourself?”

“By everything.”

“So, is that why you do this to yourself?”

“If I’m nothing, then I should be nothing.”
***

The roots of the trees, the ribs of the trees, jut out of the earth, but she didn’t try to avoid them.
She liked the twinge of the sharp points, liked the way the rough edges took her breath away so
she could try to breathe again.

She looked around, desperately hoping to see her again. Last time, she had disappeared into
the roses before she had a chance to finish. Not this time. This time would be different. This
time, maybe the thorns would keep her.

***
“You mentioned once that you feel better. Is that true?”

“I feel more…right.”

“Describe right.”

“I don’t know. Like, this is me. This is who I am.”

“But it wasn’t always.”

“That’s because I didn’t know.”

“What made you know?”

“She did.”

***
The shadows of the skeletons wilted away to make room for the stars that never came. But she
was still able to see. The only thing she needed to see was the dark.

A gust of wind overtook her entire body and she felt emptily whole as she smiled.

She was here.

She filled her lungs with the wind and breathed out ash. It danced in front of her like blood in
water until the ash started to come together to create her pointed face of razor cheeks and
jutted lips. Her black wings were her cloak that she bathed in and sparse feathers dotted her
skull as the remaining ashes blew away.

Her black wings folded down over arms and she held out her hand.

“Give me your hand, Lily,” the woman said.

Lily held out her hand and touched her finger to the woman’s. Black ink started to fill up her
hand with cold and the black danced around her wrist and rooted itself through her elbow.

The woman smiled down at her when it was filled.

“Welcome home.”

***

“And what has she told you?”

“That I needed to be better. That I wasn’t good enough.”

“Why weren’t you good enough.”

“I was too much.”

…..
….

“And do you feel better?”
***
The woman floated across the fallen leaves and wrapped her wings around Lily.

“My dear, I can finally wrap my wings all the way around you.” The woman kissed her on her
cheek. “And I can finally feel your bones.”

Despite the wings, despite the kiss, Lily was cold.

“Don’t be afraid, darling. It’s okay to be cold.”

She could always read her mind. That was Lily’s favorite part. Someone understood. Someone
made her not feel like, as her mother would say, “crazy”.

“Being cold only means that you can feel.” The woman smiled.

***
“Yes, I am better.”

“Your mother brought you here because you keep fainting. Do you think that’s really better?”

“Sort of.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“It’s worth it.”
***
The woman lifted her wings and held Lily away so she could look at her.

Lily stared back. Hoping she wouldn’t see. Hoping she wouldn’t notice–

But the woman lifted her eyebrows knowingly. “Lily.”

“I know,” Lily whispered. “I’m sorry.” She dropped her head to look at her thigh peeking out
underneath her shirt. The skin bulged up, the lines a gross reminder of all of her mistakes.

The woman put her hand on Lily’s thigh. “Let me help you.”

The black ink flowed from her wings, through Lily’s thigh. As the ink dripped from her body, so
did the fat, so did the lines.

Lily felt relief.

***
“It’s worth it? Is it worth it if this kills you?”

“Do you want it to kill you?”
***
“Thank you,” Lily whispered to the woman.

But the woman didn’t smile back, she didn’t take away her hand. She only furrowed her brow. “It
is not enough,” she said in a flat voice.

Lily’s eyes widened as she looked down at her legs to see them dripping, dripping, dripping with
ink. A black pool filled the forest floor. But it just kept dripping. Her legs kept dripping.
Disappearing. Lily looked back at the woman, panic filling her lungs.

“Please,” Lily said.

“Not enough,” the woman said flatly, not looking at her, but smirking at the pool of black she was
creating.

Lily tried to move, but she was trapped. She couldn’t lift her feet. And it kept dripping.

But then, she spotted it, a flash of red. A flash of thorns behind the woman who wouldn’t stop.

***
“I’m so afraid.”

“You don’t have to live like this. You don’t have to be afraid.”

“Help me.”
***
The roses reached up like flames behind the woman and swiftly grabbed her by the by the
wings. The force tore away her hands. The ink started to dry up.

“But, dear. We’re not done yet. We’re so close,” the woman said calmly as the rose branches
started to lift her up. Her eyes told of panic.

Lily didn’t say anything, frozen to the forest floor amongst the ink.

The roses lifted up its branches and dug it’s thorns into the woman’s skull. The woman
screeched as her feathers started to give way to ashes.

“Lily, you don’t want this. You need to–”

The largest and brightest rose lifted its bulb over the woman face. It opened up its petals and
collapsed over her screams. The thorns disintegrated the darkness into mere ash and all was
silent.

Lily felt something warm slide down her hollow cheek. She lifted up her finger and wiped the
tear across her face.

Maybe she didn’t have to be hollow.

This forest never had to be her home.

Twitter: @kaitlynluckow  Instagram: kaitlyn.luckow

Website: Kaitlynluckow.com

“Skeleton Trees” is a short story that follows a main character as she deals with her anorexia through conversations with her therapists and a magical realism world that she creates to justify her actions against herself.

Kaitlyn is a writer based in Portland, OR. Her roots are in education and she was a high-school English teacher for five years before taking the leap to follow her passion for increasing compassion and understanding through storytelling in writing.

She believes in the ability of writing as a vehicle for empathy. In order to tell stories that unite, she believes in the power of well-crafted writing, honest storytelling, and creating stories that connect.

Her creative writing has been previously published at Wide Eyes Publishing, Barren Magazine, and The Crybaby Club.

Poetry by K Weber : Untitled, Freelance Patient, Support System, Observation

Untitled

nearing the sallow
fen, the natural

eye spots
a cardinal, up-

tick deer.
golden

ragwort creeps
the footpath.

sun escapes
behind a yawn

of trees stretching
limbs to form

an awning. rock
and dust

sleep here
every night

without objection.

This untitled piece is from my 2018 online chapbook/audiobook “cling as ink.”

Freelance, patient

I am terrified
of whatever’s going wrong
with me but I am old
enough to know that
when it feels like a heart
attack, a broken
bone, diabetes,
typhoid, it’s not. It’s all
in my head like the pointy
fingers laughing at me
while I break in half
and halves again.

Support system
There are bones
relying on other
bones. Right knee-
cap is wrong.
Hip pops and thigh
crackles hot. Discs
light up with sparks
on tender meat.
Spinal fluid may
contain a patient
silt. It waits for any
color; determines
today as a mood ring.

Observation
The maple leaves
are little paws
stretching
in reflection. They
want to tap into
the river to reach
past stone and into
each fish.
My back
on the grass,
I eyeball clouds
through oak
and acorn. The roots
grow into me
and I await
dragonflies.

K Weber lives and writes in southwestern Ohio. THIS ASSEMBLY is her 5th self-published online chapbook and audiobook project. Her writing has been included in issues of Memoir Mixtapes, Detritus Online, Black Bough Poetry, Writer’s Digest, Moonchild Magazine, Theta Wave and more! Her photography has appeared in such literary magazines as Barren Magazine and Nightingale & Sparrow. K earned her BA in Creative Writing from Miami University in 1999. More publishing credits and access to all of her online book projects at: http://kweberandherwords.wordpress.com