A Small Town
Ginette Mitchell

A small town lies under a stifling sky.  Two streets, hedged in by bare autumn fields, breath a long sigh.  In a tiny cottage a man sits under a low bulb.  He smokes his pipe and watches the fire.  He dreams of sailing to China, or to stand on a whale’s back.  His dog twitches by his feet, deep in sleep, running, running, across the grass under a pale sun.

The man’s wife is always in the kitchen.  She rolls pastry and thinks of the handsome man who asked her to be his wife.  She looks into the mirror she keeps in her kitchen.  The face is an impostor.   A comb always sits in her apron, ready.

She covers the apples with a thick layer of pastry, dimpling edges between finger and thumb.  Humming gently, she sees herself in a dress of deep red velvet, a black lace collar brushing her neck. Hair, golden curls, pinned high.

Outside the storm edges nearer.  Purple sky and frightened birds racing to hide.  In the kitchen she feels the wind coming closer.  It moves through her hands, up her arms and into her heart.  Here it stays, icy and turbulent.   The man moves forward in his chair.  He knows something is changing but he is partially blind, so cannot see what’s happening. The dog stirs, no longer running, but looking for small dirty puddles to drink from.

The man sees his parents sitting at his table. They don’t look at each  other, just move food from plate to mouth.  The only sound from them is scraping cutlery.  The years of silence have petrified them.  Now they see only food and furniture, but no other human lives in their house.

A clock chimes and tired or not they obey the rules.  Each ritual played in full; she closes the kitchen, he sees the dog out.  Through the darkness the rain approaches, moving in to secret places and searching out each house. Cleaning street dust, feeding trees.  Birds hunch tighter and wind sings a sharp song.

She thinks sometimes of holding him but knows it’s too late.  At the graveside he broke into small shards and cried for his mother. His eyes begged her but she turned away.  They could never go back.

Ginette Mitchell is an artist and writer living in London.  She trained as a ceramicist and fine artist and is currently working on a collection of short stories.  She sees no distinction between her work as and artist and writer, both being an exploration of perception.  She can be contacted at  ginette_mitchell@hotmail.com

A Jersey Jack Reminiscence, 1975
by Julie Mark Cohen

Scoops never said much, but truly knew everything.

That night, he made it known he wanted music with his meal.

We set up a Friday buffet and my Blues band sat down to play, with Chicago's Teddy Robinson on tenor saxophone.

As if on cue, Scoops barreled into my dining room, steering himself by his infamous belly directly towards the buffet.

While he sampled and filled his plates, his flat tush pulsated back-and-forth with metronomic precision.

All of a sudden, he set his plates down, unbuttoned his top shirt buttons, snared an open bottle of wine from a table, and lumbered into an open area, his gyrating belly guiding the way.

Smirking, Teddy switched to baritone saxophone and nodded to the rhythm guitarist.

Teddy made that saxophone wail and moan, charming his snake into doing a bump and grind... solo.

When the band finished, I bit my tongue and asked Scoops.  "Got everything?"

"What more could a fella want?  Fine wine.  Delicious food. Satisfying sax."

Copyright 2004 by Julie Mark Cohen.  All rights reserved.


Julie Mark Cohen, Ph.D., P.E., is a Consulting Structural and Forensic
Engineer who practices in New York State.  Her flash fiction pieces
have been published in online magazines including Long Story Short - a
Women Writers' Showcase, Flashshot - a Daily Genre Flash Fiction, Laugher Loaf, The Writer's Hood, The Drabbler (an anthology), The 2004 Book of Remembrance (of 9/11), and in a printed journal, Mindprints.


Contact Julie.

by Tina Portelli  

He sits under my desk, alone, in a dark corner as if punished.  His only crime is that he’s plastic.

He is lined for protection with a condom- like plastic bag.  He hates it when I toss him my leftover lunch, detests  the rotting smell.  And he really gets pissed off when I toss a recyclable item his way. He knows it doesn’t belong.

Trash receptacle that he is, my pal wants to stay clean and stick to the rules of trash.

I kick him often, by accident of course.  He will topple over and empty himself at my feet for spite.

He knows all my dirt, my secrets and my mistakes.  The balances of my bills, and just how much junk mail I get in a day.  He does not get attached to this information, he is only the host to this traveling paper trail and leftover crumbs. He does not share this information, not even with the one who empties him at the end of the day. He knows once he houses my stuff, it is not for other eyes to read or lips to taste.

He will serve me for a long time; he cannot be “Out of Order” or go “Out of style”, or be placed at another location.  He will live under my desk for as long as I sit at my desk.

I empty my soul to you, my Private Pail Pal, please keep a lid on it.

Tina says, "I am 54, single and live in Brooklyn, NY.  I work in Manhattan as a full time office manager.  My writing is a newly found passionate hobby. I get my ideas from personal experiences and the adventures of family and friends.  I have never taken a writing class, but three years ago I started practicing meditation.   I attribute my newfound passion of writing to that practice, meditation gave me a clear and open mind.  No better friend than the soul of my pen." Contact Tina.