A Path of Breadcrumbs

A Path of Breadcrumbs by Joni Caggiano

steam rises from the path which elicits moments

tasting of honey, trickling over my body, as I roam alone

hot pavement releases her heat through steam,

like sultry, smoke cascading upwards toward the heavens

morning rain, still fresh with summer kisses mixing with pollen

tiny is the child with training wheels on her bike

innocent her smile as she glides on air in new shoes

our feet once walked beside one another, exchanging thoughts

you saved lonely earthworms from the heat of the sun

my eyes swell with stale tears, as I leave you breadcrumbs

wildflowers bursting with fragrance, clothe me in their robe

remembering you like a chocolate cake that has no end

Image -Pexels

An Unwanted Night

“Am I broken?”

That was the question Mary Biron asked herself as she looked herself over in the mirror. She was, by all means, an attractive lady in waiting. Short, light hair with a fair complexion and warm eyes. Or so, that is what her handmaids told her every morning as they readied her garments for the day.  Every day, they told her that, and every day, she wondered if they were lying.

Mary didn’t believe that she was ugly, or, at least, unattractive. But the maids were more than likely simply saying that to avoid offending their master’s daughter. Mary could not fault them for that kind of thinking. But, were the maids pretty? She had no idea. Some, Mary imagined, had lustful eyes upon them, but, for the life of her, Mary could not understand why. Was it their hair? Their bodies?

Forcing her eyes away for the mirror, and from her thoughts, Mary looked down at the letter that rested on her desk. It was full of the usual pomp and pious wording she’d had come to expect from an invitation to a ball, Dear Ms. Biron of the Biron estate, upon this day, October 22, I cordially invite you to–

“Ms. Biron?” A maid, Elizabeth, came into the room. ”Are you prepared, miss?”

“Always, Miss Saddler.”  Mary answered, keeping her gaze fixated away from her.

Elizabeth nodded, but the flicker of doubt she showed was enough for Mary to know that she didn’t believe her. “If you are prepared, then the steward awaits you.”

“I see. Thank you.”  Mary held back a heavy sigh. “I will be going then.”  Elizabeth nodded, and Mary moved to walk past her, but stopped. “Mis…Elizabeth.”  Mary paused for a moment to allow Elizabeth to acknowledge the use of her first name. “May I ask you something…prudish?”

“What do you mean?” Elizabeth asked.

“N-no.” Mary shook her head. “Never mind.” She walked away from Elizabeth, her thoughts scattered as she spied the steward, Bartholomew, waiting for her.

“Your ladyship.”  Bartholomew greeted with a wave of his arm and a bow. He was a tall older man, with features that Mary had overheard many of the maids describe as “handsome.”  For the life of her though, Mary could not see nor understand their reasoning. Bartholomew had a solid face, with a strong jaw and broad shoulders, but were these the traits of an attractive man?

“Are you well, Mr. Bartholomew?” Mary asked in return.

“As well as ever.”  He replied. “Your father has just finished getting the carriage ready, I trust you are prepared?”

“I am.”  Mary nodded. “You are not helping him?”

“The lord tasked me to wait for you as he prepares.”  Bartholomew replied evenly.

“Only that?” Mary asked.

“And to accompany you throughout the ball.”  Bartholomew continued. “To ward away any

unwanted suitors.”  A lie, but one by her father. To watch and not waiver.

“I see.”  Mary replied finally, then added. “Thank you for your service.”  

“I live to serve, your ladyship.”  Bartholomew replied.

Mary looked at Bartholomew for a few moments as his attention was driven away, but she found herself speaking. “May I ask you a question?”

Bartholomew glanced at her once. “Of course.”

“When you look at a woman, where do your eyes wander?” Mary said, then added. “Answer  as honestly as you can. Vulgar or otherwise.”

Bartholomew gave her a raised eyebrow in response, but after a moment, he spoke again. “The breasts, of course.”  He answered plainly, as if speaking of the weather. “Is there a reason why you asked?”

Mary turned her eyes away. “…I think I’m broken, steward.”  Her shoulders sagged. “I feel that I shall remain unmarried, because I do not feel…anything when I look upon a man or woman.”  Mary took two steps forward, and turned her head so Bartholomew would not be able to see her face. “I feel…empty.”

Bartholomew made a sound Mary wasn’t able to identify. “Forgive me your ladyship, but didn’t you steal those dreadful penny novels in the past? The ones with the explicit scenes?”

“And even then; nothing.”  Mary rubbed her face, and found tears stinging at the corner of her eyes.

Bartholomew spoke softly. “Give it time, and you will.”

Mary felt as if she had been kicked in the gut by a mule, and she must have shown it too. Bartholomew seemed to realize that he had misspoken, but before he could speak further, the doors to the lobby opened.

Entering was Lord Biron, her father, and despite his advanced age, he struck an air of authority that Mary couldn’t even hope to emulate.

“There you are.”  He looked to Mary. “Are you…” He paused, taking in Mary’s expression for a moment, then glanced at Bartholomew. “What happened?” He demanded with steel in his voice.

Bartholomew answered coolly. “The ladyship is simply nervous about today’s events.”

Lord Biron looked at Mary, who wiped her eyes with her arm. “I see.”  He said, then crossed his arms. “Load the bags onto the carriage then, steward.”

“Yes my lord.”  Bartholomew nodded, and left. Leaving father and daughter alone in the room.

“…Mary.”  Lord Biron said as softly as he could. “I know you’re…” He searched for the right word. “Uncomfortable with this situation, but it’s what’s best.”

“I know, father.”  Mary replied quietly.

Lord Biron continued. “You’ll find a good husband, in time.”  

“I know, father.”

Lord Biron pursed his lips. “In any case, please get into the carriage. Miss Saddler and Bartholomew will be joining us shortly.”

“Yes, father.”  

Walking, or, perhaps, slumping past her father and towards the carriage, Mary set herself onto the cushion, and waited for her latest hell to start.

*

The ride to the Kerbeny Estate was both agonizing and boring, a combination that Mary rather dreaded experiencing. The three passengers, Mary, Elizabeth, and Lord Biron made conversation as best they were able. Or, rather, Elizabeth and Lord Biron were able to make small talk, and Mary was only able to catch piecemeals of their conversation.

Mary couldn’t help but roll her eyes as she listened. Elizabeth probably would have made a better daughter then she did, with her cheery demeanor and ease at which Elizabeth held herself in the affairs of nobles. What was Mary, in comparison? Melodramatic to the core, at war with her own lack of desires, and continually striding the line between pathetic and pitiful?

It was a bitter drink to taste, and Mary had taken it more than once. How quaint it was, that the maid and butlers of the estate were more capable than the nobleman’s daughter. Her education was stagnant, her teachers were books and the lessons were long hours in a solitary room. Compared to the trials of the world outside, how did Mary compare? Lacking and largethic, no doubt.

With her cheek resting on her hand as Mary gazed out the window, she tried to drown out both her intrusive thoughts, and the chattering of her father and friend. Soon enough though, Mary spied their destination.

When Mary found herself stepping out of the carriage and standing in front of the vast entrance. It was like something out of an old fairy tale, Mary realized. A hedge maze to the side, a large fountain with running water, and all the decor she thought only existed in storybooks. The main building was made out of fine stonework and bore more than a passing resemblance to a gothic castle. Gargoyles loomed over her, and with their wicked faces, Mary felt as if they could see through all that she could build between them. Taking a shaking breath to focus herself, Mary found Bartholomew at her side once more.

“Are you well?” He asked.

“…No.”  Mary could only shake her head, and trudged forward. “Not really.”  

“Madam–”  

She could only give him a strained smile as they headed inside.

Behind her, Mary heard her father greet some associate of his, and Mary took the chance to slip away towards the offered food. Some women needed to watch what they ate, but Mary did not. Her one apparent blessing from God.

When she made her way to the table, Mary quickly snatched up some small, easily chewable pieces of food and started to eat. She needed to make sure she ate something, after all.

“Miss Biron.”  Bartholomew began softly. “Your father just wants to make sure that—”

“Thank you, but I’d rather not.”  Mary cursed her choice of words. He was loyal and did not deserve this rudeness. “Do you know when the ball ends?” She asked.

“We’ve only just arrived miss.”  Bartholomew returned. “I imagine it will go on till well after dusk.”

“Of course. I merely–”

Mary found her words cut off as a noblewoman, who was entirely more well fed then the rest of the ball goers combined, approached Bartholomew. “You, servant!” She said with a grubby finger pointing at him. Bartholomew, within an instant, assumed a stoic face and regarded the noblewoman coolly.

“Yes, ma’am?” He said in such a tone that would make stones feel soft.

“My dog, find it!” The noblewoman demanded.

Bartholomew shook his head. “I apologize your ladyship, but—”

“Be quiet, peasant!” The noblewoman snapped. “Do as I say!”

Mary raised her hand and opened her mouth to speak. “Miss, I do not wish to appear as rude, but perhaps–”

“Oh, be quiet sow.”  The noblewoman spoke, and at this point, they were drawing eyes. “I do not remember asking you.”

“And I don’t remember how you managed to get through the doors with your girth, but here we are.”  Mary returned, her mouth moving faster than even she expected. The noblewoman’s face twisted in a mix of scorn, hate, and offense at Mary’s words. The noblewoman reached out, grabbed Mary’s ear and twisted sharply. Mary hissed in pain as the woman pulled her closer, the woman’s rancid breath against Mary’s cheek.

“I know you who are, you broken little thing.”  The noblewoman hissed, and Mary gritted her teeth, her hand curling into a fist. The noblewoman continued with her far too foul words against Mary. “I know what your father says about you, a disappointment like you doesn’t–”

“Back–!” Mary moved one foot backward, twisted her waist, and brought her clenched fist upward. “Off!” She felt the force of her blow ripple through the noblewoman’s cheek, causing the noblewoman to stumble backwards and trip over her own two feet, sending both her and a tray of food to splatter to the ground. As Mary took in heaving breaths, the rush of power from her anger waning, she realized Bartholomew was staring at her in abject horror, and that many of the other ball goers had now fully turned to see the commotion.

Mary looked around at their stunned faces, and at the noblewoman, bleeding on the ground and being attended to by who was presumably her son and daughter. From their panicked cries and the tears in their eyes, Mary feared that she had done more than simply ring the bells of the noblewoman. 

“I….”  Mary tried to find her words. “I didn’t…” She looked to Bartholomew. “I was just…”

“Miss Biron…”  Bartholomew said softly, and that was worse than if he had spoken harshly. “I would have–”

She had made a mistake, Mary realized. With speed that surprised even her, Mary found herself running out of the ballroom and into the outer courtyard.

There, she found a stone bench away from others, and let her walls fall. She cursed and cried, snap and scorn, but, after a period, she felt something rub against her leg. Glancing down, she spied a small dog, a poodle, looking up at her. Reaching down, Mary picked the dog up, and placed onto the bench, where it rested on Mary’s lap. “So, are you lost?” She asked the poodle. “For it feels that I certainly am.”  

The poodle looked up at Mary with it’s wide eyes, clearly oblivious to her plight.

Mary rubbed it’s neck. “I mean, I feel as if…no matter what I do. I’m just broken. I just struck a noblewoman after all. It will be a wonder if I can ever show my face outside my home ever again.”  

The poodle sneezed, and Mary gave a weak laugh. It responded by gently licking Mary’s arm. With a strained, but soft smile, Mary kept her gaze to the stars. After what felt like an hour, but was more than likely merely a few minutes, Mary felt the poodle stand up, happily bark once, and jump off the bench. Running in a circle, the poodle barked twice more, before dashing away, as quick as a mouse. She stood, as if in a daze, and followed. Turning the corner to the front entrance, Mary saw her father and friends huddled in a circle. The poodle, gone.

They were speaking in hushed whispers, no doubt about what a terrible mistake she was, and had committed. Elizabeth, perhaps by a wayward glance or because she had been searching, saw Mary’s approach first.

Elizabeth’s eyes went wide. “Miss Biron!” She shouted as she ran to Mary, running in-between Lord Biron and Bartholomew as she did.

“Hello Elizabeth.”  Mary smiled weakly, Elizabeth could only let out a gasp of confusion and concern as she looked Mary over, clearly caught between feeling a mix of relief and repulsion.

“That is…My lady, where were you?” Elizabeth asked. “I saw you run away, I feared that you ran into the woods and were eaten by a bear!” Before Mary could dissuade the notion, her father spoke up.

“Before anything else.”  He spoke with a bear’s growl. “Are you hurt?”

“…No, father.”  Mary braced herself for the inevitable blow. However, instead of the ringing of her skull, she felt nothing but a gentle hand on her head.

“Good. Let’s go home.”  Lord Biron glanced at Bartholomew. “Steward, gather our luggage, and when we get back, brew some coffee. We need to prepare to draft an apology for the lord of the house for our early leave.”

“Not the injured madam?” Bartholomew asked.

“No.”  Lord Biron shook his head. “She laid a hand on my daughter, as far as I’m concerned, she deserved what she got.”

Mary couldn’t stop herself from speaking. “But, father, won’t this result in a scandal?”

“It will.”  Lord Biron replied, and Mary felt her heart sink. “But scandals are rather common. I imagine this will be yesterday’s news sometime next week.” Lord Biron spared one last glance at the ball, then turned his back to it. “Let us be off.”  The two servants nodded, and followed in step behind him.

“….Father.” Mary spoke, even as the familiar vice in her throat came again.  “I’m sorry, for being broken.”

Lord Biron could only tilt his head in confusion, but, for reasons unknown to Mary, Elizabeth smiled sadly.

Photo by Drigo Diniz from Pexels

Damon Day is a graduate of WSU-Vancouver from the extremely stressful year of 2020. He is an aspiring author who has the seemingly impossible goal of breaking into traditional publishing. The road is long and thorny, but every step is progress. You can find him here: Twitter Website

Looking to submit to us? We’re accepting Poetry, Fiction, Articles and Art! Please get in touch.

Laughing Africa

We know that Africa is not a camera and the continent cannot steal someone’s soul but we know that words, superstitions, and traditions can signify an alternate reality to those who believe.


The fighter remained on the second rung of the ladder about twenty seconds longer than necessary approaching with bated breath.

“Go, go remember Red Hook,” shouted the Anglican right hand side.

“V’amos, v’amos from the left hand side.               

’10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1′ and the roar shoots through the crowd like an elephant raising its trunk.

A jock in the front row licking his lips greedily.

“Hey, Morris,” he screams, “you got another one on the docket like this one?”

‘Naw,’ I say ‘he is one of a kind,’ and I shoot the breeze for awhile enjoying the sound of my big promises hitting the warm wind of the night. Let me introduce myself: I am Morris, alias is Georgio Giacalone aka promoter.

Morris loved his job in the New York ringside of Madison Square Garden. He was always reminded of his idol and nemesis, Norman Mailer….benefactor of the writer and overseer of the infamous book “In the Belly of the Beast.” Morris squinted and looked around with steely determination breathing deeply, he swung his shoulders back, ‘Today, we won,’ he gloated loudly.  ’His mama…may she rest in peace, would have said….’to each his own.’ She had long given up on figuring out what made her boy run. Nana only knew that this one attracted trouble like a rat running in a circular maze never pausing to analyze or change direction. One day, she recounted to her best friend her philosophy of Morris’s movements, “Lena, I raised him to know right from wrong after his father left.

His dad, Silvestre,was gone to the wind.         

Boxing had been the light at the end of the human file cabinet for Morris. After boxing, he became tired of someone using him as a punching bag and was only too happy to trade the gloves for the deal of making money off the bet. Morris was complicated with the raw hungry emotions that often propelled him toward making crazy decisions. Like his Nana, he was superstitious. The night before the fight, he prayed, just like his momma, with her rosary beads.

Morris had learned the art of the deal from Satchmo, a candy store proprietor, albeit a bookie.. Morris used to saunter in while he was on the phone, as Satchmo dipped his challah bread in honey…. munching and running his finger lovingly down the list of horses placing his odds. 

His mama prayed to the good lord that Morris would remain a good boy while Morris prayed that “Satchmo” would teach him everything about the art of the deal. Morris earned a good living and some minor write ups in the Post. Breslin stated in his column “He lives for the game.”  Morris was a character with his high steppin’ arched walk, a hat jauntily slung on his head, a leather jacket slung over his shoulder espousing the curly brown hair peeking out around his face.   

The promised land was an occasional trip to Europe, a nice car, and a better home. Like an agile dancer thrown into the Hudson, he learned to navigate and fare well with his trade.

During one trip to Paris with Nana, she told him:  “Morris, Have I met the woman for you?” She espoused, “I met her at the Quaker Meetings in the 7th arrondisement.         

“Yes, mum,” he mumbled under his breath. He thought aloud quickly, “Tell you what Nana, I will meet her one time for coffee and if you are right,we’ll make a bet. Even down. 10 to 1, if I find her perfect and ask her on a second date, you win the bet.”

Nana laughed thinking of Genevieve. She thought of the long red wavy flowing hair, the long lean slender body which seemed to dance along the street, and the subtle yet careful way she had of voicing her thoughts.  “Deal is on,” and she shook her son’s hand gloating at her victory.“Where does she work, mum?” “She is with the South African Embassy as a secretary for the Diplomat to Paris.”Morris smiled to himself visualizing a stout woman with a poker face and a British accent. “Sure, mum,” he muttered, “whatever you say.”

As Morris was nursing his coffee at the agreed rendez-vous, he noticed a long lean female slinking along like a cat noticing before she plunked herself down a flash of her red hair and a high pitched laugh that made him sit up straighter.“Well, hello,” she blinked her eyes twice, “Are you Morris?”

“Yes, I am.” Dang his mom, she knew his style. He felt lucky, blessed as if she could help grant him every wish he desired. Dollar signs, Vegas, the roulette table, and every gambler’s superstition flitted through his mind as the conversation continued with talk of work, Paris, South Africa, New York. However, Genevieve was not especially interested in him. She later told her best friend “I just wish that I could meet a man I think I could settle down with.” Morris was intuitive as a bookie and since he made his living reading people sensed Genevieve’s disinterest.   

She has other contenders,” he told his mother and paid up his losing bet. 

It was during this time that Morris wandering around the left side of the bank in Paris happened upon a book “Laughing Africa.” He picked it up and idly glanced through the stories until motivated to throw down a couple of dollars for it. The author wrote about the strange and mystical superstitions of Africa. Under one photograph, he read this quote, “Woe to the photographer who tries to capture the soul of the African. Doom and gloom will come to him…..one cannot capture the soul. The soul is the keeper of the man. Without this keeper, one cannot be released. Bad luck and misfortune will follow the one who messes with this. “I get that,” Morris mumbled to himself. One should never duet with the devil. It was around this time that Morris started to have a run of bad luck. Most of his bets fell short; his best protégé trained with him and then left; Jimmy Breslin stopped writing about him; and he moved back in with his mother to save money. He thought to himself ‘I need a good luck charm.’ So he began thinking and he remembered Genevieve.

‘Damm the feeling,’ he said aloud. ‘I felt so good with her beside me.’ And with that thought, he fixated on her.

‘What’s that,’ his mom dozing near his chair inquired. He sighed heavily glanced sideways at his mom, “Nothing, Nana“, he felt as if she was the answer to his long run of bad luck. “And from that moment, I knew I would return to Paris”, he later confided to a friend. Meanwhile, Morris followed Genevieve’s career….through social media, he quietly stalked her.

Morris took a sabbatical to Paris when his mom passed away a few months later. On her death bed, she told him “Morris, I just wish you would settle down.” With this in mind, he returned to Paris. Scouting her neighborhood near the embassy, he was riding an open double decker bus when he spotted that marvelous walk, and the red hair swaying as if to its own catwalk beat. It was Genevieve…in a long wedding dress surrounded by onlookers.

“Stop, stop. Arretez, arretez”, he commanded the bus driver.

Morris lunged off the bus and snatched the camera from the photographer as he was snapping pictures. He tore down the street too embarrassed to stop and then he kept going until he delivered the camera to a store. At least, he reasoned that he would have photographs of Genevieve to cherish. Maybe her visual presence would bring him some much needed luck. As he continued to his hotel, he remembered that strange African fable…when you take a photograph of someone, you steal the soul and so some tribes of Africa do not like to be photographed.

“Is everything alright sir?” questioned the bellhop

“Yes, yes,” Morris yelped, “I will be departing tomorrow at 6 p.m. for the states.”

“Very good,” replied the bellhop moving quickly on. Later, when reporting to the head bellhop, he complained about the strange moods of some foreigners.

Morris pondered all night about stealing the purity of Genevieve’s soul but really he was enraged that she had married someone else. His dreams were very weird full of black creatures disappearing into white fog and then reappearing with a box that resembled a soul. Nervously, he returned for the film. As he stood up at the stand up bar drowning a small cup of very dark espresso, Morris fidgeted impatiently.  it was pouring heavy drenching rain like a Korean monsoon in Paris….cautiously, heart beating, he dashed back the espresso in one shot, banged some money down on the counter, and ran out the door much to the surprise of the proprietor who later told his wife he couldn’t imagine what it must be like to live in the United States. “These people expect everything immediately. They have no patience.”

He ran in the store and paid for the photos opening them with trembling hands. “What happened?” he demanded of the clerk.

The clerk shrugged and moved on to the next customer.

Black, black, all black…there were no images.   

Morris gulped and searched his memory remembering the photographer clicking away; suddenly Morris was unsure of the past, present and the future. It was a signed death warrant….thunder crashed around him and the lightening rolled in…as if his mamma, may she rest in peace, was crying upon his shoulder.  Morris broke out in a cold sweat and left Paris immediately deciding to have no further contact with anyone he knew. Upon arrival in Manhattan, he joined the Concrete Church and became a pall bearer for funerals. He had the opportunity to listen to all sermons on the power of positive thinking. He quit his night job at the Garden and bought a small ice cream business. Slowly and steadily, he became a fixture in the neighborhood. About three years later, he married a pretty high school French teacher, Ava. For their honeymoon, three months later, she begged him for a trip to Paris. With some trepidation, he agreed.

The second day they were walking near the Eiffel Tower when he spotted a woman with gorgeous red hair, and a quick two step pulling a little carriage. Morris realized it was Genevieve.  They stared at one another with surprise: or rather one with delight and the other with despair.

His wife inquired rather suspiciously, “Who is this?”

“Hi, Genevieve,” he stammered.

His palms began to sweat and he had trouble breathing.  Superstitiously, he crossed himself…twice for good luck.  His palms began to sweat…

Congratulations on your marriage,” he heard himself saying as if from a great distance. Genevieve continued talking.  Genevieve and Ava did most of the talking and after awhile, his wife fell silent and looked at him with an accusatory stare.

She was beginning to get suspicious, “who was this lady and what did she mean to him?”                   

Genevieve told his wife,  You may have heard of my marriage to the South African diplomat. We got married in Paris three years ago. I looked your husband up while we were in New York on our honeymoon but there was no record of him.  It was as if he dropped out of sight.  I tried the Garden…” As it was, Ava had no knowledge of his life prior to meeting her, stared suspiciously and quizzically at Morris. 

Morris jumped into the conversation, “Ava and I are newlyweds.  This is our honeymoon.”

Genevieve mentioned that she hoped they had some good photographs of the wedding to remind them of the special occasion. She said with vengeance, “We did have a professional photographer at our wedding but it didn’t work out.”

Belatedly, Morris queried “Why?”                 

Someone ran off with the camera just as the film was put in the cartridge.  The photographer never had a chance to take any photos.  We were mugged on our wedding day by some stranger wearing a cap pulled down to hide his face.”    

Morris asked aloud, “Do you have any idea who could have done such a thing?” Then, an image of his life for the past three years since that fateful day passed before him.  He saw himself lighting a candle at the Concrete Church, the tithing of 20% of his income to the church and to the doctrine of the power of positive thinking. His wife who knew Morris as a successful small business owner quizzically asked him about what Genevieve was referring to when she mentioned “the Garden?

Morris watched as Genevieve said “Chow” and sauntered casually down the boulevard.                          

“Arêtes, arêtes, stop, “he cried in anguish and rushed to the nearest bar.

It only took his wife, the newlywed, Ava, seven days with the help of the American Embassy to locate Morris.  Morris was found reciting his prayers, standing up in a coffee bar outside the Moulin Rouge, drinking black coffee with sides of cognac.

The scenario was later reported by a French writer who happened to be in the bar at the time and wrote an article about the strange behavior of foreigners in Paris…

He concluded this segment by stating “Paris has a strange effect on people, n’est-ce que pas?”

The reporter was very grateful to get the quote from Ava. “He never drinks, never. He does enjoy his banana splits though.” One of his old boxing buddies happened to read the article written by a French journalist reporting on “Foreigners visiting Paris Bastille Day” and laughed uproariously, “That sounds like the Morris I knew,” “People change,” he thought, “but life continues.” He mused, “We are what we are.” He leaned back in his seat wondering what his old friend was doing and what had led to his behavior that day.Then he raised his mug to the television and simultaneously dialed the phone number of his bookie. “Hey, I have a good feeling about this one.”

This one’s for you, Morris. And he winked at the pretty young redhead on the barstool down the way.

Photo by Dariusz Sankowski on Unsplash

Born in New York City and raised in a small town  in the Catskill Mountains, Mrs. Eve Dobbin’s  favorite quote for inspiration is “Everyone has two eyes but no one has the same view” (Harakeh). Her DNA blueprint defines  her “a likely suspect for baking or travelling in time, or by train, boat or plane.”

Sandhill Review, BellaOnline Literary Review, Down in the Dirt Magazine, The Horror Zine, The Stray Branch, Mused Literary Review, The Literary Yard, Vita Brevis, Anapest, Page & Spine feature her  literary talents. One recent honor was being designated “Poet of the Month” by the Zine.

Looking to submit to us? We’re accepting Poetry, Fiction, Articles and Art! Please get in touch.

A Fair Amount of Ghosts

He plays the trumpet brilliantly on the corner of Grand and Victoria. He doesn’t look like he’s from this era. He’s impeccably dressed, from his crisply fitting suit to his smooth fedora hat. There aren’t many folks that can pull that off. He’s cooler than the freezer aisle on a sweltering summer day. He performs the type of yearning melodies that give you the goosebumps. I’ve never seen anyone put any money into his basket.

There’s a formidable stone house that sits atop Fairmount Hill. It’s been for sale for as long as I can remember. The crooked post sinks deeper into the soil with each passing year. It isn’t a place to live in. It’s a place to dwell in. There’s a dusty rocking chair on the front porch. It’s always rocking. Always rocking. I’m not sure if the chair is occupied by an old soul or if it’s just the wind. Maybe it’s both. I guess the wind is an old soul.

This town is full of posters for Missing Cats. There’s one for a sweet, fluffy Maine Coon named “Bear.” He’s been gone for a while now. I’ve searched through every alleyway, under every porch, and inside of every bush for him. Sometimes I think I see him out of the corner of my eye. But then he’s not there. The rain has pretty much washed away the tattered posters. If he ever turns up, I worry that the posters will be missing.

I met the love of my life in Irvine Park, near the gloriously spouting water fountain, beneath the serene umbrella of oak trees. We spent a small piece of eternity there together. We talked about whether or not the world was coming to an end soon, and if all of our memories will be diminished along with it. After we said our goodbyes and she walked off into the distance, I never saw her again. So I left my heart in Irvine Park.

Zach Murphy is a Hawaii-born writer with a background in cinema. His stories have appeared in Peculiars Magazine, Ellipsis Zine, Emerge Literary Journal, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Ghost City Review, Lotus-eater, Crêpe & Penn, WINK, Drunk Monkeys, and Fat Cat Magazine. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly in St. Paul, Minnesota

Looking to submit to us? We’re accepting Poetry, Fiction, Articles and Art! Please get in touch.

Mourning Siren

Mourning Siren by Joni Caggiano 

Was she hatched in smoky vapors of opium from a mystical brazen beast

She saunters like dated brown molasses dripping gentle, tuneful notes

Her parasol held skyward hollowed out, but its sturdy frame holds at least

Thick and tall the fedora upon her head, amid dwindled tapestry pale blue

Glorious her face such splendor only aroused by daring dreams of sailors

Her elongated body would float through the village where subtle sounds flew

Never a word uttered disappearing into the shadows of battles won and lost

Comprised of secrets shared in village corners amongst murky moments gone

Stateliness intact though armless she was the heartfelt spirit of the painful cost

Strolling for centuries where silence fell on stone buildings as she kissed the night

Salty tears fell gently stinging scars where rubble once lay waste on bodies raw

Her songs soared penetrating boundaries and sadness bringing forth moonlight

Mist draped low upon the river bank which echoed in the silence once found

Mildew skulking about like Spanish moss adorning trees with long brown hair

Withdrawing for decades, villagers summoned her, knowing she will come around

Prompting the old of days prior where loss and war filled graves of distant kin

She fancied the beast where she dwelt, for, with humans, no one seemed to win

Photo courtesy of the author

Joni Caggiano is a self-published author of the book, “The Path Toward the Light.”  Her blog is the-inner-child.com, where she has published many poems, photography, and short stories. Her blog is an effort to give back as a survivor as an Adult Child of Alcoholics and to also write about things she feels matter in this world we live in today.  She started writing songs and poetry at the age of thirteen and have been writing ever since.  

Looking to submit to us? We’re accepting Poetry, Fiction, Articles and Art! Please get in touch.

Overthinking

Overthinking, By Peter Wyn Mosey

Overthinking.
It's that sinking
feeling, shrinking
windows of opportunity 
commitment becomes a scarcity
my motivation in mutiny
there is no sense
I'll be sat on the fence
can't think in present-tense
because I overthink.

Peter Wyn Mosey is a freelance writer living in  South Wales.  He has written and performed comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has featured on Queen Mobs Tea House, Little Old Lady Comedy, Robot Butt,  The Finest Example, and posts most days at peterwynmosey.com  

Looking to submit to us? We’re accepting Poetry, Fiction, Articles and Art! Please get in touch.

A Siege On Sleep

A Siege On Sleep, By Kim Smyth

The nightly turmoil I’ve so come to dread                                                        

At times I think I’d be better off dead                                 

Than lie awake here while all else are sleeping                 

It makes me want sometimes to start weeping 

From my hyperacusis to hubby’s loud snore 

To my long-nailed doggies clicking the floor 

Who scratch and lick to get out the door 

Although it is partially open. 

Tossing and turning, trying to go under 

Finally succumbing only to awaken from slumber  

By snoring, or coughing, or some other fit 

He makes me uncomfortable just a wee bit 

Oh, who am I kidding, I’m mad as a wet hen 

Once more I try laying my head down again 

The snoring begins and I cover my ears 

Yet nothing is working, I’m almost in tears 

I’ve tried everything from plugs to fine oils 

Headphones, pillows, it’s taking a toll 

Nothing it seems can stop the icepick pain 

My eardrum feels like it might explode again 

I’ve left them before sleeping sound in the bed 

To seek solace elsewhere, to the guestroom I head 

Then just as I feel myself starting to drift 

I wake to the sound of some sort of rift 

The cat is now fighting the enemy in the yard 

I shut my eyes tight, I try really hard 

Now the doggies are wanting to get in THIS room 

I curse as I get up, sensing the doom 

Of another night robbed of the sleep I so need 

When from this nightmare will I ever be freed? 

I get up and go to the couch to try there 

Arranging my blankets, pillow, and chair 

Reading until I grow sleepy once more 

I move all my things and lay down on the floor 

What’s that now? Some jingle I’ve heard 

Running round in my head and I think, “How absurd! 

Get out stupid song, so I can just sleep!” 

When finally, I feel myself sinking down deep 

I curse the alarm as it suddenly starts beeping 

So fricking mad that I’m close to just weeping 

I hear him get up, as the shower starts to splatter 

He enters the room later saying, “What’s the matter?” 

I give him a look that says, “Can’t you just guess?” 

Then drag myself up and go start to get dressed. 

My night is now over, this battle I’ve lost 

I really need sleep now, no matter the cost 

Maybe I’ll nap sometime later today 

Oh, who am I kidding, I know there’s no way 

No one can help me I’m starting to think 

This war on no sleep will drive me to drink 

Maybe tonight with a fine glass of wine, 

I’ll find myself dreaming of something divine 

Until then I try to get on with my day 

I sit down at my computer, start plugging away 

While dreaming of stories I shut my eyes tight 

The next thing you know, I’m out like a light! 

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Kim Smyth is a freelance blogger, a writer from the DFW Metroplex who lives at home with her hubby Dave and their three furbabies. She runs two blogs, contributes to different publications on Medium and has been published in Therapeutic Thymes and VitaBella magazines. 

Find her at https://kimmy1563.com

Looking to submit to us? We’re accepting Poetry, Fiction, Articles and Art! Please get in touch.

The Fabric of Time

The Fabric Of Time, By Stephanie Musarra

The Fabric of Time

Clock ticks at random increments

Time jumbles

And distorts

For the time of the immortals

Knows no bounds

And holds no stitch to

The fabrics of time

Stephanie Musarra is a college student majoring in computer science who likes writing poetry and short stories in her spare time. You can visit her website here, or follow her on twitter.

Can I Keep You?

Can I Keep You, By Jenny Guilford

Meeting new friends can be overwhelming. 

I know it hasn’t really been that long, 

But now that we have met, I want to ask 

A simple question, even if it’s strange. 

Can I keep you? 

I know that you’re a person, not a pet, 

I know you’re not a creature I can keep. 

You’re more than that, I know, I understand. 

But I still need to ask 

.… 

Can I keep you? 

Can I keep you as my friend 

Can I keep you as a buddy. 

Can I keep you when I need you 

And even more when I don’t. 

The only thing that I had hoped to say 

Is that I think that you are worth… keeping. 

Because to me it seems that you are great. 

If you aren’t sure, don’t answer straightaway. 

Just think on it, and maybe let me know. 

Because if I was brave enough to say 

The whole truth 

If I was brave enough to ask 

The real question 

I would say 

.… 

Will you keep me? 

Jenny Guilford – 2019

Jenny Guilford is a composer & writer from Australia. After five years as a freelance composer, with music performed by professionals and community groups alike, she has since expanded into freelance writing. With a focus on the importance of stories and building healthy creative practice, her work aims to inspire creative thought and emotion. You can listen to her music and read more of her work here: https://jennysjourneythroughwords.com


Image by Thanks for your Like • donations welcome from Pixabay

EPIC

Epic, by Jeannine A. Cook

They weren’t dead, but they were almost dead. Brenda was the one I wished would die first. Her hair was cornrowed down to her neck. She’d slap gel and poop and piss between her braids. When Grandma couldn’t take her client Brenda’s shenanigans, Grandma would stuff a dirty tennis ball in Brenda’s mouth and cover it with duct tape. Grandma used to be a nurse so she knew how to tie Brenda’s arms to the bed with ropes. She was the reason we kept locks on the refrigerator. I laughed at Brenda when she got tied up. She laughed at me when she got free. I hated Brenda.

And then there was Kitty. Kitty had one arm and no legs, but she’d talk to me until I napped at her feet. She told me to never ask what happened to her. Just remember this is what happens when people try to get away. I told Kitty everything. She knew how much I wanted my mother. I’d draw pictures of what I thought she might look like, but Grandma threw them away. If I got caught speaking about my mom, Grandma tied me to the bed tight. I had pain. Kitty had a more pain. When she was hurting her eyes went big and her skin went tight. Her short curly hair filled with sweat. Grandma said Kitty talked too much. ‘The pills made her shut the hell up and stay the hell still.’ But the more pills we gave her, the crazier Kitty got. 

“Epic. Epic. Get grandma. Get your graaaaaaandma. Tell her I’m hurting. Tell her I am in pain. Help me, Epic. Help me.” She scream-whispered down the hall. The pain made Kitty talk through her teeth. She’d spit on me when I got too close. “Epic. Epic. Can you hear me, Epic? Can you? I need help.” She spoke fast and slow. 

“Grandma, Kitty needs pills,” I’d say. Grandma would pull out a baggie of multi-colored pills. 

“Make sure she takes them all.” 

I stuffed them in Kitty’s mouth and fed her water. I hid a few for later. In case Kitty needed them.

“And tell her to shut that mouth or she’ll get the muzzle,” Grandma screamed through the walls a few minutes later.

I didn’t like watching Kitty cry. She was my friend. She was a Scuba Girl. She had the tshirt and gloves to prove it. Kitty hollered for another hour even after I gave her the pills.

I hate Brenda’s stupid hyena laugh. Once, when she still could talk, she grabbed me while I was walking to the bathroom, and tried to make me sit on her lap. 

“Sit on me, Epic,” she said. “Play with me.” I peed right on her feet. She pointed at her pee covered socks and laughed. She got tied to the bedpost for that and I got tied to the bedpost too. Even though I hate Brenda, her laugh reminds me of my mom.

Grandma came out of her bedroom in a towel and slippers agitated. Her boyfriend waved at me from the room when she opened the door. I didn’t wave back. He flashed the middle finger at me as he left. I flashed the middle finger right back. 

“Dinner time,” Grandma sung. Forced the blue pills down Brenda’s throat with her fingers and followed it with duct tape. She gave me orange pills and spanked my butt with a hanger. ‘I spank you for what you might do. Get your ass in that bed.’ We all went to sleep.

I woke up coughing in a room full of smoke. When I opened my eyes, Brenda was pointing at Grandma’s room with both hands and laughing. Duct tape hung from one side of her mouth and she had a lighter in her hands. When Brenda gets out of bed, we all have to get the water board. 

“Go back to bed, Brenda. You ugly stinking, asswi….” I started. 

Brenda kept laughing. Doubled over even. And then I couldn’t catch my breath from the fumes. I shoved Brenda trying to run to find my Grandma. Brenda shoved me back and I noticed the ashes and cigarette butts in her hair.

“Grandma,” I called out before the smoke stole my air. 

“Grandma,” Brenda mimicked me jumping up and down not letting me by.

“Stop it, Brenda you ole fat stupid dum…,” I managed before my chest overheated. 

On my way to Grandma’s room, Kitty called out my name. 

“Epic, please help me first,” Kitty coughed. “Crawl to me, Epic. Get on your knees and crawl to Kitty. Don’t inhale the smoke. Grandma will be ok. Come help Kitty.” 

I got on all fours holding my breath like a diver. Deep breath from the bottom of your lungs like Kitty always said. Brenda did what I did only laughing wildly.

“Hold your breath, Epic.” Kitty hollered from her room. 

“I am coming…” I started to crawl when ugly nasty stinking Brenda snatched my leg from under me. She held it in one hand and wouldn’t let go. She held it high and low. I tried to turn over and hit her in the face. But she wouldn’t stop. She yoyo-ed me up and yoyo-ed me down. The more I fought, the more she laughed, the more I cried for my mom. 

“Brenda,” Kitty called sternly from the other room– somehow knowing what was happening. “Brenda listen to me, let him go.”

Brenda beat her chest with one arm and held my ankle in the other. With my free foot, I cocked back and kicked in her top lip. Her head jerked back and her mouth bled. She smiled harder. Using the hand that was holding my foot, she stopped the blood. 

“Epic. You have to get me off this bed,” Kitty called again. 

“I am coming, Kitty. I am coming.” I crawled to her room.

At the same time, Grandma called out too. “Epic. Epic. Help me.” 

I put Kitty’s chair on the side of her bed, climbed on and pushed and pushed at her wiggling misshapen midsection until she was in her chair. When we both got to the hallway, I started towards Grandma’s room, but Kitty was going the other way. 

“You getting your Grandma?” She asked confused.

“Yes. I said.” 

“Give her these pills then,” Kitty told me. “They’ll make her shut the hell up for once,” and then Kitty used her lips to roll her chair to the front door. 

“Ok.” 

I stayed on all fours through the maze of a house. Through the kitchen, across the living room, down the hallway into Grandma’s room. 

Her eyes were filled with tears. She was staring at the sky gasping for air.

“It’s gonna be ok, Grandma.” I lied. 

“Grandma, I promise,” I lied some more. I climbed her bed and held her hand. Then sat above her on the pillow placing her head on my lap. I held her head as she stared at me.

I woke up to Grandma’s cold body jerking back and forth. 

Brenda had her hands around Grandma’s throat and she was laughing from her gut. Grandma’s eyes rolled back into his head. 

“Grandma,” I couldn’t shake her loose from Brenda’s grip.

“Brenda,” I mustered. “Brenda you doo doo hair wearing, french fry eating, fish butt smelling, dragon breath breathing…” On the word breathing I hauled my whole body at her neck. She landed on her back. I stayed on top her grabbing her hair and beating her head into the ground. She snarled and spit at me. I scratched her eyes and bit her cheek. When i was about to butt her in the nose with my head, the emergency workers burst in. 

“She was trying to hurt her,” I explained still kicking as they peeled me off of Brenda’s neck. “Brenda tried to choke Grandma,” I explained. 

My heart pumped blood through my chest. They adjusted Grandma. Checked for her pulse.  

Gushes of water spraying through our house puddling on the floors.

“Son, I am going to get you some help,”  the worker bent over to my eye level and picked me up. “No one should be living like this.”

They loaded Kitty, Brenda, and now me into a van. Brenda’s bloodied mouth snickered when she saw me. 

“Is there anyone we can call for you,” the officer faked a smile. “Do you have a mom or a dad we can contact?” He avoided everyone else but me. 

Kitty spoke up. “Officer this is his mother,” she said pointing at Brenda. The officer looked confused and so did I. 

“But how…”

“How wha?”

“Well ma’am, she, uhh…”

“She’s my sister,” Kitty replied. “I’m his aunt. And that monster right there.” She paused. “That’s my mom.”

When I looked to the right, I saw the emergency workers wheeling out a body covered head to toe in a thin white blanket. My Grandma’s manicured pink toes poked through.

“We did it,” Kitty said turning to the Brenda and then me. 

We did?” I asked. 

Brenda burst into laughter and opened her arms for a hug.

For the last 10 years Jeannine Cook has worked as a trusted writer for several startups, corporations, non-profits, and influencers. In addition to a holding a master’s degree from The University of the Arts, Jeannine is also a Leeway Art & Transformation Grantee and a winner of the South Philly Review Difference Maker Award. Jeannine’s work has been recognized by several national with and international news outlets including the New York Times, CNN, Ebony, BET, Barcroft TV and Daily Mail. She is a proud educator and mother  8 years of teaching creative writing in alternative schools. She recently returned from Nairobi, Kenya facilitating social justice creative writing with youth from 15 countries around the world. Jeannine has shared her “out of the box” approach to organizing through guerilla creative writing with over 1000 schools, neighborhoods, community groups, and organizations in Philadelphia. She considers herself a visual ethnographer because she often collaborates with hidden communities to recover a suppressed history. She writes about the complex intersections of single motherhood, activism, and community arts. Her pieces are featured in several publications including Mothering Magazine, Girl God, Mahogany Baby, Good Mother Project, Printworks, and midnight & indigo. Jeannine is currently producing an art installation of her writings deconstructed into paper art sculptures, collages, and calligrams called Conversations With Harriett.

website: jeannineacook.com
twitter: @jeannineacook instagram: @itsmetheyfollow