Tag Archives: flash fiction

Roman Candle

by Leo Coffey

I never told you this before, but we knew about the pills. Jacob, Uncle Tommy, James, all of us. That night you came inside to rest. The rest of us were outside shooting fireworks by the barn. It was the Fourth of July and the air smelled like hotdogs and burnt wax. I drank one too many Mountain Dews and had to pee so bad I ran inside with one hand gripping my crotch and the other holding a Roman candle. Continue reading

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A Queen Anne’s Lace Kind of Girl

by Abby Manzella

My mother tells me that, as a girl, I should know to be gentle with flowers; their petals, like their perfume, are fragile. Her words teach me to see blooming plants as proper ladies. My favorite, Queen Anne’s lace, greets me when I run through the woods—she regally bows her head in her too-tight ruffled collar, her skin pale and her step delicate. She wouldn’t come home with sunburnt cheeks and dirt stains on her brand-new summer clothes.

I never tear through a patch of those stately white flowers for fear of trampling their elegance, but I do pluck their darkened centers. These specks, the size of pencil tips, I smear on my hand to see that royal purple spread across my flesh like blood after an adventure. Maybe, along with the color, some of the flower’s majesty will rub onto me—the scabby kneed, tree-climbing girl that my mother wishes wore dresses. At the flower’s root, though, even she is not the dainty flower she presents herself to be. Beneath her genteel facade, buried underground, she is held up by a wild carrot full of toughness. But Mama only wishes for me what’s on display.

For my Mama, I close my eyes and try to will myself to be that refined Queen Anne’s lace kind of girl, where boys yearn to touch my hair while I keep myself at a respectful distance and laugh coyly from an available pedestal. Instead, the boys swear and play “En garde” with me after we break dead branches to use as swords. We are pirates in search of damsels needing rescue. We act out the stories passed down to us.

Once we win the battle, we call to the captured lady: Ahoy, how can we be of service to you, ma’am? Our imagined damsels faint dead away from dread and relief.

I’m so sorry, Mama, not to need rescue. I would do it if I could, but the rapids in the stream are never high enough to sweep me off my feet, and I have yet to fall and twist my ankle in the midst of danger—probably because I wear sneakers and look where I’m running.

All I can offer, Mama, is this bouquet of wildflowers I cut for you, but know that the only part that represents me is the wild.


Abby Manzella is the author of Migrating Fiction: Gender, Race, and Citzenship in the U.S. Internal Displacements, which was awarded the Honorable Mention for the MLA Book Prize for Independent Scholars. Her work has been named to the Wigleaf Top 50 Longlist and has been published by places such as Literary Hub, Catpult, Kenyon Review, The Rumpus, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Colorado Review, and the Boston Globe. Find her on Twitter at @abbymanzella

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Bloom’s Women

by Francine Witte

Bloom isn’t much.  Near 60, and like a bag of saggy potatoes. On top of that he smells.  Like urine mixed with tobacco. But there are women, a number of them now, who find his odd smell sexy. Animal pheromones it says to their lonely vaginas. Continue reading


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The Drive

by Ciera Horton McElroy

They do not leave by night. It is Mother’s Day, bright and warm for the Dakotas—rolling clouds and a lollipop-yellow sun. They leave in plain sight. Rose’s knitting bundle is hidden in Andy’s briefcase, her toiletries stowed in Marta’s purse. Her thick waffle robe is stuffed with pill bottles, Bible, pearls. They help her to the car in slow, mincing steps. They say things like, “We’re taking you to the falls, Ma,” or “Isn’t it such a nice day for a drive?” Continue reading

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Tsk Tsk Tristesse

by Jesse Rowell

Above the Hamakua Coast where trade winds pushed palm fronds and bamboo leaves, where culverts spilled water from mauka showers and the smell of something dead, two pet roosters crowed.

The silver rooster, known to breeders as a Silver Laced Wyandotte, sported feathers the color of ivory and lead, brown filigree and an emerald-black tail. The ivory feathers of his hackles matched his ivory shanks and toes. He stood beside his companion, a Rhode Island Red with striped plumage. Hackles arched, they called out to the dawn together. They called out until morning cast over the coast.

Together, their movements coordinated, the pair strutted side by side and chased pigeons. As the dominant species of landfowl they could not tolerate other birds in their territory, a well-groomed lawn below a lanai that extended to a fenced off gulch. Handsome, lives spent in servitude to no one, they lived as pretty objects to look at on their owner’s lawn as the sun moved behind eucalyptus trees.

The silver rooster, the elder statesman of the lawn, led the red rooster and the red rooster followed. The bond between the two rooster breeds, like that of a benevolent dictator and his subject,  showed an uneven companionship, but a companionship nonetheless that blurred their feral nature with their domestication. Silver’s noblesse oblige and red’s mirrored movements, the type of kinship animals of higher intelligence displayed. Friendship forged from years surviving as the non-native species brought to this strange land. Their color splashed against a riot of green, huddled together against slashing rain.

When pigeons watched them from the safety of a fence the roosters flattened their backs and charged at imaginary foes, and they wiped their beaks across blades of grass satisfied that they had accomplished something. Hidden violence above their heads moved in and out of view with the smudges of red in the weeping bottlebrush trees.

It started with a guttural sound deep in their throats. They faced each other, silver and red. Hackles raised. Wings flapped over a perceived slight. Instinct and aggression pushed them. They had no choice as the complaint that had provoked them was forgotten and they focused only on dominating the other.

Tattered strips of dry banana leaves scraped like crepe paper in the wind. Cat’s claw brambles, the weight of their yellow flowers and thorns, smothered ‘ohi‘a lehua trees. Under an ornamental hibiscus hedge, red flowers in bloom, deep in the dark rested the body of the red rooster. Its striped flank didn’t move. The silver rooster pecked at its body and left when it didn’t rise. On subsequent days he returned to visit the body and tsk tsk at the state of his companion, tsk tsk at his own isolation, the smell of rot rising in the humidity.


Jesse Rowell is a University of Hawai‘i at Manoa graduate, writer and tech consultant living in Honoka‘a. He is published in National Public Radio, Impulse Journal, Cirque Journal, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, and Ab Terra Books.

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