SD Short Story Contest Finalist: Dear You – Teri Blades

Dear You

It’s been a few years since I wrote a letter to you and it’s been 365 days since we last spoke, 8760 hours since we last saw each other. Do you remember? The long walks on the beach every Saturday morning before we headed to the café for some drinks and a long conversation. I always wanted to go jog on the sand, to meet the early beach goers and run along with the stray and leashed dogs, and you with your weak ankles never complained and jogged right next to me. I was livid when I found out.

“Chris why would you go jogging knowing this would happen?” I remember complaining once the doctor walked out. You smiled from the bed like your ankles weren’t tightly wrapped and your eyes weren’t trying to hide your pain.

“Because you wanted to go.” You might not have known it then, but when I turned away from you, my cheeks flushed and as I write and think about that time, heat rushed to my cheeks.

Do you remember when we first met? I think about it almost every day now. I wrote my first letter to you after our meeting. My phone was broken and all I knew was where you worked – the sketchy looking bakery next to the even sketchier looking alley way on Fitz Street. Our meeting was not as bright as I would have liked. I wished we had met on a hot summer day, where my skin freely showed from below my skirt and my hair was high up, away from my face so that you could see the treasured pools of bronze that are my eyes. I wanted to say years from then when we were old and grey, that I was amazingly attractive and it was painfully obvious that you could not turn your
eyes away from my body. To say you approached me with long strides and wide curious eyes, which were slightly hidden under your grey cap.

Unfortunately, our meeting was not the start of a summer Hollywood Blockbuster. It was not nearly as delightful as a Romantic Comedy. It was the ‘Once Upon A Time’ in a Grim Brothers tale. It was the grittiness of an 18th century novel written on the wet streets of our island’s infamous city. You found me in the fog of the misty rain that drenched me from head to toe. My skin did not freely show from beneath my skirt’s hem line and the curls I had set the day before were miserable waves against my neck and forehead and for some unknown reason, the buses were like the sun; a rare sighting.

I was a sight for your sorry eyes, with my frowns and glares and I must say, you were very brave to approach me. Was I attractive despite my drenched state? Or was I so pathetic looking, you came to make sure I wasn’t dying? If you had walked by five minutes later, that might have been the case.

My first impression of you was very simple. I was enchanted. You approached me with an infuriating grin that was so infuriatingly adorable that it melted my cold wet heart. You would be laughing if you read this, knowing well that I am lying as I was freezing despite your large grin, and the umbrella you so wonderfully provided, did nothing to help my already pathetic state. Nevertheless, I was quite thankful for your effort and the company while waiting for the bus was most welcomed; I hoped my face said all of this, but I highly doubt it.

When I delivered the letter to you, I recall that you called me old fashioned. Old fashioned for writing a letter. Old fashioned for my music choices and old fashioned in my fashion choices. It’s been 365 days since you called me old fashioned and I would like to hear it again.

I never returned your umbrella did I? Though, you never asked for it back. That was something about you I grew to admire, your tenacity, as irritating as it was sometimes, to always think of me before you. I did the same no doubt, but you obviously wanted it to be a competition. Congratulations, you won.

I’ve been well if you were wondering, as well as I can be. I moved to a new home near the old bakery. It’s been doing well, business is booming, the food is great and I still wear your grey cap from time to time. I even still have the scented candles your mother bought on our 2nd anniversary.  She brought them from her trip to Canada with your father and your sister, am I right? The first night we lit them, our bedroom curtains caught on fire. Do you remember? You ran swiftly into the bathroom with an emptied plant pot and soaked half of the room, including the bed. We slept on multiple blankets on the floor that night. You were embarrassed, I was amused and it was definitely one of the best nights we spent in that house. She still buys some for me, but though, due to our first experience with her choice of candles, they’ve remained in their boxes, piling up
in my cupboards.

Tell me, where are you now? Are you still on the plane or have you floated so far away that even my thoughts can’t reach you? Do you remember that night? I had a nightmare, a nightmare you never returned. You, who kissed me on the forehead and continued to pack your bags, told me not to worry and left with one last gaze my way. I hate myself for not taking a photo, for my memory may one day fade that image away. Do you remember that day? When you hopped into your sister’s car and I waved at you until you were out of my sight? Did you happen to see my face? I watched you go while twisting the rings on my finger, my stomach full with uneasiness. I tried hard not to shed a tear, to not show my concern. Maybe if I had, you wouldn’t have gone.

I try hard each day not to reminisce. To not think of when I heard the news of a missing plane. I watched with my eyes glued to the television, ignoring the rings of the phone and prayed to a God I had forgotten. Maybe I should have prayed earlier. For when the news showed a plane in the ocean, I knew that my prayers were too late to answer.

Sometimes I swear I hear you call my name from time to time, and it’s funny because when watching horrors, I always used to yell at the characters for looking for the ghost and yet here I am hoping to see the phantom you looming in a corner somewhere. Maybe it really is you, laughing at me as I look around like a crazy person. It wouldn’t mind if that were true.

Yet even though I know you may not be here, I will still write to you. I will write about my day, about new things to tell you just as if you were here sitting on the other side of the table listening to my rambles. I will write about memories we can never recreate, about adventures you’ll never go on, pastries you’ll never taste and my hairstyles that you’ll never see – not that you noticed them before. Then maybe when that time comes, when I have written down everything I could ever say, maybe that will be the day I remember how to write with ink instead of pain.


I am an emerging writer and theatre enthusiast with a small upcoming theatre company based in Barbados.  Dear You was inspired from walking the historic streets of Barbados’ capital and dreaming of a tragic love.

SD Short Story Contest Finalist: I’m Still Here – ZeinaA.G

Im_Still_Here_by_Zeina_Abi_Ghosn
Day 1

I’ve seen him around playing at the park. Glimpses of him kicking the ball keeps my heart beating. I stand behind the fence noticing his blonde hair bouncing with each movement. At least he is safe and looked after. If I approach, would he blame me for leaving?  A guilty sensation haunts me and I can’t understand why. Would anyone believe me if I told them I don’t remember leaving and the reason why? I could wait longer for my memory to come back but the more I linger on the subject the more I feel he is forgetting me. A sense of urgency rushes over me as a woman picks Noah up and I want to scream for someone to save him from her. Then the teacher helps him with his bag and it hits me that maybe my ex-husband has remarried. I stare numbly in their direction as I try to remember what kind of mother am I?  How could I leave my child unexpectedly?

I follow them to the movies and the woman meets my ex-husband in the parking lot. Thunder roars from a distance and I stare at the ragged clouds. The sky releases few drops of rain and the woman gestures for my son to run inside. I wonder if I should follow them inside and before I finish that thought I find myself inside hiding behind a gigantic movie poster. I despise that I have to hide but I don’t have a plan yet on how to approach them so for now I prefer to watch them. I can see them at the concession stand laughing as they order Noah’s popcorn. I retreat and leave for the day allowing the idea of Noah loving another mother figure to sink in. This is going to be rough on him if I show up out of nowhere with no explanation. I wonder if it’s selfish to ask to meet him when he has adjusted so well to his new life and I decide to drop it for today.

Day 2

Sometimes I think life is so fleeting and there’s this blinding light which I spot from time to time but it passes like a breeze, as if I’m passing near it in a car or it’s hiding behind a building. I’m not sure what it is, but as I get up this morning I know I have to try harder to get my son’s attention. I wake up with this sense of urgency that it has to be today, I need to talk to Noah today.

I get ready by noon, and head over to my ex-husband’s place but it’s too late they seem to be getting into the car and they go somewhere. I glare at his new wife enraged how they have kept me away from my child all these years. I’ve only seen the back of Noah’s head over the years; it’s as if they know I’m out there. As if they know, I’m desperate to steal one glance. I follow them to the park and wait for them to walk few feet away from me. I bend down on my knees and peer through the bushes my hand resting lightly on the wires. I stare at my little boy, my beautiful angel and I wonder if he still needs me. If he still remembers me, he turns around and I see his face. His baby features are all gone, and that frown on his face tells me he isn’t okay.

Dark clouds are growing ominous as I stand up fast whispering, “Do you still need me?” hoping he would hear and approach the sound. I have the courage to walk up to a clear space where everyone can see me. The moment I want to step closer I hesitate, the birthday balloons sway beneath my touch. My eyes water when I spot the huge banner I should have prepared and the birthday cake we could have baked together. I stare at Noah’s features again and I get a strange feeling that his sad, hazel brown eyes remember.

The day he was born flourishes into my memory as if had just happened. He clutched my fingers so hard as if he knew me, as if he was eager to meet me as much as I wanted to meet him. I spent hours, days and weeks counting these perfect little fingers and toes. I spent the nights dreaming of the day he’d run to me and drag me off my work so I could play catch with him. My idea of perfection was when he used to sneak into my bed each morning with his soft snuggly bear. He’d think I wasn’t awake but I was, I could feel his warmth against my cheek as he whispered, “Wake up, mommy!”

My memory is so groggy and I’ve felt sick for years that I have no idea if I have done anything wrong, could they have both moved on so fast? The step mum approaches Noah and she kneels down caressing his hair. I immediately feel myself float forward wanting to hear what she was telling him. I stare at the Spiderman birthday cake and the candle that says six. I look shamefully at myself knowing I shouldn’t have come without a present.

I’m practically behind them shoving my way to look and be present when the step mum whispers in his ear, “She’d be so proud of you.” She exchanges a pained glance with my ex and that is when it hits me. I stare at my hands which are turning transparent, and my feet that are no longer there. I watch myself wither before I get the chance to touch his soft cheek. It all comes back to me, the sick nights I was trapped in a fragile body. My husband comforted and lay near me. There was that one promise I begged him to keep, was to seek happiness, and search for stability.

The light gets stronger and I finally understand what it’s for. My son blows out his candles. I clap proudly and send him a kiss, which blows out his party hat. He giggles and picks it up. I notice the tears in my husband’s eyes. The emotion in the stepmom’s eyes freezes me; I bet she has been dedicated to my son’s happiness all these years because of the way he looks at her. I circle a ball of glow around the three of them which I know will protect them.

I hear a voice asking if I’m ready and I follow it through an endless foggy path. My concern grows as I float away from them, but as soon I step into the light, my son’s future flashes in front of my eyes. His future birthdays and milestones flourish in front of my eyes along with his teen years and even though I’m away now I’m certain he will be okay. A sense of belonging and peace overcomes me as if nothing is chasing me anymore.

The voice explains that I have to stay here until we are reunited one day and I accept it. As I watch their life reel, I witness my family’s happiness and my eyes water at their tribulations. As I stare at this beautiful, complicated world below me I ask the voice for one last request. I hear a low hum and then he asks me what I want. I clear my throat and speak out, “Each time my son encounters an obstacle or questions his faith… I want to send a whisper with a gentle breeze saying, I’m still here.”


I’m from Lebanon. I’m a photographer and I manage my parents’ photography studio. My passion for writing began since school days but I never acted on it until two years ago when I began writing a novel. I also have a blog where I write about life’s hardship. Writing with an Open Heart

Bernard – Lois E. Linkens

Bernard

The basement of Harry’s
With damp in the walls,
Grey chairs, digestives
And no outward calls.

The biscuits were homely.
Rik’s mother had kept
A Stash for the British
Beneath the back step.

She had soft eyes. When
The bad news came,
A line like a needle
Appeared at each name.

Three days, playing
Silent strip poker; ‘Let’s die all hot.’
Lurid, she whispered
To deafen the rot.

And I bought a new Renault
With the winnings.
She mouthed, from the pavement:
‘New, red beginnings.’


Lois is a poet and student from England. She is studying the literature of the Romantics and hopes their values and innovations will filter through into her own work. She is working on longer projects at present, with a hope to publish poetry collections and novels in the years to come. She is a feminist, an nostalgic optimist, and a quiet voice in the shadows of Joanne Baillie and Charlotte Smith. It is a pleasure to present her work, and you can find more of it at Lois E. Linkens.

Foundations – Jimmi Campkin

Foundations

I salute the trees.  I am not magnificent but I can see everything grow.  I hear the grass chattering and laughing.  I stare at the oaks as they stretch like old hungover drunks after a binge.

Kicking my way through an old memory, I sit down on a bench and watch a young mother playing with her child – she lets go of the kid’s shoulders and this little fat bundle of limbs wobbles and trundles into a loving pair of arms.  I light a cigarette and look over their heads towards a crumbling brick wall where I came in thirty seven seconds – a gloriously brief but exhilarating moment of savagery that left me needing three stitches in my shoulder thanks to the razor sharp teeth of an utterly destructive angel.  For five nights afterwards, I would lift my head from my pillow and find one of her brunette hairs lying next to me, either tangled up in my own or left as some kind of spiritual offering.  I didn’t wash until my sheets left an imprint of my twisting torso.

In the cold the hot ash lights up my eyebrows, and I feel the smoke rumble down inside me.  I am just a stranger now, in a place where we left so many imprints that we wrote in a language too complex for future generations to understand; or too simple.  Perhaps everything just moves on from our messages, our little totems to what a future could be – liberal, relentless in our pursuit of sensations, dogmatic in our chasing of the wind and of love, emphatic in our use of drugs and alcohol but sensitive in our presentation.  I remember walking a five block diversion to avoid following a nervous young lad, who kept looking over his shoulder at the wasted behemoth shambling and crashing behind him as our paths continued.  It only took a bottle of whiskey to give me a night so intense I could drink the stars, and yet leave an impression on this youth that I was somehow a danger to him rather than a revelation… or more probably a self-indulgent indifference.

When I close my eyes the world turns black and white and I see, like a filter, what was once and is no more.  I recognise footprints in grass that has since been cut and mown a thousand times, because I can still lay down and hear the echoes in the soil and the worms gossiping about the underwear we flung high into the canopy of the trees – bras, panties and boxers like flags on the backs of warships.  I remember warming my hands inside your cunt and you gripped my stiff cock like a hot chip as our breath mingled under a trillion years of entropy.  Under the Milky Way you promised that we would remember this moment for the rest of our lives.

I wonder.  I remember this moment but I don’t know where you are now.  I don’t know what you think or what you feel.  I don’t know whether you sit on this bench, look at that wall and remember sinking your teeth deep into my shoulder enough to dribble my blood down your chin.  I don’t know if you remember my cold fingers deep inside you or whether you see the footprints through the filter.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter.  Perhaps you are focused instead on better things, more important things.  Perhaps you are this mother, focused so intently on her little baby as it shuffles through the grass desperately trying to maintain its balance long enough to be embraced tight.  Maybe you look to the light in someone else’s eyes rather than to the light above us, as it shines down on our best and worst crimes.


Jimmi Campkin is a “Writer, photographer, creator of SANCTUARY. 16bit child, INFP with clinical nostalgia and red wine for blood.” You can enjoy more of his work at jimmi campkin.com

The noise of this brain

By Devika Mathur

And so I crumble in my own jaw line

Leaking from the iris,

A stoned mahogany stuck

Beneath the frivolous sky,

I lie like a pond, open and scarred,

Rummaging through your eyes,

To seek something that belongs to my lip.

I fail.

I fail the second day as well.

My mind talks pills and potions

A volatile adamant touch of burps.

A ripple lost and secured.

My mind is insane, forever.



Devika Mathur, a poetess from India is a published poetess and is a lover of everything dark and surreal. Her work has been previously published in Sudden Denouement, Visual Verse, Dying dahlia review, two drops of ink, Madswirl, The rye whiskey review among various others. Find more of her musings at https://myvaliantsoulsblog.wordpress.com

Funeral Trumpets-Kindra Austin

With each jug of spirits
I ingest,
my organs’ mourning
does crescendo; and premature
funeral trumpets
bleat in stereo, stricken on the sidelines of
my mind.

Every time I get sober,
someone else
dyes
black
my hair.

From Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective, available on Amazon


Kindra M. Austin is a very sweary indie author and editor from mid-Michigan (you can find her books here). She’s also the co-founder of Blank Paper Press, a founding member of Indie Blu(e) Publishing, founder of publishing imprint, One for Sorrow, and a writer/managing editor at Blood into Ink, and Whisper and the Roar. Austin cut her poetry teeth in April, 2016, and joined the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective in 2017. You can find more of her foul mouth at poems and paragraphs.

Letting go- Erich Michaels

You’d think as the seasons march on
Rotting soldiers casting off bits of themselves
Their cadence seeming to ever quicken
Having lived a month and a half of April fools days
No wiser and falling for the same old tricks
That I’d bury my head in like a tick
Swallowing watermelon seeds hoping to root myself to the ground
Looking for ways to have my name chiseled in stone
Engraved in plaques or even a cornerstone time capsule
But there must be a limit, as there is for everything
In mourning tears and afternoon funerals
I’ve said goodbye so many times I bought a plane ticket to Hawaii
So I can pretend I’m really saying hello, for a change
My worst fear, having seen how it ravages the mind
Now sounds like a lullaby meant to usher you off
Your golden years never losing luster
Some days you forget you ever said goodbye in the first place
Your day becomes the photograph
Nursery rhymes a soundtrack
Your heart a bookmark


Erich Michaels describes himself as  “just trying to share the human experience.”  He has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, but find himself writing SOPs (lather, rinse, repeat) in order to make a living, which can be detrimental to the creative process.  You can find him on the road to recovery at Erich Michaels. Every journey begins with a single step, right?

Sudden Denouement Classics: For Your Kiss – Max Meunier

i lay the braided stars
before your precious countenance

that you may walk
the path of light

where gods
no longer dwell

for we are but a figment
of ephemeral affectation

reflecting in the tear
that wells
in worlds
wont to forget

the season of surrender
shall not plunder my resolve

to beckon at your call
under the restless moon’s fluoresce

awakened…

stripped and strung

in astral flecks
that flickered with foreboding

the myths depicted
in the dithering
of days foregone

still haunting,

as your fragrance wafts
into the garden
florid waifs found desiccant

wistful sentiments
entwine me
in an urgent yearning

for your kiss


Max states: “I write about the things going on in my life. I am a feminist, humanist, cat loving musician bound by whimsy and the incessant analysis of hyper-vigilant observations. I am obsessed with words and rhythmically woven wordplay.” We are honored to have him as a member of our tribe. He writes at Max Or Not

Breathless-Erich Michaels

Lee-Jeffries_19600_441 (1).jpg

You left the room

The vacuum you created

Has me raking at my throat

I frantically try to draw in air

I look around and it seems

I’m the only one struggling

The only one who even noticed

That you’ve gone

My hand reaches out

To your point of egress

And all I feel is bitter cold

Biting at my fingertips

I’m losing consciousness

My outstretched hand falls

My now limp arm lies next to me

The warm impression you left

In the couch cushion

Is felt by the back of my hand

Then the smallest of streams of air

Finds purchase in my throat


Erich Michaels describes himself as  “just trying to share the human experience.”  He has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, but find himself writing SOPs (lather, rinse, repeat) in order to make a living, which can be detrimental to the creative process.  You can find him on the road to recovery at Erich Michaels.  Every journey begins with a single step, right?

Ibuprofen- Nicholas Gagnier/FVR Publishing

You were twenty-three when we met, rebel of unrefined rhetoric.

I was twenty-six, what a perfect age to be. Idealism wasn’t dead and I could still make you love me for all these ideas which had yet to erode the fantasy.

You were twenty-five when I proposed, wearing plainclothes in a parking lot, where I once asked you for a smoke and hoped you’d nod, but didn’t expect such conversation.

I was twenty-eight and a fortnight when I asked your father, the warmest that relationship ever got.

Because we bonded over daughters,
I tried to be what I was not.

Imagined family and futures,
not this animosity, but then,

there were fewer signs.

Epiphanies haunt me in kind; there is no more normal than there ever was strange, and beautiful things begin the way they eventually wane; as products of their time.

Inevitability has a shelf life, yet this expiry is mine.

So I’ll lie to myself that this glass of whiskey helps, and true, it might alleviate this madness ’til the bottle’s empty or first light tomorrow, but this sorrow weighs upon my tongue like ibuprofen.

Some part of me is broken and I’ll use its shards to borrow years ’til I go bankrupt on self-doubt and counting pills, trying to find the magic in waking up without you.

It’s the falling asleep that kills me.


Nicholas Gagnier is a Canadian writer and poet, and the creator of Free Verse Revolution. He has published several poetry books, as well as a novella releasing this July. Nicholas supports and engages in conversations around mental health and social welfare, preferring strong literary voices and self-expression to traditional narrative and poetry. He lives in Ottawa with his young daughter, where he runs FVR Publishing and works on a million projects at once.