SD Short Story Contest Finalist: Las Luchadoras – Riley Mayes

Las Luchadoras 5

The last summer they were together, it was war time. Not in the battles that were fought overseas but in their chests and hearts and the bitterness of their mouths as they ate meals together in a taut line of silence. It was the intensity of bloodshed, and how they let themselves bleed. Sangre poured onto the dishes that went unwashed, the floor that went unswept, and the mirrors smudged with fingertips, until angry hands took it upon themselves to clean the messes they had made. But the blood still wept.

They were two strokes of fire in an unlit well. Flames rushing up either side and flickering towards the top, but never reaching open air; held tight to their little home of photographs all shuffled out of view and turned down on the cabinet tops. That girl, she wanted to hurl herself from the dark pitch of that well. Her anger was enough to seize the countryside and burn it to the ground. Trees, flowers, creatures, all she loved, down to the silt of the earth. Her anger was an unrelenting red that puckered and whined under the heat of her belly. She begged it, coaxed it, pleaded with it as her mother commanded, again and again: controla tu temperatura. With every pulse of her heart, she tried. You could see it in the half moons on her palm, where the nail bit. You could see it in the knuckles of her fists, that shone dark speckled bruises in the lamplight. But it was not a part of her she could maintain; it overcame and controlled her. Everything she was. The soft gentle aching was washed away with a steel wool sponge, little cuts and tears on her heart where the wound would never heal.

The two of them fought with silence, they fought with words. They fought like sisters. Dark like blood and wine, biting like salt and soil. Their voices were like the chapped underside of the lemon peels that curled beside the sink, sourness that burned white with age.

Even the house had turned against them. It came first in the broken bits. Door knobs falling from the handles, hitting the wood floor in the night like a porter tolling his midnight bell. Under the pressure of their wordlessness, the dishes cracked; and with their apologies, they broke. Crawling into the grout lines of their kitchen tiles and working their way in tidy westward lines, sugar ants invaded. The house groaned in the heat and the roof sagged with leaves that clustered there; the walls grew smaller all the time. Before them and between them, chair legs and arms seemed to shove every which way.

Just when it seemed like it could go no further, the summer broke its fever and breezes began to mourn in the windows at night. Quietly, their tempers dampened. Not extinguished, but not quite burning, either. The frosts were coming and soon mother and daughter would be leaving each other. Knowing this, their hands became soft on their plates. Their voices gingerly picked their way around the scattered pieces between them.

On the first day of September, when the daughter went to turn her key in the door for the last time, something caught her eye. It was in the crack in the front stairs, where the rain always fell through and warped the wood just so; no thicker than a horse hair, no taller than a blade of grass. Sweet and hopeful, shivering gently in the breeze. A tiny white flower, curled softly in the steps.


Having grown up in a family of librarians and book-lovers, I have always been a highly motivated writer. Whether this meant poetry, short stories, or critical essays, the written word has been my constant companion for as long as I can remember. I have received several awards for my writing, including first place in Maine’s statewide Merriconeag Poetry Festival, a Scholastic Gold Key, and second place in the 2017 Writing For Peace Competition sponsored by DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts. Currently, I reside in Massachusetts as a student and research assistant, where I read, write, and create art as often as possible.

GUEST BLOGGER: Devika Mathur ‘The Wisdom is her’

Mother: You are a hyperbole of the moon and the star, a hubris of soliloquy.

Like floating wax, you extend your skin to my mouth, forming chains of bewilderment

chains of congruence chains of mammoth frills of hope.

You lie in the darkest of hours with a sparkle of holy water on your chin, the pink chin,

the orange chin, the grey chin where all the clandestine secrets are packed between

your teeth and the parched lips, you give blossom to my hair extending to my curves

the scarlet, metamorphosis pattern of face

Opulent serenity lies in your blood, I see my reflection

Time, death or a crooked tree, you put embroidery incumbent to survive the veracity,

harsh or simple.

Objects around you become opaque, hollows of orange skies

squares of white ice, the eye of Satan

I absorb all the conjectures knitted in the black of  your eyes

to the stars in your magical touch

the fidelity to produce a seed: a seed I shall carry

a seed I may fail

your liquid, pale truth of surviving I inhale in the morbid tales of summer

only to form the web of ink and paper burning inside your motionless,

sturdy, an amalgamation of Supreme Ant  intoxicating, all pouring inside

basket of void, dulcet, a white star.


[Devika Mathur is the author of the poetry book”The travesty of soul”. A teacher by profession and a poet by heart, her poetries have been published in Indian Periodicals, Evergreen Poetry Journal amongst others. She writes for her blog https://myvaliantsoulsblog.wordpress.com/.]

the heart asks pleasure – samantha lucero

when you become a parent,
you become less 

a p p a r e n t.

until i disappear completely,
i can weep into the liquid face of a mirror
and speculate about who used to dwell in
my iron & carbon skull, before i was
the me that faded.

i held onto me like a movie ticket
in the back of my wallet
the one we all keep
that just becomes a tomb
like a placeholder in our hearts
for a special day we end up
forgetting.

i’m perfunctory now, roiling,
knocked up by rainstorms
and lightning writhing down like a noose
on his red beard, drinking snake oil

maybe the world’s a cat’s eye and i am shattered faith
my shoulders a hewn epitaph of hopes
am i lucid dreaming, i never fell asleep.
these days, i lie down in a trance
and never wake up.


[ Samantha Lucero is the phantom haunting six red seeds. ]

The Weyward Sisters: Hand in Hand – A Collaboration from the Women of Sudden Denouement

Stand, a nighean.
Call the moon.
Bring your Wolves
With you.
Let down the flames of your hair.
The Great War
Has come again.
 – Rana Kelly

In the end there will be fire and ash
But to us it will be like the Fourth of July
What could be more powerful than women
Standing together in solidarity
We’re taking a page out of Lilith’s book
The one you never read
We will not lie on the bottom
We will stand side by side.
Hannah Wagner

skål,
Thrills the Viking Whisper ice –
splinters of the north wind
Of the high noon blood of sister-raiders slain
The shield-maidens dine
Tonight, too.
Samantha Lucero

It is well within the fires
of burning words
and stolen wombs, ravaged,
we have birthed a beast.
Swaddled in the souls
of her mothers of fire
and maidens of ice,
she has been touched
with the wisdom of crones blazing,
and she will cast
her shadow upon the ashes
of their bones.
Nicole Lyons

hail the harlot
and crown the courtesan,
for she has seen seduction’s beast
and let it swallow her.
let her tread its veins like footpaths
and sleep upon its heart.
Lois E. Linkens 

We stand shoulder to shoulder with our sisters
Warrior women all
We draw down the moon and hold her as our shield
Our pens will be our swords
We will no longer be silenced
Hear the chorus of our voices
We shall ROAR!
Christine Ray


Nighean is Scottish Gaelic for “lass.”

Lilith is considered to be Adams first wife who would not lie beneath him in bed. She wanted to be his equal.

Shield maidens were Vikings who fought alongside the men in battle.

Weyward Sisters are a reference from the witches in Macbeth.

these days when you have a daughter – Samantha Lucero

These days when you have a daughter
You don’t need to worry about if she can fit
a bracelet around her waist in a finely boned corset
the color of teeth and blood
Whether she’ll marry a farmer or an aristocrat
Have 3 boys and 1 girl
Because the world always needs more men
To be aristocrats and marry little girls
Nor do you have to worry about her burning at the stake
For making eyes at the pastors wife and
Wearing a red ribbon in her hair
You’ll have to tell her it’s okay to say GET THE FUCK AWAY
to the guy who sits way too close on the train
When the train is empty and you’re alone
With a knife you left at home
and the mace your boyfriend said you’d never need
You’ll have to tell her college is important
Because if you don’t have it written down
your mind doesn’t exist
You don’t have to be the supermodel in the magazine with the thin thighs
But you can be the super-girl who has the strong legs to run from all the
super-villains
until you get back home and find your knife and
That the world will lie in your lap like a cat that purrrrrrs
That you can’t help but pet because it’s just so fucking soft
Even tho it bites and can and will use its claws when you least
expect it because Life’s like that — that’s how I had you
And when life’s bad you’ll wonder why you’re here and why you had no choice to be
And me as your mother will say
I’m
Sorry
But I love you

Girls have to stick together
Instead of fall apart in each other’s hands
And if it means anything
No matter where you go, what happens
You are the only perfect thing to ever lie in my lap.


[ Another experiment in style from the nighthag dwelling in the darkness at sixredseeds. ]

the good ones die

Piercing writing from Samantha Lucero

samantha lucero

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i wish i could recall the pulsing safety
of my mother’s red, warm womb
that sacred burrow i curled where all i heard
was the watery song of her galloping heart
& the indistinct voice of my uncertain future
where she’d forget i ever lived within her
where i was wove to bone & flesh
& therefore have known her like
no other ever will
where she could not turn her back on me
as she did in life, because she wore me
in the front; a living fragment of her
until it came time i breathe on my own
& since then i’ve always breathed
alone

how did it feel to be carried
in strong arms born on
or near halloween?
to be kissed while i slept
by the bags of blood-blue eyes?
to be ignorant of the
cold, hard truths of life?

before life scrubbed them from my…

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