The Many Lives Before

Image credit: Rachel Shannon

“The screen is pitch black.

In the moment before Creation we begin to hear a faint, heterophonic melody. It becomes louder and louder, harmonious still, but a violent undercurrent begins. The melody divides in two. They alternate until they transform into a violent polyphonic cacophony.

At the pitch of the battle, a pulsating diminutive DOT OF LIGHT appears in the center of the screen. It grows and shrinks as if pulled by both melodic lines with each alternation. The ball of light is now stable, engulfing almost the whole screen. The music ceases.

Faintly the music resumes. Both polyphonic melodies are now a single, harmonious whole. The ball of light contracts to its original size as the music swells up, the ball expands and finally engulfs the whole screen.

Silence.”

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The Tin Man’s Heart

Image credit: Rachel Shannon

“Long, black wires curled around a slender, thin frame. Hollow beeps were the dim lights shining, looking for sun. An IV dripped, tears no longer left unshed, and fingers reached for the blinds, letting the world spill in. Large, gray windows stretched across the small, four-walled room, and cold, white tile bit into flesh, sending chills up the spine. An empty chair was poised beside the hospital chair, but life would not hold this seat. Instead, death crossed her legs and painted her nails for all the time in the world was hers to give or to take away.”

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One-Liners, Sal, 65 Feet

Image credit: Rachel Shannon

“My Daddy believed in self-improvement, so he made me swim ten thousand miles. He believed that because we were genetically linked, he owned my strength.

Nurse Amy: Tiffany has escaped. Then she waited for a response.

Then he drove me home in his bright blue Rambler. He was wearing a white button-down sport shirt, black slacks, shiny black shoes, and was humming –

What could I say? I couldn’t reveal to her that I was in love with Tiffany, a serious infraction of Psychology’s ethics and absurd as hell, Tiffany being a chronic schzophrenic.”

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The Waiting Room

Image credit: Rachel Shannon

The waiting room was a lie. Colorful, soft chairs. Soft lighting not to blind the eyes. White, tiled floor. Small, brown tables decorated with an assortment of magazines. A flat screen against one wall. A small clock on the other. And a warm, welcoming reception guarded by ugly, plastic windows.

“Please, don’t sit next to me. Please, don’t sit next to me. Please, don’t sit next to me,” and the middle-aged woman guided her elderly mother over to the next row of chairs.

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Too Gone Too Long

It was a large imposing building; however it was not readily seen by just anyone. Walking down the street, it was as if a huge bubble protected it. Only the dedicated lovers of music of different genres could see it and knew what it concealed within its walls. Inside were the usual tables: two tops, four tops, and booths for larger groups. The bar was a magnificent testament to an incredibly gifted carpenter. The bartender looked incredibly like Pete Seeger. The logo on the front of the shirt he wore was a hammer.

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The Ant’s Parable

The Ant's Parable

It came to pass that the Fire Ants ran out of structures to build with their bodies once the World was razed by atomic fire. Being of such unparalleled wit and alone, they began to experiment with the limits of their bodies, now that survival was forever guaranteed. After adapting to the cold, which they did by burning their cyanide asses in their bellies, they were left to their own devices. They set out to expand across all the lands and thus mobility became the First Principle of their existence, but they could not yet understand this.

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Quarterly Returns

Mr. Rogers had sent a memo to Shelly last Friday informing her to report to his office first thing on Monday morning for a meeting. Shelly arrived early in order to have a few minutes to collect herself and get her nerves under control. She was determined to present an outwardly calm and professional demeanor when she met with Mr. Rogers, Department Manager for Ajax Insurance Company.

Shelly had a premonition of what Mr. Rogers was going to say. Since the arrival of Mrs. Ferguson, the newly assigned district division supervisor, the department had been undergoing an in-depth process of agent evaluations and case-load reviews.

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To Have and To Hold Part II

“What if he asks?”

“We’ll say it’s so we can be in a cabin instead of having to be in different barracks.”

“Danny, you’re insane. You’re out of your mind, you know that?”

If I knew English better, Tami thought later on, I could try to dig up that song that Danny was singing about how the guy… “held a knife against her breast as into his arms she pressed….” He loves her and she loves him, but for reasons the song doesn’t go into, “she would… not be his bride” so he does her in. It makes no sense what Danny wants me… wants us to do. Danny, “please… don’t murder me. I’m not prepared… for e-ter-ni-tee…”

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To Have and To Hold Part I

Danny didn’t want to do his army stint. He wanted to go abroad and study art.

But there he was, stuck on a farm unit, at an out-of-the-way border settlement, where the thought of spending his days picking apples in the orchard and sorting them in the warehouse only got him down. Night duty was just as bad: revving up the jeeps, riding out to the border — except there was no border, just roving patrols from opposite sides of a makeshift line hoping not to run into each other — then sitting there for hours in the dark with nothing to do but slap mosquitoes ‘til it got light enough to call it quits and head back to the settlement.

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The Departure Artist by Ali Nazifpour

I watched her as she packed. She was constantly on the move; packing and unpacking was an art to her. Her hands moved swiftly and confidently as she arranged her books in her black simple suitcase; the way they moved was final and absolute.

She was off to somewhere else again – I have forgotten where. She had already moved twice this week.

“When will I see you?” I asked her again.

“Friday night. I’m here for the weekend.”

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