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Showing posts from 2018

I Meet Your Mother for the First Time by John Grey

She is in exile here.
your mother, the gray-haired female Napoleon, bestriding this St Helena of a kitchen. We find her on a rock between the wall cupboards, stove and table.
Your father moved out years ago, she does not recreate him,
merely nods towards the
remnants of his empire,
the walls, the ceilings,
honored by her choice
of curtain, paper, linoleum,
and this liberating cooking range.
Her eyes peck at me for
signs of constancy. I grip your hand tight. I’m aligning with her hopes

Thanks for Calling by Robert Madden

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Brian's father made some final touches with his pocket knife. He would have much preferred a piece of basswood, or even some pine. But due to the way things were, he had to make do with a lump of MDF scavenged from a skip.
It was painful for Brian to watch. The old man scratching away at a piece of scrap, in a futile attempt to win back his life's worth.
'Dad, will you put it down,' said Brian. 'You know there's no point?'
'Now son, none of that.' He continued to work his knife. 'When this is complete, you'll see. Things will be back on track.'
'But dad, it's . . . over. Forever. It's never coming back.'
When the crash came, it was so ruinous - so finite - that they didn't bother to reopen the markets. All stockholders were abandoned. Total and permanent wipe-out.
'Dad, are you listening? Your holdings were -.'
'Here we go,' said Brian's father. He held up his creation.
In fairness, he had done a decent jo…

A Music Never So Sweet by Anne Britting Oleson

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At the base of a wind-fallen cedar,
roots lifted into the damp air,
a small pond ripples softly, dappled
by this afternoon's sifting sunlight.
Listen, you whisper, leaning close.
Listen to the world turning.

In the time before we stood beneath
this breathing canopy, in the time
before I knew your voice,
I didn't know how to hear this.
The trill of the waxwing which
tumbles down, so many gold coins,
I could not then count among my riches. Nor the hollow fall into water
of the tiny wood frog, now only two eyes
like bubbles in the muddy pool.

And those songs, the ones you sing
under your breath, without thought,
as we step carefully among the ferns.
It's a blessing, you murmur
on the faint movement of air. Listen.





by Anne Britting Oleson

The Rules of Commuting by Janelle Hardacre

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Layla prepped herself to fit into one of the small spaces under the armpits of suited businessmen and hipsters. Her fourth day in her new job and she already understood the unwritten rules of tram travel. No eye contact. No huge rucksacks. No smelly food.

She’d timed the journey exactly. 12 minutes in the crush. So packed you could hear the squeak of uncleared sinuses. It was all worth it to be a Store Team Member in her favourite ever shop. Her new status was advertised on her lanyard, despite her not being allowed to wear it outside work. For Layla there’d be no more clearing trays for people who thought they were better than her because they didn’t wear a hairnet and rubber shoes.

Toes tapped inside her platform trainers as she turned on her playlist. She gripped the yellow pole and tried not to think of all the unwashed hands that had done so before her. The doors slid open and yet more commuters negotiated their way into the horde.

Layla felt moist breath on her neck and saw a stub…

Mrs Stone’s ENT Appointment by Chris Fielden

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The room stinks of disinfectant. You’d think with the amount of tax my Harold paid over the years they’d be able to afford something more fragrant.

The walls look like a paint factory has vomited on them. Modern art, they call it... Makes me feel queasy.

I look up and see my name in large red letters. Now everyone in the waiting room knows who I am. There’s no privacy nowadays.

I lick my lips and taste denture adhesive. It’s too minty. How am I supposed to enjoy a cuppa when it feels like I’ve been force-fed a Polo production plant?

I touch the door handle. It’s filthy. With £350,000,000 a week back in the NHS, you’d think they could afford to employ a few cleaners.

The doctor’s sitting behind his desk. His mouth’s moving.

“What?” I say.

He says something else. Why do young people mumble?

“You’ll have to speak up, dear.”

He stands and puts something in my ear.

“How’s that?” he bellows.

“There’s no need to shout, dear. I’m not deaf.”




by Chris Fielden
First published in Sensorially Challenged, Vol. …

Summer's Garden by Bobbi Sinha-Morey

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In the cool wind of early October I walk down to last summer's garden, morning glories twined among rows of cornstalks and up the ladders of leaves. I hear them calling to me, and I lean in to listen; delicate little trumpeters flaring their clarion tones, pink as the inner lip of a seashell, and I hear my own heartbeat rise and fall, a tide tugging me closer so I can see each one opening to the light, their faith but a star etched across their faces, rejoicing in their manna from the sun, in their day-to-day life.

by Bobbi Sinha-Morey

The Cold by Alice Pegler

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The cold smells like damp laundry that won’t dry. A musk that floats through the air, attaching itself to the lining of your throat like lint on a carpet. My breath pushes out before me like a cloud, commanding its warm existence into the bleak, shivering room.  I used to love the cold. Knitwear, parkas and rosy tipped ears. I loved the cold when I sat by the fire. The virgin snow gently blessing the ground outside. My icicle fingers melting around a deep mug of hot chocolate. Duvet dresses, movies days and mum’s soup.  Back then, the cold was aesthetic. A simple circumstance, resulting in a brisk pace, chattering teeth and a few numb toes before you were back in the kitchen, taking off your boots. The oven like room would envelop you in a soft satin embrace.  Now the cold is a selfish sister that tries to steal the sheets. She emerges from the deep ocean, pale and frozen, wrapping her rope like tentacles around my muscles, slowly constricting.  My limbs become stiff. I guzzle orange juic…

Not Yours To Keep by Fabrice Poussin

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Today is the second thousandth time
I must attempt to forget, but instead I will build you a temple On the wallpaper of an aging soul.
Don’t go coughing again in the middle Of a night when all sleeps, travel to Dreamlands, neighborhoods so far away Don’t you dare scream again at the boy.
You knew how to smile once, yesterday still I saw you laugh with a stranger and his lettuce A world yours, where no one was welcome But pain, scars, punches never held back.
I want to make you laugh, long to see you Smile behind, within, and outside all that skin No matter the deep grooves and dried up pores You must believe that you too deserve it a little.
You hold it to yourself like it’s yours to keep Don’t you know you are not allowed And the universe demands you share it all For you too can only earn from borrowed time.




by Fabrice Poussain

Family Tree by Patrick Hackeling

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My grandfather wrestled octopuses. He got on the TV and everything. My grandmother shot him dead one morning and she got on TV too.

My dad was in the army. He got a purple heart and black toes when the diabetes came. Before that though he was in all the papers for following orders in Vietnam. My first mama couldn’t take his drinking so she stuck her head in an oven. That only made the local press. Well, till three other ladies in the neighborhood followed suit. 
There was talks of banning gas ovens after that. My uncle was in politics and said something about electrical lobbyists, moguls and such. Everyone was gonna get rich but no one ever did. People just stopped killing theyselves. Started killing each other. A rock 'n' roll singer stabbed my sister to death. Half-sister. Her mama had a stroke on the courthouse steps. Died in front of a million flashing bulbs. That got a lotta press at the time but here it is, near thirty years later, and they’re still writing things 'bou…

Brisk Walk by James Croal Jackson

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do not miniaturize the bicycle torso between blue wheels
nor the twig tree broad-shouldered nor yellow-trousered man walking the candy cane
coming shapes myself an igloo of time contracting
mirror view hot pyramids the tips crumble so reaper crows confuse for wheat
the sculpted falsity in the curving sidewalk

What To Expect by Mandy Huggins

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Simon took Nina’s hand as they climbed the steep cobbled streets to Beyoglu, to their favourite backstreet cafe where men hunched over hookah pipes and glasses of apple tea. The owner greeted them with a smile of recognition, bringing a pipe to the table at Simon’s nod, blowing gently on the coals.

Nina watched the passers-by in silence. She knew she’d have to tell Simon her news before they went home, but she had no idea what response to expect from him, and she was scared.

He put his hand over hers. ‘You’re very quiet?’

She wondered if this was a good time, but as she started to speak, Aslan came back up the steps to take their order. He shouted it across to the kitchen, then sat down with a cigarette, staying to talk until another customer arrived.

In those few minutes, Nina changed her mind. Telling Simon would spoil their entire day. Their last day in Istanbul; a city they had waited so long to visit. And for these precious stolen days Simon’s wife had ceased to exist; even his ph…

Stroke by Robert Beveridge

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Your fingers on my neck,
a touch so light as to be hard
to notice when not fresh
from the shower. How your
beautiful fingerprints feel
more intimate than any
others on my skin. I catch
your hand, bring your palm
to my lips. It tastes
of raspberries and northern lights.

Your head on my chest, my blood
in your ears beats a tattoo
of infinite commitment, boots
on a dusty trail that heads
into a sunset that never seems
to quite slip into dark.


by Robert Beveridge

Interview with Chris Fielden

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Here Cafe Aphra barista Sara Roberts interviews writer Chris Fielden about his work and the highly successful flash fiction challenges he has been running since last year.



Cafe Aphra: Hi Chris, so tell us what is your main interest as a writer, in terms of form and genre?

Chris Fielden: Dark humour. Most of the stories I write involve an element of fantasy too, but are often set in our world. So there might be a demon in London, or a zombie in Washington. I’ve always been a fan of writers with vivid imaginations – Stephen King, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Terry Pratchett and Roald Dahl to name a few – so I’m drawn towards the weird, the wonderful, the macabre and the amusing.


CA: Do you also teach creative writing? Tell us about your latest course.

CF: I’m not a teacher in the academic sense, but I have written a book called How to Write a Short Story, Get Published and Make Money. That uses my own published stories as case studies, clearly showing how all the advice in the book h…

Faded by Gary Beck

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