"I've Changed' by Aditya Marskole

A visit from Yaweh

- Matthew Roy Davey

The first time God paid a visit I was twelve years old.  None of my friends believed in God and going to church was not considered cool, in fact religion and the religious were roundly mocked.  My parents made me go to chapel most Sundays and as I couldn’t go out to play until we got back, my friends knew.  Nevertheless, while I had my doubts about God, I wasn’t prepared to risk damnation and commit my heart to a denial of Him.  To my friends, however, for an easy life, I was more than happy to feign atheism.

He came in the middle of the night.  Something woke me and there he was, floating in mid-air by the window, an old guy with long white beard and white robes.  His luminescence bathed the room in a cold blue light.  Icy terror spread through my veins, filling me to the extremities.  I lay unable to speak or move as he fixed me with a stern and unwavering gaze.  He looked just like He did in The Book.  After a little while He spoke, His voice suitably deep and grandiose.

“You must spread My word amongst your friends,” he intoned before pausing, his stare growing more intense.  “You must not deny Me.”

 

He stared a moment longer before fading to leave the room in darkness.  I could hear my father snoring in the room next door.

The next two weeks I spent in a daze, terrified of what might happen if I failed to do as I’d been told but unable to fulfil my instructions for fear of ridicule, torn between two wraths.  At night I would lie awake, haunted by my cowardice, convinced of the truth of my experience but still not sure of my belief in it, in Him.

He returned at the end of the two weeks.  The performance was the same, only this time He didn’t speak, just fixed me with a penetrating stare, though this time His eyes were filled with sadness and reproach.  He didn’t need to say anything, I understood completely. 

I never did as I was told, I never spoke of my vision to anyone.  Nothing has happened, not yet.

Matthew Roy Davey was winner of The Observer short story competition 2003 and winner of the Dark Tales competition (August 2013) and has been long-listed for the Bath Flash Fiction award (Spring and Autumn 2017) and Reflex Flash Fiction competition (Spring 2017).  His story ‘Waving at Trains’ has been translated into Mandarin and Slovenian and been published in anthologies by Vintage and Cambridge University Press.  Recently he has been published by Everyday Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Flash: The International Short-Story Magazine.  He has recently been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Know more at matthewroydavey.wordpress.com

 

Spring Break ’86

- Doug Mathewson

That song about being a cowboy.

Thought we were cowboys,

thought we were outlaws too.

 

Small town, big town - worried we’d stand out.

Jumpy as motherfuckers and nobody cared.

Watched Reservoir Dogs five times,

you said Pulp Fiction was better.

Don’t know who was more wound up, you or me.

 

By stutters and starts make the Jersey boardwalks.

You started this thing,

wanting to look like a boy.

Walking along feed store hat pulled down,

shoulders jacked up,

trying to keep your cow girl butt all froze in place.

 

Don’t know what people must of thought,

they saw us coming.

Doug Mathewson lives halfway between the kingdoms of Boston and New York City. He writes short, and even shorter fiction. Most recently his work has appeared in Bartleby Snopes, Chicago Literati, Ginosko Literary Journal, The Odd Magazine, and Star 82 Review. More of his work can be found at www.little2say.org “True stories from imaginary lives.”

The Story of Art

- Howie Good

Toulouse-Lautrec would often be found hiding behind the couch or in the bathtub, a charcoal pencil pinched between his fingers like a barking dog. They tried but failed to get from him the secret to how to draw a windy day. About every six months, you'll see something like that, a couple of kids beating a beggar to death with their skateboards. When I die, I want my clothes to be burned with me, so I can live in them forever. “What is wrong with you?” everyone asks. I have explained it time and time again – there’s ash already in the air.

Howie Good is the author of The Loser's Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize and forthcoming from Thoughtcrime Press, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry. 

Gone Before

- Niles Reddick

I read about your death from an old flame of yours in a Facebook message: “I think he’s gone. I’ve been crying all day.” That old flame was apparently still flickering.  I sent your step daughter and your brother,who I once met in Orlando, a message. Both responded and gave me tidbits:“Massive heart attack” and “Didn’t know what hit him.”

 

I wonder if genetics did it or maybe the cocaine you told me you did after college when you tried out acting in Los Angeles. You dated a couple of famous actresses, ran with a fast crowd, and tried to be more than you were, or maybe you lied about all that to sound cool.

 

I appreciate the loan you gave me once when I was destitute in Graduate school, a week away from homelessness and starvation. I’d lived on candy faculty members had in bowls on their desks and free packs of saltines I snatched from the café tables where I worked part time. I couldn’t bring myself to dumpster dive for Big Macs and fish sticks, like other students facing starvation. They’d waited until midnight when inside lights were off and employees had gone.

 

I was glad I paid you back that loan, and I appreciated your friendship during those college days. I guess we were friends. I don’t know what that means anymore. I never saw you, and we drifted apart. I was happy to reconnect with you on Facebook and was stunned to learn we lived a couple of hours from each other. We should’ve gotten together, but it wasn’t a priority for either of us.

I read your obituary online. There’s nothing there. You used to be an Episcopalian, but it doesn’t mention that. You married late, married a woman who would die before you, and you end up taking care of her handicapped child from an absentee father. If I had been in your shoes, I don’t believe I could’ve done that. I hope you’d found happiness. We all should try for that. I reached out to you when your wife died, but you didn’t reach back.

           

I read your Facebook page, scrambling to construct your life. You did internet sales? You liked those second rate movies, books, and sports teams?I wished I knew, but I won’t know you any better now that you’re gone than I knew you when you were alive all those years ago and already gone.

I shared your obituary with others who knew you, and they were sad, said you had gone too soon, wondered what had become of you. Then, they drifted away, back into the internet, like waves at the beach. It’s all pleasantries and the right thing to say, but it could have easily been me or them, had the genetics or circumstances been different. We’re already gone, too. We just don’t know it yet.

Niles Reddick is author of the novel Drifting too far from the Shore, a collection Road Kill Art and Other Oddities, and a novella Lead Me Home. His work has been featured six anthologies and in over a hundred literary magazines all over the world including Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, Spelk, Cheap Pop, The Arkansas Review: a Journal of Delta Studies, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, The Miscreant, Slice of Life, Faircloth Review, among many others. His website is www.nilesreddick.com

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