On the Move, by Amy Friedman

(Originally posted to LinkedIn.)

“Guess what?” he crowed, grinning.
She looked up. “What?”
“I got it!” he said. “We can leave this shitty little city.”
“Where are we going?” she said, mouthing a smile.
“Atlanta!” he said. “You won’t have to work anymore – I’ll be making enough for both of us.”
“That’s great, honey,” she said. “When do they want you there?”
“In two weeks!” he said, striding into the kitchen.
Swiveling back to her screen, she whispered a sigh. “He’ll probably be out of work again in a year,” she thought to herself. “Wonder if he’ll be willing to move there without me … “

Final Thoughts, by Don Tassone

She lay in her bed in a half sleep, neither fully conscious nor fully unconscious, as if she were suspended between the real world and a dream.

She looked around and glimpsed the faces of her loved ones. Then she closed her eyes and saw her birth, her growing up, her marriage, her children being born, her aging, her dying and her life beyond. She saw everything and everyone, together at that very moment.

If only she had known sooner. If only she had known that nothing is separate, that everything is one and that all is joined in her.

Loss, by Chloe Ford

The sand was warm between my toes as I made my way back to where I’d left him.
His cries of pain tore through me, the first aid kit in my hand suddenly feeling inadequate.
Tears ran down my cheeks unbidden as I broke into a run.
“Hold on, Max,” I whispered. “Hold on.”

I couldn’t save him.

How do you say goodbye?
You were my link to the world, Max, my partner in all things.
There will never be a greater guide dog.
Sleep well, old friend.

Temptation, by Russell Conover

The cakes, pies, ice creams, and other desserts were all delighted to be the naughty pleasures in which people indulged after the main meal, since all the calories and sugar combined into irresistible treats for all, even though their nutrition value was so lousy that diners would be better off eating sugar from the bottle, except for the fact that these desserts satisfied a craving that could only be fulfilled one way–by throwing caution to the wind and diving face-first into all the succulent sweetness, which is totally worth it given the culinary delight and the always-enjoyable post-food coma.

Truth, Universal, by Sankar Chatterjee

Prof. Rajat Sen heard the latest revelation on radio. The eldest son of strongman got caught and forced to admit his past collusion with the foreign agents for his father’s electoral win. He remembered his early student-days in the country. Like him, most of his new friends were also international students. A similar scandal involving a trusted aid of then-president broke out. He sold arms to a sworn enemy, while channeling the profit to death-squads in Central America, all illegally.

Next day, his friend Abraha from Ethiopia mentioned his African wisdom: “A fish always starts to rot from the head.”

Not Now, My Love, by Gordon Lawrie

“Not now, my love.”

She had her back to him. His gentle fingers stretched out towards her and stroked her neck, working their way down as far as they could reach.

“Not now, my love.”

He withdrew his hand. But not for long; soon, she felt the hand caress her head, her neck, her shoulders. She liked his touch, but …

“Not now, my love.”

Once more he desisted. But temptation was to prove too strong. Reaching out again, he tickled her neck gently. This time …

“Not now, my love. I’m driving. It’s dangerous. Sit back in your seat.”

“Sorry, mummy.”

Caged Bird, by Guy Fletcher

The caged bird seems content after a feast not hunted for. Its space is denied but does it dwell on freedom in the early hours? But surely we suppress Nature yet are like the caged bird, too: commuters trapped in vehicles, daily routine with invisible bars.

We muse on the wonder of tropical islands where the caged bird’s ancestors flew, but if we had too much time for reflection instead of scurrying like the ants, would we go mad like King Lear without greed, petty woes.

With freedom we can reside in Hades, yet some smile … from a bleak prison cell.

Faded Image, by Adrian Slonaker

The photo was so fragile it could have disintegrated in my palm.

The blonde, pale woman’s eyes were tired, but saturated with adoration for the two equally blonde, equally pale daughters in matching sundresses on either side of her. One girl, around seven, was focusing on a handful of chocolate. Her sister, about two years younger, hid bashfully under the protective arm of her robust Teutonic father. Nearby, a wolfhound lazed in a puddle of explosive sunshine.

The handwriting (translated into English) on the back read: “Colonel Jürgen Knoblauch and family, recently arrived in Asunción. January 1948.”

Ask First, by Charles Boorman

He could never say “no”. Not when she invited him in after their first date. Not when she asked him to marry her that cold February in leap year. And not when she announced they needed to build an extension to the house.

But when her mother and dog moved in, the frustration finally spewed out like barbecue sauce gone bad in the bottle. “You could have asked me first!” he told his startled wife.

Now he lives alone in the big house with just the dog for company, which he feeds on the meat that fills up the freezer.