Moshe, by Joann Majerle

Moshe stumbled through the snow. The wound in his leg throbbed painfully. Ahead he could see a solitary farmhouse. The door was opened by an old lady, her white hair pulled in a bun. It was a poor cottage, but there was a Christmas tree by the hearth. Turning to the woman he said, “I have been wounded. The Gestapo is not far behind.”

She hid him in the root cellar. When the soldiers arrived they found nothing.

And that is how Moshe Goldberg was saved on Christmas Eve, in a small American town, in the year 2023.

Heartshaped, by Barry O’Farrell

The doctors diagnosed Multiple Personality Disorder. I doubt it because things which interest me I calculate and analyse.

The eve of Derby Day is form guide study time. I am very good at this. Have picked and backed my fair share of winners over the years.

I look for current form, percentages, favourable draw and reliable jockey. Eventually, HEARTSHAPED becomes my selection to win this year’s Derby.

The bet is 1% of bankroll. This is sensible money management.

Saturday morning and the racing channel announces HEARTSHAPED has been scratched. How disappointing!

I will have to change some of my minds.

Everyone Dies Alone, by Joe Giordano

Everyone dies alone.

Lying in Intensive Care, sad-eyed loved ones will gather. I’ll rally to coax a smile, but they’ll be relieved to leave.

I’ll long to have my life back, but in the stillness of 3:00 a.m., I’ll accept my fate. The cycle of pain will return. I’ll reach for the nurse’s call button, the source of soothing morphine. In the dim yellow light of the vital-signs monitor, a lady in blue will appear. My thumb won’t press the button. The lady will beckon; I’ll reach for her. Life is precious, until it’s not, but I won’t die alone.

Massage Therapy, by Eric Smith

More intimate than other therapists, she massages the back by climbing astride, riding me like a horse. Without consent, she works virtually everything: stomach, liver, spleen, intestines.

“Nobody’s ever done that before.”

“I’m over fifty; you won’t hit on me.”

During my hour lying in this stranger’s home, we describe the quotidian rhythms that inform our lives—families, developing and aging, books we’ve enjoyed.

Because I pay her, I’ve no clue how she views me—a meal ticket?

When it ends I extend my hand to shake; instead she hugs me, then leans away and kisses me on the lips.

Snow, by Don Tassone

Snow. Blinding snow, whipping snow, raging snow. Snow slicing sideways though the air like a frozen, pulverized river. Snow so heavy it bends trees and amputates limbs. Snow that disorients then buries animals. Howling snow, screeching snow, wailing snow. Snow that blots out the sun. Show that fills in crevices and blankets lakes. Snow that freezes skin and calcifies fingers and toes. Snow that mummifies men. Drifts of snow, mounds of snow, mountains of snow. Biting snow, pounding snow, suffocating snow. Snow that blocks your advance and turns you back. Snow that falls for days and just keeps falling.

No-Way, by Bruce Levine

Three kids sat on the stoop of their Brooklyn brownstone. It was cold, but they didn’t care.

“Bet he doesn’t do it at all.”

“Do what?”

“Go down the chimney.”

“We ain’t got a chimney.”

“Sure we do. Don’t you see it up there?”

“No.”

“That pipe sticking up.”

“He’s too fat. Only a rat could fit through there.”

“He takes pills to get skinny when he comes to Brooklyn.”

“Yeah.”

“Then pills to fatten up again.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“You sure?”

“Sure, I’m sure.”

“That’s Alice in Wonderland.”

“I don’t care who it is as long as I get presents.”

Girl On A Mission, by Rekha Valliappan

The delicate child wished to be a ballet dancer. Daily she wore frilled tutus and gracefully practiced en pointe. Then the accident occurred.

Her leg was amputated below the knee and those dreams evaporated. She struggled with uneven gait. She wrote to Santa. And as miracles go she was soon fitted with a prosthetic leg.

One day thieves coming upon it stole it. It was the week before Christmas. Passers-by stared pitifully at the little girl with a stump and the tiny wish-list. Too old for Santa she still stood in line awaiting her turn for another miracle.