The Subway

by Anthony Mastro
(Bloomingdale IL USA)

The initial pain was gone as well as my cell phone, the fourteen year old and the knife he used to slash my arm. The other passengers waiting on the subway platform started to come to me and asked if I was all right. As I slipped to the floor I noticed the security staff coming. It was foolish of me to try to resist I know now. All he said is “Hay man, what’s up?” Before I could answer he snatched my phone from my hand. I grabbed for him and that’s when the knife swung around and caught my arm. He ran through the crowd and was lost in the confusion. I sat there thinking that this doesn’t happen to me. I see it happen on the news every night but not to me. My arm seemed to throb as I held it tightly and I saw the blood oozing through my fingers. My only thought was that I would be late for work.

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Rain Spattered Bicycle

by Phyllis McKenna

Rain spattered bicycle, abandoned in the road.

Pale faces, low voices, wailing sirens.

Soft fading breath.

Eleven years old, never twelve.

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by Kasey Stockli
(Victoria BC Canada)

The cold blue water sparkled like a jewel. She knelt down to brush her hand against it. It felt like liquid crystal as it smoothed over her delicate hand. She took a deep breath before stepping into the water. Her legs tingles as the water flushed over her. She wanted to run and get out; but she stayed brave. Her hear beat like a drum as she took another step. As she moved farther and farther into the ocean, her fear vanished. It felt insane. She was finally free.

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Forever Winter

by Lisa Dishew
(Westland, MI.)

The back yard was always beautiful during the winter. I would sit on my rocking chair all day just gazing as the smooth snow. My son’s dog would leap through it throwing small piles everywhere and destroying the romantic view. The dog did not know what I saw. She would have never understood why I loved the fresh fall of snow. I have grown so old, and still I wait for my son to come pick her up. I wait for her to run back inside and shake the cold snow onto me. I know my son will never come. I know the dog I never wanted but loved anyway will never again come through the door. I know my creaking rocking chair will stay silent. I would give anything to have that back, but I’m dead now. My son will never come to get that dog. Soon they will both be with me again. Here where it is always winter.

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The Flame that Burns Twice

by Keith
(Lakeland, Florida, USA)

He was desperate and hungry. He skulked along the wood behind the houses. He looked for the telltale signs of vacancy. He moved here six months ago to a promising job. Now, this was his career. He tested the doorknob and slowly stepped in. A light turns on. His high school girlfriend from twenty years ago.

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Starvation hollow

by Stanley mcqueen

As Grandpa and I sat on the porch stoop one afternoon, he told me he was glad he got to move out of Starvation Hollow. "Being raised down there is enough misery for any man, let alone having to spend the rest of his days there," he said.
"How did that hollow get named?" I asked.
"Well, son, the slopes of that hollow are so poor that sage brush will hardly grow, let alone tobacco and corn, and that's how it got its name," he explained.
"Let me tell you about the time my Ma and Pa, and my brothers and sister almost starved to death one winter. There came a snow one January so deep it was up to the mule's belly. Pa had very little corn laid in for our mule and cow back then, and after that snow and the freezing cold, our supply of vittles was getting awful low. As a matter of fact, if it hadn't been for maple tree syrup, we would have mostly likely starved to death. You young folks don't know the miseries of being bone poor.
"Our old mammy did what she could to can a few vittles, but since there were eleven of us to feed, it was hard to keep a bite of food on the table. I recall during that particular winter going into the kitchen and seeing Ma standing there, crying. It scared me, because I'd never seen Mammy shed a tear before, and I was the oldest boy she had. I asked her what was ailing her and she said, 'Son there ain't a bite of food for us to eat and I am scared to tell your Pa about it. He has enough worries about the mule and cow not having hay or corn to eat, and I just don't have the heart to tell him there ain't a bite of food in our shack."
"I said, 'Mammy, don't worry. I'll go right now and get my rifle. Maybe I'll find something in the woods to kill so we'll have something to eat.'
"Pulling on as many rags as I could to protect myself from the bitter cold, I took off for the woods with my rifle and the three shells that were left. It was hard walking through the dense woods as the snow was belly deep to a mule, and it was soft, about wearing me out. Not a varmint was stirring and I thought that even a slim possum would be better than nothing. I noticed where rabbits had gnawed on the sassafras trees which told me that times in the woods were hard, and the varmints were starving, just like us humans.
"I was cold to the bone as I waded through the woods and then I remembered that Mammy always said: 'When you need something real bad, it is a good idea to ask the Lord for a little help.' I'd never tried praying before, but thought I'd give it a try.
"My hands were so cold I couldn't feel them but I knelt down in the deep snow anyway and prayed. I explained to the Lord that I needed to kill something or my family would starve in just a matter of days. I remembered to ask, "In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ,' just like I'd heard Mammy do, and then I got up and slowly made my way along the old cold ridge.
"As I walked, I saw no varmint tracks; nothing was stirring and I can't say I blamed them. The wind cut cold to the bone and all I wanted to do was kill something and get back to the shack before I froze to death out there in the dense, snow-covered woods.
"I walked a little way further through the woods and came to a place where some rock ledges were sticking out and I could see a skinny possum sticking his sharp little nose out of a small hole on the cliff ledge. I took careful aim with my rifle and killed the poor little starved possum. I said, "I'm sorry to kill you, little fellow, but you were suffering from hunger just like my folks are."
"My conscience pricked me something fierce as I picked up the poor little thing. "Maybe I done you a favor," I told the dead creature as I carried him through the deep snow. Eating him would be better than nothing, but being so hungry had made me feel humble and caring. As I walked, I thought about the prayer I had made, and although He hadn't given me a deer or a rabbit, but instead a pitiful little possum, I recalled what Mammy had told me one time. 'God always gives us just what we need - not what we ask for.'
"I looked down at the little possum. Its eyes were closed and I cried as I realized it would never see another bright summer morning when the woods are green and flushed with life, when squirrels and rabbits play their games. Tears poured down my face at the thought of him never again eating grapes off the summer vines. I sat down for a while and cried, but it was so cold, the tears froze on my cheeksig tear rolled down Grandpa's face as he went on with his story.
"The weather broke several days later," he said. "I kept that little possum's hide and nailed it on Pappy's old shed, and every time I went to the shed, I'd look at it and I'd tell that little possum, 'Thank you,'
"Grandson, if there is a possum heaven, I do believe that possum is there. Just as the Good Book says, 'There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.' It's a shame that we have to kill game so we can have their hides and meat but, just like the Good Book quotes, 'Something has to die so that we may live.'
"And you, my boy, never forget that life is not cheap. Never take your life for granted. I believe that God told that slim little possum to stick his head out that cold January morning, and he minded the master so we could have a bite to eat until the weather broke and we could do better. So don't you ever forget this story about Starvation Hollow. Pass it on to your children so it will remind folk of God's goodness towards mankind, for all things were made for man's benefit, that he might learn to love the master of these beautiful green hills of Muddy Fork.
"This is where I met your granny and took her for my wife, and she gave me your pappy, who gave life to you, my dear grand boy."
Grandpa slowly got up and looked around. Offering me his hand he said, "While it's the cool of the evening, son, let's go watch the ducks swim down at the Muddy Fork river

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A Day of the Chilly Winter

by Gayatri Viswanathan
(Navi Mumbai, India)

This story dates back to the time when Buddhist monks ran from the fear of the Chinese Government and sought refuge in India. I was one of the many monks who fled to India. My initial days were very difficult. People were reluctant to help me as I was a pariah. I looked very different and couldn’t communicate without gestures. But, looking at the bright side, I realized that I made a very dear friend during my stay in a Dharamshala.

It was a very chilly evening. As I was near the Nepal-India border, I thought it would snow in a few hours. The cold wind sent shudders down my spine. I walked on the pavement and thought, “I must seek shelter somewhere before I turn into a snowman.” I had heard it from my friends that Indians were very kind to monks, but I saw a Dharamshala a few yards away. It looked warm and I felt hopeful that I would survive the night. I neared the porch and make a silent prayer to God. I knocked the door thrice and in return, got silence. Then, I heard a few footsteps nearing the door. I knocked again. The man told me something I didn’t understand. I talked English, hoping that he would understand. I was overwhelmed by joy when he replied in English; but what he said brought me no joy. He said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have the key to open the door from within.” I smelt something fishy and thought of bribing him.

I slid a shiny one-rupee coin under the door and jerked in surprise when the door opened. I grabbed my little bag- it only contained one more set of clothes and my religious books. The man smiled pleasingly and introduced himself.
I wasn’t listening to him as my mind erupted into a plan to get my penny back. I grinned as an idea struck me immediately. I told him, “Good evening, sir. I am hoping that I can seek refuge in this cozy Dharamshala. Could you please get my bags which I left near the pavement?” He walked off happily when I ran inside and shut the door. He returned in a few minutes and asked me in a confused voice, “I’m sorry, sir! I found no bags outside. Why don’t you let me in?”

“This is my chance,” I thought. I imitated his voice and told him. “I’m sorry. I don’t have the key to open it from within.” My words couldn’t hide the sarcasm and I was sure he got the message. He slid back my shiny coin and I let him in. He didn’t seem annoyed. We laughed together and talked throughout the evening.

That night, I made friends with a stranger who helped me out through thick and thin.

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