Archive for October, 2013

Unravel by h. l. nelson

Oct 25 2013 Published by under Stories

We tangle out of the club, drunk and laughing about the chick in the too-short minidress who fell down on the dance floor and flopped like a strange pink fish. The man she was with took a picture of her, then texted or tweeted and/or facebooked it. She could have been having a seizure, but I don’t think about that until later. I’m sure you don’t think about that at all.

I step off a curb I don’t see, and you grab my wrist too hard, tell me to watch where I’m going. Your voice is Jack and Coke rough. Flash back to an ex who broke my same wrist, anger that began with his mother and ended with a fractured me. I yank it to my chest, muscle memory still stinging. You slit your eyes and flick your cigarette in front of an oncoming car. I see how easily you could be that oncoming car.

Across the street, a homeless man is selling tiny dolls made of string. His sign says Dolls 4 Cheap, and passersby tiptoe around it, as if on a tightrope. Untethered, we wind past rushing cars, over to the man. I take a doll in my palm and hand him two dollars. The doll has one eye, no mouth. I ask why. The man tells me she was his first try. She’s made from just one string. He hands me back one dollar, and I’m sad he’d sell her so cheap. You shoot me the “Let’s go now” face. It looks like anger, uncoiling from your center.

I regard the doll again. Not a thought in her small head, only nylon and cotton. No way to articulate thoughts, if she had them. Limbs and body and heart, the same fibrous stuff. Tucked into her left foot, I see the string’s end. Her fibril fragility. I finger it, glance at weak-chinned you, wait for the break. I know what will happen if I pull.

h. l. nelson is Founding Editor/Executive Director of Cease, Cows mag and a former sidewalk mannequin. (Yes, that happened.) Pub credits: PANK, Hobart, Connotation Press, Red Fez, Bartleby Snopes, blah blah blah. She is working on an anthology, which includes stories by Aimee Bender, Roxane Gay, xTx, and other fierce women writers. h. l.’s MFA is currently kicking her ass. Tell her what you’re wearing:

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What I Learned Beneath Your Shirt by Christopher DiCicco

Oct 11 2013 Published by under Stories

After the accident, I could no longer pronounce the word trouble. My t’s did not exist. There was no longer the sound of hot tamales falling off the tongue. All I could say was rubble. It was as close to the word trouble as I could muster. And it seemed to fit my place.

The t sound that I had been so accustomed to came out my pursed lips like a little pocket of air, nothing there but breath. But at least, she told me, I was living. The breath in place of t was a good thing.

Like when poets count syllables, I asked her, ashamed I could no longer make others understand how beautiful words could be.

After the accident, she was a visiting nurse from the cancer ward who spent the night with me making my hands trace along the paper what my lips couldn’t quite understand—as if, when I had regained the use of my fingers and could write again, my mind would somehow recognize all that it could do with my tongue.

I told her, You don’t understand. You just can’t fathom what I am feeling right now, and she took my hand and put it beneath her blouse and I felt something else instead. It was warm. It was sensual. It was beautiful. And there was only one. The absence of the other was recognizable from the space between my finger and my thumb.

I knew then what she had already known and had not bothered to say. I said, You’re rubble, and she told me, You dou undersand. You jus can fathom wha I am feeling righ now.

We laughed, then smiled, then kissed. We knew we understood what the other was trying to say.

She was trouble. The only kind I could pronounce.


We wrote a poem together in the hospital, called it “Living”

“If you had a dagger for every time you stabbed at a thief—you’d be a dangerous man. A wronged woman. And I wouldn’t stab at you or steal from you at all.

If you had a sword for every time you stabbed at a king—you’d have a shield, no sword at all, because their knights are scary upon their horses, high above the ground, charging toward you. Kings make the laws. And they’re all men who have no trouble pronouncing their words or the sentences.

If you had a word, for every time I had a story—we would call each other more, converse and lie, tell each other what was wrong and what was fine. It’s been a day. It’s been a week. It’s been way too long.

If I had a month to tell you everything I should have told you—I’d be on a horse riding into town, telling you the cancer treatment is free.

If I knew life and you knew God—we’d call them both thieves and say, I have a dagger for you; don’t you dare look the other way.”

She wanted to read it at a coffee shop around the corner. When we arrived, I tried to leave. She took me by the hand and brought me to the front of the room. I stared at her blouse, at the rhythm of her breast, breathing steadily for the both of us.

I changed the name of the poem without telling her. She smiled when she heard me say it—Rubble—right into the microphone.

She was the only one in the room who understood like I did, and later that night when we shared ourselves with each other, I left my hand on her chest, knowing the title change didn’t really matter.

Christopher David DiCicco loves his wife and children—and writing short minimalist stories in the attic of his home in Yardley, Pennsylvania. His work has recently appeared in Nib Magazine, Intellectual Refuge, Sundog Lit, Cease, Cows and Bohemia Arts & Literary Magazine—and isforthcoming in The Cossack Review, WhiskeyPaper, Flash Fiction Online and Bartleby Snopes. You can follow him on twitter @ChrisDiCicco or visit him at

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