"Seascape" by Damon Macias Moreno
A man paints seascapes. Not waves beating pilings or piers, but waves trailing waves, patterns of furrowing water. The paintings surge on his walls, like breathing gray and blue windows. They tilt against cabinets, occupy halls and garage.
Visitors appear, saying, Why don’t you show these? Or: I love this. How much?
And the man, touched, shakes his head, knowing how faulty each canvas is, how incomplete, flawed.
Then he meets a young woman. He does all he can not to fall in. She invites him to dinner. They eat crab cakes, raw oysters. She's a rover, a sea dog, she tells him. Her rudderless mother was guided by stars. He smiles. They smile together. She's dressed in pale yellow. Her damp hair is dark red.
After ice cream and a movie they go to his house. She's entranced by the paintings. They pause in the bedroom by windows of water, wave after turbulent wave; she turns to kiss him, and sighing, tips toward a painting — and slips in. Into the sea he has painted.
Come swim! she exclaims.
And the pictures, each and all, on the walls, start to swell. They shudder, they murmur and throb. The girl floats along, singing. She beckons. Over the clamor the man tries to answer, call to her, love her, but can't, or does not, his heart stuck, afraid, or unready: a heart sutured shut before it can shatter, a wet fist, or drowned yellow flower, surging with living by not giving in.
"Leonid" by Eoin Connolly
On the morning of Leonid’s wife’s birthday, he went into town to buy flowers.
The traffic was dreadful. The florist lacked violets. He asked again, to be sure, but there was no getting around it: there were no violets to be had. The assistant couldn’t tell him when they would have more.
It was the latest in the series of disappointments that had come to characterise Leonid’s recent history. He left the florist without any flowers and went to the bar.
When he got home, his wife was asleep on the couch. Her mouth was hanging open.
While she slept, he kissed her open mouth. He pulled the blanket, which had fallen down, back around her shoulders.
The next day, it snowed. Leonid woke up and saw the snow and felt like crying.
After his morning coffee, he went out into the snow. He made it to the oak tree in the middle of his field. He stood there by the oak tree and stamped his feet in place, wondering at how a crunch created by his own two feet could splinter the stifled world so.
There has never been very much to write about Leonid, although the author does not hold this against him.
"The Blouse" by Carolyn R. Russell
I struggle out of a thickly layered dream; something shifts in my chest and grows heavy. My mother is shaking my arm. I can see by the faint light the moon is throwing through the bedroom window that she’s got her scary smile on, the one that says she’s being reasonable, it’s us that are crazy, driving her to say and do things she wishes she didn’t have to.
She wants her blouse back.
What blouse I ask, trying to focus. You know, she says. The blue one with green flowers on it.
This is a blow, as I have eaten myself out of most of my own clothing and need this top that my mother, in desperation, has bestowed upon me. Her thinking is that it’s ridiculous to waste good money on clothes that won’t fit me in three weeks and maybe having nothing to wear will motivate me to be more sensible.
She says again that she wants her blouse back. Now.
I look at my alarm clock. It’s 2:45 am. I get out of bed, trying not to wake my sister on the other side of the room, and find the blouse in my closet, paired with a faded denim skirt. My outfit for school tomorrow. I hand it to her, and she does this thing I dread most, a stiff-necked nod meant to convey that okay, we’re square, all’s right with the world. I get back into bed.
In the morning, I know, she won’t say a word to me, and I’ll be invisible to her for three or four days. Maybe longer.