The Black Baby by Kelly I. Hitchcock

“Mommy, look! A Black baby!” bellowed my four-year-old son, Silas, in a volume characteristic of all children his age. “He’s so cuuuute!”

I felt my insides immediately freeze, unsure whether to be mortified or not. Outwardly, I kept idling my shopping cart along the grocery store aisle, being careful not to quicken or slow my pace, eyes pretending to look around for the brand of ground thyme I like but can never remember before stealing a glance at the woman wearing the tiny baby in a carrier. We couldn’t have looked more different. She was tall; I am short, not even able to reach the lone packet of Red Star yeast she effortlessly extracted from the top shelf and dropped into her cart. She had shimmering dark caramel skin; I have pasty, dull skin with freckles. She had thick African braids bundled up like a crown on her head, making her look even taller; I have thin brown hair that clings to my head like it’s afraid to go out into the world.

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Where Are You, Mother? by Yash Seyedbagheri

You tell me it’s about space, a need to create your own life. Dad and sister Nancy will give me a better life.

Nancy calls me sweetheart. It sounds rehearsed for someone whose favorite word rhymes with “duck.” Dad communicates in grunts. Flatulence.

You taught me to admire Joyce Carol Oates, play Debussy. You said I was special. Said you’d see my words on a bookshelf.

You said fighting with Dad over freedom had nothing to do with me.

Why don’t you talk?

I store fleeting words. Do well. A mother can love from afar.

Talk to me. Please.

© Copyright 2020 Yash Seyedbagheri. All rights reserved.

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Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. His work is forthcoming or has been published in WestWard Quarterly, Café Lit, 50 Word Stories, (mac)ro (mic), and Ariel Chart.

Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

Now I’ve Heard Everything by Bonnie Schroeder

“What kind of dog is that?”

“German shepherd.”

“Naah—they don’t come in black.”

“Well, that’s what she is. Recessive gene.”

“Huh? No, she’s a mutt, Lady. You got gypped.”

“Oh, all right—I’ll tell you the truth. She’s an Arcanian Bat Hound.”

“Wow! Really? I’ve never seen one before. Uh—where’d you get her?”

“I had to import her, got special permits and all. Arcania doesn’t export them normally.”

“I bet. Uh—where’s Arcania?”

“Eastern Europe. Tiny country. You’ve never heard of it, right?

“Right.”

“That’s because it’s a shadow state—keeps its existence a secret.”

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The Key to Success by Pat Becker

Photo of a vintage metal rollerskate

She found a skate key.

It wasn’t hers. She was too young to skate. But she managed to get her sister’s key.

She grappled with it in her tiny hands, trying to do what you did with a skate key. She jammed it into the bottom of a skate with her clumsy hands. In a whoosh! it was gone. More skillful hands came and took it. Her first memory!

She didn’t witness the invention of fire, but, by god, she got her grubby hands on her sister’s skate key. Later, she would get her grubby hands on many other things.

© Copyright 2019 Pat Becker. All rights reserved.

Pat Becker is a former journalist, freelance writer and publicist. She currently spends her time writing scripts and producing films.

To Carl and Scott, Winter 1954-1955

I had known him for three months. If I wanted to see him on weekends, I’d have to learn to ski. My sister had size 12 ski boots she would loan to me. His high school classmate wanted to sell her old skis for $5. I emptied my piggy bank, went to the ski shop on Holly Street and bought a pair of ski pants. I had my cotton jacket that looked okay with the pants. I had my red plaid wool scarf and a pair of mittens. I was ready to go to the mountains with my boyfriend.

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Texas Toast by Paula Johnson

Adam took his name seriously. He knew he was the first among men. His hairline was eroding faster than the Galveston coastline in his home state of Texas, but he was a sharp dresser and a smooth talker. Ladies loved his drawl.

At a Two-for-Tuesday happy hour, he sent a Cosmopolitan to a stunner in the corner. She stopped by to thank him.

“Can I tell you a secret?,” he asked. She nodded.

“You remind me of a young Scarlett Johansson.”

“Want to hear my secret?” she whispered. He cocked his head.

“You remind me of my old grandpa.”

© Copyright 2018 Paula Johnson. All rights reserved. Photo by Alexandre Godreau on Unsplash.
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Paula Johnson is the founder and editrix of The Rose City Sisters website. Join her email list  and get invited to her book launch party! (First she needs to finish writing the book.)

FAQs by Paula Johnson

Is this PolySci 204? Are you Professor Adams? Can I sit anywhere? Is the textbook online? What’s the WiFi password? Where can I plug in my mini Himalayan salt lamp? Do you grade on a curve? Do you want to pet my Emotional Support Animal? Are you allergic? Can I eat in class? Can I vape? Is texting my term paper okay? Can I save seats for my sorority sisters? When are your office hours? Can my mom audit this class? Why is the syllabus three pages long? Can I leave early? When is the last day to drop?

© Copyright 2018 Paula Johnson. All rights reserved. Photo courtesy of Pexels.
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Paula Johnson is the founder and editrix of The Rose City Sisters website. Join her email list  and get invited to her book launch party! (First she needs to finish writing the book.)