The Ribcage Breaks Its Resolution To Stay Monogamous
You get bored saying the same name (legal, pet) again and again. You count the minutes until he leaves your apartment after you finish him. You sometimes create an excuse to keep him coming through your door (work in the morning, a doctor’s appointment). You refuse to imagine him aged and useless.
The Day After
by deb y felio
Pledges are made in late evening drinking
of all the improvements just one step makes
tomorrow a new day a new me I’m thinking
and all the missteps that lead to mistakes
Pleasures forsaken for future rewards
committed tonight to a disciplined life
not guaranteed but completely assured
first thing in the morning I’ll tell the wife
Well maybe I’ll wait til late afternoon
Pride after all does come before falling
It wouldn’t be prudent to brag too soon
It could appear that I’m merely stalling
So once and for all I’ll not let this fail
I’ll do it next year, right now I need bail.
What’s the Hurry?
By Alex Carrigan
This might be the first year that I don’t actually need a New Year’s Resolution. Of course, I don’t feel any better because of this, mostly due to societal dictates. “New Year, New Me,” right?
Personally, I hate making promises and commitments I will inevitably break. Sure, I could stand to lose about fifty pounds (sixty? seventy? When was the last time I weighed myself?), but lord knows I’ll probably choose to cheat on any diet or exercise schedule I’ll make.
I could resolve to write more or to work on new projects, but my laptop desktop is a graveyard of unfinished writing projects and shoujo manga series outlines. Sure, I could try to work those into American fiction, but that turns out to be really hard when you have to account for cultural differences between America and Japan. All those do is make the project unsustainable due to the sheer amount of rewrites needed. For example, if arranged marriages and marriage meetings were a thing in America like they were in Japan, my coming-of-age manga series “Reluctant Fiance” wouldn’t need a ton of rewrites. It could probably go straight to press.
Besides, I have projects that are closer to completion and should work on those first. That is, if I remember to and don’t come to immediately hate them while working on them like so many NaNoWriMo projects of years past.
But I guess I’m doing okay. Unlike last year, I have a job I like, I have trips I want to take later this year, and I have an actual desire to keep some status quo in my life. Hell, it’s the second day of the year and I’m writing something like this. That’s already a step up from last January when I was broke, unemployed, and dealing with massive anxiety.
If I need to resolve something, I think I have time to think about what that is. I can always diet or try online dating when the mood strikes and not attach it to some cultural movement that has the cliche of failure stapled to its forehead. There are 365 days in a year, after all.
I mean, if I wanted to really commit to something right away, it’d probably just be a commitment to have a regular sleeping schedule which, come on, who keeps those nowadays?
New Year’s Eve in the Mani
By Theresa Stoker
(I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Theresa-Stoker-222595801612565/ and I’m also podcasting as Write Club the Podcast at https://www.facebook.com/writeclubthepodcast/ and https://audioboom.com/channels/4936828)
We’ll just go back to the old ways.’ The young man giving us a lift is talking about the crisis. ‘Here in the Mani we’ve always been bandits and pirates. I have guns at my house, I’ll defend what’s mine. I’ve got a Kalashnikov.’
I remember the restored war tower we visited a few days ago. With its polished wood floors, safety banisters and no furniture, it lacked atmosphere. I tried hard to imagine what it must have been like when five or six families crammed in, besieged and at war with their neighbours. ‘Luckily we don’t fight so much these days,’ our guide said. ‘Because now we all have Kalashnikovs.’
I am glad to be out of the car. A huge moon is rising and there is a smell of wood smoke beckoning. In the kafeneio the stove is glowing. A TV game show competes with loud voices. We drink the large tumblers of wine known locally as ‘grandads’. A teenage girl is playing cards with some older men. She is giving them hell. My Greek is not good enough to know if she thinks they’ve been cheating, but whatever it is, she’s not putting up with it. At the next table a more serious game of backgammon is being played. Outside boys of all ages throw bangers at the ground and jeer at anyone who jumps. Some children in Santa hats come in to sing the monotonous Kalanda song. Everyone pays attention. The biggest boy carries an olive branch taller than himself, which keeps straying into his three-year-old sister’s face. She gamely continues dinging her triangle and shouting the words. Everyone applauds and gives them money.
By nine o’clock the older men are getting up, leaving behind their contribution to the smoky atmosphere. The TV is off and Greek party music is being played through a laptop. By eleven it’s a younger, livelier crowd. At twelve we all stand outside to watch the fireworks going off in the churchyard. Someone fires a shotgun. It is passed around the men, and boys as young as twelve are given instruction and allowed to shoot it. Then I hear rapid fire beside me. I have no expertise, but surely that is an automatic weapon? Time to go inside.
‘Kali Chronia, Chronia Polla!’ We kiss and exchange wishes for a good year and many of them. The partying moves into top gear. Young women in high-heeled boots dance the Hasabikos with virtuosity and increasing speed in the tiny space between the tables. The shots of raki keep coming and everyone must take their turn on the dance floor. When not dancing, those who know the words sing along and everyone claps in time.
By three o’clock I am defeated. Music and laughter trail behind us as we stumble down the little alley, kicking through shotgun cartridges and dead fireworks, the smell of gunpowder haunting our footsteps.
Promises to Keep
by Anthony Morales Jr
I’ve spent the better part of my life behind metal doors painted light blue to trick you into believing everything was good. It’s a lie like everything else. If you chip the paint, it’s red underneath anyway. That’s the real color, that’s the real feeling; anger and hate. You just get used to it. I got so used to the clinking and clanking of key rings against the guard’s belt smacking against their hip that it put me to sleep every night. It was like a blanket covering me from the cold.
But this time it’s gonna be different. I’m not gonna be comfortable with it anymore and I’m not gonna make the same stupid mistake as last time. I’m not coming back. When I get out my friend’s gonna give me three hundred dollars and I’m gonna buy myself some new clothes ‘cause the clothes they give you when you leave here is garbage. If you get out when it rains the blue from the jeans runs out and turns your goddamn skin blue like one of them little smurfs. You can’t go nowhere with that ‘cause they’ll know exactly where you just came from.
The last time I was out there I got caught ‘cause I was stupid. They caught me ‘cause I was hanging out with these guys that were always getting into something. I was good for a while, you know, I was makin’ my money and takin’ care of my baby girl but I was stupid and didn’t out-run ‘em. They knew where I lived anyway. But my baby girl, I haven’t seen her in over a year. Her moms is keepin’ her from me and I kind’a don’t blame her. I don’t want my baby girl to see me like this, where I’m at now. But imma be out soon and it’s gonna be different.
I can’t make no money, not enough at some regular job to pay for a place for myself and give my baby girl the money she’s gonna need for school and clothes and stuff. I’m gonna go back with my girl, we’re gonna work it out and then I’m gonna sell some stuff again, make some money real quick, and then I’ll be out. I don’t know what I’m gonna do yet but I know I gotta make money quick, that’s what I know I gotta do. You can’t do anything without money. Then I’ll go to school for like a mechanic, ‘cause that’s what I like. It’ll work this time, it’ll be better.
Year of the Pig
He introduced himself as Bub. A nickname, he added with a shy smile. He was hunched over in the way that tall guys usually are, bent forward like an overgrown sunflower. She noticed his pig before she saw that what appeared to be his coat was actually a pair of wings. The pig was on a leash and seemed content to lay next to Bub’s feet, ignoring the bits of food that the partygoers had littered on the floor.
When she asked why he had brought a pig, he answered that 2019 would be the year of the pig.
“Did you bring a dog last year?”, she asked.
“Yes, I did”, he answered with a straight-face. “But you were not here last year”. She noticed that his cheeks were scarlet.
“Are you hot?”, she asked. “We could go outside if you like. Or maybe get a drink?”
“You are very kind. Thank you but I am just always a little overheated. But if you want another drink…? What is this, a martini?” Without waiting for her answer, he exchanged the pig’s leash for her empty glass. He returned frowning. “They had just run out of gin so this one is vodka. I’m really sorry. You would think in a palace like this…”
The house belonged to the CEO of the tech company they both worked for. Most of the rooms appeared to be modeled after Versailles, gold-trimmed and gaudy. The room they were standing in was minimal though they had to be careful of the koi-filled stream, winding through to the backyard. There it emptied into a pool where the koi mingled with a pair of dolphins. She watched the aquatic couple tossing a beach ball back and forth and sipped her martini, trying not to grimace.
“Yes, it is strange that they ran out of gin so early in the evening. It’s not even nine yet.” “Actually”, he said softly, “it’s almost midnight”.
She noticed a crowd gathering on the back lawn.
“Shall we?”, she asked.
“If you like. Or perhaps we could go someplace where they make a proper drink?”
She nodded and they walked out the front door, their pinky fingers intertwined.
“We could take my car, oh, but maybe it’s too small”, she said, looking at his wings that trailed behind him like a wedding dress’ train.
“If you like, I could fly.”
“No, I am way too heavy for you, besides you would have to carry me and the pig. Two pigs.”, she joked awkwardly.
“Susan can find her own way home. Besides, you probably weigh less than a child.” She blushed, pleased he had guessed so generously.
They took off at the same time as the fireworks. When she looked down, it was hard to see her coworkers through all the smoke.
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