Kay Perry – Terri and Tonka

Terri and Tonka

Mr. Prendergast lived in a small unit on the first floor of an old inner city high rise.

His apartment was small  and shabby but filled with books, mainly biographies. He liked to read about other peoples lives.

Each day he walked to work. He had his own office and would return at the same time every evening.

Sometimes he would pass Mrs. Parker on the stairs and say Good Morning or Good Evening, whichever the case might be.

Mrs. Parker lived in the apartment opposite. She was small and pretty with blonde hair going grey and worked part time as a remedial teacher at an inner city primary school.

One late afternoon, the lift arrived just as Mr. P. had reached his apartment. Surprised, he turned to watch it open. Mrs. Parker stepped out with a small boy and some luggage.

“Mr. Prendergast, this is Jamie,” she said. Jamie looked up with a serious face and said “Hello.”

Mr. Prendergast replied “How do you do,” before turning and entering his apartment.

Jamie looked up at Mrs. Parker who smiled and stroked his face and said, “Come inside now and help me make tea.”

During the weeks that followed Mrs. Parker and Jamie would often pass Mr. Prendergast on the stairs, until, one evening there was a knock on Mr. P’s door. . .

“This is your letter,” said Jamie when the door was opened. “It was in our letter box.”

“Thank you,” said Mr. P. taking the letter and about to close the door when Jamie said, “I live with Nana now. My mummy died.”

Mr P. looked at Jamie for what seemed a long time, then said, “I see.”

He shut the door softly and sat down with his letter. His own mother had died several weeks earlier and the letter was from his solicitor who was settling the estate. The letter was to enquire whether Mr. P. wanted any furniture or personal items from his mother’s home before the impending sale.

Mr. P sat at his table looking at the letter until it grew dark. He had no brothers or sisters and his father had died many years before. he was the sole heir. he realised he could now buy a house of his own, somewhere with a garden. He could have a dog.

Next day he rang in sick to his office, a thing he had never ever done, and caught a bus out to his mother’s home in the suburbs. When he arrived home he carried a small parcel containing two small items. He unwrapped them carefully and placed them in front of him on the kitchen table.

They were his.

They had always been his, given to him by his father  over forty years ago on his return from a business trip overseas. This was the first time he had handled them.

He had retrieved them from his mother’s china cabinet , locating the key under the lace doily, where it had always been. His mother had locked them in the china cabinet along with some cups, saucers, plates, and crystal glasses deemed “too good to use,”or in Mr. P’s case – “too good to play with.”

He was still sitting there when there was a gentle knock on the door.

“Come in Jamie,” said Mr. P.

The door opened slowly. “More mail, Mr. P.”

“Come in Jamie,” Mr. P. repeated. “Bring it here.”

Jamie had never been inside Mr. P’s apartment. It was quite poorly lit  and smelt of musty books. He walked in softy and stood by Mr. P’s chair.

“Wow,” said Jamie, “Awesome!”

“Yes,” said Mr. P.

“Yes, indeed.”

“What are their names?”

“Well,” said Mr. P. reaching foreword and picking up a small celluloid elephant, beautifully moulded and decorated. . .

“This is Tonka. ” He placed him carefully in front of them. . .”and this,” tucking a gorgeous little turtle, crafted by the same hand, under the elephant’s trunk, “is his best friend, Terri.”

Little springs inside Terri helped him nod his head and wag his tail on being reunited with Tonka. Jamie and Mr. P. watched silently as Terri and Tonka greeted each other.

“Now,” said Mr. P., “bring me a saucer of water.”

Jamie put the letters down on a chair and did as he was told.

Mr. P. pulled up a small lever on top of Tonka’s head, put his trunk in the water and pumped ’til Tonka was full!

“You were thirsty, old chap.”

“Now,” said Mr. P, “this is the game.”

“You place Terri anywhere within this circle” – (he drew a circle with salt from the salt cellar around Tonka) and Tonka can only turn on the spot!”

Jamie did as he was asked.

Mr. P. then pushed the lever down on Tonka’s head. Tonka’s large ears flapped and water gushed out his trunk just missing Terri.

“Wow, magic!” said Jamie. “Terri and I won that one!”

“OK — swap over —” said Mr. P.

Jamie and Mr. P. played the game over and over until Jamie finally went home. He hadn’t been home long before he returned and knocked on Mr. P’s door.

“My mum wants to know if you’ll come to dinner! We’re having Salmon Pasta!!”

Mr. P. took a big breath and let it out slowly. “Why, yes. Thank you.”

At 5.30 Mrs. Parker welcomed Mr. Prendergast to her apartment, as in need of renovation as his own, but made cheery by fresh flowers and colourful cushions.

“My name is Veronica,” she said softly, “but please call me Ronnie.”

Jamie looked at Mr. P. expectantly. There was a pause. Mr. P. gave a little cough. “umm, ah, Trevallyn” he replied.

Jamie’s eyes grew huge.

Ronnie’s twinkled.

“But Trev to my friends!” Mr. P. added, just in time.

The dinner went splendidly, and Ronnie and Trev sat talking at the table long after Jamie had gone to bed.

Later that evening, before retiring, Mr. P. was cleaning his teeth in his bathroom. Midway he paused,  and looking in the mirror with a mouthful of froth, he mouthed softly, “Wow, awesome!” and then, a little louder — “MAGIC!!”

On the shelf in the dinette, Tonka rested his trunk gently on Terri’s shell.

Terri nodded gently and wagged his tail. . . . . .

Kay Perry is a sailor and lives on a sailing boat called “Truant” with her husband. When not sailing around she likes to write short stories and poetry for adults and children.

 

Bric Barker – 1281 Train to Andong

1281 Train to Andong

 

 

Late night, Yeongju. Track 4

Three other people on the platform

– a couple desperately trying to drag

heat from a cigarette

and a Buddhist monk

swimming in his gray robe,

a black and red Christmas knit cap

protecting his blue bowling ball head.

He gently tapped a wood block,

eyes closed as the train pulled in.

 

I found my car.

I found my assigned seat.

The others slept.

 

A consumed coachman in uniform entered

for my ticket.

Before he left, he turned,

and to all of us and to none of us

gave a slight, seemly bow,

as if to say,

Sleep well. I am here.

 

 

Bric Barker, currently an English professor at Woosong University in South Korea, has taught in many foreign countries. His travels have informed his poetry greatly. Once Poet in Residence at University of West Georgia, he has published poetry in The Eclectic, Old Red Kimono, and In Other Words (An American Poetry Anthology). His most recent acceptances were from Indiana Horror Review, Beecher’s Magazine, Hothouse Magazine, and What’s Your Sign (Poetry Anthology). He won the Kay Megenheimer Poetry Prize, and also awards for journalism and playwriting.

 

Issue 6

SASSAFRAS LITERARY MAGAZINE ISSUE 6  - Nov 25th, 2013 

CONTENT

ARTWORK

Emily Strauss (photos) - Covering Fog,
Hills and Barn, River Morning

POETRY

Jon Bennett - AHM#2
Michael Boccardo - What No One Told Me About Autumn,
Fable For Boys Who Chase Tornadoes

Beth Boylan - The List
Micah Chatterton: Self - Hypnosis
Nancy Correro - Pursuit of the other side,
New Life in the 21st Century

Megan Kaminski - Dear Sister
Mercedes Lawry - Trends, The Observer
Jeremy Nathan Marks - The Conversation,
The Moon

Dawn Schout - Scablands,At The Royal Palace
Emily Strauss - After a While Dumbness Strikes, Night Music


FICTION

Michael Brasier - Like Nothing Ever Happened
Ron Morita - Flight
Sherri H Levine - Footbridge
Ashleigh Rajala - Coal Dust



NONFICTION

Riona Judge McCormack - Theme in A Minor
Kelly Seiz - Pluck

(Sassafras issue 6 as a PDF)

Ron Morita – Flight

FLIGHT

_

Homework beckoned, but Janie strolled up the dusty road beside rows of corn that towered over her like adults in a queue. She climbed a split rail fence and gazed across fields resembling swells on a mottled green sea. Flapping her arms, she soared past the Gates’ barn, toward a dark line of woods. Crows cawed from a treetop. Swooping down, she emitted the piercing scream that came out at odd times, as if the sound were an unfulfilled wish struggling to escape its imprisonment. Birds scattered in a blizzard of feathers.

A green car speeding along a road reminded her of the painted turtle she found by a pond in the woods. She would follow it over the lawn. The creature never stopped trying to escape, no matter how many times she brought it back to the concrete patio. She loved the dark eyes, the yellow underside, and the slender neck stretching to see the world. But one summer day she took her pet to the pond and let it go.

The road’s black line seemed to go on, jogging every once in a while, forever. A smile crept across her face as she recognized Miss Rockwell’s face in the windshield. All day she would stare at the teacher’s teardrop glasses so that her eyes wouldn’t wander to the wall clock. Janie dropped to the treetops and picked a handful of acorns. Using the calculator in her head—the only part of her mind that didn’t turn to mush in school–she estimated the car’s speed and dropped an acorn. There was a metallic thump. She opened her fist and fled amidst a gratifying clatter. 

If Janie flew far enough, perhaps she would find the nursery where clouds grew up or the place—which must be very nice indeed—they were in such a rush to reach. She rose until her fingers touched the clouds’ cool wetness. They coalesced into gray walls and a computer monitor with arcane words. Corn tassels became dots on her cubicle’s carpet.

A spectacled engineer stood in her doorway, three pens and the spiral wire of a notepad protruding from the breast pocket of his rumpled shirt. “Jane, is there a way to import constraints from modules into a top level design?”

      “Go three rows past the cloud. Sorry, I think I need to bring my brain in for a tune-up. When you save, use import changes only. If you overwrite, you would lose existing constraints…”

Thus Jane’s day went on like any other, except for that brief flight among the clouds.

_

_

Ron Morita studied neurophysiology at UCLA’s Brain Research Institute because so much of what we consider ourselves to be is in the brain. Finding himself unsuited to academia, he earned a Masters in biomedical engineering from Case Western and became an electrical engineer.His fiction appeared in Cigale Literary Magazine and Penduline Literary Magazine and has been accepted by The Chamber Four Literary Magazine, Star 82 Review and Empty Sink Publishing. Ron has four unpublished novels. His website is www.facebook.com/RonMoritaStories

Sherri H Levine – Footbridge

Footbridge

 _

        It was a hot and sticky summer when you called shortly after you left her. You spoke to me as if no time had passed, though it had been years. Over breakfast at the diner, you passed photographs of your son and called her a bitch. She criticized you about your job, your weight, your debt. You told me that she never touched you in the right places, that she just lay there lifeless while you were on top of her. You told her even a prostitute could do better.

  As we walked along the footbridge that night, you reached for my hand. You were so large that I barely reached your chest.

I’m afraid I could jump,” you said gripping the railings.

I didn’t know you were that depressed,” I said.

No, it’s my OCD. It’s okay. This is exposure therapy,” you said staring blankly at the water.

But you’re a psychologist,” I said.

I remember when you used to deliver pizzas, how I tagged along with you to porn shops so you could put nickels in machines in the back. You told me you loved me, but I didn’t, not in that way. Besides, I could never give you a child. When I told you I was going to marry, you said it would never work out.

As we continued to walk along the footbridge, I put my arm in yours.

Just like my mom and I used to do,” you said.

And then, the unthinkable happened: the moon, the Super moon appeared in the horizon. It was big and bright and orange. It was the largest moon I had ever seen. We stood there watching it slowly fade to a pale pink sliver, dropping into the stillness of the river.

_

Sherri H. Levine is from Albany, New York and has lived in Portland for almost 20 years. She loves Oregon, but she misses the beautiful autumn season. She holds a BA in Poetry and an MA in English Literature. She teaches English-as-a-Second Language at Portland State University and Willamette University. She is enamored with the flash fiction genre because it feels like it is a perfect fit for her as a poet.  

Ashleigh Rajala – Coal Dust

Coal Dust

Chapter One

 
Caroline once joked that she got the worst bits of Dad while I got the best. Now I see what I never did when I was alive: Caroline wasn’t talking about genetics at all. She was sitting beside me on the beach then; we were having a holiday up in Whitby, as we always used to. The grains slid through her fingers as she dug through the loose sand hot from the sun to get to the dark, wet
Now that I’m dead can I replay those moments like rewinding a tape or skipping through the scenes on a DVD. Time means nothing: I can see past moments fresh like they’re happening before me. I was just a kid alive: only eighteen. Now that I’m dead I could be eighty. The loss of flawed and biased eyes brings a careful certainty to everything. My concluded life is a butterfly stuck through with a pin: the wings are never flapping again and all I can do is study them.
I watch Caroline at my funeral. She stands side-by-side with Stuart, facing my horde of mourners. Stuart stands on the left, Caroline on the right. They don’t look like family. Which is fine because they’re not. Not really. The only blood they shared was mine. I was a bit of each of them: half Stuart’s mom, half Caroline’s dad. Between them sits a picture of me like the overlap on a Venn diagram, a blend of the two of them. I only notice now how awkwardly they both stand with me between them. They both feel like first drafts, I realise now, with me the final copy. It’s unbelievable, really: their differences. You wouldn’t think you could make a person out of that.

 

 

 

 

 

Ashleigh Rajala divides her time between a variety of poverty-inducing ventures: writing for fun and writing for torture; watching far too many movies and reading far too few books. Previous incarnations include bookseller, bureaucrat, filmmaker, zinester, student, and wayward traveller. Her physical home is Vancouver and her internet home is sandpaperblues.wordpress.com.

Michael Brasier – Like Nothing Ever Happened

Like Nothing Ever Happened

 

Brad had to drop everything to fit her dating schedule. He bandaged his wrist, fought against the needle sharp rain out back, and tossed the first-aid kit in the dumpster. In twenty minutes, Janine would be dropping Sarah off again on a Thursday, a day he normally wouldn’t have her, so she could meet Kyle, and the place had to be spotless, like nothing ever happened.
White hairs had begun to sprout in the midst of his scruff. He didn’t like the reflection he saw in the bathroom mirror. His eyes were sunken, his hair, unkempt. But it wasn’t his appearance that bothered him. He just didn’t recognize the man staring back.
He placed a bible next to the lamp, more a decoration than a set of spiritual guidelines. As his old man used to say, “As long as you live under my roof, you abide by God’s rules.” He sat on his mattress, picked up the razor he cut his wrist with and tossed it in the trash bin. It was the third time in two months, but the scars left behind were barely visible.
His marriage to Janine had given him his only daughter Sarah. His friends and co-workers at St. John’s helped her through the birth, and then helped him through the divorce soon after. Unbeknownst to him, Janine never wanted a child, but claimed to have told him countless times. Why she endured the pregnancy for nine long months was beyond him. Brad opened the sock drawer and uncovered his old wedding ring, holding it as if were a clump of dried mud, susceptible to crumbling.
On the headboard he kept a picture of Sarah from her first day of school. According to Janine, she’d be wearing her new Hello Kitty backpack today and really wanted to show it to him. Janine purchased whatever Sarah wanted, but only if it shut her up long enough to give her and her flavor-of-the-week time alone. His daughter loved showing him her toys. Even though he didn’t have a lot of money, he looked forward to giving her all the attention she deserved.
Pacing through the house, he was reminded how bare bones it was. One bedroom and bathroom, gray walls, a TV, couch, fold-out lawn chair, and Sarah’s duct taped bean bag. Brad worked to survive on his own after Janine won the settlement in the divorce, and she felt such pity for his sudden job loss that she agreed to allow him weekend visits. When Sarah had crawled across his floor for the first time, he realized how rich he actually was. He set out Capri Sun drinks and a bag of cheese curls for her arrival.
Janine’s SUV squealed out front, and his phone buzzed. He answered, and she started with,“I promised Sarah you’d take her to the movies this weekend so you know.” He said, “I can barely afford gas for that piece of shit Pontiac out in the driveway.”

“You have a job,” she said. “You should be saving for these occasions.”

He said, “I don’t have the job I used to.” He almost blamed her for losing his job at the hospital, and now he’d have to let his daughter down. Janine loved playing him for the bad guy.
“Kyle’s taking me to Branson,” she said. “We’ve got reservations at the new bed and breakfast and tickets to the Branson Belle.”
He hung up, and moments later, he heard footsteps pitter-patter on the wet sidewalk. Brad quickly slipped into his a long sleeve shirt and went to the living room.
The screen door swung open, and like nothing ever happened, Sarah was there.