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Everywhere He Sees Her-Fiction by Oliver Lodge
Vegas Phoenix-Fiction by Steve Prusky
Bad Burger-Fiction by Willie Smith
Death and Forsythia-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Eileen-Fiction by Ray Valent
Eleventh Frame-Fiction by Bruce Harris
Regarding the Destruction...-Fiction by Matthew Lyons
The Next Step-Fiction by Nicholas Manzolillo
What Men Show Whores-Fiction by M. E. Purfield
You Should've Called Me-Fiction by Carol Sojka
At the Zombie Five and Dime-Reprint by Kenneth James Crist
Cassie-Reprint by Frank Zafiro
Nice Life if You Don't Weaken-Reprint by Michelle Reale
Old Aunt Sin-Reprint by Gary Lovisi
Yellow Mama-Reprint by Cindy Rosmus
Bald Baby-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Ruby-Flash Fiction by Liz McAdams
Widow's Might-Flash Fiction by M. C. Neuda
Saturday Night, Sunday Morning-Flash Fiction by Victor Clevenger
Sunday Evening-Flash Fiction by Victor Clevenger
Monday, Around Noontime-Flash Fiction by Victor Clevenger
The Woman on the Train-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
What Have Some of Us Become?-Poem by John D. Robinson
She Knows Something-Poem by John Lunar Richey
Harley Caress-Poem by Joe Balaz
The Unspoken Words-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
A Thunderstorm's Sideshow-Poem by David Spicer
Fruits, Vegetables, and Mindy's Topaz Eyes-Poem by David Spicer
Catherine-Poem by J.J.Campbell
Failures With Past Lovers-Poem by J.J.Campbell
Stomp-Poem by David Mac
Wilt?-Poem by David Mac
Carol of the Bells-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Eden-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Crazy, Crazy-Poem by Marc Carver
Love-Poem by Marc Carver
The Worst Poet in the World-Poem by Marc Carver
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens




by M.C. Neuda



He's afraid now whenever I approach the bed. Sometimes I do nothing. I just lift the bedclothes away, look him all over, rest my finger on some body part, watch his eyes widen and his mouth fall open, twisting his lips around the word “Please.”


Sometimes I go away without doing anything . . . only to come back to watch his head start to shake, the terror creep into his eyes. I can almost see his heart jumping through his ribs.


No one guesses. That's the kicker. After all, everyone knows how devoted a wife I've been, feeding him, sitting and reading to him aloud from a favorite book, and refusing to put him in a nursing home, though there's money enough to do so.


It isn't hard, the torture, either to do or to hide. I tape his mouth closed, for example, before threading his catheter. I take my sweet time and make oh, just an awful mess of the job. Or I twist his arm something short of a spiral fracture. Or simplest of all, I leave a heating pad, a little too hot, a little too long next to a tender spot. Nothing spectacular. Things, if it came to it, I could always blame on the aide. I never worry about that really, because I pay her plenty to look the other way.


Although . . . At the beginning, once, out of the corner of my eye, I saw her pick up his wrist, look at it carefully, then look at me. I took a moment and then turned swiftly and brightly to her and said, “What is it, Nina?”


She didn't know how to broach it, and I continued, “Are you unhappy?  Don't I pay you enough?”


“Oh yes, no no, I'm not unhappy.”


“Good. I wouldn't be happy if you weren't.” I went on, “Don't you have some grocery shopping to do?”


“Yes, right away.” She dropped the wrist and hurried off.


And that was the end of that.


In any case, Nina would have plenty of reason to doubt her suspicions, since friends that come over say to her, pointing at me, “She's a saint, you know that, don't you?” And I demur and shush them quietly. Of course, the more I do that, the more they protest how good I am to him.


Some of them, I know, suspect what happened in the house before he got ill.  I always denied it, because there's nothing worse than friends pitying you. I'd invent plausible excuses for the black eyes where he'd punched them closed or the bruises where he'd slammed my body into the wall or the breaks that occurred when he'd send me flying onto the cement basement floor. “A walking disaster,” he'd say about me in explanation to his friends. Once, when I came to, in the hospital, I wished I hadn't.


How plausible can excuses be, though, when “accidents” keep occurring?  Of course, my friends suspected, how could they not? 


Which made them think the more that I was a saint—or maybe just a sap—when I insisted on keeping him at home after, ironically, his real accident.  It never occurred to them that I might want him right where I could do the same to him.


The thing is, I understand it now, the pleasure in seeing the pain. Yes, I do.  Oh yes, I do.


And yet . . . I've come to the point of diminishing returns. Too much work for the satisfaction and, hard to believe, I’m tiring of the thrill. Maybe I could arrange for him to fall and hit his head and end it all for him.


It dawns on me then how maybe that last “accident” he was trying to arrange when I dropped to my knees out of sheer desperation and he fell over me down the stairs, breaking his neck and paralyzing his body, wasn't in truth supposed to end it all for me.   


M.C. Neuda explores the darker side of the human comedy in short story form, whatever the length or genre. Stories have been published online by, among others, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Press, and Near to the Knuckle, and in print by Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, and Crimespree.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017