The Angel

It would be silent if it weren’t for the echoing hymns, the lingering seminal cries and the whispered prayers of ghosts. It would be silent if it weren’t for his footsteps.

He acts as if he is making a choice, running his fingers along the cold, unsaved wood, looking left and right. Eventually, he chooses a pew halfway down the middle row and settles in, just like he does every evening.

He forces himself to remember. Wading into the shallows, colder than the cellars of hell, his skeletal fingers stretch, searching. Into the reminiscent void, he cries out for guidance. There is no answer. The tide tugs his overcoat until the woollen fabric is heavier than lead. And with a guttural sigh, he lets go. The tidal wave of memory drags him under. The flood fills his lungs. This is not holy water with which to cleanse. It is holy water with which to drown.

On the stain-glass windows, there are angels, floating over the Virgin in the sombre evening glow. One is different from the rest. Instead of revering the hallowed infant, her eyes glass the boughs of the Church. The man raises his face to meet her gaze.

In the cherubic creature he sees a likeness to himself. He’d cradled a similar likeness once. Held her hand. Tied her shoes. Told her stories. Watched her feathered soul ascend from the petite casket to be captured on the way to paradise. There she stays. A little angel immortalised in the stained-glass.

 


Words by Laura Benney

As well as studying to become an English teacher, Laura Benney has a passion for writing. In between completing assignments and reading voraciously, she is currently working on several projects, including a novella. Her childhood dream was to become an author.

 

Photo by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash

‘Infinity Problem’- By Danielle Kate

there’s an infinity problem.

spherical in it’s physical essence yet it is everyone that has a

bitter longing for superficial happiness, tears glisten like glitter

love me, paint me on a golden pedestal worship me as you fall

in endless pits of misery. continuous misery of human inadequacy but

devote your soul to me and take the distorted reflection into your hands

see the reflection of society burning a hole in your mind. eyes dance around you

from your very own hands and you take the knife of plastic, and mimic the

images of a damaged world. paint over me and create your own masterpiece

of an eternal loneliness of perfect imperfection of loss, of failings, of being flawed.

whisper the hated words as you love me, hate me, try to be me.

spin around down the hole of despair of never being satisfied, always wanting more

never being enough – continuous misery.

plaster me on your walls.

stare up and worship me.

 


Words by Danielle Kate

Danielle Kate is a caffeine-dependent life form who occasionally writes and does art. You can catch more of her @daniellekstafford on Instagram.

Photo by Sid Verma on Unsplash

 

‘Supplanted’- By Lyndal Phillips

Photographer’s assistant, Annabelle Thwaites, had long considered stealing Sebastian and taking him home. But Derrick, her fiancé, was rather territorialand sure to disapprove.

Sebastian was a superstar revered for his ability to bring dead corners to life. The dramatic height and magnificent scale of his sculptural aesthetic photographed well.

Bloggers were besotted by his whimsy and charm. Influencers posted images of his stick-thin trunk. He was the hero of fashion shoots, store fronts, interiors magazines and show rooms.

Until he wasn’t.

His descent from divine to maligned commenced when he topped the So Hot Right Now list in the July edition of New Idea. A celebrity designer described him as ‘funky’ and that, quite frankly, was the finish.

When plastic versions of him were seen sprouting from faux ceramic pots in Target, the buzzkill was complete. Sebastian was doomed to die next to millennial pink throws, pompom pillows and raw hide rugs.

It was at this point that Annabelle was forced to intervene. As the crew wrapped on Sebastian’s final shoot, she commandeered a props trolley. Taking care to accommodate his broad frame, Annabelle lugged Sebastian into the trolley and together they trundled across the cobblestoned laneway behind the studio.

A little detour, via the hatch of her waiting Daihatsu, was all it took for Annabelle to rescue Sebastian from eternal ignominy in the Phine Photography storeroom.

Derrick arrived home that evening to find his view of the television obscured by a smugly ensconced Sebastian. Unimpressed, he issued an ultimatum.

‘Me or the plant?’

‘He’s a fiddle leaf fig, Derrick,’ she said.

‘Well, whatever he is, I hope he’s worth it.’

 


7Lyndal Phillips is an aspiring writer who lives in Melbourne, Australia with her family.

Lyndal posts book reviews on Instagram @lyndalwrites_reads and on her website www.lyndalwrites.com

Photo accompanying story by Manny Pantoja on Unsplash

‘Bob’s Truth’ By Emmica Lore

Bob was a goldfish. He lived in a fancy house with all the fancy trimmings – coloured pebbles, a deep-sea diver blowing bubbles and an ocean view. Bob was happy. Until he was not. Staring into the world beyond had Bob thinking about the meaning of life. Enter existential crisis.

He had always admired pelicans – they were imposing yet graceful (well that might be a stretch) and had the freedom to discover new lands and wistfully watch the creatures below.

It was morning, or maybe afternoon (how the hell would Bob know? He’s a goldfish) when an idea arrived. An epiphany. A light-bulb moment. An irrational thought from inhaling too many oxygen filled bubbles. Are bubbles filled with oxygen? Whatever science, who made you the boss of everything?

It was in that moment that Bob hatched a daring plan.

He was quite a fit-fish and it didn’t take long for him to achieve his goal. Plop! Bob had thrust himself out of the tank and was now lying belly-side on the carpet. He flapped about instinctively.

“Hmmm…well this sucks”.

As his last breath was drawn, the flapping stopped.

Bob’s soul rose from his tiny neon body and floated outside above a sandy shore. He could see a sleeping bird, no, a dead bird. Then, Bob had another epiphany. Wiggling his tail and using all of his fit-fish-soul muscles he drove downwards and into the chest of the stiff creature. Opening his eyes, the world seemed sharper and brighter. The smell of salt filled his nostrils and tickled his tongue.

Bob was now a pelican.

He stretched out his wings, pressed his webbed feet into the sand and savoured his breath as he inhaled real air for the very first time.

Bob flew from the beach to the jetty. From the jetty to the river. He discovered new lands and wistfully watched the creatures below. Bob was happy. Until he was not.

You see Bob was now a pelican and what do pelicans eat? He just couldn’t bring himself to dine on his fishy friends and so eventually Bob died of starvation.

And that is why you should never leave your fish bowl.

Or maybe it’s be happy with who you are?? Yeah, let’s go with that.

 


Words by Emmica Lore.

red skirtEmmica Lore is a creative person. She is a writer, poet and avid op-shopper who also makes art from time to time. Emmica is interested in sustainable style, philosophy, politics, art, feminism, whimsy and nature. You can find her on Instagram @emmicalorecreative

‘Bob’s Truth’ has also appeared on Lore’s website https://www.emmicalore.com/ and was previously featured in an exhibition.

 

Photo by Julieann Ragojo on Unsplash.

‘Dinner Night.’- By Taeghan Buggy

Frida eyed the instant coffee on the counter with distaste. She’d chosen it especially just to make her lover laugh.

‘Eugh, instant coffee? Tastes like death,’ Death would say, and then they would waggle their eyebrows suggestively until both they and Frida broke into giggles that turned into kisses.

But Frida didn’t feel like kissing right now.

It was her mistake, honestly. She should know better than to look at her clients and make an emotional connection with them. Her job was to toss them, mind and soul, into the void and then leave them; their bodies held somewhere between a shout and a sigh. It wasn’t for her to know if they lived, returning from the void with something more or something less to them, or died. But she’d pitied the last one. She’d liked him even. Her payment for that job had been the instant coffee, the only thing she’d wanted from his apartment. He’d been twenty-two and had felt worn at the edges like an old pair of blue jeans.

But clients died, like he had died, and when you were dating Death, inevitable consequences ended up messily personal.

Frida prodded at the pesto pasta she’d made for dinner. The fork was unenthusiastic in her hands. Pasta tubes flopped over each other in the bowl.

Sometimes she hated being able to see in sundersaatum; the hidden wave of colour on the light spectrum. If she couldn’t see the world through that weird twist of dark-light, she wouldn’t have her job. She wouldn’t have this life where she alone could see the connections that anchored minds and souls to bodies and be able manipulate them. She wouldn’t be able to sever those threads.

Then again, if she couldn’t see in sundersaatum then she never would have fallen in love. She’d never have spent her nights tucked up against Death’s sure, steady, self.

Frida didn’t hear the rattle of keys as Death let themselves into the apartment. The clomping of their work boots on the floorboards was, however, unmissable.

‘Evening lover,’ Death said with a smile that faded as soon as they saw Frida’s expression.

‘Hey, Dee.’ Frida tried to summon a smile but couldn’t. She could barely look her lover in the eye.

Today Death looked like a woman in her thirties; short hair and strong hands. They looked like the kind of person who’d do what needed to be done. Death always did what needed to be done. Death tucked a hand into the pocket of their coveralls, shoulders slumping as they said, ‘This is about that soul of yours today.’

‘Not mine,’ Frida refuted immediately. Sure, she’d split them from their earthy cases, tossed them into the void they’d asked for so badly, and then left – but they weren’t her souls. She couldn’t think of them like that. She prodded the pasta again. It was now lukewarm.

‘Frida, you can’t keep doing this.’ Death said, running a hand through their silvery crop of hair in a way that spoke of frustration. It wasn’t the first time Frida had brought it up and guilt spiked in her stomach. ‘We work the wrong jobs to make it personal.’

‘I know, I know, and I’m sorry. It’s just- I pitied him, Dee. I liked him.’ Frida sighed, ‘It’s just… hard sometimes.

Death went very still.

‘But, not too hard, right?’ Death said carefully.

Frida winced immediately, rushing over to take Death’s hands and squeezing them tight. ‘Dee no, of course not, not like that, no.’

She could just kick herself. Death had a fragile history with commitment. Many flirted with them, but not many actually wanted to stick around. Oh sure, Death kept everyone eventually, but they also lost them in the end.

‘It’s just been a hard week,’ Frida confessed. Misery swelled as she said, ‘I found a message from my mother, she doesn’t know why I don’t come to visit for the holidays anymore.’

Her voice trembled, and tears threatened. It was too hard seeing her family and knowing what she knew now.

‘Oh honey,’ Death said, immediately pulling her into a hug. Frida relaxed into it. Death gave the best hugs. It always felt like they’d never let her go no matter what.

Death ran a thumb under Frida’s eyes, gently wiping away the tears.

‘Okay lover, that pasta’s cold and I think we both deserve some comfort food. Why don’t you settle on the couch and go I’ll order takeout, hey? Sound good?’

Frida nodded into Death’s chest and Death tilted her chin up to press a soft kiss to her lips. About to pull back, Frida’s little job-payment caught Death’s eye. A glimmer of dirty humour grew on the corners of their lips.

‘Is that… instant coffee?’ Death’s disgust was betrayed by the smile they couldn’t quite hide as they said, ‘You know it tastes like Death, right?’

 


Words by Taeghan Buggy

tiggyTaeghan Buggy is a writer, a poet, and a performer. Her work tends towards emotional gut punches and dangerous words. Taeghan’s immersion within ‘Arts Culture’ includes the New Wave Audio Theatre project, Flinders’ Speakeasy Creative Readings, and Adelaide’s open-mic poetry scene. You can find Taeghan on Twitter.

‘The End of the Road’- by Cherise Oosthuizen

No one was sorry to see him die, no one except me.

James Horne was the type of guy you had to have a taste for. A peculiar taste. It just so happened that I had just that taste. Or at least that’s what I always thought.

Walking beside the long, sleek coffin the stench of death laid heavy in the air. The narrow row of chairs were sparsely filled, the twenty or so on either side far too generous for the actual attendance. When I thought of death, I always imagined that I would be mourning for the person.

I thought I would be mourning for James.

That wasn’t what happened; I mourned for myself. The heavy weight on my chest was a far denser burden than the casket I held up. It was hard to move, one mechanical step in front of the other, the grass lush and green, the sky open and cloud free.

It felt wrong. The colours were vibrant: the blue and the white. Even the black wasn’t seen as deep or mournful, but as a deep relief of what once was. I knew I was the only one.


Words by Cherise Oosthuizen

Art by Joel Tuckwell

‘Our Nation’s Infrastructure is Crumbling’ by Charlotte Hammond

I was born in a golden age. Progress, prosperity, steel grazing the sky. Because I come from that time, I think, I have immense pride in what I do. I’m no beauty; I’m no masterpiece. But. I’m solid. I’m vast. I have multitudes coursing through me.

That’s not to say it’s been easy. I’ve known hardship, known abuse. Fourteen major hurricanes. Fifty-three blizzards. Unbearable heat, fire, smoke. Exploding glass and metal. Screams. Obscenities. Cigarette butts and beer bottles to the side. And worse.

I’ve known love, too. Or, I’ve contained it. I’ve felt it come, watched it go. Seen a man help a despondent woman to safety. Housed families of birds. Carried people singing to each other at the top of their lungs.

From my place, I can see a tall lady in green. At night she glows. I’ve never seen her face, but I think I might love her. Or maybe I just love that she’s always there, always staring into the distance at something I cannot see.

I woke at dawn to a sharp ache in my middle. Then very intense pain. Part of me fell. No one was hurt, but it caused a serious delay. It lasted hours and hours and then people were furious. That was when I heard the radio of a man in a Chevy Impala. It was me they were talking about. My name, for the first time. The Newark Bay-Hudson Extension Bridge. I’m not surprised I was never popular with a name like that.

After a full night of drilling and grinding, I’m back on again. It’s bitter cold and frost creeps all around me. The pain hasn’t gone away. The part of me that collapsed feels like it won’t ever heal completely.

I used to hope that a golden age would come again. More than for myself, I wanted it for the people I see every day. For the families of birds and the trees and the city and the tall, noble lady. I wanted it for me, too. I wanted to feel new again. I dreamed of a long-lasting spring.

I don’t know how much longer I can stand.

The winter is a busy time and sound, I’ve noticed, carries best when it’s very cold. The air is sharp and the echoes are bold, insistent. I tune out everything else and listen. That sound is me. I’m reverberating music. It’s steady, gentle, connective. The percussion echoes off the water below and creates wonderful rhythm. In this song, briefly, I feel vast.

Multitudinous.

Everlasting.


Words by Charlotte Hammond

Art by Rhianna Carr

JuanitaHong_4Charlotte Hammond is a writer living in New Jersey with her husband and one-eyed cat. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Capra Review, River River and The Blue Hour.

‘Photograph the Soul’ by Jessica Tucker

 

It’s Saturday. We’re with his friends and he feels happy. Because it’s Saturday. He’s had a drink. I’m here. His friends are here. They are competing with each other and then he picks up his phone. I prepare myself.

See. This is…’ I try to tune out. I might crack if I focus on what he is saying. I might yell. Or cry. Or make a comment just a little too sarcastically. So that he picks up on it even though he is drunk. I go as far as feigning disinterest. But it doesn’t work.

Did you see this one?’ He leans closer, our shoulders touching. I am forced to look at the picture. I haven’t seen it. It could be a holiday snap but because it is not I do not know how to respond. I haven’t seen any of them. I resist the urge to say that and so I just say ‘no’. It is safer that way.

I’ve shown you these pictures, haven’t I?’ I shake my head. It is much safer than to speak. Than to say that I haven’t seen any of them. That I kept getting excuses every time I asked. That he would say he had to organise them or find the right time or enough time to explain them all. I want to say that I haven’t seen any and it is his fault and now it has been too long and so I don’t want to see them because I don’t care anymore. But that isn’t true.

But I don’t say any of that.

I thought I had.’ He frowns quizzically as if trying to recall. He can’t recall. Because I am right. ‘I’ll have to show you some time.’ His phone goes away and I know my chances of seeing any other photos go with it.


Words by Jessica Tucker

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Jessica Tucker is a lawyer, a reader and a writer – not always in that order and sometimes all at once. Her legal background, and her interest in crime, psychology, human motivation and politics, inform both her reading choices and her writing.

 

 

 

Artwork by Rhianna Carr. You can find more of Rhianna’s art on Facebook @RhiannaCarrART or on Instagram

‘Moving Earth’ by Riana Kinlough

 

You feel the low thunder of moving earth and remember a blow like a lightning strike on your temple. Light appears as the dirt vanishes. Your bones strain upwards, anxious to meet the sun. Your rebirth is breach. Small hands pause at the unexpected hardness of your ankle. Tenderly, with new purpose, they uncover all the tiny bones of your foot and continue upwards. As they unearth your left femur, you remember with a pang the heavy boots that shattered it. You were a runner once.

Slowly, every inch revealing another small act of violence on your poor body, the Earth lets you go. The hands that freed you belong to a woman. Her skin and clothes are dark with something more than earth. You wonder, only for a moment, what she was burying when she found you.

 


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Words by Riana Kinlough

Riana is an Adelaide-based writer, whose primary interests include murderous women and keeping her cat off the keyboard long enough to write. You can see her work in the CRUSH anthology.

Artwork by Rhianna Carr. You can find more of Rhianna’s art on Facebook @RhiannaCarrART or on Instagram