Rider in the storm by Stephanie Dragone

It was a dark and stormy night. Jim hunched up against the rear door of the taxi, his sombre face silhouetted in the gloom. The musty odours of past passengers, stale beer and french fries clung fretfully to his clothes. As a parent, he thought, I have nurtured and loved my children. Yet here I am, lonely, abandoned, returning once again to the house of horrors. Not revenge but death with dignity, he repeated in his head. His arthritic hand clutched the packet of pills in his pocket as the driver pulled up outside The Sunshine Retirement Home.

I remember by Pete Mawhinney

Chatting with the checkout chick as I unload my basket full of groceries, I mention that I only came in for milk. How many times has she heard that? Shit, I didn’t get any milk. Dashing back to the dairy fridge, as always at the bloody back of the stupormarket, I bump into an old flame I haven’t seen in years.
‘Hi Geoff, how’re you?’
Shit, she remembers my name and I’ve got nuthin’. Sometimes I swear my poor memory for names is a form of performance anxiety.
‘Actually, I’m in quite a hurry. Mid-checkout when I realised I’d forgotten the milk. The others behind me in the queue are probably already chilling their death stares. But we should catch up sometime.’
‘Definitely, I’d love to catch up with you. I’m so glad I bumped into you. Give me a call. You’ve still got my number, right?’
I don’t know.
‘Yeah, I think so. Have you got mine?’
‘Nah, I lost my phone and, well, you know the story. But I’m still in the book, do they call it that now that it’s online? You can look me up.’
‘Um, yeah, sure, I’ll do that. I’d better dash.’
‘Okay, but make sure you call me, Geoff.’
‘Yep, sure will.’
What is her name? What is her name? I run the gauntlet of angry shoppers and pay for my groceries. Bottle shop next. Beers for the boys. What was Andy’s favourite? He’s so bloody fussy. Scanning the beer fridge for a prompt. Stella! That’s it; her name is Stella. And we’re drinking Stella tonight. Screw Andy.

Pete Mawhinney intends to blog more frequently at http://www.bookofpete.com 

The Essay by Michelle Sadler

    The leaves have fallen off the trees of knowledge as if the arrival of autumn had long past. They have blown around in winter rains and got stuck haphazardly in the muck. Confusion has imploded and I feel dejected. As I shower my physical form, I contemplate the now clear sky and wish for inspiration.  Just as I become conscious of this line of thought, I visualize the words becoming unstuck and rising, evaporating into the new warm air. I begin to panic. I raise my hands above my head and wiggle my ten fingers in desperation. I’m not sure where this action comes from; it’s as if my ancestral rain dance was a nursery rhyme. I pause. Spring clouds are forming. As they brew they get heavy with words. And all at once it begins to pour. I bang open the shower door.  The raindrops are big and purposeful and descend in straight paths. I run down the stairs, wrapping my hair as I go, while laying out glass pots to catch the rain. I arrive at the waiting screen.  I’ve caught most of it.  I only have to pick up one at a time. I can rearrange them later. The rain slows and drips into specific pots and I collect them too, in due course. Time has sped by or passed in slow motion, I’m not sure which. I’m done though. I can now get dressed.

Michelle Sadler