Unbroken #40: The Hope Museum Is Now Open
Cherie Hunter Day
Ghost Appreciation Day
Ghosts are rarely intrusive unless they have grudges to settle. Then they can be nuisances. No one is sure why they favor dark stairwells or moonlit hallways. They, like the living, must chase this wounded light for a brush with truth. You can ask them directly, but they won’t answer. Words don’t fit in their tiny mouths. Instead, they hide your car keys, blur your image in the bathroom mirror, or wreck your sleep. They prefer shivers to handshakes—far too busy sorting and sifting the shortfall. But when pressed for cause, home is the first thing on everyone’s lips.
Cherie Hunter Day’s work has appeared in Mid-American Review, Moon City Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Rust & Moth, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best Microfiction anthologies. Her most recent collection, A House Meant Only for Summer (Red Moon Press, 2023), features haibun and tanka prose.
Cassandra knew lots of things. She knew how to tie shoes, how to tell different trees from each other, how to spray sunscreen without getting it everywhere. She knew about bugs and fish and long words. She knew history. She knew stories. She knew what her name meant—that she knew everything. At the beginning of June I got a splinter from the cabin wall and she knew it would get infected, so she put some hand sanitizer on a bandaid and wrapped it tight around my thumb. She knew how to check for a fever and a pulse. She would press two fingers to my wrist and count heartbeats because she knew which numbers were good and which numbers were bad, and if the number was bad she knew I had to go to the clinic. She knew what kind of things lived in the lake. She knew it used to be a town they flooded so they could build the dam, but she knew that meant there was bacteria, so she made sure I didn’t go in. She knew how to skip, so we skipped along the beach instead of swimming. Then in July it got really hot, and she knew heat stroke was dangerous, so we just sat in the sand. She put more hand sanitizer on my bandaid and rubbed extra sunscreen into my shoulders because she knew you would get cancer if you didn’t wear sunscreen like Aunt Charity, and Aunt Charity died. She knew what dead things looked like. She knew everything in the world would die, and she knew life was about trying not to die, even if that meant you couldn’t go in the lake with all the other campers, or that you had to wear a bandaid for weeks and weeks and weeks, or that you had to check your pulse and your temperature and you had to pinch your skin to see if you were dehydrated. She knew in the stories, nobody listened to Cassandra, and then look what happened. So I knew I had to believe her.
Cara Goldstone is an enthusiastic poet originally from Nolensville, Tennessee. She is currently studying creative writing and philosophy in Lake Forest, Illinois; much of her work can be found in the literary magazine, Tusitala.
In childhood dreams I’d reach my hand to the fangs knowing only a bite could wake me up. I’d never cared for dolphins, baby blue and slick with girlhood. Or for horses, though I posed on that drugged pony like everyone else. Ectotherm; an animal that must seek heat from outside of itself. I knew from toddlerhood that bare ankles in the naked grass were a provocation. Summer’s end. Sometimes when waking up I’d imagine my pupils slit as playing cards, venomless, but putting on a good show.
Olivia Wolford is a writer from Dallas, Texas. Her work has previously appeared in Four Way Review, Flash Frog, and The Ekphrastic Review. She currently lives and works in Temuco, Chile.
Ten Years Later
A picnic spot not yet cleaned after a party, half a piñata on the ground, candy wrappers blowing in the wind, glitter stuck on the branches—that’s what I see in the cross-section of my breast my doctor studies in the MRI. There’s no lump, but she says an interloper lurks in the web of the milk ducts. Cancer hides there, crawls in the body’s HVAC, and waits to drop down on you. See all those specks floating under the ducts in the tissue? But I see starlight piercing a galaxy. An embryonic star system. They’re castings, proof of cancer. But I see a universe trying to expand. Why interrupt this galactic event in the soft world above my heart? Can’t we both live? The doctors say to choose cancer or yourself. They’ll cut out this deadly universe. They carry my body like a couch into the surgery bay. They find that sneaky tumor, seven centimeters long, a gray-snaked mass nibbling at the chest wall between it and my heart. The day after, I’m called a survivor, a heavy word for living.
Ann Kaye writes poetry, flash narratives, and fiction. She is published in River Teeth's Beautiful Things. An avid hiker, she once lost her heart to a mountain. She can be followed at @AuthorAnn.
On the Importance of Crisis Management
After the tornado took half the town out of town, the mayor asked the remaining citizens to double their production of dreams. Most of the new dreams were about fresh water and electricity. The hunting season for nightmares was also extended, which led to a run on sticky paper. The high-pitched whining of nightmares twitching their final horrors filled the air. Last week, an entrepreneur with a cage of flying dreams thought he could make a fortune but underestimated how thirsty the townspeople were. The mayor resigned and left what was left of the town when he spotted a tornado on the horizon. This whole dream business is going up in smoke, he said. Some people thought he might have mixed metaphors, others groaned at the cliché, but it didn’t matter because hope was going up the drain the closer the tornado got.
Bob Lucky lives in Portugal. He is the author of Ethiopian Time (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014), Conversation Starters in a Language No One Speaks (SurVision Books, 2018), and My Thology: Not Always True But Always Truth (Cyberwit, 2019).