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Why All The Jellyfish Are Dead

Taylor Petty

© Copyright 2018 by Taylor Petty


Photo of a jellyfish on the beach.

It was the Christmas I was 18 and I had never seen a real-life jellyfish before.

My grandparents bought a week’s worth of beach for the seven days surrounding Christmas each year. It was their gift to the rest of us, the adults at least; instead of spending one morning exchanging presents, we all drove down to the ocean and stayed in the same enormous house. The morning of the 25th, it was tradition for the grown-ups to sip mimosas while my siblings and I made out like bandits with our piles of new clothes and decadent gifts, grinning like loons all the while. I could scarcely remember a single Christmas not spent in a stranger’s home while we, together, watched the tides rise and fall, snuggled close under downy blankets. . . .


The Day the World (Almost) Ended

Nancy Loera

© Copyright 2018 by Nancy Loera

Photo of one of Nancy's grandchildren.


Just the sound of that word sends an ugly tingling up and down my spine and causes my chest to feel as if someone is squeezing the life out of me. My heart rate triples and sweat appears on my forehead. It is something no one likes to think about or have it enter into their life. You feel sympathy towards the unknown families of the dearly departed you read about in the newspaper or hear about on the news. But secretly most of us are glad it was those lives it touched and not ours. . . .

War and Peace in the Dentist's Office

Lynette Benton

© Copyright 2018 by Lynette Benton

Photo of Lynette and her teeth.

This is a true tale of my encounter with a merciless dental hygienist. But I’m happy to report that my story turns out well in the end.

Rosalie, the dental hygienist who had cleaned my teeth since I turned fifty—the beginning of my personal Periodontal Age—directed me to rinse. Then she announced she would be leaving Boston for San Francisco to set herself up as a massage therapist, a profession in which her pierced belly button would certainly be an asset. I inwardly cursed her for abandoning me to face heaven only knew what sadist who might replace her. . . .

Life Lessons

Kuti Olutomilayo

© Copyright 2018 by Kuti Olutomilayo

Photo of Kuti.

If there is one thing I’ve learnt in all the sixteen years I have been alive, it is that life is a gift. Every day we breathe, we walk; we talk and don’t think twice about how we do these things, that is, until it’s all taken away. Here I am in a hospital, listening to the beep of the machine keeping me alive, feeling the pain of the tube down my nostrils helping me breathe and wishing I could just stand up and walk. I’m on the thin line between life and death and only now that I might lose my life, have I realized how precious every second is. . . .

A Special Pilgrimage

Tony Delvin

© Copyright 2018 by Tony Delvin


Photo of the Sea of Galilee.

This is the account, in diary format, of a pilgrimage to what we Irish Catholics call the Holy Land. It was something that my wife Mairéad and I had aspired to for many years.  But busy lives, family commitments and the pressing need to continue to put bread on the table had impeded us until, finally, in our 60th year, we managed to do it. . . .


A Puppy on Steroids

B. K. Stubblefield


© Copyright 2018 byB. K. Stubblefield


Photo of Harper as a puppy.

This story was inspired by my dog, Harper. My husband and I adopted him as a ten-week-old puppy. On this day we didn’t know that our lives were about to be turned upside-down. He was a puppy on steroids.

 Harper challenged everything we knew about dogs. He wasn’t our first dog, but he was the one who made the most significant impact. Harper was the reason I began writing, and he continuous to inspire me. . . .



James Salt

© Copyright 2018 by James Salt


Photo of a path in the woods.

A couple words on heartbreak from the perspective of a boy who knows the meaning of losing everything important.

I was at a close friend’s theater performance a couple weeks ago. I was watching the cast and crew moving props after the show when I saw the lead of the play and realized that she looked like my ex. From the audience, she had just appeared to be any other Asian girl. Up close, the resemblance was slight, but there. A profound, deep-rooted horror shot through me, a mixture of trepidation and primordial infatuation that I wish had died. I managed to mask my surprise when she introduced herself to me, and throughout the cast dinner I stared at her eyes and tried to identify what exactly it was that reminded me of her. I never figured it out, and left the Denny’s feeling unsettled and disconcerted. . . .

One Life, Cherish It

Danielle Chioma Irechukwu

© Copyright 2018 by Danielle Chioma Irechukwu

Photo of Danielle.

I have one thing, I can’t get another and I have no other choice but to make the best out of it or else I would have to bear the fact that I made the worst decisions till I take my last breath. Before any story begins, there has to be an introduction. This is my introduction. I go by the name Danielle Chioma Irechukwu. I am thirteen years old and I’m a native of Igbo land, a major tribe in my country, Nigeria, which can be spotted in West Africa. . . .


The Leaving Playlist

James Costigan

© Copyright 2018 by James Costigan

Photo of California wild fire.

This piece is about my experience evacuating during this past year's historic fires in Southern California. During one of the most memorable weeks of my life, I learned about how lucky I am to be alive and surrounded by loved ones.

Led Zeppelin fills the air like smoke. Heads bob, and boys form a pack on the back stair of the dormitory, an ebb and flow of bodies like an ever-changing herd of wildebeest. Study hall is over—this Monday it has lasted all of a few minutes.

Do they know?” someone asks. “Should we tell them?”

They sent an email,” another boy interjects. “They said keep studying and go back to your rooms.”

Heads nod. I turn up the volume on the music. Later we’ll know whether or not school will be cancelled tomorrow. Either we’ll have to evacuate, or we’ll have to do our homework. No matter what it’s going to be a late night. . . .


First Come The Bananas

Anker Fanoe

© Copyright 2018 by Anker Fanoe

Photo of check out line in grocery store.

A tale chronicling the average experience of a customer service employee. 

First come the bananas.

The yellow rack of fruit moves slowly down the belt, undeterred by the overhead loop of Toto’s Africa. Bruised, soft and mushy: clearly, last choice on the shelf. Behind it follows a large navel orange, and behind the navel orange an avocado.

94237. 94012. 4225. Real rookie stuff. I punch in the codes.

Next up, common grocery. Canned tuna. Chocolate chip cookies. Condoms. Easily scannable but boring. . . .


Pills Don't Cure No Depression, Honey

Sebenele Shongwe

© Copyright 2018 by Sebenele Shongwe

Photo of a hand full of pills.

Have you ever woken up to a deep pain in your heart, like you dreamt somebody had plunged a dagger through your chest and actually woke up with that feeling, but you actually had no scars? That is what I would personally describe depression as. It is a physical feeling, for your own information, cutting deep through every sensory nerve in the body, making you feel like crap every day. . . .

Crossing an Ocean of Dreams

Gayathri Santhosh

© Copyright 2018 by Gayathri Santhosh


Photo of a space shuttle launch.

This is an account of how a 15-year-old came to understand the truth behind Gustave Flaubert’s wise words, “Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” In a way, traveling teaches you a lot more than that.

 Either it’s a dream, or something terribly wrong is going to happen during this short twenty-minute journey to the airport. After all, HOW IN THE WORLD am I going there alone? I am fifteen, I have never been away from my family, yet, here I am. Alone (not exactly). That can't be happening. Either a dream, or an obstacle is going to cut short our trip.” . . .


The Road Less Travelled

Sarah Ann Hall

© Copyright 2018 by Sarah Ann Hall


Photo of rusted out truck at Lightning Ridge.

When I travel I like to see the recommended sites, but enjoy more the hidden treasures – the restaurants where the locals eat, nature in all her beauty hidden just out of reach.   

My first holiday in ten years was a trip to see my recently emigrated brother. He met an Aussie girl at the Glastonbury Festival. They lived together in London for a few years until she had a hankering to go home. My husband and I sent them off with love and a book of favourite recipes collected from all living family members. They’d been in Victoria for a year before we headed to colonial Melbourne for family reunion and introductions to the in-laws. . . .


The Heart of a Small Mom

Mai Quach

© Copyright 2018 by Mai Quach

Photo of a vietnamese woman cooking.

My name is Mai Quach. I'm from Vietnam. I have lived here for more than 3 years. Right now, I'm a college student with Dental Hygiene major. My friend introduces me to this contest because she thinks my mom is quite unique. That's why I want to share my own story about my small mom's life when she was in Vietnam. We are from a small country that we wish we can start a new life here even though we're just small people. Hope to win this contest to let everybody know what kind of small mom's thought about her simple life and her future. . . .



Siddiqa Magar

© Copyright 2018 by Siddiqa Magar

Photo of Siddiqa's family.
As usual, that day I was having a moment with myself in the drizzling windy monsoon evening on my farmhouse terrace.

After a prolonged session of self-introspection ; I was feeling very sad and depressed of things that I was not able to achieve in life. Although I knew this would not carry on with a stubborn and lazy person like me for a long time but l don’t know l was just not able to get rid of the ‘loser’ feeling that day. . . .

Our School Inter-Houe Drama Competition

Nuthara Karunarathna

© Copyright 2018 by
Nuthara Karunarathna

Photo of a school play in Sri Lanka.

This is an account of something in my life that seemed simple, but made me feel alive.

I went to the auditions because I was tired of being a nerd.

Tired of being alienated from everybody else when the exam results came and pushed away from their last-minute studying because I was, apparently, too smart… so smart I would never belong with other kids.

Would they believe it if I told them that the feeling of belonging was all I ever wanted? . . .


Cricket's Chateau

Crystal D. Reynolds

© Copyright 2018 by Crystal D. Reynolds

Photo of Cricket.

Dedicated to my precious sister, Carla D. Price and her precious little friend, Cricket.

Aaahhhh, the home. It’s a haven away from the outside world, be it 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. (The White House) for four years or a country cottage for a lifetime. Home is “where the heart is,” our “sanctuary,” where we can lock ourselves in and everyone else out. Where else can we lounge in pajamas, watch TV, and eat cold pizza for breakfast? Where else but home, that special place that reminds us of Mom’s home-cooking in winter and catching fireflies on summer nights. Yes, “a man’s home is his castle.”

Unless of course, he lives with Cricket. . . .

Child Abuse is a Curse

Musarrat Zaidi

© Copyright 2018 by Musarrat Zaidi

Photo of a crying girl.

Child abuse is a curse, a slap on the face of humanity. If parents or care giver hurt a child physically or mentally they make him or her upset/psychic.

The brutal and inhuman acts of beating, pushing, taunting, kicking, striking, shouting, slapping or any other brutal way, like pushing hair, keeping hungry, ignoring, calling with bad names etc. are all different forms of child abuse. . . .

The Poop Diaries

Abby Ross

© Copyright 2018 by Abby Ross

Photo of a plumber working on a toilet.

On a chilly, Wednesday evening, I clogged our toilet. Refusing to wait until the morning to fix it, my husband called a plumber. Around 9 o'clock p.m., Jon showed up at our door. He was the chattiest plumber I had ever met. After unclogging the toilet, which took about fifteen minutes, he stood in our kitchen chatting away about anything and everything. Instead of pushing him out, I embraced his extroverted personality, and asked him the top five craziest things he had seen while on plumbing calls. What came out of his mouth was hilarious. The stories were so funny, I knew I had to write a book about him. And that's how "The Poop Diaries" came to be. . . .


The True Story of Me and Rambo, Headman of the Sphynx

Paul Waddington

© Copyright 2018 by Paul Waddington


Photo of Paul inside a pyramid.

"Rambo: Headman of The Sphynx." Who is he? Can you even believe that such a man exists? Is he a secret Hollywood style solider of fortune, a guardian of one of the true Wonders of the Ancient World or what is he?

Yes he does exist and his and my encounter will unfold for you below. With a  tale of the maelstrom of madness and danger that is Cairo, thrown in, it will take you from the tombs of the pyramids, to taxi journeys to which the phrase' A Magical Mystery Tour' is an utter understatement. Find out how I escaped from being locked in a room next to the Sphynx with Rambo, and how you may think twice if you ever order a Pepsi in the shadow of the Pyramids...."

Yes this is a true story. It happened. It happened to me. Read it and believe it. It will take a minute or two of your time. It is a story now ready to be told. It is a story that involves the dark Tomb inside the giant Pyramid of Khufu and its hidden mysteries. It is story about the Sphynx, a story about being held against my will by a monster calling himself “Rambo Headman of the Sphynx”, (yes you may laugh) a man whose name you would think was a joke….until you met him; and why hiring a Hertz taxi in Cairo might not be the best idea. It is a day that will not be forgotten. . . .

Dumb Idea

Paula Drake

© Copyright 2018 by Paula Drake


Photo of a hay loft.

This is a true story. Jackie and I are now seniors, but often laugh and shudder at what we did when thirteen.                                    
Jackie, dive behind the hedge, now!” I yelled plunging right behind her into the mud.  At about 3:00 a.m. sailors in a car were circling the empty four lane street yelling out the windows at us. . . .


I Believe In Santa

Lorrie Wolfe

© Copyright 2018 by Lorrie Wolfe

Photo of Steve Wolfe as Santa.

I’m past sixty. I'm Jewish. But I still believe in Santa Claus. He is my husband. Really.

For the past decade, my husband, who is not Jewish, has been Santa at the center of what has become the quintessential symbol of American Christmas — the shopping mall. He is there for more than simply raising money for the mall. This is a job he undertakes seriously, although his demeanor is light. He knows that he is responsible for delivering the loving, accepting, kind heart of Christmas to both children and their parents. . . .


The Christmas Box

Lorrie Wolfe

© Copyright 2018 by Lorrie Wolfe

Photo of a grey Christmas box.

As far back as I can remember, every year in mid-December, my father received a mysterious, special package. Back then, in the late 1950’s, any kind of package would have been noticeable because our mail consisted of a stack of window envelopes and his magazines – Architectural Digest, Modern Photography, Audiophile, and Time — with only the last being shared territory with my mother.

Boxes were an altogether different story. We weren’t the kind of family who ordered things from catalogs. There was no box-of-the month club. Presents, if they came in boxes at all, were generally bought on deep sale and placed in a box that had previously held something completely unrelated, so that you had the dubious pleasure of unwrapping gift wrap (also previously used and carefully ironed) and then wondering what possibly might emerge from your brother’s sneaker box, or the one labeled “Quantity 6,200 ml” addressed to the nearby pharmacy. . . .


Healthy Living Is The Longer Living

Musarrat Zaidi

© Copyright 2018 by Musarrat Zaidi


Healthy living is simple, managed, planned and acknowledged living. One must have knowledge of ways and means of living healthy. Life should be disciplined; there should be a schedule of all works from rising early in the morning, leaving home to go to work or college, come back, rest, house hold chores, evening walk or exercise, etc. up to going to bed. In this way you will save your time and energy, will feel relaxed, healthy and more productive. . . .

More. . .

Lost Voice

Angali Dangwal

© Copyright 2018 by Angali Dangwal

Photo of a thistle blossom.  (c) 1999 by Richard Loller.

I heard You, I know what you are going to say . Nothing , nothing happened it’s alright , you can handle it and you are strong . I hate that word it changes the sense of my pain , I too have feeling when they are crushed I bleed . do you know how it feels when you are treated like a kind a monster when you are just a human . being ignored , no one listen and your voice is lost and when someone push you just cry or sometimes end up faded and then completely gone. Everyone humiliate you in every possible way . . . .


Mukachevo on $5,000 a Day

Howard Englander

© Copyright 2018 by Howard Englander


Photo of a rusted train car.

 Thinking about the travel experience two decades hence I marvel at the positive reviews of tourism in the Ukraine found in Trip Advisor and similar travel sites… when I visited the country a working toilet was a technological marvel.

Old Hungarian Joke: An old man is being interviewed. He tells the journalist that he was born a Hungarian; then he became Austrian, then German, then Russian. "How lucky you are to have traveled so much," says his interviewer. "I never left my village," the old man replies. . . .


Bailey and I

Karen Whitney Maturure

© Copyright 2018 by Karen Whitney Maturure

Montage of Karen, Bailey, and Kyle.

Bailey came a few days after I got pregnant and a few days before I knew it. Tiny little black thing. I fell in love with her instantly. She was about just two weeks old or so and could hardly open her eyes or walk. She fit into the palm of my hand perfectly and lay there in a bundle. This was the first puppy to ever come to the house. I was thrilled. I knew an exciting journey had just begun.

The first night she was to sleep in a box in the dinning room and would soon be sleeping outside in a small shed I'd been told. However as soon as everyone was asleep I sneaked her into my bed. Poor thing had been crying for her mother. This was the beginning of many more nights of sharing the bed. I didn't know it at the time but the times she woke me up in the middle of the night for her potty time were a training for a future routine. And so was the cleaning after her as she popped in all corners of the house, the feeding and all the care. . . .

Passion Ignites Our Purpose

Florie Barry


© Copyright 2018 by Florie Barry


Painting of Richard Anderson.

I need to see my daughter,” a grieving mother said to Josh on the phone.  She was crying.”  The Medical Examiner won’t let me see her.”  My son Josh is a funeral director.  He learned that the woman’s daughter, Ava, had been a victim of a violent death. He comforted the mother and promised to speak with the Examiner, and doing his best to help her.

 The Medical Examiner said, “It’s one of the worst cases I have ever seen. We can’t let her see her child this way.”  Josh agreed it was very bad.  Her ex-boyfriend stabbed this beautiful young woman multiple times in the face.  “I don’t care how awful she looks,” the woman had told Josh. “I need to see my daughter one last time.”   It was important to Josh that Ava’s mother finds closure, and keep her beautiful memories of her daughter. “I can do this!’ Josh told the Examiner. “Ava will be as beautiful as she was.”. . .


I Had a Home on a Branch of a Tree

Shweta Dubey


© Copyright 2018 by Shweta Dubey


Painting of an old tree.

Childhood has always been that dizziness for me, which I forgot to feel while I was small. And now, all I could do is to reminisce it into these words. I thank God for a good memory which lets me stare in the past. It only takes a moment to get lost somewhere out there and it feels good. So at times, in the middle of a weary schedule, when the present glares at me with heap of work and responsibilities, I stare at her, falling in awe.

One of those memories took me back to my grandpa's home. Which is surely mine too. A summer morning, when the sun is at its zenith, she comes running to the swirling sound of the peepal tree. A well grown peepal standing like the hand of the King in front of this huge Mansion. The water of the well was always cold since sun never got the opportunity to smile at it. And the spaces outside the Mansion was always soothing and cold enough for us to play even in the hottest noons. . . .


The Sparrows' Nest

Jesus Deytiquez

© Copyright 2018 by Jesus Deytiquez


Photo of entrance to man-made cave under the old church.

This is a story about how I met the sparrows and their nest, and how I learned and remembered several precious lessons of life from them.

Every writer has a favorite spot: a place to write his or her stories, poems, or articles; a place where he or she somehow can gather more inspiration, or where words seem to just flow out of his or her being. My favorite writing place is the old and unused kitchen table where I can see the lonely street, the trees, the vast rice fields, the tall transmission towers, and even the far away clumps of trees and blue mountain ranges covering the horizon.

The large and brown wooden table covered with tempered glass where I write is cluttered with many books, papers, pencils, and other curious stuffs. My mother always tries to bring order and cleanliness to my workplace, but after she cleaned it, the prior chaos will just return hastily no matter how hard I try to avoid bringing it back. But that table is my nest, and many eggs of thought and imagination was incubated and hatched there. . . .


Political Correctness
Has its Time Come – and Gone?


Judith Nakken 


© Copyright 2018 by Judith Nakken     


Drawing of a PC road sign.

Washington, D.C. in 1951: My dad slapped my face when I answered a classmate’s question – who was the Mary we mentioned? “She’s our colored elevator operator,” had been my reply. “Negro” was the proper description, he yelled. The Black Power era arrived a generation later, and I didn’t have much trouble switching the racial description, should I have to use it, to Black with a capital B .. although I grumbled that I didn’t get a capital C or W for being white. But I drew the line when again the switch was made to African-American, especially for those who are born here, and continue to do so. Am I a Danish-Welsh-Pennsylvania Dutch –dash – American? Should an editor recently have declined a story she really wanted to buy, because I wouldn’t change my ‘Negro’ to African-American, describing a crowd of teenagers in Harlem in the late 50’s. “I’m so sorry,” she said, “but the magazine has to remain politically correct.” Correct? I’ll bet my bottom dollar not a one of those 1958 kids knew they were African-Americans, because the PC Police hadn’t yet informed them. . . .

The Road to a Safer Future

Eesha Zainab

© Copyright 2018 by Eesha Zainab

Photo of refugees.
I sat in the corner with my little sister, surrounded by the cries of hundreds of children as they begged for their mothers. I sat quietly, still stunned by what happened last night. The more I thought about it, the stronger my hatred grew for the world.

It had been about 8:00 pm, our usual bedtime. But Daddy persuaded Momma to let us stay up while he read to us. Sitting on an old stool while drinking tea, he told us stories which took us away from this nightmarish place, away to a land of peace and happiness. I remember Daddy teasing Momma, making her laugh and forget that she was supposed to be scolding us for sleeping too late. At that moment, I felt that we would be okay, in this desolate, hopeless world full of terror and blood and cries of anguish as bombs fell everyday on parts of Syria and Iran from the past 5 years, each day hoping that they would take mercy on us. But this moment of happiness was not to last.

Daddy’s story was interrupted by the wailing of the sirens, signaling another air attack. I saw naked fear in my parents’ eyes, whose faces grew pale. Trying to be brave, Daddy told us to grab our emergency packs which Momma had made for us year ago. In 5 minutes, we were standing outside the house, shivering in the cold. Daddy did not join us but Momma assured us that he would join us later. . . .


Air Supply

Kristin Owens

© Copyright 2018 by Kristin Owens


Photo of Colorado scenery.

I am originally from New York, so camping causes me great anxiety... air mattresses, moose, and mess-kits, oh my! I contend mankind has not evolved enough to revert back to living outdoors. But since living in Colorado (and with practice,) I now enjoy the peacefulness and solitude of nature. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to upgrade to a yurt and invite good friends along. This essay describes my journey and the hiccups along the way.
After five mind-numbing hours at Sierra Trading Post and REI, my husband and I acquired all the necessary gear scribbled on the list. I had no idea the cost of roughing-it equated to purchasing a small Mazda. Three different water filters, assorted weightless pots and pans, flashlights of every shape and size… the pile of equipment was astonishing. We owned tools for any plausible emergency. No, it wasn’t for an expedition to Nepal, but for a brief stint in the Colorado woods. Surprisingly, as the cashier totaled our wares and tried to locate larger shopping bags, I was calm. . . .

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