Alice Benson lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin, with her partner and their dog, Max. Alice recently retired from a job in the human service field; previously she spent over thirteen years working with a domestic violence program. Her short stories have appeared in Delta Women Ezine, Annalemma.net, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Epiphany, Scrutiny Literary Journal, The Gateway Review, and Shooter Literary Journal. Alice’s first novel, Her Life is Showing, set in a domestic violence shelter, was published in January, 2014, by Black Rose Writing.
Rachel Squires Bloom writes and teaches in Quincy, Massachusetts. Her work appears in educational journals, literary magazines and anthologies including Hawaii Review, Poet Lore, Fugue, Poetry East, The Main Street Rag, Kimera, Nomad’s Choir, The Mad Poet’s Review, Bluster, 96 Inc., Bellowing Ark, Slugfest, Thin Air, Taproot Literary Review, True Romance, Lucid Stone, Green Hills Literary Lantern, California Quarterly, Chest, Slipstream and A View from the Bed.
Katarina Boudreaux is a writer, musician, composer, tango dancer, and teacher—a shaper of word, sound, and mind. She returned to New Orleans after circuitous journeying. New work is forthcoming in concis, of/with, and YAY!LA.
Andrew Bourelle’s fiction has been published widely in a variety of literary journals. His fiction has appeared in other Main Street Rag anthologies, including Aftermath and Crossing Lines. His story “Cowboy Justice,” originally published in Law and Disorder from Main Street Rag, was reprinted in The Best American Mystery Stories 2015.
Bria Burton’s speculative fiction has appeared in over a dozen anthologies and magazines, such as Broken Worlds, Welcome to the Future, The Colored Lens, the Journey Into… podcast, and the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine. She’s had two manuscripts, Sprinter and Livinity, win awards from Place Royal Palm Literary Award and a novella, Little Angel Helper, was a finalist. While she writes, her dog and cat do their best to distract her, which is why they star in her family-friendly short story collection, Lance & Ringo Tails. She is an active member of the Florida Writers Association and serves as a board member leads the St. Pete Writers Group (a critique group). She’s employed as a blogger and customer service manager at St. Pete Running Company.
Maia Cornish is a British writer and photographer from Cornwall who has travelled the world, collecting tales about the people she has met and the lives they live. She writes short stories, prose poems and flash fiction that give snapshots of what she has learned about the struggles that individuals encounter in the societies in which they live. She is a regular contributor to Flash Flood events and her poems, photos and stories have appeared in print and in exhibitions across UK for over 20 years.
Maril Crabtree grew up in Memphis and New Orleans but calls the Midwest home. Her most recent chapbook is Tying the Light (Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in journals including Kalliope, I-70 Review, The DMQ Review, The Main Street Rag, Persimmon Tree, Third Wednesday, and 2014 Poet’s Market. She previously served as poetry editor for Kansas City Voices.
James Dorr’s The Tears of Isis was a 2014 Bram Stoker Award® nominee for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection. Other books include Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance, Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret and his all-poetry Vamps (A Retrospective). An Active Member of HWA, SFWA, and the Science Fiction Poetry Association with nearly 400 individual appearances from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine to Yellow Bat Review.
Susan Eisenberg—poet, visual artist, and licensed electrician—is author of the poetry collections, Perpetual Care, Blind Spot, and Pioneering, and the nonfiction NYT Notable Book, We’ll Call You If We Need You. Introduced to the craft of poetry by Denise Levertov, her essay about that mentorship is forthcoming in Denise Levertov, In Company. Her poems were recently published or are forthcoming in Virginia Quarterly Review, The Progressive, Nimrod, Labor, and numerous anthologies, including American Working-Class Literature. Currently a Resident Artist/Scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center, she has been selected as the 2016-2017 Twink Frey Visiting Social Activist at the University of Michigan.
Mike Evis lives just outside Oxford, England, and worked in the software industry, but has always had a love of writing stories. In addition to writing, he is also a keen reader of modern literature, science fiction, fantasy, and crime, and likes indie rock music, cinema, theatre, plus spending far too much time browsing in second hand bookshops so he can clutter his overflowing bookshelves even more. He escapes from books by going walking in the Oxfordshire countryside. A keen member of a local writers’ group, he has previously had a story appear in a Halloween anthology, When The House Whispers.
Maureen Tolman Flannery is the author of eight books of poetry, including Tunnel into Morning, Destiny Whispers to the Beloved, and Ancestors in the Landscape Her latest book, Navigating by Expectant Stars, is a poetic response to the discovery of her parents’ wartime love letters. Maureen is a Wyoming sheep rancher’s daughter who lives in Chicago where she is an English teacher, wood carver and home funeral guide. More than five hundred of her poems have been published in anthologies, journals, literary reviews, and on-line publications including North American Review, Xavier Review, BorderSenses, Wisconsin Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, Calyx, Pedestal, Atlanta Review and Comstock Review among others.
Gail Gilliland’s stories and poems have appeared in a number of journals. She’s the author of a poetics, Being A Minor Writer (University of Iowa Press) and of a miscellaneous story collection, The Demon of Longing (Carnegie Mellon University Press Series in Short Fiction).
Kathie Giorgio’s fifth and sixth books, a collection called Oddities & Endings; The Collected Stories of Kathie Giorgio, and a poetry chapbook, True Light Falls In Many Forms, were released in June 2016 by the Main Street Rag. Other books include three novels, The Home For Wayward Clocks (2011), Learning To Tell (A Life)Time (2013), and Rise From The River (2015), and a story collection, Enlarged Hearts (2012), all published by MSR. Her stories and poems have appeared widely in anthologies and magazines, including Prairie Schooner, Harpur Palate, Fiction International, and the Chariton Review. She is the director/founder of AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop, an international creative writing studio.
Joseph Grant’s short stories have been published in over 293 literary reviews. He is a writer for Huffington Post. A short story collection, Mexicali Blues, was recently published. Mr. Grant has just signed a book contract with the publisher to print his second short story collection. He also has two boxing novels published by Fight Card Productions. A collection of his short stories is also being published in Europe this year.
Gwen Hart teaches writing at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. Her second poetry collection, The Empress of Kisses, won the 2015 X.J. Kennedy Award from Texas Review Press and will be published in 2016. Her previous poetry collection, Lost and Found (David Robert Books), is available on amazon.com. Her poems and stories have appeared recently in journals and anthologies such as Amethyst and Agate: Poems of Lake Superior (Holy Cow! Press), Heater, and Eclectically Vegas, Baby! (Inklings Publishing).
Terresa Cooper Haskew writes poetry and short fiction from her retirement home on Lake Murray, near Prosperity, SC. Her poems and sometimes strange stories have appeared in journals such as Atlanta Review, Cold Mountain, Iodine, Kakalak and The Main Street Rag. She was awarded the Poetry Society of South Carolina’s 2015 Starkey Flythe Award, the Emrys Journal 2013 Nancy Dew Taylor Poetry Award and the Press 53 2010 First Prize for Poetry. Her poetry chapbook, Breaking Commandments, was published by Main Street Rag in 2015.
Dolores Hayden’s poetry collections are American Yard (2004) and Nymph, Dun, and Spinner (2010). Recent work has appeared in Poetry, Shenandoah, Raritan, Best American Poetry, Ecotone, and Yale Review, as well as Main Street Rag’s anthology, Voices from the Porch. She’s been a poetry fellow at Djerassi and VCCA and received awards from the Poetry Society of America and the New England Poetry Club. She’s also the author of non-fiction about the landscape, including A Field Guide to Sprawl and Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth.
Thomas Hines, a retired professor of Comparative Literature, taught literature at universities in Ohio, North Carolina and Greece. He has published four books of poetry; the most recent is Deux Fois (2012) with 35 paintings by Angelaurelio Soldi. He now lives in Fuquay-Varina, NC.Susan Martell Huebner writes across genres and shares her work in a wonderful community of writers in Waukesha, WI. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies, journals and online publications. She has signed a contract for publication of her first novel and is busily finishing her second.
Michaeleen Kelly is a philosophy professor, pianist and performance poet in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She has won the Dyer-Ives poetry contest twice and has published in Right Hand Pointing, Blue Collar Review, and Melancholy Hyperbole. She has just completed her second poetry-instrumental CD, “Same Ol’ New Beginnings.”
Jordan Legg is originally from Oshawa, Ontario. He holds a degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Windsor and has been published in several print short fiction anthologies, and online at Nebula Rift, Strong Verse, Allegory eZine, and On The Premises. When not writing he enjoys drawing, soccer, reading, cycling, and maintaining his beard.
Raymond Luczak is the author and editor of 18 books. Latest titles include The Kiss of Walt Whitman Still on My Lips and QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology. His poetry has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Marjorie Maddox has published 9 collections of poetry—including Local News from Someplace Else—2 children’s books with 6 forthcoming, and over 450 stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. True, False, None of the Above (Poiema Poetry Series) and What She Was Saying (short stories, Lamar University Press) are forthcoming. A Sage Graduate Fellow of Cornell University (MFA) and recipient of numerous awards, she also is co-editor of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania.
B.L. McIlvain is a Yin yoga specialist and a Reiki practitioner. Her short story, “Military Man,” appeared in Colere Literary Journal and her articles have appeared in Yogi Times. She is a member of SCBWI and a charter member of the Yale Summer Writer’s Conference. She has had the honor of studying with Rafi Zabor, John Crowley, Kirsten Bakis and Kathie Georgio of All Writer’s Workplace and Workshop. B.L. McIlvain lives in Bucks County, PA.
Colleen McKinney lives in rural Minnesota, exactly 65 miles north of Minneapolis. She has loved words since the moment she started to talk, and has devoured books since the moment she learned to read. She is currently working on a memoir describing her experiences as the owner and operator of a small-market radio station in East Central Minnesota.
Todd Mercer is the Poetry Editor of The Legendary. Mercer won the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts Flash Fiction Award for 2015 and was runner-up in the Palm Beach Plein Air Poetry Awards. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Mercer’s poetry and fiction appear in journals such as: Apocrypha & Abstractions, Bartleby Snopes, Cheap Pop, Dunes Review, Gravel, The Lake, Midwestern Gothic, and Spartan.
W.P. Osborn’s Seven Tales and Seven Stories won the 2013 Unboxed Books Fiction Prize, judged by Francine Prose. He has short fiction in journals such as Mississippi Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Cream City Review, and Gettysburg Review and poetry in Hotel Amerika and Pinyon Review. He is a professor of English at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, where he teaches Shakespeare and other classes in literature.
Lauro Palomba was born in Italy, educated in Canada and has Master’s Degrees in English and Journalism. He has taught English as a Second Language to military officers and government officials from European, Asian, African and South American countries, and done stints as a freelance journalist and speechwriter.
Kelcey Ervick Parker is the author of Liliane’s Balcony (Rose Metal Press), a novella set at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, and For Sale by Owner (Kore Press), which won the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Award in Short Fiction and was a finalist for the 2012 Best Books of Indiana in Fiction.
Lee Passarella is a founding member and senior literary editor of Atlanta Review and is also associate editor of Kentucky Review. His poetry has appeared in Chelsea, Cream City Review, Louisville Review, The Sun, The Formalist, Cortland Review, among other. Swallowed up in Victory, a narrative poem of the American Civil War, was published by White Mane in 2002. Passarella has published two other books of poetry: The Geometry of Loneliness (David Roberts) and Redemption (FutureCycle Press), plus a poetry chapbook, Sight-Reading Schumann (Pudding House). A second chapbook, Magnetic North, will appear in January. Passarella also published his first YA novel, Storm in the Valley (Ravenswood Publications, 2015).
Robert Perchan’s poetry chapbooks are Mythic Instinct Afternoon (2005 Poetry West Prize) and Overdressed to Kill (Backwaters Press, 2005 Weldon Kees Award). His poetry collection Fluid in Darkness, Frozen in Light won the 1999 Pearl Poetry Prize and was published by Pearl Editions in 2000. His avant-la-lettre flash novella Perchan’s Chorea: Eros and Exile (Watermark Press, Wichita, 1991) was translated into French and published by Quidam Editeurs (Meudon) in 2002. In 2007 his short short story “The Neoplastic Surgeon” won the on-line Entelechy: Mind and Culture Bio-fiction Prize. He currently resides in Pusan, South Korea. On My New S.O.D. Card is from his novella-in-progress about a washed up standup comedy teacher.
Carol Phillips has published short stories in the County Lines, A Literary Journal, and the Red Clay Revie, plus haiku in the Haiku Journal. She is working on a memoir about the human costs of a health care system that is unable to properly diagnose intangible injuries, like mild traumatic brain injuries. She lives with her dog Billy Joe and cat Smokey on six wooded acres in western Chatham County where she continues to write short fiction and haiku.
Arthur Powers lives in Raleigh NC. He is author of A Hero for the People (Press 53), The Book of Jotham (Tuscany Press), and Edgewater (Finishing Line Press). He received a Fellowship in Fiction from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, the 2012 Tuscany Novella Prize, the 2014 Catholic Arts & Literature Award, & many other writing honors. He is judge (2014-16) of Winning Writers’ Tom Howard short story & essay contest, and serves as a board member or advisor for The Raleigh Review, The Justice Theatre Project, Dappled Things, The Catholic Writers Guild, & St. Joseph Charitable Clinic. Arthur & his wife have two daughters & a granddaughter.
Marjorie Saiser’s fifth book of poems is I Have Nothing to Say About Fire (The Backwaters Press, 2016). Saiser’s poems have been published in American Life in Poetry, The Writer’s Almanac, Nimrod, Rattle.com, PoetryMagazine.com, RHINO, and Chattahoochee Review. She received the Willa Award for her novel in poems, Losing the Ring in the River.
Vivian Shipley teaches at Southern Connecticut State University. Two new books were published in 2015: The Poet (Louisiana Literature Press at SLU) and Perennial (Negative Capability Press) which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her eighth book of poetry, All of Your Message Have Been Erased, (2010. SLU) won the 2011 Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement, the Sheila Motton Book Award from New England Poetry Club and the CT Press Club Prize for Best Creative Writing. In 2010, her sixth chapbook, Greatest Hits: 1974-2010 was published by Pudding House Press. Her poem, “Foxfire,” won the 2015 Hackney Literary Award for Poetry. Shipley also won the Lucille Medwick Prize from Poetry Society of America, the Robert Frost Foundation Poetry Prize, Ann Stanford Poetry Prize from USC, the Marble Faun Poetry Prize from Pirate’s Alley William Faulkner Society, the Daniel Varoujan Prize from NEPC and the Hart Crane Prize from Kent State.
Ellen M. Shriner is one of the founders and contributors to WordSisters, a shared blog (wordsisters.wordpress.com). She has published short memoirs in several anthologies (The Heart of All That Is: Reflections on Home and Mourning Sickness). Her personal essays have appeared in Wisconsin Review, BrainChild, Midwest Home, Philosophical Mother, Minnesota Parent, and Messages from the Heart. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn. with her husband, and she has two grown sons. While she is no longer late as often as she used to be, being early is a lucky accident.
Brian Slusher teaches theatre and English at Mauldin High School. He lives with his wife Terri McCord in Greenville, SC and he writes a lot of poetry.
Steve Smith brought his young Danish wife, Birthe, back to his hometown of El Paso, Texas. The following spring the pair hitchhiked to southern Florida for a try at breaking into professional baseball, which didn’t pan out. Then on to Michigan where they spent the next forty years raising a family while he polished innumerable drafts of his Army memoirs, and along the way taught himself how to write. The kids now grown up, he and his wife split amicably, and with his new wife, Peggy, left the cold and humidity of Grand Rapids and returned to the desert where they live on a four-acre “ranchette” southeast of Tucson with a dog, five cats, and open skies and mountains on all sides.
Dana Stamps, II has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cal State University of San Bernardino, and worked as a fast food servant, a postal clerk, a security guard, and a group home worker with troubled boys. His recent publications to date include: Plainsongs, Bayou, Slant, Blue Collar Review, The Main Street Rag, J Journal, Connecticut River Review, Evansville Review, Santa Fe Review, Front Range Review, and Coal City Review.
J. J. Steinfeld lives on Prince Edward Island, where he is patiently waiting for Godot’s arrival and a phone call from Kafka. While waiting, he has published sixteen books, including Should the Word Hell Be Capitalized? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Would You Hide Me? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), An Affection for Precipices (Poetry, Serengeti Press), Misshapenness (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), A Glass Shard and Memory (Stories, Recliner Books), Identity Dreams and Memory Sounds (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), and Madhouses in Heaven, Castles in Hell (Stories, Ekstasis Editions). His short stories and poems have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies internationally, and over forty of his one-act plays and a handful of full-length plays have been performed in Canada and the United States.
Laura Sweeney facilitates Writers for Life which offers grant-funded creative writing workshops throughout central Iowa. She represented the Iowa Arts Council at the First International Teaching Artist’s Conference in Oslo, Norway. Her publications include poems in The Daily Palette, Poetica, Pilgrimage, Broad!, Appalachia, Evening Street Review, Negative Capability Press, Lyric Iowa, and the Journal of Poetry Therapy. Her essays have appeared in The Good Men Project and the anthology Farmscape: The changing rural environment. She is a reader for Eastern Iowa Review.
Laurence Snydal is a poet, musician and retired teacher. He has published more than a hundred poems in magazines such as Caperock, Spillway, Columbia and Steam Ticket. His work has also appeared in many anthologies including Visiting Frost, The Poets Grimm and The Years Best Fantasy and Horror. Some of his poems have been performed in Baltimore and NYC. He lives in San Jose, CA, with his wife Susan.
Sarah Brown Weitzman, a Pushcart Prize nominee, has been widely published in hundreds of journals and anthologies including Miramar, Zymbol, Thema, The North American Review, Rattle, Mid-American Review, and Slant (among others). Sarah received a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A departure from poetry, her fourth book, Herman and the Ice Witch, is a children’s novel published by Main Street Rag.
Christopher T. Werkman lives on a few acres outside Haskins, Ohio with his partner, Karen, and a six-pack of cats. He completed a thirty year career as an art teacher in Toledo, Ohio. Following that, he served as an adjunct art education instructor at the University of Toledo for ten years. He still paints, and designed covers for several published novels and a short story collection, but his primary passion is for writing fiction. When he isn’t writing, he plays too much golf in the summer, too much indoor tennis in the winter, and rides his Kawasaki Ninja whenever there is adequate traction. His short stories have appeared in twenty literary journals and anthologies. Difficult Lies, his first novel, was published by Rogue Phoenix Press in September of 2015.
Evan Morgan Williams’ collection of stories, Thorn, won the Chandra Prize at BkMk Press (University of Missouri-Kansas City). The judge was Al Young. Williams has published over forty stories in such magazines as Witness, Antioch Review, (The) Kenyon Review, and ZYZZYVA. He has an MFA from the University of Montana, and has taught in a public school for over twenty years. Most recently, he has held a Writers in the Schools residency, an AWP Writer to Writer mentorship, and he gave the inaugural reading in Eastern Oregon University’s revived Ars Poetica Visiting Writer Series. He has stories currently in Phantom Drift, The Timberline Review, and Weber: the Contemporary West.
Marilyn Zelke-Windau is a Wisconsin poet and a former elementary school art teacher. Her poems have appeared in Verse Wisconsin, Stoneboat, Fox Cry Review, Your Daily Poem, Midwest Prairie Review and several anthologies. Her chapbook Adventures in Paradise (Finishing Line Press) and a full length manuscript, Momentary Ordinary (Pebblebrook Press) were both published in 2014. She adds her maiden name when she writes to honor her father.
by Colleen McKinney
I hung up the phone and felt years sadder and older than when I started the conversation with my friend and frequent traveling-companion, Gloria. We had been talking about plans to go back to Mexico next year, and she was hesitating because of recent news about violence in the Lake Chapala area of the Mexican Central Highlands where we were planning to stay. A popular American expatriot enclave, it was touted as having the “second-best climate in the world,” and we traveled there a year or so ago. She emailed me an article about kidnapping and violence that threatened the residents, Mexican and visitors alike.
As I walked to the cafeteria for what remained of my lunch hour, I was humming an old Mexican song I learned when I was fifteen years old. I couldn’t remember all the words, but some of them were still in my brain. The tune was in a sweeping ballad style, but the lyrics were a sad and bitter love song. The chorus went something like this:
Te lo juro por Dios que me mira.
Te lo digo llorando de rabia.
My Spanish translation ability is a bit rusty, but I think this is close to what it means:
I won’t be back.
I swear by the God who watches over me.
I say this weeping with fury.
I won’t be back.
I was still trying to remember all the lyrics when my lunch hour was over.
Rachel Squires Bloom
Something big rims
on my horizon: round zero tipping
over into the final fury
of invisibility, irrelevance
What can be done?
The hair thing, affair thing
Finally, something that I can’t
talk my way out of.
You look so good for your age,
we’d say, meaning, pity-tinged,
You’re old. Spare me that
Native people believed
that adulthood begins here.
I don’t care, don’t want it,
reject it, check the big no box
to no avail.
Tomorrow rays await to beam
out a sunrise; striations of light
over water enhance the sky’s
vermillion rectangle framing
one more day, still
by Alice Benson
Linda looked at her first client of the morning, taking in Marie’s black eye and torn, swollen lip. She managed to keep her sigh inaudible as Marie slumped in a chair and began talking. “It was different this time. Lance was so angry. We were just talking, and then Lance ran out of the room and came back with his gun. First, he pointed it at me, at the dog, at the wall and back at me. Then he put it against his head and said he was going to kill himself because I was hurting him so much.”
Too fucking bad he didn’t pull the trigger; he would’ve made the world a better place for all of us. The words ran quickly through Linda’s head, but never passed her lips and she didn’t change the expression on her face. Sympathetic interest—soft, caring eyes. And only gentle words, always. “It’s not your fault, Marie. You didn’t make him violent.” Linda made her voice reassuring.
“But I knew he was upset. I should have kept the dog quiet. She kept barking, and it got on his nerves. I knew Lance was having a bad day. Then my cell phone rang, and he grabbed it out of my hand and smashed it.” Marie stopped talking and looked around. She appeared to be confused, as if she were wondering what she was doing here, talking with this counselor, how these people in the shelter could help her.
“It’s not your fault.” How many times had Linda said those words? Over and over, a waterfall of reassurance tumbling through the rocks into a river of remorse. Still, no matter how many times she said the words, her clients rarely believed her.
Linda took a deep breath. “I know your husband tells you it’s your fault and when you hear that you’re wrong every day, it’s easy to believe. Especially when you’re hearing it from someone who says he loves you. This is your husband, someone you love, someone you’ve shared your life with. When he treats you badly, it feels like the violence is your fault.” Linda paused. “But it’s not.”
Marie nodded; she might have heard the words, but from the look on her face, it was clear their meaning had no impact on her.
After the counseling session, Linda gave Marie a hug and set up another appointment to see her the next day. Marie went to her room to nap, and Linda stared at the wall until her eyes blurred. “Damn, I’m tired of this.” Desperately needing a friendly face, she went downstairs to the front office.
Paula, the shelter supervisor, was working. Ageless, Paula had been there forever—she answered the crisis line, listened to the residents’ fears and complaints, doled out medications from the locked med box, answered questions, mediated disagreements, and was just generally available to do what was needed. She was on the phone when Linda stepped into her office. From the sound of Paula’s voice and the tilt of her head, Linda could tell it was a crisis call. She leaned against the desk for a moment, letting the honey comfort of Paula’s voice surround her like hot Turkish towels. The words didn’t matter; Linda was soothed by the caring, comforting tone.
Paula looked up and smiled. Taking solace from the smile, Linda headed back upstairs. The shelter, once an elegant home, was now just a big, old house, worn and shabby, frayed around the edges, but clean and comfortable like a favorite bathrobe. How elegant could a house really be when it served as a shelter for thirty people at a time, at least half of them children? Clean was the most you could ask for and sometimes even that was asking way too much.
Linda kept her head down as she walked up the stairs. She noticed a new blotch on the carpet, a line starting at the third step, continuing past the director’s office and disappearing through the door to the hallway. A thick black line leading from one place to another as if Hansel and Gretel used a permanent marker instead of bread crumbs. The carpet was worn, tired, and indelibly stained, sadly reminding Linda of far too many of the lives that passed through the house.
She sat at her desk and documented her session with Marie. The lack of scheduled appointments for the next hour tugged at Linda. Too restless to finish paperwork, she remembered her partner was on vacation today. Linda realized she needed the bone-deep comfort she could only get from someone who knew her all the way through, and she left the shelter and ran home for an early lunch.