Melina at the Movies – Sarah Valeika

flash fiction

I had an aunt Melina who wept during sad movies. There are plenty of people who review movies and attest to their gravity or appeal by saying things like,

“I cried like a baby!” or praise a film that induces both “laughter and tears,” but nobody cried at movies like Aunt Melina.

It was funny to most of us. To my father, for example, who had married Melina’s youngest sister, this 47-year-old woman with the long, auburn hair, big billowing scarf and mason jar of green tea was just a suburban vignette rife with city-dweller humor. Raised in Chicago himself, having seen a “hell of a lot of women,” he had “never seen anybody who looked more acutely miserable while being entertained as that Aunt Melina of yours.” I never really understood why being from the city made him so wont to laugh at those of us with hearts on streets named after trees, but he liked to think he was jaded, knowing and hardy, so we let him. There were times when he wanted to watch movies with my Aunt Melina simply to watch her reactions, as though they were infinitely more amusing than any fiction could be.

Take “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” He casually asked my mother one day if her sister had ever seen the movie.

“Don’t think so.”

“Don’t you think she should? It’s a classic.” He loosened a slice of pizza from a tupperware and shoved it in his mouth.

“Oh Rod,” Mom sighed, “leave Mel alone!” She snatched the slice out of his hands and finshed it.

“What?” he laughed, that little impish gleam in his eye. “It’s part of her cultural education.”

So, that Friday evening, she came over to watch “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” with us. I sat in a blanket on the floor with the book in my hands, to cross-compare. Mom spent most of the time in and out of the room going to the kitchen to refill Anthony’s water bottle or get Fossie some more popcorn. Fossie and Anthony flopped across their beanbag chairs, and Dad and Aunt Melina sat side by side on the purple sofa. (Funnily, my Aunt Melina had chosen the color—she thought it “suited” Mom’s eyes, so my mom picked it up in a heartbeat. Dad never really saw it that way; after all, he had separately suggested the color to fit the caramel walls, but I can tell even now from the way my mother talks about Melina that it was she, and not Dad, who changed Mom’s mind).

“Look at her eyes,” my aunt whispered, 67 minutes into the film. Audrey Hepburn was gazing at something or other, but I couldn’t see what, too occupied was I in trying to find the page I had lost in the novella.

“What?” my father asked.

“Her eyes, don’t they just look so childlike? So trusting?”

And thus did she proceed to loosen whatever restrained her eyes—faucet, duct tape, nails and screws—who knew what ever kept her composed at all? But with the flick of an eyelash, as it were, she began to cry. My father said nothing, only motioned with his hand as Mom returned to the room, and again he smirked to his wife.

“We may need a little more tea in here, doll… to soothe the nerves!”

 

There was also, of course, the time when my father decided to rent “A Year Without Santa Claus” to show at the family Christmas Eve dinner. After roast beef was served, the family with children groggily headed home, parents a little wine-liberated and children sipping the sweet nectar of anticipation. Those who stayed: Granny, (who was dwindling in the head), Uncle John (passed out) and Aunt Melina.

“Prepare yourself,” Dad said solemnly to the 47-year-old woman with the long auburn hair and the trigger-ready tear ducts and the shallow blue eyes. “This is not a movie easily forgotten.”

“Rod,” my mom chided demurely, picking lint off the floor, “come on now.”

“I think this one is going to bring us closer, even through the pain.”

Fire munched away at itself in the fireplace, and Aunt Melina only smiled that thin, closed-mouth smile of hers.

“Rod,” my mother repeated.

“It’s a movie that speaks to me,” he began, and clapped me on the shoulder, under the weight of which I shuddered (having inherited my mother’s weak frame). “I think I first saw this one with the kids. Maybe Fossie first? The poor little lamb was waiting for smiles on snowmen, I could see it in her eyes, but no such smiles come in the year without Santa. How could they? Without the enchantment of a dream to sustain their feeble little hearts, what are they to do, I ask you?”

Hunkering down beneath our front porch, I could hear the local stray whining, braying at whoever was passing the house. A shadow skipped. A music note, single and sustained, was being played somewhere, I could feel it.

“Just shush,” Mom said quietly, a gentle in-and-up of the chest suggesting some attempt at a laugh.

“C’mon Mel, you’n’I will get through this together,” and he grasped my aunt’s hand and pressed it to his chest. As he did, Melina just sat there and lowered her eyes to the carpet. A single, sustained note was being played somewhere, I did not know where. Not once did anybody cry that night which, in retrospect, was a sad sort of funny.

 

I always wondered how infidelity worked—whether it had to be physical, or whether it was suspected or proven, or whether it was a matter of blame or just bad timing, mutually bad timing. By the age of fourteen, I had learned that it was just a matter of movies. Sad movies, and whether or not you let yourself cry.

Sarah Valeika is a writer whose works have been featured in Eunoia Review, Fem Fiction, Poetry Breakfast, Navigating the Maze and other print and e-journals.

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It Stays with You – M. Stone

poems

It Stays with You

I.

My mouth houses too many tenants—
overcrowded incisors and molars
yielding no space for canines.

The pediatric dentist recommends
a second surgery. I inhale grape-scented
gas from a rubber mask, am transported
to a twilight state. Nitrous oxide leaves me
limp and mute, swallowing dread.

I know from the time before
I will still feel the needle stab
in the roof of my mouth,
the curve where my jaws connect.

Hours are minutes, seconds are hours.
I regain use of my limbs. My cheeks packed
with bloody gauze, I carry a triple offering
for the Tooth Fairy in a plastic vial.

II.

Today in the dentist chair, I grow clammy
and wan, trembling—struck by sudden flu.

He guides a syringe toward my mouth.
No gas to subdue me now. My hand strikes,
snake-fast, connects with his arm. He pauses,
says, “It stays with you, doesn’t it?”

I nod, reply between shallow breaths:
“Let’s try it without, this time.”

M. Stone is a bookworm, birdwatcher, and stargazer who writes fiction and poetry while living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. She can be reached at writermstone.wordpress.com.

Dying Dahlia Review: Summer 2017

flash fiction, poems

It’s finally here! We are so happy to present the Summer 2017 edition of Dying Dahlia Review!  We are featuring some amazing flash fiction and poetry by some awesome women writers!  And check out that beautiful cover art by Ashley Parker Owens!  Make sure to snag yourself a copy today! Follow the links below to purchase the ebook at your retailer of choice.

DDRsummer2017

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Apple iBooks (Search for “Dying Dahlia Review”)

 

This Shit is Ripe – Elisabeth Horan

poems

This Shit is Ripe

Ready to play tag with poems in the night?
Open up I’ve got something nice

Some part of me lay dormant
it might have been my smile
it took a while to find it’s teeth, lost in the back of that van
where we met over seafood and smack and weed
you laid me down on a dirty sheet

I hid that away for so many days wasn’t gonna let it play out –
No neediness.

Just propped on a shelf, fine wine or a puppet.
I’m Bonnie you’re Clyde – made out like a bandit.

Cixous, what she do – only got me confused.
But damn, she was right on a hot summer night –
there’s steam coming out my ears
No pants can hold me –
I’ma bad fire.
I’ma​ cauldron.

Go ahead, take a sip – what I be brewing is good for your bones –
what I be needing, I left alone.
Watch out for me, Medusa’s back, I guess she gets the last laugh.

Ain’t no knockoff, Baby. This shit is ripe.
And I’m just started yelling.

Elisabeth Horan is a stay at home mom in Vermont, caring for her two young boys, feeding the animals and writing her heart out. Her poetry has appeared in The Feminist Wire, The Fox Poetry Box and Walking is Still Honest Press. She was recently featured at Anti-Heroin Chic and Swimming With Elephants. Meet her at http://ejfhoran.weebly.com/ and @ehoranpoet on twitter

The Edge of Middle Age – Kathryn Knudson

poems

The Edge of Middle Age

In the cul-de-sac culture
snippets of vulnerability
mar the illusion of harmony

I’ve always preferred to leave
the snags in my sweaters

I’m not letting invisibility
lock me into listlessness
Someone has to tell the stories

Kathryn Knudson’s short fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and featured in a 2017 podcast of Pushcart nominations. She works at a utility, writing poetry and fiction on her lunch hour, and lives in Minneapolis with her husband and their sheep dog.

2 Poems – Deborah Chava Singer

poems

Grotesque

well, isn’t this grotesque
me crying
and your mouth all wet

 

Woman, Fractured

a woman, broken
fractures fused
if not stronger
more complicated
than before

Deborah Chava Singer is a product of San Diego, California, the Mesa College Theatre Company, Queer Players, and other “stuff.”  She currently resides in Washington state.  Recently her writing has appeared in The Human Touch, MUSE, Jonathan, Cirque, Chaffin, Heart & Mind Zine, Snapdragon, and Twisted Vine. Her website is www.latenightawake.com.

For Unwanted Truths – Kara Dorris

poems

For Unwanted Truths

Just to let you know, my brother says, “tattoo”
in Samoan means open wound, 

life is a regression to the mean, the clear pocket of air
in an ice cube that heat releases

Just to let you know, my lover says, when fire ripples
so violently wood splits from itself,

experts call it “alligatoring”
Just to let you know, I say, I like to mirror fire

Just to let you know, my mother says, car, star,
stonepit—we are all made of carbon,

we end the way we came
Just to let you know, my grandmother says, it’s time

to travel to that foreign country,
to be carried by Saint Menas across the flooded river

Just to let you know, I say, “have a nice journey”
doesn’t mean “may you walk in beauty”

& “may you rest in peace” really means “may your ghost
not haunt the living

Kara Dorris earned a PhD in literature and poetry at the University of North Texas where she teaches writing. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Southword, The Tusculum Review, Harpur Palate, Cutbank, Tinderbox, The Tulane Review, and Crazyhorse, among others literary journals, as well as the anthology Beauty is a Verb (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). Her stories have appeared in Wordgathering and the anthology The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked (Cinco Puntos Press, 2016).  She has published two chapbooks: Elective Affinities (Dancing Girl Press, 2011) and Night Ride Home (Finishing Line Press, 2012). She is also the editor of Lingerpost, an online poetry journal.