FORTUNE COOKIES BY AARON BURCH ISSUE 02
These fortune cookies never have actual, real fortunes any more, she said.
What are you talking about?
On the weekends, we went out for Chinese. We tried to mix it up, find new places. We drove all over town, neighboring towns, like being on the run, or a scavenger hunt.
You know, she said. They are always predictions now. Weird sayings. Cliches. And they overload you with info—lucky numbers, how to say words in Chinese, the name of the restaurant.
What’s the difference, I say. What would be an actual fortune?
We always ordered lots of food, more than we could ever eat, took our time. Her husband worked late, long hours in a restaurant. We sampled, compared, prolonged the moment until the check and, the best part, the fortune cookies.
I don’t know, she said. I can’t think of an example. It just seems like they used to be different, like when we were kids or whatever.
I think I know what you mean, I said, thinking I might.
I swiped at my forehead. She smiled. I always ordered my food too spicy. She’d told me once that it was cute how the food made me sweat, cute how I dabbed my forehead with my napkin. A part of me wanted her to reach across the table, napkin my sweat away herself.
Why don’t you just order it less spicy, she’d asked a few times.
I held out my hand and she dropped in her fortune. What do you do with these, she said.
I just like to collect them, I guess, I said. I used to collect old Bazooka Joe comics. That kind of thing.
At home, I glue-sticked each one to my photo album. Reading them from beginning to end, I tried to make them make sense, make them into something coherent, a story. It would all come together, at some point, in due time.
SIN INSURANCE BY MICHAEL P FERRARI ISSUE 02
One of my dreams is to take my children on a trip abroad one day. And show them the entirely different world that exists beyond our shores.
To show them what human beings like us have been able to do, drinking the same water, breathing the same air, under the same sun and moon. They ask a lot of questions. And I know they will ask me why things are so different. I know they will ask me why we do not have this, and that, and that, and that back home. I hope that when they ask I can throw them off with: we will get there one day. I don’t think they will be thrown off. I know them. When they are on a quest, they really are.
I have given up on asking the question. I would rather contribute towards answering it. Answering not by stating the problems but by contributing to the solution. Ultimately the solution boils down to a simple scheme: finding my purpose and doing my best.
In the last quarter of 2015 I have lost three friends who impacted my life in various ways. People who made this country a better place. Two were physicians, and one a diplomat.
The first finished medical school in the UK before Ghana gained independence. He was offered a position to train as a surgeon on completion, and he dutifully informed the government at the time of this opportunity.
He was told to pack his bags and come back home, because Ghana did not need surgeons. He cut off all communications with the colonial government, sponsored himself through surgical training, and then informed the government when he finished. He was immediately offered an appointment in the premier teaching hospital and he would from there pioneer great things in Ghanaian medicine.
He would become the first African editor of a critically acclaimed surgical textbook with an African context. He would become the first Ghanaian with IV fluids named after him. In his eighties, he continued to see patients and teach medical students. Prof Badoe was a legend. He made things happen in an environment which was just as difficult as it is now. It is interesting that in certain respects, we have still not built on what he established.
It took 11 years to bring out the first edition of the textbook. At the time, there was no one in the country who had typeset a 1000-page book before. The story of how that book finally got launched one evening by a government official in the then Ambassador Hotel, is a story as inspiring, as it is dispiriting.
In my profession, there are things I take for granted now, that are there only because somebody broke his back in a big way. Now the book is in its 4th edition with multiple reruns, in multiple African countries. Every surgeon in English-speaking sub-Saharan Africa has used the book or referred to it or cited it at one point or the other. It is now more than a 1000 pages, and still the biggest book published in Ghana. The day Prof Badoe had to pay duty for the paper that was used to print the 4th edition was a sad day. He went all the way to the head of customs. He still had to pay. But we have the book today.
The second friend I lost was my contemporary. We sat in the same class. He had a chronic disease that would send him to the hospital every once in a while. He went through the gruelling seven years fighting the battle on multiple fronts. He would become the consummate physician. He would become the go-to person for all matters blood in the hospital, and I dare say in the country. Very few people knew how often he would be admitted for treatment in hospital, and bounce back hale and hearty to work the next day. I miss his voice on the phone. We did not meet much, because we were both busy, but we did talk. He would become head of the blood bank. He would become a trainer of trainers. He would lead high-profile symposia and represent Ghana on international trials. He stuck to what he did best, and boy, he did it.
My third friend was one of those whose homes I never knew. I would meet him in church every Sunday. He was such an example of love and hope and fight! He lost his sight to glaucoma, but he lost nothing of his love for life, his devotion to his family, his power of encouragement to the people who were privileged to be with him. His memorial service was as encouraging as his life was. This was someone who had left a heritage.
Maybe when my children wonder if we are not the same as the people on the other side of the ocean, I will have some examples to share. I work in Ghana because of people like these three. I have been blessed with knowing even more living examples. I have hope in this country because the human being is the most astonishing creation in the universe. We were created to do astonishing things. We can choose how astonishing we can be. I will tell my children to choose to be as human as they can be.
Teddy Totimeh is a 33-year old medical worker in Ghana. He lives with his wife in a small hospital precinct in Accra, the capital of this West African nation. This is his first short story in a magazine, but he has previously published poetry. He likes reading, scrabble, and music.
says he’s convinced there is something more out there aside from business finance. He has two cats and loves a redhead. Recent poetry has or will be published in one way or another in Word Riot, Neon, Remark, The Round Table Review, Locust and a few others.
is the author of Empty as Nirvana and is published in Alehouse Press, The Zimbabwe Situation, Panhandler Quarterly, Eyes of the Poet, IITM, Astropoetica, Poetry Life & Times.
writes experimental fiction, alternative poetry, flash fiction, and cut-up haiku. He has been a featured author on the ezine The Beat. His favorite 20th century authors are William S. Burroughs and James Joyce.
is a Star Trek/Star Wars junkie with a healthy addiction to the open mic. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family. She is working on her first novel and she also write plays and short stories about dragons. She loves dragons.
VERDI E MATHIS
is an HR specialist with the Federal Government. She is a widow and the mother of three young men, and resides in Capitol Heights, MD. She is seeking publication of her first novel.
was born in Haiti. She lived in Panama as a little girl and moved to New York City in her early teens. She enjoys reading and long walks, and she is exploring her passion for writing. She lives in California with her two children and loves to laugh.
LOUIS J HARRIS
lives and works in Germiston, South Africa. His novel Revival is about a gay literary detective. Authors who have influenced his writing include John Steinbeck and the early works of Morris West.
works for a counseling program for young people from low-income communities, and is the Board Chair of the NY Writers Coalition, a community organization that provides creative writing opportunities for disenfranchised New Yorkers. Haberle’s stories have been published in The Angler, Cantaraville, Broken Bridge Review, Adirondack Review, Hot Metal Press, Melic Review, Johnny America, Taj Mahal Review, Smokelog Quarterly, SN Review and 21 Stars Review. His book reviews have appeared in the KGB Bar Literary Magazine.
is a Haitian-American writer, poet, and artist from Brooklyn by way of California. She has written a collection of poems, Wrapping Thoughts Beneath Emotive Rain, and her work has been published in Essence Magazine and several online poetry sites. She is writing a novel due out next year, Hurricane Between Island Kisses.
has been writing poetry since early childhood and for the past 25 years he has also had an avid interest in photography. He studied biology at Acadia University and was employed by the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries in various marine projects. He works now in the Biology Department at Dalhousie University. He lives in the seaside town of Bedford, Nova Scotia, Canada.
is the editor of Hobart and sometimes writes short fictions (recently: Quick Fiction 10 & 11, Opium 4, elimae, Smokelong Quarterly).
is the editor of BluePrintReview, an experimental online journal, and author of Masala Moments, a travel novel about India. She lives in the South of Germany and takes regular trips through the real as well as the virtual world and collects moments in oil on copper. Currently, she also engages in time traveling—through a collaborative project she initiated, an utopic novel written by seven writers from five continents.
studied photography for three years in the early eighties before his interest in lighting took him into magical dark places known as theatres where he spent the next 15 years or so backstage as a lighting designer and stage manager. In 2001 Al gave up theatre to have more time to be creative and is currently rediscovering writing poetry and photography.
is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to Popmatters.com and writes for several other websites and zines. She has a short stories in Alyson Books anthologies and in EditRed's upcoming anthology, City Smells. Her poetry is published in Flutter Poetry Journal.
tells us she is a recorder of memories, transcribing to preserve, diaries, letters, family histories and documents. At Writer’s Blog she practices descriptive writing and character creation under the handle easywriter. She has been published under the pen-name Mary Ann McNeil in Otto #2 and the 2006 Writer’s Blog Anthology.
is a Malaysian born poet who looks for beauty in the mundane and lives in a complex, often conflicting state of mind. She tells us she can be found grumbling, mumbling, working up the corporate ladder, listening to music, or lazing in front of the TV, when not writing. She has the tendency of finding wisdom by accident and dispensing advice without taking any. She takes pride in being lost and then finding her way through insecurities to hopefully one day having her own book of poems published and enjoying a final sunset by the beach. Mitra’s first published work was Orderly Women in Nerve House, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin print quarterly.
is a Toronto resident who has been running birdandmoon.com for three years in her spare time. She likes bird watching, electronic music, the anime Kino no Tabi, and cashews.
says that as a young boy he always dreamed of getting a potbelly and eating a whole pizza in one sitting. He accomplished that goal by the age of 8. These days, Ferrari lives in Conshohocken, PA, and spends his time writing for a variety of magazines and websites, binging and watching Entourage way more than anybody should. His first novel is Assault On The Senses.
writing has previously appeared in Acorn Whistle, Nerve Cowboy, Thema, and Planet Detroit. He was placed in short story competitions sponsored by the Wisconsin Academy Review and Madison Magazine, and in 2006 he was selected as a finalist in Hunger Mountain’s Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize.
a proud native of Kansas City, Missouri, divides her time into delicious wedges of writing, drinking, and screaming at the television. Currently unemployed, she is waiting for word of waitress positions at the Waffle House with bated breath. Wanna warm-up, cowpoke?
JANE M BRATTON
is a runner-up in EditRed’s City Smells competition, and her essay Homecoming will be published in their anthology. She has been a guest columnist for The Cincinnati Enquirer. Jane and her family live in Kentucky.
NORA C GRUENBERG
is a 30-year-old wife and mother who lives in Chicago's southwest suburbs. She had to go to college and grad school to figure out the only thing she really wants to do for a living is writing.
creative non-fiction piece Under My Feet is in the first print issue of The Local Writer, and her flash Journey will appear in the next Slingink Shorts anthology. She has been shortlisted for competitions in Essentials magazine and the Essex Chronicle newspaper.
lives and writes in the Australian east coast city of Newcastle, where, he says, everyone looks happy, especially when they’re squinting into the sun. In 2004, his story, Jake With A Snarly Smile On His Chops—a tale that questioned the existence of God and championed the ampersand—was published as a novella by Independence Jones. n late 2006 World Audience published his short story anthology, Her Mouth Looked Like
a Cat’s Bum. His short stories have appeared in several magazines, printed as well as online. He created Skive Magazine, now in its frenetic fifth year.
lives in Northern Minnesota, where he enjoys the company of his longsuffering girlfriend and their three children, the piney confines of his ten-acre slice of paradise, and coffee.
is a cultural musicologist, choral director, liturgist, and singer who has performed and recorded with many well-known early music ensembles. Music is her livelihood, but writing is her passion. Suzanne is a native Californian who lives in New England with her husband, stepson, and elderly cat.
made a name for himself as an anti-war/activist poet when he was banned from a coffee house on Long Island in 2003 for reading poetry which criticized the invasion of Iraq. Born in 1975 he was raised in a military family, relocating many times during childhood from Oklahoma to Germany to Washington State. He has won numerous awards including the Editor's Choice award from the National Library of Poetry. He lives in Manhattan and works as a media analyst. His political blogs appear on blogit.com. His newest poetry collection is Organic Hotels.
JOHN ARTHUR PEGG
born in 1976, claims he is one naughty, twisted writer. His stories sometimes border on the grotesque, slightly macabre side, sometimes on the bizarre, light side. He sleeps exactly six hours a night with a notebook and pen always within reach.
is an undergraduate in Environmental Studies and English. Tuttle has been published in two issues of Flutter Poetry Journal, and her school literary journal. She has a poem forthcoming in Ibbetson Street.
has been a book reviewer, fiction editor, university press sales rep, grant committee judge, father and son. With his wife he owns Burke’s Book Store, Memphis, Tennessee.
ROBERT LOUIS BARTLETT’S
recent fiction and poetry have been published in print and online in the US and Canada. His short script A Sort Of Delivery is presently under consideration by two independent film companies in Los Angeles, and he is currently working on a collection of short stories. He lives in Arizona and works as technical documents writer for a home-design firm. Bartlett’s writing has been published in print in Canada’s Storyteller Magazine and Atheneum; on the web his fiction has been featured at Facets, FictionWarehouse, The Spillway Review, The GroundZero Literary Project, and the photojournal Reality X.
is an actor, playwright, and fiction writer from Chicago. She is working on a collection of short stories and a full-length play. A graduate from Columbia College, she trained as an actor with the Steven Ivcich Professional Studio in Chicago, and studied playwriting at the Chicago Dramatists. Kim spent several years in Los Angeles where she acted in theater, television, and film.
a 26-year-old freelancer living in eastern Pennsylvania, first realized he enjoyed writing at the age of eight when he wrote a story for his elementary class. The assignment was four sentences, but he insisted on six pages. The story was about a video game character, and since then he’s grown into his own as a literary, science-fiction and a fantasy writer. Influenced by the works of Ernest Hemingway, Robert Jordan, and George Orwell, he constantly works to keep his style both sparse and interesting. He writes while listening to themusic of Bear McCreary and Within Temptation. He is reading The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.
moved from Vancouver, Canada, to various places in Mexico, where he lives now with his wife and cat. He has a Master’s Degree in French literature, knows five languages, and is teaching languages at a Mexican university. He says he writes because it is closely tied with his being. Farzaneh’s work has been published in Dark Reveries, Raving Dove, Inscribed, Double Dare Press, The Arabesque Literary Print, Map Magazine, The Truth Magazine, and soon to be published in Bewildering Stories.
says her poetry knows its shape from its inception. “I begin in total silence, during the witching hours, in the dark with nothing but the glowing monitor. LeHew’s poems have been published or will be soon in such journals as Alehouse Press, Arabesques Review, Pank, Pearl Magazine, PMS, Third Wednesday, and Tiger’s Eye. She received her MFA in writing from CCA, a writing residency from Soapstone, and interned for CALYX Journal.
lives in central coastal California. She says: “I wrote The Number 15 Bus when I was living in San Francisco. Everything in it has happened to me, but not on the same day.” Her stories have appeared in Takahe, Open Minds Quarterly, and online at Pindeldyboz.
was born in Yorkshire, England, and lives now by the Humber Estuary, where he is studying for an MA in English and Creative Writing. Like all writers, Gant is working on a novel and he says he hopes to have it rejected across the UK publishing board some time before Christmas this year. Gant’s short fiction and poetry have appeared in Edit Red’s 2006 short story anthology Small Voices, Big Confessions, Citizen 32 magazine, and innumerable ezines. He won the Writer’s Choice award on Edit Red with his poem, terminal.
lives in Launceston, Tasmania. His writing and his family keep him pretty busy. “I like to write drabbles because they teach me to cut the crap,” he says. “I am home-schooling one of my children. Time will tell if this is a good thing.”
cites the grittiness of Charles Bukowski as well as film directors Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino as major influences in his work. Music, skateboarding, bachelorhood, and growing up on the West Coast are the basis of his work.
ROBERT K OMURA
lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada where he practices law. He holds a BA in psychology and MA in history from the University of Calgary, and a LLB from Dalhousie University. He recently returned to his love of writing after a 15-year hiatus. He is active in education, law reform, the environment, and the outdoors. Omura’s fiction and poetry has been published in The Arabesques Review, Barnstorm, The Rose and Thorn, Poems Niederngasse, edifice WRECKED and blue skies poetry.
tiring of London life, returned to his Lancashire roots in the hope
the soil proved more conducive to his work. A Classics graduate, much influenced by the Hellenistic poets, he harbors a fondness for the erudite and innovative, the sharp, flashing and textured, and seeks to hone his craft accordingly. He has recent poetry cooking in Medusa's Kitchen and flash fiction forthcoming in Literary Fever, and he is the creator of the literary website Hecale.
is founding editor of Mud Luscious. His short fiction recently received several editorial nominations for the 2007 StorySouth Million Writers Award. His work is published in Inscribed, The Houston Literary Review, Ghoti, Syntax, Ramble Underground, Sein und Werden, Thieves Jargon, and Underground Voices.
is website editor for EditRed. He says he is half-Welsh, half-Irish, and born in Zimbabwe. He arrived in London at the age of 8, and has been a Catholic altar-boy, a gentleman’s outfitter, and a musician. He once played drums in a sex-cult, though only on a part-time basis. “Last year I was paid a substantial amount of money by a large and acquisitive UK book retailer to go away and not work for them any more,” he says. “This suited me fine thanks very much. I have spent the intervening time writing and staring moodily out of windows.”
lives, teaches, and writes in Boise, Idaho. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of San Francisco. A combat veteran of the Vietnam War, Ken says his writing seems to loop back often to his military experiences. Ken’s poems and short stories have most recently appeared in Switchback, Ascent Aspirations, VerbSap, Roman Candles, Fiction Attic, and Tiny Lights.