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  • submissions | ephemeras magazine

    Thank you for your interest in ephemeras . We welcome all styles of art and are currently looking for flash fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art relating to our theme of anamnesis . ephemeras will NOT accept work generated from or with the assistance of AI. SUBMISSIONS ARE CLOSED (but here is what we look for in future submissions) ​ Submission Guidelines: Fiction : we are namely seeking literary fiction and its sub-genres. If it's weird, if it's nostalgic, if it's urgent—we want to read it. For flash: send up to 3 pieces no more than 1,000 words each. For short fiction and excerpts from longer works: up to 4,000 words in a singular submission. Nonfiction : we accept creative nonfiction and cultural commentary/criticism (up to 3,000 words) ​We will not accept submissions of interviews, book reviews, academic papers, or personal narratives that do not address a wider scope at this mome nt​​ Queries/pitches are encouraged but not necessary prior to submitting Poetry : up to 3 poems in a single submission. So the integrity of the original work is not lost, please refrain from sending experimental line breaks and spacing that will not translate during formatting. Visual art: film photography, paintings, sculptures, digital artwork (submit 3-5 photos as individual high-quality JPEG files) We encourage you to subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on X/Twitter @ephemerasmag to stay up to date with us. Simultaneous submissions are encouraged, please let us know if work submitted to us will be published elsewhere. We cannot compensate writers at this time. We will not accept previously published work. ephemeras retains no rights to your work other than online publication.

  • ephemeras | literary magazine

    our submission window is currently closed. stay tuned for updates, @ephemerasmag on X/Twitter & Instagram

  • kassidy jordan | ephemeras magazine

    Dog After Christmas Kassidy Jordan Wake him up before his tail stops wagging and he lays still on the cold cement. Wrap your arms around his shivering body, around the black fur covering him, shield him from the snow as it falls. Rub his feet that have stood on ice. Untie the leash from the post. Look back after you drive away, turn around as he cocks his head to one side and sits on the hard cement in the cold January air, before he laid his head on the ground and waited. Do not call him from his house in the backyard. Do not lie to him, do not smile and clip the leash to his green collar you bought only months before. Walk back into the house where his dog bowl sits and his squeaky bone lays next to his bed, where he laid wrapped in a bow under the tree and lights and tinsel the morning your son first saw him. Do not yell when he makes a mistake. Do not push his nose into the pee-stained carpet. Stop yourself from smacking his head when he jumps and scratches your new sweater, he just missed you is all. Do not decide having a pet was a mistake. Do not berate your son for his lack of responsibility. Do not tell your wife this is for the best. Do not make him miss his warm bed, the little boy who always threw a stick for him to chase, the smells of turkey and chicken and beef and the gentle touches of when he was first unwrapped. Drive away from the store where you bought him. Pass over him as the cars do now. Ignore his pleading black eyes as you did when you drove away. Leave before you give and take away the family he loved. Kassidy Jordan is a recent graduate from Marshall University, graduating with her BA in Creative Writing with a minor in History. She is a proud Appalachian poet based in Point Pleasant, WV, home of the Mothman. Kassidy's creative interests include place and memory in poetry, lyric, narrative, prose poetry, and all things Appalachian. Her other, more personal interests include the A Song of Ice and Fire series, coffee, dogs, and Tudor England, especially the six wives of King Henry VIII. back to issue no.1

  • randy dong | ephemeras magazine

    Jesse, Randy Dong What do you do when the only reason your wife finally loves you again is Alzheimer’s, the equalizer grand, a gift from the Upstairs Big Man finally answering your prayers for forgiveness you know you don’t deserve, after the wife, the love of your life, went so many years mute and frozen, she would have been the same age as a house plant as your son before his departure – a plant which she metamorphosized into right there in the passenger seat of your beat-up Hyundai Accent on the drive home from Jesse’s funeral, a car which you have long since traded away because for the life of you, you could no more cast a gaze into its silver-grey without hurling out stomach contents of your day, which since her becoming of a catatonic Snake plant, has consisted mostly of just Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom and Sourdough bread, Jesse’s favorites for their nature modest and plain, fitting of a pious one who lived truly the Tao of Nazareth’s Jesus Christ - but even before then, before wife became a plant, when at Jesse’s funeral, people offered their condolences and shook your hand, wife stood far away from you and already then her words had gone dry, uttered were only sobs and hiccups, mourning condensed into drops into her hanky, and already she didn’t look at you no more, no way, as if you were some alien who murdered her son, a secret hush-hush because it was a damn shame in front of which, however, you stood guilty indeed, shocked still and you haven’t cried still because since the ambulance ride it was all a daze how it was possible your baby, while losing so much blood, an incredible amount of blood, still prayed for your absolution - God bless you Dad, Don’t blame yourself Dad, God bless you Dad - each breath drawn shorter and quieter, not the sirens growing louder, until Jesse’s squeeze went limp in the hand of his broken mother who in a matter of days became a plant for twenty-one years until now that she’s got Alzheimer’s and couldn’t remember what she was so mad at you for in the first place. What do you do when the man police with his little notepad dripping rainwater says What your son did was a heroic deed. The accident was freak. No one is to blame. Now he is in a better place. , but you know you are to blame because a moment ago, while your wife still a person in the back seat and beside you the leather of the Hyundai Accent still warm from Jesse’s heat and in front of you the world lost focus, colors bleeding into each other, a painter’s palette spilled into night, until the next windshield wiper beat and it became the cars chrome silver, the traffic lights yellow-red changing, orange in the peripheral the lights city night, and fuming, you just sat there watching Jesse walk out toward the loud and chaos ahead, black-suited back straight, faithful gait, because you dared him, you did, you said why don’t you part the red sea then, Moses? , gesturing at the traffic stuck jam, you said why don’t you lead us out the desert then, Moses? , when outside the Hyundai, more heads popped out their cars lost at how to get out of this mess and far ahead a woman trapped inside her injured red car, drop by drop, dissolved into a hazy crimson dot and still, you sat still, gripping the wheel til knuckles turned white because earlier during dinner Jesse announced to you and his mom he was going to attend Seminary after graduating and become a Catholic priest at Freddy’s Family Diner which he selected as his birthday eve destination for humble is the only way he nourished himself and Fuck! was what you responded because despite the bowl of cream mushroom soup boiling that stabbed your tongue numb and shards of sourdough crust that cut the inside of your mouth bloody, and the birthday dinner tasted only of iron, you just couldn’t understand how it all came to this, because as differently as you and Jesse saw this world, you never considered it would end as catastrophically as priesthood, Catholic no-less, because all you wanted ever was just an environment compassionate and peaceful with good education away from the bullies for the best boy easy-to-joy, easy-to-cry with a head-full of soft hazel hair and two eyes of long lashes black who was afraid of the night dark and people rude, so a Quaker school it was, so you decided, though Jesse’s mom, your wife, protested in favor of the value of the natural maturing and toughening of Jesse through the public education system especially given a private school tuition high enough to choke dead a dozen donkeys even with the financial aid from the Quakers generous and to reassure you, your wife said I trust Jesse more than you! to which you said I love Jesse more than you! while citing Quakerism’s fondness for pacifism, simplicity, and general liberal values – yet it turned out, Jesse was a bit too good at Bible classes and paid too much attention during those Meetings for Worship, and the next thing you know you had your first debate with your son, where you said A child born out of rape often means the destroyal of two lives trapped in the deep mire of life long back-breaking financial difficulties and suffocating social prejudice while Jesse retorted A decision matrix that measures the righteousness of the existence of a life against the quality of said life and their mother’s is morally questionable to say the least, akin to Eugenics, no offense, if to not mince words to which you could only through your teeth a deflated shit… ​ What do you do when the bull black and crazed locks with your eyes its pupils orange, burning, bloodshot in the street lights fogged, its smoker-teeth-yellow horn pierced through Jesse’s torso, your son’s entrails dangling out his back, long like a pink snake made of condom, and with the bull’s each flutter, Jesse’s body jolts, his limbs jerk, like a bad wig on the head of the bull, and Jesse’s mom, your wife, the love of your life, is already out the back seat door running, falling toward your baby son and screaming back at you What the fuck are you doing?! but your ass is stuck to the seat, your hands paralyzed on the wheel, your diaphragm choked up in your throat, and drop by drop, in front of you blurs into Guernica, blurs into an impressionist painting kitsch and camp, until the next windshield wiper beat and then there’s an elephant wearing a bellboy’s hat roaming, two zebras dragging a cannon dark as the bull sitting on top a chariot, and the bull charges the injured red car again and Jesse’s body flails against its doorframe dented, until the next wiper beat doesn’t erase the light spots fuzzy on the windshield no more, and the next one doesn’t either no way now that the moisture is not just on the glass but behind your eyelids, and finally the radio intercepts Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird’s And this bird you cannot change with an emergency broadcast about circus animals of Circo de los Muertos escaping their transport trucks causing multiple traffic accidents and that civilians should watch out for exotic animals on the street potentially dangerous, most definitely pissed-off, and in hell, this is your personal hell, all you can try to not remember is the last conversation with your son being an argument, you throwing allegations Look at the wars and famine! Look at the suffering of the North Koreans! God’s either idle and blind, blind but sadistic, or God’ simply indifferent for which he might as well not exist. , but Jesse once again left you tongue-tied with He is not our nanny , with God hides himself between the lines. , with I will study for priesthood, to bring people to Jesus and Jesus to the people , and what do you do, when in hell drawn by Picasso and Kinkade, but confess one must imagine Sisyphus , at this traffic light jammed, curse: fuck this shit . ​ What do you do when your boy small, scared, loves-his-blankie, hides-under-your-arm grows into almost a man faithful and righteous whose new daddy is Upstairs Big Man Almighty and says that Man is your daddy too, and you can’t father Jesse no more, even though Upstairs Daddy never took out a loan for Jesse’s private school, never went to Jesse’s cross country meets, never checked under Jesse’s bed for monsters, but still Upstairs Daddy wins, doesn’t he, now your sons is kebab’ed by a black bull, isn’t he, the Man with the Plan sends your son to heaven and you to hell with a night of Old Testament profundity and twenty-one years of silence, until now your wife finally loves you again because Alzheimer’s and you say thank you Big Man for your forgiveness at last , except now your wife, the love of your life, forgetful and almost blind, calls you Jesse and brings you Jesse’s blankie and goes looking for Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom and Sourdough bread in the pantry, she calls you Mama’s heart, Mama’s flesh, and now what do you do but run out the house and drive to Jesse’s headstone heavy. ​ In the Far East, people burn by the grave of their missed-ones money to send to the beyond. I’m burning this when I finish writing. Tell me what to do. You are much smarter than I because after I’ve read the book black leather bound until the pages fell from the glue, I still never found the answer on how to walk with my back straight and resolute, like you. Tell me what to do, Jesse, and Mom loves you and misses you. And I love you and miss you. I hope God is with you. ​ Yours Regrettably, Dad Randy is the founder of New York Story Night - an open stage for writers of all levels to share their short stories in front of an audience. He worked closely with Chuck Palahniuk at the founding of the Story Night event, running parallel with his Hindsight Story Night in Portland. New York Story Night celebrated our one-year anniversary this year and has all the intentions and support to continue spotlighting literature and the short story form. back to issue no.1

  • contact | ephemeras magazine

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  • issue no.1 | ephemeras magazine

    ephemeras January 28. 2024 issue no. 1 transient art, perpetual artists The Real Me | Life Is Not Easy Rich Boucher The Wooden Sword Zafira Demitri Jesse, Randy Dong A slightly perverted accountant Robert Feder erratum Hayley Gibbons Dog After Christmas Kassidy Jordan If life is as short as our ancestors say it is... BEE LB The Assimilation | There Will Be Warnings James Lilliefors Praying | Unrequited Stephen Mead What Needs To Be Said Taylor Memoli how is the future down there? Deborah Y. Moon The Kitchen Counter on a Tuesday Night | Inheritance Devon Neal Last Train Matias Travieso-Diaz Paramaecium Terry Trowbridge

  • BEE LB | ephemeras magazine

    If life is as short as our ancestors insist it is, I've already wasted most of mine after Hanif Abdurraqib BEE LB worried my way through each day like it’s something to endure. I worry these words between my teeth like grit. Suck the truth like marrow. Gnaw on the past like a bone ready to splinter. My grandmother’s voice warbles through memory, I’ve forgotten more than I ever knew. My father’s voice like sandpaper against the grain, I brought you into this world and I can take you back out. My mother’s off-tune cooing before bed, Hush now baby baby don’t you cry, Mama's gonna sing you a lullaby. My mother’s idea of a lullaby was Pink Floyd. It’s no wonder we turned out the way we did. My brother was named for Led Zeppelin's drummer but gifted none of the talent. Left in prison quarantine to ride out the withdrawals, leaving the drinking to me. So my answer to the question, What good Dad Rock is there? fits into this poem somewhere. I just haven’t found where. I meant to say it was good on my mother’s tongue, much as she twisted it— and rattling the speakers of my father’s Mustang, thumping through the walls of his crack house. I couldn’t define it but I’d know it when I hear it. I’d know it from the grease stains, the cut-up t-shirt I have from Baltimore, from sparks seen behind the welding mask. I meant to say it’s part of me— it shows up on my Spotify no matter how far I stray. And here I’ve found my stride in the lifeblood of music just before my time is up. When I haven’t heard a song outside of end credits in a month. I haven’t felt the rhythm in my hips since before the new year. When I haven’t drunk myself sick chasing a song through the dark. It’s been three days since my father’s birthday and six years since we’ve spoken and I still haven’t forgiven him for naming me after my mother or missing my birth for being behind bars. It’s been two days since my brother’s last visit and nearly twenty four hours since I knew which facility housed him and I still haven’t forgiven him for making me save him or naming me his sister, as much the woman to him as our mother is. BEE LB is an array of letters, bound to impulse; a writer creating delicate connections. they have called any number of places home; currently a single yellow wall in Michigan. they have been published in FOLIO, Figure 1, The Offing, and Harpur Palate, among others. their portfolio can be found at back to issue no.1

  • haley gibbons | ephemeras magazine

    "erratum" Hayley Gibbons there are the words you shouldn't use: ​ stars wonder life heart breath forever light realize even feeling heard death ​ and sometimes was, and often that, definitely never soul, unless it's tuesday or the rent is due ​ and we regret and all's not lost ​ and next time - when you're really you! ​ doobie-doobie-doo Hayley Gibbons is a wife, mom and English teacher from East London, South Africa. Her poetry has appeared in various online poetry journals. She likes listening to Sting with a cup of hot coffee, and writing poetry whenever she gets the chance. back to issue no.1

  • masthead | ephemeras magazine

    founding editor-in-chief Cristina Lez cano , an English/Creative Writing student at William Paterson University, took a long break from academia in search of herself. She went the self-publishing route, took to several lined journals, and came to the conclusion that writing is not without a village. ephemeras was a fleeting thought years ago, made corporeal through support found along the pilgrimage. founding editor, fiction & poetry Anaiza Medina , a Monmouth University Alumni, has a love for helping other writers find their voice. Her work goes beyond editing, failing to limit her interests in poetry, short stories, literary analysis, and bookbinding. Through ephemeras , she hopes to enrich budding, hidden writers with confidence and experience as they reach their potential.

  • deborah y. moon | ephemeras magazine

    how is the future down there? Deborah Y. Moon i see the future. rising up, all around its circumference, a thick cloud of fog. it is coughing, sweltering, thickening—a cloying scent. full of musk and sweat, monotonous days of work and more work. an alarming dearness, constant fear, on lest the fear disturbed. but yet again, it is the future. we never hear how hollow it is down there. i hear the future. a soundless whisper from cracked lips, a naked noise. it is popping, deafening, screaming—an echoing din. never-ending, an everlasting pinch on my strings, tweaked and hollow. unlikely to confess, within gaping darkness. but yet again, it is the future. we never feel how cold it is down there. i feel the future. firing in my brain full of holes. everlasting wisdom (granted!) it is sharp, jagged, burning—a severed crack in a burnt kiln like mingled glass crunched on bare feet it spikes and bleeds... a bargain unjust, as we are only fine dust. but yet again, it is the future. we never see how ugly it is down there. Deborah is a Korean-American high school student residing in Los Angeles, California. Her writing interests lie in producing works that explore themes of history, culture, and society. She hopes to pursue professional writing in the realms of poetry and fiction prose, taking inspiration from authors such as Yi Sang, R.F. Kuang, and Rick Riordan. During her leisure hours, you’ll most likely find her reading comfortably in a library or sipping a large mug of brimming black coffee at a local cafe. back to issue no.1

  • matias travieso-diaz | ephemeras magazine

    Last Train Matias Travieso-Diaz We can be deported. We have no motherland. Life is full of things he cannot control so he must adapt. My boy has to survive. Min Jin Lee, Pachinko I One late evening in the summer of 2012, Elsa was walking back to her apartment from the office and cut across the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, a park near the Termini. As was her custom, she tried to make it swiftly across the park before it got dark. Her attention, however, was drawn to noises coming from the dry fountain near the edge of the park. She detoured in that direction and, as she came closer to the fountain and its hideous sculptural group of tritons, dolphins, and octopuses (derisively dubbed the "fritto misto" by the locals), she realized that a group of vagrants had gathered around the fountain and were talking loudly, while one or two were playing musical instruments. Coming closer, Elsa saw that the men were dressed in rags and showed signs of dire poverty. She guessed that this was a group of Middle Eastern refugees, maybe Syrian. Without realizing it, her eyes became moist. The Islamic music the derelicts played had a wistful quality that reminded her of a song from a Spanish operetta she had watched as a teenager: “Canta mendigo errante, cantos de tu niñez, ya que nunca tu patria volverás a ver.” (Sing, wandering beggar, songs from your childhood, for you will never see your homeland again). Elsa was not sentimental, but the melody stirred her nostalgia for the Caribbean land she had left as a young woman. She walked towards the motley group and approached a youth with mussed hair and a thin beard who was playing something that looked like a fat bottomed lute. “Excuse me, but where are you people from?” she asked him. Terror registered on the youth’s eyes, and he stammered in almost incomprehensible Italian: “Am sorry… don’t understand… Catania, we come from Catania.” Elsa narrowed her eyes readying a rebuke, checked herself, and replied in a friendly whisper. “Have no fear. I won’t turn you over to the carabinieri. You got to Catania, that’s in Sicily, by sea, from some other place. Where are you originally from?” The youth’s voice was at first almost inaudible. “I from Ghouta. Government kept attacking us with all they had… planes, tanks, guns, fire bombs. I and some friends was able to escape to Lebanon, and been travelling through Cyprus, and Malta, and Catania. Nobody want us.” He gasped and broke into a wail: “All my family, they dead” and began sobbing. Elsa was seized by a feeling of compassion mixed with some obscure yearning. Boldly, she put her arm around the boy’s heaving shoulders and asked: “Are you hungry?” “Yes” he stammered. “Come home with me, I’ll make you some pasta.” “But friends….” “They won’t miss you. Let’s go, it is not far.” As the youth followed her across the park, she turned to him and asked: “What’s your name?” “I is called Aland.” After a pause, he asked: “How you called?” The quick falsity of her answer surprised her: “Isabella.” II Elsa lived in a small apartment on the fifth floor of a building on Via Principe Amedeo, very close to Rome’s Termini Station. From her apartment she could hear the trains arrive and depart from the station, and sometimes the hubbub of taxis and travelers reached her ears. It was far from ideal housing, but rent was low and she was close to the offices of the magazine where she worked. When they arrived at the apartment, she had Aland plummet himself on the sofa while she boiled water and opened a package of linguini. She was not much of a cook but in her years of living alone had developed some basic skills. A search of the cupboard and the refrigerator revealed a can of Ragu, Parmesan cheese, and butter. She set to work. While the pasta was cooking, she went to the wine rack and selected a bottle of Valpolicella. She turned to Aland and asked: “Do you drink alcohol?” “Yes. I Christian.” “Would you want some?” “Si, prego.” Aland devoured the steaming bowl of linguini and even scrubbed the sides of the plate with a piece of bread she put on the table. “Do you want some more?” “Yes, please.” After two bowlfuls of pasta, Elsa had to ask: “When was the last time you had a meal?” There was some hesitation. At last, Aland allowed: “Ate some cheese in Catania.” “When was that?” “Week ago.” Elsa grasped Aland’s arm and dragged him to the bathroom. “You need to take a bath. While you are doing that I will wash and dry your clothes, and will get you a razor and soap so you can shave.” From a closet, she took out an old robe and handed it to him. “Wear this when you come out, while your clothes are getting cleaned.” Aland gave her an astonished look, but obeyed. Elsa took his filthy clothes to the laundry room in the basement and put them in the washer. She then went out to the convenience store across the street, bought shaving gear, cologne, snacks, and more wine. By the time she came back, the clothes were ready to go into the dryer. “Why am I doing this?” she asked herself. “I am no Samaritan.” She did not know the answer, but something in her heart told her it was the right thing to do. When Aland emerged from the bathroom, clean and beardless, he was another man. Elsa noticed that he was very handsome, though quite thin. He had an aquiline nose, dreamy amber eyes, unruly dark curls, and an innocent expression that had survived the war’s horrors. “How old are you?” she asked, while pouring him a second glass of wine. “Twenty-one” was the reply. “What did you do before… before the war?” “I musician. I play oud” he answered, pointing to the fat lute leaning against the sofa. “Do you have any other skills?” “What is skills?” “Things you know how to do. Fixing cars or making chairs or doing electrical work.” “In Ghouta, after government attacked, I learned to repair houses.” “Good. If you have any chance of being allowed to stay you will have to show you have employable skills.” A few minutes later, Elsa led him to the sofa and went to the bedroom to find a pillow and blankets. When she returned, he was fast asleep. ​ III Aland was still asleep when Elsa went to the lobby to pick up her copy of Il Messagero. Back at the apartment, she made espresso and began thumbing through the news. In the Cronaca section that ran local stories, her attention was drawn to this headline: “Blitz al campo nomadi nel Fritto Misto: 11 arresti.” The story described how during the evening a police contingent had raided the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II and rounded up a number of Syrian illegal immigrants, who were taken into custody for potential incarceration or deportation. Elsa shook Aland awake and showed him the article, asking: “Are these your friends from the park?” Aland stared uncomprehendingly at the article, but the story was accompanied by a picture of a policeman dragging an old bearded man away, and Aland roared in recognition: “Nazir! What done him?!” He began shaking with fear. It took Elsa a few minutes to calm the boy enough so she could explain what had happened. “Someone called the police and reported the gathering in the park. The authorities these days are cracking down on undocumented aliens, and your friends will probably end up in a tent city where Africans, Syrians and other illegals are confined. Some of these camps have been open for years.” “We try to find way to go to Germania” he started. Then a new thought assaulted him: “Will police come for me?” He began trembling again. Elsa tried to be reassuring. “Do not fear. Nobody knows you are here. You can stay until we can figure out how to solve your situation.” Deep inside, she began worrying about the mess she was getting into but brushed the concern aside. “Grazie, grazie, Isabella” repeated Aland, overwhelmed. She gave a tight smile in response. IV In the next few days, Elsa researched how to get Aland to stay legally in Italy or, failing that, how to find a way of moving him out of the country and into more hospitable destinations like Germany or Scandinavia. The results were frustrating: while Italy recognized an alien’s right to obtain asylum in appropriate cases, the procedures for securing asylum were time consuming and complex, particularly since the agencies charged with evaluating asylum petitions were swamped. There was also a growing bias against allowing any additional immigrants to come into the country “to steal jobs from Italians.” Aland was opposed to revealing himself to the Italian authorities. His arrival in Sicily had been the work of smugglers, who later had carried him and his companions to Fregene, a beach town an hour’s bus ride from Rome. Having failed to present himself for evaluation as a potential asylum seeker, he feared he would be immediately sent to a detention center. Trying to get him out of the country was just as perilous. The normal means of transportation – bus, train, airlines – were not available since there would be immigration controls at various points. There were probably smugglers who, for a price, could accomplish the human transfer but Elsa did not know any and trying to find one was difficult: the few sites for which she could find links on the internet seemed suspiciously like scams meant to defraud the desperate or their relatives. Aland had tried to contact his friends in exile for potential leads but had not been able to find anybody; the smugglers in Lebanon who had brought him into Italy seemed to be out of business. Aland’s stay at the apartment stretched uncomfortably from a day to a week and then two weeks. He gained weight and lost some of the haunted look that had set on him during the war, but remained restive and anxious to get on with his life. Meanwhile, Elsa had become more of a homemaker than ever before. She tried cooking new dishes for him, and some of her culinary attempts were successful. Elsa had made frantic inquiries from just everyone she knew, but nobody could steer her in the right direction. The closest thing to a workable suggestion was offered by Elsa’s immediate boss at the magazine where she worked, a no-nonsense widow who had seen her share of domestic entanglements. Her curt advice was: “Marry him, get him papers, and then divorce him.” Elsa was startled by the suggestion, but not as surprised as she ought to have been. After weeks of living with a handsome boarder, her romantic juices had started to flow and resignation to the life of a spinster had become harder. She had liked Aland from the start, and affection had grown into infatuation. She often caught herself wondering what married life with a pretty boy half her age would be like. Aland, for his part, was in awe of this efficient woman who knew all the answers and took good care of him as if he were an exotic pet. But romance between them never crossed his mind. So it was that, on a Saturday night over veal scaloppini and Chianti, Elsa presented the problem to Aland and described a potential solution. “Aland, you have been hiding in this apartment for six weeks and we have found no way of getting you safely out of here. We need to do something.” “I understand. I leave tonight.” “That’s not what I had in mind. There is a potential way out of this situation, but it’s a bit extreme. We can get married.” Aland’s mouth dropped. “Like husband and wife?” “Yes. The spouse of an Italian citizen may apply for Italian citizenship after he has legally resided in Italy for at least two years. That will be also the minimum processing time for the application, but at that time you will become a legitimate Italian.” “But I don’t want to get married.” He stopped short of mouthing it, but the words “to you” were implicit. “It would only be a temporary thing, but we would need to go through it to get your application approved.” “How would it work?” “First, we would get married. I can sneak you out of here early one morning and take us to my parish priest, Father Carlo, to marry us and initiate the process. Then I would take the marriage certificate issued by the parish to the Town Hall for registration. Then we would have to round up, or generate, a number of documents relating to you – some would have to be created and others secured through some means. As I said, the process, after the application is filed, would take two years.” “We would have to live together for two years?” “Yes. Maybe longer. Italian bureaucracy is terrible.” “Meanwhile you support me?” “I would.” Aland said nothing, but his face registered great distress. Elsa sought to reassure him: “We don’t need to decide on this tonight. Let’s go to sleep and talk some more in the morning.” “Okay.” The promised conversation, however, became a game of cat and mouse. Elsa pressed gently, but Aland remained non-committal. Sensing this, Elsa tried to avoid a confrontation that might turn out for the worst. She expected that Aland would ultimately say yes. Five days later, he went away without warning. Elsa found a scribbled note on the breakfast table: “Cara Isabella: I go now. I have much respect for you. You have been like mother to me. I could never love you or live with you for two years. Nazir is out on street and found a smuggler to take us to Germania. We take train north tonight. I took Euros from your purse for smuggler. I pay you back. Thank you for everything, Aland.” V Aland’s departure was a staggering blow. Elsa was certain that she could have made their relationship work, if given a chance, but she never had the opportunity. Her self-esteem was shattered by the realization that she was not attractive enough to get a man interested in her, even under the extreme duress that Aland was experiencing. She was sorry for the boy, who might be out only hours before getting captured or worse. And, what she had failed to acknowledge before, she loved Aland and would always miss him. For the first time in years, she called in sick and got herself into bed wearing only her nightgown. It was only morning, but she fell into an unquiet sleep amidst bouts of crying. Late in the afternoon, she opened a bottle of scotch that she kept in case special visitors arrived and drained it little by little. She then drew out a chair and sat at the balcony, watching with unseeing eyes as the sun sank behind Rome’s skyline. Night fell, but Elsa did not move from the balcony, even when it got increasingly chilly. The sounds of the evening rush slowly died out. Finally, Elsa gave a deep sigh and got up. She felt very old and tired. As she stumbled to move the chair indoors, she heard the rumbling of trains at the station. It was 11:27 PM, the departure time for the last trains from Termini to Venezia, Milano and Firenze. Her last train was also gone. Yet, unlike the trains at Termini, there would not be new departures for her. She wondered what it would feel like to drop from her fifth-floor perch. Leaning over the iron grille, she looked down. She contemplated the ground below, right at the entrance of the station. She raised herself over the grille, took a deep breath, and jumped. VI Rumor has it that the Termini station is haunted. Every night after eleven, when the last trains get ready to depart, a disheveled woman wearing only a nightgown meanders from train to train, looking for someone. When travelers or station personnel approach her, she ignores their inquiries and disappears before anyone can reach her. Meanwhile, in the Dormodosola crossing between Italy and Switzerland, an apparition brings chills on clear nights to custom officials from both countries. A spectral youth seemingly tries to board a train heading north towards Zurich, but vanishes into the night air before reaching it. Some of the older Swiss patrolmen say they recall the time, years ago, when a foreign boy tried to run out of a train as officials walked through the wagons checking passports and opening bags for contraband. An official fired a warning shot into the air and accidentally struck the boy in the back, killing him. The spectral boy continues his eternal flight, but never tries to move towards a southbound train coming into Italy. ​ Matias was born in Cuba, and migrated to the United States as a young man. He became an engineer and lawyer and practiced for nearly fifty years. After retirement, he took up creative writing. Over one hundred of his short stories have been published or accepted for publication in anthologies and paying magazines, blogs, audiobooks, and podcasts. Some of his unpublished works have also received "honorable mentions" from several paying publications. The first collection of his stories, “The Satchel and Other Terrors” was released in February 2023 back to issue no.1

  • rich boucher | ephemeras magazine

    The Real Me Rich Boucher I was standing there, in my kitchen, just in some black boxer briefs and a sock and trying to remember how coffee is made because I just got up and because I woke up with a huge headache but my mind was on finding some Proud Boys somewhere in the United States and killing them. I woke up from whatever I was dreaming about thinking of murdering American terrorists, the stinking, chubby bodies of Meal Team Six at my feet in their stupid black-and-yellow play clothes. I didn’t have a gun, never owned a gun and could only guess at how one gets a gun. It was quarter to six in the morning, a quarter to the first slivers of sunlight over the top of the mountain and it was a quarter to epiphany in the morning when the phone rang. It was me , calling me. Even without the first cup of coffee in the morning I knew this was ridiculous and stupid and impossible. Who is this, really? My voice sounded a little scared. It sounded like I was a person who was afraid of something even though it wasn’t dark out anymore. The Keurig pot burbled and farted liquidly in the background as if trying to remind me that real life was also a thing I should take an interest in. There was no way it was actually me calling myself, because I was right there and I’d have known if I made a phone call or not. I know I’d have known. The voice on the other end of the line got louder suddenly, sounding irritated more than anything else. I am YOU, you idiot, and what makes you think you could get away with killing someone? In fact, what makes you think you could kill a person in the first place? You know you don’t even have that in you - you’re way too much of a coward. I really don’t care for being spoken to like that by anyone, so I hung up on myself. The rest of it you already know. Life Is Not Easy Rich Boucher Such a pretty bus ride at first. We rode together, all of us paying patrons, through a wealthy and extravagant and rich old person’s sprawling green estate, with our fancy silver tour bus trundling slowly up and down every hill and meekly, cautiously around each curve that was winding, and also wealthily in the pricey, pleasant sunshine, and also peacefully along for an hour surrounded by gorgeous, many-splendored, multihued foliage and geraniums and violets and petunia begonias and inheritance marble statues and flowerbeds and tall, gesticulating ferns and pretty sunlight that poured hot gold over us like we were all beautiful. Some kind of flutist or harp player sweetly harped (or flute-played) the Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn in the background of our tour; we could hear that genteel and sugary classical song out the windows of the bus and that’s when right then a huge chunk of all pungent hell broke loose: the old man in the back of the bus, the one who had been wearing that stupid fedora and bowtie, he’d had some kind of medical attack and fell over, he had some kind of bio attack and keeled over off of his seat, this old man had some kind of elderly man attack and tumbled off his bus seat and crumpled over, strangling and making bicycle motions with his legs and trying to get a scream out and that’s when he shat himself. The world ended forever for a little while when we all realized what he’d done. Now, I paid sixty dollars for this tour and since this guy ruined my afternoon and the afternoon of the others and the afternoon of history and the afternoon of love and the afternoon of good taste and manners and since the tour company said they wouldn’t give refunds and since all sales were final I had to get revenge and satisfaction and so I did it. I’m the one who did it; it was me. I leveled my lovely Uzi towards the old man’s head and emptied my clip into him because once a person shits themselves on a bus where other people have no way to escape from it, that person must be euthanized. The other people on the bus acted all shocked and all afraid like they’d never seen a mercy killing before, even though every single one of them has at least one time in their life witnessed the slow, unmerciful murder of life in the eyes of the cashier who is being exsanguinated by retail life itself. I am reminded (and you are also) of a time when I was sitting on one of those benches at the mall many years ago. A Europeanly attractive mother (think Ava Gardner; think Tina Louise; think Hedy Lamarr) in a majestically tight pink sweater was sitting across from me on a nearby bench, and she had this little baby with her. While the mother was looking at her phone and while I was looking at the mother, this little creature of hers looked straight at me and told me with a snarl that life was not easy. I didn’t know that until the baby told me. Life is not easy. Sometimes you have to euthanize someone who makes the bus smell worse than it normally does. Rich Boucher resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Rich's poems have appeared in The Nervous Breakdown, Eighteen Seventy, Menacing Hedge, Drunk Monkeys, Pink Disco, and Cultural Weekly, among others. Rich serves as Associate Editor for the online literary magazine BOMBFIRE. He is the author of All Of This Candy Belongs To Me, a collection of poems published by Jules' Poetry Playhouse Publications. Peep for morel. He loves his life with his love Leann and their sweet cat Callie. back to issue no.1

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