'Road Trip At Night' by Zach Murphy

Jared drove as the rain pounded the windshield and the wipers squeaked to ear-twitching levels. His girlfriend Tammy sat in the passenger seat. Julie and Tim sat in the back. A suitcase rested between the two. They pretty much broke up in the morning. Tim blamed Julie for everything.
       ‘You two are quiet,’ Tammy said, peaking around the seat. Julie let out a ‘Meh.’
       ‘Well, it’s all downhill from here,’ said Jared.
       ‘In the good way or the bad way?’ asked Tim.
       ‘Good, of course.’
       They were still about three hours away from Jared’s cabin up North. Tim squirmed. He couldn’t bring himself to turn his head even an inch toward Julie’s direction. The awkwardness practically fogged the windows.
       ‘You guys want some Combos?’ Tammy asked, holding out the bag.
        Tim shook his head, ‘No thanks, I’m not really a pretzel guy.’
       ‘I’ve always thought the cheese and pretzel go really well together,’ said Tammy. ‘Julie?’
       ‘Sure,’ Julie said, grabbing a small handful. She crunched into them. The noise from the chewing sounded violent to Tim.
       ‘Can you turn on the radio?’ Tim asked.
       Jared snapped on the dial. Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ faded in through the speakers. Tim clenched his jaw as he glanced out the window and noticed his reflection. He was beside himself.
       ‘Wait,’ Tim proclaimed.
       ‘What?’ Jared asked.
       ‘It’s me,’ Tim answered.
       Julie turned and gave Tim a strange look. Tammy’s face popped out from behind the back of her seat, ‘What’s you?’
       Tim sat up, gesturing with his hands, ‘You know when you’re riding in a car at night, and a light glares on the window in a certain way, and you see your reflection off to the side and it feels like you’re sitting next to yourself?’
       ‘I’m not following,’ said Jared.
       ‘When it happens to me, I feel all weird and uncomfortable. Like, I don’t want to be near me. I can’t stand it,’ Tim continued.
       Julie face-palmed. Tammy and Jared looked at each other from the corner of their eyes.
       ‘I still don’t get it,’ said Jared.
       ‘Never mind,’ Tim said, slouching down.
       Just then, the light occurred again. Tim took a deep breath, unbuckled his seatbelt, opened the car door and tuck-and-rolled out into the rain, onto the pavement.
       Tim was alright—he just needed some fresh air.

Zach Murphy is a Hawaii-born, multi-faceted writer who somehow ended up in the charming but often chilly land of St. Paul, Minnesota. His stories have appeared in Haute Dish, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, WINK, and the Wayne Literary Review. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly and loves cats and movies. You can read his film reviews at http://fadetozach.blogspot.com/.

Let’s stay in touch…

Clover & White publish short stories, flash fiction and poetry every Sunday. If you like what we do, share the love and let others know about us. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram & Twitter, and join our Mailing list!

Have a short story, flash fiction or poem to submit? Awesome! We would love to hear from you. Visit our submissions page for all the details.

‘Steve and Nick’ by Michael Lacare

They sit in the Dodge, Steve and Nick, eating hamburgers and chomping on fries. The engine is running and the radio plays Blondie’s, Out in the Streets.
       Steve is in the driver’s seat, peering down at his food. Next to him, Nick is chewing and staring out the passenger window at the First Federal Bank. An older man with a cane wanders up to the doors and a woman with red hair and a blue dress holds the door open for him. The older man nods at her and slips inside; the woman follows.
       It feels warm in the car, and Steve turns down the AC. He picks out another fry and jams it into his mouth.
       “It’s a good day,” Nick says, eyes still glued to the bank.
       “It is,” Steve says.
       Nick takes the last bite of his burger, crumples up the wrapper. He tosses it into the brown bag the food came in on the floor by his feet.
       The parking lot is nearly vacant except for the employee vehicles and the customers patronizing the adjacent shops. To the right of the bank, a woman in the window of a flower shop is arranging long-stemmed roses in variant colors: yellow, white, red, pink, placing them in equally brilliant vases.
       Nick wonders about the last time he had brought home flowers, not that Sally cared for them. “They’re not my thing,” she’d say and would rather have him bring her cigarettes, and she’d sit at the small wooden table they kept outside their single-wide trailer, gray smoke dancing above her head like drunken ghosts.
       The car reeks of meat and salted fries and stale cigarettes. Nick cracks open the window.
“Hey,” Steve says.
       Nick looks at him.
       “The AC’s on,” Steve says.
       “Yeah. So?”
       Steve swallows the last bit of his fries. Says: “You don’t open the window when the AC is on.”
       “Who says?” Nick takes a sip of his Coke.
       “Everyone knows that,” Steve says, pitching the wrapper at him. It bounces off Nick’s shoulder and lands on the seat. Nick rolls the window back up. “It’ll stay cooler in here,” Steve adds.
       The Blondie song ends and The Who is singing about My Generation.
       Nick says, “What day is it?”
       “Thursday,” Steve says. “Why?”
       Nick shrugs. “Feels like a Friday.”
       Steve thinks it feels like a Thursday because on Fridays he’s usually at McCallister’s about now, shooting pool and tipping back a cold one, while he tries to score with Donna, one of the servers, but ends up scoring with Lacy instead. She’s older than Donna by a decade. She has long black hair with streaks of gray in it, and prominent lines that bracket her mouth like parentheses. She lets him pinch her nipples and stick his tongue in her mouth. He can taste the chicken with barbecue she’d had for dinner. They do it in Steve’s Dodge like horny teenagers, and when they are done, Steve pulls away from McCallister’s before Lacy has a chance to get back to her car.
       “Sally’s pregnant,” Nick says matter-of-factly.
       Steve glances at him but doesn’t say a word.
       “We’re going to be parents,” Nick says.
       Steve turns and looks through the windshield. A mother pushes a stroller up and over the curb of the sidewalk. She’s young and pretty, hair tied back away from her face in a ponytail. It bounces against the spot between her shoulder blades.
       Steve thinks to himself: How will they ever manage a baby? They can barely take care of themselves half the time, what with all the arguing and fighting and Sally calling the cops on Nick, and Nick always between jobs because God forbid, he keeps one for more than a month.
       “Happy for you,” Steve finally says.
       Nick nods his head. “She’s pretty excited.”
       Steve can picture her sitting in front of the trailer, barefoot, the bottoms of her feet black from walking back and forth on the dirt road that leads from their mobile home and the cluster of faded mailboxes at the entrance of the park.
       Nick glances at his watch. It’s two in the afternoon. “Beau,” he says.
       Steve looks at him.
       “That’s his name,” Nick adds, “if it’s a boy.”
       Steve wonders which of them came up with the name. “What if it’s a girl?” Steve asks.
       Nick says, “She wants Doreen, but I’m partial to Michelle.”
       Steve nods once and looks out the window again. “It takes a lot of money to raise a kid nowadays,” Steve says, letting the words sink in.
       “Tell me about it,” Nick says.
       All that formula and diapers and insurance and clothing and saving for college Steve wants to say but doesn’t. You’d have to be a goddamned Jeff Bezos to afford it. He doesn’t know how these people do it, some with two, three, four children, in fact.
       The older man with the cane exits the bank. He walks past the shops and disappears around the corner.
       Nick fires up a cigarette, cracks open the window again, blows the smoke out. “We hittin’ McCallister’s tonight?”
       Steve thinks about it. He thinks about Donna and Lacy and if returning to this town after his release was the right thing to do because not much has changed, that’s for sure. Not in twelve years. The people are the same, all doing the very same things. No one lives here, he thinks to himself. They just exist.
       “Aren’t you tired?” Steve asks.
       Nick glances at him. He’s not sure what to say.
       “Of all this?” Steve adds.
       Then it dawns on him what Steve means. “Yeah, of course I am.” Nick exhales the smoke. There are three cigarettes remaining. He will bring them to Sally, even though he’d prefer to smoke them all now, one after the other.
       “You really want that baby?” Steve says, and this catches Nick off guard. He shifts in his seat, turning in Steve’s direction. “What do you mean?”
       Steve shakes his head. “It’s a life changing event. Is it what you really want?”
       Nick thinks about what Steve says, his eyes focused on the worn leather seats. He tosses his cigarette out the window.
       “I thought about it,” Nick says.
       “Yeah?”
       Nick’s eyes meet Steve’s. “I want it.”
       “OK,” Steve says.
       “I love her, you know,” Nick says.
       Steve hesitates, then says: “I know.”
       “I’m not saying I ain’t scared though,” Nick says, that wry smile beginning to form at the corner of his mouth that Steve knows so well.
       Steve nods, cuts the engine off. He removes the keys from the ignition. In a few minutes, the vehicle will get warm again.
       Nick takes a final look at the flower shop. The woman in the window is gone. He thinks about bringing Sally home roses, after all.
       “You ready?” Steve says.
       Nick nods, and they climb out of the Dodge together. Steve walks back to the trunk. He pulls out two ski masks, hands one to Nick. Steve reaches inside again and hands Nick a Mossberg 500 Tactical shotgun. It feels heavy in his hands. Steve grabs a Desert Eagle .50 Caliber handgun, shoves into the front waistband, and pulls his shirt over it. He slams the trunk lid closed.
       They exchange a look. Nick takes a deep breath, slowly lets it out. Nick looks at his watch again. Sally would be outside their trailer by now, hanging the day’s linen on the line, and as they approach the bank, Nick thinks to himself that maybe the name Doreen isn’t so bad.

Michael Lacare has been published in numerous literary magazines as well as nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He currently lives in Florida with his wife, where he is at work on a novel. Follow him on Twitter.

Let’s stay in touch…

Clover & White publish short stories, flash fiction and poetry every Sunday. If you like what we do, share the love and let others know about us. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram & Twitter, and join our Mailing list!

Have a short story, flash fiction or poem to submit? Awesome! We would love to hear from you. Visit our submissions page for all the details.

'i'm sorry i didn't call' by J. S. Roseman

time is a line
a smile so tender

lines either intersect
or they have
or they don’t

parallel, but
just out of reach
easier not to have
than to have, knowing
that it’s something
you might lose

i guess what i mean is
heartache
is easier
than heartbreak
that kinda sound like elvis
don’t it?

two lines
one moves far from memphis
the other doesn’t see
until itself across the atlantic
too late and awkward
to say
(why did i leave)
congratulations

J. S. Roseman is an American writer who currently resides in Dublin, Ireland. His work has been featured in Sage Cigarettes and 3 Moon Magazine. Follow him on twitter @jsrwrites or check out his portfolio.

Let’s stay in touch…

Clover & White publish short stories, flash fiction and poetry every Sunday. If you like what we do, share the love and let others know about us. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram & Twitter, and join our Mailing list!

Have a short story, flash fiction or poem to submit? Awesome! We would love to hear from you. Visit our submissions page for all the details.

‘You thought I was about to shit on her huh?’ by Kristin Hunt

1.

Eve, girl you really fucked us,
one day I hope we will have a conversation
I hope to discuss why that tree was such a fuss.
(I don’t judge you)
It had knowledge and it was a fruit bearing tree.

2.

Something about a man and a snake get lost in the mix.
Eve, girl I’ll have your back in heaven,
Lets wear matching shirts,
They shall say,
WE ARE THE SAME.

Kristin Hunt is an ATL native, who pursues poetry & screenwriting. She enjoys hot, lemon pepper wings in a comfortable silence. She falls asleep to Grey’s Anatomy (season 5) almost every night. To follow more of her great work, find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Let’s stay in touch…

Clover & White publish short stories, flash fiction and poetry every Sunday. If you like what we do, share the love and let others know about us. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram & Twitter, and join our Mailing list!

Have a short story, flash fiction or poem to submit? Awesome! We would love to hear from you. Visit our submissions page for all the details.

'For What We Once Had' by Kris McGinnis

We stood at the tip of the fork where wilted bur-reed vainly clung to sloping, silt gritted banks that converged around the loose rocks and sediments of the dry riverbed.
       ‘My brother always said rivers are like the veins of the Earth…’ The old man looked down at his bare forearms where thin wires of blue fought against deep purple blotches and sallow wrinkled skin… ‘Because so much life flows through them.’
       It was the first time I’d seen it. His meekness; the mask slipping.
       My firm grip steadied him as we began walking along the uneven, jagged ground.
       ‘We used to catch Carp here. He made rods for us.’
       ‘Sounds like a nice brother.’
       The old man smiled, his teeth like a collection of the charcoal tinged stones underfoot. ‘He was…’ A somber look then washed over his face like the river that once flowed upon where we stood… ‘One day my line got snagged. He dove in to retrieve it. Never resurfaced.’
       We continued on in silence, following the parched trail as it curved around until a small cluster of trees formed at one side. He nodded towards it, my constant hold helping him to summit the inclined bank.
       Making our way through the trees, a firmness seemed to garner in his limbs, the enclosing canopy above adding an ominous presence, before we came upon a small clearing overgrown with vegetation and littered with large boulders.
       ‘This is it,’ he announced. ‘Looks different now.’
       ‘How many?’
       ‘Four.’
       ‘Point them out to me.’
       As his frail finger indicated towards various spots around us, I unclipped a radio from my belt.
       ‘Four sites confirmed. Send Forensics to the first group of trees as you round the bend.’
       He held out his bound arms towards me, handcuffs biting into the wrists.
       ‘Sorry. Not part of the deal.’
       I led him towards the nearest boulder to rest upon while we awaited the arrival of the excavation team.
       ‘At least the families will have closure now,’ I say, moreso to myself. ‘Can I ask why you chose the girls?’
       A small decrepit smile parted his lips as thin fingers were flexed out.
       ‘First one… It was the eyes. Beautiful green. The right side of emerald… The others. Like catching Carp… I enjoyed the hunt.’
       I mused over the sinisterness of his tone, a sense of vulnerability in my isolation creeping in.
       ‘Your brother said the river gave so much life; yet you brought so much death to it,’ I said, trying to reset the balance.
       The smile departed, the aura of menace eroding like the relic of the river we had just walked down. Bowing his head, I strained to hear his response…
       ‘I didn’t want him to be alone.’

Kris McGinnis is a Scottish writer of short and flash fiction with an eye for the more darker themes in life. He’s previously had flash pieces shown in the ‘Less Than 100 Words’ anthology and on Zeroflash.org

Let’s stay in touch…

Clover & White publish short stories, flash fiction and poetry every Sunday. If you like what we do, share the love and let others know about us. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram & Twitter, and join our Mailing list!

Have a short story, flash fiction or poem to submit? Awesome! We would love to hear from you. Visit our submissions page for all the details.

1 Year of Clover & White

On May 5th 2019, Clover & White published our first piece of Flash Fiction. Almost every Sunday since, we have showcased a short story, a selection of poetry or a piece of flash.

With this birthday just days away, we want to take this opportunity to once again thank all of our readers for your continued support, whether it be sharing our posts, following us here, on Twitter (where most of our comedy lives) or on Instagram.

With over 50 stories and poems showcased, we cannot believe how quickly the year has passed and that we are already celebrating our first birthday!

Although our future is not totally clear – what with the current pandemic and our own personal lives – we are proud that in just a year, we have been able to connect with incredible authors and publish some amazing pieces.

For us, Clover & White will always be for writers who don’t see their stories reflected or authors who are finally writing what they want to read, because they just can’t seem to find it. The ability to showcase and offer a platform for writers at the start of their career, is what drives us to work on this magazine.

Some of our future goals are to post more work, more often. Feature more writers. Create a space with resources for writers. And of course, PAY our incredible authors.

However, we can only do this with help. You can support us by following us on Instagram and Twitter! And, you can follow us on WordPress for email alerts whenever a new piece is published.

Thanks again, love Nicola & Alice x

'Goodnight, then.' by Kelsie Colclough

Annie realized that she would have to divorce her husband, Richard, on the day of her little sister’s wedding. That was in July. Now, it was the middle of September and she was lying in bed next to him, looking at pictures of days she’d never get back.
       The first photo—what used to be her favourite—was of Richard sitting on their leather couch, gin glass in one hand and one half of a torn Christmas cracker in the other. An obnoxious wreath of neon green tinsel was wrapped around his shoulders. He was laughing. His laughter, when he threw his head back like that, never failed to make her laugh too. It was one of the big reasons she had proposed to him by putting the ring in a handmade Christmas cracker.
       She pinned that photo back onto the corkboard above her vanity. There were others there too—snapshots she’d taken of their holiday in Spain three months ago, mostly—but they were dotted around the apartment like scattered leaves in autumn. Annie imagined grabbing a broom and sweeping them out of the front door, only to have them push back inside with the breeze.
       ‘You coming to bed soon?’ Richard asked.
       ‘In a min.’
       Richard turned off his bedside lamp. His phone kept some light in the room for a moment. She glanced over the corkboard again. Annie had taken a lot of bad photos. Objectively speaking; blurry and shaky shots from when she’d had too many shots, photos with bad lighting and worse—tired make-up artists, she’d just kept those out of her portfolio. But, by far, the worst photo was another of Richard.
       Richard, sitting in the pews, holding Lily in his arms. The little flower girl was still tossing the few rose petals she had left onto the grass, although the wedding was over. The dimming sunlight of the August afternoon fell beautifully on the scene. Maybe if she could ignore the smile on Richard’s face then she wouldn’t hate it so much.
       ‘Goodnight, then.’ Richard sighed.
       She wrapped her nightgown around her. It lacked the warmth of his arms, but at least she could breathe. In and out, steady now. But that face! It crept in on her mind, like spiders, it wouldn’t leave. The cobwebs it spun couldn’t be swept away with his reassurances, instead they trapped her thoughts constantly until they were consumed when she closed her eyes.
       ‘Would you want a boy or a girl?’ she asked.
       ‘Oh, are we talking about that now?’
       She dug her nails into her arms. ‘I’m trying to imagine it. I really am.’
       ‘Well, I’d want a boy. Name him after my dad—Liam. You’d be a good mom, Annie. I don’t know why this is affecting you so much.’
       Annie sat on the bed. It was good that it was too dark to see the frown on her face.
       ‘I just—we said at the beginning, right? Neither of us wanted kids. And it feels like, out of nowhere, you’ve changed your mind,’ she said.
       ‘It’s not out of nowhere—’
       She interrupted, ‘And what about my work? I can’t just take all that time off. I wouldn’t even want too. And all the money—childcare isn’t cheap. God, Richard, what if the kid is sick or something?’
       He reached out and took her hand. ‘You worry too much. See? Already a great mom.’
       ‘You’re not listening to me at all, are you?’
       ‘Look, he said, squeezing her hand. ‘It’s not out of nowhere. We’ve been together for over ten years now. We’ve grown so much together. I thought you would have changed your mind by now.’
       She pulled away. He couldn’t mean— ‘This whole time? And you didn’t think to say anything?’
       He reached for her hand again. ‘We should have a kid, Annie. We’d be great parents.’
       ‘We should get a divorce,’ Annie said.
       Richard sighed. ‘You know if you stopped and just thought this through—’
       ‘I am thinking it through,’ she mumbled. The cobwebs spread out and out, across their bed and through her memory, spinning threads out of his white lies.
       He turned on the light. There was no glint in his eye that she could see in the low lamplight; in a way that was a relief.
       ‘You won’t change your mind?’ he asked.
       ‘No.’ She rolled over and faced the vanity. ‘And clearly you won’t either.’
       He pulled her back, just a little closer, into his chest. His hands were shaking but became still when they linked with hers.
       He leaned his forehead against her shoulder and took a deep breath.
       ‘Let’s talk about it in the morning, Annie,’ he said. ‘We should talk about it in the morning.’
       ‘Goodnight, then,’ she whispered.
       Annie turned off the light, then closed her eyes and wondered how much it costs for autumn leaves to be swept away.

Kelsie Colclough holds a BA in English & Creative Writing from Staffordshire University. She has been published in Palm Sized Press, Corvid Queen, and Variety Pack. She can be found on Twitter @klcolclough. 

Let’s stay in touch…

Clover & White publish short stories, flash fiction and poetry every Sunday. If you like what we do, share the love and let others know about us. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram & Twitter, and join our Mailing list!

Have a short story, flash fiction or poem to submit? Awesome! We would love to hear from you. Visit our submissions page for all the details.