Nestling by Hibah Shabkhez

She scanned the ground, shaking her head to unblur her eyes. Slitheries or crunchems? He would eat the slitheries if she took him those, but she knew it was the crunchems he loved. So it was the crunchems she hopped towards, even though he was so difficult to fill up on them. It was the first time they had hatched only one egg, and the gawky creature who had emerged was utterly unlike any of their older slender-winged families. They had mourned the inexplicable smashing of the other eggs, but once he hatched they were too busy to remember them very often, except for the occasional pang when they saw other new parents with a full nest.
       But they were so very proud of him too, their big strong boy with a voice like a trumpet, not the feeble cheeping of the Daffensy children or the thin treble of the Glendows. One day soon he would learn to fly, then come back to build his own nest with his mate as other once-nestlings had done. She dipped down and picked up a crunchem almost too large for her beak, and remembered with a frown Mrs Daffensy’s bitter words “You’ll break your wings and your heart over him, and then he’ll fly away. And one day his egg will be the only one left in a nest for another pair of simpletons to slave over.”
       She had shoved the unmistakeable meaning of those words sternly aside, but they would never quite leave her. As she bent tenderly to place the morsel in the his beak and saw the hunger in his eyes turn to a moment’s contentment, her mother-heart fluttered and filled with joy, and she knew he was worth every sacrifice, every misgiving, every heart-break.

Hibah Shabkhez is a writer of the half-yo literary tradition, an erratic language-learning enthusiast, a teacher of French as a foreign language and a happily eccentric blogger from Lahore, Pakistan. Her work has previously appeared in The Mojave Heart Review, Third Wednesday, Brine, Petrichor, Remembered Arts and Rigorous. Studying life, languages and literature from a comparative perspective across linguistic and cultural boundaries holds a particular fascination for her. Follow her on Twitter @hibahshabkhez.

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Dodola by Ana Vidosavljević

When the hot summer days brought some unbearable heat that threatened to burn the soil and dry all the creeks, the women in small town of Vlasotince, Serbia would gather and prepare for Dodola.
       The little girls loved this ritual, especially six year-old Mira. She hoped that the elder women in Vlasotince would choose her to be Dodola that summer.
       It was one of the hottest summers yet. The elders believed the warm breeze came all the way from Sahara in Africa. At the beginning of August, the temperature reached 47 degrees Celsius. Radio broadcasts announced a warning for people to stay inside from ten to five and drink a lot of water. Big cisterns with fresh water were on every corner of Vlasotince, in case someone felt unwell and needed help. Mira’s grandma said you could fry eggs on the asphalt.
        That summer morning, when the temperature reached 44 degrees Celsius, the elder women gathered in Grandma Savka’s house just across the street from little Mira’s house. They sat in the shade of an old oak tree in the garden and drank cold lemonade. Mira came to the garden uninvited and shyly listened to them. Grandma Savka spotted her and waved her to come closer and help herself to the cold lemonade which was in a big jar on the small round wooden table in the middle of the circle of women. Mira obeyed happily and then, she found an empty chair just next to her Grandma.
        The elder women discussed the weather, gossiped a bit and complained about the younger generation who didn’t support their idea of Dodola performance as they didn’t understand the importance of old rituals. Grandma Savka, with a smile on her face and looking at Mira said, ‘But luckily there are exceptions. And I think Mira will be the perfect Dodola this year.
        Mira couldn’t believe it! She looked at her Grandma with her eyes wide open and her heart started beating fast with excitement. She would be Dodola, goddess of rain.
        The very next morning, the elderly women gathered again in Grandma Savka’s garden. All of them had small wreathes around their heads. And one of them, Grandma Lidija, made a special garment for Mira. It was a beautiful dress-like garment made of fresh green knitted leaves and branches.
        Mira was so proud of it. There were many other children, mostly girls, few elderly women and few middle-aged women all waiting for Grandma Savka to give the sign that everything was ready. Finally, the gathered women went outside and began walking along the street, singing the song:

       Naša dodo Boga moli,
       Da orosi sitna kiša,
       Oj, dodo, oj dodole!
       Mi idemo preko sela,
       A kišica preko polja,
       Oj, dodo, oj, dodole!
       Our doda prays to God,
       Oy dodo, oy dodole!
       To pour down dewy rain,
       Oy dodo, oy dodole!
       To pour down over fields,
       Oy dodo, oy dodole!

        They went from house to house, stopping at every one. When they arrived in front of a house, the women kept singing while Mira danced alone. A family member would take a glass or bucket of water and pour it over Dodola. Dodola proudly kept dancing.
        Many members of households along the street didn’t think the ‘pagan ceremony’ would make any difference to the weather, but seeing the procession of happy girls and women made them smile and they took part in the ritual anyway. They would come outside, sprinkle Mira with water and watch her dance.
        After a couple of hours, when the women were tired of singing and little Mira was soaked to the bone, they went back to Grandma Savka’s garden. Grandma Savka seated them on the chairs and benches and brought cold lemonade and vanilla cookies. The women smiled, giggled and chatted happily. Well, they definitely enjoyed their little ritual and they hoped, if nothing else, it, at least, brought smiles to the faces of people in Vlasotince.
        The next day, somewhere around seven in the morning, small clouds showed their faces. People in Vlasotince looked up at the sky and hoped. The clouds kept coming and they formed a grey blanket over Vlasotince. The fresh breeze brought them altogether and they threw down a heavy rain.
        Everyone in Vlasotince rushed outside and once again people were dancing on the streets, smiling and hugging one another merrily. The days of drought were over. Mira held the hand of her sister and smiled proudly as she let the rain wet her skin and soak her clothes. A broad smile appeared on her face. Watching the joy spread throughout Vlasotince she thought, maybe, just maybe, she had helped bring back the rain.

Ana Vidosavljević is from Serbia and currently living in Indonesia. She is a teacher, international relations specialist, writer, translator, interpreter, journalist, surfer and mom. Her collection of short stories Mermaids was published by Adelaide Books in September 2019, and a memoir Flower Thieves will be published by the same publishing house in April 2020. Check out her blog or follow her on instagram.

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Extinct by Zachary Schroeder

“The Triceratops is my favorite.” Damien says, looking at me with a tooth-dotted smile, consequence of a maturing mouth.
       “Why is that your favorite?” I ask, pulling the oversized white shirt over his shoulders, struggling to button him up while the young boy pulls away towards his dinosaur book.
       “They’re big like rhinos and only eat plants and never fought unless they had to.”
       I finish buttoning his shirt and Damien runs towards his book to tell me they went extinct 66 million years ago. He tells me he’s sad they are gone because he would’ve liked to ride one to school.
       I tie my black shoes and put on my black blazer, a solemn black tie accompanies them. I don’t even bother trying to put Damien’s tie on. His mother tells us we need to go from downstairs.
       “Are we going to grandma’s?” Damien asks with hopeful eyes. He hasn’t seen her since the hospital.
       “No, son.” I say, the dreaded moment registering in my brain. “We’re going to see grandma for the last time.”
       “Why? Does she not want to see us anymore?”
       “You, little man, are the only thing she would want to see.” I did expect to cry today, but not this early.
       “Grandma is going to sleep, now, forever.” I answer Damien’s questioning face. “And she’s going to miss you so much, buddy.” I hug him tight.
       “Like the triceratops?” Damien asks.
       “Kind of.” He’s too smart, smarter than I ever was at his age. “Kind of like the triceratops.”
       Damien asks if he can sit on my shoulders on the way to the car, I let him, he pretends I’m a giant dinosaur plowing through the undergrowth on the way to a watering hole.
       Vanessa is waiting at the car dressed in black. An oak tree sits next to her. Its barren branches hover over the sedan as a reminder of the cycle. I ask Damien if he wants to see grandma, even if she can’t wake up and say hi. He shrugs and says:
       “Okay, daddy.”
       “When we get home,” Vanessa says, brushing a stand of blonde hair behind the black veil attached to her hat, “We can make a page for grandma, one just like the triceratops’. So that no one ever forgets her.”
       “Even in 66 million years?” Damien asks.
       “Of course,” We lie together.


Zachary Schroeder is a freelance writer out of Austin, Texas. He recently graduated from Texas Tech University and is working on his first novel along with an anthology of short stories. Tweet him at @zschroeder342.

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Rendezvous by Christopher Moore

No sooner had he made the resolve to venture out, had the rain seemed to come on even heavier. Intensifying in strength, it felt as though all the water of the world were teeming down on the city streets. As though, like him, this was a moment of opportunity that wouldn’t come around anytime soon, as though it were now or never, and the clouds wouldn’t have the chance to open like this again.
        The deluge had him soaked through to the bone within moments as his feet splashed through the network of puddles passing for a footpath, making his clothes cling to him like damp rags lifted straight from a washing machine. His hair matted to his forehead, rain water pouring down his face and stinging his eyes with its insistence, seeping into his shoes and making every step feel like he was wading out to sea. Somewhere in the near distance, thunder rumbled, a few seconds after a flash of lightning lit up the sky, and he gave thanks that he didn’t have too far to go. That was the frustrating irony of the situation. Her accommodation was only a few streets around the corner. But, in this downpour, it only took seconds to become drenched.
        He couldn’t complain. The last time they’d been able to do this, she’d pressed through street after street of knee-deep snow, ignoring the chattering of her teeth and the shivering of her skin, to make it to the apartment he’d been staying in. Before that, he’d gone halfway across another city in a heatwave, and had been rewarded with blistered skin on his arms for not having the forethought to apply sun protection.
        Before that still, she’d braved one of the dampest autumns on record and crossed an obstacle course of a city carpeted by leaves slippery enough to risk a broken neck.
        And the less said about his own experiences with slipping and ice the time before that, the better.
        So, it didn’t matter that right now, his body felt like it consisted only of freezing water. That the sensation of being dry felt like a distant, imagined dream, that there was only rain, and being wet, in the world. In the morning, he’d be back to normal, resting in a warm, dry bed, safe from the, if the forecast was to be believed, monsoon to come. And he’d be lying beside her.
        That thought alone made him press on. Push through the shower cascading down around him like a waterfall. And hurry the rest of the way round the block, each step bringing greater anticipation of his destination.
        And then, at last, there it was.
        Her hotel.
        A new chance for memories that would sustain him for months.
       No. He hadn’t wanted to go out on a night like this.
       But, there had never been any other choice.

Christopher Moore is a graduate from Queen’s University Belfast, with an MA in TV Fiction Writing from Glasgow Caledonian University. He is an alumnus of the Curtis Brown Creative novel-writing course, and the Fireworks programme for young writers with Tinderbox Theatre Company. More recently, he has had short fiction accepted for the Nightingale & Sparrow literary magazine (2019), The Mark Literary Review (2019), and Naked Frank Theatre’s ‘Tales of the Monsters in my Head’ event at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London (14-16 August 2019). Follow him on Twitter.

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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.

Monsters are Here by William Falo

The train came to a stop, and I got off. It was the last stop. I walked with my head down, trying to avoid eye contact until I bumped into a man.
       His cigarette smashed against me, sending sparks and ashes across my clothes.
       I brushed them off as they started to singe my top.
       “Watch where you’re going.” He stood in front of me. I shrunk down as I always tried to avoid confrontation. The train pulled away, leaving me alone at the station with him.
       “Alice,” he said. I forgot to remove the nametag from the help group I led.
       The door to the bathroom opened and the sound of someone sobbing broke his intensity.
       “What took you so long?” He said to the girl who came out.
       “It was a long trip.” The girl wiped her eyes, but she couldn’t hide the redness left from crying.
       His car turned into the same neighborhood I lived in, then I lost sight of it.
       At my house, three neighbors across the street watched me. They reminded me of a flock of pigeons. Because of my social anxiety, they gossiped about me. I knew it.
       Something scraped at the back door. I edged it open, and a cat strolled inside. It strutted straight to the couch like it belonged there.
       “Don’t get comfortable, you can’t stay here.”
       As the sun went down, a party started next door.
       I stood near the closest window. After a short time, the alcohol took effect, and the neighbors got louder than the music.
       I heard my name.
       “I’m glad you didn’t invite Alice. She needs help.”
       “I bet you think I’m crazy too,” I said to the cat. It looked away.
       I heard a familiar voice. It sent chills through me. It was the man at the station.
       “Hey Drew,” someone said. “You’re new to the neighborhood?”
       “Yes, I’m renting the house behind you. I got a flyer for this party.”
       They always skipped my house when handing them out.
       “How about a family?”
       “I live alone.”
       I stiffened. What about the girl?
       I peeked out the window. It was him. “Monsters are here,” I said to the cat.
       The cat yawned. The man looked in my direction. I ducked down and didn’t move for a long time until I thought of the girl crying at the station.
       Nobody would believe me. I changed my clothes into an all-black outfit and got a knife
       The party roared on, while I slipped away from the house. At the rental house, not a single light came from the windows. Blackout shades covered all of them.
       I walked around back. It was easy to cut the screen and unlock it, but the inside door didn’t budge. I took the back end of the knife and covered it with a towel then slammed it against the glass. I reached through the broken glass and unlocked the door.
       Sobbing came from a bedroom. I opened the door and gasped. The girl shrieked.
       “It’s okay. I’m going to get you out of here.” I cut the ropes around her wrists and ankles.
       The girl was a mess, black streaks covered her face, her eyes were red and her whole body trembled.
       I took out my phone and dialed 911, then hung up.
       “What’s your name?”
       “Phoebe.”
       “What’s yours?”
       I didn’t answer because the front door opened.
       The girl gasped. I signaled for her to follow me while we slipped out the front door.
       “Run when you get outside and look for a police car.” A siren shrilled in the distance.
       I yanked the door opened and Phoebe ran outside. I got ready to follow until my phone went off. I forgot to turn it off. 911 called back. The man charged in my direction and managed to grab my waist and we both tumbled to the ground. The knife clattered away.
       He got up to chase her, but I grabbed his foot.
       He kicked my face, but I still held on to his foot. The siren got louder. Another kick to my face and pained seared through me.
       I picked up the knife and stumbled to the back door. I ran until I faded into the darkness.
       When I reached my house, the music at the party was still on. I locked every door and blocked them with furniture. I turned every light off. The man knew where I lived.
       My head pounded. The cat jumped up on the couch and rubbed against me. It was soothing until I blacked out.
       When I woke up, it was morning and my body screamed in pain, but I was glad for the surrounding silence. I looked out the window and saw the remnants of the party, beer bottles littered the yard alongside paper plates and plastic silverware. A few large crows fought over an overflowing trash can.
       “I hope they all wake up with headaches.” I plopped down on the couch with my own headache. In the mirror, I saw two black eyes that even makeup might not hide. I sat with the cat and turned on the news.
       It wasn’t long before they ran the story. The police chief stood at a podium in front of a a handful of reporters.
       “Did the girl say anything?”
       “Yes. She wants to know who the lady is that helped her escape.
       “Do you know who she is?”
       “No.” I turned it off.
       The cat stayed with me. Maybe it liked danger.
       “I’ll call you Phoebe.” The cat meowed in agreement.
       I left and looked at the three neighbors across the street. They whispered and looked in my direction. I stopped the car next to them, rolled down the window and glared at them with my black eyes.
       “Have any of you ever caught a monster before?”
       They froze with their mouths opened and none of them dared to answer. I drove past them with a smile on my face.
           

William Falo writes fiction. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Newfound, Back Patio Press, Vamp Cat Magazine, Elephants Never, and other literary journals. Follow him on twitter @williamfalo

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Bee by Leela Soma

Golden, striped beauty on a nectar filled bud
feasting as the summer rays warm the day,
but

                                                                                words that sting, rolls off the tongue in haste
                                                                                the recipient stung, in pain, shocked and reticent

the wound deep enough to scar the heart, a lesion
that rarely heals like grit in the soft lens of the
eye

                                                                                the future vision blurred. Friendship lost in mist
                                                                                of betrayal , that sweet words later never repair.

Leela Soma was born in Madras, India and now lives in Glasgow. Her poems and short stories have been published in a number of anthologies and publications. Author of ‘Twice Born’, ‘Bombay Baby’, and ‘Boxed In’, her work reflects her dual heritage. Tweet her at @glasgowlee and follow her blog.

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.

The Switch by Victor Nandi

There was a high-pitched shriek somewhere. Jack opened his eyes.
        The fading daylight filtered meekly through the dense canopy above. The ground felt moist and mushy.
        Jack rose to his feet, startled. Where was he? Trunks of tall trees soared skyward everywhere. How did he reach there? Jack tried to recall what happened. To his surprise, it was all a blur. He could remember nothing… nothing except his name.
        Jack fumbled inside his pockets and pulled out the cold round object he could feel. A compass! He peered at it under the dim light. The broken unmoving needle stared at him through the shattered glass. He tossed it away with a sigh.
        There was a distant howling somewhere. Night was approaching. He knew there was no time to deal with his confusion. He had to look for shelter first.
        Just then, there was a loud bang somewhere far away and in the next moment, a bullet whizzed past Jack’s left ear. He sank low to the ground. Something told him that they had picked his scent, but he could not recall who.
        There was another shot and a razing pellet tore through the bushes and hit the trunk of a tree a couple of feet above Jack’s head. Before he knew it, he had rolled over the ground and slipped behind a bush.
        It all seemed so familiar and yet beyond the grasp of his memory. Jack peered through the bushes, trying to spot the assailant. It was a sniper for sure. He scanned the surrounding for a potential vantage point. There were hundreds of tall trees hiding behind the partial darkness. The shooter could be anywhere.
        Suddenly, Jack spotted something in the distance. It was a jagged stony extension that raised skyward from the ground like an enormous human finger.
        That place!
        Jack looked at the unusual rock for a moment, and like a flash of lightning, it was all clear to him. The forest, the fading daylight, the broken compass, the gunshot… Jack knew the entire setup. He had seen it several times before. He even knew where the sniper was and he also knew how to take him out. Sitting in front of his gaming console, he had done it on so many occasions. Just that, this time he was at the other side of the screen.


Victor Nandi is a Senior Content Developer with an Indian Edtech Company. His stories have been published in Verdad magazine and Tiger Shark Magazine. He has also won a story competition organised by FirstNaukri, an online job portal.

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.