“I can’t believe I finally got you to come out with me.” Raine bounced in her seat as we made our way to the bar across town. “You haven’t been out since before we moved into the apartment.”

Raine and I had been friends since first grade. We grew up like sisters, never without the other. Our freshman and sophomore years we lived in separate dorms, but our junior year, we moved in together. We had only lived together for four months, but according to her, that was a lifetime of not going out.

“How could I say no when you were lying on the floor acting like a two-year-old?” I flashed her an irritated look.

“I was not,” she argued. She forcefully turned her head to glare out the side window, trying to avoid my stare.

If there was one thing Raine was good at, it was her ability to argue over anything.

“It didn’t hurt that you bribed me with your new jeans.” I smiled like I won something as I looked down at the jeans that fit me perfectly.

“Those are yours by the way, I bought you the same pair.” She returned my smile but…..




“You’re going blind, Victoria.” His words were soft, but to her ears, he may as well have been shouting. The way he sprang it on her was cruel and tactless, devastating, heartless, and all the other things her mind echoed to keep her focused on anger instead of the burning hopelessness in her heart. She would have given just about anything for him to take back the three words she’d dreaded her entire life. “How bad is it?” she asked meekly. The doctor sighed as he wheeled his stool closer, his wrinkled hands jittery as he once again pressed the Phoroptor against her face. “Just tell me if you notice any difference between lens A… and lens B…” The machine vibrated as he pushed back a little dial, shifting the positions of the glass cards inside. Victoria’s vision blurred as her eyes readjusted to the tiny letters projected on the opposite wall. “Is it better or worse?” he asked and she sighed, already knowing…………



It couldn’t be, no, no, no. The directions said the additional line could take two to three minutes to show up. The extra blue line showed immediately, before she even set the testing stick on the bathroom counter. It was probably a faulty test. An error. Her heart pounded so hard it was causing a headache. With shaking hands, she fumbled with the box as her anxiety escalated to panic. She dialed the 800 number the packaging provided and pleaded with the call representative to tell her the test was mistaken.

The agent explained, “The only time they’ve ever been wrong is on occasion the test will say negative and it’s really a positive, but if it says positive, they’re accurate every time.”

As she hung up the cordless handset her body retched as if adding confirmation of the test results. This was not the way her perfect summer was to end. Damn. A part of her longed for her mother. Would it be easier or harder to have her parents here for this crisis? Would they be thrilled to be grandparents or upset she had gotten pregnant with someone she barely knew?



I’m anarchic with curly black hair and thick-rimmed glasses.

I’ve always been that way, since I was little and used to go to school on a bicycle, wearing strange hats that made my classmates laugh. ‘The girl with the hat,’ they used to call me. It was part of my identity. Later I was ‘The Delusional Diva’, or DD. Below the hat anything went, from goth to 1990s idol to trash chic. There had been phases.

My mother has been anarchic before me. I know because I inherit her clothes, even at this late stage in my life. (Is forty late?) They’re outrageous, even for the sixties, especially for the sixties in a smallish town in northern Italy. I think in 1963 Veneto, those clothes must have looked more like 1994 Shoreditch. Mum had probably coupled them with an ill-advised perm. My curls, instead, are natural. There’s nothing I can do about them. DD needs no perms.



  For some the word conspiracy holds a near mythological status in America. It became a term for uncomfortable ideas that conspiracy critics and government officials disdain. Crazies, scavengers, government obsessed, liars, and profiteers in tin foil hats. These insults follow some who suggest a modern American plot. Great skepticism is reasonable, yet only a biased view dismisses all contending evidence without some consideration. Minor conspiracies occur with unfortunate regularity in the United States legal system. Criminal conspiracies are often a part the various charges suspects face. However, these minor conspiracies are not the kind discussed in this book. While they are similar in nature, their scope is usually highly limited and it does not create societal damage of such enduring prominence.



  “Just go, you fucking liar.” Are the words I hear while sitting on my back porch reading my next love affair. Deep mumbling sounds of frustration ensue, I hear a high-pitched squeal, “Just fucking go, we’re done! It’s over! Leave!”

On that note, I rose from my comfortable chair and quietly walked toward the chaos to find a young couple in a lover’s quarrel. Two stubborn people didn’t equal a care-free relationship, but I could tell they cared for each other. I watched as he jumped in his car mumbling a few sad words. I wasn’t quite sure what he said, but his shoulders slumped, his eyes filled with tears as he drove off. After I could no longer see his tail lights, I watched as the willowy girl dropped to the ground in a fit of sobs. Waiting a second to allow her to calm enough to edge the embarrassment, I creeped up to her. She must’ve registered my approach, because she turned with a jolt and her eyes narrowed. With venom, she spat, “How long have you been listening? I never took you for an eavesdropper, mother!”



The distinct popping sound of gunfire can be heard echoing through the armored and reinforced interior of Air Force one. Four Secret Service agents rush up the stairs into the President’s traveling office at the top of the jets cabin.

The President is pushed through the communications room and into a corner of the lounge just outside the cockpit door. The agents take positions around the room hoping to save the President’s life. Two other people in the office follow protocol and crouch to the sides of the aircraft to stay out of the agents line of fire to the stairs. The third man, General McKinnon draws his own weapon and takes position in line next to the agents. They all await the approaching threat to enter or for the all clear to be given.

“What’s happening out there? Is it terrorists? Did someone sneak on board with the press pool?”

A violent shutter reverberates through the 747 followed by the sudden loss of gravity as the plane begins to quickly descend toward the earth. Shouted warnings are given over the intercom as the President and his men are thrown against the ceiling of the craft.

“Massive depressurization detected. We are making emergency descent to eight thousand feet.”

Immediately after the aircraft begins its controlled fall, the noise of gunfire ends and the clamor of screams and shouting echo up the stairwell to the men. The President watches lead agent

Barlow holding his hand to his ear, getting filled in on his earpiece even as he works to steady himself on the ceiling and readies for the gravity to return.

A chill runs along the President’s spine when he sees the fear etched on the face of this man he thought was made of stone.




 “Aw, does someone have a case of cold feet?” my friend Sylvie asked as she checked my pulse. She gave me a reassuring pat and we were in understanding that all would be fine. Sylvie, my nursing instructor helped me through clinical and became my Oldestie, as she called it, My oldie but bestie! She treated me like a daughter but didn’t tell me what to do.



   The inscription was the only thing Dr. Jack Seward could focus on as he felt the darkness overtake him. In the darkness was peace, with no harsh light to illuminate the tattered remains of his life. For years, he had devoted himself to fighting back the darkness. Now he simply embraced it.

Only at night could Seward find peace with the memory of Lucy. In his dreams, he felt her warm embrace. For the fleeting moment, he could be back in London, to a happier era, when he found meaning through his place in the world and his research. This was the life he had wished to share with……




  It had been far too long since I sorted through the box labeled in purple crayon: ‘Sage Riley’s belongings’. As I pulled it out from under my side of the bed – the left – with ease, anxiety crept in; the anticipation for what I’d find there almost unbearable. The word fragile was misspelled on the opposite side of the box, this time in orange rather than purple. A carefully planned route was finally depicted on a map in my right hand. Setting it aside, I intended to find…….