Photo Story: Empty Bed

Since this photo of a simple unmade bed drew more stories than any photo before, it only seems right that we publish several pieces.

Alone, I stay on my side of the bed—the left side. I have the freedom to move about and yet I cling to the edge of the mattress in a semi-fetal position, like a puppy who has been trained to stay. On others I lay on my stomach, gripping my pillow with both hands, elbows out, like I am holding onto a life raft in the middle of the ocean. Then there are the times I am so tired I fall into my nest, legs and arms falling where they may. Most nights find me facing toward his side.

Eileen McIntyre is a writer working on her first mainstream fiction novel. Eileen lives in Northern California with her ardent fan, her husband Michael.

I’d gotten up at the same time as Mary had, late as usual. Rushing to get her to work on time, we threw our clothes on and hopped into the Jeep.

“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” she said as I let her out at work, just in time.

The day dragged by from there, with me not having a moment to spare at work before it was time to pick her up. Back in our bedroom, she stared at the wrinkled sheets that were exactly the same as they had been when we’d left.

“Who’s been here? she asked.

Tony Wayne Brown’s work has appeared numerous times, including Birmingham Arts Journal, Foliate Oak, Perpetual Motion Machine, Notes, Long & Short Review, In Between Altered States, Bartleby Snopes, Short-Story Me, Gemini, Blink Ink, Postcard Shorts, The Storyteller, and Fifty Word Stories.

Lent [Because I will never leave you]

We’re told to give up some luxury; it is penitential, a pious
custom to winnow our sins. Take them away: the black birds
peering at us from a wire [the sin of beauty]; a naked bulb
swinging in the hall [the sin of desire]; a rosewater scent,
the weight of your hand on my arm [the sin of love]; a smudge
of oil on the back of your wrist [the sin of art]. What remains
has nothing to do with our souls; nothing to do with how deep
winter cuts or how abandon can burst a summer sun in two.

Alex Stollis lives in Minneapolis.

Hot flash, my ass.

The saturated bed covers clung to my backside like a second skin. A third really, I thought, as I tore off my perspiration-soaked pajamas.

A flash in the pan, a flash of a smile—both alluded to something that came and went in an instant. This bothersome “life change” had been torturing me for hours.

I dressed in a fresh gown but longed to sleep completely unadorned. Only, that assured one of the kids would have a nightmare and come into my room for comfort where my saggy, pregnancy-worn body lay waiting to terrify them further.

Susan Wenzel is a retired Navy technical writer, certified copy editor, paid food blogger, 100-word story lover, hobby fiction writer, writing blog neglecter, and occasional #amwriting tweeter.

“Come back to bed,” she said. He tried to ignore her. Her voice, the shape of her mouth, her tanned, naked body. I should look away, he told himself. It’s the sight of her that does it, he said. He closed his eyes. Held them tight. Held himself still. Hands and teeth clenched. He counted to ten. Tried not to imagine her. But her scent lingered. He counted to fifteen. Twenty. At forty-seven he opened an eye. The bed was empty. As though she had been only a memory. He heard himself whisper into the past, “Come back to bed.”

Brian G. Fay writes prose poems, blobs of words that are supposed to float in the air like a dream. Sometimes they do. If not, he writes semi-daily essays at his blog.

There’s one window, a tiny porthole. He unlocks it when he’s feeling generous. Through it she looks up to the forest floor, breathes the aroma of damp earth, and listens to wind rustling the pine needles. She can’t fit through and knows better than to try. On a thin mattress she thinks of her soft, gray kitten and her soft, gray grandmother. She imagines crisp vegetables as she crunches pork rinds. A five-gallon bucket coated with olive green paint is her toilet. She now knows: this is what you get for helping a strange man load groceries into a van.

Erin Campbell-Stone teaches geology at the University of Wyoming, and her publications are primarily in scientific journals. She writes fiction on the side.

One Response to “Photo Story: Empty Bed”

  1. Francesca says:

    Bed is my home, my dream space, my work space. Holds me as I read for hours each day. Not sharing it now – that’s ok, but I wish I was. The 70s is not perhaps what it’s supposed to be for everyone. Hippie bed, comfortable. Handmade hippie quilt. Share the view from my bed.
    I don’t miss those days.

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