Flash fiction: “Circadian”



            [Kyoto, Japan. Mid-Fall, 2007. Leather jacket, jeans, black t-shirt. Dusk, that time of day when there’s enough sunset left to appreciate, but not so much as to dissuade folk from turning on their lanterns.]

            I’m lying by the river when somewhere, far off and faint, a violin begins to play. It takes me longer than it should to realize it’s an old Ella Fitzgerald tune, but my brain gets there when the progression gets to the D minor [the one right before the chorus]. It’s an odd thing, the chemical reaction that occurs when a well-arpeggiated minor chord rings out against the harshly crisp air that always seems to accompany autumn; something about minor thirds and fallen leaves, I suppose.

            I’ve been counting sheep and counting shots, tallying up missed hours of sleep and ingested cubic millilitres of saki. It’s little wonder why life feels more manageable from a horizontal position; Japanese businessmen can put them away, and jet lag is a bitch. Chords warble along the breeze, A-flat into F minor into G7.  Dream a Little Dream of Me, that’s the song. She sings it with Louis Armstrong, Ella does. The violinist has finished now, and he/she has either packed it up or wandered off, since there’s no more music to be had. In its place there’s only the gentle hum of the city and the delicate chatter of the two young travellers splayed out on a picnic blanket to my right, just within earshot. She’s talking about a band she likes; yeah, but they’re no Zeppelin, he says.

            The houses, set on stilts, glow brightly in the evening fog, and with so much texture to the air it’s as though you could reach out and touch the part of the universe where the neon lights rub up against the dark. The lanterns that hang from the eaves of the buildings are pleasantly old-fashioned, and something in their flickering helps with my sense of calm.

            The grass beneath me is wet between my fingers, and I try and think of the last time it rained. Kyoto is beautiful in the rain, on those days when the damp and the chill slow the normally mad city down just enough to remind you how ancient it really is. Some dream of history, others drink it in. Me, I just want to fall into the heartbeat of the place, let the old circadian cadence put to rest most all of the unsavory distractions that pester the soul on the daily.

            The violin begins again, but this time I don’t recognize the melody. 

words, “Circadian,” by Josh Elyea

colour, “Blue Sheep,” by Mi Ju

Blueberry Leaves


Those people who latch on
for stability.
What good is it to you
to bear the weight
of their despair?
Forced down
by the pressure of shared frustrations,
strapped to the same sinking ship.
Sure, blueberries can float in water…but can we?

word by Jessica Goldson

colour by Mi Ju


More Interesting Things



The bottoms of the little creature’s feet were rough, as if they were covered in the tips of hazelnut shells. This was a thing it didn’t much like about itself. If it could have gotten some kind of procedure to fix its feet—surgery, maybe, or even something more temporary like a medical pedicure—it would have done it, but it wasn’t sure that it had time or money and besides, it didn’t even know if such a thing existed. Sometimes, just as it was about to fall asleep, the creature would feel the skin on the soles of its feet catch against the smoothness of its bed sheets (especially if the sheets had just been laundered), and it would wince.

Today, the creature was hurrying to work. As it scurried down the sidewalk, the petals on its back fluttered in the wind. The delicate, podlike lashes around its wide eyes blinked, keeping the debris of the city out of its face. The creature was carrying a stack of important documents. It wore a backpack and a satchel and was almost indistinguishable underneath it all—it must have looked, to passersby, like a worried fire hydrant. It didn’t wear much of anything, being covered in bright, yellow feathers (unlike poor, naked humans) but it wore a pair of dress shoes to the office—not because of its horny soles, but because it was afraid of the condensed exhaust and glass dust on the streets around its place of business. These dress shoes protruded from the bottom of the moving stack of bags, papers, and glittery fluff that was the little creature.

Rounding a corner, the creature caught a man staring at it. It was aware of its unusual appearance—how could it not be—but sometimes, it also caught people staring deeply into its eyes, which were a swirling, flaming mash of reds, like the palette of an indecisive stop sign. When the creature looked deeply into another person’s eyes, it could see an awe and an uneasiness there that made it think that it might be more powerful than it itself suspected. It wondered what this power could do. Sometimes it felt that, being an extraordinary creature, it should be trying to do more interesting things with its life. It knew, at the very least, that it should be asking for a raise.

The creature was so distracted by the staring man and its own racing thoughts that it didn’t see the bicycle coming around the corner. It was knocked onto its back, violently. Its papers were scattered through the intersection. As it went flying inconveniently through the air, it heard a small child on the sidewalk yell, “Mommy, what is it?” As it landed, it heard the cyclist yell, “Oh shit!” It could see the reds of its own eyes. It hoped to God it didn’t die before it had the chance to do something about its feet.   

word “More Interesting Things,” by Charlotte Joyce Kidd

colour, “Lemon Bear,” by Mi Ju

Issue 225: “At Daybreak”

For Jennifer 3 (1)

There is a room in the red house up the block that lets sound neither escape nor enter.  Its floor-to-ceiling window faces East.  The other walls are bare.  In the center of the room stands a canvassed easel off of which loosely hang a palette and brush.  But there are no colors to paint with.

At dawn, the woman who lives in the red house goes to the room and locks the door behind her.  She takes the palette and brush and settles in front of the canvas in a painterly posture.  The brow of the sun emerges from behind the buildings opposite her house.  The sun washes the room in the same hue as scrambled eggs.  She does not speak as she studies the canvas or the landscape in front of her.  She searches them with the intensity of one who is trying to pop her own pimples.

Her stomach’s growl sounds like someone squeezing an empty bottle of ketchup.  Every wall is a window.  The suck-suck of her heartbeat fills the room.  The woman dabs at the empty palette with the dry brush, which she holds the way you might imagine holding a wand.

The sun still rises. She runs the brush over the surface of the palette several times.  An inflating lung sounds like the hush when you go from out to inside a tunnel.   Her control of the brush for all intents and purposes seems limited to Mr. Miyagi’s recommendation to ‘paint the fence.’  The bristles on the brush appear frayed from overuse.  She has been doing this for a while.  Alive, she restores the palette and brush and leans on the wall adjacent to the window.

In this room, she is sound.

A crowd of boys on the street below walks hunched together.  One of them holds a baseball.  They can’t be older than fourteen.  The woman in the room smiles down on them as if they were her own children.  Her grin reveals that her 9th and 10th teeth have been badly broken.  The boys down below look up at her and mock her.  They pretend to paint.  The boys, they have all seen her before.  The woman’s expression, though, remains.

Her ears ring painfully as the glass shatters.  The room gasps for sound as would someone for air.  The baseball rolls across the ground and stops by the base of the easel.  The boys below laugh and walk away triumphantly.  The woman does not say anything but she has stopped smiling.  Their laughter hurts the way it hurts to have a snowball fight barehanded.  The woman wonders why they threw the ball through her window.  She spends the remainder of the morning picking up the glass shards and putting them in a recycling bag.

I wonder if she is a sad woman.

word by Jacob Goldberg

“The artwork that goes along with this painting gave me pause about how I can let technology control my life and consequently, forget to maintain focus and care about on what’s going on around me and inside me.  The woman in this story fights that as she is disciplined and compassionate – she just gets picked on for being different.” 

colour by Yukai Du, an illustrator and animator from Guangzhou, China, currently based in London.

“In 2012 I finished my BA Animation degree in Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, China.
‘Musical Chairs’ was my BA final project, also my first animation film.

Two years later I have received my MA degree in Central Saint Martins College in London.
I focused on research skills during my first year study in MA Communication Design
and then transferred to MA Animation in the second year for a more practical project ‘ Way Out’ – my second animation film.
Meanwhile, I have also been working as designer and animator in M-I-E studio, London.”

listening to the sewer

nychos 0

Above and below surfaces, things fall apart.


I am slick and black but I am not like you. Undulating beneath New York City pavement and thrashing against walls of concrete, my slippery skin has begun to wear. I am speaking to you when you are not listening, filaments of plastic wrappers bind my teeth but I have not lost momentum. The weight of the ocean is throbbing against the tunnels of your subway trains and cars, threatening collapse of cherished architectural capital. How much longer will the patchwork of your tired men hold up the cohesion of this city?


See my shadow as I pass, roaming pre-historic. Feel the echoing THUMP of my tail as you unlock your bicycle from the post, a little tipsy after midnight.

Watch the bathwater drain from the tub and listen for the suction as I inhale your pubic hair, phlegm and soap scum. My belly is pulsating, white, smooth and heavy and I am sick on your waste; hear me groan.

See the ripples and cracks in the concrete, press your ear to open gorges in the sidewalk and listen. I am speaking to you when you are not listening: Hear me as the F train exhales upon arrival – look down for a moment between the platform and doors that rattle.  


As you stand immobile on that subway train hurtling underground, remember your mortality. This city constructed with imperial dreams and blood, shrouded with fears as my hard, black dorsal fin propels me through the organized chaos, the quick of my tail displacing the debris, my underbelly pulsating, white, smooth and pristine.

As the tides rise, feel me coursing through the underground arteries – hear me gnash my teeth and see my shadow pass silent beneath your feet.


Above and below surfaces, things fall apart, and you are bound to one another. You glide over oceans, across invisible lines, to reach each other. Return to Montréal and see how colours turn outside your window, suffused with light: you steep handpicked medicine in cold glass jars, wrapping threads she wove around your wrists. You have eaten the fruit: wet strawberries from California, the mint and green grapes she sliced into halves.

word by Alisha Mascarenhas

colour by NYCHOS