Issue #65

Winter 2018 | February 2018

In this Issue:

The Disillusionment of Mermaids
by Katy Wimhurst


The sun presses warm to the barnacle of my morning. I look out to sea, longing for glimpses of tails or heads breaching the surface, but see only choppy water. I sigh. Sometimes I want rainbows to ignite in my loafers; this probably won't happen today.

Young Joe McFennan is trudging towards me on the beach, with that battered plastic lobster he clutches sometimes. He looks up at me. 'The mermaids,' he says. 'Have you seen them cavort yet in the crucible of the sea?'

'Not this year,' I say.

Footprint III by Jiří Kratochvil


Peacefully, endlessly, snow kept falling over the frozen countryside on the clear, moonlit night while I slogged over to Lukáš Common. Good heavens it's beautiful, I thought. Along the right side there was a long band of woods, along the left a stretch of open field and beyond them huddled a village that seemed so close I felt like I should be able to stroke it as though it were a sleeping mutt. In front of me was an untouched, white plain of snow thanks to which I had difficulty making out the footpath underneath it; enough difficulty that it could easily happen, and in fact soon did, that I would stray from the path into the field proper. After I'd been walking for a bit alongside a snowdrift there, I noticed something unusual in the snow. When I'd come closer, indeed quite close, I saw that what I'd been seeing were the footprints from a pair of boots that had trodden out a circle. Read more...

At the Mountain Steps by M.L. Kejera


At the ancient stairway of Mt. A. the tourists rested their lungs and legs. The crackless concrete ran up the eastward face of the sandstone mountain, past the peak and the rolling clouds. On either side of the first step a leafless palm tree rose up to the two-hundredth step.

"Who knows what's waiting for us up there?" Ernest said to Angela.

With the timbre of the archangel Gabriel's trumpet, loudspeakers blared into existence at the treetops. They played a note spanning two minutes. A native tongue uttered a monotone announcement in dissonance with the conquering note. It then repeated the proclamation in English. Read more...

The Autumn Fuss by K.C. Mead-Brewer


The trees are all waving in the cold, Come see, Come see; they've got blood in their cheeks. The dog will not stop barking at the lake. At the swans on the lake. What am I even looking at? Poor thing's losing its mind over nothing, howling at the green water, the white birds. Maybe it's the contrast that's driving her bonkers.

The horse figures it out first. Horses are good at these things, puzzles, veils, all that. That's probably why they're measured in hands.

The horse says, The trouble is, those aren't swans. Read more...

Hip Hip Hooray by Salvatore Difalco


The swollen family swam with ennui after lunch. Father finished off the vin rouge and mother peeled black pears with a straight razor. The doughy eldest son suffered reveries by a tulip tree, imagining himself on the H.M.S Pinafore in a captain's hat and navy blue bell bottoms. The twins jostled by a poisonous toadstool, but between them they had finished off a chicken for lunch and sought no further nourishment.

The sister lurked in the switchgrass, watching for spies. She believed people out to get them for being bourgeois had followed the family to their picnic.

"That's nonsense," Father said, ever the optimist. He cared nothing for others' opinions. Read more...

My Mother's Illness by Vanessa Wang


I saw the illness in my mother today. It was projected on a screen in a doctor's office, in black and white, taking up the cavity in my mother's right hip. It was a butterfly—wings extended so that their edges brushed my mother's bones, its eye-like pattern looking back at us with a kind of confident serenity, tens of hundreds of unblinking eyes.

"A moth,” corrected the doctor.

I looked up in surprise, unaware that I had been thinking out loud. Read more...

Deluxe Luxury Cruise Voucher
by Mary Beth O'Connor


My spouse and I were at dinner, sitting at our lonely table for six with only the captain, who spoke no French. I spied a couple of old maids at another table and went over to them. They were discussing The Addams Family, so I plopped down in the extra chair at their table and said, "Can I join you? I loved that show! Lurch!" They both looked delighted and all brightened up at the prospect of my company.

"And Pogwort!" one of them put in. I drew a blank. One of the sisters made a gesture of brushing long, disheveled hair away from her face.

"Her sister clapped her hands. "Cousin Itt!"

"No, no! Pogwort, you know. Not Cousin Itt."

About Our Coffee and Other Fare

Please Note: All of the coffee served at The Irreal Cafe is fair trade, organic, shade-grown and not real. All of the food served at The Irreal Cafe is organic, vegan, locally sourced and not real. See "At Our Cafe" for more about what we would serve at The Irreal Cafe and how we would serve it if there were an Irreal Cafe.