Issue #72

Fall Issue | November 2019

In this Issue:

Man with Pillow by Adam McOmber


Tom couldn't sleep. These days, it seemed he could never sleep. And he often found himself lying awake, wondering why. But, tonight, he didn't have to wonder. Tonight, Tom knew exactly why he couldn't fall asleep. He'd heard a sound in the hallway beyond the bedroom. And before he allowed himself to drift off into slumber, he wanted to make sure he didn't hear the sound again. So Tom lay in bed, very still, and listened. Finally, after listening for a long while and hearing nothing, Tom whispered: "James, are you awake?" James was Tom's boyfriend. He was asleep on the other side of the bed with a pillow over his face. James always slept like that because of something that had happened in his childhood. He would never tell Tom exactly what that something was, but he said it was bad. Read more...

Deceit by Elaine Vilar Madruga
(translated by Toshiya Kamei)


The woman had been walking in the woods for more than a week.

During all that time, she only heard her own voice and birds chirping on the branches. Her belly had swollen at an increasingly faster rate. She was a ripe fruit about to burst. Her baby was ready to come into the world.

Her labor pains came upon her, and she could do nothing but throw herself on the grass and scream in sharp pain. With a final push, her womb widened and her children flew into the trees with incredulous songs of freedom. Read more...

The Devil's Beard by Bruce Boston


The best of the evening was over. I was leaning back in my favorite armchair savoring the last few sips of Cabernet. I reached forward to pick a spot of lint from my trousers when I saw it lying on the carpet. The Devil had left one of his shoelaces behind.

This was not at all like him. He was always most fastidious, dressed to the nines for business or whatever the occasion. What could he have been thinking to run off with one of his shoes not only untied but laceless, its bare tongue perhaps protruding over his cuff? Read more...

Three Stories by Nikolaj Volgushev



When I come home from work, I find my apartment door ajar, the lock broken, my possessions rifled through. The burglars have searched the apartment thoroughly, uncovering things I had forgotten I owned. They've taken everything with a blade, my kitchen knives, scissors, even my electric shaver, are all gone. I call my landlord and tell her about the break-in, and that I need a new lock. She assures me that steps will be taken. Read more...

Upon Discovering She Had Been Dating a Pilot Whale Disguised as Woman by Olivia V. Ambrogio


I was lonely and the bar was dark. We met on a Tuesday and the rain sliding down the windows gave the whole place a murky look, currents of light and shadow waving over our faces. She seemed solid. I liked her smile. We talked more about me than about her, at her insistence. That hadn’t happened in a while. She had a way of reaching over and touching my wrist, lightly, and her skin was so smooth.

We ordered oysters, lots of them. Looking back, she did eat them with what could be unnatural relish, but I just thought she liked oysters, or was trying to, you know… Read more...

On the Bed by Guido Eekhaut


The phone rang. I picked it up.

"Hello," the woman on the other side said. "It's me."

"Hello," I said.

"I thought, I'll just call him..."

"Mmmm," I said.

"And I'm lying in bed. I'm on my bed, naked."

"That's nice," I said.

"Yes," she said. "I thought: I'm lying in the nude on my bed, and I'll call him."

"Mmmm," I said. "You undress, lie on your bed, alone I assume, and you call me. Yes, there's a certain logic in that line of thought." Read more...

Learning Outcomes by Peter Grandbois


The ornithology professor told the student to look through the telescope set at the base of the pine grove and report back every detail about the bird. The student closed one eye, peered into the long tube, and jumped back immediately. "A golden eye," he said. "A giant, golden eye." The professor laughed. "You mean a Great Horned Owl or Bubo Virginianus," he said. "It's one of the most common owls in North America, and one of the fiercest predators. It can hunt and kill prey larger than its two-foot size, though commonly stalks its natural enemy, the crow." The professor smiled then gestured the student to take another look.

The student approached, slower this time, scanning the pine forest before looking through the scope. There it was again! The eye filling the entire view. Read more...

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.