The Cafe Irreal: International Imagination 

Issue Fifteen

The Life Of Alonso Quijano, To Rise/To Fall, & Gerontomachy by Emilio Martinez
Shuteye by Bob Thurber
Magoria by Alexandra Berková
Liquid Hotel by Michael Overa
Sleeping Prescription: Directions and Cautions by Steven Schutzman
Botanical Curiosities & The Golden Apple by Margarita Engle
Selections from O, Vozque Pulp by Derek White
Gypsy by Saeed Tavakkol
Best, The Lion, & Children of God by Beate Sigriddaughter


irreal (re)views


by Bob Thurber

The yellow light over the stove gave the air an amber glow. Donna had my heart on the table and a steak knife in her hand. I bumped something in the shadows by the door and she quickly put down the knife and covered everything with a dish towel. But I know my heart when I see it, I know my heart even in dim light.

"You're up," she said.

"So are you. What day is it?"

She pulled her wristwatch from the pocket of her robe.

"Four hours into Thursday. I got up with the baby."

"Oh," I said. "I didn't hear."

I stepped to one side of the table and Donna moved with me.

"I know," she said. "She was wet, soaked all the way through. So I changed her, and fed her, then rocked her. She took half a bottle. Dead to the world now, thank god. You should climb back into dreamland."


"Too early to be up."

"You're up."

"Only because I woke up," she said, "and not by choice."

I stepped to the other side of the table and Donna moved with me. She dropped her watch into her pocket.

"Go on. Grab some shuteye. You look awful."

"Do I?"

She nodded with great enthusiasm. I wondered if she'd already had coffee. I thought about making some, starting my day.

"What have you got there?"

Her eyebrows danced. "Where?"

"On the table."

"I'm making your lunch," she said.

"My lunch?"

"Just because you work in a restaurant doesn't mean you have to eat the food there. Now go," she said. "I'll be in soon as I've cleaned up here."

I didn't move. Neither did she. In the next room the baby made a noise, a little cough like a faraway owl. I looked at the table, at the lump my heart made in the dishtowel.

"I'm going to make coffee," I said. "You want some?"

"Oh you don't want to do that. Trust me," Donna said. "You'll be a much happier man without coffee and with a couple more hours of shuteye."

But I didn't see how that was possible, how I could do any of those things--close my eyes, go to sleep, trust my wife, or ever be happy again.

Bob Thurber is an award winning writer widely published in literary journals, magazines, and on the Internet. He resides in Massachusetts. His short story, "The Cat Who Waved," appeared in Issue #5 of The Cafe Irreal.

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