Issue #74

Spring Issue | May 2020

In this Issue:

Five Stories by Ian Seed

origami bird


We've been waiting for ages. The bus to the railway station must be late. The transparent plastic bag I have with me is full to the brim with souvenirs and gifts my daughter and I have bought from our trip up the mountain. I can't help worrying it will burst when I lift it onto the bus.

'When will the bus arrive?' my daughter wants to know.

'Soon,' I say, wondering now if we've missed it. To cheer her up, I point to the top of the mountain: 'Look, there's a patch of snow with the sun shining on it.'

'It'll be dark before long,' she murmurs.

Antonio Scalvo's Library
by Celia Neri

origami bird

When Antonio Scalvo died, he left his library to his youngest daughter, Laeticia. "The finest poetry collection worldwide," he thought. "It'll be safe in her hands." After all, Laeticia had studied Literature at the Bologna University. But Antonio saw how she was looking at the library the day after the funeral. In her eyes, he recognised wariness at the sheer number of volumes, and greed. Within a week, the collection was sold to Sotheby's.

Thus Antonio Scalvo departed this world, wailing in despair at the idea of his beautiful library being scattered, dissected and sent, limb by limb, book by book, all over the world. Read more...

Things Fall Apart & The School: Homage to Barthelme by Paul Blaney

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Things Fall Apart

Things began to fall apart: sudden, unforeseen disintegrations that were frankly alarming. It began on the top, that's to say the third floor, which is where I have my office.

The first thing that went was my desk. I'd got up moments earlier to go to the water cooler—I dread to think what might have happened otherwise. I turned around, plastic cup of water in hand, and as I did so the desk simply fell to pieces. My desktop computer came crashing down, too, of course. It came to rest, lopsided but intact, on the piled-up bits of desk.

Next to go, not a minute later, was the second-floor bathroom. Read more...

Three Stories by Patrick Lawler

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When I go to the post office, I admire all the mystery inside the boxes with their golden doors. In the end we are all just containers for things like memories and air and food and water. I say to the woman I am with, "Pretty cool." Bronze tenements rise up--a fancy morgue--fastidiously locked. Nontime exists inside them.

When I go to the airport, the voice on the intercom announces all the places we will never go. Luggage wobbles on tiny wheels. Read more...

Violin by RW Spryszak

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The blank morning did not help the music. I woke to the keening of a violin. It was in another room. Bothersome and sour. But if it wasn't for the violin I would have never heard the wagon being pulled by the horse across the cobbles outside. The wagon shakes. The wood squeaks. The wheels copy. The hooves buck. I dragged the blanket over my head and tried to return, wishing certain plague to each noise and its maker. Callous of me. As if each source had no caring parent, allowing me to damn things without consequence. And I would have stayed covered until the graves split open and the trials began but the violin persistent made retreat impossible. Its faulting effort at melody and consistence fed me reinvented memories one after another. Read more...

Three Stories by Nikolaj Volgushev

origami bird


I'm worried I may be found by the wrong people, so I decide to wear a disguise. But what should my disguise be? After some thought, I decide to disguise myself as a bird. It's perfect because I look nothing like a bird, so no-one will ever suspect, not even the wrongest of people, should they spot me pecking at crumbs on the street, or hunched on a rooftop, or flying overhead, above the treetops. I will have to eat worms, but that's a price I'm willing to pay. Read more...

Dreams of Haberdashery by Ken Poyner

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"Hey, I saw you slithering across Commerce Way this morning. Couldn't get your attention, but I want to say I'm glad you are out and about again.”

Charlie has had some trouble with his latest shedding. He has put on a bit of weight lately and it makes a lot of ordinary events for him far more difficult.

Charlie on his porch shakes his tail, puffs his tongue in acknowledgement.

I catch a lot of bad will for being friendly with the recently arriving snakes. Read more...

Hollow Things by Elizabeth Ochsner

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She was birthed by a mother and blessed by a doctor. The doctor swaddled the baby in latex gloves and offered her body to the ceiling lamp, which stared at her for a long while. Finally, the child opened its newborn lips. The lamp's rays tickled her vocal chords as the baby recited perfectly, on first try, Newton's First Law of Motion. The doctor beamed with pride.

"A prodigy!" he declared, releasing the baby to her mother. Her mother, who had never been named, ecstatically accepted this. She thanked the doctor, and the lamp. 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.