June 4, 2024

“All’s Fair in Love and War” by Brandon Breen

“All’s Fair in Love and War” by Brandon Breen

*Featured image courtesy of Jack Ward on Unsplash* This piece by Brandon Breen takes us on an emotional journey that also gives us some insight into Italian history. This is truly a special piece and we hope Brandon shares with us again in the future. Padua, Italy, 1968 Everything was about to change in Gabriella’s own country. Not everyone had the foresight to see that the revolutionary spirit brewing inside the students would soon be turned out onto the failures of Italy itself. There were so many injustices going on in Italy and the entire world and it was ironic that it was an occurrence on a worldwide scale that reflected the lens back towards Italy. Others were convinced that fascism was dead and gone and ignored the fermenting of familiar ideology. What most people…

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May 13, 2024

“Who is Izzy Jean?” by Arvilla Fee

“Who is Izzy Jean?” by Arvilla Fee

*Featured image courtesy of Kris Atomic on Unsplash* I’ll be straight with you, FC readers. This was one of my favorite stories, and I think you’ll enjoy it as well. Let’s give Arvilla Fee a warm welcome as she joins our community with her wholesome story, “Who is Izzy Jean?” The line at Make it Strong Café is long and snail-inches forward; I stare, without focus, at my phone while adhering to my personal rule #8—never engage with anyone before coffee. You may wonder why that’s rule #8, but I assure you, my first seven are equally, if not more, important. “Excuse me, dear,” comes a voice in front of me. I look up wearily and am staring down at the tiniest woman I’ve ever seen. Four-foot nothing, probably 80 pounds. Her hair is white…

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May 7, 2024

“Complete Stop” by Frank Diamond

“Complete Stop” by Frank Diamond

*Image courtesy of Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash* Frequent contributor Frank Diamond honors us again with another one of his amazing pieces. Take a look at “Complete Stop,” where our elderly protagonist is faced with making a very important life decision. Margaret Johnson should know better. She’s driving through Lakelock Manor Borough, after all. Infamous suburban speed trap. But at 10 in the morning? She comes to an intersection, stops (a “rolling stop” the cop would contend), sees nothing in any direction except a parked SUV. Margaret continues on her way, and suddenly the SUV U-turns and tailgates her, headlights flashing the way undercover police cars do. She pulls over. “I am going to meet my husband, officer,” Margaret explains to this kid who’s about as old as her eldest grandchild. “He’s in Grantmyer Groves.” In…

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May 1, 2024

The New FC Anthology is Now Published!

The New FC Anthology is Now Published!

The Strong Stuff, Volume 2, presents the best creative work we published from 2018-2020 500 full-color pages of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and art from our members This is one handsome book, and it’s big – 8″ wide by 10″ tall, just a few pages shy of 500 pages of stimulating writing and art. The cover art is an original design by one of our former baristas, Amanda Grafe. Using Amanda’s original painting, Barista Melanie Marston prepared the book’s front and back covers. The interior design and page layout was designed by Sophie Hanks, who has worked with us on several books now. FC Partner Antony Woooten guided it through publishing and printing with Ingram/Spark.  The back cover. Each contributor’s color photo and bio appear in the book. This contributor’s poetry, accompanied by their art….

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March 13, 2024

“Switch” A Short Story by Yuan Changming

“Switch” A Short Story by Yuan Changming

*Featured image courtesy of Shelby Deeter on Unsplash Love can be many things: intimate, passionate, and also . . . complicated. Read along for Yuan’s take on an interesting and unique love story. Before they joined each other in Zhuhai, Ming often complained to Hua that her love was like a loach in a rice field, full of splashing vitality, but really hard to catch, let alone hold it firmly in his hand. Given the fact that theirs was an unspeakable extramarital relationship, he knew that she had every reason to hide her affection even from herself, but since they began to honeymoon as temporary elopers on October 12, Ming has become increasingly aware that there seems to be an invisible switch that controls her emotional being.   “What do you mean, what kind of switch?”…

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February 23, 2024

Dungeons and Damsels by Unchained Productions

Dungeons and Damsels by Unchained Productions

Dungeons & Damsels is a medieval fantasy sword and sorcery audio drama series by Unchained Productions. Episodes are stand-alone short stories of different characters throughout the same fantasy world. (Since each episode is very short, I’m posting several of them) In the Nurmi region, tavern entertainer Tarin uses magic to create illusions to tell his stories for coin, and finds he unwittingly auditioned for a different kind of gig.   Tavern server from Sylvanwood, Skeyo tells her companions at campfire how she discovered her innate talent reveals to her unexpected things, and brings unexpected danger. Running errands for a peculiar lord in Gardur, Tuntemus takes an unexpected journey into a strange realm. In a mountain monastery in remote Luostari, an acolyte of The Discipline is presented with a seemingly impossible challenge. And its solution, the…

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February 20, 2024

“Becoming Queen,” A Short Story by Lorraine Parrish

“Becoming Queen,” A Short Story by Lorraine Parrish

*Featured image courtesy of Pexels on Pixabay* Doubt has a funny way of sneaking into our minds when we least expect it, and all we need is a little encouragement to push past that negative voice. Come along as Lorraine guides us through an elegant performance in “Becoming Queen.” Inky darkness disguises me among the shifting walls of velvet.  It calls to me — an energy that ebbs and flows, like blood pumping throughout my veins.   Come closer. This whir of energy beckons, sighing into my ear — Reveal yourself to me.    My skin tingles in anticipation as high-pitched whispers dissipate into an atmosphere rife with tension and excitement. Normally light on my feet, I stumble over a wooden block secured to the floor. Their expressions — raised eyebrows, and curled lips—reveal both contempt and perhaps, surprise? Whatever…

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November 21, 2023

“Gone,” A Short Story by Kathryn Harper

“Gone,” A Short Story by Kathryn Harper

I want to be gone. I want to be utterly gone. I was once gone, but now I am here, but now I am tired of being here and want to be gone. I have been here for so long and have been not gone for so long and I want to be gone like no one has been gone ever before.  I used to be a sky-watcher when I was gone. I used to be a sky-watcher and know all the shapes in the sky. I used to know everything about the night sky, and the night sky knew everything about me when I was gone. Now I am here and there is no night sky. There is no darkness here. Here has no darkness but dark times. I had no dark times when I was gone, just the…

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September 29, 2023

“In the Days of the Revolution,” by David Michael Litwack

“In the Days of the Revolution,” by David Michael Litwack

Tehran, February, 1979  “So you’re a bachelor,” I ventured.  “Why do you say that, agha?”  “You wear the brown of a bachelor.”  “That is a custom for the maghrebi—the westerners. The Berbers. For me it is a good color to disguise the filth I encounter here. For example, that dog.”  “Nice taqiyah!” I was complimenting his white cap. White linen doubled over with a kind of gold filigree.  “It is an araqchin, agha.”   “Why are you sitting here?” I asked. I had had enough of the xenophobic vocabulary lesson. He’s irritated me so I decided to be irritable in return.  “I am making illustrations of the bustle and tragedy of these people. These Emricani and the Irani. Maybe some are from Afghanistan as well. They are always in the wrong place. Always the wrong time, those…

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August 22, 2023

“The Jam,” A Short Story by Joshua Britton

“The Jam,” A Short Story by Joshua Britton

A black Nissan hatchback with its lights off rolls down the street. Troy is at the wheel, and he and Brandon listen through the open windows for community unrest. But it’s dark and quiet. The lights go off at 11:00, inside and out, whether you’re ready or not.   Utopic villages like this one have sprouted up all over the country, segregation as a result of a rigorous application process. Troy had tried to be admitted just hard enough to know it was futile. These communities were designed to keep out gimps like Troy and minorities like Brandon. If discovered, how they’d snuck in would cause a panic among the residents.  Aided by light from the moon without the hindrance of light pollution, Troy slowly navigates the hatchback toward the main gate through the flat neighborhood…

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