Shopping List

I want a bathrobe, deep and furry, an Abominable Snowman robe that wraps around me firmly, plucking me out of life’s snowdrifts, a geisha-wrapping robe, that snuggles me so I can barely move, taking tiny mincing steps that do not splash my coffee, cuffs sliding over my hands to make them delicate, almost invisible, collar brushing my neck softly like a cat’s plumed tail. I want a bathrobe that forgives cheesecake and Girl Scout cookies and the extra helping of lasagna, that flatters me poetically, that dusts the floor ahead of me with suitable obeisance, that feels honored to wrap my middle-aged body. I want a bathrobe that all the other clothes envy because I love it so much, washing it all by itself with the soap that comes in a bottle–not the box detergent with its look of cat litter gone wrong–drying it gently and hanging it on a hanger in between wearings, behind me in the mirror, so I can see it, always, even when I am putting on lipstick and clothes that do not love me—see it waiting to hold me, see it wishing that I was wearing it as much as I wish I was.

* * * * *

Lydia Ondrusek is a long-married mother of two who describes herself as busy writing her way out of a paper bag. Her fiction and poetry have been published in venues that include GUD, Apex Magazine, Flash Fiction Online, and Deep South Magazine. Her middle grade story series King of the Marshmallows is epubbed by Echelon Books. You can find her online at, at, and far too often on Twitter, where she is known as @littlefluffycat.

Her other contributions to Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

The Woodcutter’s Stepdaughter

“Your hair is the break of day, the beauty of autumn.”

These might once have been her mother’s words, spoken as she brushed Scarlet’s hair each morning. With patience and love she would look into the eyes of her only daughter, her only child, her only family. Gazing at Scarlet she would look into the past. She would talk about Scarlet’s Papa, how she missed him, how they were when they were young, so free, so in love.

“Your skin is the falling of snow, but with the warmth of spring.”

These were words of love, but not her mother’s. That childhood was past. Her mother’s kindness was buried in bitterness and time and a marriage to the brawling Bûcheron, a man Scarlet was forced to call Father but could never call Papa.

“Your eyes reflect a summer’s sky with a sparkle from the North Star.”

These words of love were born of passion, the love of a lover, Benjamin, her dearest B’jou.

“They are like wolves. His kith and kin are low-born forest dwellers, little more than foragers. You should be done with him. The young men of the village are finer and would court you.”

These… these were her mother’s words, the jealous contradictions of the woodcutter’s beaten wife.

“I take it you have seen the ‘wolf’.”

Her grandmother greeted her at the door, smiling, knowing. Holding out freshly picked flowers, Scarlet blushed. Her late morning visits on market days had become lunchtime visits. Against her mother’s will, Scarlet would take the route through the woods to see her Benjamin, to stray from the path with her B’jou, before taking bread and fruit to her grandmother’s cottage.

“Why your mother hates him so, calling him such feral names, I do not know. Such strong hands, such a beautiful voice, such lovely big eyes. A kind and gentle man. Not like that drunken, hateful husband of hers. With my son she was carefree and beautiful; together they were such a couple. That Bûcheron brings out the worst in her. He has made her mean and cowering.”

That night her grandmother’s words fell in anger from Scarlet’s lips.

“Spoilt child! This wolf’s lechery and your grandmother’s doting affection have poisoned you against us!”

Her mother hit Scarlet, hit her and wept, hit her to protect her, hit her to prevent the woodcutter doing the same. He went to grab Scarlet by the hair, he moved to strike her, but looking her in the eye, he spat and left, disappearing into a darker night to drink.

He returned in the morning bringing with him a twofold tale of sorrow. Scarlet collapsed and cried, but through her grief her anger rose, rose and gave her strength to shout at him, to strike him, to tear into his lies with a passion born of love. He did not strike back. He had no need. The story, a story, was around the village. It was said, so they said, that Scarlet’s lover, her Benjamin, her dearest B’jou, had slain her grandmother as she slept; that the woodcutter had happened upon the cottage and tracked him down, closing the circle with his axe.

* * * * *

Kevlin Henney writes shorts and flashes and drabbles of fiction and articles and books on software development. His fiction has appeared online and on tree with Litro, New Scientist, Dr. Hurley’s Snake-oil Cure, Word Gumbo, Fiction365, Every Day Fiction, The Fabulist and, and has been included in the Jawbreakers and Kissing Frankenstein & Other Stories anthologies. He is winner of the 2012 Oxford Flash Slam. He lives in Bristol, UK.

His other contributions to Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

Exposure № 057: Festivals of the Provinces I

Says Luca Napoli of this fantastic body of work:

Festivals and fairs of the provinces.  I like how the flash is able to accentuate the atmosphere probably a bit playful and grotesque… A fun experiment, walking in Gilden’s footsteps.

Stay tuned for more of these images over the next two weeks.

* * * * *

Luca Napoli, a self-taught photographer, was influenced by his father, who always involved him during sessions of street photography in Taranto, his hometown. In 2006 he bought his first digital SRL and from then on he never abandoned photography. His most popular projects are Commuters and Taranto Vecchia. He is fascinated by reportage photography and always tries to put a story into a photo. His photos can be seen at his Flickr.
His contributions to Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.