fiction, poetry & more

Honorable Mention
$25 Award


by Liz Killian

His eyes cut through the morning art crowd, find and follow me across the gallery floor. He seems so close, yet he’s far away, from another century, inside an oil painting, within a gilded frame. My stalker is a lowly peasant, not the least bit handsome or even adequately groomed. His unruly hair is oily, his face puffy and stubbly, and he reeks of cheap liquor and layers of long neglected dirt.

The unkempt beast reigns at a rough wooden table in a dark and shabby tavern. From the look of his ruddy cheeks and wild eyes, the stein of ale in front of him is not his first, and likely not his last. He raises one arm high, a turkey leg clenched in a greasy fist. His other arm hugs close a serving wench. Her breasts spill out of her low-cut frock and he cups one from underneath, presents it like a trophy. She doesn’t seem to mind at all.

My scruffy libertine is busy with culinary and carnal celebration, yet his gaze does not stray from me. I walk toward him, unable to resist. Free and naughty, taunting, he is the ribald master of my fantasies and fears. Not at all like John, my sensible mate, a gentle, generous lover, who brings me tea in bed, holds my hand when I’m sad, knows when to tell a silly joke and when to be quiet. Might John enjoy imbibing copious ale and feasting on fire-roasted flesh without utensils, while fondling me? Might I, like the earthy lass, redden with passion, lean in for more? Like her, would my neck strain back, my mouth open wide to devour life?

I face my captor, feel his heat. He bestows a crooked grin then, finished with me, eases back into his time. I undo one, no two more buttons on my blouse. It falls open to expose a bit of antique lace and pale pink silk, ready breasts shadowed underneath. I stand up straight, tummy tucked and shoulders back, then turn and go in search of John. I’m hungry, and it’s time for lunch.


Liz Killian lives in Eureka, California, and has just finished her first novel. “On Exhibit” is her first published piece of work. This happy event comes a few weeks before her 70th birthday.

December 2018