Donna and I never heard a sound coming from our new neighbors, who were separated from us by thick walls of black cherry and forsythia.

Still, whenever we made love, Donna insisted on closing the windows and drawing the curtains.

She would even lock the bedroom door, though we had no children, not even a cat that could nose its way in.

Later, when we had stopped making love altogether, the house held our silence like a broken bell.

Anyone listening as they let their dog pee against our mailbox would be unable to guess whether ours was a house of passion or devastation.

Even the packing up was quiet.

Charles Rafferty is an amateur archeologist who has yet to find any artifacts.

He gave his creature the pseudonym he was using when I met him. A little joke, that name. Men of our sort are always hiding.

I called him my angel once, and he shuddered. Later I understood that he counted me among the temptations of which he longed to be rid.

You ask if I saw him transform—I who saw him cross the street to avoid the eyes he had kissed the night before. No. Not in the way you mean.

Hyde came to me only once. Thank God I feared scandal less than I feared his odious person. I suspect he should have killed me afterward.

But Henry Jekyll loved me, and that monster, the vessel of his sins, did not. I submit that it was not made to hold a sinless thing.

R. Gatwood (@iwantanewhead) is a strange case.

An old woman says: “This is the story of a town that loses a little boy because they’re too busy—or too proud—to believe in a made-up wolf.”

A young shepherd with a wooden leg says: “This is the story of a stupid, stupid boy. A boy who doesn’t know words have power.”

An older man (who seems nice—ordinary—until the folklorist tries to leave) says: “This is the story of a wolf who finds the perfect prey.”

R. Gatwood (@iwantanewhead) is the emergent consciousness of a spectacularly inefficient library shelving system.

The Devil moves in next door. He asks to borrow a cup of sugar. What’s the catch? He looks sad. I’m the one asking, he says.

Every morning the Devil sweeps his sidewalk. He holds excellent backyard barbecues, returns balls and frisbees. Everyone still avoids him.

The Devil likes my evening company, offers me exquisite brandy on his porch. He smiles at the stars. You don’t know what you have, he says.

Months pass. The Devil as neighbor becomes normal. One summer dusk I ask if we are friends, and he looks long into the distance.

Spring comes and we enjoy its evening. I ask the Devil if the past was better. The stars emerge. I wish I could forget like you do, he says.

One summer morning, the Devil’s house is empty, sidewalk unswept. I think of sugar and try to smile at the morning star.

Derek Dexheimer feels much better. He provides a daily story @dex3703 and blogs about the strange wonder of being alive.

When he and his brother played doctor, it was tests and equipment and bureaucrats and complications. Always complications.

Once he told a girlfriend that the scars on his neck were from bites. His timing was good, and they snuggled for the rest of the movie.

He hinted to some guys in a locker room that there’d been a climbing accident, but they got technical, and he had to back off.

His mother says only that he had a central line when he was a baby. If he gets home late or coughs a certain way, it cues her watchfulness.

He takes three pills a day and gets a flu shot—not the mist—every year. He phones his mother to tell her he’s well. He’s lucky, really.

Ann Marie Gamble (@amgamble) likes finding inspiration for poems and thrillers and space operas in her soccer mom life.

She doesn’t talk to people like she should. Right now she’s talking to the sidewalk. Her mother leans out the window just to hear her voice.

She missed the bus again. Didn’t care. She was busy listening to the beating heart under the sidewalk.

He gave her flowers, and she cried. Horrid dead things ripped up by their hair. He returned with a paper heart. She taped it to her ceiling.

He’s not surprised she doesn’t cry, but the doctor wonders. “Don’t you understand, Ma’am? You can’t have children.”

He’s gone now, and she’s too weak to take his paper heart off the ceiling. She goes outside to watch the children climb on the school bus.

Ruby Welsh is an artist and writer who wants to create books for very strange children.

O darling, my precious one, love of my life, you’re making way too big a deal out of this.

Heart of my heart, mate of my soul. Honey: Don’t you think you’re being a little paranoid?

Sweetness. Gorgeous. Woman. Of. My. Dreams—how about you just calm down and put that thing down.

O my Angel, beautiful as the day we met…if we don’t open that door, they’re going to break it down.

Even through this milky plexiglas, you are so beautiful, even under these fluorescent lights, you in those orange scrubs.

Dale Wisely is a proponent of economy of language. He edits Right Hand Pointing and a new ezine for 1st person true stories, Left Hand Waving.

My girlfriend reads me short stories when I’m napping. She picks authors I detest, those who should have their hands bound.

My sister won’t fly home. She has kids, she says. Loud ones. Yeah, I tell her, I get it. I never hear them yelling. Or asking to say hi.

When I call and say “I’ll miss you,” my mother says, “Can you hear me shrugging?”

When I got busted for the hit-and-run, Dad smacked Mom with a pillow. The next day, he placed himself under house arrest.

Instead of prison, I will walk the Napau Crater. The crunch of black lava may help me forget an old man, his ridiculously turquoise bicycle.

David Erlewine (@daviderlewine) lawyers, writes, edits flash for JMWW, and blogs.

“The first time’s always scary,” he said. She nodded, not looking at him. They did it.

She didn’t expect the faces he made at the end, and some stifled laughter escaped.

Afterward, she tried to massage his neck. The boy said he could rub his own neck, thank you, and got out of the car.

Joanne Merriam (@joannemerriam) lives in Nashville, where she writes poetry and very short stories.

Everyone runs to the plane but me. I get the last seat (middle of 5), crush men’s bags on my way. I’m white & female. They glare.

I have to pee. Again. I think—Sahara. No use. I climb over knee high carry-on bundles while their owners slap me. Curse me.

Lock myself in & pee. Cry. I lean on the bulkhead, drink in this freedom from my status as tubabu & sleep. Steward kicks me out.

We’re given customs forms. I write. They stare. One hands me his with “s’il vous plait?” They stare. I nod & write. They smile.

J.S. Graustein (@jsgraustein) is the editor of PicFic (@picfic)