1. February 29th: the extra day added to theJulian calendar every fourth year (except those evenly divisible by 400) to compensate for theapproximately six hours a year by which the common year of 365 days falls short of the solar year.


Arianna sneered instead.

The flash from the camera blinded her.  She looked down at the white sheet cake on the table, now obscured by dark splotches. One big red candle in the center of the cake sparkled, looking more appropriate for the Fourth of July than a birthday for a woman in her 40s.

Beneath the paper birthday hat, Arianna marveled at her brother’s tackiness as she adjusted the elastic string that was slowly cutting into her chin. It seemed to worsen every four years.

Around the lit candle were the words “Happy 10th Bissextus” in red icing.

“You’ve finally hit the double digits, Ari!” Bruce screamed. “That’s worth a smile or two.”

He lowered the camera. His smile fell with it.

“Come on, Ari,” Bruce said, more quietly, “if mom and dad were here, you know they’d celebrate this day.”

Arianna calmed herself. As a Leap Day baby she only had to endure this moment every four years, so why not reward her brother’s hard, if not misguided, work and blow out the garish candle? Besides, if he talked too long about their parents he would end up in the fetal position in the corner, Continue reading




  1. mutually destructive.
  2. of or relating to conflict or struggle within group: an internecine feud among proxyholders.
  3. characterized by great slaughter; deadly.

Alison knew something was wrong when she couldn’t find Mr. Snufkins in his usual spot by the window. Instead, she found him in the dark in her room, seemingly enjoying the solitude. Throwing her briefcase and purse in a plush chair, she pondered the change of location. Mr. Snufkins was still young and rambunctious, but quite normal for a puppy his age.

When he began to give up his playful nature and his favorite spaces, Alison thought it seemed strange. When he stopped eating as much food, she began to grow concerned.

The only thing that had changed in the last few weeks was Mr. Snufkins new companion, Ms. Bittle, a plucky parakeet Alison’s boyfriend had given her. Sweet and also quite playful, Ms. Bittle was well trained, and quiet–by parakeets’ standards. She had free reign of the house and was only caged at night when Alison slept.

Alison enjoyed the moments when Mr. Snufkins would curl up on her lap and Ms. Bittle would perch on her shoulder as she read aloud to them. With one hand on her book and the other methodically rubbing Mr. Snufkins’ fur, Alison felt grateful for Ms. Bittle’s seamless transition. She now felt silly for having told Bryan that a bird might disrupt things. He had insisted everything would be fine.

One morning on the way to work she reached for her phone to thank her boyfriend for Ms. Bittle, when she realized she’d left it on the kitchen counter. Within a few minutes she was back home.

As she opened the door, Continue reading


  1. of, relating to, or inhabiting the woods.
  2. consisting of or abounding in woods or trees;wooded; woody: a shady, sylvan glade.
  3. made of trees, branches, boughs, etc.

It had been 18 months since I began my sylvan lifestyle, relying on the land and the skills my father had taught me just to make it through the day.  In the middle of the night my desire for survival often warred against my concern for my mother. I wondered if she might still be alive. The thought of her having joined my father in the “Great Beyond,” as she called it, was often too much to bear. So I didn’t think about it anymore.

With everything I had within me, I strained to forget the last time I’d seen her. She had shoved crumpled bills into my hand and put a bag of clothes and peanut butter over my shoulder. She had murmured something about mother’s protecting their daughters before kissing my forehead, leaving her runny mascara on my cheek. She always cried now and always had bruises. Continue reading




  1. haughtily disdainful or contemptuous, as person or a facial expression

“How’d the date go?”

Phillip winced and looked out the passenger’s window. He wished they weren’t stuck in traffic.

From the look on his twin brother’s identical face, Patrick knew things hadn’t gone well.

“What happened?”

Phillip sat silently, trying to figure out how things had gone wrong. He had planned the perfect date and even gotten Patrick’s advice on what to do and say. This time he even followed the advice.

“Phillip, seriously… we planned the perfect date,” Patrick’s voice took on an annoyed tone. “I gave you advice and told you what to say—”

“I know, but…”

“Lacey said she was perfect for you, beautiful, kind, patient–she even loves cricket and who in their right mind loves a game of cricket—you can’t find that combination every day!”

“Patrick, I know!”  Phillip nervously tapped a beat against his thighs. “It’s just that she had problems, man.”

Continue reading




  1. Psychologya slip of the tongue or pen,forgetfulness, misplacement of objects, or othererror thought to reveal unconscious wishes orattitudes.
   When James’ last manuscript ended with the protagonists committing suicide, his agent from Blake Publishing sent two emails. The next day a copy of his contract arrived. Highlighted in yellow were the terms for James’ chick lit series. In the margin was a note in blue ink:
You can not kill Muffy McPherson and Billie Bains!!! We need them to live for at least three more books! Read paragraph 8 on page 23! If you’re having some pre-midlife crisis, stop it NOW!
    The exclamation points made James smile slightly. He closed the front door and used the papers to create a path to the lighted fireplace. The papers began to absorb the gasoline on the floor.  Flames from the fireplace created a pathway, moving from one sheet to the next.
   James knew the details of the contract. He also knew the end he’d given Muffy and Billie had been the best possible solution, if not a moment of parapraxis. If his doctor’s diagnosis was correct, he wouldn’t be around for three more books anyway.
   James grabbed a pitcher of water and a bottle of sleeping pills from the table in the foyer and headed upstairs to rest.



  1. Zoology. assuming colors and forms that effect deceptive camouflage.
For the first time in a long time Shawn stopped to think about Bruce’s last order. He looked down at the bottle of spray paint in his left hand and back up to Bruce, whose back was already turned as he began to tag the cream colored exterior of the McKichum Estates. Bruce had laughed when he talked about how they would tag the homes of the elderly community in the middle of the night and then dump the cans in Henry McGovern’s locker before school started.
As the star quarterback and principal’s son, there wasn’t too much Bruce Greenly didn’t have access to, including Continue reading


the branch of philosophy dealing with the originand general structure of the universe, with itsparts, elements, and laws, and especially withsuch of its characteristics as space, time,causality, and freedom.

Lara stared ahead, her mind wandering 10 months in the future when she would be Mrs. Peter Lee Vanderbilt. She released a silent sigh as she stared at Professor Vanderbilt’s beautiful face.

The day she accidentally registered for cosmology class had been the best day of her life. She wasn’t sure why the class had been mostly filled with men who stared at her as she scanned the room for makeup, wigs, and an assortment of hair products, but when she turned to see the young man writing equations on the board, she’d quickly taken her seat at the front of the class.

She loved everything about him. Besides being handsome and well dressed–for a serious academic–Professor Vanderbilt was funny, often making jokes she didn’t understand about particles of light matter and star dust. He had a light laugh.

He was even attentive to details. He was so careful to write the plus sign next to the Fs on her tests, thoroughly reviewing her answers to make sure she received every point for her partially correct answers.

Lara released another sigh.

He was so kind.

Before class had started, Professor Vanderbilt had said he wanted her to stay after class so he could talk to her. She’d nodded excitedly, silently hoping he had finally decided to ask her out on a date after 8 weeks of treating her like the other students.

She was already picking out names for their children and deciding what to wear on their first date.

Lara couldn’t help but smile. Yes, this had been the best mistake she’d ever made.