Featured Author: Amanda McLeod

Flash Fiction & Poetry

Celestial Bodies

We lay under the night sky, that inky cloche dotted with tiny pinpricks of light. The woollen blanket beneath our backs blocks the cool earth-damp from rising, as summer’s breath settles on us. My eyes follow your graceful fingers as they arc above me, describing constellations, revealing the knowledge of ancients hidden in plain sight over our heads. I am in awe of you; at seventeen, you have somehow acquired a lifetime of learning that I, six months your junior, was utterly blind to.

You point out the belt of Orion; the handsome hunter stalking the skies. What’s he hunting for, I ask. You roll to face me, and walk two fingers from the notch in my collarbone over my sternum and down towards my belly button. Who says Orion is a him, you reply, your eyes fixed on my torso.

I squirm, ticklish, nervous. Tell me more, I say.

Over there are the Pleiades, you say. Seven sisters, being chased by Orion. Always hunting them, always wanting them. Your fingers are at the waistband of my shorts now. I grab your hand and pull it upward, stretching out your finger to point at another star.

What’s that one?

That’s not a star, it’s a planet—Venus.

Your fingers return to their tango up and down my chest. They are smooth; the fingertips of someone more used to snapping them than labouring with them. Each time they change direction, I shiver. Venus is the planet of love, I know that much. So many years I’ve quietly orbited you, watched as others changed their trajectories to cross your path. Now our two celestial bodies have finally aligned on this still night and for all my waiting, when we could at last go supernova; I hesitate. Do I love you?

I gaze up at Venus, Orion, all the stars moving endlessly across the galaxy. Do they ever find each other? When their paths cross, are they changed forever?

I push your hand off again. This time I feel you and I spinning away from each other, our atmospheres parting as the east horizon pales towards dawn.


a single one weighs more than a leather bound volume, filled with a thousand

different ways to be

and yet there is none that holds such wide appeal as that which is escaping

from my burning lungs

even though I might take seven hundred million more before life fades from

where it dwells within

and I had taken maybe three hundred and forty million without considering

the act of breathing in

have I taken half the breaths that life assigned to me upon my arrival

on this blue-green orb

and what words inscribed on the pages of my book of existence will tell me

when I breathe my last?

The Architect

The Architect drew themselves into existence. One moment there was nothing; the next, a few simple lines sketched into the linen texture of air. A pencil. A hand. Finer detail emerged—fine channels on skin, threadlike hairs, raised veins that carried Life. The Architect considered the vast emptiness before them, and decided to fill it. At first the design was just an array of basic shapes. The Architect considered space, distance, darkness, and light. They moved things around, erased and redrew, until the balance was perfect. Then they began filling things in. New things were conceptualised in the voids and the Architect devised every kind of wonder with gentle certainty, coaxing them to life with deft strokes and shading. The sky was crafted from billowing smudge-edged clouds and pinprick stars. The Architect thought it so beautiful they reached down and recreated it below in perfect liquid symmetry. They built islands in the reflected gaps, crafting each from infinite pencil marks, one for each grain of sand. Majestic trees were drawn forth from these islands and the Architect was careful to use a variety of heights, shapes, and shadows to ensure each was unique. Among the trees and grasses, flowers blossomed into fruits and seeds beneath the Architect’s careful hand. There was a strange beauty about this work and the Architect threw themselves into discovery and experimentation, drafting new biomes with different climates, each more wondrous than the last. Movement would bring this marvel to life, and so in each biome the Architect drew animals, designed for their environment and all in perfect balance with their home and with each other. Fish flickered glimmering scales in the water, herbivores and carnivores roamed their home ranges like planets in orbit, birds dipped and soared against a cerulean sky. The Architect considered everything they had drawn to life, in its perfect complex. Then they took up the pencil and drew one more thing.

Amanda McLeod is an Australian author and artist with words in many places both in print and online. She’s also the managing editor of Animal Heart Press. Along with her passion for words and art, she loves her dogs and coffee. If you can’t find her, try looking outside or on her website: amandamcleodwrites.com.

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