Hand of Glory

~ Roni Stinger

I draw Fred’s hand along my body, following the curve of my hipbone, the contour of my belly, tracing the lines of long faded stretch marks with his fingers. My breath hitches, a mix of desire and guilt. I dig my heels into the satin sheets. Lavender essence fills the bedroom with a slight undertone of salt and vinegar. Our love is now forbidden.


He always made me cum first . . . and last. I’d had a few boys before him. They never cared much what I liked. Never taking the time to satisfy me. They took what they wanted and left me to pleasure myself without them. Not that I minded getting myself off, but it wasn’t quite the same as sharing it with another.

Fred was different. He enjoyed making me cum. His cock growing so hard as waves of orgasms rushed through my body while he expertly moved his fingers on my clit, slow circles the way I liked, dipping his free fingers into my pussy. God. Just thinking about him made me hot.


His hand is large with thick fingers, calloused from years of labor, but it moves across my body gently. Smooth, thick skin with a touch of dampness lights my nerve endings, leading the way into my pink silk panties. I roll my head back and close my eyes.


He always had a strong work ethic, joining his dad at the lumber mill as soon as he turned eighteen, supporting me and our baby when she arrived right after we both graduated high school. Baby Missy had my dark hair and his blue eyes. His curls and my dimples.

No one thought our marriage would last. We were both so young. Doomed to fail, as parents, as partners. Yet ten years on, our little girl played basketball in the driveway with her dad. He taught her to shoot and dribble. I taught her to bake, garden, and fish.

He and I had our fights. Marriage and parenting weren’t easy, but make up sex was the best. We’d find a sitter and steal away, have sex in our car like teenagers.


His hand moves further into my panties, fingers cool, caressing the folds of my labia. My lips moisten in anticipation. I relax into the pillow. His musky tang envelops me.


The other women shocked me, but I tried to understand. I’d had my own temptations but managed to resist. If I were truly honest, I had my own regrets. Times I would have given in had the opportunity arose. Things I wished I’d tried with one or more of my close friends.

It was long ago, and we’d both been so very young. Beneath the surface of any relationship, nothing’s as easy as it appears. The many years I tried to understand his secrets and lies were eclipsed by the image of his hands caressing another, working their magic on someone else. That image haunted me through my forgiveness. My stomach grew sick each time I imagined his hands on another. I struggled to push those thoughts away.

I tried not to be selfish. Maybe. there was enough pleasure and love to go around. That’s what my polyamorous friends had said. I almost believed, but his hands were mine, meant for only me.


His hand, warmed by the heat of my body, now belongs to only me, working the magic it knows so well. His fingers tease their entrance. Dripping and wanting, I beg and plead. Enter me.


On our twentieth anniversary, Missy went off to college. We were a couple again, instead of just a family. The house echoed with a silence that only my weeping filled. Fred’s caresses brought comfort.

We went to restaurants we’d never been. Planned weekend getaways we’d dreamed of in our youth. We found each other and ourselves again.

I took up painting. Missy’s old bedroom became my studio. Fred discovered woodworking. Our garage became his shop. In our bed, I found my voice again. No longer a reason to keep quiet with nobody else in the house. Our moans and my screams filled the rooms as we christened each one with our lovemaking. We were more turned on by each other than we’d ever been, playing new games and buying new toys. Falling deeper in love each day.


I thrust my hips upwards, panting as his fingers enter. They dive deep inside, first one . . . then two . . .then three. Every touch a stroke of erogenous tissue. Almost more than I can take. Almost.


Thirty years after our wedding, we’d beat the odds, made it through the disagreements, the fights, and the transgressions. Fred’s hands caressed my arm to ease my nerves, held my waist when I needed comfort.

Missy made us grandparents of a sweet cherubic boy named Danny. He had her dark curly hair and his daddy’s smile. Fred played peekaboo and pat-a-cake. Games he’d been too busy for when Missy was a baby.

I baked cookies like any good grandma. I worried so about that little one. What would his future be in this world I barely recognized? Fred’s strong hands on my shoulders told me everything would be okay.

When we sent little Danny home, Fred and I made up for lost time together. Our love life had slowed, but his hands hadn’t forgotten how to please. He took his time with my pleasure, and I took mine with his.


His hand, inside me. His thumb on my clit. The joints grown stiff but still workable. I guide them to my climax. My moans and screams fill the emptiness of our bedroom.


Fred was working on a new bathroom cabinet for Missy. She took pride in showing her friends the things her dad made.

I painted in my studio, a portrait of Fred and me inspired by a picture taken shortly after we’d met. I’d lost track of time. Fred always came in for a kiss before taking his evening shower. Then I’d clean up my project, and we’d spend the rest of the evening reading or watching old sitcoms we both enjoyed.

When the sun set behind the mountains and my studio dimmed beyond my ability to see, I went to the shop. He should have been in an hour ago.

The roar of the saw greeted me as I opened the door to the garage. At first, I couldn’t figure out what I was seeing. Red fabric strewn across the floor. Fred hunched over the saw . . . no. The saw cut through him, still spinning as it protruded from his back. The red wasn’t fabric. Blood and flesh flung from Fred’s torso and splattered across the floor as he’d collapsed atop the blade. Piles of sawdust and blood indistinguishable from flesh and guts. I’d warned him against using the saw without its guard, but he said he’d be careful.

I stood gaping for what seemed a lifetime, but must have been seconds, before crossing the room and unplugging the saw. But it was much too late. It had been much too late, long before I entered the garage.

Nothing anyone could do, and I knew it. His flesh had gone ivory and scarlet. The blood drying to a crusty brown. I sunk to the concrete floor, cold traveling through my body. I wept for hours before forcing myself to get up and make that call. It was just Fred and me in the garage, adorned with his body parts.

I closed my eyes. It was almost as if nothing had happened, as if we were still happily together. When I opened them, on the floor only a few feet from where I sat, his right hand had fallen free of the mess that had once been my love.

His hand lay palm up, fingers curled like a dead spider’s legs, waiting for someone to sweep the critter up. Inching forward, I picked up his hand and cradled it, hugging my love to my chest. The flesh was cool, but still his. The blood congealed at the ragged stump. Not a mar on the rest of the hand.


Holding his hand against my cheek, his fingers open and caress my skin, warm from my hot pussy. I close my eyes and drift.


I washed his hand in the sink and took it to my bedroom, placing it under the covers. Then I made the phone call. The paramedics arrived and called the morgue. The body bag resembled laundry more than something that was once human. No one asked questions, only offered condolences.

Fred came to me that night and whispered in my ear, his hand resting with me beneath the covers, laid on my waist, fingers reaching for the spots that he knew best.


When I close my eyes, he’s still here, whispering in my ear. I guide his hand down, his fingers caress my clit, ready for our second round. When we finish, I’ll set him back in the jar on the nightstand, preserving our love for another night.

Our years together aren’t over yet.

Five of Cups


Roni Stinger’s fiction has recently been published in Dark Matter Magazine, Unnerving Magazine, and Rewired: Divergent Perspectives in Horror, among others.

Find her online at www.ronistinger.com.

 [ issue 9 : spring 2023 ]

Family Dinner

~ A. P. Howell

Margot’s mother still sets a place for him at the dinner table.

It has been two years, or three. Long enough that there are no expectations of mourning, no more messages of condolence. The logistics of death have been resolved: the will read, the legalities settled, the funeral paid for, the stone memorial to Margot’s father raised.

Margot’s mother still serves his favorite foods.

It took some time for Margot to notice. But some nights she picked at her plate, finding the meal unappetizing, and looked up to see her mother doing the same. It occurred to Margot that they could eat other foods, foods that they enjoyed. After more time, it occurred to Margot that she could share this revelation with her mother. After yet more time, Margot wondered why she had not done so.

Each day, she watches her mother repeat the routines of decades. Each day, she feels her father’s presence looming over the household.

Margot eats little. Her mother eats less.

Her father would eat so much. Instead, it is his memory that consumes them.

It is exhausting. It is ghoulish. They are starving, and for no reason.

But Margot is starving less quickly and cannot bring herself to speak.

Five of Cups


A. P. Howell lives with her spouse, kids, and dog, sometimes near a lake and always near trees. Her stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Little Blue Marble, and XVIII: Stories of Mischief & Mayhem.

She tweets @APHowell and her website is aphowell.com.

 [ issue 3 :  summer 2021 ]