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Nancy Machlis Rechtman: Help

Image: Unsplash, downloaded ( 03.07.2022.

Back Alleys

She awoke to find herself

In the back alleys of the city

With no idea of where she was

Or how she had gotten there

Or how to find her way home.

The buildings seemed oddly familiar

Although she had no memory of why

But the smells

Sparked her synapses

With snippets of a life

That made no sense.

The labyrinth got denser

And her steps reverberated through the empty streets

And she trembled with apprehension

As she searched for the exit.

Her mind raced through the jumble

How did she know this place

And where were all the people?

In a city this size

The silence emanating from the structures was deafening.

She tried to run

To keep up with her mind

As the echoes grew louder

And the paths narrowed

To the point where there was barely room enough for her

To squeeze between the looming edifices.

She wanted to cry for help

But how could anyone hear her

When no one was there?

The walls closed in

And her breaths came in short gasps

Until she had to stop running

And she could no longer see the sky.

The colors began to morph

Into silver liquid that streamed down her face

And it felt like hot tears

But she wasn’t sure

Since nothing made sense

And if she could only return

To the world she knew

Maybe she could understand what was happening.

But she was so alone

And the ache in her heart was everywhere

No longer contained in her body

Spreading throughout the streets of the city

Pulsating with pain.

The beat grew so loud that she had to cover her ears

And she sank to her knees

As the ground crumbled beneath her

And the facades closed around her

And she wondered if it was possible that

In a world filled with people

Everyone had died of loneliness

While screaming silently for help.

About the Author: Nancy Machlis Rechtman has had poetry and short stories published in Paper Dragon, Page & Spine, Quail Bell, Blue Lake Review, Goat’s Milk, The Writing Disorder, Discretionary Love, and more. She wrote freelance Lifestyle stories for a local newspaper, and she was the copy editor for another paper. She writes a blog called Inanities at


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The image of Quasimodo is by French artist Louis Steinheil, which appeared in  the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" published by Perrotin of Paris.


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