the Chandler's Around the WayThe hose slipped out again. Chan cursed, and shoved it back into the incision he'd made, adjusted his mask, and bent over the pump. He yanked the cord, and the pump started to life with a cough of biodiesel. It bounced on the sand as it grumbled away. Chan kept one hand on it and held the hose in place with the other.the Chandler's Around the Way3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
If fucking Fathers would spend the bone on a new one, I wouldn't be all night at this, Chan grumbled. He ached for a smoke, but didn't have the hands to spare. Plenty of hands here, he thought as he glanced at the riverbank. Some of them even had a pulse.
"Hey," he said to whoever was closest.
It was a sunbather. A walker who drew enough bone to slot time on the beach without having to fight for it. She had each arm draped around a man, both of them tattooed in the same place with the same sigil. Chan was jealous. Someday he'd have his own numbers, but they'd be women. All of them. He was old-fashioned like that.
The walker answered without raising her sungl
The Green of my Heartbeats5: Red, rude, a bully.The Green of my Heartbeats3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
She was bored, propping her face up on her palms. Her teacher, high-voiced and chirping in fuzzy green flurries, was writing rows of sevens on the board. White chalk. The sevens were glimmering in turquoise, and she smiled.
Sevens were nice, friendly. Seven would never eat nine. Nine was just a baby, like her brother at home.
She was only five. Fives were bullies, nasty. Bright garish red, like B. B was red, but he was not as rude. He forgot things though. Like his keys. Impatient.
She sighed, her head slipping and resting on her wrist. She could feel her pulse on her cheek.
"Seven!" said her teacher, continuing to fill the board. "Say it with me. Seven!"
Later, they got to practice identifying numbers. She had learned before, at home. Kindergarten was not meeting her new knowledge expectations.
Sitting at the table, she strived to make conversation to ease the ache inside her brain. "I like sevens. Aren't they the prettiest color you've ever seen?"
They boy next
Forgiveness EconomicsGenesisForgiveness Economics3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
But for the small purple stain on its border, the banknote was non-descript.
It had a value but men value things in different ways and by different means. It had a value, but its value is not it's story.
It landed on the church plate face up, coming to rest softly on the flat silver base amongst the loose change like it was tossed to the cloth of a gambling table, soundless but with a small sense of resignation. A man paying for luck, a man asking his God for a favor.
It came from the wallet of a small sad man, who feared the Good Lord daily. The banknote was the weekly price of his penance, the bill of sale for those half-remembered crimes of a misspent youth and other things unmentionable.
The small sad man's hands were fat and white and callouses sat on his thumb and forefingers, the scars of a bank teller, a money counter, a man who knew about value. The hair on his head was grey and his eyes were blue below his wrinkled forehead and tonight would be the last time he
Across the Sea and Around the KotatsuSpringAcross the Sea and Around the Kotatsu3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
Mom starts with rice. Japanese rice, one, two, three Japanese cup-fulls of rice grains into the cooker, because Sis eats a lot of this stuff. It's one of her favorite dishes, taco rice, and Mom's always happy to make it for her because it's the only way Sis will eat her tomatoes. But back to the rice. "You want to rinse at least three or four times, until the water's kind of clear," Mom says as she cups her hand under the cooker pot, letting the cloudy water wash over her hand.
Rice cooking's easy though – just fill enough water to the point the rice's covered, punch in a time (or set it to "Quick Cook," which with our creaking rice cooker still takes about an hour) and let the cooker do its thing.
Ground meat goes into a well-greased and heated frying pan. Break up the block so that it crumbles into fine little pieces, and do this with wild abandon, because this is taco meat. Mom uses any taco seasoning that happens to be cheap; most seasonings rack up t
SuperimposeHe doesn't look like a gymnast. He's all button down shirts and frazzled grey hair framing wire spectacles, a picture perfect professorial archetype down to the very tips of his frayed shoelaces. But he was a gymnast once, or so he tells us, and I believe him because he smiles like he knows something while he's chatting before class.Superimpose3 years ago in Sketches More Like This
It's strange to see that image superimposed over the current one the distinguished professor in pressed khaki slacks and a jacket, worn brown loafers exuding a faintly courteous manner (you can always tell them by their shoes), and a ring on the fourth finger of his left hand versus the athletic kid who went to college for a semester and grew nine inches too tall to keep doing what he loved so he took up a tennis racquet instead. Gymnasts don't wear suit jackets; no steel mill worker has such manicured nails. But the images are all there, flickering just under the surface and bubbling up again when he's recounting stories about his days in Pi
for unseeing eyesladen with skyfor unseeing eyes3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and painted mockingbirds
on loveless branches
folding in our slender limbs
and ducking under our own
voices, fidgety and frail
against the wall of night.
between the dipping blades
and drawn shoulders
we learned to craft our words
a drumming rain
that carved canyons
in open hearts and
drew the sunshine to
our supping lips.
keen-eyed, we watched
remembering the weight
of unseeing eyes
and scalding remarks
and we learned to slip
the noose-knots and slide
through the soul-cracks
build kingdoms under
with lyrical uncertainty
and tender determination
we built a pyre of peace
in the shadows
and watched it blaze
the truth across our
as new leaves still curled
and stretching hands
unfurled in suppliance
we lifted our heads
in broken laughter,
for this light is our burden,
and even a whisper
can shatter silence
and bring the blind
Automatici.Automatic3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
"So where are you from?" The boy leans toward me, questions swimming in his eyes. I smile.
"Oh, I'm from Boston."
"No, I mean, where are you from?" My smile falters as I realize where this is going. It's an all-too familiar conversation, one I've been having since I was old enough to reply.
"Do you mean where was I born?"
"I was born in China."
"Do you speak Chinese?"
"Does your family speak Chinese?"
He looks befuddled. I sigh.
"Oh!" I see the light bulb over his head go off in a shower of sparks. "Do you know who your real parents are? Like, your real parents?" My temper flares. I stifle the urge to throw something.
"You mean my biological parents?"
"Oh." There's an awkward pause. I have learned to wait it out, to prepare my next automated response.
"When were you adopted?"
"When I was a year old."
"Did you live in an orphanage?"
"Like in Annie?"
Rolling my eyes seems appropriate.
"No, not l
The IdolI once saw a man on the television who was so afraid of fruits that when presented with a bowl of them, he fled the stage, knocking over the host and several other guests. Though I openly pitied the man for his obvious malady of the mind, inside, the small bit of sadism buried within all humans laughed at his bizarre affliction. How can one not find cruel amusement in the cowering of a grown man who has been confronted by nothing more than a bowl of peaches? But now I understand fear like no other. I now no longer find amusement in the terror of others, no matter how illogical.The Idol4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Now, let me tell you the story of why the sound of wind whistling through the trees in Autumn strikes me with a fear so immense that I can do little more than shake uncontrollably.
A good friend of mine, a young and upcoming anthropologist by the name of Henry Byrne, contacted me eight weeks ago. Though he refused to go into details, he excitedly explained t
Fire and WaterIt was raining in Lancaster on September 3rd 1555, and Jane Ask loved the earthy smell that it coaxed out of the soil.Fire and Water3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
She wiped away the sheen of rainwater from her forehead with the back of her hand and set her small basket of nettles down by the front door. Later she would dry out the leaves and reduce them to a powder; the substance worked wonders on small wounds which refused to stop bleeding.
Jane had always been something of an herbalist. Growing up with only a father, and two older brothers from his first marriage, she had spent the majority of her childhood outdoors. Now practically a spinster at the age of twenty-two, she knew the Lancashire countryside as though it were the dearest friend, and for years now its other residents had come to her for aid. She knew which plants could heal or, if nothing were to be done, could simply ward off the pain.
She sniffed, wiping a drop of cold rainwater off the end of her nose, and looked across her herb garden at Sally. Sally was her co
PressureSomething broke.Pressure3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
A hard CRACK while sitting in
a soft chair. No pain registered.
The absence of it
is like watching explosions in space.
You follow the curve of your skull. You remember
how skulls are formed like tectonic plates.
Your head wants to be a planet,
volcanic, living, in change.
You continue to your left shoulder,
the one with all the problems.
But today, it has nothing to say.
Your rib cage moves
like oceanic waves, expecting a storm
that hasn't come.
You stand up,
you consider your legs,
nothing feels wrong,
But you can break
more than your body.
A Pocket Full of SkyWhen I was young, my father would take me to the highest tower of Notre Dame precisely once a year. It would be cold. Freezing. But we'd stand there, and take deep breaths of air, and peer down, towards the tiny ants of people below. Down, towards the sprawling city beneath us. It was always winter, when we'd go. Always cold. Freezing, freezing. But however cold it was, and however dull and bleary the weather, my father would ask one thing, and one thing only: that we adhered to tradition.A Pocket Full of Sky4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Lucie," he would say, with the fond smile and kind eyes I always remember. "Lucie, my peach. Whatever you become, and wherever your heart and mind leads you, you must always do for me one small, beautiful thing take a handful of the sky, and place it in your pocket. Take a handful of the sky, and remember, always, that your feet need not always be imprisoned to the ground. Anything you could ever wish for, Lucie, can be yours but only if you study hard, and always feel the freedom of t
chromaWe were merely children when the stars came.chroma3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
They rained down from the sky in a burst of light, like shards of glass pouring down from the heavens. Supernovas blooming in the night sky, petals raining down onto the barren earth - angels, falling with their wings sheathed, glowing, as they glided down. We watched, starstruck, as the glow overtook us - we were mesmerized. We waited with bated breath as the meteors landed, the celestial light subsiding as dark forms started to pick themselves up from the dust.
They moved towards us with an otherworldly grace, their steps leaving no marks on the earth as they descended upon us. Frozen to our spots as they approached, our bodies simply unresponsive in their wake. We were paralyzed. They stretched out their wings, embracing us in a softness unimaginable - a polymerization of silky feathers made of pure light, like a soft touch of a rose petal - and suddenly, our eyes were opened. The world was the same, yet so new, as it was washed with a gl
Imitating NatureThe morning sun streamed through a series of large plate glass windows lining the library's east wall, its rays warming the room's wooden paneling and illuminating the cavernous space. Tall bookshelves stuffed with literature from across the world towered over polished oak reading tables, each furnished with a plain, green-shaded banker's lamp. On the far side, a massive painting gracing the west wall depicted the solemn face of Saint Patrick, whose protective presence could be felt watching over the library's sole visitor.Imitating Nature3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
All was perfectly quiet, save for a tap, tap, tapping that echoed in the otherwise silent room. Seated at a desk near the door, glued to the screen of his laptop, Eoghan quietly tapped his pen against the notepad in his lap as his eyes scanned through the different news reports.
Another roadside bomb outside of Kandahar, three dead, all soldiers. God frowns upon careless mistakes gentlemen. You should have noticed the dead dog along the side of the road.
i) Wanderlusti),i) Wanderlust3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The first time I met the girl who started a revolution the sky was throwing down so much rain it felt like we were underwater. It was hard to breathe; and maybe that was because of all the rain, but probably it was because I looked at her face, under this dark red hood, and inside I was a story with all these feelings I could never say. I guess those feelings could only ever become words on paper - words in ink - not the kind I could ever speak aloud to anybody, if only because I couldn't bear for a person to see the look on my face while I remembered. Despite how good it felt - so hopeful, so desperately happy for what it was and could become - at the same time it was drowning in this sea, like the sky that day, for the way that everything else wasn't. And I said, what's your name?
At first we called her August when I brought her back to Jack's flat, which his parents paid for mostly, and which we used for getting high, mostly. She curled up in the armchair and rarely left it from
Reverse Culture ShockFlying home was not flying home. Flying home meant grabbing the homing pigeon inside of me and twisting its imaginary magnet one hundred and eighty degrees to the north instead of southwards to Australia. The magnet still twitched stubbornly north even as the plane droned over Darwin, five hours before I finally reached home. Except it wasn't home. Sydney now looked as foreign as the glossy travel leaflets I grabbed from Singapore, its shine not quite matching the missing substance of my once childhood home.Reverse Culture Shock4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Thank you for choosing Singapore Airlines I hope you will enjoy your stay in Sydney, or a warm welcome home."
Winter air slapped me like a bucket of ice water as I emerged, searching for my parents and my sister. For eight years, their voices were tinny and masked by static on the occasional phone calls home. Today, they sounded as brittle as ever, Australian accents barely sheathing the chill emanating from them.
"Welcome home, sis," said my sister with an unusually bright v
WanderlustI've been sleeping with my jeans onWanderlust4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and seatbelt unbuckled,
So I can leave early
before my regret wakes.
In the check-in, on the road,
I distract myself
Walk, go, leave
go further, leave again
I like my life
I never meant to break your
(steady and warm)
But truer ways of joy I found
on the road,
in long railways and stranger tongues
And I'm sorry that we never
Quite catch up with each other.
I never loved goodbyes,
but I love leaving all behind
In the movement I found tranquility,
easing for this burn.
Don't think I'll be able
To ever forget you, no
You're like Venus in the nightly sky,
guiding with your sulphur burn -
you left a mark in me,
in the air I breathe
Though we never quite catch up,
we never quite meet.
And it breaks my heart either way;
I don't want to leave,
but I cannot stay.
if she were any more tomato she'd be blueberryxvii.if she were any more tomato she'd be blueberry3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
i want to write about how this world of
absolute truth, knowledge, and solid food
that which we hold high between two fingers is always
full of watery applesauce and little white half-truths.
and about how utterly strange
it is that all the simple things that people
write about on pages are, in reality,
very few and far between.
and i want to write about how there is
peace and war and
poverty and treasure and
cruelty and sometimes,
i want to write a poem about why the hell i'm wasting
my time writing poems when i could maybe
actually be doing something productive
or contributing to society or
and i want to write about why there aren't
nearly enough apple trees that grow
in dark moldy closets or underwater
or on the sun or inside craters of the moon
or in the desert or in the deep winter.
because god knows those places
need them now mor
MaggieCh. 1Maggie3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
In the morning, the postman comes around seven. Maggie would give her usual warning gruff from her spot on the rug, her head raised, her ears perked. When the mail car sputtered away, Maggie would bring herself to rise slowly and pad to the window where she'd probe the glass curiously with her nose. Seeing nothing, she would return to her well-worn spot and drop like a sack of mail.
Every day, a little death
Every death, a little day
There came a time where I realized I couldn't see the curiosity in Maggie's eyes. Sure, she'd sniff around the yard excitedly, or wag her tail when we went to the park, but the way she looked at thingslike the way she slowly moved her head to watch me cookis like she looked through them. When I dropped something, she'd follow it lazily with her eyes and then lay her had comfortably on her paws, unaffected. Even when I called her over, she rose with effort, and sniffed the food briefly before gently lapping it up. She looked a
Whale Songs of the PacificListen, the girls swallowed by whales are the ones that grow up lucky.Whale Songs of the Pacific2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Listen, no one will warn you about the little boys with the magpie eyes and the fists swinging splinters of glass. No one will warn you that their smiles are sweeter than their words are sweeter than their souls are sweeter than their intentions. No one will warn you of the sheer weight of the world.
Listen, sometimes girls are fragile. Sometimes girls are frothy. Sometimes girls let boys nuzzle "I love you"s into their necks and sometimes girls drink the wine of believing them.
Listen, sometimes the boys really are sweet, and little girls' tart puckered mouths can't taste the difference.
Listen, writers are the ones that drip fishhooks down their throats to coax out their hearts. Writers are the ones who fling those heart-hooks into the sea even if they have a message but not a bottle. Listen, sometimes fish swallow them. Some of those fish sink to the bottom of the ocean with the weight of the world in those heart
They Also Serve Who Only Stand and WaitI don't know when we first went underground. I don't even know if it was one mass exodus, a swarm of mankind trickling through the earth's crust so vehement we carved our own caverns by the force of trampling feet, or whether it was a gradual process, perhaps even a repetitive one, a family here, a neighborhood there. For all I know, the echo of the damp subterranean machine has always reverberated off the cave walls, created long past by the Angels, who think of our well-being even while they shake their heads helplessly at our flaws.They Also Serve Who Only Stand and Wait3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
They say that those who remained on the surface were raptured away in a great flash of light, like a million suns converted into raw energy all at once. While it was rumored once that the flash was our doing, our own horrid creation, we all know better now. It was the Maker who brought it forth from the void and cast it onto the earth's crust, as though shot from an immense sling, taking only those who were brave enough to trust in Him. We, who live in t