Mother"What are you doing?"
She was already buried in a mountain of papers and typing madly onto her computer, eyes feverish from the light of the screen that cast a sickly pallor upon her skin. Her lackluster hair hung limply from where she had tried to pull it back. She waved her husband off, ignoring his question.
He stood there somewhat awkwardly, papers crackling beneath his feet in the tiny, dark, run-down room. His dark eyes flitted from side to side. He removed his cracked spectacles and tried cleaning them with the hem of his dirty shirt then replaced them on his nose, as dirty as ever.
"Obituaries." She finally gasped, wasting precious breath. She ripped open a new packet of paper, ignoring the sheets that spilled out, and stuffed it into the overworked printer which was spouting out page after page. She had run out of black ink and had switched to pink.
"Um " He gnawed on his bottom
Imaginary"My imaginary father beat me again." Charlie my six year old son complained as he stared up at me from the doorway into his darkened room. He stepped in and carefully closed the door without turning on the light. The evening's setting sun sifted through the closed blinds, but anything brighter than that hurt Charlie's eyes.Imaginary5 years ago in General Fiction More Like This
"Then stop imagining. I can't stand to see the bruises." I answered. "Plus they'll hurt if I hug you."
The little boy nodded and screwed his eyes tightly shut as he strained himself to un-imagine the damage. The blue-black-grey-purple paste of bruises mottling his arms and legs slowly faded. "There, daddy. All better." He sniffled and smiled at me.
I stretched out my arms and allowed him to nestle up against my chest where I could hold him in safety. And I held him for the next twenty minutes while he sobbed his heart out. It wrenched at my
Loki - CupidIf the diner knew it was playing host to two gods, it might have spent more care in preparing our lunch. Or perhaps not. Only the Oracle knew the future and he had gone half-mad from it, finally holing himself up at the summit of K2 and refusing any visitors. The popularity of climbing Mt. Everest had a sharp decline directly after, either from climbers wanting to visit the Oracle or because everyone realized that perhaps the Oracle knew something about Everest that we didn't. Either way, I didn't know if the diner staff would care they were serving gods and I didn't know why my fellow Watchdog looked like he'd been chewing on broken glass all morning. He glared at his sandwich like it had personally offended him. Perhaps it had. Tomatoes were hard to come by and it could very well be our fault.Loki - Cupid4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"So," I ventured tentatively, "How did it go?"
"I threw him into a car."
Tim started eating after that. I
MatchmakingFor her the summer days are long. She is small and sweet, a cube of caramel with an aching aftertaste that lingers for ending too soon. Her arms and legs are pliable as grass, and as grass she swells like a sea with the wind saturating her hair. She is one of the movers who cannot dance, but were meant to, from a tight core low in the abdomen; and she walks the sidewalk on the diagonal, a magnet pulled to a dimly lit room with the bhh-bhh-bhh of good hip-swaying rock 'n roll.Matchmaking3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
He rides the subway at night, beats rhymes into the stretched skin of the drum. He is an eagle fledgling, long-haired and brown eyed. His pants are red and he sits on the ground, tapping to the chug of the engine-- the drum is the engine. The next stop is his; for the rest of the ride, the train vainly echoes his rhythms, before stumbling upon a screech and twisting the pulse to abstraction. Until tomorrow it waits for him, to unkink its music.
They could love each other easily-- as much as flame
Love Isn't Chasing Rainbowswe wouldn't be dreamers, big schemers,Love Isn't Chasing Rainbows4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
with go-nowhere jobs, nine-to-five.
no saving face, morning after regrets,
and what was his name agains.
we'd be euchre in the café
with men who had seen it all
before. salt plains, burma forests,
atoll islands and elephants at the zoo.
a car park wedding and a shotgun
house. make up chasers are
for the suburban dream
who wants kids anyway?
I'd finish my degree, want
to work far, far away and
you'd agree to follow me
to the edge of the world,
but no further because
heights still won't be your
thing. in lust for all days;
we would have the world.
AppassionataClaire does not find him at his funeral.Appassionata4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Dean's body lies in an open casket, face-up with soft wrinkles and loose muscles. There is nothing of her husband in this corpse. He was rough and jagged. It seems wrong to see his edges smoothed down.
She hovers over his body and feigns sorrow. She hears family and friends weep and whisper comfort into each others' ears behind her. They offer their words and shoulders to her and she nods politely and pretends to cry.
All the while, she traces the ring on her finger and does not flinch when the diamond cuts into skin.
Claire looks for her husband. It is exhausting, but she has time.
In the rooms of their house, she does not find him. Instead she finds the ghost of him, his scent lingering in the cracks and crevices of the floorboards. Two weeks after the death of his body, her husband still has not returned.
His disappearance cuts into her now, making her grief raw and causing a tightness in her chest. There is a pressure on her lungs, as if her
if this world makes you crazy.Three days before his third birthday, my brother's computer started misbehaving.if this world makes you crazy.4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
He was small at birth, our little illegal boy was, and ugly as day.
Although the world's resources crumbling to its knees, no one could have denied my mother of her "accidental" embryo, even while They broke into houses and took women to the quack doctor to eliminate any suspicious growths "in the name of the law". We went through geneticists and neurologists, trying to fit an old computer from Grandma's time into the next generation. We dug deep into emergency stashes and back-up loans and "30310's College Fund", and came up with just enough to satisfy one round of bribes to keep everything [just barely] under the wraps.
Newborns are pretty things, my mother had assured, eyes bright and half to herself. It'll be worth it in the end.
His name was Ray, a pretty all-letters name to make up for his physical disproportions. I held him on the first day of his life and the last day of my [only-]childhood freed
Never Seen a Real Night SkyDo you ever think that maybe, just maybe, you and I aren't quite where we're supposed to be? Maybe there's more to us than drunken nights and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Maybe there's more to life than silly stringing and too-late nights and falling head-first into the darkness of your more-than-mischief. I let you drag me along, just to feel the rough skin of your palm against mine.Never Seen a Real Night Sky5 years ago in Teen More Like This
You've always been too lazy. Looking for the easy way out, the easy way in, is not really all that becoming of you. But the cologne you wear is intoxicating, and your hands in my hair always send shivers of fear up my spine. Love? Fear? It's all the same, really. It's nothing more than adrenaline. You always leave me breathless and so much prettier in black and blue.
I wonder what you'd say if you found all these pretty words I keep tucked away, sealed in my heart and stuffed in the worn pockets of your old jacket. You never wear it, anyway, unless you really have nothing else around. Then you'll shrug
And Lay as Though She SmiledI died of cholera in the third grade. My best friend Alice Hathaway presided over my funeral.And Lay as Though She Smiled7 years ago in General Fiction More Like This
Lying in the school soccer field, holding a bouquet of dandelions, my cheeks rubbed with pollen, yellow and sickly, I asked Alice to give my eulogy.
Neither of us had ever gone to a funeral, but somehow I knew more.
"My eulogy. Say nice things about me. Since I'm dead."
She hesitated. "Elaine was really nice. I wish she hadn't died. And I hope she goes to Heaven."
"Are you done?"
"Okay, now's when you bury me."
Alice ripped grass from the field and poured it over me. I smiled as it fell into my mouth.
"Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust," I chanted.
In kindergarten I learned about nothing. At recess, on the playground, if I concentrated long enough on nothing I began to see nothing. I began to hear nothing.
In the first grade I discovered nothing smelled exceedingly good. In attempting to describe that smell to my parents I always failed. No, not a sweet smell, no
Fifty-nineThunder crashes outside and I jump at the noise. I'm not scared of thunderstorms, but I hate seeing what they do to her. The fierce light that shines in her eyes as she talks about appeasing God's anger. The locals are all taken in by it. They listen in awe when she speaks of Him, they bestow her with honours and gifts, they hold her word above all others, they block out the unspeakable things she does in His name, believing that it's all for the Greater Good. They don't know, of course, as my wife doesn't know herself, of the role I play in all of this. They believe, as she does, that the poor creatures come to her willingly, guided by His hand to their own sacrifices.Fifty-nine4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
When the storm ends my wife leaves the house, transformed from the sweet woman I agreed to spend the rest of my life with to a force of nature I don't dare reckon with. Her hair is loose and tangled, wild like her white-rimmed eyes. Her mouth is thinned with anger and disapproval as she imagines the atrocities that must
The WriterA golden eclipse was emblazoned upon the back of his eyelids. The crisp, morning light, an event horizon on the surface of his vision. He found it so peaceful to lie here; watching the fire dance on the skin of his eyes, to see the distortion such a simple veneer could have on life. Everything was different depending on perspective. A certain paradigm is an important thing; it discerns life or death, true or false, love or hate. A simple problem can be interpreted, and solved, in several different ways. Untying the Gordian Knot is either a complex puzzle or a simple chopping manoeuvre.The Writer4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
John Tullock admired and cherished this, as it meant in someone else's view; he was an innocent man, even if he didn't believe it himself. Regardless of his own beliefs, twenty of his peers had agreed to this, and according to the Sixth Amendment, he had enjoyed the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district. The trial had been speedy, certainly. His sentence howev
If Kronos Drank MilkWhen I was little, Mama always told me that you couldn't swear by God's name, because then He might expect you to do something for him. So she always swore by milk. I felt very enlightened.If Kronos Drank Milk4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Milk," she'd mutter whenever I forgot to hang up the laundry, "I've raised a useless child." Or, sometimes it was more like, "Milk! Jessie, get outta that tree, girl!" Things like that.
People would always look at us strangely, and not because Mama and I looked so different. We'd be in the store and Mama would be muttering "milk" at the oddest times, and I'd be standing on the other side of the aisle with my hands hiding in the edges of my coat pockets.
Even when I was a teenager, Mama would still make me take a shower at 8:30 so that she could brush my hair before she went to bed. She made me grow it out, and I felt like an Indian because it was so dark and it hadn't been cut since I was four. Every night, I'd sit in front of the decaying couch on a stool and let Mama brush my hair while she watch
FugueI found her in a tree, once.Fugue5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
She was sittin' stuck in the uppermost branches, serene and unsurprised as an angel on Christmas morning. Dappled light inked her pretty with the shadows of leaves, and her fingers faintly tapped the rhythm of a bright hymn on the burdened limb.
"Hello!" she called, miraculously. The sun made a silhouette of her waving arm, and I breathed for the first time in hours. Her face looked so sweet, smilin' and brilliant. Though she was only a few dozen feet up, she looked down at me as though she was ages and miles away.
"Susan, get down from there," I yelled. "Momma's worried," I added in a mutter, my gaze scurrying down to my feet. I was lyin'. Our mother was no more worried for Susan's safety than she was concerned about her future prospects, certain of the prophetic glory that her elder child was gonna bring to the world, the sweet justification. I was the concerned party, sure my sister was gonna wander herself into traffic or a running crick one of these da
Paradise by the Toilet LightOf all the places she anticipates finding it, it's not on the toilet. Technically she muses, it isn't on the toilet though. She is. It's in the roof. It makes sense, she supposes, that you'd hide it somewhere that people wouldn't look for it. But still, it's a little unexpected.Paradise by the Toilet Light5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
She's just noticed that Heaven is in the skylight in her bathroom.
She's not sure how long it's been there, but she counts herself lucky that she decided not to hose it out recently. Typical, though, that she let Steven borrow her ladder. She flicks the light switch on and off, checking to see if it's a trick of the light, but it makes no difference. She waves timidly up at the foot-square hole. Sorry.
She closes the toilet lid and sits heavily, looking up. It's kind of pearly, she thinks. It sure had the white light, and the swirling mist. It seeps out of the far left corner and fades to nothing in front of her nose. Maybe she's having a Xanadu flashback. That would explain the fluff on the toilet seat, and th
singles.Cooper is twelve years old and a treasure in his tennis whites, and I am unremarkable, eleven, blurred at the edges like some uncertain shoreline. He only speaks to me because he sees Coach Drown's hands linger too long on my hips when he's teaching me topspins. We're pairing up, Cooper declares, claiming me from across the court with the wide end of his racquet. He spends the rest of practice serving straight down the line, aiming to concuss. Cooper Corentin plays tennis like we're in trenches. Come on, kid, fight back, he says. If I were a fucking truck, would you just stand there on the dotted line?singles.4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Coach Drown is a truck. Every Thursday afternoon, he rakes me over for roadkill, and I lie there bisected below him with the taste of gravel in my throat. I should be used to it by now, but sometimes he still catches me full in the nerves like headlights. I'm practicing my backhand these da
distinctionThis is what I cannot understand.distinction4 years ago in Philosophical More Like This
There is an understanding that nothing is ever black and white. Good can be achieved through bad means, what's wrong can sometimes be right, and if you turn right for long enough, you eventually go left. Boys can be girls who fall in love with girls who sometimes think they are boys and the lines between everything end up irreversibly blurred.
Or so I've always thought.
But this is a line that cannot be blurred. This is the only remaining clear-cut line that separates black from white as perfectly as a color wheel. And that is the fact that everything is until it isn't. We are until we aren't. We breathe until we don't. We live until we die. There is no gray area, no matter what the talk of doctors and comas and life support and brain death might say. Your heart beats until it doesn't.
This goes beyond just life and death. Emotions are until they aren't. As are moments, definitions, seasons. Two people falling in love, well, some of them inevitably cra
Grey and Gimble in the WabeThe ground was soft beneath his feet. It squelched and popped beneath the pressure of his determined stride, and sometimes crunched on a creature that hadn't been able to get out of his way quickly enough. Hadn't been able to, or hadn't wanted toit was hard to tell, in a place like this. Barren, and yet alive in its own way. Wet, always wet, but with a sickly damp that worked its way into his clothes and his hair and his lungs. Flat and endless like an empty chessboard. In the distance stood figures that looked somewhat like trees, except they were too round, too perfect, like the tops of some ghastly fungus. If the man ever paused long enough to stare at them, they might move, just a bit. But it was hard to tell. And the man never did stop long enough.Grey and Gimble in the Wabe4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Why are you following me?"
This may seem to be a strange question for the man to ask in such a deserted milieu, but there was in fact something with him. It had no shape, or perhaps its shape was simply unimportant. Sometimes it
The Great WallWhen papers ask me where I'm from, I write "Seattle," because they don't want to know the real answer. When people ask me where I'm from, I say "downtown," and they take a good look at me and take that to mean "Chinatown."The Great Wall4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
My parents run one of the zillion dim sum restaurants here. They're what the white kids at school call "fresh off the boat." Most of the people here are. They don't speak English at home, and they try not to at work. They don't watch anything on American TV; they read the local Chinese paper and watch the one Asian channel, pausing to turn off the TV in disgust whenever one of the five daily Korean soap operas comes on. On Saturdays they go to the market and complain about the terrible selection. When they manage to find chicken's feet, they declare a feast day and eat it with reverence, like it fell from the heavens just for us.
I try to spend as much time away from them as I can. There are only a handful of kids my age here; of those who have children, most are eit
Winter.As he talks, I imagineWinter.4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
the words are tiny icicles,
falling from the awning
of a late afternoon
to pluck holes in my eyes
all over my retinas).
"All the better to smell you with, my dear,"
I'll say to the girl he's remembered
when he leads me to drink from
her trough of tears;
"All the better to hear how we harmonize."
No black lace or lillies
stargazing from the sidewalk
of her bedside, no books
enscribed in braile or the
bent knees of leaving;
just smoke and stale breadcrumbs,
guiding her frail understudy
through cold evening
This Is The SoilThe dirt was cold, and the skin around my fingernails clung to it hopefully. I churned in his ashes slowly, giving him back to the birches he planted forty years ago. I started using the curls of their bark for paper after he died; lines of poetry struggle every day in the drafts from the window, shivering and moving away bit-by-bit from the glass panes that I can see the river through. It always rushes in the winter; the cold is never cold enough to freeze, but always cold enough to chill. I left half the ashes in the urn.This Is The Soil4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Chemical Attractions, Part IWe can learn a lot from salt.Chemical Attractions, Part I3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
The chlorine atom is fundamentally lacking, longing to fill that gaping hole in its valence shell, and those bright bits of energy dancing in amorphous clouds around a sodium atom are just too tempting for the poor chlorine to resist. Chlorine probably knows that it has no claim to those electrons. It might lie awake at night for days or weeks in a fit of conscience, seeking alternatives before sending out tentative feelers and inviting Sodium to join it for coffee... It's a romantic comedy in minature, and I think that we can skip over the montage of dates and dinners and late nights on the couch in front of a forgotten movie, set to some perky but meaningless tune of the early Nineties.
It's only much later, once caught in the throes and tedium of a borderline-abusive relationship, that Sodium begins to understand the true nature of an ionic bond, begins to search and grope in vain for those lost luminous stars that Chlorine stole back in the early days,
The SeaWhen you make the two one, you will become the Sons of Adam, and when you say, 'Mountain, move away,' it will move away.The Sea4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Thomas 106: 1-2
When I returned to town, I heard the stories:
That you'd walked the oak path,
And past the angel with the flaming sword;
Beneath the river,
Behind the trees
And through a pantheon
Of wind broken stone;
You'd marched north
Until your steps matched the syncopation
Of the whale-song
And the cedars in the wind,
You'd crossed the bridge
To enter the valley kingdom.
I know that you'd watched the jaybird pick our nightmares from its
mother, can you mendi.mother, can you mend4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
for those freckles to glide down
the bridge of her nose and
into a generation of fresh sunspots,
but the daughters got the sun's affection
through their hair, one wheaten braid
over another, sometimes
under the needle's eye of the wind
and sometimes split ends
were all there was to mend.
and mother tried to reteach
her Indian braids unity
on young heads,
she tried to get her worn moccasins
to move too-small feet into dance,
but they ran through rivers
rather than around them
and too often had they sinned
before the hands
trampled azaleas under bare soles
and petals between toes
but sometimes the land
was all there was to mend
and truthfully, Mother was
afraid of crossing bridges,
in her hand-me-down car
or on her own two feet.
she told them,
don't you ever lead traffic over
quiet water. You'll startle our world
into a change.
last time she had,
the current came in alto
with a dirge of capsized trout
and for once the surrounding willows
dove in after something