Tumbling Down He said he was smart enough to be a Mensa member. She asked what that was. David said it was a group of people who took a test and were admitted to Mensa only if they tested as geniuses. Susanne just looked him, not entirely surpised and not entirely convinced David was right about that. Without knowing, and in light of what David did or didn't do for a living, Susanne went back to reading a novel she picked up on her weekly trips to the library.
Susanne and David had arguments now about those novels she read. She read everything from bestsellers to older classics, including children's books (she had no children) and non-fiction about fiction.
David insisted that reading any fiction was a waste of time.
"Why?" Susanne asked.
"Because fiction doesn't teach anyone anything," David said.
Susanne put her current
Fight in a Hospital They said she was too old to have a baby.Fight in a Hospital4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Doctors said she'd die if she had a second one.
Lettie thought different about that. Lettie thought different about a lot of things other folks said and thought.
Doctors said she'd die when she had her girl Jaycee ten years ago too, but Lettie was still very much alive.
Well, she almost died, but 'almost' didn't count with Lettie.
She did as she pleased and she had since a young age. That didn't do a world of wonder for her health, but she was happy with Jaycee. Her daughter was a good one, as smart and independent as her mom.
Now Lettie wanted a son because Jaycee wished for a brother.
Jaycee never mentioned a wish before. Lettie thought one wish was the least she could do for her girl.
On the Northside of TimeOn the Northside of Time5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
It was a good day for the dogs and a bad one for the rabbits. I heard the big black dog howl his chase call through most of the afternoon, sometimes near and sometimes far. His little white shadow yipped along behind him. There were long pauses between yips heard. That little dog had short legs and needed extra wind and effort just to keep up.
The air outside was cool and sharp. The dogs ran under the last autumn leaves I could spot out there, out past the meadow. Some of those old trees in the grove stayed green the whole winter long. Most never did. The hunt through the big grove must have been exciting for the dogs. Not for smaller and younger animals.
The dogs came back when the setting sun put sof
In and Out of the PinkIn and Out of the Pink4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The nurse let Jaycee look at her new twin brothers, wrinkly-cute in their incubator, a few moments longer. Then she said Jaycee had to go back to the hospital waiting room. Find the woman she and her mom arrived with.
Jaycee didn't move.
"But what about Mom?" she asked. "How is she? Can I see her?"
"I said not today." The nurse was gruff. "Doctor says your mother needs more care. Doctor said not today. I know you're a very young girl, but you must understand. Now find that woman who brought you here and go home. Rest."
Desiree never returned from her first 'smoke break' hours ago.
Jaycee watched shadows lengthen outdoors. She had to get home. Her pony and the chickens needed care. She could do it alone. She had before. Mom often told folks how brave and strong Jaycee was. She kn
Sister Mary, Quite Contrary Like most of them, she didn't really walk. It's true nuns seemed to use roller skates instead of feet. They snuck up behind students and often hit them on the head with a book if they wanted to. In those days such things didn't matter. Anyway, my folks paid a pretty penny for me to attend that school. They had no complaints, so I couldn't complain either.Sister Mary, Quite Contrary5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Sister Mary taught English. She happened to teach me English two years in a row. Sister Mary was very big on diagramming sentences. Students had to write a sentence on the blackboard and use white chalk to put nouns, verbs and their garnishes, spread out like small side-dishes, on separate but interlocked little lines.
If not correct, Sister Mary often made students stand at the blackboard with their nose in a circle of chalk she drew. No matter how long a student stood that way, it was always too long.
I can picture
Jaycee and All She Knows Lettie dreamt. She didn't know she was hooked to monitors to show her faltering heartbeat. She didn't know she was in a coma. Lettie dreamt. Lettie saw her beloved lover in a dream, the very handsome and unreliable man who gave her that first baby, now ten years old and wanted. Lettie dreamt a second baby, a boy playing with the first one, the girl Jaycee.Jaycee and All She Knows4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
How happy Jaycee looked! Jaycee taught her brother everything from how to hold a little cup to how to climb a tree.
Lettie didn't know her own role in the dream. She didn't see herself anywhere. But she certainly felt surrounded by love and a little family. Vague idea that Jaycee said there were two brothers, but that wasn't even possible.
Jaycee often said outlandish things. Lettie liked that about her daughter.
Lettie dreamt. She didn't know her nourishment came from tubes and left th
My allotment"For a man is destined to but once to live and allotted to each one time to die. This is the way it has been and will always be."My allotment5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Well, I can't really explain how it all happened or even why, so you'll get no help that way. What I can do is tell you what happened and maybe you can help me with the rest.
I was born the same as everyone else, went to school in Bozeman hated it just like everyone else grew up, got a girlfriend, got a job nearby; you know, I was a normal person. I got married and had two kids. I never moved out of the area. When my eldest was just three, war broke out. The entirety of Western Africa decided that it would be a good idea to invade Europe. With the sheer force of their numbers, it only took a few days. They greedily set their eyes on the rest of the world and, joined by certain expansionist nations in Asia, they opened the tides of battle.
Being a patriotic man, as far as you can b
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
When I Think of TeaShe often invited me for tea. I remember muddy tennis shoes or bright pink jellies left at her front step as she opened the world to me behind her faded red door. Her house fascinated me with its intricate paintings and macabre souvenirs stuck in every available space.When I Think of Tea4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
She was amazing, too; of course. Mrs. Pratchett carried a rumor mill around her wherever she walked, leaving bits of herself behind in tantalizing flakes eager tongues lapped up and dished back out to anyone with ears. The town knew her as everything from a rich widow to a voodoo priestess, but I knew her as my neighbor.
She sent out her invitation to tea in autumn more than any other season. Most days I bounded down the bus steps to find her sitting on her porch with a book. A nod and a wink, and we rushed inside for tea. The kettle always whistled just as I set my backpack by the door and slid into my spot at her kitchen table.
There we drank tea and talked about life. Her tea tasted like the autumn days she loved: gol
Toy Time I got the job because I wasn't looking for one.Toy Time4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I only took a walk to check things out around that small town.
It was early fall and I liked to walk during that season. Clean and crisp air and all that.
I saw a man up on a ladder, trying to hang a sign declaring a new store at a new location. I said a bit loudly, "You need some help up there? I'll hold the ladder for you." He looked down and said, "Yeah! Thanks!"
The store was called "Toy Time" and I thought the sign looked fine for that.
It had a good font, red on white, easy to read.
When he was done securing it, the man came down and said, "Thanks again! I got a little unsteady up there. I don't trust this ladder. My name's Larry. You want a job at this store?"
Yeah. Really. It happened that fast
Word War Brian meant to lose the game, though he knew Dad wanted him to win. He often won, but he didn't want to now. Brian was twelve and tired of playing kids in his group, mostly girls. Tall, clear-eyed girls, awkward, and much more competitive than Brian. He won anyway.Word War5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Are you studying the OSPD?" Dad said.
They were going to the auditorium.
"Of course," Brian said.
Though he held the book, he'd gutted the 'Official Scrabble Players Dictionary' so it held the slimmest Gibson book he had. A few clean pages of word lists stayed, in case Dad looked.
Brian wore glasses, used big words and got called a 'geek' by other kids.
Dad called his glasses 'spectacles.'
Not a good Scrabble word. Only three letters coun
Caught in Battleby LJCaught in Battle4 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
Lately I've been doing a lot of not sleeping at night.
That is to say, I fall asleep fine, but about one in the morning the dreams turn to thoughts and I'm not asleep anymore.
I just lie there, thinking too much to even close my eyes.
My eyes feel bad in the red mornings, so tonight I light the oil lamp and sit up.
I might as well write what was requested by a friend a few days ago, at dinner together.
It doesn't kill dream memories, though.
At that dinner, my friend said, "They're nice stories and nice paintings you do, but they're not you, you know."
I protested. "They certainly are."
But she protested last.
"No, they aren't. They're other people's. You should write or paint yourself, for once."
I made a joke then, and said I'd do a self-portrait of me asleep. I'll write now instead.
The dream tonight was about the time I sketched a picture of him in the hospital. It was the last time I sketched him or was in a hospital wi
Dixie RedNoon. It is so hot, even the roads do not want to go anywhere. The sun dominates the sky and drives everything and everyone to stay under cover. The clouds abandoned the sky sometime last night, and still do not face the sun. The hum of cicadas rubs at the air, but it is a weary sound, for the heat seems to soak into everything, even the mating dreams of insects.Dixie Red4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Dixie Red sits on the back porch of her great-grandmother's house and smokes an illicit Marlboro. With the air so hot, it seems as though she can thrust a cigarette out through a hole in the screen to ignite it. But, no, she still needs to use the heavy, olive drab Ronson that she discovered in the attic, one year, amongst the trunk-bound possessions of an uncle who died in World War II.
Her great-grandmother, the old woman known to all as "Maybe," sleeps in the room she still insists is the parlor, beneath the slow rotations of a ceiling fan. She will sleep away the afternoon, to rise with the moon at eight or nine. She will
Crow Girls and Literature We decided Juliet should finally reach literary heaven, but Romeo--oh hell no. Maybe heaven and hell are unfortunate words to choose, but here's the deal with those two characters. First, we studied Juliet's literary life carefully and yeah, she kills herself, said to be a big no-no, but she's really veryvery young and she knows better, she says so in one act, way before she unfurls that red-scarf-fakeblood at the end, seen on hundreds of theater stages a few thousand times a year.Crow Girls and Literature3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Romeo though, he's a bad boy throughandthrough. He's madly in love with one girl at the beginning of a single party, then madly in love with another by the end of the same party. What nonsense! He kills a few guys before he kills himself, then kills himself because he thinks little Juliet is dead. That girl is lying there veryvery much alive! Why doesn't he make sure she's dead? He even talktalks about how alive she looks. What a hotheaded go
Snowdrop's KiteHer skin plunged into the dewy grass, droplets falling like tiny diamonds onto her bare foot. The wintry caress of the morning leaves enveloped her toes in a delicately frozen embrace. Her thin summer dress fluttered in the silver breeze, the frosty fabric lapping at her bare legs. The cold grasped like an icy toddler's chubby fist around her heart, but never did she feel any lack of sensation. Her tangled mane of fiery hair was damp in the morning rainfall, slithering in emaciated trails along her spine.Snowdrop's Kite5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
In front of her was the rust coloured shed, standing proudly in the corner of the garden. She made her way slowly towards it, the damp breeze fondling her face with icicles. She grasped the handle, the rust biting the skin of her hands like a hundred tiny ants. She pulled the door open, the slats of wood dragging on the grass as it opened. She looked inside.
Inside the shed were a number of tired and lost belongings, forgotten and aged in the years that they had been there.
fireworksThe boy was an artist.fireworks5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
He worked with his eyes and hands in perfect unison. The teachers sighed as he swam through his classes absentmindedly, imagination focused on higher goals. Numbers and report cards were meaningless. Math instructors were more eager to see his artwork, crammed into the margins of his assignments, than to award his effortless high grades.
He didn't think he was special. I don't think he thought of himself at all. The world he had created was one of pure fiction and impossibility, and was as limitless as the heavens. He was not included. Maybe the same way God doesn't participate in the earth he made.
He loved people. He loved me especially for who I was. I'd never met anyone more honest or, coincidentally, more kind. His compliments would breathe life into a dying day, for they were as genuine and precious as diamond. That smile of his let me know that it was free.
"Your confidence is the reason people like you. They see that you love yourself and they reciprocate
The Drop Slot Mr. Johnson had many cars, but he loved one car in particular.The Drop Slot2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
He drove his wonderful, carefully waxed antique Volvo daily, and today was no exception. He loved to drive.
If one were to describe Mr. Johnson, it could take three initials: CEO.
If one were to describe his personality, it could take a story--a short one.
Two letters to mail this morning, Johnson thought. I can do this by myself.
It would take three days for the letters to arrive via the postal system, but they were the type that began: "Dear (Mr./Ms.). I know you've done your best for the company, but I must inform you that your job is no longer feasible...."
In other words, Mr. Johnson was sending letters by post to fire two employees he knew personally.
Both had served him well, but now they'd be replaced by a machine.
Johnson gave his employees notice no matter what. For Ms. Marcia
Crossing all the Lines The few men dropped out like flies hit with hair spray. Though hair spray killed many things, flies included, I didn't know it kept men away. If I'd known, my past would have been a lot easier. I would've teased up a big old beehive, used hair spray on it and hoped for the best.Crossing all the Lines4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Instead, I sat in a classroom full of women with swooping hair and careful make-up, learning how to get other folks out of situations like I'd been in. Was still in, no matter what I did.
I thought events leading me there could happen to those women and the guys too. I was taking "Hotline Workshop: Abusive Relationships" with a group who looked so nervous I thought they'd scream if I suddenly lit a Marlboro. I slowly lit one later. The two teachers told me to smoke at break time, so I walked out. Break time.
One lacquered lady took out a hanky to wave in protest around her nose. I could tell s
HereFour year old Keaton gripped a green crayon in his tiny fist, pressing it hard against the paper. His parents fought beneath the sound of the tv in the background. Scribbling in rhythmic circles, he furrowed his brow. His mother came into the room, a dishtowel in her hands.Here5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"What are you drawing, Keaton?" Her voice had the tremble of someone forcing their words to sound happy.
"Money," he said, then glanced up.
She came closer, examining the pages scattered around him from behind. All contained a dollar, done again and again in various sizes.
"You've drawn a lot of it."
"Yeah," he said, "we need a lot, so we can be happy."
She put a hand to her lips, standing there, then bent down beside him. "Money can't make us happy, Keaton."
"I am going to draw so much that you and daddy never fight again."
His mother sighed, putting a hand to her forehead, and was silent for a moment as he continued to color in green bill
Janus She drove the switchbacks with joy and ferocity. It usually took an hour to reach the hovel after work, but she made it in half the time... If you're gonna quit, do it in style ...she thought, and opened the three locks at her small studio. The hovel was illegal because it had no shower, no tub, no heat, no closet and not even those locks protected her. But it was cheap. Ellen had books and clothes piled on wood-and-brick shelves, a futon, a few more items and a fat Siamese, Horace, to keep her warm.Janus5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Ellen tore open the carton of Marlboros she bought... Shit, I forgot to get a lighter ...and used a box of wooden matches brought there long ago. It was the first cigarette she had in three years. The very first puff made her cough, but soon they were old buddies again. One pack equaled twenty little friends, important when alone a lot. She tickled Horace when he demanded it and thought about her last day at the store
McMasters"I can't even believe this," Mrs. Nesbitt spat as she tossed down the history textbook she'd been given to teach out of in the coming year.McMasters5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"What's up with it?" asked Carrie, an English Major who was working in the school to pay off her student loan.
"'What's up with it' is the cover art, for one thing, and I don't even want to take a look at the contents," Mrs. Nesbitt answered disdainfully, pointing at the images of McDonalds through the years, from an old fashioned drive-in all the way up to the newest McHome food processors (because who should expect someone to leave his own home just to get some McDonalds?). It was disgusting.
"Oh, the McDonalds stuff on the covers?" Carrie asked dismissively. She wouldshe wasn't even twenty, and Mrs. Nesbitt was well into her sixties. Carrie had been born during the war, Mrs. Nesbitt remembered how things were before. Her leg still ached and her teeth set on edge whenever she remembered it.
"I've taught this book for years. The cover change
Get upHear me read itGet up2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
She sat on the edge of her bed staring at the floor. Within her scope of vision there were many things she could look at. Many things to think about and process. There was a slate blouse that had wilted at the bottom of her bed, or her pale foot placed beside it. The foot looked unnatural there, with no pressure to grip it to the ground it looked unbelonging, like a cast aside prop. Yet she did not look, or think, or notice.
She just stared, blindly, for an hour, her thoughts were obnoxious and churned the paltry paste of self-disgust in her heart muscle, but they were relatively quiet as she repeated over and over in the forefront of her subconscious "Time to get up."
Time to get up. It was time to get up. It was time to get up and get on with her life. It was time to get a life. It was time. It was time to get up.
Unprovoked tears swelled and scattered loosely amid this trail of thought. She kept going, over and over, It