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
In and Out of the PinkIn and Out of the Pink5 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
Fight in a Hospital They said she was too old to have a baby.Fight in a Hospital5 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
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 Knows5 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
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
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-nine5 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
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
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
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
ScaredShe extended her hand and reached for the door. Her body trembled violently in fear.Scared2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Gently, she wrapped her fingers around the brass knob.
It was time to face the day.
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
Get upHear me read itGet up3 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
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
She Was a Stormcloudshe was a stormcloud, and you loved her,She Was a Stormcloud3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and the two of you took walks and wore
nothing but promises,
broken chains and
strands of pinkish pearls.
and the two of you kissed under trees that attracted silver lightning
(metal branches scraped the sky, and you, always faithful,
tipped your coat over her head to keep her dry.)
but she never stayed that way.
in an instant, she had whirled into the rain
and danced without clothes,
and she left you
with the pain of frostbite on your naked skin
where you trusted her to kiss you warm,
and you thought you heard her laughter
when the sun came out again the next day,
and the next.
she was a stormcloud, and you loved her,
and you didn't know it at the time but
(and they never
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
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 Lines5 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
Toy Time I got the job because I wasn't looking for one.Toy Time5 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
A cappellaMy mother, a famous classical violinist in her day, was on her deathbed and I didn't care. She was bedridden by the usual suspects, old age and a fall, and had been for many months when they called me. "Come see her," they said. "She'll pass on soon." They told me the nurses played Tchaikovsky, her favorite.A cappella5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"No," I said, and hung up the phone, slamming it against the wall, the cord jerking about in a wild dance. I glared at my CD player, as though it would suddenly come to life with violin concertos, then grabbed my coat, and left the house.
The critics never tired of saying she was passionate, that's what always got me. I remember going to her concerts; it was true, she had the most intense face, and her rigid body echoed the tension and frenzy of the music she loved to play. When she practiced, nothing could shake her from scales climbing, climbing, climbing. As a child, I always imag
Caught in Battleby LJCaught in Battle5 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
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
The DancerHear me read itThe Dancer3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
The night I met Jessie she was beautiful. She swayed to the almost intolerably loud music as if her bones were made of it. She was something unknown. I remember the sharp cut of her hair had run across her cheek, parallel to her carved-out cheekbone. It looked like a wig, I wanted to touch it. I wanted to touch her, and see if she felt like plastic. Who could ever believe that someone so perfect could be so real. I regret that. I regret doubting her reality.
Eventually she bought me a drink; she called it an Appleté but trapped in the pulsating fuchsia lights of the club it looked purple. It tasted like jealousy; sour and eye watering. When I told her this she laughed a little, apparently she'd heard that one before. I drank it anyway. I wanted to slot into my assigned role in her fantastical world.
We talked a little. She served other men drinks. The ones in the shadows could have been my reflection. It was confusing. The
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 Literature4 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
RP 1.0Mike Callaghan had had enough of dogs. He'd never been overly fond of them, but had put up with them for his wife's sake. When he first met her she'd told him of her dreams of owning a big house in the country and making a living breeding and training dogs, but she didn't seem to be making any plans towards it and he told himself it was just a hopeless dream, it would never happen. Much like his own dream of owning a playboy mansion.RP 1.05 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
By the time they'd gotten married and the honeymoon phase was over she'd started badgering him about babies and puppies. He figured the puppy would be easier to deal with and told himself it was just the one dog, it wouldn't be too bad. It might even be nice to have a companion around that loved him unconditionally and didn't nag him about things.
Before that puppy had reached adulthood she'd decided it needed a little brother or sister, a playmate to keep it company throughout the day whilst they were at work. The argument made some degree of sense and he