And Then He LeftThe chaise lounge was upholstered with a chenille African-looking fabric. There were different shades of brown in it along with some olive green; there were random elephants on the print. When I was younger I would lay on that sofa for long periods of time, naming each of the elephants. I especially loved doing that on rainy days, because I loved watching and listening to the rain outside the window that was next to the sofa. But now I was seventeen, and far too old to be naming elephants on our chaise lounge.
It was a rainy day and I had been watching them argue through the window. It wasn't much of a surprise these days; they argued over everything, from what we should eat for dinner to where we should vacation. The littlest things seemed to set them off. Sometimes it seemed like a game they played, seeing who could upset the other first.
I looked out the window from the elephant lounge; they were standing in the pouring rain, soaking wet of course, arguing over God knows what
Giusto“N-o-o-o-o!”Giusto2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
He screamed at me, his goggly eyes opened like a frog’s. His voice was funny, it made me want to laugh - but he also looked scary, so I didn't. I stopped singing and stared at him. I wasn't sure if I had to close my mouth or not so I left it half open.
“No! No! No! That was not a mi sharp!”
I thought it would be good to close my mouth now. The man looked at Papa and pointed his tiny finger at me. He was all tiny, only his head was huge, with a funny mustache and the goggly eyes.
“Why did you bring this to me? Are you trying to mock me? You’re wasting my time!”
Papa was all red by now and not looking at me. I didn't know what was going on but I think Papa wanted to be away from the huge room with the piano.
“He was in the church choir” Papa stuttered. “The choir master told us he was very good – he has a very high voice – good technique -”
“Good technique? Good techniq
ConfessionsIConfessions5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Brady's life was as slippery as the rain pelting the hospital window, slithering into grey prison bars that could not last. Thunder grumbled dark complaints in the distance, but the lightning could no more rip away the darkness outside than the flickering lights in the tiny hospital room.
Raspy breathing grew labored. The bullet had buried itself deep into his chest, had nicked a lung. The nurse worked quickly to dig it out and bandage the wound. Blood seeped eagerly through. She left him with his sister and her friend. There was nothing she could do.
Brady's eyes flickered open, but what swam before his eyes was not the dingy walls or the single flower on the bedside table.
A homeless man stood before him, middle-aged with a cart in tow. A scraggly beard dominated his face. "Don't go in the tunnel." He warned. The words echoed and twisted around.
The tunnel was dark.
Sounds Like MauveWhat had finally driven her over the edge, Dr. Schwartz recorded, was that she couldn't hear the grapes.Sounds Like Mauve3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Certainly they tasted fine, at least Marian made the same happy sounds she always made when she plopped a seedless red into her mouth and squeezed it with her teeth. The anomaly occurred when they opened her visor.
"Dr. Schwartz?" It was one of the new nurses. "Dr. Schwartz, Marian's parents are here. They said you called?"
"What? Yes, yes, I did call them." Schwartz sighed, tapped a few more notes and slid the stylus back into the sheathe on the side of his tablet. "How is she?"
"Asleep. The sedatives have taken hold."
"Good. I'm going to bring Marian's parents in to see her. I would appreciate it if you could remove her restraints for a bit, just until they leave. Would that be a problem?"
"Of course not, doctor. I'll take care of it."
Schwartz shook her father's hand with a tight grip, looking the man in the eye. He set his other hand reassuringly on her mother's shoulder, saying
Good IntentionsThe tiny brown mouse, identified only by the bright orange 47 tag on its ear, trudged through the cedar chips toward the water bottle attached to the cage. It nudged the spout twice with the tip of its nose, and droplets oozed out onto the mouse’s forehead. With a soft grunt, the mouse jolted backward and collapsed in a heap in the opposite corner, its chest trembling with exhaustion.Good Intentions3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
“Amazing,” Victoria Krell whispered, scribbling notes onto her iPad. The fluorescent lighting flickered above her, and she began writing faster; Craig was getting impatient for his bed. She scratched out a side note in capitalized, red letters to remind herself to bring Star Lab’s oldest night security guard a big batch of Boston creams tomorrow morning.
Victoria leaned closer to the lone cage perched on her workstation, watching 47’s wet, blank staring eyes. The brown mouse was only one of twenty in a three foot long cage. It was not particularly interesting or unique,
A Reason to LiveIf only she had the guts to actually do it, to just leap among the cold waves and sink in death among the fish. She breathed in the smell and taste of saltwater, and water sprays hit her face, neck, and chest. She shivered slightly in the breeze from the waves, but she wasn’t really bothered by the chill. What weighed on her mind was something much deeper than the weather.A Reason to Live2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
A pang of apprehension penetrated her heart as she envisioned her body being plunged into the water and weighted down by the strong waves. She thought about what it would be like to gulp in mouthful after mouthful of water, choking and never feeling any relief, but she didn’t think the pain could be any worse than what she was already dealing with.
“Aimée!” The young woman moved her arms in circular motions as she tried to keep her balance. Her mother’s call startled her, and for a brief moment she thought God might be
MonsterAt first it was a tiny voice without a form, a sinister little snickering drawl that wormed its way out of my mind and made my skin and thoughts crawl with unnamed terror. It was like a spider, tiny but deadly-a black widow with just enough poison to lay me low if I gave it a chance to bite.Monster5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
It fed off the intense light of my computer screen and the blinking cursor of an empty word document, drinking it all in as I stared blankly and blissfully unaware. It would weaken as I typed, the tiny black words pushing strength into my mind and fear into its heart, but its poison attacked those as well. Eventually the words became lethargic and refused to travel from my fingers onto the screen.
Before long it loomed over my shoulder, a dark shadow that vanished with a second glance. Day by day it grew more solid, until its bony hand could grip my shoulder tightly and make me tired and sick of myself. The harsh light of the computer now hurt
Changing Sands"May I sit here?"Changing Sands3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Alex looked up, the breeze catching her red hair, blowing it back. "The beach is big, I'm sure if you looked hard enough, you could find some other place to sit," she said, her eyes returning to the orange-tinted waters as her fingers dug into the still warm sand.
"I know," the man replied, dropping his surfboard and himself onto the sand beside her. "You're always here. I dunno, but you always look lonely.
Alex frowned. "So, you're my white knight here to rescue me?"
"I just wanted to see what kind of girl would come to the beach and not even swim."
"The kind that doesn't own a swimsuit." She turned her head just in time to see a wide smirk spread across the surfer's face.
"Ah, but clothing isn't exactly required. I'd be more than happy to join you if you decide to take a dip," he offered. He didn't seem to notice the way her green eyes narrowed.
"You know, as sweet as that is, I think I'll pass."
The man picked up a seashell, examining it as if it was something that
The Other's Orange FlowersMy brother’s asleep on the couch and I have a pen in my hand. At first I was going to draw on his face, but that would wake him up. So I turn the pen upside down and dangle the orange feather at the end just above his nose.The Other's Orange Flowers2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
“What are you doing, Allie?” he asks without opening his eyes. I sweep the feather across his nose. His face wrinkles up and he opens one eye. “Ew, orange!”
“It’s just a colour,” I say. “I’m looking after you. Mum told me to.”
He pushes me off the couch with one hand, and I slump onto the floor. “You’re too little to look after me, Allie.”
“But you’re sick, and you can’t look after me, so . . .” I chew my lips.
“Sure, I can,” he says. “And I’m not sick, just tired.”
“You’ve been tired a lot. That might mean you’re sick.”
“Allie. There’s nothing – underline that – nothing wrong
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.
Landlocked He hasn't slept well lately. He likes to blame it on me but I don't see how that could be true. I don't snore, I don't kick, I barely make even the slightest disturbance, and he's never complained before. Now, when I wake up in the middle of the night, still caught in the last wisps of a dream I can't remember, I reach for him. But he's never there.Landlocked4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Robert and I married two years ago, to the surprise of nearly everyone we know, and the disapproval of a few chosen family members. My mother has never approved of the seventeen-year age difference and our short engagement. She doesn't trust that our feelings are mutual and true. Robert calls her a nosy busybody in that cautious way of his, always worried about wounding my feelings. But there's too much honesty in everything he says for me to get angry. Like when he kisses me at night
GoldenThe wooden creak and bump of wheels on cobblestone slowed. Benjamin slid open the curtains on the carriage window and sighed. The country house they had pulled up to was completely dark it had the look of an abandoned building.Golden3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Elizabeth had forgotten. Again.
He shouldn't be surprised. None of his friends would be. They all heckled him mercilessly about his parent's choice for his bride. She was unconventional, absentminded, and completely uninterested in royal affairs. But despite her many flaws, he had found himself caring for the woman.
Which, of course, led his friends to tease him all the more.
He pushed himself off the seat with another sigh and stepped out, nodding slightly to the carriage boy who held the door open for him. Raising his voice, he called out into the crisp night air.
"Elizabeth! Hello! Is anyone home?"
A ghostly face appeared in the att
Deja vu. Again.I had moved here two weeks' ago, but had never visited this section of town so late at night. I had been invited to the pub by my neighbour, to make me feel welcome. An hour ago, she had phoned to say she had been asked to work overtime, and wouldn't be able to make it. Seeing as I was there, I drank a couple of cocktails. I was now walking back home.Deja vu. Again.4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Drunken people yelled out across the street. A couple of cars drove by, their horns blaring as the inebriated stumbled into the road. A bright yellow car stopped, flashing its headlights. A woman in a red dress banged on the window. The passenger door was opened, and a shouting match started between the woman and the driver. The woman slammed the door closed, and walked away. My stomach churned. I felt as though I had witnessed this before, and a weird protectiveness came over me. I had a strong urge to warn the woman about her actions, but warring partners were not unusual on a night out, and it wasn't my place to offer advic
Jason and a GunHe was dead. Or at least, he was dying, but also possibly dead. One doesn't typically assess the situation as they die; they mostly just focus on trying to stay alive. Jason was definitely one of those people, vain as his efforts may be. A wound to the chest that yields as much blood as he was lying in would make situational awareness seem as relevant as the price of tea in China. As he lay there, dead or dying – still not knowing which – Jason's mind slowly slipped into something of a dream or a memory…Jason and a Gun2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
He remembered himself walking down the sidewalk to his apartment in the big city. It was a non-busy part of the day; few people were out and about. He couldn't remember what the time was or why he was headed home, but what he did remember was the sound of a muffled shriek on this fairly abandoned stretch of street and sidewalk. Truly, these were the only details he remembered, by now already having forgotten this was a dream or a memory at all.
Jason remembered runni
ControlThe feeling came over Bill when he was out checking his trap line in the dying light of a winter evening. Eyes on the back of his head. He knew the wary scrutiny of the deer and the hungry yet restrained gaze of the wolf. This didn't feel like either. It didn't belong to this place any more than he did. He would have preferred the wolf.Control3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
He turned around, shook his gun at the reddening sky, and cupped his other hand to his mouth. "I know you're out there! This is private property! I don't wanna use this, but you'll leave me no choice if I catch you hanging around here!"
A soft rustle from somewhere deep enough that the trees obscured his vision. He waited until he felt he was alone again, then trudged through the snow to see what he could learn about the intruder. There were prints made by boots similar to his, though smaller. The thought that he outweighed whoever it was offered little comfort.
He cast one last disgusted look in the direction the tracks took as they moved away, then re
The EscapeIn the hearts of men lies dormant the virtue of courage. Many men have called upon such strength of courage over the course of history. Many more men have failed to bring it forth from themselves, even when they needed it most. Courage is elusive. It buries itself deep in the heart, where only the men who've mastered their willpower can recover it.The Escape2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
A man's greatest fear lies in his courage being spent in vain. It is this very struggle that man makes each time he calls upon his courage. The "what if" has destroyed many a man as he dug deep for his courage. In Joseph's case it was no different.
"What if" he could not escape? "What if" he was captured yet again? "What if" they killed him? "What if"?
Joseph would fight on.
He would not surrender to his oppressors. He could not allow the punishment of his torturers to continue. He could not allow them to abuse him for their irrational hatred of him and what he stood for, for who he was at his core.
In many ways, pain can suppress coura
Man Sold SeparatelyIt was one of those houses dropped on the corner of the street, squeezed so tightly by the ones on either side that it was hardly noticeable. It was one of those houses where the hot water never ran out in the winter and the air conditioner never broke down in the summer. All of the neighbours in the similarly shaped houses, although never perfectly identical, shared gossip and brought over casseroles and generally pretended to like each other until the door closed and the lock clicked and their sincere thoughts on the daughter’s new husband came to light. It was a neighbourhood with the level of superficiality one could usually find in the suburbs.Man Sold Separately2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I was drawn right in.
There was something about the idea of having a comfortable little life, a quiet life where I would often be alone and always lonely, that somehow appealed to me. It’s easy to be lonely; all you do is turn on the TV or open a good book and it goes away. I could never sit around feeling sorry for myself in a
GambleShe grips the slot machine lever like he grips his gun.Gamble2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
With a whispered prayer.
"One more try," she breathes, "and I'll strike it rich." She stares at the pulsing machine as the shapes begin to spin.
"One more day," he whispers, "I have enough in me for one more day." He lowers the weapon back into the drawer and drives to work.
Evil Woman"My husband doesn't know." She kept her hands folded and head down.Evil Woman4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"I think you should tell him," I said, not asking whether she was referring to the baby or the trait. I pushed my glasses back. "Look, I was an ultrasound tech once. I've been a genetic counselor for twelve years. I've never seen anything like this. Are you sure?"
Her head rotated upward. Her hands moved over the bump in her clothing. But, instead of protectively encasing the tiny lifeform, she started pressing against it. Trying to expel it.
"Calm down," I said. I reached over my desk and gripped her shoulder for a moment until she flicked my hand off.
"Calm down? This this thing. I know it's not something you deal with, not in your line of work, not in any line of work." Her agitation showed in the way her short nails were digging into her belly. "I'm sorry. I know you're trying your best, but there's something in my family. Generations and generations of it, as far back as we've kept our history together."
The Music in the Water Hank told her not to put her tent by the creek, but she did.The Music in the Water2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
He figured the young girl wouldn't listen to him, whether she was his cousin or not. He was just an old man by her reckoning, and Hank knew many young folks rarely listened to old men.
Hell, Hank was an old man by his own reckoning.
Every winter morning told him that.
The cold said, "You're an old man who can barely get out of bed. It hurts too much to move. Will you make it today?"
He had so far, though sometimes it was dicey.
But Dinah arrived on a beautiful spring morning.
The meadows were alive with wildflowers, bluejays, bees and long grasses fringed with pale seeds.
She drove a borrowed truck packed full of camping gear and boxes.
Dinah showed him the same paperwork that the town lawyer had showed him a week before. She'd inherited two acres from their great-uncle and she'd come from some far away eastern city to claim them.
She was a pretty girl, educated way past
The Angel in the House"Dearest?"The Angel in the House3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Dearest, there, did you hear ?" But his voice trailed off with a glance at her blank little face, tilted at him with feline confusion. He rose the paper to the level of his nose and rustled it nervously. "Don't trouble yourself, I'm sure it's nothing "
Yet there it was again, he could feel the vibrations in his chair! His wife's obvious inability to hear it made him loathe to admit this, however, and he slouched lower under the breakfast table, observing her over the top of the business section.
She was an uncanny creature, he had to admit. Their courtship had been brief and perfunctory, more compelled into occurrence through their families than any actual inclination. And yet, he had come to love her in some fashion. The silent way she slid about the breakfast table; the sweep of dark hair against her pale forehead; the classic curve of her nose; her dainty, dexterous hands fluttering as she cleared up the plates. There were times when he wished he could em
YureiOn Yurei, there are gulls. Billions of them. They fill the skies from one yellow horizon to the next.Yurei2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Among the mountains of refuse there are people, the last of Yurei’s once great population, who eke out an existence in shanty towns and concrete tunnels with steel gates. They hunt rats and hogs and the occasional amphibian Hi-go, though few of those have survived the transformation of a vibrant planet that had just begun to be colonized by sophisticated terrestrial life to two hundred million square kilometers of landfill. In small areas where they have scrounged enough suitable soil, they grow cabbages, potatoes, carrots, and a hardy local fruit called leppuna.
But on Yurei, it is the gulls who thrive.
Okyo watched them from atop a mound his village had created. It was solid, an enormous jigsaw of welded steel supported by enormous bars collected from various dumpsites, made to look like just another mountain to the dumper frigates. He marveled at their combination of grace and
sell outsI've seen him around the club enough to recognize his face at local shows. He hangs out in the pit while I scream over the rail during a gig, so we never talked, until tonight. And when we did, I showed off the ring as a warning, and he laughed, shook his head no and showed off his own.sell outs4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
We get to know each other over our first round of beers. David starts off the conversation with one of my favorite questions. "Favorite band."
His eyebrows shoot up. "No shit?"
"Yep. Keep it quiet, though. My husband doesn't know."
"Oh?" He smirked. "He a Megadeth fan?"
"I wish." I took a long pull from my bottle. "He doesn't like metal much really. Thinks it's useless noise for the uneducated."
David nods. "My wife's the same way, but I got her to like some Sabbath and Maiden eventually. Before me, she only liked Enter Sandman."
"At least you got her to like Sabbath."
"Thankfully. Dio Sabbath. Works every time."
We have a toast to Dio and drain our beers. He tells me Sabbath is his favorit