How the Fairytale EndsI remember lying in the dark the night after we killed the troll. My bandaged side hurt like hell, and I thought maybe the arrow the monster had used had been poisoned. I shivered at the thought and pulled my cloak farther up to my chin. This left my feet, bare, of course, so I sighed heavily as I tried to bend down and cover them again. I had barely moved before he was there, pushing me back down gently and settling his own cloak over me.
"Idiot," I heard him mutter.
I fell asleep with a grin on my weary face.
That I can remember clearly, though it seems so long ago now.
This journey of the king's faithful young knight and a starry-eyed tomboy started months even before then, in the days when we were still infected with those twin diseases, stupidity and recklessness. Others called it youth and bravery. I've discovered there's very little difference, really.
Either way, here we are now, on the cusp of victory. Soon, our trial will be over. It's what he always wanted.
I glance to my si
Grandma Rose's Story: OneOral TraditionGrandma Rose's Story: One5 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
She told this story one day while she did beadwork and a few of her grandchildren played nearby. She remembered her own grandmother, the one who raised her as a little girl. She talked about a time many years ago, the last time she saw her grandmother.
"My grandmother lived on a place where she had a barn and grain holders and chickens and horses. She used to let me help her take care of the chickens. The horses roamed out to pasture, coming in sometimes for hay she always had ready for them. She and I lived there together. My older cousin, a young man then, stayed with us from time to time.
"My grandmother had adopted my mother a long time ago, see, and then when my mother died, just thirty-four years old, my grandmother took me to live with her. My sisters and brother went to my other grandmother but my grandmother wanted me with her. I was just a little girl then, not even old en
The ForecasterMy brother's solemn predictions often landed him in trouble, even though he was frequently correct. One morning he placed his trembling hands on my shoulders. I was busy, fishing. But I knew at once from the pressure of his fingers, from the grave way he spoke my name that something was amiss. "Tae," he whispered, "Atlantis is sinking."The Forecaster4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I remember my first reaction was to laugh. Shau shook me, frustrated. "I do not jest!" he hissed. "I am certain, Tae."
Brushing away his palms, I cast my gaze to the river. There had not been a single quirk of the line. I adored Shau, yet, I despised his antic, paranoid ways: he would never be a hunter. "You have frightened away our meal! Please attend your duties, Shau. Stop fretting. The continent is fine."
Shau did not relent; he twisted my wrist until I was forced to heed.
Can't Go Back"You can't go back," she saidCan't Go Back6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
chuckling a bit as I pushed past her.
I didn't understand.
No, it didn't make
much sense to me at all
and the green light
on the other side of the lake
seemed to creep closer
but somewhere deep down
perhaps in the murky waters below
perhaps somewhere inside my mind
or my heart or my soul
it had fallen
and I knew.
"You can't go back!" he called out
and the voice echoed for a while.
Of course I could.
Oh, I could
if I could only stay
in the saddle
on the beast
as it galloped to the top of the mountain
but somewhere below me
perhaps on the ground rushing past
perhaps from my hands clenched so tight
or my lips or my tongue
it had fallen
and I knew.
"I can't go back," I realized
and it seemed so obvious.
I have lost so much.
So, so much
and I could see it all
from the top of the ferris wheel
spread out in every direction
as it was speeding around
but somewhere down there
perhaps in the crowd looking up
perhaps having slipped from my hands
or my pockets like loo
One ChanceElliot is four. He watches his grandfather breathe out cigarette smoke in his creaking armchair. The living room is small enough to be heated by the portable radiator near his grandfather's slippers. When the old man realises his grandson waits for him, he begins.One Chance4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"This is a ruined world, son. Diseased with hatred and war before you were born." He takes a drag on his cigarette and Elliot breathes in the coming smoke. "This world is dead, but I know there's another. We could go to it if we only knew the way." Elliot's grandfather smiles at his thoughts. "There's another place put aside for us. I'll find the door one day."
The radiator splutters to its death and the old man curses his misfortune.
Elliot is ten. His hair is in a ponytail because that's how his brother wears it and his big brother's the best. Nick Ward and his friends from the year above don't think so.
They grab Elliot as soon as he leaves the cubicle in the little boy's room and pushes him face first into a wall, holding
The Encounter at Elsie'sIt's a rough hand at my shoulder and I'm being dragged, thrown really, out the front door.The Encounter at Elsie's4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Right away I recognize her pet. The cloth over his mouth moves, but the blast was too close and I shake my head, pointing to my ear. He understands. He grips my arm with a hand of ice, firm and clinical, doing his job as ordered; and drags me to the side of the establishment with an urgency that has little to do with my preservation. I can't hide my amusement at that fact, dire as our situation may be. Abruptly I am thrown, shoved too hard into the shadows and against the wall, my vertebrae snapping to attention with the impact. Must remember to thank my 'hero' for that one later. He presses a forearm against my chest, leaving it there just an extra moment: stay here.
He disappears. I shudder at the cold as a wave of goose bumps rips over my skin. My eyes dart to and fro, ner
The Piano DemonThe first time I saw her - really, really saw her, not just glanced at her as we tried our best to catch the back seats in the small university classrooms - she was at a piano. Maybe I'd never have really been able to notice her had it not been for that one, strange evening when destiny gently pushed me out of my awkward life and into hers.The Piano Demon4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
If only children can be prodigies, then I wasn't one any longer. I'd lived through my glory years at school, where I'd gone off and won prizes for art and English, maths and physics, running circles around classmates and less talented professors. Eventually, when push came to shove and I had to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I hid behind some more studying, delaying that dreadful moment when I'd have to prove that not only was I smart, but that I was also able to do something. I chose English and physics as majors, convinced I could do both easily enough. I wasn't right. I wasn't very wrong, either. There wasn't much of a personal life
So Long, I Must Be GoingWashington - The American space agency Nasa has lost contact with the 9-year-old Prometheus I space probe to Alpha Centauri, officials have announced. Prometheus was the first to pass through the Oort cloud and send to Earth close-up images of comets and proto-comets found there, on its way to our nearest neighboring star system. Catastrophic hardware failure is suspected, perhaps as the result of collision with space debris.So Long, I Must Be Going4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
As it turns out, the galaxy is teeming with intelligence, and I found it. Or it found me. Wait, let me back up and start over. I'm new at all this story telling stuff. Never had to do it before.
I'm a deep-space probe from Earth. I'm not going to bother explaining where that is, because if you're from there you already know and if you're not, you probably don't care. It's tiny, an insignificant spark orbiting a medium-sized yellow star that's all you need to kn
A Letter To Lillith Kellogg.Yes, of course you can borrow my white dressA Letter To Lillith Kellogg.4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
with the rope straps, and my swirly silver
peace sign necklace. In fact, you can have
them both, because what else can I do? After
all the glorious gifts you have given me, how
could I ever repay you? And of course I will send
your ex-boyfriend Kjel's graffiti guitar, so
perhaps the neon pink and green flower, and
the Milkman Dan comic stained faintly purple
and blue will be the last thing your eyes ever
see. I will give you two hundred dollars for that
beautiful thing, that girl with the blue face covered
in bubbles and stars, such a peaceful expression, such
color, such dimension. I will give you anything you want
for it. When you are sad, don't worry, I will send you a
few grams of pot in the mail, from all the sunshine states,
delivered directly to your cold dark basement. When you
are living in an attic in Louisiana with no money and no
food, I will send you art sup
Chemical Attractions, Part IWe can learn a lot from salt.Chemical Attractions, Part I4 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,
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.Matchmaking4 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
From Whence She CameBack down to the sea-floor she goesFrom Whence She Came4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
back to the coracle-clusters and starfish that
clamour, cling to her heart too tight,
walking barefoot towards where she
came from. It is too hard walking on
earth, the way she wears pain like a wedding ring
Back down, down, crawling on her belly
on the forest-floor, alive with the buzz and crawl
of worms and bird-prey. Back where she belongs with her
crazy palpitating wolf-heart, her bloody
deer-throat leaking in the snow, her yellow
eyes in the dark.
Back down, beyond subway trains, piano lessons,
falling rain, from whence she came, to the snow-covered womb
where she first gulped air.
Back down to a place before wildflowers,
fish on land, back to a locked box
full of old souls, from whence
An Apple for the TeacherHer name was Miss Mills. She was twenty-two years old and fresh out of college, and my son was a student in her first ever kindergarten class. He fell in love with her on the first day of school. He never told me this, of course, but a mother always knows. He came home that first day and he sparkled as he told me everything that had happened, how Miss Mills had read them a story from a brightly colored picture book and how he had hung on her every word.An Apple for the Teacher4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"And I want to get her an apple," he announced.
"An apple?" I asked. I was peeling grapes for his lunch the next day.
"Yes," he said, "it was in the book we read today. The kids, they gave their teacher an apple, and I think it would be a nice thing to do."
"Alright," I said, "we will get some apples. Any kind of apple in particular?"
He thought about it. "A big red one."
The next morning he marched off to school with his big proud apple held delicat
Retrograde Scents from inside the suit intertwined their intentions with the sights of tangled and tessellated hair illumed by firefly LED's, spiking my circulation with memories and murmurs of dopamine.Retrograde4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I took her by the gaze; she steered her sight away from mine. I led her through a glance that involved no scuffling of hands.
She was one of two wayward strangers passing in the cosmos; two separate glances met as objects in motion tending to motion. People aren't the same however.
Drifter was the term we were known as, people cast off of vessels and ships, mostly by accident, condemned to trudge about the universe until starvation kicked in or their oxygen-starved filters were finally incapable of operating. My unplanned departure from the mysteriously flaming
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
Recycled DreamsI was halfway down the second floor apartment stairs when I realized I'd left my left arm on the table.Recycled Dreams4 years ago in Introductions & Chapters More Like This
It's no surprise of course, for I've always had a habit of misplacing important things like keys, documents, and identification cards, but to leave one’s arm on the table is truly embarrassing. I would have run back to get it, but the bus driver is always a bit early on Tuesdays and I could already hear the distant hum of the engine making its way to me. And it's not like I really need it for work anyway. So I left it behind.
It's penguins and oranges today; my latest client is a fairly normal one. The last dreamer wanted marsupial martial arts masters in Atlantis. In space. You would think putting dreams to canvas is an easy job, and you'd be right - but truly I wonder about humanity at times. Subconscious wanderings are laid bare to my paintbrush - they get their dreams, and I don't fall apart entirely.
Morpheus is upstairs. I know because I can see the color runn
So Much Beauty in DirtChang was about to end his shift when he found the portal to hell. The most sensible thing to do was run. Just pack up and leave. Cover it back up, take your pay, pack up as soon as you got home and leave town by daybreak. Chang was a sensible man. You don't live this long in the mines without learning to be sensible. Unfortunately for him, he was also a kind man.So Much Beauty in Dirt4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Don't go all the way down my shaft," he told Li. "Stop halfway and start a new tunnel. Say you were following a small vein."
Li was ten years his junior. He just recently returned home after a failed attempt to start a life in Shanghai. Unlike in the city, the mine was always hiring. Of course, he could have decided to be more sensible and move to Taiyuan instead, but there wasn't any excitement in that. At least coal mining was interesting.
"Just don't do it. Fill it in."
"Are you going to tell me why?"
"Gas," Chang said heading up.
"Then you should tell the foreman, not me," Li said, stopping.
illuminate my heartSeptember falls outside his window and the two-story house feels June. Time tilts here, the days canted to the left like the apple tree their grandchildren planted sometime last winter. It hasn't grown much since then, a few leaves on dry branches but no blooming flowers when spring arrived.illuminate my heart4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Today his fifty years seem like thirty. Sitting up in bed is easier. He doesn't feel as weak as before. The Pacific breeze touches his hair, chills his pale face and he thinks, Maybe Anna and I could drive down to the beachfront today.
He rolls to his side. She's burrowed under the covers, a blue blanketed lump, white hair poking out over dark blue pillows.
John reaches his hand out and presses down.
The lump rolls over. The lump doesn't breathe.
The lump deflates like a balloon.
The lump is blankets and no flesh.
"Mmm, good morning," Anna murmurs in his ear.
Cold lips kiss his cold cheek. John frowns.
There's nothing there--
Anna squeezes his hand, drags him out of bed. "Breakfast?"
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
On the Subject of Finding XI'll have you know that I've just spent a considerable amount of time searching for x. I've looked in all of the places that x might plausibly reside, and even in some places where I assumed x would never be caught dead, but I've come up empty-handed.On the Subject of Finding X5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I checked to see if x was under the bed, perhaps hidden among old school notes and forgotten art projects and lonely orphan socks. I scoured the closet, checking in every pocket of every innumerable pair of jeans, which, trust me, is no mean feat. I screened for x in every drawer of every dresser in every room, but it was all to no avail.
I proceeded to flip through all of the books that have stubbornly accumulated by the side of my bed, all of those novels unread and read and reread. Thousands upon thousands of dog-eared pages were turned once again, the worn out words flying by to form nonsensical stop-motion sentences, but it was all for naught. In all of those tens of thousands of pages, the x that I was looking for was nowhere to be
Where there is will...Where there is will...4 years ago in Articles & Interviews More Like This
Where there is will, there is pain
Timo is 22. He used to do gymnastics in the Finnish national team. He wouldn't let something little come in the way. It's not that he is a perfectionist, he just wanted everything. Or at least a Masters of Science and to be a top athlete.
Then Timo got an ear infection, not exactly a major illness, but that's when things started to go wrong. After a few weeks of tinnitus and antibiotics he got well again. Almost. He was more tired than usual and started struggling with brainfog.
Six months later the doctor of the Olympic committee diagnosed Timo with mycoplasma, a bacterial infection which is usually only a short-lived problem, but sometimes becomes chronic. The first round of antibiotics tided him over for 2-3 months, the second for a month. The third one no longer did anything.
This was in 2007. Despite not feeling well Timo spent the summer training, hoping to be among the three athletes to gain the coveted spot in the Word Championship team. Train
WingsBy four in the morning, City Airport was beginning to resemble a refugee camp. The would-be travellers had long ago run out of fuel for their anger and accusations, and now only a noise like a distant waterfall filled the skeleton rafters - the sound of hundreds of people breathing softly in sleep. They lay bundled in coats, huddled against soft cases, and draped over airport furniture. Some still had pouts and scowls etched into the lines of their face, but most slept placidly - like worn out dogs or the sort of babies that only exist in TV adverts - dreaming of postcard beaches and over-decorated cocktails.Wings4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Standing in the way of such dreams was a monstrous screen. Six metres of glossy black from corner to corner, it hung like an axe over the heads of the sleepers. On its laughing face were rows of yellow lettering, each finishing with the same gleeful word. As the plastic clock hands on the far wall moved to ten-past four, a chime sounded from the lofty public address system, and a
a little perspectivei sit up,a little perspective4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
face the sunlight,
and yawn a little
i comb the dreams
from my hair,
letting the world
seep through my skin,
and slip into
buttons to my
with bobbing heads-
thick as bones
fall into themselves
like little houses
only there are no
queens or kings,
only days, only
lovers split and lovers
sob and lovers stop
loving and shatter
like mirrors and
go poor and some
the streets stink
of death and lies
and cheats and love,
and memories, fleeting
and fragile, slipping
through the asphalt
cracks and i am
brushing my teeth
and skipping down the stairs,
but some girls are skipping
meals, some families are
skipping meals and some
people have forgotten
what a meal even is,
they only know
mugs and the chime of coins,
and here i slump
beneath the weight of
books and papers
and red A's and
B's smearing like