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.
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
of the ground-of the ground4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
It was Sunday night when Geo climbed into my room from the fire escape. I was painting my toenails and listening to the sounds of the city: police sirens, pulsating bass, the kids in my tenement running guitar riffs back and forth with the street musicians on the sidewalk. That was the year I turned sixteen and took a two-month vow of silence to honor the death of autumn. A premature snow had robbed the season of its delicate warmth and color, forcing the maples to weep their leaves into the gutters. All that rainwater, all that decay. How could anyone create when October was dying outside their windows? Pete and Jake practiced acoustic that entire month. The rest of us were too fragile to play in suicide weather, when the right chords might move us to open our veins.
Geo sat down next to me, examining my bottle of red lacquer. "'To Eros is Human,'" he read, and rolled his eyes. "I'll keep that in mind."
I offered him my shoebox of nail polish. He selected a purple the color of opium
Confession of Betrayal"There was a time when I feared you, avoided you, for what you were - before I knew the person you were. A time, even, when I believed that because of that, you would have to die. That you were evil because of that irrational fear, and that all things 'evil' must be eradicated." She sighed deeply, clutching his hand for support as she spoke the truth that she'd never told him.Confession of Betrayal3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"When you first spoke to me, and I answered, I lied. I was willing to sacrifice my own morals if it meant reaching my goal. Killing you."
He watched her expressionlessly as she confessed what she had meant to tell him long ago, but had never had the chance - or perhaps the courage - to do so.
"And what made you change your mind?"
She blushed and glanced downwards, before continuing. "I-it... Honestly, I don't know. I was..." She mumbled incoherently to herself, and he patiently waited for her to speak up again.
"Every day, I plotted against you, even while I gave you fake smiles and claimed to be some
On my way homeBy Romy LaraOn my way home3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
I exit the studio, sighing at the sight of the sun quietly hiding behind the trees and buildings. Turn to the right and keep walking. Cars are passing by, people in black suits get out from the nearest buildings; none of them care about their surroundings. I lift up my head and notice in big steel-letters the name of the company that owns that peculiar orange building in the corner of the street. It's the first time I see it. The sky is painted blue with some dabs of gray, just as if somehow the color of the concrete street had been absorbed by the clouds.
Behind me there's a couple discussing something about a house. She doesn't sound happy. And he's just getting mad. She shouts and speeds up, him trying to catch up with her, but it's futile. She is a very good runner despite her heels. The man glances at me. I toy with the white cable of my earphones and pretend I didn't hear anything. I pass him. He just stands there. I wonder what would he do now. But I have no time to
Talking to YourselfWind drove snow over the trees with such force they seemed to step into the distance. The whiteness in the air covered everything until it was as faded as an old scent trail after a rainstorm. The snow was already deep enough to suck in a man’s leg past the knee if he wasn’t wearing snowshoes, but the figure trudging through it was no longer a man.Talking to Yourself3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Prankster wendigo had given up on snowshoes long ago in favor of simpler footwear. The straps challenged the clumsy fingers of his stolen human body, and he could never figure out how to move in them without tripping. He lurched onward with the tenacity of a wolverine gnawing through an inch of deer skull to get the gooey treat in the center. The pain in his stomach howled to his feet. He gave little thought to their control. His mind was focused on making the most of sensory information diminished by the storm. Sounds and smells were difficult to pinpoint. He almost felt as if the wind were a rival, come to mask the trails of pr
The FountainThere were sixteen tall windows. She'd counted them over and over when she was small, her chubby finger outstretched as she spun in tiny circles. Eight walls, sixteen windows, thirty-two black curtainsthe arithmetic of her childhood.The Fountain4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Eight window seats, Daddy. Eight buttons on eachsixty-four. I counted."
The fountain stood dry and dead-center in the middle of the black and white tiles. Eight sides, eight lion-mouth spouts. Sixteen limestone mermaids poised gracefully around the edge. Four thousand and ninety-six blue tiles. Five hundred and twelve white.
And two doors. Always the two doors, huge and solid and radiating a sense of looming disdain. The rough oak had bitten her hands and it bit them now, when she pressed her palms against it. The doors eased open like wings outstretching, coming to rest against stone doorstops.
Her boots clicked against the marble flooring as she advanced, each click reverberating through the silent room. A mute ghost of a man stood in
Forgiveness EconomicsGenesisForgiveness Economics3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
But for the small purple stain on its border, the banknote was non-descript.
It had a value but men value things in different ways and by different means. It had a value, but its value is not it's story.
It landed on the church plate face up, coming to rest softly on the flat silver base amongst the loose change like it was tossed to the cloth of a gambling table, soundless but with a small sense of resignation. A man paying for luck, a man asking his God for a favor.
It came from the wallet of a small sad man, who feared the Good Lord daily. The banknote was the weekly price of his penance, the bill of sale for those half-remembered crimes of a misspent youth and other things unmentionable.
The small sad man's hands were fat and white and callouses sat on his thumb and forefingers, the scars of a bank teller, a money counter, a man who knew about value. The hair on his head was grey and his eyes were blue below his wrinkled forehead and tonight would be the last time he
The PullWhen I was younger, someone showed me a video gametoo weird for me, but it made her laugh, and she was pretty. You played as this little guy with a squishy hammer for a head, and you rolled a sticky ball around in front of you. As you rolled it, things got stuck until the ball was gigantic. And then... I don't know. I don't remember the point of the game, nor do I remember the name.The Pull3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
But that image comes back to me every time I am anxious. I am that little person running around, pushing a ball, and things stick to it. Only they aren't cows or trees or parts of buildings: they are things that make me nervous. The attention of people. My sparse resume. The way I can never look someone in the eye when we first meet.
Oh. And I don't have a squishy hammer for a head.
Regardless, today is like that. I've talked to too many people and some weird man had told me he was my father and my mother was on the back of a book with a different name but the same damn face.
While I was walking home,
The Substitution ParadigmThe Substitution ParadigmThe Substitution Paradigm3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Ramu came up to our table. Glaring at me, he said, “You either order something or get out.”
I glanced away from the threat, and turned to Raghav. A single drop of sweat was running down his brow. Ramu saw that too and identifying his prey, he sprung.
Swinging around, he faced Raghav, “Order something or get out.”
Then Ramu just stood there. It was not as if we had rehearsed it before hand, but he knew. He knew that my co-occupants generally folded in the first round. Only the stout made it to second level, but they too buckled under Ramu’s relentless gaze.
I always had a policy of not spending on other people’s problems. My purse was already slimmer than the waist of a size zero model. So, I simply sat there, watching the lion circling his prey.
A few seconds later, the prey went down. “Two coffees”, Raghav said, wiping away the sweat with a handkerchief.
Ramu turned his head back, gave me a leering smile, and we
Reverse Culture ShockFlying home was not flying home. Flying home meant grabbing the homing pigeon inside of me and twisting its imaginary magnet one hundred and eighty degrees to the north instead of southwards to Australia. The magnet still twitched stubbornly north even as the plane droned over Darwin, five hours before I finally reached home. Except it wasn't home. Sydney now looked as foreign as the glossy travel leaflets I grabbed from Singapore, its shine not quite matching the missing substance of my once childhood home.Reverse Culture Shock4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Thank you for choosing Singapore Airlines I hope you will enjoy your stay in Sydney, or a warm welcome home."
Winter air slapped me like a bucket of ice water as I emerged, searching for my parents and my sister. For eight years, their voices were tinny and masked by static on the occasional phone calls home. Today, they sounded as brittle as ever, Australian accents barely sheathing the chill emanating from them.
"Welcome home, sis," said my sister with an unusually bright v
The Troubles of DatingThe Troubles of Dating (and Time-Travel)The Troubles of Dating5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I suppose she was the first girl I fell in love with because of something other than a nice pair of breasts, and therefore, the first girl I fell in love with whom I actually succeeded in asking out on a date. More than anything it was her hair, the way it was neither curly nor straight, but wavy, and in a dark and dreamy shade of red that nearly seemed black. It reached down beyond her shoulders, and I could find myself staring at the back of her head for hours during our classes, mesmerized by it. Breasts weren't half-bad either though.
And she was a nice person. At least, that was the impression I had gotten during our after-movie dinner at Alessandro's. Passionately interested 70s music, loving long walks in the wild, preferred old-school horrors to the film we'd just seen which we both agreed was tragic. All in all, we seemed to go along quite nicely. After finishing our capricosa, I led her to the car thinking this might as well have been
It starts with a flash-bang and a Majulahi.It starts with a flash-bang and a Majulah3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
June's hauled her here again and
she's tapping at my classroom window,
A gazillion tiny fingers rapping in succession
(When she said "invitation" I didn't realise she meant
soaking half the country, the spike in umbrella prices has
nothing to do with me)
What's worse than an impatient child
is one with the whole atmosphere as her battering ram
when she tries to say something the urgency brims over
and one million exclamation marks
is beginning to sound like static frazzling
out on the pavements
She is without choice: when Cloud mother tips her out
she must go, and go she will
caught in an obtuse cycle, fought over by heat and
gravity wanting to claim her as territory
thrown about in their wiggly intersections she
falls, rises, and falls again.
Her talent is splitting herself up,
a single place, and then everywhere at once.
She has mastered the skill to the point
that she is a fractal in the air
even before she hits the ground.
She is a cell in a body 66 percent water.
She is a s
the Chandler's Around the WayThe hose slipped out again. Chan cursed, and shoved it back into the incision he'd made, adjusted his mask, and bent over the pump. He yanked the cord, and the pump started to life with a cough of biodiesel. It bounced on the sand as it grumbled away. Chan kept one hand on it and held the hose in place with the other.the Chandler's Around the Way3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
If fucking Fathers would spend the bone on a new one, I wouldn't be all night at this, Chan grumbled. He ached for a smoke, but didn't have the hands to spare. Plenty of hands here, he thought as he glanced at the riverbank. Some of them even had a pulse.
"Hey," he said to whoever was closest.
It was a sunbather. A walker who drew enough bone to slot time on the beach without having to fight for it. She had each arm draped around a man, both of them tattooed in the same place with the same sigil. Chan was jealous. Someday he'd have his own numbers, but they'd be women. All of them. He was old-fashioned like that.
The walker answered without raising her sungl
The Price of Dying“I want to be interred after I die,” Mr. Peters said. He made that clear to his family while he was still lucid, before old age and illness rendered him unintelligible. Seventy wasn’t that old, but he recognized the symptoms that were creeping up on his ailing body – the aches, the fatigue, the feeling of helplessness and despair. Despite his daughter’s attempts to assuage his concerns, he sensed his own mortality.The Price of Dying3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The worst part about dying, Mr. Peters thought, was what happened afterwards. Even since he was a small boy, he had been afraid of fire. He could never forget the scorching heat of the orange flames searing his skin, the dark billowing smoke entering his nostrils. The time that his house burned down, the fire almost took him with it. How ironic then, to escape the fire only to be fed into it after death.
So one day, he sat his son and daughter down after dinner. “I want to be buried whole,” he said, emphasizing the
2: the first questionThe first thing I noticed was the fez on her lap. I saw it as I scanned the tube for empty seats; a flash of red in the corner of my eye. It perched delicately on her thighs like a small, unassuming puppy that stared at passerby with large eyes, silently daring them to challenge its right to be there. I gaped at it; the train started forward with a jerk and I had to grab onto the metal pole in front of me to keep my balance. The ungainly motion of my body lurching forward caught the eye of the fez's owner; I saw her look up at me quickly, then duck her eyes down to her hands, which were diminutive and pale and folded neatly in her lap, just behind the fez. I sneezed loudly into the sleeve of my trench coat and she smiled. It was for barely an instant—and, it was probably an attack on my limbs and their length and the strangeness with which they moved—but it was enough to cause an unfamiliar tug inside me, not unlike the movement of the train.2: the first question3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
AttentionMisha found America agreeable, for the most part there was the Boston traffic, but it wasn't as bad as Moscow's, and the food was overly rich and too abundant. But the people of the city were positively warm compared to the Spartan attitudes he knew, he hadn't had a single dollar stolen from him, and the university kids couldn't keep their eyes off of him. Not even the boys. He'd heard catcalls walking by a gathering of young men, the kind he'd learned to call "bros." It was his hair, maybe, or the way stubble refused to show on his face: in America, you could be anything other people wanted you to be, it seemed.Attention4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
He told Sasha about it on the phone, who laughed at him. "You're getting a big head. The Americans are gawking at you because you don't look like them."
"I don't think that's it." Misha took a handful of almonds and threw them in his mouth. He knew Sasha would doubt him he always did, dwelling in what he called his "nativist cynicism." It didn't seem to involve m
resipiscenthe was one of those dick-faced kids in shades of bright polyester salmon who seemed to always be laughing or looking at me. an ambiguous-named, feminine-famed all-school american douchebag in those quality leather sandals in the wintertime and golf-green shorts.resipiscent3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
ta give you some background i'm about as far away on the social scale from him as one can get. you know how all the little groups overlap and flap together, pushed around in the wet sand like wave-rivulets blending little facets of stones together until it makes a dune? well our groups---they didn't even touch. i mean you could go from pop-jock to lacrosse to dipper to weed-dealer to hipster to artsy kid to photographer to theatre kid and MAYBE just MAYBE make a weak little chain like one o em shitty-ass jump rings that connect dollar-store lockets. but anyway the point i'm trying to make is we sit on opposite sides of the room and let sociology take its toll.
of course murphy's law works in that i never know anyone. is it that
The CartI always got my best book recommendations from my old library cart. Well, the library cart wasn't really mine. I was a shelver at my town's library, before I started college, and I would use their carts to do my job.The Cart4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I first noticed something was up with the cart when I was shelving juvenile paperbacks. These were the lightest books we owned (and kept in the worst shape - kids are brats). But when I was rolling the cart, it was heavy. It groaned when I pushed it, and steering it was a mini-workout. It wasn't this hard to move a double-stack of adult non-fiction.
What was really odd, though, was as I removed more books, it barely got lighter. Finally, when all of the Fairy Princesses, Mary Kate and Ashley's, and other stupid books were shelved, its weight became normal. Only R.L. Stine's Goosebumps remained, and it was actually pretty light, even lighter than I'd expect.
I shrugged the incident off. But then I noticed it happening more and more. And then I noticed patterns
They Say I'm GuiltyOf the nearly eighty female prisoners that had answered my request, I had narrowed my choices down to two of them. The first was a voluptuous, porcelain-skinned brunette that would make my brother drool in seconds. The second was a golden-haired, frail little piece of work, and normally I would have dismissed her during the first round of eliminations, but something kept her there. Maybe it was the way she stared at me with her venomous green eyes, but I couldn't be sure. In any case, I had my two choices set before me, each isolated in separate cells on opposite ends of the jail so that I might observe them more personally.They Say I'm Guilty3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I turned to the prison guard. "What can you tell me about this one?" I was starting with the brunette.
"Number 67," he practically spat. "Don't believe a word she tells you. She's as good a liar as they come."
I wondered at what sort of lies she had told the guard because clearl
Russian RouletteThey take her on her honeymoon.Russian Roulette3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The wedding was lovely, or as lovely as it could have been with a couple that were more polite acquaintances than anything else and two sets of in-laws as stuffy as a dusty pile of money. They grab her when she sneaks out for a walk one night, two men, beefy, not even bothered to arm themselves. Her last thought before the bag is shoved over her eyes is to wonder how much this would ruin her parents' plans.
She comes to in a small brick room on a sallow mattress, windowless and lit by a cool yellow lamp. There's a man there, standing just outside the barred door.
"Kelly Shale," he says, voice nasally, greasy greying hair half-covering his forehead. She's not sure if it's a question or a statement.
She counts the days by watching the guardsone on day shift, one on night. They're probably the same men who took her, but they stay too much out of her field of vision to really tell. It takes until the third day for the woman to come.
'Meil,' they call h
001. beginnings.Beginnings are vague things. Quite often you can't pin them down to one event you have to trawl back further and further through foggy past, peeling apart what ifs and untangling strands of memories.001. beginnings.4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Eventually one has to go all the way back to the start of the universe, and that's a question even the experts have to shrug their shoulders at. It's not like you can plug it into a calculator and come out with a balanced algorithm. At least, not yet.
But it is true that sometimes you can fasten down an occurrence or a moment or even just a single breath, like sticking a thumbtack through a dead butterfly, and label it as a 'beginning' in your mind. Identifying that one moment makes us feel secure, like maybe it was destined to happen instead of just being a random sequence of events that fed off each other and tripped over each other and eventually fell like dominoes to the unlikely conclusion.
Cvusscha Mistbane has pinned down a moment. Of course she knows that there are plenty of
Soul of a WriterI see a blank page, and I feel a spark inside my heart. The spark ignites my mind, raising its ever-glowing embers to a slowly building flame. The cold white blankness of the page angers me.Soul of a Writer3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Wasted potential, that's what it is. Any space of white could be used. I stare into its emptiness and my mind begins to turn its gears. My hand itches for a pen.
I am a writer and my soul is fire. This page shall feel my flame.
I need to bring heat to the paper and that is what the words are. Hot. The black ink smolders on the white of the paper. The words charge from my mind, down my arm and on to the page.
They are the army of my soul, warriors of fire and ink. They enforce my will upon the cold of the paper; bringing the stories in my mind to life on the page, and the more ink on the page, the more fire for my mind. The warriors of words fight back the emptiness, charging into it and slashing away with flaming swords lighting the page aflame.
It is a soul-powered machine, constructing my linguis
Demons are Smarter Than YouThe mist obediently hovers within the binding circle, coming once more and tamely to my call. How raucous it was when first I summoned it! How loudly it roared its name to the ceiling—how silent were the heavens that night. But now it is silent when it arrives, as silent as the heavens when I call, for I have bade it so. With it comes the sulfurous reek of its home and its own pets—a pair of tiny bat-winged imps no larger than my hand—and a deepening of the shadows in my basement conjury.Demons are Smarter Than You3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
The fool has cast his spells of summoning again, and never were more clichéd words uttered than in this room. He thinks I am silent because he ordered me to be; I am silent because I know that were I to speak, I would reveal the true depth of his idiocy. And that simply would not do. Not now that I've invested so much time into making this little room homely. My "little" pets—if the stupid scholar knew their true shapes, he would die of fright—are
Argus ApocraphexOf the many tiny beads of sweat that had formed on his forehead, two fell down, further soaking his already dampened brow. Suspended, he floated upside-down in a padded room, dreaming without consciousness of his body or its position in space.Argus Apocraphex5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
His mind reeled from slide to slideimages of adolescence pooling together and then streaming into an old time film: The Life and Times of Donald A. Silver. The yellowed silent movie showed a young man smiling and leaning against an old Chevrolet sedan. Cigarettes burnt the corner, and he was dancing with the woman he'd asked to marry him. But in the center of the shot, a blur grew from the inside of the lilies on her wrist. A quick rewind to remove the obstruction, but instead it continued to grow across the bare chest of a flexing boy at the public pool. And finally, it consumed the picture and gnawed it to the pit, leaving behind a carcass to rot in its old age.
The man awo
RosesYou love too much, I am told by a man with a briar heart, thorny sinews and collapsed ventricles bearing down on him, hardly beating in his tight chest. He looks at me with flat, slate eyes, chipping and eroding. His hands are dark with cigarette burns and rough with calluses; I feel them on my shoulders as he looks down at me, face collapsing in at his eyes like a dead man's.Roses3 years ago in Emotional More Like This
For the first time, I realize he is dead. His briar heart dried up when winter killed his rose; my father, he is all thorns.
He squeezes my shoulders, too tight. You look like your mother, you know, he whispers, eyes shifting to the garden, to the yellow rose I planted for her. It is a rambler, sending shoots to the sky that sink back down. We never gave it a trellis. I loved her too much. And there are tears in his eyes, wet, heavy things that slip down his cheeks and on to the grass below us.
I don't know what to say, so I think of the rose, of her. I think that I'd like to send this