Simpler, Easier, KinderShe used to be a princess, straight out of a fairytale, trailing spun gold and winged butterflies behind her. She ruled her kingdom from her Daddy's shoulders, beautiful and resplendent in her youth. Perhaps it would have been simpler to watch her run free with innocence draped on her shoulders like a superhero's cape. Simpler. Easier. Kinder to shield this tiny girl-child from the world and its inherent evil. Her fall from grace was a beautiful disaster. There is some sad poetry in the slow tumble of limbs and the tangled waterfall of honey blonde hair. There is something untouchably lyrical in the transformation from child into something not quite adult. She no longer perched on her father's strong torso with his hands clasped tightly around her ankles, protection of the highest form. Daddy was otherwise preoccupied. With work, with her mother (and later, his girlfriends, some of whom asked to be called "Mom"), with his own life. No time for a forgotten princess of a forgotten land.
Beginning We EndHim, in the very beginning:Beginning We End3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
He is eighteen when he gets his death sentence. Unlike most death sentences, this one isn't going to send him to the guillotine or maybe the noose. Instead, it's handed to him by a doctor with very clean hands in a stark white room probably very similar to the one he'll end up dying in. And it's not the type of death sentence carried out by an impassive executor. He's essentially going to kill himself. He is dying from the inside out.
He mumbles something at the doctor, and suddenly he is on the street, a white piece of paper fisted and crumped in his hands. He's grateful it has the prescription written on it in sloppy medical scrawl, because he sure as hell can't recall half or more of the conversation he just had. All that's left are words like, "terminal" and "life-expectancy" and "5-10 years". He kicks viciously at the curb, wonders how the world can be ending on a day when the sky is blue and the clouds are full and the air is sweet.
The sun plants taun
Mirror ImagesI was the first person in my family, outside of my parents, to hold my sister. I had only just turned five at the time, and did not quite understand the logistics of adoption, the figurative birth of a child into a family. All I knew was that here was this small, scrunched up little thing and that she was mine to keep. I held my arms out, and she was settled in them, her pink newborn face wrinkling as she was jostled. My sister, in her infant sleep, looked either deep in thought or constipated, her little brow furrowed, her small cherry mouth pursed in concentration. Dreams played out on the movie screen of her face, small fingers flexing and toes curling. My mother tells me I was much the same, my face an open book, my heart begging to be written upon.Mirror Images4 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
She is eleven now and I am sixteen. We are more different than alike, separated by more than uncommon backgrounds. She is stretching tall, her shoulders broadening, and her feet are that of a puppy they showcase what she is yet t
This Common BloodI am young when I first hear the word 'adoption'. I am so very young, perhaps three, maybe four. I accept it easily when my mother sits me down and explains that I did not grow beneath her heart, but rather in it. I nod my head, smile big, and ask when I'm getting a little sister. My mother kisses me on the forehead and puts her hand on my head as she stands up. "If you wish on a star, Sarah, maybe she will be here very soon." I practice my wishing until night's companions wink merrily in the sky.This Common Blood4 years ago in Letters More Like This
I turned seventeen just recently. I thought of you when I woke up, and I wondered if you were thinking of me. I like to think that you were, that we think of each other at the same time. That you know I think of you, too. There is no limit to what I wonder, Anna, not when it comes to me and you and everyone else that shares this common blood. I wonder if you have my eyes, the green with murky brown mostly, but bright and vivid when I am angry. Do you have the nose, lips, smile? Do
This.Jenna is six and in love with Peter. Peter and Jenna are best friends. They do everything together. When they play house, Jenna is Mom and Peter is Dad. Carlie and Joanie are usually the babies. Mom Jenna and Dad Peter tuck them into the pretend bed in their pretend house, pulling the pretend covers snug around them. Then, they go to their room, just a few steps away. Jenna kisses Peter, a chaste peck on the lips, the kind her mommy and daddy give each other in the mornings. She calls it gross when they do it, but when it's Peter, it's not gross at all. They lie down next to each other and Peter puts one arm around Jenna. This is what love is.This.4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Christian is eleven and head over heels for Sammy. Sammy is his next door neighbor and the prettiest girl he's ever seen. She's small and cute and fragile. They push each other on the swings. She helps him with his homework, the math parts that he claims to not understand. In truth, he loves math. Really, he's very good at it. But he likes Sammy
SwellI am in a hospital, having a baby. I suppose I love children, but shit, I’m having a fuckin’ baby, after being pregnant for a year and a day or maybe longer. I’d expected my belly to be bigger, I think, more than just a shallow rise against the sheets. I anticipated a full swell, high tide. Real pregnancy, not just the suggestion of it.Swell2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
There is something wrong. With either me or the child (my little womb mate, I say with affection), no one knows. Doctors have hooked me up to monitors, stuck needles into my gangly child’s limbs, taped sensors to my sunken chest. At night, I tear them off in my sleep. The machines beep angrily, jerk me awake. I call for my mother then, but have only the cold hands of faceless (faithless) nurses to soothe me. They tell me I do not have a mother, that Sarah, dear, it’s time to grow up. After all, you’re having a baby.
I spend forever in the hospital and still the baby does not come. I ask a nurse for the date. She tells
The Cartographer's DaughterEvery night, he would fold her into his arms before she slept. Creases grew into her, turning brown with wear, and she loved them. When she woke up in the night, dreaming of darkness, he would take her to his desk and draw for her a map of her face, turning it into another world. Tracing the contours of her smile, he would scrawl a warning, "Here be monsters", whispering to her that she was a dragon when angry.The Cartographer's Daughter4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
As she grew older, she populated his maps with creatures and peoples from the books she read, or her own creations. He taught her to draw, and to write with an old inkpen, in a cursive script her teacher could make neither head nor tail of. She made him angry once, drawing in the drying sand with her finger, and smudging the ink. When he was angry, mountain ranges grew across his forehead and caverns opened in his cheeks. Here be lions.
Walking home from school, she knew the local area inside out; from the maps he had drawn and taught her. He would copy them onto o
SolitudeHe is now an old man (a very old man), and he is now very lonely (so very, very lonely). His wife is fifteen years dead. His children are grown, with their own families and jobs and small catastrophes. They don't bother to see him much. Some call, short little spaces in time. Hi Dad, how are you and meaningless chatter about the weather. It is a simple life he lives, filled with memories of dancing girls and root beer floats and high school dances. He sits in his empty house and paints visions before his eyes.Solitude4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Anna comes the most, stopping by every week or so with her small daughter trailing behind her like a lost puppy. Her name is Lucy and she looks like his late wife, all blonde curls and gangly limbs, though Anna's dark eyes and thin mouth are after his own. Lucy plays with old toys while Anna putters around, washing dishes and folding wrinkled laundry and berating him for not taking better care of the place, of himself. She never could sit still, that girl, always a flurry of moti
Of Love Letters and Cracked PorcelainShe writes to him. Every day she writes to him thousands of letters, scrawled on lined paper, lunch bags, the backs of her homework assignments. Whole books, she writes, entire epics, tragic love stories.Of Love Letters and Cracked Porcelain3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Her fingers are perpetually stained with ink.
She doesn't begin every letter with "dear", though that's what he is to her. She knows he knows. Knows she loves him. Knows he is wanted, needed, cherished. Her one and only, forever and always. She tells him about her days, sends pictures of her sister, her mother, herself. She loves each letter to pieces, so it's wrinkled and stained and torn a little by the time it's finished.
They were childhood friends before they were lovers. He was a year or so older, an inch or two taller, an older-brother type for the first thirteen years of her life, before he grew into his body and she into hers. Relics of their combined childhoods clutter her bedroom, piling up on the bookshelf, the desk. On her walls hang the crayon drawings, fifteen ye
SolsticeOnce upon a time, when you were still sunlighthouses and shimmering existence wherever you were needed most, you found him. He was November, shaky on his first last legs, and you saw through the mind-twistings he feigned to the mind-twistings that were really there, knotted up in his dreams.Solstice4 years ago in Scraps More Like This
You were still birdsong then, and thunderstorms, and your bodyheat melted the frost claws that held him tight. You held onto him as his November deepened. When he howled, you howled with him, and the wind played with your voices and pressed the softness of your lungs against your cageribsand then against each other's.
November became solstice, and you felt him shiver through that long night and didn't mind the coldbitten nails that grazed your skin. He slept when the moon drowned below the treeline, but the iceflakes began to drift in like small animals seeking the pulsing riverheat of your blood, and chilling you. He lay there, vulnerable as his world turned slowly towards the light, and you
Across the Sea and Around the KotatsuSpringAcross the Sea and Around the Kotatsu3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
Mom starts with rice. Japanese rice, one, two, three Japanese cup-fulls of rice grains into the cooker, because Sis eats a lot of this stuff. It's one of her favorite dishes, taco rice, and Mom's always happy to make it for her because it's the only way Sis will eat her tomatoes. But back to the rice. "You want to rinse at least three or four times, until the water's kind of clear," Mom says as she cups her hand under the cooker pot, letting the cloudy water wash over her hand.
Rice cooking's easy though – just fill enough water to the point the rice's covered, punch in a time (or set it to "Quick Cook," which with our creaking rice cooker still takes about an hour) and let the cooker do its thing.
Ground meat goes into a well-greased and heated frying pan. Break up the block so that it crumbles into fine little pieces, and do this with wild abandon, because this is taco meat. Mom uses any taco seasoning that happens to be cheap; most seasonings rack up t
Find MeLily is five years old, but she doesn't act like it. Her mother, Hannah, doesn't know what to think of this little creature, all curly black hair and huge gray eyes. Lily's always talking, always asking, always wanting to know why. A week ago Lily was obsessed with the excitement of the world outside her bedroom window. Now, all she can think of is herself. In particular, why she is so different. Her freckled face is tilted up at Hannah and her features are pinched in confusion.Find Me4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Mama," She's saying, her childlike voice almost musical in its simplicity. "How come Liss and me look so different? But how come you look like Liss, and Daddy looks like Liss, but I look like nobody?" Lily asks questions that Hannah does not have easy answers to.
"Well," She ponders over her daughter's queries. "Well. Lily, it's because we got you special. Liss grew in my belly." Lily laughs and pokes at her mother's stomach. "But you, Lily-child, you grew right here." Hanna points to her heart.
"I don't get i
SorrowbirdI watched him flap helplessly between the teeth of a barbwire fence, screeching for help.Sorrowbird3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Papa, look Papa! A boy!"
My papa stood dazed for a moment, dust billowing at his legs, his eyes teetering along the field. It wasn't until later that evening he told me he hadn't understood what I had seen. What he had seen.
With grass tickling the backsides of my legs, I bounded toward the boy, "What are you doing? Are you okay?"
As I approached him, I felt his skittish eyes rake across my every movement. With his ten-year-old arms slung inside the gaping maw of a fence and darkened feathers pasted along the creases of his face; he looked squarely at me. I could hear his bird-bones quaking at my voice, he pushed harder against the fence. I winced for him.
"Hold still, we'll get you out," I turned back to my papa who stood alongside the road, "Papa," I pleaded, "Please! Help him!"
Reaching out, I touched his shoulder, "Don't be afraid. We're going to help you."
He didn't pull away from me. I thou
The Doppelganger 2The book still sings to me, and that's when I pull it from under my bed and stroke the cover. But I never open it, because I know what happens if I do it wrong. It's still blank; but only of ink. I know the secret, you see. It's how I understand the songs, and know the melodies it echoes up to me, through time. There are impressions hidden in the pages- spilled mead and raucous laughter, summer sunshine and frost on dead leaves. The last time I tried feeling them from start to finish, I passed out from the sheer weight of knowledge, and it left my brain scrambled for ages.The Doppelganger 23 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I found out things about my past and my family's past. I have Irish on my dad's side of the family, stretching back generations. I'd have said I was surprised when I found out, but that would have been a lie.
People say I've changed since last spring. My face is thinner, my eyes are brighter, I've been "brought out of myself." What they don't know is that I've actually met myself. I've taken to wearing rich, d
anemic, broken, and growing up anywaywhen my sister was five, she dictated a letter to me in her strong little voiceanemic, broken, and growing up anyway3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
while dust drifted in the sunshine
of our creaky old room.
dear me [she said],
barney is the best. i will wear blue all the time even though i'm a girl. my heart beats without me telling it to and that's pretty cool. i think people always feel better if you tell them you love them. i will always smile because i have dimples when i smile.
"did you write it?" she asked, and i told her i did, every word
with the chunky yellow pencil i'd fished out of my school bag.
i handed her the letter, and she folded it up carefully
and she smiled.
when my sister was fifteen, she was a little bit broken
anemic and pale, with unsure hair and shaky hands.
when i came home to visit she whispered to me that
she didn't understand
and when i asked her what she didn't understand, she said
she wrote another letter that night.
dear me [it said],
this isn't a suicide note. this isn't another angsty poem. this
A Pocket Full of SkyWhen I was young, my father would take me to the highest tower of Notre Dame precisely once a year. It would be cold. Freezing. But we'd stand there, and take deep breaths of air, and peer down, towards the tiny ants of people below. Down, towards the sprawling city beneath us. It was always winter, when we'd go. Always cold. Freezing, freezing. But however cold it was, and however dull and bleary the weather, my father would ask one thing, and one thing only: that we adhered to tradition.A Pocket Full of Sky5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Lucie," he would say, with the fond smile and kind eyes I always remember. "Lucie, my peach. Whatever you become, and wherever your heart and mind leads you, you must always do for me one small, beautiful thing take a handful of the sky, and place it in your pocket. Take a handful of the sky, and remember, always, that your feet need not always be imprisoned to the ground. Anything you could ever wish for, Lucie, can be yours but only if you study hard, and always feel the freedom of t
a ribcage drenched in dusti have your ribcage, you said.a ribcage drenched in dust3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
what should i put in it?
i told you i'd always wanted a fire,
the kind that would fill my eyes with starlight
and pump my blood full of passion, but
you're made of wildflowers, you said.
a fire would burn you to ash.
you wanted to fill my chest with
the sound of a train, whistling
far away in the night;
with the sound of rain smacking leaves;
with the sound the wind makes
when it seems like it's trying to speak
and you wanted to throw in the
smell of midnight in august
and the feeling of sand being
sucked out from under your feet
when the ocean inhales,
and the strange little moment of
bittersweet joy you get when
someone else puts your soul into words
and you realize you're not as alone as you thought.
i told you that if i had all that inside me,
i'd ache all the time
and you smiled a sad little smile,
because you already knew that ache.
because you were a writer, and you ached all the time.
i've got it, i said.
TeatimeIn January, Elsa got new neighbors. She greeted them with apple cinnamon tea.Teatime4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
It gets so cold, here, they told her, shivering in overstuffed parkas. Snow had turned to mud in their front hallan unavoidable side-effect of moving in winter. Elsa nodded along to their complaints and observations, silently brewing the tea in their kitchen. They were young; they had big plans. Allison and Steve, newlyweds, just starting out. They sat on the cold floor together, sipping with chapped lips. The house filled with cinnamon.
In April, Allison knocked on Elsa's door. We're pregnant! White tea in a china teacup; the taste of flower petals and champagne. The last caffeine for the next eight months. Elsa let her keep the cup.
In May, Steve bought a carseat and a crib. Elsa helped him carry it inside. Flat-packed, but heavy. Sturd
ToddThere was a big fanfare when Todd came back. Even a couple of newspaper reporters showed up. It was only right I guess, what with him being dead for a year. At least I think it was a year. I mean, he was gone for eight and I'm pretty sure if a person is missing for seven years the government declares them dead or something. I know that his parents bought a tombstone from the place on First Street a while ago. They put it up in their family lot at the cemetery, next to his grandparents. I went to visit it after the funeral. It had his name and a little inscription. They left the dates off though. After that they took him off the missing persons list too. I know because I used to check it.Todd3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I'll bet that everyone was real pissed when they found out the truth. He got into town on Tuesday but nobody said a word until Friday. Then on Satur
A Dust of SnowSnow was the great purification. All of the dark places of the land dotted with coated trees were blanketed by mother snows cold hand. The earth was softer in winter, in white. It was sleeping soundly beneath the coverlets where only wolves, rabbits and deer went tuttering by leaving their trails and magic.A Dust of Snow3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
The girl’s cheeks had long turned chill-burnt red, polished and bright as two crisp autumn apples. They burned in the pale of her skin in the moonlight. In some other time, her lips as red as hearts and her hair as dark as raven’s wings might have stirred a poem. But the eerie mingling of fear and desire glass coating her brown eyes made her seem a mad, mad straw creature than a beauty.
The snow was deep and it bit to the knee, sometimes keeping her stuck in place. Frostbite tingled, a small sting at first and now a sharp bite in her feet; fingers. Her mittens had been swiped by a lashing pine, a boot kept by unforgiving drift. Her dress cold and wet.
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
The Broken WallMilo woke up one morning in a different bed than the one he had gone to sleep in. Even so, the bed he was in now was still his own. He looked up at the ceiling and saw patterns there that he had never seen before and yet he knew they would be there. Sunlight slanted through the window in a line different from what he had expected.The Broken Wall4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
He spent the rest of the late morning wandering through the house. It was full of knick-knacks from places he was sure he had been. Every thing that he found there was his. Every thing that he found there was new to him.
In a daze, he sat down at the kitchen table. His mind was running, but it was buzzing, too. He couldn't keep his thoughts straight or even pick them out of the eternal hum. It was as if his mind was deliberately keeping him from thinking too much.
Outside he found a garden, full of plants he loved. Down a path he found a bench around a huge oak tree. He suddenly had a vague memory of having planted it, but that could not be possible. He sat d
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
Of Children and FirePrimrose Everdeen is not a child. No, she thinks, a small little flare of surprise tingling at the base of her spine, the fingertips blue with cold and fear, she isn't. Not now, in this twisted knot of a war, with its politics and intricacies that she can barely understand. Not here, in the very heart of the Capitol, where there is smoke and confusion and the screams of the lost and dying hanging like soot in the air. No, she hasn't been a child for a long time, not since her name was called at the Reaping and all she could was her heart, loud and heavy in her ears. Not since Katniss came like an avenging angel to save her, voice shrill and panicked. Not since Katniss gave herself up like a lamb for slaughter and left Prim with a strange, unsettling mix of gratitude, grief, and shame.Of Children and Fire4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Katniss doesn't know that Prim didn't watch her games, not really. She doesn't know that her small sister had closed her eyes and pressed her face into the fragile safety of her hands whenever Katniss had