The IdolI once saw a man on the television who was so afraid of fruits that when presented with a bowl of them, he fled the stage, knocking over the host and several other guests. Though I openly pitied the man for his obvious malady of the mind, inside, the small bit of sadism buried within all humans laughed at his bizarre affliction. How can one not find cruel amusement in the cowering of a grown man who has been confronted by nothing more than a bowl of peaches? But now I understand fear like no other. I now no longer find amusement in the terror of others, no matter how illogical.
Now, let me tell you the story of why the sound of wind whistling through the trees in Autumn strikes me with a fear so immense that I can do little more than shake uncontrollably.
A good friend of mine, a young and upcoming anthropologist by the name of Henry Byrne, contacted me eight weeks ago. Though he refused to go into details, he excitedly explained t
The Best I Can DoWhen you both started that conversation,The Best I Can Do4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
The one that would end 2 years of your life,
You couldn't have known what was coming;
But you took it like a pro. Bye bye, wife.
Slow, rational, mourning followed by action,
You stood strong and fearless to show your integrity.
What you couldn't see on the other side of that phone,
Her eyes shone a red, white, and blue so pretty;
And she was looking anywhere but at you boy.
She quit you like school, never going back.
Can't you let her go; chop chop her out?
Of course not, your eyes sparkled like that diamond.
Even though history fills you with doubt,
Suffer righteously, leave her alone, and move on.
Her star spangled banner will rip and fade.
Though it seemed; it was not meant to be.
Consider yourself eternally saved
From the girl who wanted freedom more than you.
They Also Serve Who Only Stand and WaitI don't know when we first went underground. I don't even know if it was one mass exodus, a swarm of mankind trickling through the earth's crust so vehement we carved our own caverns by the force of trampling feet, or whether it was a gradual process, perhaps even a repetitive one, a family here, a neighborhood there. For all I know, the echo of the damp subterranean machine has always reverberated off the cave walls, created long past by the Angels, who think of our well-being even while they shake their heads helplessly at our flaws.They Also Serve Who Only Stand and Wait3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
They say that those who remained on the surface were raptured away in a great flash of light, like a million suns converted into raw energy all at once. While it was rumored once that the flash was our doing, our own horrid creation, we all know better now. It was the Maker who brought it forth from the void and cast it onto the earth's crust, as though shot from an immense sling, taking only those who were brave enough to trust in Him. We, who live in t
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
Imitating NatureThe morning sun streamed through a series of large plate glass windows lining the library's east wall, its rays warming the room's wooden paneling and illuminating the cavernous space. Tall bookshelves stuffed with literature from across the world towered over polished oak reading tables, each furnished with a plain, green-shaded banker's lamp. On the far side, a massive painting gracing the west wall depicted the solemn face of Saint Patrick, whose protective presence could be felt watching over the library's sole visitor.Imitating Nature3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
All was perfectly quiet, save for a tap, tap, tapping that echoed in the otherwise silent room. Seated at a desk near the door, glued to the screen of his laptop, Eoghan quietly tapped his pen against the notepad in his lap as his eyes scanned through the different news reports.
Another roadside bomb outside of Kandahar, three dead, all soldiers. God frowns upon careless mistakes gentlemen. You should have noticed the dead dog along the side of the road.
JuliaMetMichaelSamaraSawTheStarsGenevieveFoundFeari.JuliaMetMichaelSamaraSawTheStarsGenevieveFoundFear3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Tonight is different.
Genevieve pauses, watching layers of fog ascend forward from the darkness. The ominous mist slinks onward as it settles against her taunt muscles. Vapor coils along her skin like venom; tangible and prickling.
She allows herself timid inhales of February. Every breath sparks arctic shockwaves through her nervous system. Glacial streaks echo between her tissues; ever-so-silent, sickening her. Genevieve then slows, listening to iced-oxygen as it hardens between blood cells.
The cold feels like boulders in my lungs.
She begins to feel so unexpectedly heavy in her skin. Slu
Anything you can find:"They're wicked," whispers Deputy Mack, when he thinks we aren't listening. "Beautiful, but wicked."Anything you can find:2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
It makes Noah smirk from the front desk, where Clara Wynn, the dispatcher, is sneaking him sips from her hip flask while she profiles him. DePrince, she writes, Noah Thomas. Age: 12. Hair: Black. She puzzles over the color of his eyes before penning gray on the line, a rarity that gives us an edge, which we use like a scalpel. Noah flickers eyes like new nickels whenever we want something. Today is the Friday after the funeral and we are sick for answers, so we ask Clara if she will take our mug shots.
"I'll find some film," she says, disappearing into the back room. The door taps shut behind her. Deputy Mack and Sheriff Spellis are still arguing about us in the office, their voices a low rumble of contention, so we slip off our chairs and spread out through the station.
"Obituaries, photos, police reports," says Noah, fanning a stack of files across the desk. "Hur
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 You2 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
bedIt's a stabbing sightbed3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Letting in the morning with a crack of the shades
And you forget you could page-turn horizons
Waft through free territory
Where acres are just beds
Made of fresh land
Wrinkles in the river
Tell remembered times
About old languages that could make you cry
About soft beds that carve away canyons
A speaking voice lifted from the earth
Begging you to remember
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
MeanderingHardly a mountain, though on lowering days its head sits wreathedMeandering3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
By the mists of a passing front, aged and befogged as bygone elders
Doddering about before there were names for the malaise
That hazed their thinking
And from this modest crown there slouched and sloped
A long shoulder, meandering down to meadows below
Pausing now and again to coddle a pleasant hollow
Casting a sloping pitch enough to rush a torrent
After a sudden shower
Its glint and glimmer burble among the stones
To join a rill and plash and swirl and putter about a root
It's there I'm apt to wander
Not much of a path, hard passed and thorny
As twisted and narrow as the thoughts of bigoted men
Treading there finds stern resistance and stones to turn the foot
The clatter and crunch of brittle leaf acorns pop and skitter
A plenteous crop, beyond the appetite of wild things at forage
Leathery husks abound, pignut hickory the ebon stains of walnut
On taking pause the quiet lay, a
Automatici.Automatic3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
"So where are you from?" The boy leans toward me, questions swimming in his eyes. I smile.
"Oh, I'm from Boston."
"No, I mean, where are you from?" My smile falters as I realize where this is going. It's an all-too familiar conversation, one I've been having since I was old enough to reply.
"Do you mean where was I born?"
"I was born in China."
"Do you speak Chinese?"
"Does your family speak Chinese?"
He looks befuddled. I sigh.
"Oh!" I see the light bulb over his head go off in a shower of sparks. "Do you know who your real parents are? Like, your real parents?" My temper flares. I stifle the urge to throw something.
"You mean my biological parents?"
"Oh." There's an awkward pause. I have learned to wait it out, to prepare my next automated response.
"When were you adopted?"
"When I was a year old."
"Did you live in an orphanage?"
"Like in Annie?"
Rolling my eyes seems appropriate.
"No, not l
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
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
Whiskey Laden DreamsBitter eyes and tears might taint a drink, but sitting in this bar alone with your stool pulled out next to me, and the Martini poured regardless of your presence still brings a smile to my face; despite the taste. I'm having a whiskey myself; dry. Yes, I know I don't drink, but every once in a while you need whiskey to solve an intricate problem, and mine is the distinct lack of alcohol in my life.Whiskey Laden Dreams3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
There are people everywhere and it amazes me how none of them are you, from the woman in the black dress coming down the stairs to the signing couple in the corner, laughing silently. They're not you at all, and that's what's amazing in an ocean of coal you're a marble pebble, smooth to the touch and pleasant to the eye, and you don't leave me scarred.
I'll kick back the tumbler for now, refilling your drink when necessary, despite you never having it. The waitress will look at me with tired eyes and concerned words, but I'll insist I'm drinking with a friend, whilst that sad g
earth circuitAnd when the sun sinks, the earth's skin crawls:earth circuit3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I wonder if this awkward creature would notice me the way I notice him.
He's so tragic at his throne
I stare after him longingly.
He never realizes that I'm the one
Who forever basks in his brilliant beams.
If only he knew how much brighter he could burn
He'd light up the universe.
I heard him speak of thirst, once.
The quenching lust of the stars had run dry.
So that night, I brought along a jar of acid.
(And how it gleamed in his glow).
I handed it to him, wrapped in taffeta ribbons,
I wish curdling joy
On my gurgling boy
I love his eyes, now
Clouded white like milk from a poisoned tree
And his throat,
Swollen and clotted
And his lips blue as the
I try to get him to laugh but
His body is stuck and
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
The Waste WorldShe said create the world, so I did. I made it dark and dusty, coughed up from my own black lungs. I gave the trees an ashen hue and the ground a color to match the starless sky. The creatures were murmuring oozes, globs of drying acrylic that inked across the orb of my bubbling imagination.The Waste World3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Repulsing, it was in fact the product of an industrial mind. I was born from man's smog goddess and, if memory serves me, her breath was laced in exhaust which I inhaled nightly with her songs. She was soothing and complacent, her voice smokey like a hazy bar. No one could deny her features were hideous beyond belief. Her skin dripped pollution like morphine into veins, into deep red rivers to turn them ebony and clogged. Her eyes glistened obsidian, sharp and cold if you didn't know her at all. I knew she was lost and ashamed, as her mother, my grandmother, would often remind her of the destruction her presence caused. I loved her like grandmother nature never could.
Grandmother was ,indeed, a gra
Ottumwa ShamanIn Iowa, weeping willows dream ofOttumwa Shaman4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Tigers, born in pagan fog, their
Coat of stripes singing shaman
Songs; shrill symphonies of grief.
Heaven tilts, crashes, and we race
The dirt to get away. We drink the
Earth with bullets of air and grow
Dizzy, light-headed from breathing
Some far off flame. Perhaps a poet
Who braved the fog of Ottumwa, and
Caught fire. Every cowboy has his
Six chances before high noon, before
The fog forms wispy jackals to take
Them home again. Every son inherits
An empty gun, six voids to fill with
Answers, skimmed and guessed from the
Covers of books their fathers used
To read. There is no other way.
In sleeping, I have been to Iowa,
And I learned where wiccans go
To make their bed. I do not know now
If I had dreamed the weeping willow,
Or if it had bent low to dream of me.
In Iowa, there is no such truth, only
Depth, and the shaman's song of grief.
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 Blood3 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
cosmic background radiationThey say that the big bang was not an actual "bang". It was really just static. Static, like the interference of radio waves. Of course, the universe did not happen instantaneously. The big bang took 760,000 years to happen. 760,000 years of static, and bang, the universe happened.cosmic background radiation4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I get myself together and actually go out. I go to see the New York Philharmonic perform the works of John Cage at Lincoln Center. I walk out during the second movement of 4'33". There's a very small difference between life and death. I walk home, my chin pulled down against my neck. I hum a constant note, providing myself with my own tinnitus.
I focus on this note. I cross Broadway where the walkers cluster on the curbside, awaiting the turn of the traffic light. People talking and the bioacoustic noises of their bodies moving. I walk against the signal. The tires of taxis scrape against the road. I go west on 65th Street, past Brooks Brothers and the slimy sliding of the revolving door, past vans parallel
OCDI count the cracks in between the blocks of cement beneath me as I walk. Two. Two. Four. Four. Always four sets of that. Always two, two, four, four. Four times each. Look up. Blink 8 times. Two sets of four. Then back down. Two, two, four, four.OCD3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Safe. Those numbers are safe. Even, not odd. Odd is bad. 'Odd' is what people call you when you're different. Bad. Wrong.
Two, two, four, four. I try to focus on something else, not on how many steps I'm taking, because there are people behind me. Person. One set of footsteps. Bad. Half of two. I think of it as two feet, and that's better. I feel better.
I round a corner, looking for my goal. Always a goal; always a pull. It's getting stronger, so I'm getting close. I have to hurry, I have to lose the person behind me. They kept walking straight. Good.
It's raining again. It's been raining every three days for the past week. Three and Seven. Not good, but not the worst numbers. They add up to ten. Even. Safe. I duck into an alley, and stop sho