The DoctorWhen I was seven, I was diagnosed with emotions.
"Poor girl." I heard them say. "She'll never survive this one."
I laid with my face towards the ceiling on the cold examination table, listening to them discuss my fate. I felt something breaking in my chest and something burning inside my throat. A small tear slipped down my cheek.
"Doctor! Look at this!" Shrieked my mother, "Something is coming out of her eye."
The doctor rushed over to me and wiped the tear from my cheek. He touched the top of my head as he whispered, "I am so sorry." And then he turned to my mother. "It's a tear. It means that she is sad."
"Sad?" My mother asked inquisitively.
"It's one of her emotions. This doesn't attack the same way that normal diseases do, there are all sorts of different symptoms. Right now, she is sad and the only way that I know how to explain it is that she is feeling down."
"What do you mean by down?"
"Her emotions can best be described as ones that are upwhen she is feeling good, and
I'm coming out: I'm straightMom? Mum? Can I talk to you?I'm coming out: I'm straight6 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
My voice quivered. Both of them looked up at me. Moms head was in Mums lap. Mum was slowly stroking her forehead, leaning down to kiss her forehead while still staring at me intently. A satanic bible was placed in Mums lap, the thin, withered pages torn in a few places from continued reading. You know you can talk to us about anything, Mom said, smiling, sitting up a bit straighter. She leaned over to kiss Mum, who kissed her back. I took a seat on the couch and pulled my knees up to my chin, staring down at my cuticles. Even for a guy, they were pretty nasty.
I took a deep breath. Guys? I dont really know how to say this but, I think Im heterosexual.
The room went silent. Mum looked up from our satanic bible and pursed her lips. For a second, I thought she was going to reach out and slap me. In a tight voice, she said, You know how we feel about heterosexuals. We raised you to be
ObsessionIt takes 14 minutes and twelve seconds to walk to your home from mine every day. Your mother never fails to smile at me when she opens the door. I never fail to notice that it doesn't reach her eyes anymore.Obsession4 years ago in Emotional More Like This
You leave your door open an exact two point three centimeters. I don't think you do it on purpose. There is something wrong with the wood that has left it that way. I pause one foot outside the door and listen to you cough, trying to determine how sick you feel today. I hate that every time I think you are particularly ill, I am always right.
Six months, seventeen days and fourteen hours. That is how long its been since the doctors told us you had an illness. I sat there with your parents, listening to a man who said words like 'terminal' and 'leukemia', and counted the number of times he said 'patient' as if it were your name (Seventeen).
The blood bank says one unit is four hundred and fifty milliliters and I watch as they put the needle into my ar
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 Daughter3 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
Judgement"You need to stop doing this."Judgement3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Stop doing what?"
"Writing me into your stories."
"Because it scares me. I'm not this guy that you write about. I'm not some kind of Prince Charming and I'm certainly not a sea God or whatever you like to say about my eyes every now and then."
"Yeah. You really need to work on your judgement of people, because this is all wrong. It's like you don't know me at all!"
"So why don't you correct me and I'll fix my idea of you accordingly."
"Well firstly, I'm a really nervous person."
"Yeah. Your hands are either fiddling with your hair or your sleeve, or you're biting your nails."
"And I don't like going out. I'm a hermit."
"Except to your best friends' houses, or to the animal shelter, or to me."
"And I'm dead inside."
"Says the boy who hides his tears at the sight of an injured puppy."
"I do not."
"Yes, you do."
"Anyway, I'm not always nice to you. In fact, I really don't do enough."
"You're right. Except yo
The Business of Murder"Well, now that we're through with the pleasantries, Mr. Daniels, I must ask: Why is it that you want to die?"The Business of Murder4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Joseph Daniels sighed and slumped down in his seat, the picture of unkemptness. His face looked tired, with large bags underneath his eyes and at least three days' worth of stubble. His hair was a mess, his clothes were disheveled. He seemed to exude an aura of despair.
He surveyed the room he was in, which was quite his opposite: neat, orderly, unremarkable. Blank, white walls, some filing cabinents, three windows looking out on downtown. He was sitting in a plain, wooden chair in front of a plain, wooden desk with merely a fake houseplant and laptop on top.
The woman behind the desk, typing notes on the laptop, was similarly forgettable. She was dressed in a black pantsuit, her dark brown hair in a bun. Her eyes were blue, but otherwise ordinary. She wore little makeup on her plain face. She was as unremarkable as the room, which was how she liked it.
She had introduced hers
Introductions"Hi, I'm-"Introductions4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"I know who you are."
"You're the guy who thinks he's invisible."
"I have a name-"
"It isn't important. Because you really don't think it's important."
"All right. Since we've started out this way, let me just tell you, I know you too."
"You're the girl who is broken."
"I am not broken."
"You're the girl whose eyes close every night and open the next morning, only to find you have never slept at all."
"I sleep well. Besides-"
"You're the girl who dreams of a happy ending even though she has seen seventeen...no, eighteen unhappy ones in her eighteen years."
"Happy endings are over rated. And you're-"
"You're the girl who wants something bigger, something stronger, just so the weakness in her body becomes something so much more."
"You don't understand weakness the way-"
"You're the girl whose heart broke when she was so young, and she fixed it back together with superglue, but cannot ignore the cracks."
"Superglue makes for a good companion, especially when-"
Inside Out"I think I wear my soul inside out."Inside Out4 years ago in Emotional More Like This
"My soul. It's inside out."
"That's a strange thing to say."
"I have all the symptoms though."
"And what are the symptoms of this disea-"
"It's not a disease."
"All right. What are the symptoms, then?"
"I care too much about all the wrong things, I worry about odd things, my heart breaks too easily and my brain feels a little too asymmetrical to the things that are supposed to be fun."
"You know parties and alcohol and normal things. Like that."
"Nothing. What do you care too much about?"
"Everything. Global warming. The whales. Aliens. Israel. Sarajevo. The Ozone-"
"I get it. Everything that counts and you can do nothing about by yourself."
"You sound cynical."
"You sound paranoid."
"It's just honest. What worries you?"
"The fact that you are too self involved to notice."
"If I disappear."
"You idiot. Ofcourse I will notice if you disappear. I'd not
BraveryOn Saturday the twenty-first of January, Elliot took a gun, pressed it to the strip of bone between his eyes, and shot himself. The bullet shattered the frontal bone of his skull, warping his features past recognition, and burrowed through his pre-frontal cortex into the midbrain. He died before the sound stopped echoing through his empty apartment.Bravery5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
This story isn't about that.
I worked with Elliot for only a little while—less than six months. Most of what I knew about him came from his desk. Unlike the smaller ones the secretaries and other reporters had, it was a stately, imposing thing. It would've been terrifying, especially to a mousy little girl like me, but it was covered in paperweights and spare pens and pictures of people hunting ducks. Anyway, Elliot himself denied fear: he was middle-aged, poised on the cusp between forty and fifty. His hair had already turned grey, but he didn't dye it, like he hadn't noticed he was getting older or just didn't care. He smiled more t
Expedition Letters to GraceDear Grace,Expedition Letters to Grace4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
You told me, back when we were visiting Peru and I was feeling down, that I would eventually find my calling in life. I write to you now to tell you, quite happily, that I have.
I can't explain much about it at the moment, only that my sudden absence from the university is for a reason. As I write, I am currently en route to New York City, to visit their museums and get a taste of the culture. I told you before how I wanted to visit New York while I had the chance, and now I travel with purpose.
I will say now, that while what I am about to do may seem strange to you, even mad, I can promise you that I am of sound mind and am determined to see my ambition through. Never before have I felt so strongly about the rightness of my decision. I will explain more in time. All I can tell you now is that I am launching my own expedition, and that it will be unorthodox, to say the least. I write you because you are my oldest and dearest friend, and I feel I can trust you.
Give my best
Death"Do you fear death?"Death3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The question loomed in the air before my body, as if a sword looming over someone almost conquered by their enemy. But I looked down at my hands and then back up, only to say, "Have you ever felt the pain of watching two lovers embrace at the end of a movie? It's supposed to be a happy ending. But your heart tells your lungs to stop breathing for just a minute because it will never ever be yours."
"Do you fear death?"
A question repeated deserves an answer. But instead, my trembling hands sat clenched on my lap, the blue ink like veins showing through the frail covering that might rip apart any second. "Do you know what it's like to wake up in the middle of the night to hear a song, just to remind yourself, you're going to be all right? Over and over again until it doesn't work anymore."
"Do you fear death?"
The invisible chain linked through my fingers, and I closed my tired eyes, this time, hearing the impatience in th
The Stellar Void"Can you kill me, please?"The Stellar Void5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I must have looked startled because her expectant gaze saddened a bit.
"I'm sorry. What?"
"Can you kill me?" Her face brightened as she repeated the morbid probe.
Confused, I couldn't help but notice her rather familiar clothes. Faded pink jeans, knock-off Converse shoes. Little black hoodie with a torn right sleeve.
"You just looked a bit angry and I figured you'd be the best person to ask."
I stood next to the bench. My backpack dug into my shoulder and I shrugged it off. It'd be awhile before the next bus came anyway.
She looked down the street. The dim lights barely revealed the closed shops and leaf strewn sidewalks. A short breeze caused the dead landscaping out front to rustle gently but now, it seemed slightly ominous.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked." Her voice was hollow and even though she was turned away, I could sense the hint of disappointment.
Sighing, I sat on the other side of the bench. Pausing for a minute, I glanced up at the mos
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
We're all just Meat and BonesWe're all just Meat and Bones3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I'm going to die.
No, I'm going to change into them. I should probably write this down directly, quickly, and to the point. In about an hour I will cease to be Ryan, English major at Lander University in Greenwood SC, and I will start my life anew as a zombie. Yea, an undead corpse that stumbles around all day searching for human flesh. I will be nameless just one undead among thousands.
Which is exactly why I'm writing this letter on this stack of blank receipts. I'm holed up in The Dixie, a local burger joint. Ironically, I always thought the old-timey and weathered neon sign out front would make a perfect apocalypse backdrop. Now, I'm not so sure. It flickers constantly, illuminating the gyrating bodies of the dead like some twisted disco party. This hovel will be my resting place, or my stomping ground, depending on how you view the situation.
If you find this letter, watch out. It won't be me this letter is me, or what's left of me, Ryan. Mor
My Mother and the BoyWhen that boy left, he left Mama a wreck. She sat in that creaky old kitchen rocker, her thin hair disheveled above clammy, transluscent skin, her black, birdlike eyes glittering like beetles, sunken and strange in her pale face. She moaned whenever anyone passed, but without looking at them, her hands in frantic and mechanical motion knitting row after row of snarled thread. "I let that boy into my house!" she muttered. Occasionally she would get up and pace back and forth across the kitchen, restlessly wiping at various surfaces with a greying little dish towel clutched in her bony fingers.My Mother and the Boy4 years ago in Introductions & Chapters More Like This
Then Joey and I went off to school, and she was alone in the big house, filling the silence only with her own mutterings and the anxious clicking of her knitting needles. The neighbors would grab our sleeve on our way out sometimes, and ask if she was still alive in there, because she never showed her face.
One day, when I drove down to visit Mama, I found her stan
Runner's DeathRunner's Death5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
In other words, the time of the year my parents put their everything's-alright smiles on and Anabelle fills the toilet with puke so that she can pretend to be filling her stomach with food when all our relatives come over--the time of the year we all pretend to be normal.
It's also the anniversary of Runner's death. But, like they always do, my family has covered the events of December twenty-fifth, one year ago, the same way they did the cracks in our living room wall--in a layer of bright paint and wallflowers.
Like usual, my mom will make an excuse: when my beautiful Aunt May asks in that discreet way of hers why the space in the corner of the dining room beneath the three-pane window is empty, my mother will reply, "Oh, poor Runner contracted kidney disease. We decided to pu
I Call Him CompulsionThree. Four. Five. I like five; it feels complete. Okay, one more time. SixI Call Him Compulsion4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"How long does it take to get a glass of water?" my husband calls from the living room.
"Sorry, I'm coming." I resist the urge to rinse the glass a few more times. Cleanliness is not a factorit's the numbers. The completion. The habit. I take a sip of my water and force myself to stop asking if I should just run the water one more time.
I join Sam in the living room and sit in my usual spot: the center recliner. He always lies on the couch to watch TV. It works.
He hits the play button, and we watch ten minutes of reality before the demon sneaks into my mind again. This time I see fire. It sparks from the dryer, blisters the walls, and rushes tsunami-like towards my son's room. It licks at my daughter's curtains.
I see them lying in their beds, unaware of the destruction. I see walls of flame keeping me from them.
"I have to go to the bathroom," I say. Sam pauses the show. The beast in
Desolateif you are parched tonight,Desolate4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
the pale of your lips cracked
with thirst for that which
will not claim you;
if you hunger -
the deep and shallow collapsing
into slivered vibrations;
if blindness rejects you, says
no, watch now.
this is the way of it;
if you are breathing the world
into cinders, inhaling each poison
on purpose, striving
toward an apocalypse
because that is chaos
we can categorize,
then you may understand.
Train Under WaterBrother,Train Under Water6 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I'm writing to tell you I'm dropping out of college; I haven't told anyone. I'm twitching, Michael. The hunger came back a few weeks ago, and I'm not sure it ever left. Regardless, it's crying now, and I need to go. I need to keep moving on. I'm leaving for Chicago tomorrow. My train takes off in the afternoon, and when I get there, I'll leave again. I want to go somewhere new, Michael.
I want to go somewhere I have never seen before.
Now, I know you have to be worried, but don't, Brother. Don't you be afraid. I'll write to you wherever I go. I won't leave a return address, please don't try to follow me. You can't, Michael, you're too smart. Your place is here among these people; and mine is out there. You're meant for your books; I'm meant for my trees. I want to roar from the woods with a pen mightier than He
Fine, Fine, FineFine, Fine, FineFine, Fine, Fine3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Nothing changed in the classroom when Maria Diaz went missing. It was as if she'd never been there, sitting in her spot in the corner where the teachers couldn't rescue her from the other kids. Whoever said words never hurt was a liar in denial. Maria would have preferred the sticks and the stones. A broken psyche doesn't mend as cleanly as bone.
"Yo, Clarissa, wake up." Before she could turn in the direction of his voice, Sam punted a paperclip right into her forehead.
"What was that for? I was totally awake already." She whined. Mrs. Benson wasn't even finished her lesson yet. The fat witch was still writing math equations on the blackboard, oblivious to everyone snickering about how her ass was so big it didn't even look connected to her back. Mrs. Benson was gross; math was stupid. Clarissa was bored. Typical school day.
Sam grinned that imperfect grin of his. He needed braces. "If anyone would have invented a way to see through their eyelids, I guess it'd b
NamelessI walk out of the tattoo parlor, clutching my wrist, thinking the money was well-spent. My friends walk quickly down the steps, eager to eat, be full. At the next story down there is a man huddled in the corner, ripped, dirty coat wrapped tight around his crumpled frame, worn out sneakers, stained sweatpants, fraying gloves.Nameless3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
My friends don't really notice him, or pretend not to, but my heart squeezes a bit as I turn the corner, clutching my wrist, believing my money was well-spent. But at the third step I shudder with selfishness, heartlessness, pray to God that I don't turn into judgment and lack of humility.
I swivel around, nearly fall, hold a hand to my chest because I don't mean to offend him (though he's sleeping in a cold stairwell for Christ's sake, it's winter and he looks so damn exhausted).
"Excuse me," my voice quivers, my hands shake. I wait for a visible response but he does nothing to open his eyes, to look in my direction. I take another step forward. "Are you sleeping
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.OCD2 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
Wild Hunt :: LongmaLike any good story, this one does not begin where it began. It does, however, begin where it endsat a funeral.Wild Hunt :: Longma4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The village was not particularly big. Rather, it was frightfully small, and just as frightfully remote. That said, it was little surprise that every denizen turned out for something so important as the funeral of a good man.
and it truly was each and every one: every man, woman, and child; every son, brother, and father; every maiden, mother, and crone. It was said even the dogs followed at the heels of their masters, even the songbirds gathered in the trees, and the livestock unable to free themselves from their pens bowed their heads in respect. But the story that is still told to this day was how the most notable guest at the funeral of Bai Huan was his finest (and only) stallion.
* * * * *
A long way from the village (but not nearly far enough) a