A Butterfly Flapping Its WingsThe letter was clutched in strong fingers which, had they belonged to a lesser man, might have been trembling.
It wasn't happiness or elation that he felt. There was a vindication that scratched on the edges of his thoughts, but the only thing really resonating in his mind was, 'what now?' It was the first time in a long while since he had heard anything beside the scornful echoes of his father's words.
It was a dream.
Almost a decade had passed since they'd been said. He'd shyly expressed his fondness for art as a schoolboy, and his father had promptly crushed his meek hopes with an iron tongue. "Fool," he had said. "Dreamer, head in the clouds." He'd laughed then, coarse and cruel. "You'd never make it." And the next semester his star-gazer of a son had been enrolled into technical school.
It started with death.
Standing cold and numb as his father was buried, it was his mother that convinced him to apply that first time with her soft word
The SketchHe loses his first kiss in autumn. He's twelve, she's just turned thirteen, and at the time he isn't sure what all the fuss is about but knows how special it is anyway.The Sketch3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
She's gorgeous, pale-skin, brown hair, dark eyes always filled with happiness and joy the way he wishes he could be. She doesn't want to be there any more than he does, and they grouse to each other about how they don't need a 'special school.' It's the first time he's worked up the courage to say it.
She carries a book too, just like his sketchbook, but she says it's a diary. It's hung with a little lock on the front and he jokes about it being the key to her heart, a little boy's poor attempt at flirting but she laughs anyway. He wants to hear that laugh again, and he does, when he shyly asks if he can draw her.
It's half-way through his sketch that she leans in and presses her soft lips to his. It's a little clumsy and awkward, given how she's standing up and he's cross-legged on the ground, and nowhere as romantic l
The Letter WriterHe was a letter writer.The Letter Writer3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Written letters had long become a thing of the pastafter all, why would one write when one could receive instant gratification through an electronic device? All of these things made life so much easier.
In fact, Alan lived in a time where most people didn't know how to write. Everyone was proficient in reading, of courseafter all, one had to read the daily screen to know the news and things that were going on. And all children learned how to type before they were five years old. But writing was not something that was used anymore, and it had become almost socially unacceptable to write anything. It wasn't against the law, but it certainly was frowned upon.
But Alan wrote anyway. The gift of handwriting and penmanship had been taught to him from his father, and his father and his father before him. At the time of his great grandfather, being unable to write had been considered illiterate. Pens and pencils, which had literally become obsolete, were ver
CelebrationThe night begins with bile-blocked throat and half-sandy eyes. Atop sheets that haven't been changed in forever, atop a bed that is sour with lakes of sweat, I roll over and retch. The floor is a million miles away. I seem to be clinging to a puffy white cliff. There is a metallic stench that shoves itself up my nose, my mouth, and with it, a drip-drop sound. There is someone else in my room.Celebration3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I sit up just as an insistent whisper starts. "Who's there?" I say loudly.
"Calm down, Quint. Be still, Emma. We're discovered, Veronica."
The voice mumbles and fumbles, but also somehow shines with a proud, dignified youthfulness. Though my stomach has not quite settled, I swing off the bed to investigate. My hands spread and swim as if through cobwebs. Icy fingertips tap my nape, and I stifle a scream. I turn. There's a girl, young, maybe eleven. Hair a dark and voluminous curtain, eyes rapid-blinking sirens.
"Hello there, friend," she says.
"Hello," I say, my heart slowing because I know
Date a girl who drawsDate a girl who draws.Date a girl who draws3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
You know the one. Her bag will be filled with discarded pencils and pens, scraps of paper with mindless doodles on them and blank books sticking out of her bag. She's the one who spends an hour trying to find the perfect sketchbook, only to pick up three more because she just couldn't help herself. She's the one hunched over in the coffee shop, rain or shine, the gears in her mind turning and turning while her hands move to catch up with every idea she has. She's the one who's too focused on what she's doing that her coffee's gotten cold and the people around her peek over her shoulder but she doesn't realise.
Compliment her drawings.
Ask to see more.
Turn the pages carefully, gently. Look at how hard she pressed the pencil into the page, the failed drawings, the successful ones. Look at the careful lines, the messy ones, the ones that give the drawings life. Linger on the pages you like but don't touch the drawings. Look at them carefully. Remember them.
Sounds Like MauveWhat had finally driven her over the edge, Dr. Schwartz recorded, was that she couldn't hear the grapes.Sounds Like Mauve3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Certainly they tasted fine, at least Marian made the same happy sounds she always made when she plopped a seedless red into her mouth and squeezed it with her teeth. The anomaly occurred when they opened her visor.
"Dr. Schwartz?" It was one of the new nurses. "Dr. Schwartz, Marian's parents are here. They said you called?"
"What? Yes, yes, I did call them." Schwartz sighed, tapped a few more notes and slid the stylus back into the sheathe on the side of his tablet. "How is she?"
"Asleep. The sedatives have taken hold."
"Good. I'm going to bring Marian's parents in to see her. I would appreciate it if you could remove her restraints for a bit, just until they leave. Would that be a problem?"
"Of course not, doctor. I'll take care of it."
Schwartz shook her father's hand with a tight grip, looking the man in the eye. He set his other hand reassuringly on her mother's shoulder, saying
The extremely short storyI once heard the tale of a man who had the whole universe inside his throat.The extremely short story3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Was he a giant?" someone asked.
I thought for a second.
"No," I said. "He was a storyteller."
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
Across No Man's Land0900 hours, December 25Across No Man's Land4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Her name was Anna," the English soldier said, "our wedding would have been today, if I hadn't been drafted. She was always religious, said her childhood dream was to get married on Christmas."
"I had a wife," the German soldier replied in barely accented English. "Broke her heart when the conscription letter came."
It was an odd scene, this was, two people who had previously been trying to kill each other, talking now like old mates.
1200 hours, December 25
"I get letters from my mother every few weeks, she just can't seem to stop worrying."
"Me too, and my son as well. Always warning his daddy not to get hurt."
Odd indeed, but today it was a scene that was being replicated all along the Western Front, enemies brought together by the day of our Lord.
1500 hours, December 25
"Could I join you for lunch? Our next shipment of rations hasn't come in yet."
Men who had been fighting so brutally the day before, laying down their wea
The PianistA warm, lilting melody wafted through the nightclub, nimble fingers dancing over crisp black and white keys as the song of the grand piano drifted down from the stage, filtering between the irregularly spaced tables to fill every niche and recess of the dimly lit room. The lone figure in the spotlight moved gently with the music, her long chestnut hair billowing down her back in loose waves and her wine red dress fanning out around her knees as she sat on the worn leather stool. It was not a complex song she played, with no difficult notes or intricate rhythms, but there was something about it that was so enthralling, so entrancing, as if each sound touched you, clung to you, whispered to you.The Pianist4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
As the tune swelled, as the notes danced, and as music came alive beneath her fingers, the pianist began to remember.
She met him at a cheap, backwater club on a cool autumn evening while playing yet another of those low paid unambitious jobs that she hated but needed to make ends meet. While
Sun CupThe air tingles. It is my spider sense. I scoop up Superman and Batman and run out of the living room and up the stairs and into my bedroom which is the smallest in the house. Then I close the door, but I still hear them.Sun Cup2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Dad says, “Where the fuck have you been?”
And Mummy says, “With my friends.”
And Dad says, “Which friends?”
She went out with Terry. Terry is her bestest friend, apart from me. He let me have Superman and Batman.
And Mummy says, “Lola,” so I guess I am wrong.
And Dad says, “I don’t fucking think so,” and there is a bang and a bang and a bang, like he was throwing things inside the house. I hate him.
I love Mummy. I can’t hear her.
* * *
The front door opens and slams shut. Then I open my bedroom door.
“Let’s go!” I tell my men (Superman and Batman). “The coast is clear and we must complete our mission.”
Then I run down the stairs and I stop because I do
swear by the styx.I fell asleep listening to love songs and water pounding on the window pane.swear by the styx.2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
It had been pouring rain for three long days, so water was gushing from beneath the manhole covers and the morning clouds were perpetually a canvas of rippled slate. Citizens had removed the wheels from their cars to happily use the hover option on their way to work. No one wanted their rims rusted.
The airships wouldn’t be flying again until the sky cleared, in the meantime we were stuck within the city walls. Some desperate souls had spoken of trekking into the outlands to continue work and play without being confined, but no one was that inane. They would be in the city until we were under clear skies again.
I’m stubborn, you know, and that’s why I insisted on walking over to your building through the dampness and the sludge. It came up to my knees in some places, particularly the troughs at the bottoms of hills. Motorists who passed me by, skimmi
ResearchSome writers frequently delete browsing history.Research2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Goodnight Enigmatic SongShe was the song you hear and, at first blush, don't like.Goodnight Enigmatic Song2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Well, you don't know how you feel about it so you keep listening in an attempt to discover how exactly you feel and then you reach the end of the song and you realize, you don't like it; you love it.
That was Grace.
She was my coworker and she was my friend.
We carpooled together, I drove and she slept most of the way.
"Don't get much sleep at night, do you?" I asked her, catching those drooping lids mid-descent.
She looked out the window streaked with rain; it spoke in percussive touches filling the car with quiet overcast conversation.
I felt the warmth of her smile in the corner of my eye. The blur of her hand reached at the window to feel the cold of the droplets.
"When I was a girl, I used to race these. I thought it was funny the fat ones always won," she giggled and I imagined her as a little girl in the passenger seat then, legs too short to reach so kicking, and hair messed in the bac
Pillow MemoriesPillow Memories4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
May 9th 2006
People always told me death was a numbing experience, that I wouldn’t feel the pain for quite some time. It has already been three weeks, four days, and twenty-one hours, and they were wrong. I felt the loss of you that very second in the dreary hospital room. You were barely conscious, but Robert and I talked your way into a private room. Small, and unnaturally white, but I know you preferred the privacy over the bustle of the wards – cheery blue-gowned nurses, and the sickly aroma of flowers hurriedly purchased from the hospital shop by hoards of reluctant relatives.
I didn’t bring you flowers. Instead, I brought you photographs, pulled straight from the albums in the spare room. The first was that photograph you took of me with your very first colour-film camera in 1975 1977. I had to take some time to remember the year; you know how I get sometimes. It’s the one in which I’m holding little Annie in her
No Scope RequiredNo Scope RequiredNo Scope Required2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
“Hey, wait! I recognize you!”
That was the guy. I was sure of it. They had said he had a face that time had not been kind to. There was also the glass eye, stricken, horrified, even without a pupil. That was the guy.
He punched me square in the jaw. My vision dimmed, but I wasn’t out. I kept a tight hold on my case. He kicked me in the ribs. I choked, coughing up my lunch.
“You tryin’ to get me killed?” he said, his growling, gravely slur as hard as the pavement. “Forget you ever saw me. Or else.” Then he ran, coat flying along behind him.
“Wait!” I said, wheezing. I ran after him, pushing past pedestrians peddling on street corners. He caught sight of me and picked up the pace, holding onto his hat as he sprinted. My large case slowed me down, but I was determined. The chase was on.
He knocked people aside, using them as barriers. I leapt, ducked, and dodged around everyone. Apologies were made when m
Test Tube MermaidIt was completely dark in the science labs. Adam had come down in search for a document for Dr. Alvastein, and noticed that a soft greenish-yellow light shone from one of the doorways. He stuffed the papers unceremoniously into his backpack and walked into the room.Test Tube Mermaid3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
At first, he couldn't reconcile what he saw as reality. A huge tube stood in the center of the room. It reminded him of the incubation tubes from Avatar, only this one was vertical. Inside was a mermaid. Her gray eyes snapped to his as soon as he entered the room.
As if he couldn't help himself, he walked towards her. Her eyes dropped, but he couldn't stop moving towards her. Her hair floated in front of her face, obscuring it from easy view. He slowly raised his hand to the glass, but she didn't look up again. She just floated in the water, her dorsal fin slowly waving in the water. Every line of her body spelled exhaustion.
He tapped on the glass softly. Instantly, her head snapped up and her eyes locked with his. She bar
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
SliverThey say that if you stand in front of a wall of glass at exactly four minutes past midnight and tap your fingers on it three times, you can open a door to the void beyond this world. It has to be somewhere you can see your reflection, and see through it, hovering like a ghost over the darkness beyond, somewhere dim enough that you can't quite tell the difference between light and shade. And unless you hit the glass where you touched it, shatter the half-formed image before the fifth minute strikes, that door will never close.Sliver3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Celia Gray has never been one for urban legends. So much so, that she would never turn down a chance to prove one wrong.
The girls are in the middle of their third round of Truth Or Dare when it's brought up for the first time.
"Come on, Angie, it's almost midnight!"
"What's wrong, scared?"
"No, II just ...it's my house! I'm not smashing my balcony door."
"Jeez, guys." The five faces turn at the third voice. "We're fourteen no
Sleeping Beauty RevisitedOnce upon a time, in a kingdom that's probably really really far away from where you live (really), there was a king and a queen who were having some troubles.Sleeping Beauty Revisited4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Now, here's the part where the kids start asking the awkward questions, and mothers are forced to give inane, quaint little explanations while quietly contemplating which rail to run your narrator out of town upon. I wouldn't think to speak for you, but personally I would rather avoid all that possibly-unnecessary ugliness, and shall instead lightly skip over the subject as tastefully and briskly as possible:
They couldn't seem to have a baby.
No matter how many times they tried, no matter how many letters of complaint they sent to the Stork's corporate office, no matter how many karma points they racked up through assiduous public works donations, they simply couldn't get it done.
It is now safe to let the children see the book again.
Meaning no offense to the good king and queen, the years passed th
And a Sixpence in her ShoeSomething Old.And a Sixpence in her Shoe3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The first time we meet I am letting a cat out of my bag and you are skipping rocks and skipping school. At first glance I can tell you are broken, with your tired eyes and quivering smirk, and at second glance I realize you are beautiful.
As the cat runs off, a black streak melting into an oil portrait of the woodsy lake, you notice me and tell me your name. In return I tell you a secret.
Secrets, we soon find out, are the oldest tricks in the book.
After we meet each other we find ourselves together time and time again. At the ice cream parlor, the Cineplex, and the animal rescue center. I am busy picking up more cats to free, you are busy trying to stop me.
By that point our fates are inseparable, our secrets are inseparable, and we are inseparable.
You slip a worn diamond on my finger months later, a blatant promise. I accept it with a kiss, and though you may be broken and I may have compulsive cat-liberation tendencies, we marry weeks later.
PhotographSix year old Rose decided that today would be the day she asked her grandmother about the painting.Photograph3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
It always held her interest, magic upon a canvas. Perhaps it was the rich colors that shimmered under the perfect lighting. It could have been the girl captured within the painting. Maybe it was all of those things, but she had an idea on what it truly was—the eyes.
They were created by the tip of a brush, but carried more life than anything she had ever seen. Color of ice blue, they carried familiarity, warming the inside of her chest. The more she stared, the stronger it felt.
Rose entered her grandmother's living room to see her standing motionless below the giant painting, which stretched over four feet on the wall. Every day Rose spent the afternoon over here, her grandmother would stare at that painting, not a single world falling past her wrinkled lips.
Rose tugged on her grandmother's sleeve and asked," Grandma, how come you look at that painting every day?"
Her grandmother looke
Living AnticipationWhat she craved was hunger. It took a semester for me to learn that.Living Anticipation3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
She was an exchange student from Italy, a college sophomore, and I was a grad student assisting her ESL class. The class was mandatory her first semester in the States, but she didn't need it. She didn't need a tutor, either.
So, we were lovers.
Every Wednesday, in my far away apartment in Brooklyn, we met and made. Every Wednesday, she would arrive on the N train from Manhattan and let herself in. I left the door unlocked all day, because she would never give me a time. Answering her phone was her lowest priority. All the world could wait for her, it seemed to me.
When she arrived, it was always with a kiss. There were hardly any words at first, just her on her toes and me leaning down to meet her. She was 5 foot tall and all of nothing in weight, and never would I call her beautiful. She was pretty: olive skin and brown hair on youthful frame. Her ac
Away from NeverNeverLandMoney is dirty. Leaves invisible yuck on a person; stains fingers, smears over skin and catches under nails. Festers. And then hands turn into pincers to take and eyes small greedy and black. Skin hardens to bounce back ugly words and back curves under weight of things. Lobsters, fat and red.Away from NeverNeverLand3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Marriage is scrubbed. Clean and pretend. Perfect white dresses and kisses put and planted. Brides march and grooms promise so hard. Military of gowns with bow tie generals. An army of high heels and flowers landed in laps. Marriage spreads. Infects. Zombiefying disease. Shuffle, I do, brains.
Driving is fickle. Slide into each other, through each other. Blood and bits go with them. People cry over tombs and insurance papers. Or nothing. Home again, uneventful day. Locked behind wheel, over tarmac, lights suspended like vultures above. Danger, danger. Promise of convenience. Thrill. Like riding a shark.
Work is uniformed. Slotted, easy, organized files. Tags meaning le
The ChalkboardWe had a chalkboard on the back wall of our kitchen. It was green with a wood trim and big like a front door. It did more harm than good I think.The Chalkboard2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I was nine and my big sister seventeen. Every morning we ate breakfast together across from each other and it was usually the only time I saw her.
Every morning mom wrote a new word from the dictionary on it. Winsome. Subliminal. Inept. The word in red chalk and the definition in cursive white. Every morning a new word was there, under the Maxim — a short, pithy statement expressing a general truth or rule of conduct — mom made up and taped onto the top of the board.
The Early Learner Bird Gets The Word.
Between bites we said the word and the definition, over and over. Dad liked to say we sounded like broken record players. Mom said we were learning by Rote — mechanical or habitual repetition of something to be learned. After I said it ten times I could ask to be excused from the table.
It’ll let you express yourself b