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
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.
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
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
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 Kotatsu2 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
Thirteen Cycles of Dreams "That first 'night' I read myself to sleep, a normal thing to do here.Thirteen Cycles of Dreams4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Nothing really happens here anyway except a trip to the pantry and library.
"I used to go outside the spacecraft a lot, but not much anymore.
"Lost my nerve when my suit tore and Sally had go out there and rescue a big, old, been-here-over-a-year astronaut.
"I've been above Mars all this time, watching tiny dots of light that may or may not be sentient. It gets tiresome. Houston keeps saying, 'Just watch, Red. You copy? Observation only. No communication at this time. Copy, Red? Roger. Over and out.' I'm sick of watching and speculating about those lights, to tell you the truth.
"Instead I read an 'amazing' amount of ethbooks. That's what Sally says, but she's only been here a few months and thinks the view
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
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
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
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
LegendIt's one of the earliest stories you're told as a child, the one about the Longest Road. The details seem to vary from family to family, but that's not surprising when the legend has been passed down for generations. Some think of it like an adventure, some tell it to their children as a horror story to discourage dangerous thinking, and some just mention it as an old wives' tale. My parents used the horror story approach, thinking it would quell any notions my young mind had about one day going in search of the Longest Road, but it did the opposite. The more they tried to tell me it was a terrifying place that meant certain demise, the more intriguing it became. The story wasn't a warning to me; it was an invitation- a dare even- to go out, find it, travel it, and come back to tell them all about it.Legend3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Before I was strong enough to even pull the string back on my father's hunting bow, I was already planning my quest. Afte
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
ResearchSome writers frequently delete browsing history.Research2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes 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.Sliver2 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
RecrudescenceA man in his fifties lay in his hospital bed, surrounded by white sheets, baskets of fruit, and get-well-soon cards. He tried to sit up, but found himself gasping for breath. He lowered himself down.Recrudescence3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
He closed his eyes, trying to sort out the mess in his head. He wondered what his liver donor was like. Had he, or she, also been lying on a hospital bed? Surrounded by white sheets, baskets of fruit, and get-well-soon cards? No, no, he reasoned. His donor would be dead. There would be no fruit or cards for someone who had already died.
He rubbed his forehead and sighed deeply. It was becoming hard to think. The regret had begun to set in. The years of drinking, parties, women, debauchery, these were all things he shouldn't have done. He should have taken care of himself, taken care of the people close to him. He missed his ex-wife. His latest mistress had been here earlier, but he waved her away. She meant nothing to him. Now he was alone in room, swathed in white sheets.
He was afraid.
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
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
PhotographSix year old Rose decided that today would be the day she asked her grandmother about the painting.Photograph2 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
These DreamsCurt tried to leave while Mom and Marty weren't home. I came downstairs late in the morning to find him in the kitchen with his suitcase on the table. He was trying to cram clothes haphazardly into it. Curt's guitar case was leaning on one of the kitchen chairs.These Dreams1 year ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
“Do you need some help?” I asked.
“No,” he said, not looking up. “Why is it any of your business what I do, anyway,” he mumbled.
I pretended that the jab didn't sting. “You're going to Chicago, right?”
Curt rolled his eyes. “That's the plan. Bus leaves in twenty.” He zipped up the suitcase and pulled it off the table. “I have a place to stay, don't worry. I'll find my way, sis.”
“I know.” I turned away from him and opened my wallet. Behind all my plastic cards there was a hundred dollars. I'd saved it just for this moment.
I faced him and pressed the five twenty-dollar bills into his hand. “You spent most of your money on bus tickets
Blue MutationThe day had started normally enough, with child after child after child coming into my office. There were contrary children, who would clamp their mouths tightly shut whenever I went into my "Say ahh!" routine. There were painfully shy children, who would hide in the folds of their mothers' skirts and peer out at me like I was a slimy green creature from an alien planet. There were babies who bawled endlessly, their bibs (and their parents) dripping with sick. There were teenagers who were undoubtedly dragged here by their parents, and so detested having to sit on the doctor's tablethey were too old and too cool for that. There were obnoxious children, whiny children, fussy children. If a researcher needed a sample set of all the kinds of children in the world, I'd gladly show them into my office, for them to witness the amazingbut not always pleasantvariety.Blue Mutation5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I realize that for a person of my profession, I do not love children as much as I should. However, in my own d
He Comes with the RainRain slides down Yesteryear Antiques' cheap stained-glass windows in lazy swirls and spirals. Tracking a drop with narrowed green eyes, Shay wrinkles her nose and steps around a haphazard stack of Life magazines. A sheaf of her thick auburn hair falls across the right half of her face. Pulling a hair tie from her wrist, she scoops the locks into a messy bun. The lights flicker, thunder rumbling. Shay glances again at the rain's path on the windows. Turning to a set of dresser drawers, she rifles through pens, paper clips, and crayola markers. A wad of teal tissue paper crinkles under her fingers and Shay pulls it from the drawer, unwrapping its contents. A pair of hand-carved bamboo chopsticks, topped with snarling dragons, roll onto her palm. She pokes them through her bun before diving back into the drawer.He Comes with the Rain1 year ago in Short Stories More Like This
"I could have sworn there was a--" A flashlight skips across the debris and Shay snatches it up. Grinning, she clicks the button. Clicks it again. Frustrated, her grin fading, she