Fire and WaterIt was raining in Lancaster on September 3rd 1555, and Jane Ask loved the earthy smell that it coaxed out of the soil.
She wiped away the sheen of rainwater from her forehead with the back of her hand and set her small basket of nettles down by the front door. Later she would dry out the leaves and reduce them to a powder; the substance worked wonders on small wounds which refused to stop bleeding.
Jane had always been something of an herbalist. Growing up with only a father, and two older brothers from his first marriage, she had spent the majority of her childhood outdoors. Now practically a spinster at the age of twenty-two, she knew the Lancashire countryside as though it were the dearest friend, and for years now its other residents had come to her for aid. She knew which plants could heal or, if nothing were to be done, could simply ward off the pain.
She sniffed, wiping a drop of cold rainwater off the end of her nose, and looked across her herb garden at Sally. Sally was her co
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 Chandler's Around the WayThe hose slipped out again. Chan cursed, and shoved it back into the incision he'd made, adjusted his mask, and bent over the pump. He yanked the cord, and the pump started to life with a cough of biodiesel. It bounced on the sand as it grumbled away. Chan kept one hand on it and held the hose in place with the other.the Chandler's Around the Way4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
If fucking Fathers would spend the bone on a new one, I wouldn't be all night at this, Chan grumbled. He ached for a smoke, but didn't have the hands to spare. Plenty of hands here, he thought as he glanced at the riverbank. Some of them even had a pulse.
"Hey," he said to whoever was closest.
It was a sunbather. A walker who drew enough bone to slot time on the beach without having to fight for it. She had each arm draped around a man, both of them tattooed in the same place with the same sigil. Chan was jealous. Someday he'd have his own numbers, but they'd be women. All of them. He was old-fashioned like that.
The walker answered without raising her sungl
The Substitution ParadigmThe Substitution ParadigmThe Substitution Paradigm3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Ramu came up to our table. Glaring at me, he said, “You either order something or get out.”
I glanced away from the threat, and turned to Raghav. A single drop of sweat was running down his brow. Ramu saw that too and identifying his prey, he sprung.
Swinging around, he faced Raghav, “Order something or get out.”
Then Ramu just stood there. It was not as if we had rehearsed it before hand, but he knew. He knew that my co-occupants generally folded in the first round. Only the stout made it to second level, but they too buckled under Ramu’s relentless gaze.
I always had a policy of not spending on other people’s problems. My purse was already slimmer than the waist of a size zero model. So, I simply sat there, watching the lion circling his prey.
A few seconds later, the prey went down. “Two coffees”, Raghav said, wiping away the sweat with a handkerchief.
Ramu turned his head back, gave me a leering smile, and we
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
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 Nature4 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.
chromaWe were merely children when the stars came.chroma4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
They rained down from the sky in a burst of light, like shards of glass pouring down from the heavens. Supernovas blooming in the night sky, petals raining down onto the barren earth - angels, falling with their wings sheathed, glowing, as they glided down. We watched, starstruck, as the glow overtook us - we were mesmerized. We waited with bated breath as the meteors landed, the celestial light subsiding as dark forms started to pick themselves up from the dust.
They moved towards us with an otherworldly grace, their steps leaving no marks on the earth as they descended upon us. Frozen to our spots as they approached, our bodies simply unresponsive in their wake. We were paralyzed. They stretched out their wings, embracing us in a softness unimaginable - a polymerization of silky feathers made of pure light, like a soft touch of a rose petal - and suddenly, our eyes were opened. The world was the same, yet so new, as it was washed with a gl
SolsticeOnce upon a time, when you were still sunlighthouses and shimmering existence wherever you were needed most, you found him. He was November, shaky on his first last legs, and you saw through the mind-twistings he feigned to the mind-twistings that were really there, knotted up in his dreams.Solstice4 years ago in Scraps More Like This
You were still birdsong then, and thunderstorms, and your bodyheat melted the frost claws that held him tight. You held onto him as his November deepened. When he howled, you howled with him, and the wind played with your voices and pressed the softness of your lungs against your cageribsand then against each other's.
November became solstice, and you felt him shiver through that long night and didn't mind the coldbitten nails that grazed your skin. He slept when the moon drowned below the treeline, but the iceflakes began to drift in like small animals seeking the pulsing riverheat of your blood, and chilling you. He lay there, vulnerable as his world turned slowly towards the light, and you
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 Dreams4 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
if she were any more tomato she'd be blueberryxvii.if she were any more tomato she'd be blueberry4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
i want to write about how this world of
absolute truth, knowledge, and solid food
that which we hold high between two fingers is always
full of watery applesauce and little white half-truths.
and about how utterly strange
it is that all the simple things that people
write about on pages are, in reality,
very few and far between.
and i want to write about how there is
peace and war and
poverty and treasure and
cruelty and sometimes,
i want to write a poem about why the hell i'm wasting
my time writing poems when i could maybe
actually be doing something productive
or contributing to society or
and i want to write about why there aren't
nearly enough apple trees that grow
in dark moldy closets or underwater
or on the sun or inside craters of the moon
or in the desert or in the deep winter.
because god knows those places
need them now mor
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 You3 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
SouvenirsWhen her mom went to check the mail at breakfast, she returned with a thin box in her arms.Souvenirs4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
It was a package from her father.
Her dad was sort of like a traveler... at least, that was what she assumed he was. His job always had him jumping from city to city, country to country. He'd been to almost everywhere around the world, and every few weeks, he would send her a letter with a little souvenir from his stay. This time, it was a miniature Eiffel Tower.
So he's in France again, she mused, studying the two-foot tall replica. A small chuckle escaped her lips. It was about time he remembered to get it for her! He really should've thought of buying it six visits ago. She opened the small envelope attached to package and read the letter inside with a fond smile. When she finished reading, she stood up and excused herself from the table. Her mom answered with a sad smile as she nodded.
She raced up the stairs and headed for the Gift Room. It was a special place in the house just for h
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 radiation5 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
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
i) Wanderlusti),i) Wanderlust3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The first time I met the girl who started a revolution the sky was throwing down so much rain it felt like we were underwater. It was hard to breathe; and maybe that was because of all the rain, but probably it was because I looked at her face, under this dark red hood, and inside I was a story with all these feelings I could never say. I guess those feelings could only ever become words on paper - words in ink - not the kind I could ever speak aloud to anybody, if only because I couldn't bear for a person to see the look on my face while I remembered. Despite how good it felt - so hopeful, so desperately happy for what it was and could become - at the same time it was drowning in this sea, like the sky that day, for the way that everything else wasn't. And I said, what's your name?
At first we called her August when I brought her back to Jack's flat, which his parents paid for mostly, and which we used for getting high, mostly. She curled up in the armchair and rarely left it from
SomedayJane and Ellis floated parallel to one another across the vast canvas of space, eyeing the marble-like planets that slowly crept past them. Their skin reflected the starlight with a dull orange sheen. Ellis had called it 'planet gazing,' an activity he apparently thought suitable for a date.Someday5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Do you see that one below us?" Ellis said, pointing to a round blue mass.
"Isn't it beautiful?" he asked. "I'll bet it's beautiful on the surface, too. Like the way the dust begins to spiral when a star is forming."
"Something like that," Jane said. She didn't understand his excitement. Planets were nothing interesting. They were just stars without the fire; black holes without the absence of color; asteroids with an atmosphere. They were just specks of light that littered the sky. The only remotely interesting thing she knew about planets was that the gas in their atmosphere were extremely lethal. Big whoop, she thought. Floating, atmospheric rocks of death. Ellis sure knew how to
Gus Number FiveGus Number FiveGus Number Five3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Jenna and Cindy filled their mouths with watermelon seeds, spitting them fast and hard until the air swarmed with seeds like shiny black dive-bombing gnats. “My seeds are winning,” twelve year old Cin yelled, her thin body tense and urgent with victory.
Jenna just kept spitting seeds. Eight years old, she already knew the seeds that flew the farthest would be Cin's no matter what.
Jenna puckered her mouth preparing for another losing bombardment. Suddenly she paused, lips plump and pouting as the mouth of a painted candy box cupid. Spitting the seeds into her palm, she stared at them for a moment, chewing the end of her pigtail. Then anxious with inspiration, she trotted into the house and minutes later reappeared hugging a fishbowl.
Carefully placing the bowl on the steps, she solemnly stared at the rattled goldfish who darted and wiggled his copper penny of a body. But when Jenna scattered her handful of watermelon seeds into the water, the goldfish paused
The Green of my Heartbeats5: Red, rude, a bully.The Green of my Heartbeats3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
She was bored, propping her face up on her palms. Her teacher, high-voiced and chirping in fuzzy green flurries, was writing rows of sevens on the board. White chalk. The sevens were glimmering in turquoise, and she smiled.
Sevens were nice, friendly. Seven would never eat nine. Nine was just a baby, like her brother at home.
She was only five. Fives were bullies, nasty. Bright garish red, like B. B was red, but he was not as rude. He forgot things though. Like his keys. Impatient.
She sighed, her head slipping and resting on her wrist. She could feel her pulse on her cheek.
"Seven!" said her teacher, continuing to fill the board. "Say it with me. Seven!"
Later, they got to practice identifying numbers. She had learned before, at home. Kindergarten was not meeting her new knowledge expectations.
Sitting at the table, she strived to make conversation to ease the ache inside her brain. "I like sevens. Aren't they the prettiest color you've ever seen?"
They boy next
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
Whale Songs of the PacificListen, the girls swallowed by whales are the ones that grow up lucky.Whale Songs of the Pacific3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Listen, no one will warn you about the little boys with the magpie eyes and the fists swinging splinters of glass. No one will warn you that their smiles are sweeter than their words are sweeter than their souls are sweeter than their intentions. No one will warn you of the sheer weight of the world.
Listen, sometimes girls are fragile. Sometimes girls are frothy. Sometimes girls let boys nuzzle "I love you"s into their necks and sometimes girls drink the wine of believing them.
Listen, sometimes the boys really are sweet, and little girls' tart puckered mouths can't taste the difference.
Listen, writers are the ones that drip fishhooks down their throats to coax out their hearts. Writers are the ones who fling those heart-hooks into the sea even if they have a message but not a bottle. Listen, sometimes fish swallow them. Some of those fish sink to the bottom of the ocean with the weight of the world in those heart
A Pocket Full of SkyWhen I was young, my father would take me to the highest tower of Notre Dame precisely once a year. It would be cold. Freezing. But we'd stand there, and take deep breaths of air, and peer down, towards the tiny ants of people below. Down, towards the sprawling city beneath us. It was always winter, when we'd go. Always cold. Freezing, freezing. But however cold it was, and however dull and bleary the weather, my father would ask one thing, and one thing only: that we adhered to tradition.A Pocket Full of Sky5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Lucie," he would say, with the fond smile and kind eyes I always remember. "Lucie, my peach. Whatever you become, and wherever your heart and mind leads you, you must always do for me one small, beautiful thing take a handful of the sky, and place it in your pocket. Take a handful of the sky, and remember, always, that your feet need not always be imprisoned to the ground. Anything you could ever wish for, Lucie, can be yours but only if you study hard, and always feel the freedom of t
WhitewashWhen you're five years old you set a promise in the dark, your sister's ice-queen eyes witness. Millie is sitting straight-backed against the headboard, face wide and earnest, and it seems as if the world has heaped itself on her shoulders, or maybe it's the strangeness of midnight.Whitewash5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"We can't make our wills or anything like that until we're eighteen," she says fiercely. "But I might forget this by then."
In later years you will find time to reflect that you're not as whimsical as Millie; young, you only think then that you could never forget something this important. But you can't argue with the three-years-older she holds above your head (the wisest bestest elder sister in the world.)
Your love for her borders on hero-worship, and looking back, you sometimes wonder if that's healthy.
The door bangs shut. "Jodie!"
How strange, the way it works: your hand is frozen to the table in the way it should have been on the phone, but that was minutes ago and maybe it was delayed-reaction, becau
compareeins.compare4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
the smoke pouring out of her mouth,
(misty coils of a vague filth,
dancing to noir jazz, fading with each note)
smudged lipstick on the side of of her mouth,
and the little streak that crawled to her tooth
when she bit her lip in a supposed wonder,
and her eyes threw a faint film over themselves,
(like an elegant lady wraps a silk shawl around herself in a light breeze)
the light feet of a dancer
whose calluses were hidden under tight shoes,
whose toes would arch like Nut over her children,
(and she or you would spin with the earth, holding her frame as if-
as if earth was something of mass, as if it had a shape to hold onto)
whose leg would stretch over her head,
her arms, long, pretty, snakes, her fingers curled, and her wrists tense
(her eyelashes were grazing her cheekbones,
her ballet whisking her like a beaten egg, and the laces of her shoes
caught on a rusty nail, which sliced her ankle open, a wince danced on her lips,
if teen dreams were teen novelsthere was once a boy who had all the write words to sayif teen dreams were teen novels4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
with all those fancy allegories, metaphors and similes
and antonyms of synonyms, like rails and snares and storms
and organs and trains and drums and hurricanes and
and she was only a girl with plain words, the kinds of things
that are only found in piles of papers and pens, books
she keeps where she sleeps,
that will only break when he leaves in the morning,
but she shares everything, like a boat shares a bard,
like a cigarette shares a lung, like a mouth shares other mouths,
like an artist shares her heart.
but there is a running in her heart:
not that type of beat she got when she was a little girl
and her favorite boy gives her a kiss on the cheek, but like when
he first shared his words with hers,
the kind of thing she gets only with naked skin,
and not like that kind of naked skin, naked, but before that
when she looks up and his eyes shine in that kind of way she thinks
might've happened when shakespeare was a teena