FFM IVThey were not programmed to love. They were not programmed to feel.
But they were programmed to learn.
It had been seventy-four years since their integration with the humans. Seventy-four years since a single war had broken out. The humans seemed to be fine with them and they seemed to ignore the humans.
On this particular day, a human girl named June was waiting for her friend to meet her at the bar. The lights were dim, and the air was heavy with smoke and filled with a gross but typical scent of oil and alcohol.
So June was waiting for her friend and one of them approached her to take her order.
"Would you like anything to drink?" it asked in its low, not-quite-human, not-quite-machine voice.
"Just a water for now," she said not looking up from the menu.
It made a note on its screen, but it began to talk again.
"Wow, if someone told me that humans came from assembly lines I'd believe them, because you have been made perfectly."
She put down her menu and turned towards it.
The DoctorWhen I was seven, I was diagnosed with emotions.The Doctor3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"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
The Man in the Coffee ShopThe man who works at the coffee shop looks like you. I noticed this some time ago and have since frequented the place. He recognizes me now. He smiles at me when I come in. His smile even looks like yours. He doesn't say hey though- you always said hey.The Man in the Coffee Shop4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I still work at the library even though you're not there.
Sometimes I look over to your desk and expect to see you typing at your computer, but someone else is there now. It's not you.
Sometimes someone will come in who looks like you. Maybe he will have the same hair, same stature, same profile, same laugh, same voice. It's never been you.
Sometimes I drive myself crazy. I pull at my hair and scream 'till my lungs burst. I scream for and at you. I ask how you could have left me here.
Sometimes I allow myself to believe that I will see you again. By chance we will run into each other in a Wal-Mart far away.
I go to the coffee shop on Tuesday afternoons. I order a small chai tea with milk.
Sometimes the man is working at th
ImpressionableYou left impressions in her skin and they sank straight down to her heart. You always told her that she was impressionable, but she never took it quite so literally.Impressionable3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
She was holding memories so tightly that her hands started to burn. Each day a layer of skin would char and crumble. She swept the ash off and carried on.
Sometimes when she felt lonely, she would take old blankets and wrap herself in them. They smelled like the people who used them before her. They have absorbed their dreams, their feelings, their hearts. She liked to hear other peoples' dreams because she never had one herself.
She never felt quite at home. She worried about getting caught in a gust of wind and tossed down in a field somewhere, but secretly, she hoped for it.
She missed you. She wouldn't admit it, but I could see it in her face and hear it in her words.
She lost her right shoe one night. She walked a half mile in the rain without it and arrived at the front door with a big smile on her face. Sometimes I
PersephoneI fed herPersephone3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and she cried
at every frozen sunrise
for 180 days.
With cracks in my heart
caught in my hair
I counted 180 more.
I'm coming out: I'm straightMom? Mum? Can I talk to you?I'm coming out: I'm straight7 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
I'm Just Waiting for the RainHe keeps his umbrella close, but never opened. Storm clouds roll in and out of his life, but they never stop to even wet the ground.I'm Just Waiting for the Rain3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
He wakes up every morning at 6:15, stays in bed for another five minutes, and takes a shower that lasts eight and a half minutes. He eats two slices of buttered toast and a small tumbler of orange juice. He dresses himself in a blue button-down with a striped tie and shines his shoes so that he can see his face. If it's cold out, he wears his black trench coat and if it isn't, he just wears his sport coat. He carries his briefcase every day, along with his umbrella. He can't forget his umbrella. The train leaves at 7:00 and he is at the station by 6:55. He hasn't missed a day of work in eight years.
His career isn't exactly what he hoped it would have been. If he were to think back on it, he would realize that it isn't even close. Thankfully, he never does.
At 7:45 he goes for his morning coffee runblack with two sugars. Provided the line isn't too
LiminalI woke after thirteen hours of sleepLiminal2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and when I looked in the mirror,
there were still bruise-purple
crescent moons beneath my eyes.
tired no longer comes from a
lack of sleep—it has reached a state
of permanence, engraving itself
into my bones. When you ask
how I am, I will now answer:
cold and tired.
It was later that night when I
tasted the liquor cabinet
to see what all the fuss was about.
Whiskey burns as it goes down
and settles in the cavity of the heart,
encompassing it with a hug
that a lover will never reach.
I now want to know if I will
ever be able to melt.
I used to close my eyes beneath
the night sky, as everything in the
universe was staring me down,
and beg that one of the
billions of beings out there
would make me smaller.
If that tiny girl
in a big open field,
beneath the big open sky,
who hadn't ever seen the big open sea,
got her wish,
would she even be able to see
herself in the mirror?
Judgement"You need to stop doing this."Judgement4 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
I am the WriterI am a protagonist,I am the Writer3 years ago in Concrete Poetry More Like This
A minor supporting character
I am the investigator,
The prophetic narrator
I am your hero
Your forgotten sidekick
I am the writer
Day NineteenI.Day Nineteen2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
This building will always
remind me of you.
You left your presence
in its walls and
it creaks like a
I hear you have a
I’ll never know if
it’s a he or she,
and that is surprisingly okay.
You are every cyclist
wearing aviator sunglasses,
which means that I see you,
six times on my way home.
that is the same number
of times that my heart stops
I have a friend with
the same name as you, it
feels weird saying it
I’ve written you
pages of poems,
hoping that your memory
will bleed from my fingers
like a pen
running out of ink.
The results of
this test are
Oh Dear.He is an Oscar Wilde inspired man-poetOh Dear.4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Whose subjects are as real as glass.
He is a silly chorus boy
Spending far too much time in the music room.
He is a reader,
Who hums to himself while his eyes float across the page.
He is real-
But I don't even know his name.
And I am already infatuated.
telling a sad story backwards-17.telling a sad story backwards-6 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
it smells like grief and sterilized metal.
i climb into andrews bed, though the nurses have strictly forbidden it. he closes his eyes and holds me tightly, because he says when he cant see me, it is easier to pretend i never happened to him.
he pushes the cart aggressively down the aisle, pretending to mow over old ladies doing their sunday shopping.
"stop," i say giggling, lobbing a can of ravioli at him.
for a moment i think he simply didn't see me throw the can; it glances off his chest and falls to the floor, exploding in a pattern of red arrows. i don't notice his eyes rolling back in his head or the graceful way his body collapses to the floor.
the only thing i notice is the distinct thudding sound as his head hits the metal shelf and the screaming that may or may not be mine.
later in the hospital he calls for me and says he wants to apologize for keeping secrets, and the doctors launch into a medical explanation of his cancer.
their eyes are sad.
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-"
Grandfather's BirdGrandfather had a pet bird. Just a small, yellow and white parakeet; he named it Georgie, after Grandmother. Every morning, he would wake up at 6 o'clock, make a pot of coffee, grab the newspaper, and feed the small bird a small pile of birdseed. And he would gently carry the birdcage, and place it on the table and talk to her as he drank his coffee and read the newspaper.Grandfather's Bird4 years ago in Scraps More Like This
"Gas prices are up again Georgie, geez, remember when we could pay 20¢ to fill up our car?"
And sometimes the bird almost chirped in response. Years and years went by, and Grandfather grew older, and he could no longer carry the bird off the shelf, but he would still feed and talk to her at 6 o'clock.
One morning, Grandfather found himself barely able to make it out of bed. He still made his way into the kitchen to feed his dear bird. His hand shook and some birdseed fell to the floor as he carefully moved into the tray into the cage. He slowly made his way to the table so that he could sit down.
Teacup FriendsWe brew cups of tea and remember them thirty minutes later. The water is still warm when we pull out the teabag, but the liquid is thick and smells bitter. We drink it anyway;the syrupy liquid coats our throats and stains our stomachs. We drink it anyway, since we took the time to make it.Teacup Friends2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
We figure they are like that; bitter, forgotten cups of tea that we invested so much time in making. (We even give them names: Earl Grey, Peppermint, Breakfast Blend, and Chamomile.)
Chamomile was the first to go, clipping the hair above his ears, buttoning himself up inside a black pea coat, tying it all up with a noose-like scarf around his neck.
Inside we mourned, but outside we laughed about how silly this all was. As if the way he wore his hair determined his newfound spite. As if the pea coat was a rite of passage, a ticket to better things.
But then Breakfast Blend, Peppermint, and Earl Grey followed, sweeping locks of hair beneath the rug and buttoning four years inside their pea coats. (It
Passionate IndifferenceTo say that I have lovedPassionate Indifference4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Would imply that I feel
Something more than
UnattainableThose who are lucky enough to have friends are lucky indeed. For not everyone is so lucky.Unattainable3 years ago in Emotional More Like This
It must be nice to have someone's shoulder to cry on. Someone you can bitch to; someone who'll hold you when you're hurt. Not everyone has someone like that.
Some of us just have friends, only a few, whom we call best friends, but they don't say such things in return do they? No, because we aren't their best friend, we're just a friend. Or worse that weird person they hang out with.
You see they have someone else that they uncover their heart and soul too. Someone they've known since they were children; or someone they met several years ago and became inseparable. I envy them. I envy all of them.
Some of us don't get those people; some of us don't get relied upon. We aren't all so lucky. Some of us are shunned, through no fault of our own, or perhaps through only our own fault. It's a mystery that will always escape me.
How do they do it? How do they make these excellent friends? How do they beco
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
1.1. There are people who do not want an inch less of their fair share of the bus/airplane/movie theater/train/car/park bench/couch and do not hesitate to let everyone know. I do not like to sit in between two people on public transit for fear that I will spill into the space of not one, but two innocent commuters. I make a beeline for corner seats so that I can squish into the extra, empty space and pretend not to see people hesitate before sitting next to me.1.2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
2. This extra layer between my skin and bones is like an armor, protecting my organs from the passing glares shot my way, the snickers, and the people I love calling themselves fatass when they eat too much frozen yogurt. My stretch marks are battle scars from the time something almost made it through.
3. When I was ten years old, my mother took me to the store to buy a new swimsuit, we went to seven different stores because we could not find one that was long enough for my five-foot-two frame, when I asked my mother why I could n
Death"Do you fear death?"Death4 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
For My DaughterDear daughter-I-do-not-have-yet,For My Daughter3 years ago in Letters More Like This
You will be my perfect. You will be my proudest moments in one small person. You will be made in love, or maybe anger, or maybe even desperation. But that won't matter. What matters is what you will be made into.
You will have Daddy's hair and his nose, and my eyes and my smile, the smile that happens not because someone with a camera told you to, but because you're genuinely happy. But you will have your very own heart and will be full of all the things that give you your you-ness. Whether you sing in the bath or make Valentines for everyone in your class or give your last homemade chocolate chip cookie to the boy sitting alone at recess.
I will write you poems and stories about how you are my miracle. I will read them to you sometimes, just to remind you. As you grow, not a day will go by that I'm not thankful for everything you are. You will be dazzling and beautiful and brilliant and compassionate and playful and curious and all of the things
Every Dog Has Its DayThere once was a dog who wandered the streets. He was a kindly dog who did not have a home.Every Dog Has Its Day4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Sometimes, he would see families at the park playing with their dogs. How he wished he were one of those dogs. After a time, he decided that he would try to befriend one of the children that played in the park. He was overcome with excitement and haphazardly ran toward a child while yelling "Hello!" over and over again. He had almost reached the child when, suddenly, he felt a sharp pain in his side. A man had kicked him causing him to yelp in pain. He never went back to the park again.
Despite that incident, it did not deter him from trying to find someone who wanted him. The dog promised himself that if he should ever find someone to love him, he would return that love a hundredfold.
One rainy morning, as he was searching for food, he happened to come across a pet store. Inside, he saw dozens of
Day NineI don’t know whichDay Nine2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I’m more afraid of:
breaking your heart,
or finding that you don’t
even have a heart to break.
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