On the Sea Beneath the SkyGolden flickers danced on the pale faces of the circle, hushed whispers wafting out from the gathering by the glowing coals. It was the third night of the coming-of-age, the no-longer-little ones from each of the surrounding tribes taken out together in the openness of the untamed world. There were a few in the group that stood out, discernible even in the thick coverings of the night. There was Jiu-yeil, son of the carpenters, impressive form already bulging with strength and muscle more fitting of a man twice his size. The brothers, Senniare and Elieten of cloth-maker, sat donned in simple but the finest of all their travelling robes. And very slightly apart from the throng of a dozen others was the quiet Meiella, orphaned as an infant, niece of medicine woman.
The air was cool, but the wind only light. As the flames burned low, a tall figure stepped out of the shadowsOch'jiana, the leader of the rite. She was neither old nor young, hair pulled back in the habit of the femal
Russian RouletteThey take her on her honeymoon.Russian Roulette3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The wedding was lovely, or as lovely as it could have been with a couple that were more polite acquaintances than anything else and two sets of in-laws as stuffy as a dusty pile of money. They grab her when she sneaks out for a walk one night, two men, beefy, not even bothered to arm themselves. Her last thought before the bag is shoved over her eyes is to wonder how much this would ruin her parents' plans.
She comes to in a small brick room on a sallow mattress, windowless and lit by a cool yellow lamp. There's a man there, standing just outside the barred door.
"Kelly Shale," he says, voice nasally, greasy greying hair half-covering his forehead. She's not sure if it's a question or a statement.
She counts the days by watching the guardsone on day shift, one on night. They're probably the same men who took her, but they stay too much out of her field of vision to really tell. It takes until the third day for the woman to come.
'Meil,' they call h
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
Second Street El stands under muted chrome lights, legs splayed apart and left hip cocked out like the jagged end of a lipstick smear. The soft undercurrent of voices drifts from the club crowd up to the stage, quiet murmured conversations below the chink of glasses and clicks of the mike stand slotting into place. If she listens close enough she can almost hear the bare echoes of a young man's laugh, a woman's soft tinkling sigh, the swell of a family's conversation.Second Street3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"All ready," the man before her grunts around the toothpick hanging out the corner of his sun-cracked mouth. El reaches a hand over to tug at the length of color-faded silk knotted around her left wrist, stepping forward to take the place he vacates. The same hand rises to wrap around the cold silver shaft, glossed lips parting as she ghosts them towards the microphone.
The crowd has dropped in volume, calm falling over the haphazardly arranged three-legged stools and half-rickety tables. It's a quiet she's felt
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
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
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
One More Drink"You want to get a drink?"One More Drink5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Six words. Six little words casually spoken by an innocent man without any idea of their implications.
"You want to get a drink?"
It was only a reunion with an old friend; it was not supposed to become a battlefield. One moment I'm strolling down the street chatting light-heartedly with a mate from school, the next my world is threatening to crash down around me.
"You want to get a drink?"
To him it may mean nothing but a simple boy's night out, but to me it means much, much more.
"You want to get a drink?"
Anxiety, depression, obsession, not caring what I did, who I hurt, how much I lost as long it got me a pint. Bystanders attacked and robbed when cash ran low, barmen beaten and stabbed after refusing to give any more, and every last cent, possession, and shred of dignity sacrificed.
"You want to get a drink?"
Often I woke in pain, sometimes in strange places with no memory of how I got there, sometimes in
Lady DeathThey think Death is the Reaper,Lady Death6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Carrying his scythe,
Able to disappear into vapour,
Like a shadow in light.
But no, Death takes the shape,
Of a person, a woman at that,
With a pitch black cloak a flowing cape,
A crucifix of coal, and grace like a cat.
On rhinestone boots she treads the land,
With midnight eyes she tracks her prey,
A spear of onyx in her hand,
Her hair of ink soaking up every sun's ray.
She dons a studded ebonite vest,
With denim of iron sitting on her hip
A blood stained cutlass at her wrist,
Rings of beryl through her lip.
Her ears are pierced with needle sharp bone,
Her eyelids smudged with ash,
Her mouth a deep, blood-red tone,
the colour of night on each eyelash.
So who is this Queen of Darkness?
Who can she be?
An answer finally comes to a question ageless.
Death, is me.
A Butterfly Flapping Its WingsThe letter was clutched in strong fingers which, had they belonged to a lesser man, might have been trembling.A Butterfly Flapping Its Wings3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
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
Breaking Fall The morning rain fell around me, shining slightly in the light of the small sliver of sun that was beginning to peer over from the East. The movie set I was shooting on was located on a picturesque stretch of grassland, which would have appeared like a Garden if Eden of sorts if it wasn't for the plumes of dark grey city-smoke on the horizon. The cross-country train station was completely deserted. Perfect. There was no one to see me, no one to find me, no one to recognise me...Breaking Fall5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Mr Parker, Mr Parker!" came the shrill cries of the paparazzi as the world famous movie star fought his way from the set back to his trailer. "Could you answer a few questions?" He ignored the onslaught and pushed his way past the hordes of fans, journalists, and magazine photographers. He didn't need this, not now. He had just received the worst phone call of his life and they wanted him to interrogate him about it? "Will you give us a quote?" He
Witchcraft"It is rather unnatural for me to be here right now, but there are not natural times," the farmer said with a grim countenance. "I have come to you because I am going to die."Witchcraft5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The witch leaned forward, surveying her guest. He was not unlike the other men who regularly came to her for advice, with simple clothes that were slightly torn and ragged but still adequate, tanned skin from his outdoor labour, and strong calloused hands from his work in the field. "And why do you believe that?"
"I have seen omens," the farmer replied. "My crops, you see, which I constantly tend to ensure their prosperity, that were grown on the same field that had grown many plentiful harvests in the past, have failed without reason. And last week I went down to the paddock where I keep my cows to find them all lying on the ground, strewn about, as they would have been standing before their lives were taken so suddenly and with no discernable cause. My farm is dead. And it is all in preparation for when I will
ShellsThe fucking psyches tell him to look within and all that bloody jazz, but it's all bullshit. He's killed guys, and that's the end of it. Guys, and girls, soldiers and civilians, until the sound of gunfire drilled into his head and out the otherwise and took everything in the way with itShells2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
It's like those stupid shells his mum showed him once when he was young. 'Course, he didn't think they were stupid then, but what did he know. Just a kid who had no idea what it felt like to hold a cold piece of steel in your hand that explodes in hotness and judges whoever's in front with a wham bam and kiss goodbye, say hi to God for me and give him the finger because I'm a murderer now and I guess I'll be having fun in hell thank you Uncle Sam. Sound like the sea, the story went. Like fish and sharks and shipwrecks and dumped human shit and everything, when all it really is is a couple of swirls of air and a gullible little ear.
Maybe he should just go ahead and turn himself into a shell with it's li
I Once Was BeautifulTime, 'tis he who allows the flowers grow,I Once Was Beautiful6 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
Then throws them away as dust on the ground,
Time, 'tis he who lets beauty come and go,
When he spins and whirls the seasons around.
He changes the living things in the world,
Steals away from us our looks, our beauty,
Leaving only ancient ruins unfurled,
Though he is doing naught but his duty,
He is no villain, no not in the least,
Only he compels us to learn and grow,
With age comes wisdom, like sun in the East,
He will teach us all we will ever know.
I remember yes, remember I do,
Of a time when my mind was still young,
When I laughed and played in the water blue,
And each and everyday I danced and sung.
I do not resent that he took my youth,
Otherwise I'd be forever a child,
I'd rather be old, and know of truth,
Than live ignorant, juvenile, and wild.
But indeed, for this I have paid a price,
Now my air, my energy has faded,
But no, this exchange has no major vice,
For never will I ever feel jaded.
Now I am aged and may seem pitiful,
TwoThe small sliver of sun that was just beginning to peak over the East cast a pale yellow light over the small park, making the drops of dew clinging to each blade of grass sparkle like a thousand diamonds. Two figures sat on the edge of the park on an old bench that once, many years ago, might have been painted green, but now had worn away to the bare, weathered wood.Two5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The day had begun.
* * *
The figure in white took a deep breath, her short summer dress fluttering around her. She closed her eyes and began to count in her head. She wouldn't be staying long, just a minute in the frigid morning air before it would be back inside for her studies. The childhood of a future top grade private lawyer didn't have time for lazing around.
60, 59, 58, not much time. She only had a minute in the morning to ready her mind, then it would be time to go to her morning classes, followed by the day at her expensive private school, followed by more classes with professional tutors, all paid for by
MilagroShe lay on the narrow bed, connected to an almost frightening array of tubes, needles, and drips. Snatches of conversation flitted in and out of her awareness.Milagro5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
" massive internal injury "
" close to death "
" no response "
" organs will fail if she does not wake soon "
She wanted to wake up. She tried so hard, but after two days of trying the small sliver of consciousness she was struggling to reach was only moving further and further away. And she was tired, so very tired.
On the fifth day she stopped fighting.
* * *
That voice. His voice.
"Evelyn, it's me, Adam."
Goodbye Adam. I'm sorry, I can't go on.
Something soft and small slipped into her hand.
"Remember the orange blossom I gave you on our wedding day? We both made promises that day. Fight this Evelyn. Wake up. Come back to me."
I can't fight anymore.
She felt something warm wrap around her fingers. Instinctively, they tightened.
"I know you can hear
Not YouI thought there was a black hole,Not You6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
In my chest, where others have a heart.
I've hurt so many and not cared at all,
But now there's a feeling which just won't part.
I see you standing there,
A victim you would have been,
But now I sit and stare,
Now I think differently.
Your innocence and your beauty,
The look you have in your eyes,
Took me back abruptly,
Took me by surprise.
You befriended me, unaware,
Then started changing me too.
I can't continue, no I can't bear,
To do what I planned to do.
Is this love no it cannot be,
Surely that couldn't come from,
Someone as heartless as me,
Or perhaps I'm wrong.
This I've never felt before,
What is it that you do?
I only know that I can't hurt you anymore,
No, not you.
FearI stand, the night closing around me,Fear6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I stare into the dark whirlpool of black,
I feel the cold wind lash at my skin,
I am afraid.
Nowhere to turn,
Nowhere to go,
Lost in the woods,
Stranded in a void of nothingness.
Rustling of leaves,
Frozen I stand,
My heart racing in my chest,
The silence like a thick blanket,
There is a tap on my shoulder.
I force myself to move,
Bed Time StoryI told this story to my two-and-a-half-year-old sister tonight, and if anyone is wondering who on Earth tells stories like this, just keep in mind that young children enjoy stories of just about any subject matter, as long as it flows and contains elements they like. As for my sister, she likes the planets, bunnies, paintings, and has a habit of memorising names that she hears regularly (say, politicians perhaps).Bed Time Story5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
If you think this is ridiculous, well, just think of it as a very serious postmodern stream-of-consiousness piece.
You know how Mercury is a rocky ball? Well it's very small, so small in fact that it was carried by a bunny. The bunny and Mercury decided to journey to Saturn where they met a television who told them that a bird was going to land on Pluto. And then another bunny joined them, so the two bunnies, the television, and Mercury went to Pluto, where they found the bird that was landing and it was an eagle. They also found a Kevin Rudd Memorial Bunny and a Tony Abbott
Oculus AnimaeThrough common eyes see only blindly.Oculus Animae4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Caveo of MortalitasI seeCaveo of Mortalitas5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Black, a dark swirling cloud that spreads from before my eyes to the edges of my vision. Black, and nothing more.
The soft whispers, all around me, come now, join us, it is time
I have nothing, no mind, no body, just a soul within the darkness. I see the clouds, hear the whispers, though I am not sure whether or not "see" and "hear" are the right words, for I have no ears, no eyes; I just know.
Come now The whispers are beckoning. But no, I'm not going to listen.
Join us But I can't. I have a life to live, a full one, not one cut short so unfairly like this.
It is time But why? Why must it be time? I want my body, my mind, my life. It's too early, I'm too young.
We are all young, young in the face of forever. Life is only the beginning But I don't want to leave, I want to stay with my family, my friends, my husband, my children. I want to stay.
Why? Why wo
Happy EndingsHappy Endings Are Just Fairytales That Haven't Finished YetHappy Endings5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
They stand in the courtyard in their finery, the Prince of the land dressed in a majestic black tunic and the daughter of the kingdom's richest Lord draped in the glorious white silks of her gown. The people cheer as they walk past, throwing ribbons and flowers at the newlywed couple. The Prince basks in the attention, smiling and waving at the crowd as he leads his bride toward the castle gates.
It should be me.
It should be me at his side, wearing his ring, spending his wedding night. How many times had he told me that? How many times had he whispered words of love in my ear, telling me that I was the only woman for him, promising that we would be together forever?
And how many times had I believed him.
I should have known, I should have realised that a Prince like him would never marry a common girl like me. But I didn't. Instead, I lived thoughtlessly by his side as his mistress, his paramour, oblivious to the whisp
Of Men and MetaphorsIt was a dark and stormy night.Of Men and Metaphors3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Really, I mean, you ever heard an interesting story that started on a sunny day with mild cloud cover around an hour or so before dinnertime?
Exactly. Moving on.
The air held a coldness that seeped through brick and stone. It crawled through flesh, freezing blood in icy veins, chilling bones like a slithering ghost in the blackness.
...but not so cold that it was a snow-storm. Cotton candy floating down from an inky sky, shining like diamond eyes in the starlight as soft flakes swirl and dance on feather-light feet in the breeze...
Not quite the image we're looking for.
Rain lashed from the depths of the cruel heavens, wind whipping from the starless smothering blanket above. Thunder roared in fury, cracking alongside his bright lover as she streaked her fire to the lonely earth.
Yes, lightning is a chick. It makes sense. Hair of white-gold light from her glowing moon-face, gown of silver thread spreading down her lithe figure, hem sweeping against the c
I Will Wait For YouThe letter came that fateful day,I Will Wait For You5 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
To tear you and I apart.
The weeks before you were forced on your way,
Were a blur of a blackened art.
For months I agonised for your return to date,
In sorrow deep enough for fiction.
Until on the dreaded list I read of your fate:
"Missing In Action"
In years that passed, I waited alone,
While no news came of the part of myself.
Hordes of soldiers were flocking back home,
But your file just gathered dust on the shelf.
I knew not if you were dead or alive,
I knew not what to do.
I had closed my heart, praying you would survive,
To love again, seemed taboo.
Time flew by and my hope began to dwindle,
Though I still clutched at your small chance.
But soon all was left was a flickering candle,
Quivering in its uncertain dance.
What was I to think, I was torn,
Should I love again or retain my faith?
Surrender hope or stay lovelorn,
Or choose another to take your place?
My anguish one morn was put to an end,
When finally, I learned,
That I had to let go, cou