Do you know the taste of the universe?One day, when you’re five years old and made out of fractured sunlight and mirror shards, you sit down on the bench of the MAX train. You’re dressed in your winter coat and boots that are too big and one of your parents has pulled your hat too close over your ears.Do you know the taste of the universe?2 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
You’re sitting next to your mother, and on the other side is a man that smells like loneliness, something that you’ll later know as cigarettes and alcohol and homelessness. He’s crying quietly into the top of his jacket and you’re scared to look because you’ve never seen an adult cry.
The train ride goes on for five minutes, which is a long time to you, and eventually you sneak a look at the crying man who smells like Portland and loneliness, and he sees you. He leans down until you can see the red lines in his eyes and he whispers to you.
“Do you know the taste of the universe?”
And you look up at him with your little-girl eyes and shake your head because you can’t
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
The Danger of Untold StoriesI believe in words. I believe in voices, the unique cries of human beings as they pour their soul out into the sky. But most of all, I believe in stories.The Danger of Untold Stories1 year ago in Editorial More Like This
Stories, be they written or spoken or painted onto the walls of caves, reaffirm our humanity. They give us back our own heartbeat, that dull pulse of blood, but more than that they give us our minds. They let us reach back and see where we’ve been, what we felt, what we believed. They form a mirror, let us see who we are, who we were.
And I believe that everyone has a story that deserves to be heard. But more and more I’m seeing that only some stories get told. You have books for children fully admitting that people have different bodies…but where is the admission of different minds? Why do no main characters have mental illness, or attention deficit, autism or dyslexia? Where are the movies about synesthetes, those with OCD, those battling depression?
This is not just a problem of children’s literature, it e
FemininityI’m a girl.Femininity2 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
When I was young, I was taught being a girl had something to do with whether you sat down or stood up when your bladder was full and which of the bathrooms you went into when you were at a store. In kindergarten I was informed that it had something to do with the “parts” you had, after a classmate pulled down his pants during Show and Tell to show us his favorite underwear, and before the teacher could grab him managed to explain that girls couldn’t wear it because they didn’t have the right parts. And when I was six, someone in the third grade (two years older and still confused) told me that girls have long hair and boys don’t and that’s the difference.
As a first grader, this was enough for me. I was a girl, my brother was a boy, and according to Melina, all the boys in my class had cooties, which were like germs but only boys could get them. I didn’t buy it.
In third grade, I met a boy who had long hair and one of the girl
A Reason to LiveIf only she had the guts to actually do it, to just leap among the cold waves and sink in death among the fish. She breathed in the smell and taste of saltwater, and water sprays hit her face, neck, and chest. She shivered slightly in the breeze from the waves, but she wasn’t really bothered by the chill. What weighed on her mind was something much deeper than the weather.A Reason to Live2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
A pang of apprehension penetrated her heart as she envisioned her body being plunged into the water and weighted down by the strong waves. She thought about what it would be like to gulp in mouthful after mouthful of water, choking and never feeling any relief, but she didn’t think the pain could be any worse than what she was already dealing with.
“Aimée!” The young woman moved her arms in circular motions as she tried to keep her balance. Her mother’s call startled her, and for a brief moment she thought God might be
AccidentThe car wraps itself around the tree in a hug. Glass breaks, metal rips itself against the rough wood and comes away in curls, like shredded skin.Accident3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
The car moves up, almost impossibly, nearly rolling. It comes to rest propped up on the now-supine tree. The right side is in the air. The wheels are still spinning.
All I can hear is a ringing, and blood is pooling in my mouth. I can feel it spilling over my teeth, staining them red. My head hit the glass. I bit my cheek.
I open my mouth slightly, tilting forward, letting a few drops of red out onto the outside of my lips. They are cut up too, and the blood stings.
The glass is vibrating, and tree leaves are smashed against it. Broken twigs. Snaps of wood. There's a ringing in my head, still. Ringing. Ringing. Ringing.
I am fascinated by the way the tree is moving. It's still moving. Am I moving?
I can feel my brain trying to fumble back to awareness, spraying me with a bunch of nonsense words. Tree. Tree ground rock c
Helicase Helio and I were always sitting on the stairs, chatting about the lamina and occasionally making snide remarks about ribosomes. There wasn't much for us to do. Our job was to simply be, and let the RNA polymerase scribble down the letters on our foreheads when they came around every once in a while. Helio was a G, I was a C. It wasn't exactly fulfilling, I suppose. There wasn't much to be filled. So to pass the time, we talked.Helicase2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"You ever wonder?" Helio asked.
"About...well...what's out there." Helio and I were rooted to the stairs, quite happily, but it was awkward to move in. He kind of twisted in the general direction of the closest pore. "Out in the cytoplasm."
"I haven't," I admitted. "What's there to wonder about?"
"That's exactly the thing. I have no idea." Helio sighed, gazing into the distance. "Somehow it feels like we pl
Polishing VenusI wear a blue plastic retainer at night. It's painful, tight on my teeth, as if my mouth has outgrown it. I don't put it in often enough, so the shape of my jaw twists and changes, until I remember how much I despised braces and consent to slip it in, and I lie awake at night, loathing the imperfection of my teeth and the ache that pulses there as my mouth readjusts to the wires and plastic that force my jaw into the correct position.Polishing Venus3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I wear glasses too ugly things, dark maroon on top, with a thin, squishy plastic wire on bottom instead of another rim. Not many people know I have them. When I was a kid, I had the rimless kind some part of me believed them to be less noticeable. I'd pop the lenses out and tell my father I slipped on the gravel at recess so I could get away with days without the slippery plastic ridge balanced on my nose, and the glances I got for being the only nine-year-old with glasses. Nowadays, I use contacts, and I slip my glasses case under my pillow
Bringing Down SweeneyI asked him who he was, and he said, "I'm Sweeney," and I believed him. I probably shouldn't have, except that it was true. I can always tell when people are telling the truth.Bringing Down Sweeney5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Mum and Dad were still in the last battles of the divorce, so I was trying to keep myself out of their hair as much as possible. This was why I had packed two cornmeal pancakes and an old plastic dish of syrup and was heading out into nowhere, where I wasn't necessarily wanted but sure as hell wasn't unwelcome. Not that I was resentful about it or anything. Nobody wants to fight in an amphitheater. Well, nobody but gladiators, but you don't see a lot of those around these days. Goes to show you.
So out I went, with my book and my pair of half-crumbling pancakes and my yellow wellies and an old, oatmeal-colored jumper that had holes in the elbows. "Get a new one, Linnie," everybody was always saying. The truth was I had gotten used to it, and now it felt weird not to have my elbows out in the wind like that. Out
SadnessI’ve been sad for about two weeks.Sadness2 years ago in Emotional More Like This
When I say I’m sad, please know that it does not mean I am in absence of happiness. There is happiness here. It just has a very short half-life.
The sadness lives in a little tiny circle that is under my skin. It’s like a bruise. Right now it’s sitting off on my right side between my seventh and eight rib.
I’ve been sad for about two weeks.
That’s long enough to die of dehydration four times over.
The sadness comes and goes, and the happiness comes and goes, and there’s this emptiness that sits underneath it.
People aren’t talking to me too much because of how stressed we all are. Finals. But when they do talk to me, their words ping off like stones on a frozen lake.
How are you?
Ping, ping, ping.
I have the scrape the words out of the back of my throat and my chest because they’re stuck.
Words like “I’m fine” are all glued up with words like “My dog just had chemo
Dial ToneRing ring…Dial Tone10 months ago in Short Stories More Like This
“We’re sorry, but the Department of Circadian Rhythms is currently closed so that our workers can facilitate Appropriate Sleep-Wake cycles. Please call back within the set hours.”
“Thank you for calling. We have received a report that you have requested maintenance to be done on your Serotonin Receptors that were installed at birth in 1995. We take all requests very seriously, and a Prescription has been asked to examine the situation. Please note that it may take between four and six weeks for the unit to decide whether to take you on.”
“Thank you for calling the Emotional Support Line, your go-to in times of need! We’re sorry to inform you that you have called the Emotional Support Line more times than the allotted average. Thus, your call will not be taken. Might we suggest calling your own number? Medical professionals often agree that self-help is the best help!”
I want you to kiss meI want you to kiss me.I want you to kiss me2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Not because of you
or me, or us.
Not for a relationship.
Not for the promise of another.
But because I’ve looked
into the mirror these last four
years, and I’ve seen the same girl.
Four years tired
and a lifetime weary,
but the same.
And I’ve never been kissed before,
so I want you to kiss me.
I’m not rushing to grow up,
I don’t want to.
But I want to change.
I want to grow,
and still be the same.
So I want you to kiss me.
So I can grow, and still be me.
I want to grow
and not grow up.
Because growing up
is leaving. Growing’s just
And if I must be known,
remembered as a bit
of broken glass as you
age, If I must be remembered
when you die,
I want to be beautiful.
I want you to carve me beautiful.
So I want you to kiss me.
If I must be condemned
to melt into a drop
of water, indistinguishable,
I want to go a snowflake.
I want to shift irrevocably
and still hold still.
Then the fear of movement will fade.
I don’t w
resipiscenthe was one of those dick-faced kids in shades of bright polyester salmon who seemed to always be laughing or looking at me. an ambiguous-named, feminine-famed all-school american douchebag in those quality leather sandals in the wintertime and golf-green shorts.resipiscent3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
ta give you some background i'm about as far away on the social scale from him as one can get. you know how all the little groups overlap and flap together, pushed around in the wet sand like wave-rivulets blending little facets of stones together until it makes a dune? well our groups---they didn't even touch. i mean you could go from pop-jock to lacrosse to dipper to weed-dealer to hipster to artsy kid to photographer to theatre kid and MAYBE just MAYBE make a weak little chain like one o em shitty-ass jump rings that connect dollar-store lockets. but anyway the point i'm trying to make is we sit on opposite sides of the room and let sociology take its toll.
of course murphy's law works in that i never know anyone. is it that
SuperimposeHe doesn't look like a gymnast. He's all button down shirts and frazzled grey hair framing wire spectacles, a picture perfect professorial archetype down to the very tips of his frayed shoelaces. But he was a gymnast once, or so he tells us, and I believe him because he smiles like he knows something while he's chatting before class.Superimpose3 years ago in Sketches More Like This
It's strange to see that image superimposed over the current one the distinguished professor in pressed khaki slacks and a jacket, worn brown loafers exuding a faintly courteous manner (you can always tell them by their shoes), and a ring on the fourth finger of his left hand versus the athletic kid who went to college for a semester and grew nine inches too tall to keep doing what he loved so he took up a tennis racquet instead. Gymnasts don't wear suit jackets; no steel mill worker has such manicured nails. But the images are all there, flickering just under the surface and bubbling up again when he's recounting stories about his days in Pi
OsmosisMy brother and IOsmosis1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
used to walk on the beach.
We’d step from rock to rock and
end up far out in the ocean.
He’d always climb down
and let the water lick his pants.
I’d look at him with groundless terror
masked as judgment and he’d say
What? We’ll get wet anyway.
I’d always end up in the water,
wet socks and pants, Mom would scold,
but I always acted like this time I wouldn’t.
I knew it would happen, but I never let it,
and when water crept through my shoes
I’d cry for being such a fool, for letting it.
Osmosis be damned, it was my fault
for not trying harder.
Half of my sleeping nights I
dream it all and don’t exist when
I wake up. The other half is empty
and then I dream with my eyes open.
I have this dream sometimes where
all my friends line up and offer me
death. I ask them if they want me to
and their smiles crack and hang sideways
like a nicotine-addict’s when they take
out a cigarette, the I know I shouldn
Whale Songs of the PacificListen, the girls swallowed by whales are the ones that grow up lucky.Whale Songs of the Pacific2 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
Fragile--FFM Day 7Lindsey Stirling blared from my ear buds and I bobbed my head, furrowing my brow. My hand was shoved deep into my purse, searching for my keys. Instead, I found receipts from the Stone Age, a collection of seashells from last year's vacation, and enough pepper spray to blind at least twenty bears.Fragile--FFM Day 72 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Frustrated, I dumped my portable landfill on the welcome mat; lipstick tubes and loose change bounced across the wood and disappeared, lost beneath the porch. Spreading objects out with my hands, I sighed. No keys. "Damn it all to Hell and back ag--"
Glancing up, the box near my door caught my eye. Wrapped with neon-colored paper, a large skull-and-crossbones bow held a handwritten "FRAGILE" note in place. The colors were garish, clashing with the ivory siding.
Wrinkling my nose, I pulled the package toward me, keys forgotten. The paper was slick, slipping against the pads of my fingertips like silk. Examining the box, I flipped the "FRAGILE" note over--and gasped.
Yanking the ear
Love Letters On the TrainDear Stranger,Love Letters On the Train2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I'm leaving this post-it tucked in the side of the train-seat. If you're reading this, you've seen it. I've seen you sit here every few Monday mornings, sometimes tapping a bent, unlit cigarette against your thigh, sipping from your tea (who brings a tea cup onto a train anyway?); sometimes staring at the rain outside, or reading your well-worn, beaten copy of Jane Eyre (I hate that you fold the corners down - it's bibliophilic abuse. I wish the book would papercut you to defend itself a little, but I digress).
You seemed so sad this Monday morning past. Please smile again. I love it when your eyes catch the light of something I'm unaware of, something silently and intimately your own; a secret from the world that makes everything all the more meaningful to you.
- The Passenger
I'm not in the habit of reading post-its from strangers. I found a love-letter hidden in a newspaper once, that the author forgot or was too afraid to send. It made me sad to think
Hubris.todayHubris.3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
than we're ever gonna
i. and we finally did it,
drove to the mountains
and let the mattress
under our love
under the stars
ii. there are things to
iii. my eyes sting like
chlorine, but from
I finally disappointed
the highest order of shame
iv. but you cannot put
people into pockets;
v. and I cannot choose
who I love
vi. your lenses are straight,
elite and proud
mine, open and accumulating
I should run away more often,
we never talk like this
viii. and you have to realise
that I live in a world
that you don't, and you
live in one I
ix. the respect is there,
but I cannot
Of Birds and Wings.Mr. Chuges was a man that didn't like going astray--he had never strayed from the normality of life and would never plan to, that's for sure. He was a man who would rather expect what would follow to having to deal with surprises and turbulances. Mundane prosaism was enough for him to be satisfied. His appearance gave out that much; mahogany, dull eyes which reflected no light, no life, looked through a pair of perfectly-squared, thick glasses. His lips were usually set on a hard line, their corners never lifting up to even fake a smile. A short, pointed beard covered the tip of his chin, giving him an austere look that made his students flinch in fear. Being wrinkled, his face was the proof he had completed at least fifty years of his life, even though none of them had been eventful. Whenever he spoke, his voice indicated no feeling, no emotion. To one, it sounded like it was emanating from a deep, hollow cell as he narrated today's Latin Lesson. He was lifeless. Moving automaticallyOf Birds and Wings.2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
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
Empty GardensIt was a wine-petaled pansyEmpty Gardens3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
that my mother pruned from the garden box;
it reminded me
that I had blossomed late and wilted.
At fourteen I created pansy petals of my own,
waking up with hot-fisted cramps
and the proof I was a woman.
I was not a rose, perennial,
as I went from blooming monthly
to not at all.
I would rather spend a day
curled up like the fetus I may never carry
than flat on my back wondering
why God allowed worse women than me
to bear children.
StrengthMy grandfather was the strongest man I ever met. If you’ve ever seen someone on TV perform some superhuman feat of strength and thought that it wasn’t real, you’ve never met my grandfather. I have seen him rip a telephone book in half. He reached his full height of 6”4’ at the age of fourteen, and by the age of fifteen he had left school to work in the metal works. No one thought twice about it, because he was more than capable of the work and looked older than he was.Strength1 year ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
I am not strong. My joints frequently hurt, although I do not think I can convey to you how much of an understatement the word ‘hurt’ is in this situation. Most people didn’t understand why I didn’t run as long or as fast as the other children, or take delight in the frequent football scrimmages that almost all the boys I knew took such delight in. when I told them “I can’t, my legs ache,” they just told me to be strong.
My grandfather didn’t.
InkYou found me asInk3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
A mess of sharp corners
Someone had wadded me up
And shoved me in the corner,
Trying to forget about
Our shared past.
I guess you were curious
Enough to take a second look,
Smoothing out the worst of the
And speaking soothingly.
You said you could fix it.
And for a while, you did.
I became smoother,
And some of the rips knitted together.
I was still a bit smudged
By my past,
And had some sharp edges.
They made me
And I had a crazy personality,
An odd writing style,
And a habit of not looking
People in the
Those made me
Had other plans.
You made me blunt my corners,
Straighten my lines,
And rip clean my ragged edges.
You made me look at you,
And made me bleed down
To the horizontal blue lines
Of my soul.
Red ink washed the lines away
And grew formless in your hands.
I displeased you,
And you crumpled me up,
And shoved me in my old,
Why couldn't you realiz