dear teen meDear Sarah,
Remember that time you tried to top yourself by hiding under the covers? That was hilarious. I remember you tugging at the edges of the blanket and praying, without a shred of scientific evidence, that the lack of oxygen would be enough to kill you. You sat under there for something like fifteen minutes before you gave up and went to make a sandwich. But while you were under there, choking a little on your pillow because you never washed your sheets, I remember you thought someone was watching. Someone who understood your suffering. Someone who understood you.
Kid, that was me. And I've got two words for you: man up. Life can get a whole lot harder than this. Before too much longer, it's going to. And by the time you get to my age, you're going to be glad.
Why were you
Five Seasons (Alternate) There was this moment, early last May, when I could have glanced up from the book I was reading at the breakfast table.Five Seasons (Alternate)2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I could look out my window and see you standing on my lawn, this waif in a windbreaker grinning at a daydream you're probably too old for. I could bring you an umbrella. I could invite you in for coffee, and we could lose the whole day debating questionable Scrabble plays. We could take to the streets after dark and try to find an all-night diner that will feed us both for less than fifteen dollars. I could fall in love with you.
But I don't.
You go home with nothing but a story about how springtime leaves you feeling lonely. Your roommate blows off a dinner date to take you out for drinks. You send a Chardonnay up to the stage between sets and the singer takes you home.
The new girl at work works up the nerve to ask me out.
I don't have a reason to say no.
Nothing to See (Being Revised)I wouldn't have taken any notice if it hadn't been for the laughter. It wasn't merry or even cruel. It was the barbarous laughter of evil and vicious darkness and it chilled the marrow of my bones. Turning my head to look down the dim alley, I saw them: a semi-circle of four men focusing on their entertainment for the evening—namely, a fifth fellow and what I assumed was merely a cheap piece, some drugged up doxy earning a wage for her next fix.Nothing to See (Being Revised)3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Oh God, how I wish she had been a whore. Some pathetic moll who let herself be roughed up and down for a few bucks, but this was no whore. I wasn't innocent; I'd seen plenty of cocottes and the looks in their eyes that craved money or men or both and I'd witnessed the haunting desperation for something better, along with a resignation to what they had. This woman—so very young—this wasn't a two-bit cyprian, down on her luck, trying to make a dollar and feed a habit.
Bruises marred her
First Day of School."Miss, miss!"First Day of School.4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Sit down Gerald. Waving your hand and jumping around will not make me choose you quicker. Everybody will get a turn. Now, Natalie."
"Stand at the front then. There. Nice big voice."
"whatididonmyholidays by Natalie Marsh. What I did on my holidays we went to the beach it was nice and su....sunny. I had ice cream and I went on a boat. The boat was nice. The sea splashed up and we all got wet. Then there was a shark and it ated us and we all got dead TheEnd."
"Very good Natalie. Well done. And you spoke nice and clearly too, but try to be a bit louder next time. Now who's next? No, Gerald, I will not tell you again. Sit down. Now, Kyle. Your turn."
"What I did on my holidays by Kyle age six. What I did, I went to the zoo. I went... no, wait, I know,
plumbumshe has a heart of goldplumbum3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and she, a heart of lead
and she, a heart of uranium.
and they go walking sometimes, the three of them.
gold is confident in her worth,
bought and sold and bought and sold
the virgin whore
and lead behind,
heart heavy in her chest
guilt from bullets
and pride from pipes
and anxiety from irreparable brain damage
and somewhere off to the side treads uranium,
white skin glowing,
thin frame for a dense core.
Expunge It starts like the bristling detachment of Velcro or the arrogant snap of a rubber band on your wrist. The cringing, ripping sound, the reflexive quick sting, ringing vibrantly on in the moments after. Like a bell that tolls a beat of hours that is overlooked in the passing, then counted by recalling rhythm afterwards. Instinctually, you want to keep going, keep climbing, over rubble and debris. The day has long since ended as you move through stark jagged blackness. You check the breast pocket of your jacket for a match. You strike the little brown line, once, twice, three times and light the now apparent hallway. The match burns down to your fingertips and dies. You let the remnants of stick and ash fall on the floor of the thick carpeted rug, decorated like elevator music, and see that your panoramic view of atmosphere stays alight, and right in front of you your eyes are beholding a door in your path.Expunge3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
You can’t open the door by force. Your elongated appendages, unique
mutethings have been easiermute3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
without words &
we pretend neither of us care;
laughing and choking
on puns &
when you bend me over nouns
the words are there waiting to be spoken
me . you . love
my dear, we've been mute
for so long
speak to me.
for onceColdfor once5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
like the cavern where crimson vellum once resided
Drenched in reticence,
your empty blue eyes do nothing
but freeze the blood in these veins
surrounded by phantoms,
i lie in the dark next to your fading silhouette
between sheets that hold so many memories,
they are empty,
like the chestnut eyes that bore into yours
And as the rain falls harder
as it falls faster
washing down the streets
through deep alleys,
down endless roads,
i pray it takes me with
homeYou once told me that Star Wars felt like homehome2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
And I laughed because
It sounded like such a strange declaration
And seemed so out of the blue
But then I started thinking
What could possibly remind the homeless of home?
note the difference between house and home
And I thought to myself that night
Long and hard
As I held you in my arms
In all my thinking I found that each place had a memory
But I could not bring myself to call any of those places
Because I am among the homeless
As I always have been
So I thought to myself some more
And after quite some time spent dreaming of long empty houses
I realized something
You remind me of home
Of warm nights spent with the one you love
Of laughing uncontrolably for ages
Of kisses stolen long past midnight
Of hopes and dreams and happy memories
The Importance of Gold FlecksHereditary.The Importance of Gold Flecks3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
I learned the meaning of the word when I was young on a summer afternoon. Too hot to play outside, I was sitting with my dad on our blue couch with the small white polka dot fabric. In retrospect, it was probably a tacky piece of furniture, but love is unconditional when you are small, and I sure did love that couch. I remember my dad watching Winnie the Pooh with me every Saturday morning on its spotted cushions. That day, though, we had a conversation about eyes that I never forgot, and even then, its deeper meaning was not lost on me.
"Daddy, your eyes are green like a cat's," I said.
He smiled, and told me that mine were also green, but unlike his, they changed colors. "Sometimes they are blue. Your eyes were so blue when you were a baby! Big and blue.... Someti
despondenti.despondent3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"are you sleepy today?"
"but you were sleepy yesterday."
she stirs her pomegranate green-tea until it turns from clear to purple
setting it on her bedside table and climbing back into bed again.
her fingers follow the bluer-than-usual constellation veins on her wrists and down
to the freckle on her forearm and then the scar on the inside of her elbow
crossing the tendon as if it were crux.
and then she remembered that God hasn't been with her lately.
today is long and sunny but when she steps outside the humidity creaks her bones
and her skin starts to inflame.
she assumes that if getting the mail is a struggle, having a child would be too.
often times when she sets her tea down she remembers that her Bible is in the drawer beneath
along with the crucifix necklace that her mother made her.
her husband comes home late nowadays and she never questions why that may be
because she knows.
she would do the same too if she had a wife who took four different
How to Sleep and Never Wake UpThe year they discovered my best friend, twenty years old and silent under the heap of her wrecked car, I learned one can sleep forever and never wake up.How to Sleep and Never Wake Up3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
That year, her sister, only seventeen, ate magic mushrooms and lost her mind and her brother, fourteen, started running and stopped eating and I didn't eat magic mushrooms but lost my mind anyway as everyone watched my skin, too white to be real, disintegrate before their eyes.
That year I flew to Colorado to see an urn surrounded by pointe shoes. It reminded me more of a wastebasket than the last I would see of the girl who shared my soul. Her sister ran naked through the street a few days later after ingesting a certain fungus at her school's homecoming dance. Most say it was the drugs. Maybe, I said. But I knew exactly what it was. Her brother started walking with his feet turned out, a remnant of his ballerina sister instilled in him. I ripped the flesh from my arms, hoping to find her somewhere underneath my fingernails until a
RatsWhen I was a little girl, I went to church. Our church was an illegal one: the building was unregistered.Rats3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
We would sit on the benches made from stolen floorboards and listen to a man dressed in black as he read us tales of angels coming to save righteous men from evil, their swords clean and their trumpets blaring.
The man dressed in black was old. He was sick. His Bible was missing pages.
One day in March, my mother turned to me and said clearly, "Masha, I want you to remember something for when you grow up." Maybe she knew she was dying. "God loves murderers."
I just looked up at her, thumb in my mouth. My mother was still a beautiful woman. She was young when a man at an after-riot party had given her a child inside of her, a bruise on her face, and a few kopeks for her trouble before running away forever.
So I watched the dirty gray sunlight washing through her sickly blonde hair, watched it illuminate the dark hollows of her eyes, watched her face, and asked, "Why, mama?"
compareeins.compare3 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,
a ribcage drenched in dusti have your ribcage, you said.a ribcage drenched in dust3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
what should i put in it?
i told you i'd always wanted a fire,
the kind that would fill my eyes with starlight
and pump my blood full of passion, but
you're made of wildflowers, you said.
a fire would burn you to ash.
you wanted to fill my chest with
the sound of a train, whistling
far away in the night;
with the sound of rain smacking leaves;
with the sound the wind makes
when it seems like it's trying to speak
and you wanted to throw in the
smell of midnight in august
and the feeling of sand being
sucked out from under your feet
when the ocean inhales,
and the strange little moment of
bittersweet joy you get when
someone else puts your soul into words
and you realize you're not as alone as you thought.
i told you that if i had all that inside me,
i'd ache all the time
and you smiled a sad little smile,
because you already knew that ache.
because you were a writer, and you ached all the time.
i've got it, i said.
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
GrandfatherLancaster Pennsylvania.Grandfather2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
July 3rd, 1978.
Eighty-two degrees outside.
Driving sixty eight mph down Millersville road
past miles of cornfields
And everything is silent.
Except the faint scream of wind escaping through the cracked driver side window
and the dull thud of tire treading on the newly paved road.
trying to understand,
while trying not to think,
while thinking too much,
while being silent.
And suddenly its
March of 1968
And Calley is calling
“kill them all dead”.
And he sees his daughter,
her Agent Orange colored curls
clinging to her face like napalm sticks to melting bodies;
her eyes burning brighter than Hanoi and Haiphong on December 18th, 1972.
He begins to cry
because its still
July 3rd, 1978,
Five pm, and
eighty-two degrees outside.
But in his mind it will always be March of 1968
or December of 1972,
because for him the war is still being fought;
monks and Morrison still burning;
Saigon is still screaming
like it was on April 30, 1975,
AttentionMisha found America agreeable, for the most part there was the Boston traffic, but it wasn't as bad as Moscow's, and the food was overly rich and too abundant. But the people of the city were positively warm compared to the Spartan attitudes he knew, he hadn't had a single dollar stolen from him, and the university kids couldn't keep their eyes off of him. Not even the boys. He'd heard catcalls walking by a gathering of young men, the kind he'd learned to call "bros." It was his hair, maybe, or the way stubble refused to show on his face: in America, you could be anything other people wanted you to be, it seemed.Attention4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
He told Sasha about it on the phone, who laughed at him. "You're getting a big head. The Americans are gawking at you because you don't look like them."
"I don't think that's it." Misha took a handful of almonds and threw them in his mouth. He knew Sasha would doubt him he always did, dwelling in what he called his "nativist cynicism." It didn't seem to involve m
Loss and the Five Stages of GriefLoss and the Five Stages of Grief2 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
The five of us bought two pipes on University of Houston dime in likely the only hookah bar in St. Louis, Missouri on a Sunday afternoon. Something we do as a team to calm our nerves after a long weekend of competition in a cold, damp city. They were real fancy pipes too – tall, glassy and gold. Two flavors for each pipe - watermelon-mint and strawberry-mint. David says mint keeps the smoke cool and flavor level. He was a red headed Syrian who had his own pipe at home and has been our debate captain for three weeks. Only a little while ago he had mustered enough courage to admit to everyone he “was conservative, but only a little.” Smoking hookah is very popular in Syria, embedded in the culture. We figured he knew what he was talking about. The bar was empty except for the owner who was happy to have customers but not desperate enough to forget carding us for use of his pipes and liquor. He showed us a room off to the side full of lar
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
A Note on DrowningI am writing this letter for myself. If you have found this letter, please give it to me. If you find that I lack the will to read, if my mind is gone, if my hands are bloodied, tell me at least, that the song is near its end. If I am dead [indistinguishable]A Note on Drowning3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
[Written in the margin: IF I AM DEAD THROW ME TO THE SEA]
In laying out the bones of my terrors, a solution may be found.
I’ll start before the beginning, when Mother took me for walks on the beach and told stories. Together we missed my father, who sailed the sea. These are my earliest memories, but I remember things had always been this way. We walked together, and I counted my many steps and Mother’s few. When I stretched my legs, I could make it so my path went over only her footprints.
The sand was soft where she had stepped. Elsewhere was gritty, and unclean.
I was young for all of Mother’s stories. Here I will write the relevant one as best I remember.
“A sailor was on a ship. This ship was far of
This Is Why We Can't Be In LoveThe day we first met, she was naked. The empty gallery had turned the A/C off and she said, "it's hot, too hot for clothes," and she stripped down to skin. She was pink and raw from sunburn, shiny plasma peeking out of translucent cracks in her epidermis.This Is Why We Can't Be In Love3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"How many times have you done this today?" I asked her. "Also, hello."
I know I flushed pinker than her, fully clothed in my capris and navy fingerless gloves even though it was already July-- burning for her, because she didn't seem to notice her own skin.
She smiled, asked, "Am I beautiful?"
"I don't even know you."
"Okay," she said.
"I have to go," I said.
* * *
She was still naked, our second encounter. I was eating a blizzard in the Dairy Queen and she was sitting at the counter with the tall stools. I tried to avert my eyes, to focus on whatever was outside the window in the parking lot, but she caught my gaze in hers and trapped me. As I watched her, she grinned and twirled, bare feet on the linoleum floor,
WanderlustI've been sleeping with my jeans onWanderlust4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and seatbelt unbuckled,
So I can leave early
before my regret wakes.
In the check-in, on the road,
I distract myself
Walk, go, leave
go further, leave again
I like my life
I never meant to break your
(steady and warm)
But truer ways of joy I found
on the road,
in long railways and stranger tongues
And I'm sorry that we never
Quite catch up with each other.
I never loved goodbyes,
but I love leaving all behind
In the movement I found tranquility,
easing for this burn.
Don't think I'll be able
To ever forget you, no
You're like Venus in the nightly sky,
guiding with your sulphur burn -
you left a mark in me,
in the air I breathe
Though we never quite catch up,
we never quite meet.
And it breaks my heart either way;
I don't want to leave,
but I cannot stay.
The Real-Life Stats on Spontaneous RomanceShe singled him out of the rest of the people in the waiting room, because he was wearing an ascot as a scarf like he didn’t know the difference. Maybe he didn’t. His shoes didn’t match; one was red and the other was black, though they were both chucks. Behind his glasses, his eyes peered out a pallid, self reflective grey.The Real-Life Stats on Spontaneous Romance2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
An image of him smiling came to her, and made her smile in turn. Then she decided to notice the empty seat beside him and got up. She sat beside him with a whump sound and he didn’t look up. This one looked promising.
“So...” she said, “have you noticed that the lady over there, the one wringing her hands like that, is twisting a ring, but it’s on the wrong finger to be a wedding ring?”
“Uh...” he looked up at her, “no?”
“There, she’s the one in the only cushioned chair in here. The one with the hat.”
He looked over, and then down again.
“Yeah, I guess she is.