The Music in the Water Hank told her not to put her tent by the creek, but she did.
He figured the young girl wouldn't listen to him, whether she was his cousin or not. He was just an old man by her reckoning, and Hank knew many young folks rarely listened to old men.
Hell, Hank was an old man by his own reckoning.
Every winter morning told him that.
The cold said, "You're an old man who can barely get out of bed. It hurts too much to move. Will you make it today?"
He had so far, though sometimes it was dicey.
But Dinah arrived on a beautiful spring morning.
The meadows were alive with wildflowers, bluejays, bees and long grasses fringed with pale seeds.
She drove a borrowed truck packed full of camping gear and boxes.
Dinah showed him the same paperwork that the town lawyer had showed him a week before. She'd inherited two acres from their great-uncle and she'd come from some far away eastern city to claim them.
She was a pretty girl, educated way past
Boylan BooksI first see Neal across the open sparkle mall floor, paused in serious contemplation thought speaking solely to self, whispers not for ears or voices only thoughts, shining thoughts, open thoughts thinking marvelous wonders of books and dust and corporate-but-not bookstores. His hair is green not really but blue and green pirate green, red bandanna is he a pirate? asks the little girl with pigtails and chocolate snot embarrassed mother shoo be nice that's rude tugging hand with look of so sorry, she's five, not smart enough yet, please forgive and Neal with open half-grin smiling not really there but almost, not speaking but almost, not accepting or forgiving or out-loud speaking but just shelving, shelving, shelving.Boylan Books4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
And when I stretch across open sparkle-sparkle tile mall floor (checked with gum and scuffed tile and not-allowed skateboards) Neal looks up, somewhat barely, face open innocent quiet not-there. I ask applications? Are you hiring? because I need a job but
Fight in a Hospital They said she was too old to have a baby.Fight in a Hospital5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Doctors said she'd die if she had a second one.
Lettie thought different about that. Lettie thought different about a lot of things other folks said and thought.
Doctors said she'd die when she had her girl Jaycee ten years ago too, but Lettie was still very much alive.
Well, she almost died, but 'almost' didn't count with Lettie.
She did as she pleased and she had since a young age. That didn't do a world of wonder for her health, but she was happy with Jaycee. Her daughter was a good one, as smart and independent as her mom.
Now Lettie wanted a son because Jaycee wished for a brother.
Jaycee never mentioned a wish before. Lettie thought one wish was the least she could do for her girl.
The ruleShe wouldn't let him make love to her on the bed. Beds are for sleeping she told him adamantly, when he tried to lead her there. Caught in the grip of a feverish, school-boy lust, Mekhi didn't care. It was enough that she wanted to have sex with him at all. He'd do it on a mound of shit if that's what she wanted. Inside a meat locker. Any damn where.The rule3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
When it was over and they lay on the rug in post coitus languor, he found himself curious about her no bed rule. "So you've never done it on a bed?" he asked, voice hushed at 2AM.
She was a long time in answering. Her voice was soft, on the edge of sleep as she confided, "Not since I was ten years old."
A Long End to a Brief Life I didn't know it was illegal to move a person's ashes from the spot you said they'd be (my garage) to multiple others. I put Mom-in-ashes in the trunk of my car because I thought we'd find a place for her soon, but Mom and I went hither and yon while my sister looked for a real "resting place."A Long End to a Brief Life3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I even forgot Mom was there, and we went shopping, to the movies, out to eat. Was it disrespectful? It didn't feel illegal.
When I thought about it, it seemed kind of cozy.
There came the day though, when my sister Jocelyn found a good mausoleum to put Mom at a full stop, the final resting place. I went with Jo, and that's how I found out it was illegal to move Mom beyond the shelf in the garage to the mausoleum -- it was supposed to be a direct line between the two places. Of course I didn't tell the man Mom had been all over town with me.
We had to pick out an urn to put at least part of Mom in (the whole of her was too big,
Flights of Fancy Nature is best seen through a window. Cars are nice, but televisions give a better view. The important thing is to keep a window, any window, between you and wilderness. This is my strictest maxim, a rule of comfort I put aside only once, years ago. I spend most of my life expressing shock when friends say they're going on a hike or planning to camp out.Flights of Fancy4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
It took two hours for Leon to convince me to accompany him on a short ride to the hills. I thought it would be safe. Leon was a good friend. Though he knew that particular day was my day to hit the mall and hang out with the girls, in the end, I still went with him. He said we'd have plenty of time and I could do both. Hah! I was ignorance personified.
Leon worked for a group of nuts who said they save peregrine falcons. He said they protect wild falcons from other nuts who shoot the birds and that his group "manipulates" falcon nests at the
The extremely short storyI once heard the tale of a man who had the whole universe inside his throat.The extremely short story4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Was he a giant?" someone asked.
I thought for a second.
"No," I said. "He was a storyteller."
It Was a Dive She finally went off the deep end. It wasn't a slow event. The girl looked at the olympic-sized pool first, knowing what little kids added there. That didn't make her happy, so she turned her back on it to stand, heels hanging over the edge of the diving board with only her toes plus the balls of her feet to grip it. Then she sprung to make her backflip dive.It Was a Dive3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Penny made a clean dive -- barely any water splashed. She was proud of that, glad her brother watched it to make sure anyone interested would know. She came close to adding pollution to the public pool herself, she was so relieved.
Penny climbed out to crow with her brother, Will. They laughed while she toweled herself dry.
She took a shower alone there, a smile still on her face.
Penny's parents would like this, she knew. For years she'd been afraid to dive in the deep end of the pool. Well, that was over. Even if her folks wanted to see her dive 'in person' again, she'd do it. It felt good. It felt like some
How Did That Happen?by LJHow Did That Happen?3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
We waited awake for our toys to come to life. There was a big moon over the Little Forest, the split tree where our toys played when they woke up. A big moon meant they'd be more likely to play in the tree. Our toys played there on bright nights.
They swung on branches and tumbled down and laughed. They even danced.
My sister and me had both seen them play there before. We'd wake up at the same time. We'd quietly pull up the blackout curtains our Mom and Dad put over our windows. Just like magic, there'd be our toys, every one of them, playing in the Little Forest. It was a wonderful sight and I was so glad my sister always saw them, too!
"Look, it's so bright! It's pure magic tonight," my sister said.
"I can feel it," I said. "It's like light in my head - it's like the moonlight."
And then we were silent, knowing that if we showed too much of us, our toys might put themselves away. I always looked at the toy box when we saw to
And a Sixpence in her ShoeSomething Old.And a Sixpence in her Shoe3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The first time we meet I am letting a cat out of my bag and you are skipping rocks and skipping school. At first glance I can tell you are broken, with your tired eyes and quivering smirk, and at second glance I realize you are beautiful.
As the cat runs off, a black streak melting into an oil portrait of the woodsy lake, you notice me and tell me your name. In return I tell you a secret.
Secrets, we soon find out, are the oldest tricks in the book.
After we meet each other we find ourselves together time and time again. At the ice cream parlor, the Cineplex, and the animal rescue center. I am busy picking up more cats to free, you are busy trying to stop me.
By that point our fates are inseparable, our secrets are inseparable, and we are inseparable.
You slip a worn diamond on my finger months later, a blatant promise. I accept it with a kiss, and though you may be broken and I may have compulsive cat-liberation tendencies, we marry weeks later.
New Year's DayThe first winter was composed of sleeping,New Year's Day3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
flower-like, but this second is like prowling
the gap between feeling and thinking;
limbering up the dawn, unscarfed, uncoated,
with my head like a getaway bag, hastily packed,
a floppy trammel of tossed lists: lists of lies
told and believed that have since
turned into calcitrate in unsunned cloisters,
and I should know the dawn because I've seen it,
and I should know the gap because I populated it
with crows and left-behind items of clothing.
It was like dismantling a spiral staircase
step by step, leaving a sequence of hollows
stripped of the season's riverly cadence.
So I have myself to blame for this desolate winter,
because I thought I could be solved by the same process
by which we build bridges to unnamed places:
one slimy brick before the other, incomprehensibly;
forever imposing axiom upon axiom onto that plane
until the equinoctial day it answers back.
On the Northside of TimeOn the Northside of Time6 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
It was a good day for the dogs and a bad one for the rabbits. I heard the big black dog howl his chase call through most of the afternoon, sometimes near and sometimes far. His little white shadow yipped along behind him. There were long pauses between yips heard. That little dog had short legs and needed extra wind and effort just to keep up.
The air outside was cool and sharp. The dogs ran under the last autumn leaves I could spot out there, out past the meadow. Some of those old trees in the grove stayed green the whole winter long. Most never did. The hunt through the big grove must have been exciting for the dogs. Not for smaller and younger animals.
The dogs came back when the setting sun put sof
caring for p(o)etsscribbling down vicious verses oncaring for p(o)ets3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
tissue napkins while seated at
the corner of a sidewalk cafe is
about as romantic, raw and
honest a p(o)et
-outside of the four corners of your bedpost-
if you've got that person dreading over
drafts and dreams on end
-of you, for you-
consider yourself a new owner
it is now time to
tame this p(o)et's perverse mane
you've got your hands on
a fragile purebred
which can be very tricky for
A Love Story in Four Actsi.A Love Story in Four Acts4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I loved a blacksmith once, back when the sand still clogged up my soul. It was only far after that I began to love the desert too.
Underneath the casual noise--glass on wood, heat-smothered conversation, worn cards slapped down in careful triumph--there was this low, thrumming quiet that wouldn't be broken. He spoke in sepia undertones. "We're getting out."
Hot iron smells like hot blood, like blood that's been poured out under the white Arizona sun. It's something you don't forget easy, like the taste of whiskey or the plasma patterns left on your eyelids after watching fire all night. It sticks.
My childhood was fed on medical books, and I've got this pain right behind my eyes and I wonder if this is what it feels like being lobotomized. Of course the brain has no nerve endings, but the hurt has to manifest itself somewhere.
It Was The Burglar's Idea The worst people hired him because he was the best burglar around. No one knew his given name, not even him. As a child, he'd grown and fed himself by stealing what he needed on the streets. He had no name. But since many people called him- "That one!" -the growing and adept burglar decided to call himself "Thone." He knew he needed at least a name, if not food, home, clothes -- and why not some kind of fame and fortune? Yes, he decided, he'd have both infamy and fortune. He was certain he was a clever, quiet, sneaky, and nice young man, fully deserving of both. Soon he had both.It Was The Burglar's Idea5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Late one night, a very rich man hired Thone for a new job and asked him the usual questions. Thone was as silent with the rich as he was with the poor. For that matter, he was more silent with the rich. Thone never explained his work to anyone, and it was always the rich who hired him. Thone was the most expensive burglar ever known to o
Writing mental illness (a short guide)When incorporating mental illness into a piece of literature, the most important tool you need to use is research. This is true whether you want the mental illness to play a large part OR a small one, and it is true whether you know someone with mental illness or not. In fact, it's even true if you have the illness yourself, because no two people are the same, and your character may display different facets to you due to contributing factors like experience and personality.Writing mental illness (a short guide)3 years ago in Reviews & Guides More Like This
That said, research is not the first thing you should do, because before you get stuck into that research, you need to look at WHY you want to include mental illness in your literature. If you think it would be cool or fun, you might want to rethink it unless you're prepared to put in a lot of work because living with mental illness is not either of those things (generally) and what you're doing for a bit of fun has the potential to negatively impact someone else's life in a big way because stigma & misrepresentatio
MuseIMuse4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Redwoods were within reach; his home was on the precipice of a forest, and as young as four, he opened the garden gate and wandered up the street to stare at the towering Gods, marveling at what little light pushed itself through the canopy and counting day-stars on the mottled ground. In June, the leaves were so thick and green that they ate up all the sun, and he stood in blackness, feeling his path with chubby fingers. Moss and bark alike guided him deeper and deeper into the thickets, thorns catching his hair and clothing. He had cuts on his face and arms but could not cry; in a trance, he stepped over rotting branches and at the end of his journey, came to a creek. The trees parted for it, and phosphenes blinded him, receding slowly as he adjusted to the rush of brightness-
And for a moment, he was not in California: great gray buildings grew before him, and he gaped, eyes widening as he tried to comprehend their height, their mass against a sky dimmer than
The Rainfall KidThere are raindrops on his fingersa glistening cluster of perfectly silver droplets that read like some shining, ethereal roadway mapthe night that he comes for her with the thunder of a summer storm rolling forward on his footsteps. The low rumble of it jolts her from a book induced slumber, the cover rough beneath hands and the jumble of last-read letters blurring on the underside of blinking eyelids as rain begins to fall. Although it's almost been longer than memory will allow, she knows that there is no mistaking the sudden upheaval of the outside world for anything other than his arrivalafter all, it hasn't stormed in years.The Rainfall Kid4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Soon enough, her shoulders and the soles of her bare feet are collecting water along with the hardback that had slipped, forgotten, through outstretched fingersnow laying broken-spined with white pages exposed and its words all bleeding together in thin rivers of smudged ink. The leafless trees seem to shudder, emerging from
How Vast It IsI can't write a poem for you.How Vast It Is5 years ago in Urban & Spoken Word More Like This
I can't sing a song for you.
I can't be you.
I once wished I could take your place and told you I would in a heartbeat.
You said "Yes, please do!" but we know I can't even do that.
We both know you're strong and have weathered many things.
But some things won't change.
This disease you have now won't change. You'll change with it.
You sent a text message, "I felt a tiny feeling in my left foot! Woot!"
I sent one back to help you celebrate.
I wished again I had what you have. Such a small thing you felt against the looming.
I can't linger on woe.
I can't linger on "can't."
I can't linger here without you.
I'll be a rock to your paper, to your scissors, to your own rock.
I'll be your memory if you ever lose yours.
I'll be here without you if I must, to keep you circulating through the veins of vast existence forever.
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
HomeMy parents bought the house on April Fools Day. It was something of a running joke: should have known, Dad would say, tightening yet another leaking faucet. It was a sign, Mom said, staring down a nest of carpenter wasps. In truth, they were never lucky with dates. Got married on D-Day, had a kid on Thanksgiving. JFK was assassinated on my Dad’s birthday; Brenda Ann Spencer went on her killing spree on my Mom’s. Holidays were always a touchy thing.Home3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
My second birthday was spent in the new house—a gorgeous, rambling affair in the heart of what had been a boom town during the years of the Erie Canal, and was now just a sleepy commuter village. They’d lived in consistently horrible neighborhoods up to that point. Dad had been mugged a block from their first apartment. A neighbor had been brutally beaten and robbed near their second. My Mom would recall with wonder the first week they moved int
The Drop Slot Mr. Johnson had many cars, but he loved one car in particular.The Drop Slot3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
He drove his wonderful, carefully waxed antique Volvo daily, and today was no exception. He loved to drive.
If one were to describe Mr. Johnson, it could take three initials: CEO.
If one were to describe his personality, it could take a story--a short one.
Two letters to mail this morning, Johnson thought. I can do this by myself.
It would take three days for the letters to arrive via the postal system, but they were the type that began: "Dear (Mr./Ms.). I know you've done your best for the company, but I must inform you that your job is no longer feasible...."
In other words, Mr. Johnson was sending letters by post to fire two employees he knew personally.
Both had served him well, but now they'd be replaced by a machine.
Johnson gave his employees notice no matter what. For Ms. Marcia
Of Course We DancedOf Course We Danced6 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
The dome was sixty feet in diameter. That means it was thirty feet high. To put up a south-facing arc of windows to keep us warmer in winter, a person had to have a head for height. I had a head for it, a practically insane disregard for tension or personal safety up there. I liked looking out at the big valley below our canyon and at the high mountains across from our place. It made me a pretty slow worker, but I helped.
One cold winter, when the first two babies were born in the "largest private dome ever built," twenty-three people lived in there. I got tired of the scene. Too many people milled inside the place all day long. It was too cold to camp out, and I was often the "three" after the e