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 Books2 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
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 rule2 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 Life1 year 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,
Fight in a Hospital They said she was too old to have a baby.Fight in a Hospital4 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 extremely short storyI once heard the tale of a man who had the whole universe inside his throat.The extremely short story3 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."
And a Sixpence in her ShoeSomething Old.And a Sixpence in her Shoe2 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.
FirefliesGoldenrodFireflies2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
fireflies erratically sign their names
inside a jar that once held pickled beets.
On a Georgian night,
katydids screech chamber music
Mozart forgot to write
on his five staffed bars.
The music reminds me of the tart
taste of grapefruit seeping slowly into
my mouth, and I swallow it with delight.
But the world becomes a jar
into which I scribble my name,
as if writing it will somehow
make me free.
A Love Story in Four Actsi.A Love Story in Four Acts2 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.
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 Kid3 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
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 Dive2 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
StationI stared down the grey lineStation3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Lingering at the station.
Pathetically waiting in vain,
For the vivid colours of Autumn
To burn through the mist of November
That had settled along the tracks.
I was still waiting when the branches were bare;
December leeched the last of the hues
From the sight of my hometown horizon.
I don't pray --but somehow hoped
For a more promising January
To emerge from the downpour
As the train arrived late.
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 Fancy3 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
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.Home1 year 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
Happy HollowLook:Happy Hollow4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I found him in Happy Hollow, the woods that's on the outskirts of the city. He was a little ways off the path me and my sister, Nahla, take to school, 'cept Nahla was sick that day so it was just me by myself. It's not the fastest way to get to school, but we can't go through Northampton or else the bullies that live there will throw dirt clods at us. After I found him I took him to this old shed out there. It's got a hole in the roof but I figured the little guy'd be safe there on account of it's a good ways away from the Northampton houses; plus you can't hardly see it through all the leaves and branches and stuff. His fur was real white and real soft, just like snow 'cept it wasn't cold. It was warm and fuzzy so it made you wanna squeeze him real tight. I liked playing with his ears cuz they was all floppy, 'cept when you made a weird noise, then they'd stick straight up and he'd tilt his head sideways and look at you funny. He had a long bushy tail and sharp little baby teeth
How Did That Happen?by LJHow Did That Happen?1 year 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
caring for p(o)etsscribbling down vicious verses oncaring for p(o)ets2 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
Sounds Like MauveWhat had finally driven her over the edge, Dr. Schwartz recorded, was that she couldn't hear the grapes.Sounds Like Mauve3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Certainly they tasted fine, at least Marian made the same happy sounds she always made when she plopped a seedless red into her mouth and squeezed it with her teeth. The anomaly occurred when they opened her visor.
"Dr. Schwartz?" It was one of the new nurses. "Dr. Schwartz, Marian's parents are here. They said you called?"
"What? Yes, yes, I did call them." Schwartz sighed, tapped a few more notes and slid the stylus back into the sheathe on the side of his tablet. "How is she?"
"Asleep. The sedatives have taken hold."
"Good. I'm going to bring Marian's parents in to see her. I would appreciate it if you could remove her restraints for a bit, just until they leave. Would that be a problem?"
"Of course not, doctor. I'll take care of it."
Schwartz shook her father's hand with a tight grip, looking the man in the eye. He set his other hand reassuringly on her mother's shoulder, saying
Autumn in RetrospectI became a truant in fourth grade; that may seem young, but no one was keeping an eye on me, my 'teacher' was a rotating face, and I didn't think education was all that important, especially the one I was getting. Multiplication and division hadn't been taught, the recently rebound social studies books ended at President Reagan, and while I could read and even liked to read, I didn't learn anything at school I couldn't learn at the library. The librarians were nicer than the subs, anyway, and the real teacher was on an extended pregnancy leave that she wasn't keen to come off of. I'm not sure, but I think she quit the next year.Autumn in Retrospect2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Papi went to work before the sun was in the sky, and Mami was seeing her girlfriend when he was away. After giving us each a slice of bread, she would kiss me, my sister, and my brother and say she was going to visit a friend. We all knew, even Raymond who was only five, that she came home with a brighter smile than a nice lunch warranted. I was the oldest, so
On the Northside of TimeOn the Northside of Time5 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
The Drop Slot Mr. Johnson had many cars, but he loved one car in particular.The Drop Slot2 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
Insanetraces, barely defined,Insane4 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
of our souls entwined.
your breath is soft upon my skin.
that stare is driving me to sin.
madness, strange mind,
you're one of a kind.
my sleep has long forgotten me.
images of us are all I ever see.
insomnia, shrill sound,
it's only you I found.
the lonely children playing house
promises and words empty and false.
lie, grim expression,
the wrong impression.
faults I never even knew I had
eyes green and lost and sad.
psychotic, a frenzy,
are we going crazy?
insanity, a shade of black,
the crimson of a heart attack.
darkness spills across your face,
darkness takes away our grace.
we're going mad!
BloomersMichael is by no means a queer boy. Well, that's if you take "queer" to mean "homosexual." If you take "queer" to mean "strange," then Michael would seem to be a rather queer boy, and not just because he reads encyclopedias and dictionaries on summer break.Bloomers3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Michael is fourteen and going out with a very nice girl. They have been friends since third grade, and Michael likes her quite a lot. They play video games and bake cookies together. They tell each other all their secrets.
Well, almost all their secrets.
Michael knows it now, he can't tell anyone the truth. He's watched the other boys grow up and grow vicious, throw the word "fag" around like it might make their chest hair sprout faster. He's watched the girls grow up too, and he's watched them capitalize on the "fags," take them shopping and paint their nails. Some of them probably are gay. The rest are just unfortunate and hoping that someday those girls might fall in love with their GBFFs. But Michael's girlfriend had advised him