And a Sixpence in her ShoeSomething Old.
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.
Fire and WaterIt was raining in Lancaster on September 3rd 1555, and Jane Ask loved the earthy smell that it coaxed out of the soil.Fire and Water3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
She wiped away the sheen of rainwater from her forehead with the back of her hand and set her small basket of nettles down by the front door. Later she would dry out the leaves and reduce them to a powder; the substance worked wonders on small wounds which refused to stop bleeding.
Jane had always been something of an herbalist. Growing up with only a father, and two older brothers from his first marriage, she had spent the majority of her childhood outdoors. Now practically a spinster at the age of twenty-two, she knew the Lancashire countryside as though it were the dearest friend, and for years now its other residents had come to her for aid. She knew which plants could heal or, if nothing were to be done, could simply ward off the pain.
She sniffed, wiping a drop of cold rainwater off the end of her nose, and looked across her herb garden at Sally. Sally was her co
CharlieI had a stalker.Charlie3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I didn't know his name but I'm sure he knew mine.
I called him Charlie.
He always had a camera hanging from his twig thick neck and he cradled it in his hands; a wispy finger stroking the shutter release. His dark brown hair was a curly mess and his shirts wrinkly and thin. He had the most perfect eyebrows, sweeping and gentle. He must have the most captivating eyes, I thought every time he'd glance my way. We'd never made eye contact. Charlie preferred it that way.
He came into the bookstore once a week, not to watch me leaf through the used books or reach high to shelve the approved ones, but to actually browse them. He read the unknowns; the virgins with their unbroken spines. I imagine he liked the smell of them aromas preserved for him alone. Charlie appreciated the books wearing dusty coats and factory perfume a decade old.
The rest of the time he spent on the outside looking in. My co-workers were tickled pink. "What a geek." "Poor guy doesn't realize you
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
Amy's Afternoon'What are we doing after lunch?' asked Amy.Amy's Afternoon3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
'We have to go shopping,' said Mummy, 'and I have to go to the bank, and I might pop to the chemist's for -'
'Do I have to go?'
'Yes, darling, there's no one to look after you. Oh Amy, don't look like that. It won't take long.' That was a lie. 'Then afterwards we're going to Aunt Fuzzy's for tea.'
'Oh no!' said Amy.
'Oh Amy, really! What's wrong with Aunt Fuzzy?'
'You always talk about boring things, and she gives me funny flavours of Ribena.'
'She's got very old eyes, darling,' said Mummy. 'She finds it very difficult to read anything these days.'
'Can't she look at the picture?'
'She doesn't think she needs to. A long time ago, before you were born, blackcurrant was the only Ribena flavour you could get. She doesn't know there are others now.'
Amy wondered why anyone had been so stupid as to invent other flavours of Ribena. Blackcurrant was th
The Peculiar Mr. PumpkinThe Peculiar Mr. PumpkinThe Peculiar Mr. Pumpkin3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Mr. Pumpkin was a strange man. He had such a large body and such thin little legs. His head was round and fat; just like a pumpkin. The neighbors thought that he had no neckand you know what? That strange pumpkin man almost had no feet either, most times it was hard to tell the difference between what was his leg and what was his foot. Despite this, Mr. Pumpkin liked to walk. Rain or snow, shine or not; Mr. Pumpkin was always walking. No matter what the weather had in store for him, he always wore a thick black wool coat and a grey polka dot scarf. His pants were always black, so were his shoes, and his face always had a solid, grim look to it. No one bothered to talk to Mr. Pumpkin. No one bothered to bother him eithernot telemarketers, children, the newspaper boy, or the door-to-door vacuum salesman. Mr. Pumpkin was always alone.
One day Mr. Pumpkin was on a walk. Like usual he skunked through town in a strangely grim manner, his l
No Scope RequiredNo Scope RequiredNo Scope Required2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
“Hey, wait! I recognize you!”
That was the guy. I was sure of it. They had said he had a face that time had not been kind to. There was also the glass eye, stricken, horrified, even without a pupil. That was the guy.
He punched me square in the jaw. My vision dimmed, but I wasn’t out. I kept a tight hold on my case. He kicked me in the ribs. I choked, coughing up my lunch.
“You tryin’ to get me killed?” he said, his growling, gravely slur as hard as the pavement. “Forget you ever saw me. Or else.” Then he ran, coat flying along behind him.
“Wait!” I said, wheezing. I ran after him, pushing past pedestrians peddling on street corners. He caught sight of me and picked up the pace, holding onto his hat as he sprinted. My large case slowed me down, but I was determined. The chase was on.
He knocked people aside, using them as barriers. I leapt, ducked, and dodged around everyone. Apologies were made when m
2: the first questionThe first thing I noticed was the fez on her lap. I saw it as I scanned the tube for empty seats; a flash of red in the corner of my eye. It perched delicately on her thighs like a small, unassuming puppy that stared at passerby with large eyes, silently daring them to challenge its right to be there. I gaped at it; the train started forward with a jerk and I had to grab onto the metal pole in front of me to keep my balance. The ungainly motion of my body lurching forward caught the eye of the fez's owner; I saw her look up at me quickly, then duck her eyes down to her hands, which were diminutive and pale and folded neatly in her lap, just behind the fez. I sneezed loudly into the sleeve of my trench coat and she smiled. It was for barely an instantóand, it was probably an attack on my limbs and their length and the strangeness with which they movedóbut it was enough to cause an unfamiliar tug inside me, not unlike the movement of the train.2: the first question3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Mrs. LubonekNobody knew how old the Luboneks were, but they’d lived at the top of Pecan Hill since before Cumberland was built, and the town grew up around them. Mr. Lubonek had a voice like gravel and always smelled of engine grease, sweat, and the gritty scent of someone whose friends were machines and whose family were the tools he kept in the shed. Mrs. Lubonek was airy as a bird and every bit as flighty, yet there was a sharp, witty glint in her eye that you only caught if you were looking for it.Mrs. Lubonek2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The Luboneks lived a simple, dusty life atop Pecan Hill. Mr. Lubonek ran a small mechanic shop out of his garage and Mrs. Lubonek sold baked goods. Despite their humble background they were moderately successful in Cumberland, but you could never tell. Most people said they hid all their income in a ratty black doctor’s bag Mr. Lubonek kept just inside the front door. Or maybe the bag held Mrs. Lubonek’s pie recipes. Or maybe it held a treasure map or a severed hand or the secret t
Dying WishThe little boy came to her as she died. She lay flat in a hospital bed, was surrounded by hospital machinery, hissing and beeping the way hospital machines do. The boy was nude, and glowed faintly, as if he were a poorly matted special effect.Dying Wish3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Are you an angel?" she gasped out. It was hard to breathe, even harder to talk, and she was certain it came out slurred. But he smiled just the same, shook his head.
"No. What's an angel?"
Despite herself, she chuckled an awful sound. He moved in close, took her hand, waited for her wracking cough to subside. His hand was small and warm in hers; she gripped it as hard as she could, which was not hard at all, grateful for the warmth of contact.
"But I'm dying. You're here to take me, aren't you?"
"No. I'm just here." He cocked his head quizzically. "What's it like to die?"
Oh brother. She clos
Pillow MemoriesPillow Memories4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
May 9th 2006
People always told me death was a numbing experience, that I wouldn’t feel the pain for quite some time. It has already been three weeks, four days, and twenty-one hours, and they were wrong. I felt the loss of you that very second in the dreary hospital room. You were barely conscious, but Robert and I talked your way into a private room. Small, and unnaturally white, but I know you preferred the privacy over the bustle of the wards – cheery blue-gowned nurses, and the sickly aroma of flowers hurriedly purchased from the hospital shop by hoards of reluctant relatives.
I didn’t bring you flowers. Instead, I brought you photographs, pulled straight from the albums in the spare room. The first was that photograph you took of me with your very first colour-film camera in 1975 1977. I had to take some time to remember the year; you know how I get sometimes. It’s the one in which I’m holding little Annie in her
SouvenirsWhen her mom went to check the mail at breakfast, she returned with a thin box in her arms.Souvenirs3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
It was a package from her father.
Her dad was sort of like a traveler... at least, that was what she assumed he was. His job always had him jumping from city to city, country to country. He'd been to almost everywhere around the world, and every few weeks, he would send her a letter with a little souvenir from his stay. This time, it was a miniature Eiffel Tower.
So he's in France again, she mused, studying the two-foot tall replica. A small chuckle escaped her lips. It was about time he remembered to get it for her! He really should've thought of buying it six visits ago. She opened the small envelope attached to package and read the letter inside with a fond smile. When she finished reading, she stood up and excused herself from the table. Her mom answered with a sad smile as she nodded.
She raced up the stairs and headed for the Gift Room. It was a special place in the house just for h
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
Metastasis98.00Metastasis3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
Autumn is the season when everything dies.
The leaves shrivel up and your lungs go with them, tiny dejected organs drying out inside your sternum, crinkling under our footsteps. The doctors pronounce their diagnosis as the leaves fall, listing medical terms and percentages and something about medication options.
The disease is metastatic: it has bored its way out of your lungs and into your bones. Dissatisfied, it's going for your organs, your liver, your heart. The prognosis says Christmas is a pipe dream, likely as the sun ceasing to set.
You promise it anyway.
November comes and I am a fish, breathing through makeshift gills carved into my hips, lopsided and crude.
I make fresh ones twice a day, slice myself open once in the morning and once at night in hopes the air will come a little easier each time. I make three and count them off:
and hope my heart stops.
The leaves have been carted away, pummeled into dust, and blown away in the wind.
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
Heart, Have No PityThe train sways from side to side, gray subway lights washing away all color from the world, and the shuffle on his music player is playing only the songs Jesper hates. He hits the skip button again and again, tries to keep his briefcase pinned between his legs. There is a coffee stain on his shirt, but he did not have enough time to sprint to his bedroom and change before he had to leave to make his train on time. He cannot afford to be late again.Heart, Have No Pity2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Skip-skip-skip. He should stop allowing his sister into his apartment; she always deletes his good music and replaces it with pop that Jesper despises. He thinks he hears his station being called in between the melodious shrieks of ABBA, so he snatches his bag and stumbles out the door, unwinding his headphones and stuffing his music player in his trench coat's pocket.
Jesper takes five steps before he glances up. The train has already rattled out of the station, and he is not in the correct place. He did not even know that the subway runs
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
Practical ArtAngela was an artist, but not in the conventional sense. She didn't use canvas and paint, and the idea of sculpting something made out of a material as mundane as clay made her want to vomit. She loathed the idea of creating art for art's sake; anything she made, she wanted there to be a practical use for it, something beyond decoration.Practical Art3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
She labored on each piece she created for countless hours, making sure every detail was perfect. Sometimes it could take months for her to finish a single work. She'd always ask me to take a look at her pieces and demanded that I point out something she could improve upon. I was never an artist myself, but thanks to Angela I was able to spot the tiniest flaws in design.
Angela drew her inspiration from everywhere: nature, mythology, both ancient and modern culture. The list went on and on. Once, she sculpted Atlas, the Greek titan who supported the world, and fashioned him into a rather nice coffee table. She chose to reject the semi modern idea of him
The Music in the Water† † Hank told her not to put her tent by the creek, but she did.The Music in the Water2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
† † 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
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."
The Glass JarFrom the time I could remember, I'd been given this transparent glass jar. It is said that I've been using it since the day of my live birth. I'd been told to use its nowhere-to-be-seen contents not more not less than once a day.The Glass Jar3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I had always known I was adopted. My adoptive parents (who were more loving to me than anything) were very honest in admitting this to me. Since I had always pestered them about it, they also confessed that other than the glass jar, at the orphanage where they got me, they were given a rain-washed letter to read- this letter was supposedly written by my mother. Aside from her confession of a planned suicide, in the letter were instructions that the orphanage must ensure my daily dosage of this glass jar. The reason behind it though was apparently stated in the following paragraph, where the ink was washed off and therefore was unreadable. The only part of the paragraph that could be understood mentioned that this jar is what will supposedly provide
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."
Glass DollI fell in love with a girl once. Her name was Lily. We met up in one of those old cafés that have a stage in the center. I used to have coffee there every morning, and listen to whatever musician was on the stage before going to work. They were always kind of tacky, but I liked them for their tackiness, I guess. I don't know. I sort of just came there out of habit.Glass Doll3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
That day, I bought my coffee like usual. I didn't notice her at first. She was silent. It was one of the only times I would ever hear her be silent. I sat down at my usual corner to wait for the waitress with the coffee and listen to the music for a bit. When I looked up, she was one stage.
I thought she was pretty at first. I could tell she was, but the lights around her had been dimmed for dramatic effect. Yet, when the stage lit up, she wasn't pretty anymore. She was beautiful. What caught me most was her eyes. They were like glass. Such a deep blue, and crystal clear. The light shone down on her skin, and it seemed
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.