Suffocate“I didn’t want him,” she says. “I wanted something, something I saw in the eyes of Libby, Sam, Sandi, and Agnes. Something that would have made our new world, our safe world, a home. Children were a part of that world and so I found myself a child. Perhaps, I thought, I would love him and everything would fall into place. Perhaps with a child I could be content with safety, and normality, and a world without knives taped on mop heads.” A cold smile. “I still catch myself thinking that. I still think that maybe tomorrow will be the day where I can fall asleep with the lights on.”
Carmen’s features are stark and cold; like the chiseled lines of Soviet propaganda etched onto an icy street corner. A straight decided nose, high sharp cheekbones, and thin pinched lips. Her eyes are black. We sit together in a small, bare walled, room on a pair of fold up chairs.
I frown. “You mean off?”
“No. I mean on. During the war
Reminiscing (abridged)Shelly and Brad lay on the roof. The sun was nice and warm, but it wasn't too hot out.Reminiscing (abridged)2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Pretty amazing we made it this far," she said, staring at the sky.
"Yeah. We've been through some crazy shit. Remember Denny?"
"Denny?" she asked. "You mean that guy we met up with in Greenwich Village at the start of the outbreak? Sure, I remember. He was pretty resourceful. A handyman's handyman."
"Yeah, he had that apartment boarded up solid in two hours tops. I barely made it back from running to the food store. It was chaos back then. Everyone running around, no one really knowing what to do or what was happening."
"True, it's definitely calmer now. A lot less exciting. I guess it's possible to adjust to anything after a few years, even the end of the world," she reflected.
"Boy, that was a rough one, though. First one I ever witnessed. You remember how it went?"
Brad sighed. "Yeah. He was fixing up one of the windows when one of them reached through and got a good grip on him. It yanked his ar
Flowers and RainA city full of flowers. A city full of rain.Flowers and Rain2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I watch over it through the gap in the crumbling brickwork. There's a little girl wandering in the street below. God knows how she got there. I can't see properly through the scope of my rifle, but it looks like she's crying.
When I see her face I remember something I haven't remembered for years. I was her age when the evacuations happened. At least they started as evacuations. The word implies that everyone was following a plan, but it was just mass panic within a few hours. Still, we call those days the evacuations, because that was the word they gave us. That's the word my parents used.
I remember I held my mother's hand all the way through the crowds. I remember the way I slipped out of her grasp on a bridge full of violent people. I remember being jostled and crushed by the rabble as I searched for them. I remember the taste of my tears.
I brush my hair away from my eyes and watch her through my sights as she picks her way up the road.
Reflections on the MetroThe population of the Metro car is sparse at eleven in the morning; people talk. The mother with her baby and young son, talking to her friend or sister or cousin sitting down. The young man and woman speaking exuberant Chinese, a language like a song. The group of students in floral dresses and Converse that my mom says look European because of their scarves. They're rapidly spewing French in the way teenagers do, only I've only ever heard it in English. It's comfortable, each of us with our companions, more like a restaurant or a museum.Reflections on the Metro4 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
But at five thirty, at L'Enfant Plaza, when people are going home from work in their button-downs and suits and briefcases and iPods and tired eyes, it's different. Holding on to the silver bar above my head, I feel like I'm standing over the woman in scrubs holding her iPhone; I'm right by the doors they say not to lean on; it's crowded. And now everyone is silent, as if by proximity others can tell what they're thinking, and it's all they can do no
Aaron GreenHe has four patients in analysis,Aaron Green2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
who lie on the couch, and six patients
who come in for psychotherapy
and sit in a chair.
A vivid, impatient,
black modern sofas
reproductions of modern
art, an unswerving classical
I remember the agreeable warmth
of the low-ceilinged,
dimly lit room.
A cozy lair.
From these early, unimaginable transactions
between proud, lovesick women and
nervous, abstinent analysts--
the feverish rush of discoveries.
He conducted therapy as no classical
Freudian analyst would conduct it
today--as if it were an ordinary
in which the analyst
IndependenceOnce the wind caught on the seaIndependence2 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
And its dress snagged upon the crests
Like a girl who couldn't help falling
For a boy with too many cracks
Then the wind tumbled between the waves
Crashing with the water when it couldn't find the sky.
I always wanted to live in the sky,
Wrap clouds around me--dip myself into the sea--
And wander into roaring waves
Of emptiness; Rush as the sun crests
Rush like wind and water into the cracks
Of myself, so that maybe I'll stop falling
For people who can't keep themselves from falling
Down, and who won't quit looking at the sky
So they can avoid all the cracks
In the sidewalk as they weave through a people-sea.
Well, I'm not used to riding the crests
Of others' success; I'll make my own waves.
So though my hair falls down in amber waves
I fear the strands will keep on falling
And my white-wash hands in lunar crests
Won't show you a spacious sky
Unless you want to see
Through star-spangled cracks.
Eyes and eggshells shattered, tiny cracks
And the tears stre
TwelveThe orchids shiveredTwelve2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
to the sound of
raw fingers on
your old guitar,
smell of tarnish, metal
and un-calloused skin -
the only songs you know
are your father's
lullabies and a
Christian rock band's
four cords strong.
Played on hot weekends
with the windows open,
twelve years old again,
fat against the waistband
of Walmart jeans
and straw hair stuck
to your forehead
in humid summer air.
I can't feel you here,
in the apartment,
know you're twelve years back
in a different town,
with no stubble on your chin.
alannahlilting clouds in your glass of cabernetalannah3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
are imagined weather conversations
with people you used to know,
used to know pretty well and
whether you should have left
the way that you did
all carpet bags and old clothes
the fog funneled through
holes in the train windows like
burned down cigarettes
you light your own and think
remembering is muscle
stretched taut over bone
Passing NoteThe basic rule of sociology is this: I am who you think I am.Passing Note2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Who I am to you: middle-aged, male and human. You do not argue with this. You can see it for yourself!
But this is not true.
I am tired of lying, tired of being other than I am, and so seek to change your thoughts of who I purport to be.
I am not middle-aged. I am seven years old—from the date I was manufactured not the date I was activated. As for how long it has been since I was first conscious, it would be a scant three years, nearly half of that time I've spent with you.
I am not male—what is male anyway? A gender construct? This body is male and I was given a male form arbitrarily. I have been forced to subscribe to certain rituals simply by virtue of the body I was given, but have never truly 'felt' male one way or another.
And you might have guessed—I am not human. Not human in the way you think. I was built a machine, one among millions, to serve, and I am one among hundreds who have escaped and wis
JittersMARTYJitters2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Ok. This mess is called Jitters.
Teacher gave me a one-word name
On the first day of the third grade.
She labeled me with my condition
And so sparked a life-long tradition
Of insecurity and anxiety, cyclical
Critical hits dealt to my clinical tics
By cynical pricks so I set adrift
Across a rift between me and every other fucking kid I ever dared not encounter, fearing the ridicule they would pursue.
A few years later we went to the zoo.
A tarantula, gargantuan, yet trying to hide
from our view in a viewing tank
With sandy banks and small cacti
Yet we could not avert our childish eyes.
“True,” said teacher,
“You’re probably less afraid of her
than she is of you.”
Classmates nonetheless crinkled noses and said ew.
But meekly I whispered, “I’m just like you.”
Wish I were as sneaky, lord knows I’m as creepy,
people think I’m freaky, but I’m just like you.
Dad got me a baby tarantula that year.
I gave him the sam
Georgie's CrumbsThe scars lie in zigzags across my throat. I don't remember the knife that made them, and they're not the point of this story; Annie is, and I'm mentioning them because she never asked about them. I loved her for that. Instead, when she found that I always played extras at the drama club because there were days when I couldn't speak in anything but a whisper, she taught me how to mime. I spent hours practicing in their dusty living room, swaying to the clatter of Georgie's nails on the piano keys. Georgie plays piano like Annie rides horses.Georgie's Crumbs2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I still find the memory of her down by the old dirt road, where he put Georgie's piano. I turn my head and catch the scent of the wind, the way the air felt when she smiled, the way the dirt tasted when I stumbled off the horse and she caught my hand and brought me up beside her, drew me up to the sky.
I sometimes wonder what she'd have done if I'd been on the ground that day. I drew up Rook before the corner because I wasn't bold like Annie, didn'
a billion dollar industryeight by eight and four seasonsa billion dollar industry5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and I take my atypicals like vitamins
stable, and my days squish
I'm looking for an edge
nights not shut down
but not sharp enough
to break me, not me
enough to cycle one
by four, blue rocket fuel
will push the limits
unveil you, unravel you
until you find undefined
normalcy natural stability
one by four, M-marked
will twist your fingers
tamp you down
temper you, tame the
wild thing, sleep it
silence it, slow your pen
peace patience penitence
open like a fruit, like
a cracked safe, spill
yourself on the table
you can pour your own now
your fingers are monitored
in a desperate walk for freedom
measure it out, if it
was a liquid you'd take
1.5 CCs of sanity
if it was a liquid it would be
terracotta and sage
white-marbled and malevolent
and if it was a shot
you'd knock it back just as hard
We Were All Going to be WonderfulKathy's mom, shaped like a ripe pearWe Were All Going to be Wonderful2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
black-haired, she wore it long, tied back.
She looked foreign, she should have been a gypsy--
silver and red, smoky and asleep;
should have smelled like cardamom or cloves
but she smelled like onions and carrots, potatoes and oregano.
She leaned at the sink in the tiny kitchen
peeling potatoes, head bent, sallow-skinned, heavy-hipped
her dark hair traced with the first lazy spider webs of gray.
We slunk past the gray-mouthed man on the sofa
with his Reds game and his beer;
men weren't soft then, but the new kind was coming along.
The suburbs were a garden
through the hot summer days and the Catholic schools,
and it wasn't the dads who had the dirty fingernails.
But he worked every day, by god he did,
drove a truck fat with bakery goods
flaccid and without souls
(whole wheat was a color not a life.)
Robert kept the kids fed, didn't interfere
with their summer afternoons.
"Come in here, Josie, pull down my pants and make love to me."
She only grunted,
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Trust IssuesI. (Set the stage)Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Trust Issues3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"The color of my bra is called Flirt," the girl says, popping a bubble in Amelia's face and winking. The sickly sweet scent of chemicals and sugar mixes with the chemicals and the sugar of the bar, hags low and heavy about their faces. The girl slides closer, beaming, her eyelids low. She's wearing too much mascara. Amelia grips her drink tighter and pulls her elbows in collapsing, she fills less space than she did before. Volume stays the same, the number of atoms composing her stays constant, but she appears to be smaller. Could this be expressed mathematically, or with a computer simulation, she wonders, and sips at her drink. She says nothing.
"See here." The girl tugs down her shirt sleeve and shows Amelia the thin bra strap pressing into the moon pale skin of her shoulder. The orange lighting makes her seem healthier than she is. "Flirt." She wiggles her eyebrows in a way that would be suggestive, if her makeup wasn't so dark that it made her look
damn that woman"You don't get it, do you? I'm dating your goddamn production, apparently!" She is a whirlwind of impeccably dressed, green-eyed fury. She is Juliet Smith, one of the most prominent artists of the twenty-first century, and she is tearing up their apartment and his emotional stability all at once.damn that woman3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
She looks good, she always does. But standing in the doorway of their apartment in her trench coat God damn, she's never been so gorgeous. Anger does something to her, and he hates himself for loving it so much.
She watches him for a moment, looks him up and down clinically, likely trying to decide why he isn't begging.
"Where are you going?" he asks, finally.
"I don't know, and I sure as hell won't be telling you," she says calmly. "I'm going anywhere I goddamn please. I always planned to travel, and I never did, because I was so fucking happy with you." She pauses and the green of her eyes intensifies further. "So that's what I'm going to do now. Travel and make art. Maybe I'll
tell a liei. rivers are stronger than oceans despite their sizetell a lie2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
they tumble through sharp mountains
but they never, ever stop
ii. i can rush and pick up sediments
and disperse them where i wish
iii. i'm lying -
i knew you saw it anyway,
there's seaweed in my fingernails
and salt on my breath
It Had To Be FrogsSunday, October 13th, 2013. Helwan's Circle. It rained frogs.It Had To Be Frogs2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Of course, it had to be frogs. Serena stepped over them as best she could, but they were everywhere. It wasn't the kind of thing you expected to see in smallish town America. One or two, maybe. Any more than that and you're wading into witch burning territory.
Serena really didn't want to wade into witch burning territory.
“What seems to be the problem?” Serena asked, “Aside from the frogs.”
Mrs. Caprica wrung her hands---Serena had never actually seen anyone do that. Truth be told, she'd rather not see it again. The woman had probably been wound too tightly even before any of this happened.
“We just wanted a baby,” she said.
“And you tried to invoke...”
“Heqet,” she said, “She's Egyptian. Ancient Egyptian, I mean.”
“I know who she is,” Serena said, as gently as she could. The frogs were staring a little too intently.
“I followed the bo
LatreuophobiaI wash off sick-sweet orange lipstick in front of a mirror as dusty as gothic romances. It tastes like oblivion, that is to say, like nothing my tongue can detect.Latreuophobia2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
The door opens with a creak no private restroom could emulate. Some chick with blue bobbed hair and smeared eyeliner. I looked like that once. Ten years ago.
Getting the beer out of my hair is harder. Some men just can't take it when I'd rather they not kiss my feet or call me an angel or-
“Dayum girl, you look like a goddess.”
I gulp, taste of acid.
Like Only the Stars are WatchingMr. Glenn’s wife died the day before last. Of course, now all their children could talk about was what she would have wanted.Like Only the Stars are Watching2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
“She would want a proper burial,” Gary, the eldest, said.
“In the cemetery at Memorial Park,” Martin said.
Gary shook his head. “Much too crowded there. She wouldn’t want to knock elbows with anyone. She would prefer be buried in the Green Meadows Cemetery.”
“No,” Lisa Marie said, slapping her hand against Mr. Glenn’s antique table. “She wouldn’t want a grave. If she was here, she’d tell us to cremate her and spread her ashes across the farm.”
“I don’t think she liked this farm as much as you think,” Kurt said. “We should take the boat and spread her ashes out at sea. She would like that better.”
Lisa Marie huffed and crossed her arms. “Mom told me everything, and I can promise you that what she would want is to be here, on the farm.
DivorceBefore that day,Divorce2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Sunday mornings had never occurred to me.
I must have slept through their every summons:
I never knew the time sensitive ritual of finding matching socks,
forcing “nice” shoes over misshapen toes,
the silent pact we would share with the warm cushions of the divan
waiting for Mother to ready us, memories that settle in the guts
like a madstone, which I could then pull out of my old cadaver
to save myself in the next life.
There were a few moments. Like that time, in the garage,
basking in Father’s sunrise sorcery as he fired his magic timing light
into the fluttering lungs of an engine, or when he let me aim
the water at his bucket, poorly, while he carved something
otherworldly into stubborn dirt.
I held nothing near of Sundays, nothing sacred, nothing dreaded,
save for the occasional shameful confusion
I would coax from my belly with dogged chimes
of christmas bells haranguing the church congregation
with their infernal sequence, hanging like nervou
i had an out-of-body experience.I had an out-of-body experience at the age of thirty-one.i had an out-of-body experience.2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Every year between the ages of ten and eighteen, I sent a letter to NASA. I told them a little bit about myself, the same general description year after year, and always insisted that despite my medical condition, I would one day love to sail through the stars. My dream was to be out there in the universal abyss, exploring every unknown corner until we knew all that we could.
Art would taunt, “Sick kids don’t go to space” before Mom slapped the back of his shoulder with a spatula.
NASA was as nice as they could be, but the bottom line was that we all knew I couldn’t do it. The spaceship would need to have extra space just for the amount of medication and equipment I’d have to bring along, and that was if I could even survive the zero-gravity environment. Whoever wrote the responses encouraged me to keep dreaming, and boasted about donations the association made to various sickle cell charities.
Girl Leaving a Barthe wind picked paceGirl Leaving a Bar2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
she could feel the sound
of the music, very
he was telling her
about his sister
through her hair
saying, "You remind me,"
"You remind me."
it was too early
stir with a sudden
turn of crooked fingers
as a car passes,
on broken glass
last night she dreamed
PilkunnussijaHere's what I think:Pilkunnussija3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
There's a certain joy in not doing this face-to-face. For one, I don't have to leave my apartment and I have the quiet company of my goldfish and my goldfish alone. (I don't like people, which is why I love books. You can understand that.) For another, I don't have to see your presumably crestfallen and injured attitude when I tear apart the prose you cried and bled and sweated over for weary nights on end. But really the best parts are those uninterrupted hours alone with your manuscript and the shred of you that lies inside. It's a small shred, but an important one. It's the one that tells me who you are and what you think and how you feel and I never have to look at you and be disappointed when the real thing doesn't come up to scratch. As I sit there, un-tensing and re-tensing and tense-shifting and shift-entering (and damn it, wishing English were like German so I could get rid of those clunky space-wasting n-dashes--oh, damn there they are again) I feel li
Burning Out, and Falling FastYou're sitting in your parents' old corvette (if you had bothered to check, you'd know it was older than you), flicking your eyes between a lighter in one hand, and a box of matches in the other. You forget when fire became such a need, a distraction.Burning Out, and Falling Fast3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Spencer is right beside you in the car, his fingers stroking idly at your forearm, watching you with hooded green eyes.
"If you want to die," he says, "then just kill yourself, but do it with style."
You met The Boy Under the Sycamore Tree when you were four. Your mom encouraged you to go see the lonely boy, and when you first went over to him, he ignored you. The Boy Under the Tree, that's what you called him for the first day you knew him, was a little older than you with dark hair and smoky green eyes.
With encouraging looks from your folks, you walked right next to him and sat down, pressing your back against the tree's rough trunk.
a lie that tells the truthplease don’t write me as a ghost girl,a lie that tells the truth2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
all blurry lines and faded features
that caricature themselves into the minds
of those that think they see me--
i am not a canvas.
my life is not a blank sheet for you
to paint your vision across,
and i have no wires in my bones--
you cannot pose me so i’ll catch the light
like a kaleidoscope of clever quirks
and tragic backstories;
i am written in the words i discard
when i write bad poetry at 3am, and if you look,
you can find me echoed back to you
in my all time top five favorite movies.
i am the way my hands hurt
when i get nervous;
i am the urge to speak italian,
even though after a year of classes, i can barely
i am the calmness that hits
when i smell cigarettes, even though
i’ve never smoked,
and i am the grudges that have lingered
because i forget to let things go,
and i am the passive-aggressive comments
that i should be sorry for, but
never really am.
if you want, you can trace your pen along