Tumbler‘Twere’nt long ago, when I started tumbling. Hot dry winds rose around me and the base of my stalk went snap and I began to roll. Finally free of my roots, ready to roam the deserts and plains. Catch a glimpse of the tall orange buttes in the northern plains, as they had been described to me by other holy rollers.
Maybe even catch a view of people. Heard lotsa stories ‘bout them people, even though I saw one on a horse when I were but a sprout. People were always in’eresting, usin’ us for shootin’ practice, something to kick, something innocuous and ubiquitous to say, “Yeah. You’re alone out here. Just you, the sun, and the tumbleweed.”
Starting tumbling, started seein’ some strange things. There ain’t hardly no trees ‘round here, but there’s lots of wood, rectangular like, half formed into boxes. I heard that people had something to do with it, wanting the sparkles from the ground my detached roots once sun
Time Traveller's EngagementExactly ten years from tomorrow, we'll be married here. My wife doesn't know that, of course. In a certain sense, neither do I.Time Traveller's Engagement4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
It's a beautiful spot, now. Now meaning today, when the sunlight is still pure, and the sky is still blue. The ivy still climbs in green snakes up the side of her father's chateau, the pennants of the House of Renard are snapping gaily over the towers.
I hear a lilting laugh that even now sends my heart into my throat. Euryale Renard. She is only a girl today, no older than my little sister is in the days I left behind. Even at twelve, my Ury's curls catch the sun like molten amber, with a flower basket flung wide as she runs. Behind her tumble the Twins, her best friends, their giggles almost as musical as my Ury's, their golden hair belying the poison in their hearts. I remember the snarl on Cassandra's lips as she spilled out her wine glass on the floor after Ury's father toasted our engagement. I remember wiping Chloe's spit from my eye on the same
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
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.
Man Sold SeparatelyIt was one of those houses dropped on the corner of the street, squeezed so tightly by the ones on either side that it was hardly noticeable. It was one of those houses where the hot water never ran out in the winter and the air conditioner never broke down in the summer. All of the neighbours in the similarly shaped houses, although never perfectly identical, shared gossip and brought over casseroles and generally pretended to like each other until the door closed and the lock clicked and their sincere thoughts on the daughter’s new husband came to light. It was a neighbourhood with the level of superficiality one could usually find in the suburbs.Man Sold Separately2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I was drawn right in.
There was something about the idea of having a comfortable little life, a quiet life where I would often be alone and always lonely, that somehow appealed to me. It’s easy to be lonely; all you do is turn on the TV or open a good book and it goes away. I could never sit around feeling sorry for myself in a
The TypewriterThe TypewriterThe Typewriter2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
It began and ended with a word.
Not a particularly strong or powerful word, but a word that changed everything. It wasn't too long or difficult to spell. It wasn't uncommon either. In fact, it was a perfectly ordinary word, but, I suppose, its commonplace origin is what made it so special.
I loved that word.
But the word doesn't mean much without the story along with it and I was always one for telling good stories.
I ignored the call from the other room and remained seated. That tone wasn't unfamiliar. Taking a bite from my toast, I waited for him to call again. It wouldn't be more than ten—
"Sammy! Come quickly! I've gone an' done it!" he shouted. I turned just as he poked his head into the room with a bright smile across his face.
"What did you do?" I asked as I walked towards his study. Chris had said those same words nearly twelve times this week. Every other day he had called me in for some discovery.
I pushed open the door t
The Stick PeopleIn a town called Rushing Water, there lived a woodcarver with no face.The Stick People3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
When we were small, my brothers and I, Daddy would sometimes take us to visit her. We would sit there at her kitchen table, amazed, as this woman with no eyes – and indeed no nose or mouth – would pour out our tea without spilling a drop.
I was frightened of her because she looked so strange, so grotesque. All the other days of my life, I encountered people with faces – square faces, oval faces, faces round and smiling like the moon with slanted eyes or big dark ones or little beady bird eyes. Snub noses, Romans or long, thin, birdlike ones like mine. Yet here was a woman with none of that or any of the faculties that come with those organs.
As a little girl, I dreaded our visits to the faceless woodcarver. But now that I've grown up I miss most all the memories of my childhood, even the somewhat unpleasant ones, so I sometimes let them wander through my mind even when they aren't invited. So I remember the woodcarv
lemonwe walk down the streetslemon2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
of a city named after the last thousand years.
a breeze floats by
and for a moment your hair lifts off your shoulder.
the way it doesn't touch you,
i want to touch you.
there are traces of lemon in your light,
a vague sense of mint on your fingertips.
the way honey tastes
drifts inside your shirt.
entering the city
walking calmly while the light falls
is like listening to your voice,
like waiting at the bell by the river
for a clamoring to do justice
to the patterns on the water.
the way the bells never end
i want to brush my hand against yours.
the way you drop lemon into your water
i want to live.
Fragile--FFM Day 7Lindsey Stirling blared from my ear buds and I bobbed my head, furrowing my brow. My hand was shoved deep into my purse, searching for my keys. Instead, I found receipts from the Stone Age, a collection of seashells from last year's vacation, and enough pepper spray to blind at least twenty bears.Fragile--FFM Day 72 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Frustrated, I dumped my portable landfill on the welcome mat; lipstick tubes and loose change bounced across the wood and disappeared, lost beneath the porch. Spreading objects out with my hands, I sighed. No keys. "Damn it all to Hell and back ag--"
Glancing up, the box near my door caught my eye. Wrapped with neon-colored paper, a large skull-and-crossbones bow held a handwritten "FRAGILE" note in place. The colors were garish, clashing with the ivory siding.
Wrinkling my nose, I pulled the package toward me, keys forgotten. The paper was slick, slipping against the pads of my fingertips like silk. Examining the box, I flipped the "FRAGILE" note over--and gasped.
Yanking the ear
Puddle-jumpingShe looks through a puddle to the hole on the other side.Puddle-jumping2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Some dreams fell down there a while ago, and if she can just snag a little of the bright ribbon at their tails, perhaps she could follow them in there.
I mean, it looks quite nice, what with all the blue glowing back at her pigtails, and the
clouds seem quite friendly. I wonder if they know hide and seek?
So in she jumps, wellies and all, but somehow only manages a splash and a splutter, and a muddy pattern over her socks.
But it doesn't matter - there's always tomorrow. She'll try again then.
For it's sad, really, when others look into puddles and all they expect to see is the ground.
SorrowbirdI watched him flap helplessly between the teeth of a barbwire fence, screeching for help.Sorrowbird2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Papa, look Papa! A boy!"
My papa stood dazed for a moment, dust billowing at his legs, his eyes teetering along the field. It wasn't until later that evening he told me he hadn't understood what I had seen. What he had seen.
With grass tickling the backsides of my legs, I bounded toward the boy, "What are you doing? Are you okay?"
As I approached him, I felt his skittish eyes rake across my every movement. With his ten-year-old arms slung inside the gaping maw of a fence and darkened feathers pasted along the creases of his face; he looked squarely at me. I could hear his bird-bones quaking at my voice, he pushed harder against the fence. I winced for him.
"Hold still, we'll get you out," I turned back to my papa who stood alongside the road, "Papa," I pleaded, "Please! Help him!"
Reaching out, I touched his shoulder, "Don't be afraid. We're going to help you."
He didn't pull away from me. I thou
The Beggar's Gift (A Love Story)She wandered the shadows of the streets day and night, face hidden and a frayed basket in her hands. A beggar. Shunned, she became like a bit of dust in the breeze, lost among the many faceless passerby. But she would not be deterred. Her task was one worthy of determination, it was too important to be left to chance.The Beggar's Gift (A Love Story)2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
For she was not trying to get, but to give.
The beggar bore the basket before her as if it were made of spun glass and it was only her sheer will power holding it together. She offered it up to any gentlemanly face that came her way.
“Please sir, will you take this gift?”
But those few that did not pass by her wordlessly, simply gazed at it momentarily before unintelligibly muttering what she presumed to be an apology and continued on their way.
“Please sir, will you take this gift? All I ask is for one in return.”
Each day she tirelessly asked her question, hoping that one day someone would accept.
Once there was a man. He stopped, peering in the
The Other's Orange FlowersMy brother’s asleep on the couch and I have a pen in my hand. At first I was going to draw on his face, but that would wake him up. So I turn the pen upside down and dangle the orange feather at the end just above his nose.The Other's Orange Flowers2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
“What are you doing, Allie?” he asks without opening his eyes. I sweep the feather across his nose. His face wrinkles up and he opens one eye. “Ew, orange!”
“It’s just a colour,” I say. “I’m looking after you. Mum told me to.”
He pushes me off the couch with one hand, and I slump onto the floor. “You’re too little to look after me, Allie.”
“But you’re sick, and you can’t look after me, so . . .” I chew my lips.
“Sure, I can,” he says. “And I’m not sick, just tired.”
“You’ve been tired a lot. That might mean you’re sick.”
“Allie. There’s nothing – underline that – nothing wrong
State of MindThey buried her today.State of Mind3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I stood in the crowd, all of us dressed in blacks. I straightened my tie nervously as ladies I didn't know in big, veiled hats exchanged soft, sad words about what a shame it was. How she'd been so brilliant, how she'd had such a full life ahead of her. Ladies that didn't even know her.
There was a coffin, but there wasn't much in it. They didn't open the casket either, like they did sometimes. The man at the funeral home had said there was a limit to how much they could make fit for viewing, and I didn't really blame him for not even trying.
"This sucks," Cindy told me. We were sat at one of the cheap metal tables they roll out for occasions like this, both of us with a glass of alcohol in our hands. I hadn't asked if it was wine or something else. Didn't care.
"Yeah," I agreed, tone muted. We exchanged a look, Cindy's eyes heavy and ringed, her face lined in stress like a mirror of my own. Together, we drank. It was white wine, dry, about a 4. She would have li
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
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.
An Enchanted EveningI knew I had work to do, but it was an impressive sunset.An Enchanted Evening1 year ago in Short Stories More Like This
The clouds were charcoal-grey, streaking away from the sun as it sank into the sea. Each had its own orange halo, as though catching the reflections of a fire that was burning the whole horizon.
I watched it for a few minutes, letting the sound of waves lull me into a waking dream. Then I smiled and shook my head. Time enough for that later. For now, there was still important work to be done: the world's best date was not going to set up itself.
I stood up and started my trek down the beach for driftwood. Anything I needed would have been dumped at high tide, near where the sand turned to grassy parkland. There was little enough of it; just as well I'd thought ahead to buy some timber. But driftwood was necessary for the feel.
Thinking ahead was important to tonight. In dates, like most ventures, planning is half of success. The other half was luck. But start with what you can do, right?
So by the time the sky had gone fr
the arrangement of astral cordsThis is how I'm built up, you see;the arrangement of astral cords2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
stars trapped in the linings of my
the regurgitation of meteors
the chambers of a heart--
deconstructs of kaleidoscope-stained
This is the reason why my throat
bubbles like witch's brew--
the insides of my body form monsoons that
scratch my lungs and
disintegrate my windpipe,
an off-pitched dissonance
like wind chimes
whenever I try to shout or speak or
(and they tell me that you could sing
the moon to sleep when you cast
your faithful nothings on a star)
[and, no, I'm not some kind of genie
trapped in an expanse of dust
rather than a lamp]
Darling, I was never caught between
a collision of star-crossed galaxies,
nor an accident between the big bang
and a black hole.
I was born a star-child.
and, no, they could never be beautiful.
Yet, I could never be as graceful.
I could never carve my face the way
gods do, and
A Short VisitIn the country,A Short Visit2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
the scarcity of humanity,
our ability to stand outside and be alone,
holds an undeniable appeal to me.
Even in the cold, the quiet can be
a great friend. The sun was out today,
pleasant on the skin. The wind had subdued
from last night's blowing. I sat in my
great-grandfather's metal lawn chair.
He kept this one outside the barn.
Told me once how he found a meteorite
in the chair. Said it hit the barn
and bounced right down to sit a spell.
Said it gave him a little shock,
a space-spark he called it,
when he picked it up from its resting spot.
How old was he then?
My age? I only recall an aged,
bald, weathered, cowboy who still preferred
to do his business in the outhouse
instead of the indoor room with water
from pipes. He told me
he knew when I was being born
because his knees itched from where
I would sit and his hands stung
from where he would spank me.
He and Granny shared a small house,
blown by the horrid western Oklahoma wind,
on a hill that overlooked their pond
Choose Your Name“John Brant,” I whispered, and a dashing British gentleman appeared in my mind, arrogant and suave as the slim-fitting Italian suit he wore. He sounded classy, not overly pompous. But there was just something about him. He could be the cool confident charmer I was looking for. But he could just as well be a stiff stocky soldier with his pride shoved far up his ass.Choose Your Name2 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
“John Chase,” The name rolled smoothly off my tongue. Another man took form, both the same and different from the first. He was just as charming, perhaps a little lower in class with a bolder tongue. And was that a little mischief I saw in his eyes? Undoubtedly, he was smoother than the latter. He could work. A common name for a common man. Maybe a little too common. But he could work.
“John Davies,” I frowned, my eyes still closed as I wrinkled my brow. This man was full of question marks. Unlike the previous two, I couldn’t picture him quite as clearly. And I wasn’t su
Infini-Fridge 9000Barry loved his Infinity Fridge. Or at least, until he got married, anyway.Infini-Fridge 90003 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
At first, it was amazing. As a freshly-recruited maintenance engineer on the Luxury Star Cruiser The Astronut, Barry had found his new home and workplace full wonders. He walked through rooms so tall he couldn't see the sky; he swept up litter from artificial beaches which captured more beauty than the real thing; he watched the stars pass by like rain from the sweeping observation deck.
And, of course, he had his Infinity Fridge.
An Infini-Fridge 9000 was standard-issue hardware for a Luxury class cruiser, but Barry had never seen anything like it. In the slums of his native Bomalomalom, pretty much everything was finite (except perhaps for misery). Water was rationed. Food was served via nutritional pills only. Even electricity was limited to ten tera-watt-hours per day. That was barely enough to run a sens-o-vision sim and have enough left over to purify your evening drink.
So to step into a room with a frid
Complex 57The slick of black, heady oil rolled across the floor, staining the raw surface of the clinic, and the young boy collapsed back into the examination table. He was pale, even for someone who had never seen sunlight, with milky eyes and black spittle hanging from cracked lips.Complex 572 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Of those we've seen, the virus has spread most quickly in this patient." Doctor Ripnar was a tall man who tended to sway when he walked, but had hands as deft and precise as any surgeon and he used them now to steady and restrain the boy. "His blood is turning into the same substance you see at your feet." he continued, "We might have been able to keep him alive long enough to find a cure, but we don't have the resources for everyone."
Adjudicator Lawrence nervously straightened his tie; his pink and sweaty face bulbous with stress. "Everyone?" he asked, "How many have been infected?"
"It's in the air supply, Adjudicator. We're all infected."
The Adjudicator lurched, virulent juices churning in his stomach. He hat
United States Summer 2011America alienates me.United States Summer 20114 years ago in Haiku & Eastern More Like This
From touchdown in Atlanta it is obvious I am, so to speak, no longer in Kansas.
I am asked what I am doing here. Repeatedly, and not always in a nice way. I want to answer with the obvious, that I am queuing endlessly for the privilege of being cross examined by an unfriendly customs officer who wants to know all kind of private details my best friend doesn't even know, but I swallow it back and smile meekly, while trying to act like I am not nervous, frustrated and insulted.
Procedures, waiting lines, probing questions, stamps and signatures, and then, finally, the liberating "Enjoy the United States".
I never felt more alien.
passports, fingerprints, eye scans...
I just want my love.
America amuses me.
This first meeting scratches only at the surface. I encounter all the clichés and smile inwardly: the food portions, the convenience stores, the SUVs.
It Bit Me"And tomorrow we'll install the kitchen cabinets along this wall here," the man gestured into the adjacent room.It Bit Me2 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
My mother nodded in agreement as the construction contractor spoke. All the while, I sat slouched in boredom against the unpainted drywall of my newly-constructed home, my eyes wandering around the unborn living room as I searched for something, anything, to pique my interest. I desperately prayed for any form of entertainment or distraction, but the room loomed in desolate quietness. The scruffy man with my mother turned and stretched his hand out towards the wall directly across from me, redressing the cryptically dull conversation into that of the addition of a new fireplace. I gave another sigh of boredom and rested my small chin on top of my crossed arms. But just then, salvation presented itself to me in the form of a slight glinting atop the nearby counter dividing the two rooms.
I returned my gaze to my mother, who still stood with her back to me, nodding on occasion
the running manWhen I see you, all I see is after. Gravel upturned by that beige Chevy. Pavement sun-baked and time-worn, like most Mississippi roads. You love the highways. You drive by, sunglasses and Miller Lite caps on a string, without noticing I'm headed in the opposite direction. I don't have time to regard the dust cloud because there's a cop idling nearby.the running man3 years ago in Emotional More Like This
You've always been headed in the opposite direction.
When I was fifteen I didn't understand. Couldn't have. You can't read another language until you learn the right words, wrap your brain around the meaning of those foreign sounds and inflections. I couldn't read you because I didn't want to. It was easier to be angry and ignorant. It's always easier.
Five years later - five years of investigation, of difficult questions and even more difficult answers - I know you better than I ever thought I could. It wasn't any effort on your part, of course. Not your style. For you, existence defines itself - you have no reason to justify your