Russian RouletteThey take her on her honeymoon.
The wedding was lovely, or as lovely as it could have been with a couple that were more polite acquaintances than anything else and two sets of in-laws as stuffy as a dusty pile of money. They grab her when she sneaks out for a walk one night, two men, beefy, not even bothered to arm themselves. Her last thought before the bag is shoved over her eyes is to wonder how much this would ruin her parents' plans.
She comes to in a small brick room on a sallow mattress, windowless and lit by a cool yellow lamp. There's a man there, standing just outside the barred door.
"Kelly Shale," he says, voice nasally, greasy greying hair half-covering his forehead. She's not sure if it's a question or a statement.
She counts the days by watching the guardsone on day shift, one on night. They're probably the same men who took her, but they stay too much out of her field of vision to really tell. It takes until the third day for the woman to come.
'Meil,' they call h
for all intensive purposesi am accused of beingfor all intensive purposes in Free Verse More Like This
a category five--
but i will not excuse the way my skin aches.
i want storms.
i remember the way Katrina screamed &
if you press your ear to my chest you will hear the same.
the moan turning into a pitch, the pitch
screaming until the throat is too raw to be
more than a whimper.
the way it stops
silently racked until it bursts forth once more.
i will not apologize for being demolition.
scars exist on every woman
too powerful to contain herself.
this is about forgettingThis is the thing about forgetting:this is about forgetting in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
For weeks you bury your face in the clothes you wore when he was near and the smell is a comfort and a torture. You decide that the torture is not worth the comfort so you leave them draped across the back of a chair and place things on top of them to stop yourself until one day you shove your hands through the pile until your fingers wrap around the fabric and you yank it free only to realize it was pointless. Even his ghost is gone.
The next thing that leaves is the way his voice looked in the dark. Those few sentences become blurred and rough around the edges. What you remember drops in your stomach in a different way.
You run your fingers over your
LW 00: Shadow Heart“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” –George SantayannaLW 00: Shadow Heart in Introductions & Chapters More Like This
No one knows why the wars started. Or when. Or why. Just that they are.
I have been to every part of this universe. My feet have made the ice fields of Ilazki sing. I have felt the burn of the sun on Chromandae. I have spilled blood in the arena of Gegenes and washed my hands in the seas of Icaunus. I have haggled with traders in the bazaar on Adur and felt the thrum of the steam engine trains on Atarrabi. I have even stood on the steps of the Academy of Lugos and heard the hum of the electrified defenses mingle with the quiet chorus of night city sounds.
But, before this, all I remember is waking—
The last remnants of something beautiful had faded away, and then I was abandoned. I was betrayed.
My knees against icy ground, I tried to rub away the red stains on my hands but they were too thick; they
Passivitymy teeth are numb from tryingPassivity in Free Verse More Like This
to find words to describe you
our breath is smoke &
our hands are death.
1/2 a pack a day,
we're catching up to our grandparents--
but we have our own wars &
we discuss them casually over---
steam from our bodies, our pores--
the heat transfer it takes to
combine two beings.
A Fusion. the clumsy chemistry
of the young & feverish.
The Substitution ParadigmThe Substitution ParadigmThe Substitution Paradigm in Short Stories More Like This
Ramu came up to our table. Glaring at me, he said, “You either order something or get out.”
I glanced away from the threat, and turned to Raghav. A single drop of sweat was running down his brow. Ramu saw that too and identifying his prey, he sprung.
Swinging around, he faced Raghav, “Order something or get out.”
Then Ramu just stood there. It was not as if we had rehearsed it before hand, but he knew. He knew that my co-occupants generally folded in the first round. Only the stout made it to second level, but they too buckled under Ramu’s relentless gaze.
I always had a policy of not spending on other people’s problems. My purse was already slimmer than the waist of a size zero model. So, I simply sat there, watching the lion circling his prey.
A few seconds later, the prey went down. “Two coffees”, Raghav said, wiping away the sweat with a handkerchief.
Ramu turned his head back, gave me a leering smile, and we
The Dead Bee SyndromeFamily and friends would often comment how great Mr. Sharma’s life was. The house in Mumbai, the son overseas, he was living the Indian Dream.The Dead Bee Syndrome in Short Stories More Like This
He had retired two years ago, with sufficient income to support his wife and himself. The son in the UK did wire some money now and then, but that was just frosting on the cake, the pension made sure of that.
The son would call them almost every fortnight, the ring of the telephone echoing through throughout the empty house. Every time, just before ending the call, he would ask them one thing, and the answer was always the same.
Mr. Sharma loved his freedom much more.
But the retired Quality Head was bored. For as far as he could remember, his life had been like a bee, always humming. Until his retirement though. At his retirement, the bee died. Watering the plants, reading the papers, house-chores had replaced carrying out quality audits, shouting at people, and having fun. Life had hit the brakes, but Mr. Sharma wasn’t loving i
Demons are Smarter Than YouThe mist obediently hovers within the binding circle, coming once more and tamely to my call. How raucous it was when first I summoned it! How loudly it roared its name to the ceiling—how silent were the heavens that night. But now it is silent when it arrives, as silent as the heavens when I call, for I have bade it so. With it comes the sulfurous reek of its home and its own pets—a pair of tiny bat-winged imps no larger than my hand—and a deepening of the shadows in my basement conjury.Demons are Smarter Than You in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
The fool has cast his spells of summoning again, and never were more clichéd words uttered than in this room. He thinks I am silent because he ordered me to be; I am silent because I know that were I to speak, I would reveal the true depth of his idiocy. And that simply would not do. Not now that I've invested so much time into making this little room homely. My "little" pets—if the stupid scholar knew their true shapes, he would die of fright—are
To Dream of FallingI dream of falling.To Dream of Falling in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
It's not a dream common to angels. After all, we have a pair of wings--or two or three--and we can use them. We float upon the air, dance among the stars, shape the clouds with our breath, and so on. All that lovely wordplay to describe an indescribable. A joy, a graceless power. Flight.
Humans dream of it often, I am told. It makes sense. They have no wings save for what they create with their hands. Airplanes, hang gliders, helicopters. Kites. They are obsessed with the sky, more so than the angels themselves, many of whom will fly three thousand miles rather than walk across the street.
And yet I dream of falling.
And in my dreams, I always start out as what I am--a bookish secretary pushed into a role never intended for him--and I always end as a human.
And the first thing I feel is falling.
Sometimes I jump off the edge of one of the Heavens.
of the ground-of the ground in Short Stories More Like This
It was Sunday night when Geo climbed into my room from the fire escape. I was painting my toenails and listening to the sounds of the city: police sirens, pulsating bass, the kids in my tenement running guitar riffs back and forth with the street musicians on the sidewalk. That was the year I turned sixteen and took a two-month vow of silence to honor the death of autumn. A premature snow had robbed the season of its delicate warmth and color, forcing the maples to weep their leaves into the gutters. All that rainwater, all that decay. How could anyone create when October was dying outside their windows? Pete and Jake practiced acoustic that entire month. The rest of us were too fragile to play in suicide weather, when the right chords might move us to open our veins.
Geo sat down next to me, examining my bottle of red lacquer. "'To Eros is Human,'" he read, and rolled his eyes. "I'll keep that in mind."
I offered him my shoebox of nail polish. He selected a purple the color of opium
Anything you can find:"They're wicked," whispers Deputy Mack, when he thinks we aren't listening. "Beautiful, but wicked."Anything you can find: in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
It makes Noah smirk from the front desk, where Clara Wynn, the dispatcher, is sneaking him sips from her hip flask while she profiles him. DePrince, she writes, Noah Thomas. Age: 12. Hair: Black. She puzzles over the color of his eyes before penning gray on the line, a rarity that gives us an edge, which we use like a scalpel. Noah flickers eyes like new nickels whenever we want something. Today is the Friday after the funeral and we are sick for answers, so we ask Clara if she will take our mug shots.
"I'll find some film," she says, disappearing into the back room. The door taps shut behind her. Deputy Mack and Sheriff Spellis are still arguing about us in the office, their voices a low rumble of contention, so we slip off our chairs and spread out through the station.
"Obituaries, photos, police reports," says Noah, fanning a stack of files across the desk. "Hur
Why Peter is not a poet.Cole is eleven. Age matters in October, when twelve is the only difference between the haunted hayride and the shelled corn sandbox. Age matters when a boy says the word "shit" in school (and Cole does). But age doesn't matter when the same boy has both sneakers dangling over the edge of a 250-foot grain silo, his hands sweaty on the rungs, the state of Nebraska breathing vacant and honeyed and infinite below him. For the first time in his life, Cole can't be quantified by the candles on his last birthday cake. Cole is young, but today, he is worth saving. Three facts about Cole:Why Peter is not a poet. in Short Stories More Like This
1. His eyebrows are the most expressive arches his body has to offer.
2. He's so terrified that his very expressive eyebrows are threatening to take up permanent residence in his hairline.
3. He does not have suicidal tendencies, and later understands--for the sake of his mother's heart and Officer Roy's bladder control--that his strategies for
singles.Cooper is twelve years old and a treasure in his tennis whites, and I am unremarkable, eleven, blurred at the edges like some uncertain shoreline. He only speaks to me because he sees Coach Drown's hands linger too long on my hips when he's teaching me topspins. We're pairing up, Cooper declares, claiming me from across the court with the wide end of his racquet. He spends the rest of practice serving straight down the line, aiming to concuss. Cooper Corentin plays tennis like we're in trenches. Come on, kid, fight back, he says. If I were a fucking truck, would you just stand there on the dotted line?singles. in Short Stories More Like This
Coach Drown is a truck. Every Thursday afternoon, he rakes me over for roadkill, and I lie there bisected below him with the taste of gravel in my throat. I should be used to it by now, but sometimes he still catches me full in the nerves like headlights. I'm practicing my backhand these da
Peace*Peace in Scraps More Like This
Miss Wallace could have compressed the entire file into one four-second video: Elliot and Jack standing in the clearing, watching Peace's empty body fill with rain.
Instead, she created a new memory bank and named it "Mortality."
Her knowledge of the subject was limited to the definitions they'd fed her at Parent Programming: a condition of impermanence, potential for termination, the impossibility of repair. Descriptions of life, not the end of it. They told her she wasn't manufactured to understand death. What, then, was a twelve-year-old boy who had been emptied of his internal organs?
It was nothing a soldering gun could fix. It wasn't a rusty actuator, or a ruptured filament. This was human life spilled across a forest floor, and Miss Wallace--who knew nothing of transience--had never seen anything so final.
"Peace," Elliot whispered.
The world was blurred and unsteady through the live feed of her son's anesthetized synapses
refulgenthe had memorized her by the filament now (light-refulgent in Free Verse More Like This
in-her-hair. the incandescence of her expressions.),
and though he loved her always, and in exposure--
too-smooth hands, those deadflat spots
sheared by whichever-emission--
he still mourned the down of their mouths together,
and sometimes he kissed her with his eyes open,
secretly missing her eyelashes.
101 Ways to Prepare Pond ScumTolly Spellis was a miracle in the kitchen. There was an admittedly small market for post-nuclear cuisine, but Nora had been eating out of cans for the bulk of her life, and she knew the difference between nourishment for the sake of survival and complete transformation of the edible world. This was more than aimless garnish, shriveled ryegrass on a mutated flank. With an arsenal of spices tucked in an old grenade pouch around her waist, Tolly laid out the carcasses like fine music, attuned to sizzle and smoke and the dying hiss of stubborn bacteria. She monitored her work with scientific diligence: two dozen cuts of mutated cow, soft marbling of fat, dust of tarragon to neutralize the taste of the rads. The Mites couldn't pay her; fallout currency was split somewhere between coinage and lead shot. Even civilized people still bartered with bullets. Tolly only asked for protection. Plates, ingredients, and prot101 Ways to Prepare Pond Scum in Short Stories More Like This
leitmotif(I will never forgive Millais for painting Ophelia calm in the water. My cousin Noah died shoeless and struggling under a lonely mans hands, his eyes full of rain runoff. Real people dont sink as pretty as oil on canvas: Noah was four feet five on the autopsy slab, no flowers, no frames. I am ruled by the aesthetic, but I would embrace his every imperfection if it meant having him back. This clumsy dilettante still loves Noah with the scabs on his shins, sitting sloppy at Sams recitals in sneakers and shorts. Give me the asymmetry of his eyelashes. For the first time in my life, the art is optional.leitmotif in Short Stories More Like This
There is a reason I keep this part peripheral: this is not about drowning. Boys in deep lakes know nothing of footholds, and Noah left the rest of us grateful for something to stand on. Don't expect closure. This is about hindsight. Today, we know that we are spoiled by floors.)
Emily is seei
Argus ApocraphexOf the many tiny beads of sweat that had formed on his forehead, two fell down, further soaking his already dampened brow. Suspended, he floated upside-down in a padded room, dreaming without consciousness of his body or its position in space.Argus Apocraphex in Short Stories More Like This
His mind reeled from slide to slideimages of adolescence pooling together and then streaming into an old time film: The Life and Times of Donald A. Silver. The yellowed silent movie showed a young man smiling and leaning against an old Chevrolet sedan. Cigarettes burnt the corner, and he was dancing with the woman he'd asked to marry him. But in the center of the shot, a blur grew from the inside of the lilies on her wrist. A quick rewind to remove the obstruction, but instead it continued to grow across the bare chest of a flexing boy at the public pool. And finally, it consumed the picture and gnawed it to the pit, leaving behind a carcass to rot in its old age.
The man awo
Train Under WaterBrother,Train Under Water in Short Stories More Like This
I'm writing to tell you I'm dropping out of college; I haven't told anyone. I'm twitching, Michael. The hunger came back a few weeks ago, and I'm not sure it ever left. Regardless, it's crying now, and I need to go. I need to keep moving on. I'm leaving for Chicago tomorrow. My train takes off in the afternoon, and when I get there, I'll leave again. I want to go somewhere new, Michael.
I want to go somewhere I have never seen before.
Now, I know you have to be worried, but don't, Brother. Don't you be afraid. I'll write to you wherever I go. I won't leave a return address, please don't try to follow me. You can't, Michael, you're too smart. Your place is here among these people; and mine is out there. You're meant for your books; I'm meant for my trees. I want to roar from the woods with a pen mightier than He
Automatici.Automatic in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
"So where are you from?" The boy leans toward me, questions swimming in his eyes. I smile.
"Oh, I'm from Boston."
"No, I mean, where are you from?" My smile falters as I realize where this is going. It's an all-too familiar conversation, one I've been having since I was old enough to reply.
"Do you mean where was I born?"
"I was born in China."
"Do you speak Chinese?"
"Does your family speak Chinese?"
He looks befuddled. I sigh.
"Oh!" I see the light bulb over his head go off in a shower of sparks. "Do you know who your real parents are? Like, your real parents?" My temper flares. I stifle the urge to throw something.
"You mean my biological parents?"
"Oh." There's an awkward pause. I have learned to wait it out, to prepare my next automated response.
"When were you adopted?"
"When I was a year old."
"Did you live in an orphanage?"
"Like in Annie?"
Rolling my eyes seems appropriate.
"No, not l
For My DaughterDear daughter-I-do-not-have-yet,For My Daughter in Letters More Like This
You will be my perfect. You will be my proudest moments in one small person. You will be made in love, or maybe anger, or maybe even desperation. But that won't matter. What matters is what you will be made into.
You will have Daddy's hair and his nose, and my eyes and my smile, the smile that happens not because someone with a camera told you to, but because you're genuinely happy. But you will have your very own heart and will be full of all the things that give you your you-ness. Whether you sing in the bath or make Valentines for everyone in your class or give your last homemade chocolate chip cookie to the boy sitting alone at recess.
I will write you poems and stories about how you are my miracle. I will read them to you sometimes, just to remind you. As you grow, not a day will go by that I'm not thankful for everything you are. You will be dazzling and beautiful and brilliant and compassionate and playful and curious and all of the things
Joyi.Joy in Drama More Like This
"How do you know?"
"Who's else would it be?"
"I dunno. G'nite."
"Oh good, you're alive. I thought you had a heart attack on me or something."
"I've been getting sick every morning. It sucks."
"I'm due in June, just before school ends. This actually works in my favor; I have the whole summer off."
"What are we going to do? Devon, we're seventeen."
"I don't know, Lisa, I don't know."
"Devon, it's a girl."
"Is she beautiful?"
"Devon, she's still just barely past the embryo stage. She looks nothing like a human yet."
"I bet she's beautiful."
"C'mon, Lisa, don't cry..."
"Do you even remember what happened?"
"No, not really."
"We were at the park, I think..."
"Yeah, because you came home with grass stains on your dress."
"Oh, that's right. And you said something along the lines of, 'stop worrying, nothing bad is going to ha
The IdolI once saw a man on the television who was so afraid of fruits that when presented with a bowl of them, he fled the stage, knocking over the host and several other guests. Though I openly pitied the man for his obvious malady of the mind, inside, the small bit of sadism buried within all humans laughed at his bizarre affliction. How can one not find cruel amusement in the cowering of a grown man who has been confronted by nothing more than a bowl of peaches? But now I understand fear like no other. I now no longer find amusement in the terror of others, no matter how illogical.The Idol in Short Stories More Like This
Now, let me tell you the story of why the sound of wind whistling through the trees in Autumn strikes me with a fear so immense that I can do little more than shake uncontrollably.
A good friend of mine, a young and upcoming anthropologist by the name of Henry Byrne, contacted me eight weeks ago. Though he refused to go into details, he excitedly explained t
Across the Sea and Around the KotatsuSpringAcross the Sea and Around the Kotatsu in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
Mom starts with rice. Japanese rice, one, two, three Japanese cup-fulls of rice grains into the cooker, because Sis eats a lot of this stuff. It's one of her favorite dishes, taco rice, and Mom's always happy to make it for her because it's the only way Sis will eat her tomatoes. But back to the rice. "You want to rinse at least three or four times, until the water's kind of clear," Mom says as she cups her hand under the cooker pot, letting the cloudy water wash over her hand.
Rice cooking's easy though – just fill enough water to the point the rice's covered, punch in a time (or set it to "Quick Cook," which with our creaking rice cooker still takes about an hour) and let the cooker do its thing.
Ground meat goes into a well-greased and heated frying pan. Break up the block so that it crumbles into fine little pieces, and do this with wild abandon, because this is taco meat. Mom uses any taco seasoning that happens to be cheap; most seasonings rack up t
Send Me the Raintoday, they're all talking about the fires.Send Me the Rain in Free Verse More Like This
the people on TV, the voices on the radio,
the mouths that open and whisper
and softly touch tongues. even the sky is
revealing black plumes of smoke,
flaunting shameless and seductive curves.
the rain's been too dry and the lightning
isn't wet enough, panic is
rising out of control in this
burning city. that's
we have a crisis on
our hands- the balloons are
running out of air and even
the experts don't really know why,
and on top of those sinking rubber toys
my soul is losing moisture
faster than the crackling grass under the duress of flame.
i'm starting to see the subtle luscious contours
i might not exactly be news-worthy
but if i catch, then
the forest might too.
i'm considered a reasonable loss, however.
they heard it might storm tomorrow. and everybody knows
that means they'll be safe-
because they all talk about it.
it almost stormed-
the sky spat and then
thought better of it,
Deja vu. Again.I had moved here two weeks' ago, but had never visited this section of town so late at night. I had been invited to the pub by my neighbour, to make me feel welcome. An hour ago, she had phoned to say she had been asked to work overtime, and wouldn't be able to make it. Seeing as I was there, I drank a couple of cocktails. I was now walking back home.Deja vu. Again. in Short Stories More Like This
Drunken people yelled out across the street. A couple of cars drove by, their horns blaring as the inebriated stumbled into the road. A bright yellow car stopped, flashing its headlights. A woman in a red dress banged on the window. The passenger door was opened, and a shouting match started between the woman and the driver. The woman slammed the door closed, and walked away. My stomach churned. I felt as though I had witnessed this before, and a weird protectiveness came over me. I had a strong urge to warn the woman about her actions, but warring partners were not unusual on a night out, and it wasn't my place to offer advic