Microfiction Monday – Twenty-second Edition


Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Louis Staeble.


MMMOctober27

The Fear Bomb
by Jonathan Oak

When the fear bomb hit the city, everyone around Samuel was at first frozen with fear and then ecstatic with it, running blind with terror. But Samuel had been afraid for so long he hadn’t noticed a difference. He just continued taking calls. Though he did feel, unaccountably, less alone.

Pumpkin Gorge
by Connor Powell

Poor boy. She’d caught him in her vegetable patch, kicking her prized pumpkins. She brought him in and made him stop moving. As each day passed he changed. Slowly, his head began to bloat. Finally the day came where she took him outside. It’d taken her three days to dig the hole, right in the centre of the vegetable patch. She dropped him in, and filled the hole with soil, leaving only his bulbous orange head above ground. Thick green vines spouted from the top of the child’s head, engorged by her tender care. She always grew the best pumpkins.

Triangle
by John C. Mannone

Rain obscured the caution sign, but he kept speeding, maybe thinking about his girlfriend. He should’ve kept his eyes on the highway, not the box of roses on the seat for his date. Now, someone else’s red rose, stem and thorn, had been cut short. Her umbrella lay broken on the ground.

It’s Not Insomnia
by Anne Pem

Still scared in your boots there, kid? Wonderin’ why your fingers keep drippin’ red? Why you ain’t slept in days, Marty? It’s not insomnia. You wonderin’ why nothing seems real no more, boy? It’s cus it ain’t. No, you did not wrestle that gun from your daddy, hold it in your trembling hands, and point it right between his scared eyes like you planned. It was not your finger that pulled the trigger on him. You were too slow again. It ain’t daddy’s ghost keepin’ you up nights, kid. It’s you who’s haunting him.

I Bring Her Diamonds. My Hands are Full of Them
by Eric Robert Nolan

I bring her diamonds. My hands are full of them.
“Please,” she sobs heavily, “stop coming back.”
I had no money for diamonds, once.
When my car crashed, the exploding windshield sent diamonds rushing deep into me – my eyes, my throat – my hands – all shining in the moonlight. The pain was overwhelming. And then it stopped. And all I could think was I finally had something to give her.
Every full moon I come to her porch at midnight, to show her how they shine in my open hands. But every time she only holds her head and cries.

Microfiction Monday – Twenty-first Edition


Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Marc D. Regan.


creepy dead wizard

Free at Last
by Marc D. Regan

Newman heard it again, the steady slap-slap-slapping footfalls that only stopped when his did. That bloodthirsty kid. Down sidewalks, corridors, inside Newman’s flat, this desperate young stalker followed—for years. The kid was forever eighteen, unkempt, angry. Newman had aged from thirty to forty.
“No,” Newman screamed. “It’s over!”
Hunting knife seized, he dashed outside. Footsteps echoed. Newman spun, blade slashing, gouging eyes, ears. Newman collapsed, blind and deaf. Alone. Hot blood pulsed onto the pavement. The kid was gone. At last.
Newman saw himself thirty again, stomping on the brakes too late as the kid crossed the street.

Girl’s Best Friend
by Eric Robert Nolan

I’ve been trying to kill that damn dog for over a week. It’s loyal to a fault. It digs.
It’s a mutt. A dumb one. Mid-sized, with mottled brown and white fur. Nothing to distinguish it except for an unusually vacant expression.
And it digs.
Fiona used to call it “Skipper.”
I was questioned in the disappearance of my eight-year-old daughter, but never really suspected in it.
It brought me Fiona’s femur yesterday, panting and wide-eyed. Right to the back door. My hammer missed its skull by inches.
It returns to that narrow space behind the shed. And it digs.

Discarded but Not Gone
by Peggy Christie 

It had been months since they left her here to die. Did they think it would be that easy? The ceiling crumbled and drywall dust coated her porcelain face. Her glass eyes, unaffected by the swirling debris of the collapsing home, could see the bulldozer as it crawled toward the main support beam. When the entire structure finally fell, bringing two stories of mortar, brick, glass, and metal down on top of her, the doll body would shatter, and she would be free.

The Bleeding
by Edward Vaughn

My sweet Jezebelle begins to cry as I lay her in the center of the pentagram. She knows what is happening, I think. From my underwear drawer I pull the knife I snuck from Grandmother’s kitchen. I kneel before my baby. She lay on her back, helpless. I cut her. I cut myself. The wood inside the pentagram drinks our blood. A crack in the air like thunder and I see him in the shadows. The horn-headed man. “Jezebelle,” I say. She stops crying and smiles. “Daddy’s home.”

Cliche
by Jessica Standifird

“Bloody handprints are so cliché, you got anything better than that?” Tess smirked at the sticky handprint on her sheet.
There was a groan from the attic.
“Really?” she sighed, “You gonna’ rattle some chains, now, too?”
A chill shook her body. From the gelatinous mess pooled on the bed between her legs a child’s voice reached up, “No, Mommy, but you could have been less predictable, yourself.”
Her husband lifted her gently, whispered in her ear, “Come on, hon. I’m taking you to the hospital.”

Microfiction Monday – Twentieth Edition


Can you believe we’re at twenty weeks already? This is the second installment of our month-long horror series. Keep sending those horror submissions in!

Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance.


MMMOct13

Keko
by Steve Bishop

At night there were sounds in the walls.
“Don’t worry,” said Mum. “Just an old house cooling.”
But a house doesn’t make footsteps. I made her come and listen, though all was quiet by then. Unconvinced, I investigated further. My bookcase came away from the wall too easily, and with sick inevitability Hardbacks, Ladybirds and Pelicans slipped onto the wooden floor ahead of the gunshot crash. Behind it, a door in the wall, and inside, a grubby crawl-space.
My missing Haribos and torch. A blanket and a creepy looking doll that looked like me. Made with my actual hair.

Express
by Dan Howarth

The train sped on. Bullet sleek and direct. A tunnel yawned ahead, snatching all the light from the world. Artificial table lamps flickered making Wilson look up from his book. His fellow passengers were too engrossed in their phones to notice. The lights snuffled out, plunging the carriage into black. Wilson looked round in panic, breathless. Other passenger’s faces glowed garishly by the light of their tiny screens. Their faces were contorted, strange and bestial with feral eyes and twisted grins. One by one their screens turned off, and in the darkness, Wilson heard them all leave their seats.

Eggs
by Joseph J. Patchen

Every morning Jack enjoyed two eggs over easy with his bacon, toast and juice. With the skillet sizzling and butter melting, Jack cracked open his eggs only to find two eyes in the yokes glaring back at him. And he knew that they knew what he had done. “What am I thinking?”’ he whispered. Jack ate heartily and laughed out loud, continuing to laugh as he left his apartment and strolled down the street. And that is where they found him: on the street with his eyes pecked out.

The New Girl
by Peter Lacy-Egis

The kids at school were frightened of Katie, dressed in black and with skin so pale even her lips were white. But what was worse, she smelled like rotting flesh. Ella only played with her because her mother said to be nice to the new girl.
Katie insisted they play outside even though it was late. Soon there was a rustling in the brush. Ella went to investigate and stumbled backwards upon seeing a tall dark, robed figure holding a scythe.
“Daddy!” shouted Katie, running toward him as he swung the scythe, pulled her in, and they were gone.

Something’s Wrong with the Cat
by Seth Oden

The Hendersons were still mourning seven months after Mrs. Henderson’s miscarriage. In that time their cat Muffin had gained considerable weight. They debated taking her to the vet, but in their depression they just let it go. Now poor Mittens was bloated to the size of a large watermelon, and lay panting near her water bowl. When Mr. Henderson sat beside the cat, he saw her midsection ripple as though something writhed inside. His hand on her belly, something pushed out from within, causing the cat to mewl loudly as its skin tore, and an infant’s hand reached through.

Microfiction Monday – Nineteenth Edition


Microfiction Monday Magazine is proud to bring you the first set of micros in our month-long horror series. We are still actively seeking more horror submissions and artwork as well. Just click the submissions tab above to send your work our way.

Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance.


MMMOCT6

The Trail
by Jessica Shoemaker

Amongst the granite cliffs and redwoods, she was a tiny speck leaving tiny footprints on a path beside the river.
After three days, she was happy to spot another pair of prints. They sat and spoke of sunsets, stars, and solitude. She shared cashews. He offered her some tea.
While she gathered her gear, he pushed on ahead. She copied his gait along the trail, leaving tiny shoe prints inside of his until his tracks abruptly stopped. The feeling of being steeped in lead rapidly spread. Unable to move. Unable to scream. She watched him step slowly from the trees.

Pet
by Richard Jennis

The metal monster breathed poison. Slept in refuse, contended paws curling rhythmically, dagger-claws scraping the hard metal floor.
“It’s time, boy,” said the sad little man, nudging his favorite abomination lovingly and gesturing to the open door. The little metal man had himself been a hunter long ago, but grew disheartened from years of being eluded and dodged. His blade hand was slow, rusty like the underside of an old, cheap car. He was weak.
Now the metal monster did his bidding, dragged in rats and cats and street orphans. Lay panting excitedly, waiting for its loving master’s praise.

What Waits in the Shadows
by Joyce Frank

The candle burns low. The claw of the living dead scrapes the bowl, scooping a fun-sized Reese’s cup. Still they come, dragging their crosses and hatchets, adjusting their Hogwarts gowns.
Mom’s off for more candy.
“Leave the bowl and take the trash out back.”
In the amber fog of the floodlight, a shadow groans behind the dumpster, but Bobby won’t be frightened by a schoolmate.
“You don’t scare me Max,” he blusters, rushing the shadow. A wall of matted fur rears up on thick, muddy stumps. He inhales the fetid breath of a garbage-eating grizzly.

Winchester
by Tyler Jones

When I fall asleep the walls of the house shift and change. When I wake up the rooms are different sizes. Framed pictures from the hallway now hang in the attic. The windows have all disappeared. Doors open up to other rooms but never lead outside. I’ve spent days wandering through this maze. Sometimes I can’t find a bed and I fall asleep on the floor. I hear the sound of an approaching storm. One hand on the wall, scraping my toes on the floor. I feel so weak each step leaves me exhausted. I still can’t find the kitchen.

A Thumping in the Night
by Marc D. Regan

Honey. Please get up. I need you. It’s too hard. Alone.
She stares at the ceiling. Two weeks. Catatonia, they say. Though you hate leaving her, when your baby’s been stolen, action is required. But you’re home.
And what’s banging?
You go to the basement door, hear a steady thumping. The dryer?
Baffled, cellar bulb burnt out, a flashlight finds the dryer. What’s in there, a basketball? Body tingling, you yank. A wretched stench gags you. No dryer light. Flashlight illuminating, you scream—because the sight is unimaginable, this horribly annihilated baby son.
And your wife stands behind you.

Microfiction Monday – Eighteenth Edition


Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork by Marylea M. Quintana Madiman.


MMMSept29

Snapshot
by Richard Jennis

Mr. Lemieux showed me a flimsy little photograph, black and white, stained with tear marks, crinkled into sixty-fourths from years of folding and unfolding into increasingly smaller wallets. “It just gets bigger,” he explained. “It can’t fit anywhere anymore, it simply consumes everything.” The first girl was soft and yellow like a balloon that might just float away, and the other was bright and musical like a walking serenade. “She died, her sister survived,” Mr. Lemieux explained. I held him for three hours and waited for him to tell me which one, but he only muttered, “My baby. My beautiful baby.”

Albino Alligators
by Tammy Lynne Stoner 

Winter came quickly with a sudden frost. Electrical lines snapped. Olive trees died. And the albino alligators in the zoo froze. She watched them float down the river that curved through the zoo, wondering why their hard bodies didn’t sink. It wasn’t a bad way to go, she thought, they probably fell asleep first. Maybe that’s how I’ll do it. The woman tucked her chin into her scarf and looked down at the green water. The dead alligators drifted on top. She wanted to touch them but instead let them pass by, a parade of ghosts headed for the sun.

Housekeeping
by Jessica Standifird

The dishes are growing in number, and there are whispered clinks and rattles every time I walk by the kitchen sink. I fear a coup if I am unable to meet their demands. “Would you want to be covered in three-day-old grease?” One plate spat at me this morning as I was on my way to shower. I waved my oily ponytail at him in response, my lips pulled tight and eyebrows raised. The plate spun around and settled deeper into the crowd of teacups and silverware with a grumble. I am afraid. The knives are in there.

Pepper
by Tessa Mission

She replaced the sand in the hourglass with dried, dead spiders. Every time her mother made her stand in the corner for sulking, bad posture, or speaking out of turn, the spider bodies would sift through the narrow hole in the hourglass, breaking apart finer and finer as they measured her punishment. Soon they were nearly powder. In the middle of the night she snuck into the kitchen and poured them into the pepper shaker. The following evening over dinner as her parents berated her about her grades, they shook pepper onto their potatoes and ate them all up.

The Ewok and the Orc
by Anne Pem

The ewok was sobbing. Thick brown makeup ran down his face like a mudslide as he sat leaned against the wall at the comicon. Androids passed him, pretending not to notice. Pikachu pointed and whispered to Wonder Woman. Ultimately it was an orc who finally sat beside him.
“Mok’ra,” said the orc.
“Lurd,” the ewok patted his chest. “Lurdo.”
The orc tore a rag from his costume and offered it. The ewok wiped his face as the orc scratched him behind his brown ears and tried not to crush him with a hug.

Microfiction Monday – Seventeenth Edition


Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Marc D. Regan.


MMMSept22Water Rush

Robbie
by Richard Jennis

Robbie’s mind is a labyrinth where rabbits come to play, until cobras devour those rabbits in their glistening venom mouths. Somewhere in the labyrinth is Rachel Ellison’s bra from the time they got frisky while studying chemistry. Beyond that, in the most hidden and cavernous realm, is a small copy of “The Great Gatsby.” One day, Dr. Babylon tried to gain entry, and his life was never the same. Had he gone further, he would have met Rachel Ellison herself, and everything would have been illuminated. Unfortunately, he was scared off by the flickering symbols dancing on the serpentine walls.

Revenge
by Nathan Hystad

I press my back against the cold, brick wall. The spirit hovers in front of me, her face inches from mine. I can see the anguish in her eyes as she stretches her ethereal hands towards my neck. I know I was wrong to come here again. Through it all, she still loves me. I can see it in her eyes as she chokes me; her wispy white hands clamp around my throat. I’m too far gone to care; I only want to be with her again. As all breath leaves my lungs I croak out two last words. “I’m sorry.”

The Sudden Obliteration of Things
by Marc D. Regan 

Things were going well. Interpret things as you choose. For me things represented my band, my relationship. I was finally happy. Things, of course, stood as irrefutable evidence that butt-ugly truth wielded the hatpin to burst my bubble. The call came early, I was asleep: They’d ODed. Kevin—best friend, band guitarist, and fix when life had me jonesing—and Annie—Bonnie to my Clyde, were both dead… but together? Now-exposed lies copulated frantically in my mind; the shared drugs, sex. Dead were concrete walls in a shrinking cell—on Pluto! Suddenly alone, I shivered, cried. Suddenly, things were obliterated.

Attention
by Tina Tocco

“Oh, you just pay him no mind, now, honeybun.” Momma leaned over the fence into the new neighbor. “Boy’s just lookin’ for attention.”
She dragged on her Pall Mall, and the man coughed, like little Shirlee with her asthma. I guess that’s why Momma didn’t hear me, see me pointing to the pool’s still surface, as she slid one finger down her own buttons.

Trash in the Garden
by Dakota Taylor

Her skin is cold, the stars faded from her eyes. Burnt lips, and scarred knees. Too young to sing the blues, did you know that money beats freedom? The Hollywood Dream. Drunks howl at the moon, grunting and sweaty. Lean, mean, and seventeen. The city is a neon forest. The camera is rolling, the mattress is vile. Leave the lights on when you leave.

Microfiction Monday is Seeking Spooky Submissions!

skull-220049_1280

Microfiction Monday Magazine wants your horror microfiction for the month of October! Send us your scariest stories told in 100 words or less. See this week’s Microfiction stories for some examples. We also need artwork of all sorts—haunting artwork for October, and general artwork for other weeks. Microfiction submissions can be made through our online submission form and artwork submissions can be sent to submissions@microfictionmondaymagazine.com. All non-scary microfiction submitted will be considered for later editions.

Spread the word!

Microfiction Monday – Sixteenth Edition


Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Marylea M. Quintana Madiman.


blue spiral bound013

Survivor
by Brenda Anderson 

Prydyl’s one remaining doctor had seen mushrooms growing from the eye sockets of the plague victims, but kept trying to save lives. When tiny spots appeared on his own hands, he whispered, “Find food elsewhere. Leave this place,” and stumbled home to die.
Next morning, another sufferer dragged himself to the doctor’s door only to find his skeleton lying in bed. Starving, he picked the mushrooms growing from the doctor’s eye sockets and ate them, raw.
Now a monster taps his way through the streets of Prydyl, white stick for guide and mushrooms for eyes. Hungry, he searches for food.

Thick and Thin
by Van G. Garrett 

Trees punched like we slept with their wives and girlfriends.
Coon hunting.
No flashlight.
Instincts.
“I’ve never tried so hard in the dark,” Elmore use to say.
We’d laugh, knowing we’d had women scattered like thorns on vines. Loving them in Buicks. Alleys. Motels. We never worked hard to get them; should’ve worked harder to keep them. Coons—another story, hard to find. Harder to keep.
Elmore’s jokes lightened the dark.
“There’s only three times you’ll find me on my knees. Two of ’em are chasin’ the invisible.”
We chased the invisible. Blood and burlap cut us at the knees.

Lights On, Nobody Home
by Aline Carriere 

Knock. No response. She shuffles in her slippers from one foot to another, watching the light under the bathroom door.
“Anyone in there?” she asks in a harsh whisper trying not to wake her sleeping roommates.
She turns the knob, and pushes the door open a sliver, the light slashing across the hallway. Hearing no objection, she enters the empty room. She shuts the door and sighs at the mirror.
“Creeping myself out,” she says, but the lips of her reflection don’t move. When she wipes the glass with her sleeve her image disappears.
Then, she hears a knock.

Sketch
by Kate Ryan

We ushered through the fair gates quickly. The stalker pursuing, only few steps behind. Reminiscent of a police sketch, no definitive features- only a hoody, sunglasses, and transfixed. My breaths increase, and deepen. Flashing glances into the distance, with accompanying hair tosses over the shoulders, checking his presence. Visually consuming the children, I try to divert him. He is always behind, children in front, unaware, and safe. Fourth check forward, children are gone. Standing in front, the stalker, removes his sunglasses, revealing his bright blue eyes. Presses an invitation into my hand, “Ma’am, wouldn’t want to miss this.” He vanishes.

The Tiniest Bit
by Rachel Ambrose

The monster plucked my brain right off its stem, like it was picking a ripe raspberry. The world went white for a moment, then green, purple, black. I could see no more, taste no more, touch no more. Except for that tiny beating part of myself which breathed in its own time to its own music, the part that watches from above and knows all, God-like, star-like, as we are all made of stardust. It knew. Its knowledge frightened the monster in its rubbery soul. And it screamed, deep into the crushing black, knowing its cries would not go unheard.

Microfiction Monday – Fifteenth Edition


Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Steve Cartwright 


September8 - Nessie

Tower Defenses
by Jonathan Lyons

All afternoon, Marissa shaped sand into towers, turrets, a moat. She avoided broken bottles near the trashcan. “Marissa,” mother called, “dinner.” Marissa returned to the beach house. Later, summer sun still high, others’ footprints cratered her castle. Marissa rebuilt, gathered shards, and slipped them into castle walls. Smiling, she skipped home.

Shadow
by Aline Carriere 

“I dare you to do it,” Sandra teased.
Eager to take the challenge, Jen ran up the stone staircase. Legend declared that at night, when shadows conquered the twisting rocks, a weeping Madonna appeared at the top to reveal the saddest moment of a person’s life, past or future.
“Behold, my destiny,” Jen announced giggling. Dramatically circling her arm, she settled her hand on the apparition, closed her eyes and screamed.
Sandra laughed at the pantomime until Jen began to tumble down the unforgiving steps. Jen’s lifeless body splayed beside her, Sandra watched the spider skitter from a bloodied sleeve.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder
by Clay Greysteel

Officer says, “This time we caught him breaking into the prison.”
Brian flips me off as blood drips from between his fingers.
“Can you get him a towel?”
Officer nods to his partner. Partner steps out. “Ten times we’ve picked him up in the last six months.
“He broke into the prison?”
“Attempted. Cut his hand on razor wire.”
Partner returns, hands Brian a towel.
“You charging him?”
Officer sighs. “Your brother needs help.”
“So that’s a no?” I nod toward Brian, “Let’s go.”
As we leave, Brian wipes the bloodied towel along the wall.

The Lake
by Tessa Mission

Lana drew fractal designs all over her arms with a green ink pen. Like maybe she wanted to be a tree. Without looking at me, she said, “I want to kiss him underwater. I think that would be fun.”
“Wouldn’t your mouths fill with water when you opened them?”
“Exactly,” she smiled, cap back on the pen. She looked out over the lake. “No, really the trick is to make a good seal. You have to press your mouths together hard enough. Then your tongues can go back and forth doing whatever.”
“But how do you breathe?”
“You don’t.”

Photoshop
by Seth Oden

She photoshopped his picture, giving him absurdly large muscles, and emailed it to him.
He responded with a picture of her, photoshopped so that a finger went up a nostril and poked out her eye.
She aged him in return, made him a hundred and two.
He photographed himself on one knee, holding a box with a ring in it, and shopped it into a picture of her smiling with surprise.
She messaged him back: You’re funny.

Microfiction Monday – Fourteenth Edition


Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Pat Bouchie.


Short Bridge j vs 2
Kone
by Sylvia Petter

Kone sits in his top-floor office, sipping a double Bourbon. He closes his eyes and sees a young boy squatting in the school ground, drawing a circle in the dust with a whittled stick. The bell peals and the boy stands up, tucks the stick into the belt of his grey uniform shorts and goes back to class. Kone leans deep into his leather armchair. The boy in the dust had imaginary whiskers that would twitch whenever things were amiss. Kone runs the back of his hand over a close-shaven cheek, empties his glass and sighs.

27 Signs You Are in an Existential Crisis
by Howie Good

The process involves clinging to fragments floating around – a woman taking off her shirt, an ugly mood, an eye – and tying them together. Yet nothing is ever resolved, nothing adds up, nothing goes anywhere. Just yesterday, I woke up to rain gusting against the window. There were other bad omens, all the things that make me, me, the sense of having quotation marks around them. I looked in the mirror and saw that my eyebrows were gray. I saw that I was sixty-two, almost sixty-three. I have a box full of photographs I have taken of clouds to prove it.

Unsatisfactory
by Gabby Dexter

“I don’t understand your story,” he said, thumbing through the papers.
“You don’t?” she said.
“The character is in pain. Real, physical pain. She’s ill. Every day she wakes in agony, and all she can do is wait for the next day and hope it will be different so that maybe she can live. But it never is.” She could detect the sneer in his voice. “Your story has no structure, no shape, no meaning. There’s no ending – no conclusion of any kind. It’s not satisfactory.”
“No.” She reached for her cane and lowered her eyes. “No, it’s not.”

Smoke Screen
by Marc D. Regan 

Outside, his spine pressed to the clapboard siding, he exhaled smoke. Delightful smoke. In his head Peter, Paul and Mary sang of Jackie Paper’s dragon, Puff. His lips and fingertips buzzed, and he loved it. Sort of. After many failed attempts, he’d finally done it: quit. Until tonight, in his childhood backyard, he had. Three nicotine-free months—over. He glanced right, left. As if on the sly, his girlfriend, the reformed cigarette smoker, had tailed him to say: “But your mom’s smoking. Lung cancer. Honey. No.” But after enduring his mother’s funeral today, all those dour faces, he deserved it.

Orderly
by Erica Plouffe Lazure

I try not to take them anymore. But I always give in. The kids in the ward: their bald scalps haloing bright smiles, sagging jonnies. Rows of them, making wishes, clutching tiny effigies of themselves, fingers tracing hand-stitched smiles, affixing Band-Aids to cloth limbs, whispering secrets. Some sport pigtailed wigs, dwarfing ball caps that fool no one. When it’s time to trundle one down the hall, we pretend the gurney’s a roller coaster or choo-choo train or rocket ship. A bicycle. An airplane destined for Disney—anything, even for a moment, to pull us out of this terrible adventure.

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