by Brad Nelms
“Why does your cat always lick me so much?” I asked pulling my hand away from the purring tabby squatting on my chest.
“I read online somewhere, that the Egyptians believed cats would lick people to purify their bodies before death so they wouldn’t get eaten by Ammit, the crocodile god,” she said without looking up from her book.
“Well, tell her to knock it off. It’s not like I am going to die anytime soon,” I said with a weak laugh. Locking eyes with the cat, I rested my hand near its mouth. “Get back to work,” I whispered.
by Ashlie Allen
I climb the mango tree, not to taste sweetness but to see something beautiful and feel the thrill of peace. The people below think I have a ghostly voice and that my teeth are sinister. Maybe I am an animal trying to be attractive so someone will take care of me. I ascend the branches so my shadow will be far away and so the earth can’t touch me. If my feet meet the ground ever again, I will eat fruit and celebrate all the seeds I cannot grow, only consume.
The Year My Mother Died
by Esther Smoller
Miss Kiltenham sat on my porcelain kitten and broke its tail. I begged my father not to make me go to my first day at school. He drove right up to the front door and allowed me to clutch his hand in desperation but let it go as I walked into the classroom. Because I was a small child, I was given a front row desk. Miss Kiltenham liked to sit on the edge of my desk—right where I placed my comfort kitten. I came home that day with a note pinned to my chest: “Esther vomited today.”
by Jen Finelli
We used to climb roofs, at night. Restaurants, chemistry labs—the physics building, with its medieval tower, rails and parapets, was a favorite. We watched people below, dodged security guard flashlights, shivered as the fog descended, tiles moistened, and the stars dimmed. We climbed because teens need adventure, struggle! One night we found charcoal, and drew on the tiles for the next adventurers to find. “What message do you want to leave the world?” I asked my buddy. “I don’t know,” he said. I wrote it down, sadly, but maybe he was right.
by Troy Evans
Brenda stormed out of the store. “I’m never shopping there again!”
Joel shuffled along behind, wishing he was somewhere else.
“Are you listening to me?!”
“I think that guy’s living in his car; he’s always sitting in it.”
Joel had learned that detaching from her rants saved time and was, to some degree, safer than engaging Brenda directly, even in spite of the abuse he would inevitably receive. He turned. She was behind him now, entranced by a display in a shoe store window. Just beyond her, paramedics were pulling the man’s lifeless body from the car.
by Georgene Smith Goodin
Irma said it was bad symbolism to get married in a funeral suit. I’d worn the only one I owned to bury Nana and Uncle Joe, so she ordered me to rent something. I thought that was bad symbolism too, like our marriage was on loan from strangers. There’s no arguing with that woman, so I picked through the rental rack while some pimple faces got outfitted for prom. Irma’s so stubborn, she wouldn’t even say I was right when I found her in the bathroom with our best man. “That didn’t take long,” I said, and closed the door.
This week’s artwork is “Coca Cola Tango” by AF Knott.
by Zack Stein
When tantruming on account of something small, but motivated by reasons big, Mom would go through the kitchen drawers and throw spoons at my father and me. Always spoons. Never the forks or knives, and I thought that was a nice gesture. Still, she never tried to discipline me. She just let me twist her static hair as she slept under white duvets for most of my adolescence. My father always said she was ill or tired, but I saw it in him, too. Sometimes I’d watch him dip his face into a bowl of cereal until his fingertips relaxed.
by B.E. Seidl
I looked at the bug, and he looked at me. There was only his head, the rest was still under my skin. For days I had anticipated this moment, when I would finally stare into those colorless eyes. I had felt him moving inside my arm, had watched him growing under an itching bump. All I wanted to do was rip his head off, but I had to wait until he came out on his own. It seemed like hours that we were eying each other. Finally he squeezed himself out and fell to the floor.
Young Lovers Go Camping
by Vincent Aldrich
On the bus to Baltimore she bites her nails and listens to slow music in her headphones, slumping in the red hoodie he paid for, watching traffic out the window as the sky goes dark. Her boots are still muddy. Both her eyes and cheek are deep, inky purple, veined bilirubin yellow, starting to heal. Her mouth is slightly open because she still can’t breathe through her broken nose. Her cellphone and wallet are somewhere in the Susquehanna River. The gun in the backpack on the seat next to her is missing four bullets.
by Ellen Perleberg
Café Arusat was like every other café in Tripoli. Men loitered for hours over strong coffee and debates. Hakim had run the café for five years. According to custom, he should’ve bonded with the same twenty men occupying his ironwork chairs every afternoon, but generations passed through too quickly. They died fighting for Gaddafi or the rebellion. The survivors fled to Europe. Or jihadi camps. Those who stayed were blown up or murdered. Whenever a patron disappeared, Hakim scrubbed his old chair with bleach, as though the disinfectant could scare away the djinns and the ghosts of his broken country.
by Doyen Sump
Though I distinctly remember going to bed last night, I am somehow fully clothed and on the bathroom floor when I wake. I get up slowly and look in the mirror. I am pale and haggard. After splashing water on my face, I exit and find my wife sitting at the kitchen table, looking frustrated.
“The police brought you home again,” she says. “You were wandering the street eating a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.”
I want to believe she’s joking, but I taste cinnamon when I swallow.
“Wasn’t me,” I say.
“Never is,” she says.
Just Another Day
by Jim Harrington
Mom’s black pants are in the trash again. I don’t know why and never will. Her mind functions unattended these days. I give her the single rose and card. She says it’s not her birthday. I tell her I know. She reads the card and places it on her bed without comment. I help her to the window hand in hand, and we watch the trees struggle to stay erect in the strong wind. Life hasn’t knocked her over yet, but it will. I think she still knows that.
by Richard Jennis
Antoine desperately wanted to walk on the moon, but there were holes in his faded jeans and his teeth weren’t straight and his right eye danced during interviews. So they accepted Edmond Gray, who had a panic attack shortly after takeoff, compromising the entire mission. Now an engineering professor at MIT, Antoine forgoes the traditional suit and tie. Students find him relatable, funny, and endearing. Last Friday, he talked about the previous launch, and his right eye flickered like candle lights. The casual observer assumes amblyopia, but his students know he’s penetrating the ceiling, sweeping the skies for moon landers.
The Dog Died Yesterday
by Ronald J. Friedman
The dog died yesterday and so did my mother-in-law. My wife wanted to bury her in the back yard under the plum tree, but the kids and I had always planned to put the dog to rest there so we’re going to bury Helen’s mother over in Coffeeville next to the church. We ordered a laser-engraved plaque for the grave. It says, “Ruffles Forever”.
by Nathan Hystad
He is closer to the edge today than yesterday. The ground looms way down the cliff face, and he pictures how it will look when he finally jumps. Today is the day, he tells himself.
His toes touch the air, then the arch of his bare feet feel the rock edge press against them. For the first time in years, the ache in his heart is gone, replaced by calm.
The wind blows lightly against his back, urging him forward. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, as his phone rings. It’s her again.
There’s always tomorrow.
by Mattie Blake
I dreamed I was driving and stopped at a crosswalk. As the pedestrians crossed, they all met in the middle, embracing each other. Soon they all looked at me, sensing my impatience.
“Don’t you have love for people?” a man said.
I told him, “I do feel love, but it is buried with other things I feel.”
“Every place is a place for love in this world,” he said.
“Some places are meant for cars. You cheapen love with what you do.”
“You are sadly blind,” he said.
“And yet I see the road better than you.”
How Was She to Know?
by Shreyasi Majumdar
The Indonesian’s “rare reticulated python” sales pitch was totally unnecessary – it was love at first sight. A 16-foot long beauty, it became a coiled up marvel that made its home in a sheltered corner of her house. Placid and inert, it would lay there, its Sauronese eyes watching intently. Through the wedding and when the baby came, it watched unblinking, a mute spectator. One afternoon, as she lazed on the patio, it uncoiled. Muscles rippled. Somewhere in the dim recesses of her tired mind, she heard a baby cry. When the crying stopped, she drifted into a deep, dreamless sleep.
by Nancy Nguyen
On a rainy afternoon, I received a care package at my new house. It was at my doorstep, the size of an abandoned infant. I left it next to the bare coat rack. Even after the rain stopped and the sun dried everything up, the box stayed drenched for days. A briny smell permeated every room. When the smell became too much, I opened the package to find an electric blanket, a humidifier, and a broken bottle of fish sauce. I called my mother for the first time in a year.
by D. Quentin Miller
Staring through a diner window, late at night, humidity heavy, contemplating something self-harmful. Trying to remember when she felt this exact feeling, because she has, but it hasn’t been on a night like this when her lover dumped her. Gnawing on a ragged fingernail. Spitting out a microshred, a sliver of herself, onto the sidewalk damp from the thundershowers. Aware of a man in the diner staring at her. Fumbling through her purse and finding her rape whistle and putting it in her mouth, but not blowing it, just leaving it there, like an unlit cigarette, just in case.
Mostly Straight But…
by Anne Wilding
The thought of coffee with her is enough, pushes me face down on the sofa, on my back, my side. I find myself, I think, on the floor. The ceiling, floor and walls collide with want. I’ll be late and she won’t know why. My head in a corner has time to think Need to dust before there is only pleasure and my body. Hands and clothes and head reeking pheromones, I’m giddy out the door, dreamy on the bus, but arrive on time. She smiles. “You’ve cobwebs in your hair.” And runs her fingers through the dusty remains.
by Phil Temples
I hop on the bus and grab my favorite seat. It looks like the same bus. It smells like it. Yeah, this is the same goddamn bus. I put my hand under my seat and feel around. There! I find the same wad of chewing gum from yesterday. I could continue to chew it. Or I could stick it someplace else. Friday, I unbuttoned my blouse and exposed my left tit to everyone behind me. No one even noticed. They were too busy texting or looking at Facebook. What’s a girl got to do to get noticed?
This last week, during the AWP conference in Minneapolis, the Blue Skirt Productions team asked participants to submit microfiction on post-it notes for a chance to be published the following Monday online. Below are the chosen entries. Enjoy!
by Sam Snoek-Brown
When the storm piled in the Gulf, my father gathered eggs. He filled the basket with carrots and pawpaws and the last of our biscuits, and my sisters and I hid in the attic where my father sang songs above the flood. In the morning we headed north, but the townsfolk found us. My father whispered for us to run before they beat him in the road. We wept over him, but as we watched them pass our food among themselves, our stomachs knotted. So we left my father in the mud and joined the townsfolk for supper.
by Sierra Lomprey
I Would Have Settled for Cheese, but…
Feeling good, I picked up the mozzarella stick. A long, unruly black hair was stuck to it. “Fuck it,” I said and pulled the hair off. “I’m drunk and it’s half off appetizers tonight at Applebees.”
*Based on a true story.*
Feet off the Floor
by Tia Clark
Chrisette puts her feet up on the coffee table to avoid the floor, though she knows, intellectually, that it’s not made of lava. Her brother is years and miles away, too far to yell at her to jump from couch to couch to save her life. And her girlfriend’s at work, too far and too busy to yell at her to get her feet off the goddamn table, stop texting at dinner, not that bra, etc. And Chrisette’s toes are just the right pink. And at this vantage point, this distance, her legs look almost completely straight.
by Casey Kimberly
If you think people attend conferences for “best practices” and networking, you’re a fool. If you attend conferences thinking it’s for career development, you’re fooling yourself.
Sure, there may be standout breakouts. You may snap pics of a speaker’s revealing slides. But the screen you’ll scan most during the sessions will be the one in your hand.
Certainly you’ll meet people. But millions don’t flock to conferences for networking alone. The truth is they flock to fuck.
At night hotels become hotbeds for hedonism. A brief escape. No kids, no spouses, no strings attached.
Shocked? Interested? I’m in Room 603.
This week’s artwork is by Rachelle Olsen-Veal.
by Alexis Goldsmith
Margaret chose the candles for Mom’s funeral. They had the sweet smell of peaches. They put him back in a bathroom, in a time when he couldn’t yet see above the counter. Before Margaret was born. Leaves brushed the hazy glass. Dad’s & a woman’s voices. And something else: flies buzzing in your ear on a humid morning, fog rolling off a lake, vinyl walls, deep black mold. And something else. Behind a locked bathroom door, eating ripe fleshy peaches with pits filled with cyanide. “What are you thinking about?” Margaret’s hand is on his. “I can’t remember,” he says.
The Drowning Pool
by Cathy S. Ulrich
The children practice the dead man’s float in the water. They don’t believe in ghosts, or drowning. They have contests to see how long they can hold their breath, playing still and dead. One of them always loses, thrashing his hips up and down until he finally surfaces, gasping. The other children don’t move, their faces pressed into the water. They don’t see when he pulls himself out of the pool and crouches below the lifeguard’s stool in shame. The children are counting the seconds until they need to breathe again, and the lifeguard counts, too.
God of the Sea
by Cyn Bermudez
Metal tore my wrists as the boat rocked. Mast and bow tossed about, ripping through rotted planks. Salt and wet wood permeated the air, my pores, my tongue. My flesh—torn by whip and branded with hot metal—stung with each splash, with each touch of cold wind. The ocean twisted in fury. I bit into my arms, banged the shackles against a flat, sharp object that hung near where I stood. Beneath me the floor fell away revealing a large and terrible eye. Blacker than night, hungry like a wild beast. White bone shone through ripped flesh.
by Joy Manne
They said he was born lucky.
If anyone found a coin by the roadside, it would be Tommy, except mostly he found $50 notes.
If anyone got the most beautiful gal, it would be Tommy, and she would always come from the richest family and have parents who adored him.
The best university, the best grades, the best job offers, and – just before choosing between them – run over by the Mercedes 300SEL 6.3 that had once belonged to Mick Jagger for whose concerts he always managed to obtain the best seats.
Lucky Tommy escaped before life could disappoint him.
Before He Gets Home
by Bill McStowe
When he gets home, Lo is in bed with Jasmine, the book about the princess tucked under her arm. Before he gets home, she returns the duffel bag to the front closet, under the winter jackets she has been meaning to donate.
Before he gets home, Lo looks at her bruises in the mirror.
She calls her sister.
Before he gets home, Lo sits at the kitchen table and counts the money she keeps hidden between sweaters in the duffel bag.
Before he gets home, Lo smokes a cigarette.
Before he gets home, Lo reads her baby girl a story.
by Courtney Watson
War was all they were good at. Planning it, waging it, missing it once the guns cooled. There were annual celebrations, but roman candles and bottle rockets echoed weakly. That’s why they forgot us when the first metallic streaks sizzled across the thin black sky, leaving us to host the ghosts of the last revolution while they lost the next one. Tomorrow would mean blood soaked in the marble, and boots on our fine pink china. Tonight, though, the sky was haunted with bright specters of light and sound. Fireworks or bombs; either way, they laughed and our world burned.
by Dan Plate
When Jesus was ten, he and his cousin John had a thing for the same girl. John was the better looking boy, but Jesus made her a bird, which was what she wanted.
This week’s artwork is by Marylea M. Quintana Madiman.
Coming out of My Shell
by Rob Grim
Anyone who flies, throws boulders, or shoots lasers is trying to defuse the bomb or fighting the androids guarding it. Me? I create impervious, opaque, soundproof bubbles—so I grab the little girl and make one. She’s crying. I sneak a nip from my flask and realize there’s no way to know if the bomb went off or not. What if I drop the bubble and we’re surrounded by nerve gas and angry androids? I’m not much of a hero, but it’s time I at least try. I get her behind me, pull my handgun, and drop the damn bubble.
by Jay Slayton-Joslin
Their fingers intertwined, like the headphones each of them kept in their pockets for any single reason they left the house. They walked to the end of the platform, kissing goodbyes, planning to write to each other, get married and move somewhere with a white picket fence and have children. The whistle blew, one of them walked onto the train, sitting by the window for the cool ice to calm their thoughts by resting the forehead. The locomotive left the station, the only thing certain right then was its destination and that the two would never see each other again.
by Namitha Varma
Today, my father was reduced from Mr. Shantanu Dasgupta to a body on the operating table. The pathologist and nurses tore him apart tissue by tissue, as if he was a piece of paper. They stitched him back together to present to the family, like the chef dressing the chicken for a patron at the restaurant. The clothes he wore were bundled in a dirty bag and handed over to me. The green shirt I gifted him for his birthday was now tinted crimson. I clutched the bundle and wept till I was seeped in the odor of his death.
by Debbi Antebi
Marie didn’t know why she could only sit at her desk in the study room after making sure that the bedspread had no wrinkles. If she saw a cushion misplaced on the sofa, she had to fluff and place it in its correct spot before she could focus on her work. So one day, when her husband stepped in the house with muddy shoes and hurtful words, throwing the porcelain dishware to the floor before slamming the door, all she could do was to sit down and gaze at her slippers lined up next to his beneath their bed.
There Once Was an Old Lady Who Lived in an Air Jordan
by Smith Q Johns
There once was an old lady who in an Air Jordan. She had so many children she put them up for adoption but not before getting rich on welfare. She eventually tried to sell her house to Ripley’s Believe it or Knot and then to Nike to no avail (liability issues). It was almost bought by a museum but they passed on it as it had lost its sole. It was then sold to a bunch of hipsters and they used it as venue where they got drunk and talked about how they hated breeders.
Artwork: “City Garden” by Kyle Hemmings
by Sarah Vernetti
She could barely see her neighbor’s yard. She had to open the blinds all the way and stand just so: over to the right side of the window, hugging the wall while looking sideways. But the view felt unavoidable. She wanted to spend more time in her own backyard, checking on the cacti, pruning the lantana, watching hummingbirds flit in and out of the spires of autumn sage. But her job, her role, had become inseparable from herself, and so she stood each morning, pressing her chest against the textured drywall. Waiting patiently, reporting to no one.
by Michael Jagunic
He laid his forehead against the backseat window and undid his bow tie. Beside him, she cradled the smashed up layer cake in her lap like a dead baby.
“We can fix this,” she whimpered, trying to convince herself. “We can still fix this.”
He feared the same thing that she did: that life was crumbly, that some things cannot be fixed. So he reached for her arm and gave it a squeeze. “I know.”
The cabbie, a real professional, suffered their boozy nonsense in silence.
by Chad Greene
Doubt that anyone on the streetcar clattering across the steel bridge noticed us at the edge of the river, let alone the circle of empty Pabst cans we had arranged around the base of the white cross. I had loved him the most; that’s why I left the tallboy. It towered over the 12-ouncers everyone else had left.
A Song Before Dying
by C.C. Russell
The twang of another guitar through another bridge bringing us back again to the familiar chorus. Someone says “Didn’t we just leave this party?” as a joke, but it falls flat. Outside, over the music, we can hear them scratching their way through the trees. We can hear them coming; closer every second. No one thinks to reach over and turn off the stereo. No one thinks of anything that could save us.
by Marc D. Regan
That ubiquitous moon lights dark heavens and reflects now as it did then: the burning hole in me; my corrupted innocence and the lengths to which the word love could be stretched. When my back was no longer able to bear that shameful weight, I shed bloodied sheets and a childhood of midnight lies. But after five years, I still cannot outrun that moon.
This week’s artwork is by Kyle Hemmings.
Tired of Jewels
by Justin Willoughby
He was tired of her holding his hand while he drove. So he bound bracelets on her wrists. He was tired of her foot on the dashboard blocking his view. So he tied anklets around her feet. He was tired of her asking if they were lost. So he shoved a tongue ring in her mouth. He was tired of hearing her muffled voice in his ears. So he wrapped a locket around her neck. He dug a bed for her and tossed Jewels in with a dirt blanket. He was not tired anymore. So he left her to sleep.
by Brittanie Drinosky
John’s hands were huge and hard. They were used to fight, to crush, and to feed his dog, Penny, who was almost as mean and ugly as him. She howled all night, that dog, and Tim’s mama would open her window and yell curses and make threats. When John found Penny with a screwdriver through her eyeball, he didn’t make no threats. He howled all night.
by Richard Jennis
I miss the taste of you in the early morning. I miss dangling from the rooftops like turtles flipped over on railroads, staring unsuspectingly at tropical skies. I miss watching the passersby pass by. And the fluteman whistling tunes with notes that curled into the air forming tunnels so black. I miss the way the dandelions lingered years after we breathed them into multiplicity. Coming home is like the moon landing. I plant my flag but all this was never mine. I know my memory will soon be bleached white by lurid winds that don’t understand the meaning of nostalgia.
In The Beginning
by J.G. McClure
In The Beginning the warrior and the dragon are fighting. Rip off one dragonhead and another dragon buds from it. Same goes for warrior heads. Soon the world is one roiling sea of tearing and birth. The gods, horrified, shatter it with lightning—a new world sprouts from each rocky chunk. They argue ethics, and in their rage start blasting one another; more and more gods bloom. Weeping and laughter fill the abyss. The universe grows and breaks and grows and breaks and all is born: love, cigarettes, the post office. The melon we’re eating. The seeds we spit out.
by Heather Valenti
Living in a hole dug sixty feet in the ground, within an endless cavern, gets to you. Not in the, oh well, isn’t that interesting, sort of way… more, nails uselessly clawing stone, you’re going to die and you know it sort of way. “My husband will come for me, you know,” Ethel whispered. He imagined her hands digging into her head, her graying hair being tugged mercilessly, as she said this. Her chains clanked as she readjusted herself. He tried to make his voice sound confident. Reassuring. “I know.” Chains rattled. Numbering the lies they told each other.
by David Galef
At a one-woman show in a downtown gallery, I saw a dozen sculptures of women with Buddha bellies, arms big as thighs, thighs thick as waists. Intrigued, I tracked down the sculptor to see what she looked like. She was completely ordinary, regulation size, and seemed expectant yet annoyed at my curiosity about her. “I know your type,” she said as she shut the door against me. “Get a life!” I stood there for a moment, unsure of what to do. Back at the gallery, I bought her entire catalogue.
by Ashlie Allen
I took a walk around the reservation to get in touch with my land. It had been two years since my feet touched the earth. On my way down the road, I saw an old friend and said hello. He told me he’d been dead a week now. When I asked where he was buried he answered he wasn’t.
The Man and the Strangler
by Matthew Konkel
His throat was dry so he hired a strangler to choke him.
Before the man died the strangler asked: you are surrounded by water, why did you not have a drink?
There is too much, said the man, I couldn’t possibly drink it all.
Having pity, the strangler helped the man dispose of the water until only a tiny swallow remained. Now you can take a drink, said the strangler. The man did so and his throat was no longer dry.
Then the strangler choked the man dead. Because that’s what the strangler was paid to do.
Microfiction Monday has been going strong for 28 weeks and we couldn’t be more proud of the authors we’ve had the honor of publishing! But due to time constraints and a desire to maintain a high quality standard in our publication, Microfiction Monday Magazine is announcing that we are changing our publication frequency from weekly to monthly. Future editions of the magazine will be published on the first Monday of each month. Each publication will include a minimum of five stories, but more if we receive a significant number of high-quality submissions.
So please keep sending those submissions in! We love reading your work! And look for our next edition on January 5th!