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!
Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Amy Canales.
Strangers in the Night
by Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri
Mama disappears into a Plymouth. This isn’t the first time. There was that time she left for three days. She’d come back, happy, singing to him at bedtime, making him cocoa. The world was his. He goes into her bedroom, with the scent of lavender, mixed with something skunk-like. It’s empty. The suitcase, Sinatra records, her Tolstoy. He doesn’t know where to go. He’s not sure if he should chase her, or wait. That’s when he sees the note, tucked behind her desk, where they used to hide secrets. Mama’s unhappy. She needs to find herself. Water the plants.
by Bart Van Goethem
They had assured him if you close a door behind you, another one will open. When he did so, nothing happened. In the pitch black he groped for a handle. None. He groped for a wall. None. After a while he screamed, and then he screamed some more. He started punching air. Until the black shifted to a shade of dark unfathomable to a living, breathing man. A split-second later, he opened his eyes, squinting against a white light. ‘Welcome,’ they said. ‘We are Soul Catchers.’ It wasn’t what he had expected, but at least they hadn’t lied to him.
Cat in a Box
by Shinea Brighton
I’m trying to decide if you love me. I take measurements: how often you call, how long we talk, how often you break dates. Two recently. You never say, “I’ll call you later.” or “We’ll reschedule for next week.” Instead it’s, “How about Wednesday?”
Sometimes you hold my hand. Sometimes you are distracted and lonely. You go days without kissing me then you won’t stop long enough for me to eat.
It’s complicated. Are you a wave or a particle? Are we decaying at a predictable rate? I’m hungry and I can’t tell if you are feeding or poisoning me.
by Jessica Standifird
He was an old house in need of a good contractor. Ever since she’d convinced him he was dilapidated, the ink from his tattoos had flecked, faded. His foundation had cracked and his gait was now unsteady. She would roll her eyes and accuse his front porch of sagging. And if eyes were windows to the soul, well, no wonder she complained. The glass was old and warped, the panes full of drafts. It was cold inside. Maybe all he needed was a real estate agent who could spot potential. He wondered if Carrie at Remax would be interested.
by Jonathan Oak
Normally I hear the engine halfway down the street as a subtle change in the background noise, but the sound was too loud. Normally I see a glint from your bumper or your windshield. I missed it this time. Sometimes you call ahead to says how good it’ll be to be home. When all this fails, the dog, keen senses attuned to your arrivals, perks up her ears, springs to attention, whines at the door, peeks through the curtains. She just laid there. So when you came through the front door… lesbians going at it on the computer screen.
Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Rachel Warren.
by Rachel Warren
One day I saw a fish with red lips, dragged the creature from the water, puckered up and kissed it. It turned into a woman so beautiful, she stole my breath, and I gasped and gasped but could not get enough air. She picked me up and threw me in the water where I grew gills and fins and scales and ate minnows until enticed by a squirming worm on a hook. Against my better judgment, I went for a bite, and was ripped from the water, falling ashore, gasping again. And it was her there with the fishing rod.
by Lisa M. Moore
Alaina’s father brought home a bear cub when she was three, saying it no longer had a mother. Alaina named the bear Chocolate Milk. He followed her around like a loyal dog, cleaned up food she spilled on the floor, served as a pillow when she napped. Chocolate Milk took such good care of Alaina, that the child didn’t notice her parents’ disappearance until days later when the police came to her door with sad news of how their bodies were found in the neighbor’s yard, mauled to death by a bear.
The Tree Girl
by Tomas Hendry
He cultivated the tree from the time it was a sapling, training each new twig until it took her shape. Finally the tree stood tall, its legs twisted together, arms straight out, leafed fingers pointed skyward. A great bouquet sprouted from behind the twisted twigs that gave shape to eyes, nose, mouth. She smiled. She was ready. He felled her with an axe, spread her twisted legs, and planted his own seed deep within her as she shrieked. He bathed her feet in water as the child grew. Nine months later it emerged, covered in blood-soaked moss, green and shaking.
by Daryl Bailey
A crimson trail trickles from my nose, crawls over my lips, and drips off my chin into the sink. I plug the sink to see just how much I’m losing and soon there’s an inch of thick, red liquid. A pounding headache gives way to bits of rubbery, gray brain matter falling out with the flow. In the mirror I see my skull collapsing. Bits of bone come out next. Then I watch as my eyes sink back into their sockets. Everything becomes a swirling red storm until I’m in the sink, staring up at the ceiling.
by Jerry Nunez
“That’s one ugly child,” said Myrtle, holding the photo of Eustace’s first great grand baby.
“You blind as a bat, woman,” said Eustace, snatching the photo back. “You wouldn’t know about it anyway. Your uterus done shriveled up like a prune before you could get any man to look at you.”
“Let me see that picture,” said Pearl.
“Now you tell me that child ain’t gorgeous,” said Eustace.
“It ain’t gorgeous,” said Pearl, wincing. “That child’s a dog.”
“Girl, it’s got floppy ears and fur. They sent a picture of their new puppy. Didn’t you read the back?”
Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Kate Salvi.
Leaving on a Ghost Train
by Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri
The ghost train came to take me, the night after the dead took over. It came through the kitchen, blinding my sister and me with its melting light.
“Bugger off,” Margaret said, wrapping an arm around me. “You can’t have him.”
“All twelve-year olds work for the dead,” the train said in a Yorkshire accent. “They’re the most fit to serve the new order.”
“I’m not going,” I said. “Take the neighbors.”
The train plunged into my sister, wheels grinding up strands of red hair, eyes, spinning like hypnotic Ferris wheels. She waved and smiled, her smile turning to crinkled stardust, falling away.
by Joey To
Jane slipped her shoes off, then glanced at the longcase clock and sighed: 10 p.m. and unsurprisingly quiet. She dragged her feet into the dark lounge room, then froze. The glowing spiral staircase was lined with little candles all the way up. Red petals were scattered all over. Jane’s lips curled a little as she sprung up the first steps… “Honey?” Silence. But she continued her ascent. “Mike?” No answer. Jane paused… then padded up the last steps—”Mike, you alright?”—and dimly saw a snoring mass, her husband with his arms around another: it was Kayla, their 150-pound Rottweiler.
by Rachel Tanner
Her cleavage is visible, respectable, nothing she wouldn’t wear to college. An unknown guy grabs her arms, holds her in place. Another stands in front, licks his lips, caresses her face. “What about me?” he says as he slips his hand inside the top of her dress, clutching firmly. In this room full of people, he brings her breast out into plain sight. Plays with it. She tries to escape; she’s held back. Finally she’s freed as his hand reaches for more. She runs outside into the street, grabbing for her phone. Grabbing for anything to make her feel safe.
by Cheyenne Marco
You’re a lifeguard. Up at four for work at six, spending the extra hour scouring the house for hidden six packs, pouring what you find down the drain. Then it’s off to work to break the back that was healed by luck after that car crash forty years ago. Home at five. She’s flooded with Coors. From where? From who? You remember her standing by your hospital bed, holding your hand when you thought you’d never walk again. You want her back. But you stare in the depths of those eyes, and you know that that woman has drowned.
by Joanne Hayle
He’s smacking his lips together over a glass of red wine. He claims that his reluctance to go out is proof of his contentment and that “home is where the heart is.” Satisfied, he sprawls on the sofa night after night. He’s haphazardly flicking through TV channels, doesn’t bother to wave as I leave for my salsa class. He knows that I’d rather dance with him. We used to enjoy and explore life together. I can’t tempt him out anywhere these days. When I return he’ll be snoring, inexplicably exhausted. He’s not dynamic enough to have an affair, is he?
Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance.
Altercation in the Garden
by Neil Harrison
In the sudden silence, the rich perfumes of roses, peonies, and myriad flowering trees scent the spring breeze. A moment later, the chorus begins again—robin, blue jay, chattering squirrel. On his knees now, on the brick walk lined with daisies, a middle-aged man stares down at the fat drops blooming red between great flowering lilies on the pond, his mirrored image leaning slowly toward the water, the reflection of her face, amazed and puzzled, as she considers her next move.
by Clay Greysteel
They sat across from each other at the dining room table, him extolling the virtues of the carefully worded divorce papers, her with a knife, carving a paperback book from his collection. Though he gritted his teeth at her defiling his things, he refused to give her the satisfaction of a reaction. He just kept pointing out who got what property and how the finances would be divided.
“Are you even listening,” he said.
She lifted her head and held up the book, which she had carved into a pistol. She pointed dead center of his forehead. “Bang, bang.”
Easy for a Monday Morning
by Dwayne D. Hayes
You might guess the scrambled eggs would be too runny, toast a bit soggy, bacon burnt, or the coffee too strong. But no. Everything was fine, if not perfect. No complaints. He glanced around the cafe. Two teenage girls at another table stared at iPhones. A couple sat silently sipping coffee. Several older men congregated at the counter, arguing over last night’s ballgame. All normal. The world was surprisingly normal and everything seemed too easy for everyone—too easy for the judge who’d ended the marriage with few words and the scratch of a pen in the courtroom that morning.
by Jim O’Loughlin
He was only a ghost in the technical sense of the term, in that he was dead and haunting the Earth. Most of the time he thought of himself as a commuter, like countless other souls taking the train in and out of the city each day. He read the paper, preferred window seats, and glared at passengers who spoke too loudly on cell phones. When it was busy, he would always give up his seat for an older passenger, and when it was especially crowded, he would melt into the walls.
by Joey To
“I could use a hamburger,” muttered Kate. Like her nineteen colleagues, she was soaked. And tired. The rain was a barrage of cold punches.
Tom sighed. “Yeah, don’t we wish.” He gazed at the cliff wall ahead and pointed. “Look, a cave. Let’s camp there.”
The team rushed into the black hollow.
“Someone get a fire going,” yelled Kate as a deep growl reverbed through the walls. It didn’t sound familiar.
All heads turned. Eyes squinted. Rifle safeties were released. Silence… then a quadrupedal giant emerged from the depths.
Tom gasped. “We’ve found it! It’s real!”
And it tasted awesome.