Microfiction Monday – 189th Edition
You are dreaming of that stag again. The one with two heads, antlers twisted like a birdcage. Like a temple. The one you chase through the slumbering forest. Your drizzling jowls. Your flanks twitching. Your feeble yelps as if you are far away among mossy tree trunks.
But you are here, curled at the foot of my bed. I’ll sail no ships and you will never sniff the pebbles on the shores of Ithaca. Tomorrow morning we will fasten our leashes to our collars and let the old routine tug us past shopkeepers sweeping their yearnings to the curb.
by Ata Zargarof
A clammy July night; stars like broken glass on a driveway. The bedroom fills with eggshells as I use the words “space” and “change.” Her eyes grow large with fright—a doe’s lit up by high-beams. She swats my hand away, hyperventilating. Half an hour of honeyed consolations slows her breathing again. Pulling her to shore drains me of all my strength; my vision narrows, like I’ve just given blood. Her first sober thought is to ask me not to tell my friends. I press my nose to her scalp. Her scent blankets my fears like snow.
My Obsessive-Compulsions, Chronicled
by Cameron Wooley
Age 6: Cockroaches would lay eggs in my brain. I wrapped my head in a pillowcase.
9: Diseases. I washed my hands until they bled. They got infected.
12: Roaches, again. I stuck butterfly stitches across my groin, this time, to keep them from burrowing.
22: Babies. The butterfly stitches return. And washing. My hands, my everything. It bleeds.
24: Losing my son. I wrap him tightly, monitor his heart, wash him, dry him. I seldom sleep.
27: Losing my son: I send him to my mother, so I don’t smother him, scour him.
Save The Bees
by Lucia H. Miller
I had a dream about The Bees. They were silent and flightless, crawling around my bare feet by the thousands. With broken wings, they climbed over one another in desperation. I stood in the middle of them all, gently lifting my feet and trying to navigate around the dead and dying. I was so afraid of stepping on them, imagining that these tiny, helpless creatures would attach their stingers to my skin in a collective attempt to kill me. They crawled through the spaces between my toes, inviting me to hurt them, daring me to squash them to sticky bits.
Microfiction Monday – 188th Edition
Small Electric Blueberry Lemonade
I blink. “It costs how much?” I still take the cup. The cashier chews a nail.
Overpriced and unsanitary. I harrumph. Tapping my card, I turn on my heel and trip.
Refreshment cascades in a shimmering arc onto the gentleman behind me, bathing him in icy slush.
He freezes. His white button-up turns translucent. Looking at me, he wipes off his chest and slowly licks the stickiness from his fingers flashing a Rolex.
Rich and dirty? Holy hell.
When he smiles, his eyes crinkle.
I swallow and turn back to the till. “We’ll take two small electric blueberry lemonades, please.”
We’ve Just Met, and I Adore You
I marvel at your face. You! My new baby. The operating room sterility, spinal block anesthetic effects and clanking of surgical tools mark the frigid ticking of time. Suspended within the white pale blue coldness of our glaring bright operating theatre, your face glows warm, tiny, cherubic. Miniature bow mouth, your five-pound human perfection stops time. Wispy lashes over closed lids I can’t brush. My arms strapped to the table. Instead, my laughter bubbles up through the smell of antiseptic and iodine, to reach you. “Hello, I love you.” Salty tears pool in my ears while I jiggle with joy.
Placing the Man
by G.J. Williams
The one they call Glebe, Mr Glebe, he of the muffler and the sorrowful moustache, he’s the one to ask, he’ll know who was who what was what. Treat him to some bottled god he’ll remember everything like it was yesterday. No enquiry too trivial. He’s been here forever, or close enough. Murders, wonders, scandals. You’ll see him about. He’ll be glad of the opportunity. Some liquid sunshine and he’s the world’s. He’ll set you right. He’s a graveyard full of friends. He’ll know the man you’re looking for and how he ended his days in a place like this.
Escaping the Memory
by Alyce Wood
I found you in the woods, sky still ravaged in ash and amber light.
Two squirrels waited with you. I always joked your hair was a squirrel’s tail—like that one in our yard, grey with the red streak down its back.
They can sense one of their own in trouble—and you were.
I sank to my knees, the smell of wet earth up my nose.
We were told not to search.
(“Could still be out there,” they’d said).
I crossed your arms over your chest, pressed your eyelids gently closed and asked you to please come home soon.
by Rachel Miller
In a reversal of our usual roles, I drive. As the rain becomes ever more insistent, electricity arcs between us. We talk about anything and everything, stirring up a warmth that condenses on the windshield. When our voices tire, my mind views us from above: just a speeding metal lozenge, wending its way toward the thundering Pacific.
Thick, cold sea foam runs through the folds of my brain, gently fizzing over each sharp-edged thought. As Mia buckles under jet lag in the passenger seat, it occurs to me that giving in to the waves might not be so bad.
Microfiction Monday – 187th Edition
Staked to the Stars
by Robert Runté
The Count’s hand caressed the dirt covering the bottom of the coffin-shaped ceramic pod.
“From your garden,” the official affirmed.
“So I stay grounded. How long to Trappist-1e?”
“153 years. But you’ll be asleep for most of that.”
“A long time.”
“Less than you’ve lived already.” The official spread his hands feigning enthusiasm. “First to the Trappist system. That’s huge.”
“Well, yes.” The official gestured at various consoles. “But all of human music, art, literature at your disposal. First to explore a new world…!”
“And if I refuse?”
“Then it’s the Van Helsing option for you, I’m afraid.”
by Ken Poyner
I purchased my wife forty-five years ago, when wives were much simpler. I allow no upgrades, no application extensions. She has a slight hitch in one knee; the rotor in her shoulder sometimes catches. Unlike newer models, she does not have endless variations on each cache of tasks. I take comfort that in passion, housework, companionship, she has a limited repertoire, selects execution by a mathematical algorithm I have demystified. I realize eventually she will be so far behind modern demands that some random task will cause an out-of-loop experience and she will terminally shut down. But so will I.
A Tranquil Stream in the Woods
by Dave Zacker
After a long shift, “Stream Woods/Tranquil” was Katie’s favorite–the water gently splashing over the rocks…birds chirping…breezes rustling the trees–
“Good Morning!” voiced the pleasant alarm.
Katie woke-up and eyed-off her cranial glassit and rolled out of bed.
‘An actual stream!’ she always thought.
After breakfast, she suited-up and hurried out for work. A thick overcast obscured both suns today.
“Oh my!…Oh my!” she sang while trudging through a freezing drizzle across the windblown greenish dunes on her way to Terraforming Station 52, “My great-great-grandkids will be playing!…Oh my!…In real streams!…Oh my!…Oh my!…”
Twenty Minutes to Twilight
Early May 2020, Tallulah’s kibble inventory hit empty. I yanked on my favorite walking shoes, eager for fresh air. Confused why her servant never left home anymore, kitty purred a fond farewell.
I jaywalked through an intersection usually full of revving cars, squirrels scrabbling up trees, and bicyclists and pedestrians clambering between. Now, a rusting stop sign squealed in the breeze. A stale, rotting stench pressed from an unseen source.
An excavator had punched a hole in the asphalt, work long abandoned. Pebbles chased a trickle of water into soil six feet below. If I fell in, who would notice?
by David Woodward
Hatred ate into him like a gnawing beast. He watched the creature with curiosity. What would be left of him? The beast grew. He knew the end was near. He would forever hunger for something he would never be. What did he want to be? The creature, satisfied, ambled awkwardly away from the stale carcass. It had no use for the past. A distant memory remained. Then slowly faded back into flesh. The hunger returned. And the path narrowed. Darkness descended. The scent of decay followed. Forever its own. The metamorphosis complete.
Microfiction Monday – 186th Edition
Her Son’s Garden
by JD Clapp
Maria sits by the garden, easel and paints set out, her canvas blank. She watches birds. A hummer, translucent reds and greens, buzzes lemon tree blossoms. Two crows watch from the powerline, cawing. The rabbit nibbling greens doesn’t notice the hawk, death’s harbinger circling above.
Maria’s face is moist, salty, despite the cool vernal air. Her husband and daughter, now chemical ghosts, churn in a jumble of neural shards, fading images competing with the empirical.
She sees him and beams.
“Sonny! I saw a robin!”
“Ready to go in Ma?”
Smiling, he sees a splash of yellow on the canvas.
The House That Does Not Die Alone
Generations grew their foundation on my bones—from birth to death to that which comes after. I provided shelter as they ushered decay.
I was once a fresh-faced thing. Made of strong trunks from the ageless forest, my walls built by skilled and callused hands, logs chinked with mud and sweat.
For years, high-pitched squeals bounced off ceiling beams, filling my rooms. Long-suffering mothers cooked countless meals in my kitchen, and knelt on my floorboards to pray.
My inhabitants are mostly silent now, scarce whispers from the chorus. They only ask, “What is next?”
We wait for the answer, together.
When my Dad died, the hospital handed me a tray with his personal effects, including the wallet, I’d bought him as a boy. The brown leather wallet was bent to the shape of my Dad’s buttock, he always carried it in his back pocket. I remembered buying it in Bexhill with a friend I’d made from the campsite where we’d holidayed nearby. I hadn’t known what colour to choose so my friend asked what colour my Dad’s best suit was. ‘Brown,’ I lied. My Dad didn’t have a suit.
It’s not possible. She died thirty years ago. But like magic, I smell her as if she’s beside me. I freeze at my desk, staring at the breezy blue summer scene of snap dragons in the window box. Pens in their cylindrical container, papers scattered around me, fingers curved above dormant computer keyboard. Paused, as if we all listen. Is there more? She smells of linen and soap. Then I hear her voice. Fresh and loving, her words fall over my head as they did in childhood. She is not gone. “Imagine that!” my grandmother would say. I am, Grandma.
Solid-gold band, azure stone with a star in the center like a slice of the Milky Way: my dad’s ring was endlessly fascinating. He let me try it on, peer into the little supernova, imagine the planet it came from.
Decades later my parents rented a suburban apartment. Smaller. Who needs that much space? Near dad’s office, to save gas. While helping them pack, I found the ring in a plastic, 35mm film canister. Light as air, too-yellow gilt, star painted in a sky of resin: thirty years fell from the galaxies to crash in the palm of my hand.
Microfiction Monday – 185th Edition
by Adam Conner
I first had the father I never met sawed in half. Then I had him stand against a wooden board and outlined him with daggers. Then I fed him swords on fire. For the grand finale, I stuffed him inside a wooden box and hung him in the air. The box exploded, and my father disappeared yet again. Later, when people asked how I did it, all I could tell them was, “Magic.”
Give me more space to be me, maybe a baby—just not his. Waited for the right timing and changed my address and quit my job! Planned what to take. No inkling to friends or family. Weren’t we the couple that had it all? I contained everyone’s shock. Consoled their concern. But my failings and flailings still travelled with me. Bills to pay, graduate school to finish, job to unquit. I wasn’t lonely but felt disloyal to our ‘til death do us part’. I relinquished owning porcelain china and Waterford crystal for ten. To become a single tenant of me.
Things that Evaporate in Fog
The summer I turned nine, while other kids barged in and out of friends’ houses and tore around the neighborhood, I visited my grandparents in the Smoky Mountains. No argument here. An anxious book nerd who didn’t understand the noise of other children, I looked forward to three bully-free months.
We arrived too late and exhausted to explore. Early next morning, I stepped off the tiny porch into the dew-kissed lawn. The mountains scratched the edges of dawn and hoisted the sky on its hazy shoulders. I shrunk under their immense silence, my childhood problems smaller than a June bug.
by G. Lynn Brown
She slips under the covers. A fan sits on the floor and blows a breeze on her face.
He hates the fan. The draft chills him, the sound disturbs him, and he hates her for having it on.
She doesn’t care. She needs its white noise to drown out the midnight silence. So, she ignores his gripes and closes her eyes and thinks of someone else.
While awake, hopes abound. But slumber brings dreams. Now she’s in between, just as much awake as asleep, where hopes marry dreams, the ideal place to visit her someone else, and she dozes off.
by James Rasco
A promise of escape dangles from a nail above a white ceramic cookie jar. A keychain; a faded yellow oval of foam. Tiny fingers pick at the peeling vinyl advertisement. It smells of lake water and chemicals. The car is packed: fishing gear, food, clothes. We take everything we need, which means Father stays behind. For the weekend we can play pretend that our family is more whole than fractured. Hours later and past the gate, a key attached to a faded yellow oval of foam opens the metal door. Inside, it smells of stale air, old dust, and freedom.
Microfiction Monday – 184th Edition
The Elf and The Bull
by Bradford Ellington
Your leg must come off. I can do it; let’s rest on these rocks, before we reach the sands.
The minotaur winced, extending his grotesque limb.
I know; don’t look. I possess wizardry – you will not die.
Will I bleed?
Some. I can stop it.
The work began. The setting sun flared. The knife flashed, sunk. Old Elfin incantations erupted among dry desert winds.
He left the bull slumbering, returning at nightfall with a carven crutch.
I still feel…
You will forever. But it isn’t there; it can’t hurt you. So let’s move on.
And they did.
Juliet Picks Up the Dagger
by Lily King
Juliet awakens to Romeo’s body against hers. The blood from the dagger drips onto her lap.
Romeo is still breathing. He looks at Juliet as she opens her eyes and stares back at him.
She picks up the dagger.
Romeo is buried and the Montagues and Capulets both weep. Lord Capulet beams as Juliet weds a new Paris. They’re all the same.
Juliet keeps the dagger and begs for Romeo to know she was only trying to set him free. Her prayers always end with pitiful apologies to Rosaline.
She thinks Paris will live forever.
Queen and Goddess
by Paul Negri
The Queen’s first victim was her mother, who did not survive her birth. Was that bloody passage made lethal by those little fists pounding so furiously in her prison of flesh and the gnashing of prodigious teeth which lined her infant gums? Or (as legend has it) the full grown nails of the she-wolf at her fingertips?
As inauspicious as was this beginning, it in no way gave adequate warning to the subjects of her kingdom, who watched in horror as she grew, year by year, into the malevolent ruler of their unfortunate world.
Mrs. Duff’s Icebox
by Ruth Brown
One morning Mrs. Duff vowed to clean her ancient icebox.
“Better wear gloves,” her husband admonished, “could be nasty things growing in there.”
In the icebox was a small village. Lumberjacks felled matchbox trees, smoke rose from chimneys, trout leapt from a nimble trickle of water. She looked closer, sniffed bitter woodsmoke and sweet baking.
One doll’s house was her own. Same missing shingles, same weather-worn shutters. Out stepped her miniature, mug in hand. The little Mrs. Duff blinked up. The big Mrs. Duff blinked down.
“They’ve started sprouting,” she said to her husband, on her way to the broom-closet.
by JJ Collins
The god woke with an urge to create.
He dipped brushes in a palette of swirling eddies, laid paint to canvas hungry for inspiration.
Charcoal was smeared artfully across pages, but the greasy residue lacked dimension.
He kneaded clay, but it would not yield to his practiced touch.
His workshop had grown cold, hearth devoid the spark of devotion.
Perhaps I am dead, he mused.
He reconsidered. Today, he would simply take what he needed, appropriate the inspiration of another. Call it his own.
Not stealing; repurposing. Greater vision, greater scale.
A greater lie. But who would notice?
Microfiction Monday – 182nd Edition
by David Sydney
In the advertisement, an elderly woman thanks the lifesaving device company. Having fallen, she was able to use the device to call for help. She is now alive. But…
“I can’t stand that device.”
“How do you mean, Harriet?”
We are now dealing with Harriet and Gertrude. Real people, not advertisements.
“George is still alive, Gertrude.”
Harriet had been married to George for 57 years when he fell and successfully used the device.
“Damn, Harriet. That reminds me of Frank.”
Gertrude, too, had been married for 57 years, in her case to Frank, who had one of the devices also.
by G.J. Williams
Just think of the music you’ll not have to face tomorrow, the gauntlet you’ll not have to run, the saliva you’ll not have to wipe off, the hundred piercing voices you’ll not have to close your ears to, the funeral you’ll not have to attend, the laughter you’ll not have to endure, the fortune you’ll not have to lose, the case you’ll not have to fight, the morsel you’ll not have to reach for, the glare you’ll not have to withstand, and the corridor down which you’ll not have to shuffle. Think on these things. Regard them as windfall.
by Dorcas Wilson
They say we make a strange pair; you untidy and tattooed, me immaculate, not a hair or stitch out of place.
You stride through life, grabbing opportunities as they arise. I walk with precision, every step planned.
You shout and swear. I talk with quiet eloquence.
You screech into the night. I sing in the shower.
You love stories. I love facts.
They whisper about us as if we can’t hear them.
They will never know what makes us two, one. They will never see the thread that binds us. The thread that one day will snap, tearing us asunder.
Harbinger of Death
Before she became a vulture, with a wingspan stretching six feet, she was a child, with no wingspan at all, disciplined with ridicule, told to stand straight and smile, to never bend, to never give in to whimsy. To never dream. In order to survive, the other vultures told her.
Before she became a vulture, she thought she could be anything, maybe even a brightly-colored macaw.
Microfiction Monday – 181st Edition
Space Became Distance
by Akmal Hafizi
You needed space, and I gave some. But before I knew it, space had become distance, and time became a while. As I had expected, you eventually reached the event horizon—a point from which there is no return. I was really reaching for the stars, except that they were redshifting away—you were.
I flung myself bound for you, and engraved longing into words and texts—wishing there would be a slightest echo where I would hear the same “come back”.
All the while I failed to recall that space is a vacuum—lacking of sound and indefinitely gloom.
The Girl Who Cried Gardens
by David Henson
When her mother died, the girl cried a garden of flowers to comfort her father. When he passed from grief anyway, she sobbed a garden of vegetables so she and her brother wouldn’t starve. When her brother ran off and left her alone, she wept a garden of angry thistle. When she became ill and was on her deathbed, she cried an empty garden for the life she would never know. After she was laid to rest in a place with no markers, a rock garden appeared on her grave.
The Last Letter
by Caleb White
She gripped the pen, her heart heaving with sorrow. She expressed her emotions and all the things she wished she had spoken to him before he went. She expressed her love for him, her longing, and her desire that he would return to her. She gave him a kissy-signature, sealed the letter in the envelope, and set it on the mantle next to his picture. I love you too, my dear, she heard faintly as she turned to exit the room.
by Sam Anderson
Martine sits alone on the park bench, tears streaming down her face. This is where he first said, “I love you.” But now, she sits alone and clutches the necklace he gave her, the thin chain tight around knuckles. A hand touches her shoulder. She turns and sees him smiling. “I’m back.” She jumps up, wrapping her arms around him. But his skin feels wrong, cold like misty leaves. His kiss on her forehead holds no warmth. Only the memory of something missing, now forgotten. And so, she sits once more, uncertain why she weeps but struggling to remember.
by David Sydney
Brutus and Rattus were on board the Ark, Brutus representing the Brown rats and Rattus the Black rats. The heavens were about to open up, with 40 days of rain to follow. It was getting dark and dangerous. Brutus used the words ‘ominous’ and ‘foreboding’, typical of a Brown rat.
Two platypus ducks boarded. Then, two cassowaries. Two hyenas. Then, two weasels.
Rattus frowned. “Everyone dislikes weasels,” Brutus agreed.
“HURRY UP,” the extremely long-lived patriarch, Noah, bellowed. “CAN’T YOU SEE THE WEATHER?”
Two Chihuahuas boarded, representing dogs.
“Can you believe who they’re letting aboard this thing?” said Brutus to Rattus.
Microfiction Monday – 180th Edition
by Phil Temples
You are the glue that holds us together.
It was one of his favorite things Hubert would say when he was alive. In reality, it pissed her off to hear it. She was the one who sacrificed her wants and needs for the relationship. She was the one who frequently made do without. She was the responsible of the two.
Yeah. I was the glue that held us together, alright.
It seemed only fitting, then, to mix Hubert’s ashes with the spackle compound to patch the crack in the kitchen wall.
You can be the fucking glue for once, asshole!
by Benjamin Marr
Growing old inside the ribcage of the dragon I slayed decades ago. The blackened bones now cold to the touch; drafty and freezing. The young lady I rescued now long gone on another planet a lifetime away.
I wonder if she felt as alien as I always have. Leaning up against a UFO in the park. A passerby making a joke, “Do you come here often?”
I walk to the library where we used to meet so long ago. I find the last book she read beside me before she moved away. Unfinished, her bookmark a first step to finding her.
by Lucas Hubbard
He had only one rule at Caesars: Bet on black.
His second rule was leave on a win. Revised: Leave on the next win.
Then, play blackjack; okay, try slots.
Don’t use credit. No alimony.
He was walking home when the rising sun imparted his favorite rules: Go to Luxor. Bet on red.
You searched for something ancient. Something carved in stone. Fashioned in bronze. An arrowhead, a dagger, an amulet. Some Viking myth to keep you in perpetual boyhood.
But the old rituals failed you. You became disenchanted. An iconoclast. You vowed never to be fooled again. Cynicism is your faith.
It is almost always that way. We proudly take off our shirts and show the world the wounds we survived. Forgetting that the point was to die. To die and then get on with it.