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.
Microfiction Monday – 170th Edition
What You Eat
Callum ate only nuts and seeds.
In time, his fingers were twigs. Vines were his arms. His legs, twin trunks. Callum’s beard was moss; lichens were his hair. Cinnamon birds drummed on the great shell that his belly had become. They tugged his guts into his lap. They slithered away. Roots in the soil. No longer needed, his lungs withered. His stomach was a shrivelled pouch. His heart a dark bowl that rolled down the long slope to the stream.
The vestiges of his eyes and ears drew in the measured dance. The faint music.
by Todd Pettigrew
Incomprehensible. Killing an infant.
No one knew the murderer. He simply appeared, forcing his way into the house, ignoring the older children. Finding the infant asleep, he fired and fled.
They chased, but reaching the end of a dark alley, found nothing.
Teufel. Damon, folks whisper. But even devils have reasons. Why desolate this family?
They’d lost three to illness already. And now this beautiful boy is only memory. His mop of dark hair. His curious eyes.
They weep, and pray for strength.
We stand alongside them, Alois and Klara, as they mourn little Adolph.
The Hitlers are not alone.
by Jeremy Nathan Marks
Every day at lunch mice scampered past the microwave. They left droppings everywhere. The workday was filled with worker shrieks. When the boss didn’t act, the staff walked out.
The boss asked the landlord to do something, but the landlord said that trapping mice was beyond the terms of the lease.
The boss loved rodents so he set live traps. But when he went into the ceiling where the mice were living, he struck his head on a beam and suffered a severe concussion. Since no one was in the office to know he was missing, the mice cannibalized him.
It’s The Little Things That Matter
by Roopa Menon
When my father’s muscular legs started to shrink and resemble chicken legs, he blamed the cook’s insipid food.
When my father’s legs burned raw from pain, he blamed Covid.
When my father snapped at us, he blamed our irreverence.
When my father scraped his foot, and his bruise, tarry black, refused to heal, we blamed ourselves.
“Undiagnosed diabetes.” The doctor said, shaking his head. Then, before wheeling my feverish father into the emergency room, he stopped and looked at me, “It’s the little things that matter. Always.”
Microfiction Monday – 166th Edition
Lychees and Figs
by Marcy Dilworth
A purple fedora snatched from a visitor wobbled on Freddy Orangutan’s head as he followed Trainer Tom out the just unlocked door, determined to enjoy retirement after thirty years’ loyal zoo service.
But fruit cost money, and money didn’t grow on trees. He landed at Amazon and spent his days submerged in a gray cubicle selecting canned answers in faceless chats with strangers, amassing 5-star reviews and aching joints.
The gig kept him in lychees and figs, but was this it?
Back at the zoo, the door, locked; Freddy’s heart, lonely, open.
Fedora in hand, he waited for Trainer Tom.
by David M Wallace
We stand in line at the fair for half an hour. A harried clown in rainbow overalls, beset by toddlers. Twisting balloons into elaborate pink ponies, purple elephants, blue dinosaurs. Our turn, at last.
“A snake!” she says.
He shrugs. One quick exhale. Two unblinking eyes.
What He Liked Went Unsung
by R. P. Singletary
No pretending, he liked the sane signature across the old guitar best. Oh he could play, had learnt how, all alone in that field, only son, brothers both dead, Dad always away, hiding out in the open from them all. Too much fusseriness, he called all the women in the house (sister, mother, granny, aunt, cousin) all behind all their proud backs, but when they’d shout out toward the barren furrows to ask their cry for notes, he’d pretend then the best, to please, and he’d strum them exactly, just what they done asked for, as if all for them.
by Ken Poyner
When Quibble receives the happiness, he finds it was shipped unassembled, without instructions, and free of paint. He spreads the pieces across his living room floor and begins moving them about, gauging which pieces might fit best with which other pieces. He tires, decides to go to Thole’s for the paint he will use. He had hoped when he came back the pieces would make more sense. They do not. It appears they have moved themselves into confusing clusters and configurations, and will need to be realigned. Then he thinks: paint first, or assemble? This project could take a lifetime.
Microfiction Monday – 165th Edition
That Same Game
by Ronit Plank
He’s been here all of thirty minutes and my sister is telling our dad again about that night when we were little and still living with him, when he set her on top of the fridge and left her there. She thinks it’s a good story, like he was playing a game. She doesn’t understand. She puts the inside of herself outside for anyone, especially him, to hurt. She laughs once more and keeps watching him in case he decides to look at her or crack a smile. As if that will make the difference this time.
by Marcy Dilworth
Drifts of ashes gray-blanket the farmhouse, the fallen cattle, the land they’d labored into life.
Colleen loads a knapsack with little to leave the nothing.
“How will Jed find me?”
No breadcrumbs; bread crumbled to memory long ago.
She tips in a tumble of treasured tubes—acrylics, oils, watercolors—and marks the miles of her pointillist path, a misery of blues, a yearning of yellows, a startle of oranges, more.
Only Colleen Red remains.
She slows. Dispenses dwindling drops. Contemplates beginnings and ends. And spies Jed, hobbling across the cinder-filled creek. Drips from his finger complete their abstract masterpiece.
by David M Wallace
One hundred billion stars in the universe will die this year. One hundred billion lamps burned dry. And in my breathing body, as many cells will offer up their lives by Tuesday. Enough for a galaxy. But you, scattered on this sea? Too many and too long ago to count those griefs.
Microfiction Monday – 160th Edition
Number 4 was Born at Home
by Shannon Hare
After a sleepless night, each crunchy step reminds me of granola. I swat at blackberry brambles with spoon arms. It helps to get scratches. To ground me. To pick at until tomorrow.
“I’m asking for ten minutes a day.”
I was too far away now to hear the baby crying. Still, the rush comes to me, just at the thought of it. Milky circles on my shirt.
Women and Girls
by David M Wallace
My dear wife. I have your letter and the joyous news. The army winters in Gaul but will return to Rome come spring, gods willing. I will send money soon. If the child is a boy, name him Lucius. If a girl, leave her to the elements. Greet my mother for me when next you see her.
by Ken Poyner
The guards at street’s end swing quart bottles of blood. It is not their blood. It is not your blood. With these exceptions, it could be anyone’s blood. When guard is changed, the new guards bring new blood. In your house you worry how the blood is collected, in what province or block, from which political party; with tubes and needles, or by sopping it from the floor. No one speaks of it, yet everyone worries. Slowly, it is marveled at less. It is assumed each rotation of guards will have new blood. It is normal. The experiment is done.
Microfiction Monday – 158th Edition
A Halloween Encounter
by David Henson
I’m raking leaves on a blustery Halloween morning when a green-skinned warlock appears. He tells me I can eliminate my life’s regrets with his magic rifle. With a wink and a hand wave, feathery things fill a bare tree in our yard. “I don’t want to shoot a bird,” I say.
“Not birds. They’re your regrets.”
Relieved, I fire. One of the creatures chirps and falls to the ground. Guilt engulfs me. “I should feel better, not worse. Was it truly a regret?”
The warlock flashes a wicked smile. “No. And now you have one more.”
by David M Wallace
After the stoning, no one could say for certain who had delivered the fatal blow. Sara was an adulteress. She had it coming. No one felt any guilt. As she lay bleeding, the men recalled her beauty. That night, the remembrance of the curve of her breasts fueled their fantasies.
by A. Zaykova
“Keep your eyes on that door,” Jim says.
Freddie, his new partner, looks green and nervous.
“First time?” Jim asks and bites down on a hotdog.
“Just do as I say and you’ll be alright.” Jim takes another bite and a splat of ketchup lands on his good pants. “Shoot!”
Freddie cocks his rifle and pulls the trigger. Some poor bugger falls to the ground with a red flower blooming between his eyes. Their target darts into the crowd and disappears.
Maybe Judith was right in saying there’s something off about a hitman who doesn’t use cuss words.
Microfiction Monday – 140th Edition
Practically Asking For It
Nadine is shopping for a new boyfriend – she’s looking for a two-takeaways-a-week, comes-with-his-own toothbrush type. She doesn’t have the budget for anything else.
In aisle three, there’s been some kind of spillage. A muscular man labeled Colin is clearing up. Watch out love, he says and points at the luminous Hazard, Keep Clear.
In court, Colin will say she stepped out anyway, right into his path. The judge will smirk. Silly Nadine. Too dumb to read the signs.
by David M Wallace
A thin stream of drool traveled from the corner of his mouth. It hung off his chin like a translucent strand of whitish fish eggs. His lips moved silently as he swayed back and forth. Gently tossed on an invisible tide. The beads of his rosary slipping through his fingers.
At the Hardware Store
by Jennifer Lai
A couple considers paint swatches: Desire Pink, Sleepy Blue, and Lauren’s Surprise. “Lyin’ Eyes” plays in the background while “Special assistance needed in the tools area” blares overhead. I’m wandering aimlessly when an employee asks if I need help. Her tag says Ask Me Anything. I want to know why my best friend hasn’t returned my calls in over a week and why my boyfriend broke up with me last night. Instead, I ask for the bathroom. She gestures left, right, then left again.
“There’s signs along the way”, she says, “but they’re easy to miss if you’re not looking.”
by H. A. Eugene
Michael couldn’t afford new ideas. So he regurgitated the words he’d read and presented the book to the librarian, closed; a good-faith gesture meaning the ideas within remained uncomprehended.
“I am choosing not to learn,” Michael announced, walking backward through the library’s entrance.
He continued, carefully placing one foot behind the other until his backside arrived at home, where he resolved to remain until such time that change may not feel so expensive.
Microfiction Monday – 133rd Edition
by G.J. Williams
She said it was because he didn’t ask about the scar but instead kissed it. That’s what did it, she said. Miri all over. This Joe feller, he kissed that scar, held her wrist, said nothing. Where Miri lives, that’s a man with soul. That’s a bod worth keeping.
by Ashley McCurry
After you left, I started packing up boxes and found a picture of myself as an infant.
I was sitting with an unenthusiastic Santa, dressed as a tiny elf with white tights, grinning wildly.
The photo was worn, and a rusty orange smear coated my lips and teeth. I looked as if I had just devoured the raw flesh of my enemies, there on Santa’s lap.
I wish I could transport myself back into that plump, unsuspecting vessel, watching my parents waving at me to coax a smile—
Believing that I would always be the center of someone else’s universe.
by David M Wallace
Follow the path of crushed stone, the curled leaf riding the creek. Pass under the bridge with moss hanging from its struts. Climb the bank toward the strains of the calliope, where trinkets dangle, whirligigs spin, and clowns lean from a carousel waving white Jesus on a stick.
There Are Wolves
by Kaitlin Beauchemin
“There’s a mountain lion in the yard.”
The husband presents this information like an accusation. Like he’s taking a stand.
The son yanks out another clump of her hair.
Her eyes water.
“No, honey. No.”
“You can see it from the window. It’s right there.”
The husband watches her very carefully.
The son slaps her face.
She gazes out the window.
What fucking yard?
Microfiction Monday – 130th Edition
Late Night Coffee
by Steve Bates
“That’s the last of the coffee,” she said. We’d talked half the night. She’d told me more about herself than I wanted to know, and I’d told her more about myself than I intended to. That’s the curse of two lonely people living in the same lonely apartment building in the same lonely city finally meeting. We’d revealed our dreams, dancing around our disappointments, which was really all either of us had found since moving here. No amount of small-town education can prepare you for this. “Should I put on another pot?” she asked. “Sure, why not,” I said.
It’s Not The Music
by G.J. Williams
He thinks the music brought back the rat. It’s not the music I said, and there is no rat. It’ll be the violins he said, the higher-pitched pieces. Or the promise of warmth in a cello. Neither I said, besides there being no rat. The walls are quiet when you’re around he said. And I certainly heard no pattering of feet across any ceiling. The music all the while stayed stopped. That’s not healthy I said, you love your music. There’s no serenading any rat. It’ll be the piccolos he said, it’ll be the woodwind the flutes the pipes.
Feeding the Hungry
Tiny tunnels lead through the grass to the crime scene – young squash vines strewn over the ground like corpses, decapitated chard shoots poking out of the soil, pole bean seedlings cut off in their prime, a harvest thwarted before it even had a chance. At the edge of the garden, a heron stands in silent vigil, then – stab! – and it’s vole for dinner. “Come back,” I call as it lifts its great blue body into the sky. In the shadows by the riverbank, a crow hovers over the heron’s nest.
Cradle and All
by David M Wallace
There was an official investigation, of course. No one blamed her. These things happen. It’s nobody’s fault. But next morning a little flurry of hail fell. She stood at the window watching it gather against the porch steps and dreamed of fairies and baby teeth.
Microfiction Monday – 129th Edition
by Linda Lowe
Linen napkins and tablecloths went first, along with candlelight and flowers. Predictable, given the times, but what happened in the heavens was downright surprising. While no one worried much about the disappearance of the Big Dipper, or stars, period, when it came to the moon, there was genuine concern. Short lived, though, as people seemed more intent on leaving than looking up. After a while so much was gone it made more sense to marvel over what was still around. You and me for example. Left to tell the truth I guess. Without a single sharpened pencil to be found.
Gone in a Flash
by A.M. McCaffrey
The civilisation business had finally gone under, and abandoned cars were among its rapidly depreciating assets. Shells and tyres would be gone in a century; engine blocks, five centuries; polyurethane seat cushions, ten; glass windshields, ten thousand. Every human construction, like the machines on the highway, would atrophy, and the second hand on the cosmic clock would twitch barely one space forward.
by David M Wallace
Every day at lunch Brenda sat alone in the playground sharing her sandwiches with a score of hungry pigeons surging around her. Patiently, she weaved their stray feathers into a dappled carpet.
“Where is Brenda?” asked Ms. Chen one afternoon.
A blur soared past the windows.