Tag Archives: David M Wallace

Microfiction Monday – 170th Edition

What You Eat

by David M Wallace

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.

Time Heals

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.

Office Mouse

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.

Balloon Animals

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.

Next.

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.

Construction

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.

Colleen Red

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.

Ashes

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.

Certification

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.”

Judgement

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.

Dirty Word

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.

Freddie nods.

“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

by Jackie Morris

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.

Assisted Living

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.”

Unreading

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

Soul

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.

Hunger

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.

Follow, Follow

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.

Everything stings.

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

by Katherine Rawson

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

Gone

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.

Winged

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.

Microfiction Monday – 126th Edition

This week’s artwork is by Julian Cloran.

Daddy, Can We Build a Snowman?

by Ryan Thomas LaBee

He knows he should say no, but he can’t. So he bundles his four-year-old in her winter coat and carries her to the center of the road, where together they begin rolling snow into three orbs of differing sizes. After the orbs have been placed in a snowman configuration, he makes his way to their gravely stuck car where they have no cell service, where his wife breastfeeds their newborn, where they only have enough snacks for a day trip and only a half tank of gas, to rummage through their belongings for something that will make a good nose.

Righteous

by Alastair Millar

Upstairs, Carl logs on and searches for forbidden fantasies: classics removed from schools and libraries because the district now calls them “unbalanced” and “inappropriate”.

“Ain’t nobody gonna tell me what to read. I hear worse language in class every day”, he thinks, skimming another ‘offensive’ story. “I know people like this, they’re cool. What are these idiots trying to prove? It’s all online anyhow.”

He loses himself in books the censors don’t want him to see; they’re tinder to the spark inside him. Another file copied, another friend messaged, and he spreads the brushfire further.

Object Lessons

by G.J. Williams

Music as Terror: Discuss. The wiping out of villages to Shostakovich. The snow-muffled strains of Schubert as played by the Angel of Death, circa 1943. Or those funkier numbers favoured by the Mad Sams of the underworld who drill through flesh in derelict basements. Music to kill by. The soaring guitars against the Vietcong. The songs in Manson. The headphones of Nilsen. Not forgetting Stalin’s perfect pitch. For Stalin, every sound had its key. A building might crumble in E-flat, a tram go by in A-minor, a fly buzz in F-sharp. Every human had a special scream. Discuss.

Eastern Approach

by David M Wallace

Lena’s teacup performed a little jig in its saucer as the vibrations grew closer. The tiny cry of porcelain chiming over the rumble of tanks grinding in the street below her window. Soldiers trudged behind, clad in khakis and impunity.