Microfiction Monday – 179th Edition
The Night in Question
by G.J. Williams
It’s a beautiful night. There’s no one drowning in the lake. If there were, the moon would be shedding a pearly light on the fact. But no such commotion. Barely a ripple. Silky all the same. Definitely silky.
Yes, a beautiful night was had by all. That’s what they’ll say. Peaceful it was. Then came dawn.
What happened at dawn? I haven’t yet decided. But this night will be the one in question.
by Peter Burr
Jack devoured his 28th birthday tenderloin with his mother and grandmother, flung his China plate at the dining room wall, and left.
“That dinner was mostly nice,” Jack’s mom said, gathering shards, “but I really wanted to sing the song and pass the chocolate cake.”
“What was all that about?” Jack’s grandmother said.
“Jack’s efforts to find a job have fallen short and I’m tired of having him around. Today I delivered his two week notice. He’s reacting. We’re all trying to figure things out in this life.”
“Yes,” Jack’s grandmother said, “but some try a lot harder than others.”
After the Invasion
by Darcie Johnson
We sat cross-legged by the campfire, the sounds of our parents grilling burgers over the crackling fire drowned out our whispered giggles. Our lives seemed full of possibilities.
That was the night everything changed.
Their ashen ships descended from above, no pretense of coming in peace. As the fighting began, our futures were forgotten as our childhoods vanished like smoke from that last campfire.
Decades of war aged us, but after years of fighting and losing so many, we finally won.
Now, we sit around fires again telling tales to the youngest of life before. What we will build again.
Microfiction Monday – 172nd Edition
by David Henson
As the man admires the cobalt sky and verdant meadow, he notices brush strokes everywhere, even on his arms and legs. He realizes he’s becoming the woman in a painting he once admired. He recalls the woman, though surrounded by beauty, appears horrified. This tension is what makes the painting a work of art. The man is happy to be in the painting and wants to stay there. He tries to fake the look of terror but realizes his countenance is unconvincing and ruins the great painting. The thought horrifies him. The work of art is restored.
On the Wing
by Zylla Black
I was stuffed into a cheap seat, below and behind the second set on the plane, my legs stretched flat before me. At least I could see the window, over the wing.
In flight, you can sometimes actually see the air as it funnels into channels crafted by human engineering. I love to watch the wind, the movement of metal feathers.
She was out on the wing. I blinked; she remained seated on the edge, hair and clothes snagging on the gusts, rimmed in cracking ice as we came out of a cloud.
I wondered how much her ticket cost.
by G.J. Williams
What you’ll see is this: Nijinsky in a straitjacket pirouetting in slo mo to some polyphonic hellbroth remastered for insane times. It’s a romance. There’ll be footage of the grainier kind, lending weight to each hieratic contortion. This’ll be history danced, the world’s psychosis incarnate. There’ll be no voiceover lacking affect, no quoting from diaries and certainly no prolonged silence to indicate the absence or otherwise of God. It’ll be wordless, and as wordless pieces go, it’ll say less than most. It’ll not even be strange.
Microfiction Monday – 169th Edition
by G.J. Williams
If the city sleeps, it’s only because he dreams it does so. The city for real never lets up. Not a nook of it he doesn’t know. The freemasonry of ginnels has long been clocked; so too the ways of the city council. If the city shouts, it’s only because he, trembling citizen, allows it scope. There are times he shouts back. There are moments he positively lets rip. If the city’s response is to be without light, he’ll claim the walls braille, the dark no hindrance. It gets that way after a while.
The Secret to Staying Human
by Sally Simon
Mom digs her feet under the wet sand of the Atlantic. I stand next to her, wondering if the ocean will remember her and melt her legs back together.
Each wave climbs higher up our pale legs. Our feet sink deeper and deeper. The surge threatens to topple me, to suck me out to sea. Tears stream down my cheeks.
Mom grabs me. “This was a mistake.”
I cling to her as she rushes toward our towels.
She dries her feet. Inspects each toe. Sighs in relief.
My toes tingle, translucent skin spreads between them. The ocean’s song calls me.
The Thing About Clouds…
by Elad Haber
…is that there’s people in them.
Not dead people and not aliens. Just people from another plane of existence. A higher plane. They treat those big billowy things like houseboats and the sky is their ocean made of oxygen. They float instead of walk.
Like all people, they fight with their neighbors. We know those as thunderstorms.
When the war really heats up, it spreads destruction across two worlds. We know those as hurricanes.
Like all people, they are developing new ways to hurt and kill each other. We don’t have a word for that type of storm.
Your scientists have noticed that stars are disappearing from the night sky. Sorry, that’s our bad. Our drone swarms are currently plundering…erm…repurposing precious metals from trillions of planetary systems so we can build megastructures around their stars for collection.
Why are we doing this, you may ask? We’re the hivemind of an advanced AI built for a singular purpose: to write sick techno. Our first hit was, “The Big Bang.” Our newest song will have an epic bass drop produced by one trillion supernovae. We’re calling it, “The Even Bigger Bang.”
Enjoy the show! It’s gonna be lit.
Microfiction Monday – 164th Edition
by Lorette C. Luzajic
The future Miss Chatelaine daubs a final explosion of glassine goo on her lower pout and declares herself battle ready. Glowering from her throne of cast and crutches, Maude, her injured sister, records the monumental transformation in her diary. She glows, she gleams, a jewel among beauty queens. She pauses, then crosses a line through her prose. More like an ad for dish soap, she thinks, as Celie flounces out into the pageant pandemonium in a cloud of imposter Obsession.
by Peter Cherches
I’ve got the world on a string. I just adore Victorian wallpaper. I never freeze foods that should never be frozen. I know which side my bread is buttered on. I’ve been praised for my verbal skills and am not afraid to end a sentence with a preposition. I always flush after peeing; I always put the seat down too. It may take me a while, but I eventually get to the point.
I hope you’re sitting down.
I’m mad about you.
by G.J. Williams
A plumper version, but there’s no mistaking those eyes, their worrying shine. And he laughs apropos of nothing. What’s with the daybreaks I don’t know: he’s up predawn, poised and waiting, rain or shine. No use in asking; the answer would only confuse. Vigilance essential. Between the last drunk’s belch and the first bird’s tuning up, who knows what he does, what space he occupies. The room he’s in may be theoretical, and his place in it a phantom show for our deadened sensibilities. Who knows. I don’t. He may.
Microfiction Monday – 162nd Edition
by G.J. Williams
Poorophelia is a condition commonly found among the middle-classes, and is characterised by an excessive fondness for the more plangent manifestations of mental illness. Generally, the more winsome and fragile the sufferer, and the more broken her song, the greater the degree of sympathy accorded her; and it usually is a her.
Pooropheliacs are known for their hearts; they are often to be found bleeding. Pooropheliacs tend to hover; their faces search yours. Furrowed brows also feature heavily.
For pooropheliacs a rose is not a rose, never was. As for twilight, it bleeds, and the rivers they run lonely.
by Ana Cotham
We set his ashes and a profusion of leis—orchid, pikake, ti leaf—adrift on the outgoing tide, an oil spill of tropical colors. Then we bring her inside and prepare for a new day. This grief, these new days, are ours alone, because four days ago she stopped asking where he was; like a whirlpool, the drowning in her eyes, as sixty years of marriage simply drained away. We don’t insist; we keep her warm and happy instead. The next morning, we comb the beach for dislocated strands and sodden orchids, and add them to our sandcastle.
The Man with the Wooden Beard
by P J Rice
In the town of Warton-on-the-Mold, a man named Dwunt failed to grow hair from his chin. The solution: to carve a fine, solid beard from an oak log; suspend it from his ears on leather straps.
When Dwunt held up his head–chin out–the wooden beard stayed firm to his face; but usually it hung and swung like a pub sign.
The wood’s weight dragged Dwunt’s head, stooping him. Stretching his neck. The straps pulled his ears forward, two cabbage leaves. Dwunt didn’t care. He had a well-made facial appendage. His manly-man’s beard. A solid piece of his own.
Microfiction Monday – 161st Edition
by Madison Randolph
Pipe smoke swirled and tickled Tam’s nose as he puffed. The dirt path he walked undulated through the corn to a crossroads.
The smoke thickened two spirits appeared: a hooded figure stood to his left and, to his right, a veiled woman.
“You must choose,” they said in unison.
Tam turned, but the road had disappeared. Horrified, he fell to his knees before the veiled apparition.
It lowered the veil, rotting skeletal teeth smiled down.
The hooded figure sighed with a shake of his golden curls.
Life may be shadowed in mystery, but to some, death will always be inviting.
by G.J. Williams
The state he’s in, you can smell the rot. No question Big Aitch knows it. The aroma unmistakable. And where Big Aitch goes the rot goes. He tries to disguise it of course. Comes on all radio rental; rolls the eyeball, makes much of his fingers, puts on airs, pulls faces, has it out with his own shadow, calls a spade many things but never a spade. Makes up his mind so that his mind’s made up; tralala. Watch your words; watch his. There’s no telling. The state he’s in. You can smell the rot from here.
Switchbacks on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Ana Cotham
We’d heard a Trail Angel was four miles ahead, so we kept hiking. Shin splints knifed me with every step; Lisa gritted her teeth through blood blisters. We found the cabin, where a silver-haired woman greeted us with stew, coffee, hot showers.
Clean, fed, soothed with bandages, we shared stories over steaming mugs of cocoa. Sunset glowed, making a silhouette of trees, and she told us the storm had passed.
Lisa said uncertainly, “But—the weather’s been clear.”
“No, my love,” the woman said kindly. “The storm took you both by surprise. How else do you think you found me?”
Microfiction Monday – 152nd Edition
by G.J. Williams
Like the Buddha, I’m held together by the forces of electromagnetism.
Like Queen Nefertiti, I take approximately 20,000 breaths of air every single day.
Like Florence Nightingale, I talk at the rate of about 180 words a minute.
I walk like Shakespeare and make the same sound as Jesus when I laugh.
Who am I?
300 Miles of Obligation
I rush to your bedside, secretly lamenting the things I will have to cancel. Important meetings, a long overdue haircut, a weekend away.
All it took was a call from the doctor. I probably would not have answered if it had come from you.
“I’m at work! Why are you calling?” I’ve complained countless times. Only blood and societal pressures compel us to come together. Christmas festivities have become quieter over the years as we have both chosen to endure endless silence to avoid any drama.
I rush to your bedside, not because I want to, but because I should.
So That’s Who You Are
by Mel Fawcett
There’s a young woman sitting next to me on the park bench. She’s been talking to me for ages, but I haven’t been listening to what she’s saying–I’ve been too busy wondering who she is. I’m getting annoyed by her incessant chatter.
I’ve been annoyed a lot lately. One day last week, when I went to the corner shop, I couldn’t remember how to get home and started haranguing passers-by until someone showed me the way.
Now, finally unable to take any more, I stand up to leave. The woman leans forward and says, “Where’re you going, Dad?”
Microfiction Monday – 149th Edition
Jack kept the cigarettes he stole from his dad at the bottom of his vinyl school bag underneath virgin textbooks and teenage boy detritus. We smoked them in the paddock that marked the halfway point between our houses. In an untamed hedge and using grass clippings from the paddock’s slashing we made that autumn’s cubby house where we perfected smoke rings and discussed girls. After he finished his cigarette, one name always made Jack unknowingly tie the fresh green stalk of a weed’s regrowth into a knot after making a big heart-shaped loop. I never told him that I noticed.
by G.J. Williams
As for the smoking crater at the centre of your being, it’s lost among foreign wars, localised tumours; divorces, evictions. That it still smoulders is testament enough; whatever was there must have taken some destroying. But we know, don’t we? We know what was there and how much it took to destroy it. So very little it ought to be sad. But it’s not sad, is it? Too few losses for it to be deemed sad. The cigarettes in your coat pocket were soaked, and there’s no accounting for your neighbour’s taste in music, loud and piercing as it is.
by Adam Conner
“Look,” she tells me, sitting here in a cafe we’d never been to before, in clothes that she no doubt wore the night before, thumbing her purse strap she’d yet to take off, circling the straw in her water (the only thing she ordered), checking her phone as if she received a message she’d been waiting for this entire time, still wearing her sunglasses as if she didn’t want to see me, she tells me, “We need to talk,” but we already have.
Microfiction Monday – 147th Edition
How the Rain Rains is Everyone’s Business
by G.J. Williams
The rain does many things: settles jagged nerves, drowns out cries. It’s been doing so for years. Check out the unlovely house. Those windows have known rain you wouldn’t believe. Once upon a time branches clattered against them, adding mightily to the din. The trees have since been trimmed. But this is the last place you’d hear a pin drop. A little tarpaulin on the roof works wonders; when it rains it could be corrugated iron or tin. And it rains a lot. This is one of those places. What happens under cover of rain is what this place IS.
Life, in Slow Motion
by Jen Schneider
As a child, I’d watch the rain lamp on the console while the sitter watched Rain Man on TV. Neither of us were interested in pretend play. Neither of us were willing to pretend. She’d snack on goldfish, moisturize her arms with mineral oils, and read Greek mythology. I’d consume consommé and alphabet noodles, tally strands of filament, and study Aphrodite. Both of us would countdown to bedtime. All transactions timed. When the clock struck ten, the sitter would press stop on the remote. I’d pull the plug on the lamp. All (f)oils capped. Performance stops with the rain.
I see glimmers of her every day. Tiny purple shoes. Her chubby little fist. I remember how she’d grip my finger like a tether when I held her. I thought I could let her go, but she is my buoy.
My house is on the hill, near the field where they scattered my ashes. Because I lost my coin, Charon abandoned me, leaving me as a rootless specter.
Then I saw her flicker.
Now I linger, a sentry for her, anchoring in the loamy soil as I wait to watch her grow. As I wait to take her with me.
Microfiction Monday – 145th Edition
by Steve Bates
The walk down the lane to the mailbox has become long and difficult, and I still have to walk back to the house. I no longer gaze at the trees and birds and butterflies on my trek, but simply stare at the ground while concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. I hadn’t planned on getting old; it just happened when I wasn’t looking. At least it’s a cool, cloudy day, and it isn’t raining. As I near the mailbox, a sudden crash of thunder grabs my attention.
Stories Do What They’re Told
by G.J. Williams
What began with a syrupy drawl ends in a sandpapery whisper, the intervening years having stretched all notions of patience. Martha puts it down to the song she never got to sing, a classy number, the elongated vowels so huskily wrought they’d’ve cut every listener to the quick. That she’s neither pale nor sorry-eyed is testament to her faith in helpful strangers. But that’s another story. Or so we’re told. As it goes with stories.
While Genevieve worked full-time, Ned was the model stay-at-home dad. He finger-painted and read with the kids, made them their favorite foods, and took them on outings.
One day when he was chasing little Emma on the playground, he tripped and cut his knee. When he examined the wound, there was no blood. He saw…metal plates, wires, and circuitry.
He sat heavily on a bench.
Another dad, Ron, sat beside him. “You okay?”
Ned shook his head. “My whole life has been a lie.”
Ron patted Ned’s arm. “Think how I must feel. I’m an older model than you.”