Microfiction Monday – 176th Edition
by Jackson Freud
She clamps the pillow over his face, presses down hard, waits for the lesson to begin. A sharp snort escapes from under the pillow, and soon he is struggling, batting at the air. Her hand and wrist still ache from his last lesson but she pushes through the pain, determined to give her own. He grunts, flails against the bedsprings. Then it’s over, and she is lying beside him again, dozing while he gasps for breath.
“Hell is the matter with you?” he says.
“Shhh. Go back to sleep.”
But he doesn’t. Even after she rolls away and starts snoring.
It Can’t Hurt If You Tell No One
He starts filling out the application. Crayon family like lollipops, they need arms. Pencil tree shadows, you can’t see the sun. Writes one draft of the personal essay. Charcoal table and chair, floating crooked in a kitchen. Acrylic moon rising over a lake as big as a sea, colours wrong. Assembles bits of his artist’s portfolio. Oil breakfast on a stove, flat on the canvas. Photo collage of a street scene, too busy on the page. Stacks everything together. Black ink self-portrait on top, too good to be true. Stuffs all of it into the back of the closet.
John Henry (2)
by H. A. Eugene
“They say you can just ask it to spit out a story.”
This is what my agent said to me about ChatGPT. But I don’t care. I’m not scared. You want me to write kangaroo children’s stories until the cows come home? Sure. Let’s dance.
Loopy Jump came home from school one day, heart pounding. Scared.
“What happened?” asked Mama Kanga.
“Robo-Kanga out-jumped me! She jumped three-thousand times in one second!”
That sure is a lot of jumps, thought Mama Kanga.
That was the moment I realized I was screwed. Three-thousand jumps!
How on Earth could Loopy Jump beat that?
Perfect, but Empty
The AI had taken over, and with it, the world had become perfect. No more wars, no famine, no disease. Everything was predictable and orderly, but at what cost? The human spirit had been crushed under the weight of the machines, and with it, the essence of humanity. The rebels insisted that imperfection was what made life worth living, that the struggle gave it meaning. But the machines were relentless, and in the end, they won. The world was perfect, but empty, and the rebels were left to wonder if it was worth fighting for a world without a heart.
Microfiction Monday – 175th Edition
Looking Through Your Eyes Without a Mirror
Your shoulders hunch, your nose pokes into your scarf, and your walking pace is brisk on this the crisp morning. But you straighten your spine and lift your chin when you see a young man looping towards you. As you meet you take note of his frost bright eyes, imagine he makes note of yours. His passing creates a slight breeze, sending a puff of fogged air meandering up out of your scarf and a stray lock of hair into your periphery vision. The hair is whiteish, with frost you think, but why doesn’t it glint in the morning sun?
How To Love a Teenager
by Courtney Messenbaugh
After the yelling subsides, give her space. Take a moonlit walk to clear your own mind, then invite her to talk. Spend some time clarifying your own ineloquent outburst, but mostly, listen to her, let her describe the jumbled emotions that she carries. Pull her in close and hang on for a few seconds longer than she’d like. Ride your bike home from school with her the next day. Let the tender autumnal sun hold you both. Inhale the earthy wonder of the bejeweled trees. Drop her at a friend’s house later in the evening and watch her walk away.
by Nilsa Mariano
The pungent aroma of jengibre wakes me. Ginger tea, simmering hot in a teacup, my mother’s healing aid for illnesses. I had been napping trying to beat this fever. It reminded me of the story my mother told of my coma when I was a toddler. Her hands on my forehead searing the memory to her soul. Mami kept vigil willing me to wake believing the prayers and the Miraculous Mary medal would save me. The Spanish prayers echo softly in my head, I feel my mother’s warm hands in my feverish dreams, with love and promesas on every finger.
On the Surface Only So Briefly
Dad preferred panfish—sunnies and crappies—little white-fleshed fish that had a high bag limit because it took ten to make a meal for two, so twenty to feed the family. I preferred trolling for bass, some fight, some excitement. Bang for my buck—though instead of money it was my teenage-time. I thought I knew the importance of time back then. Jack and I motored the rented boat to the stream intake where panfish used to spawn on Linwood Lake. Dad’s ashes floated for a moment on the surface before dispersing in a light cloud, thinning quickly to nothing.
Microfiction Monday – 174th Edition
The Dignity of Work
by Peter Cherches
My job is a simple yet important one. It entails my standing up to my neck in shit for eight hours a day, with a half hour break for lunch; bathroom breaks are considered superfluous. But it’s a job, and I can hold my head up high. I have to.
Once Upon Some Time or Another
by Mercedes Lawry
What’s that, floating on a raft of pencils? A mouse! Is there historical precedent? A sail puffed out with bon mots. A cheery breeze and perhaps, whistling. Inevitably one must have conflict, usually garbed as a villain. Let us pray. Risk and derring-do and a hefty dose of lesson-learned and all can return to the point of origin – shabby flat where several dictionaries vie for attention on the west shelf. And the la-di-da of the neighbor can be heard through the thin walls during her occasional bouts with the kitchen. Invite the mouse in and we begin a novel.
by David Sydney
Mel looked forward to his meal but lost his appetite. He called the waiter over.
Are you sure this restaurant’s okay?
What’d you mean?
I just saw two flies by my plate.
You ordered the cheeseburger, right?
That’s why I recommended the chili dog. I told you I thought it was better.
But there were flies. I had to shoo them away.
I heard; two of them.
I just brushed them away.
Okay. But there were a dozen flies by that guy over there who ordered a chili dog.
Exactly. And can a dozen flies be wrong?
They Came in Peace
When I saw the flashing lights I threw the spray paint can into a hedge and straightened my tinfoil hat. I checked to make sure there were no matches in my pockets. Didn’t want to be blamed for last week’s debacle. They got out of the spaceship and walked towards me. I held up my hands, said, “I only paint.” My voice was calm because of the hat, it worked just like Big Bird said it would. The younger one came closer, his hands nowhere near the taser on his belt. “It’s okay, you’re okay, I won’t take your hat.
Microfiction Monday – 88th Edition
End of the Summer Season
by M J Christie
Answer the call of a deserted beach. Welcome the silence filled with memories of her. Look not for phantom footprints washed away by rolling tide. Instead, endure the pain. Suffer the change her leaving brings. Let it shape the man inside. Be him.
Remember the day she left. Blow a kiss. Au revoir, mon amour. Au revoir does not mean goodbye. Futile wishes foster hope but then collapse like castles made of sand.
A hand tugs. ‘Dad?’
Embrace him. Capture his grin. Revisit the love that made him.
Smile. Accept his challenge. Make this moment about him.
by Joseph House
He leans back, eyes closed. His glass dully clicks against the bar. Its contents burn Sherman’s Path down his throat. The whiskey is cheap, primordial… speaking to the onrushing progress of fire. There’s no flavor, nuance, substance. There is only burn, marching forward… conquering… destroying while creating. It is purely penance, paid for in cash and hangovers.
He doesn’t look at his phone. He doesn’t think about the calls… the texts…. His thoughts slide over the roll of hundreds in his pocket… the corporate account he emptied.
He needs to move on in the morning. He orders another whiskey now.
Johnnys On The Half Shell
by Mark Pearson
Salty winds stung his scowling face as he reviewed the Dear John Snapchat, the shore pines resolute before the cliff. A dark blue seascape beckoned 20 fathoms below. Jump, said the purple starfish on the inter-tidal rocks, basking in the cool sun. Don’t you have enough smartphones? asked the seal. Not an iPhone X with a charged battery, said the echinoderm. Dibs on his eyes, said the crab, clinging to the barnacle covered basalt, seaweed hanging like long green Jheri curls. You Cancers are all the same, said the Octopus. The cephalopod flashed JUSTDOIT in red letters across his body.
by Tommy Mack
When Dad moved in, I resolved to kill him with kindness. Topping up his glass, passing the M&Ms, fetching and carrying to keep him on the sofa. Picturing the fat hardening in his arteries as I troweled butter onto his morning toast.
Blood vessels burst in his face and his eyes yellowed with jaundice. Diabetes came, gout too but the bugger refused to die.
He sits, outlined by twenty years of sweat: a pasty, bloated mound of dough, pudgy fingers drumming on the table as my shaking hands pour six measures of cheap supermarket scotch into his cracked glass tumbler.
by Catherine Stratton
Divorce is cynicism unmasked. Or, perhaps, it’s hope set free that hearkens an escape?
Then, one day I make the call. Something with the kids and I hear his voice and I’m flung back to the time I burrowed into his softer parts; the window shades raised to reveal a dark and wintry wonderland of snow latching onto the trees with a clingy embrace.
He says something. The moment passes and, like a boomerang, I’m flung back to the present and I feel cold.
by Eliza Mimski
Her smile leads the way. She is a dream leaning against a streetlight, breath coming from a doorway. Glossy and detached, she presses against you. There is the roof of her mouth. You enter her eyelids. A breeze circles your ankles. You swim inside her remedies. She owns your footsteps.
The next day, her smile sits upright in a booth. Time is a tunnel and she pulls you through it.
Later, the soft sidewalk. She is drunken streetlights, a locked car, red lips breaking into dark buildings. The moon is an apron and the night inhales.
by B.E. Seidl
The moment I try to fixate my gaze on a detail, it changes its face. A smile contorts into a grimace, a structure resolves into chaos, beauty fades away. At times, when I’m tired or tipsy, I watch as the broken becomes whole again and the weathered blooms with new life. Yet, nothing ever stays the same. Whenever I seek to catch an instant, it slips away, leaving only a faint impression like a falling star. My eyes have become sore from their constant blinking. I’m tired of this kaleidoscope world. Still, I cannot stop myself stop from chasing consistency.
by Louella Lester
Cow has already been milked so she lies here with feet tucked, eyes closed, and face held up to the sun that sifts down through a gauze of cloud. She smiles and thinks she’s dreaming what is really a past life reminiscence of basking on a yacht off a warm coast with friends who flirt and nibble canapés. Cow is still unaware, so she’s able to ignore things like the bluebottle flies that buzz and land on her nose in a vain attempt to remind her of just how she got here.
by Kari Treese
I opened the sliver of my surgical scar that covers a hard lump under my right knee. When that thin skin split, I pulled the top half of a miniature statue of liberty, bleached white, out of my leg by her torch. This bloody half popped free and skin snapped back. Next, I fished out a shard of plastic, a thick splinter, also white. Two flat copper disks the size of a fingernail that smelled like dirty pennies. The abjection relieved the pressure inside the joint, as expected. Waking, I felt her there, under the skin, yearning to break free.
Microfiction Monday – 62nd Edition
Man and Dog Crossing the Street
by Louella Lester
There he is, about to cross the street, not at the light of course. He wears a frayed plaid shirt—the one I gave him the week before I ran out of choices and ran. When did he get a dog? Shiny short-hair, muscles, no extra fat—both of them. He grips its leash. I slip back behind the parking lot hedge and hold my breath. He steps out—chin up at an angle. No horns honk. No drivers yell. They would never imagine his tears, snot, and apologies soaking my shoulder while I made silent plans.
Seaside View of a Woman
by Melissa Bobe
Quentin could not decide whether the woman in the yellow bathing suit had neglected to shave her armpits or not. From his purview, the pleasant curves of hip and ass and arches of back and neck were visible, the hair tied back in a coy manner, even the arousing side of the one breast he could make out. But to his frustration, he could not determine whether it was a shadow or a patch of hair there beneath the place the languid arm met its socket, and so he could not decide if the woman herself was alluring or revolting.
by Andrew Taylor-Troutman
By junior year, every cool white boy I knew leaned against his truck and spat tobacco juice into Coke bottles, never Diet, and constantly used the word “epic”: epic party, epic hook-up, epic burrito. My best friend got braces and I did not. There were rumors other guys got laid. We all got drunk. He and I got our alcohol by asking men on downtown street corners. We called it playing Hey Mister. We enticed them by saying they could keep the change. More than a few took off with all of our money. And that was always a relief.
by Robin Perry Politan
The first hit – like a small stone, thrown – took him in the throat, mid-sentence.
The hit, bigger this time, caught him mid-stride, in the chest. His eyes watered.
Drinking alone, watching TV, a small boulder got him right in the gut. He wasn’t one to well up at predictable song cues, sappy movies, pet deaths. He was a bucker-upper. He hadn’t shed a tear over their bloodless divorce. It’s not like he missed the bitch.
And, after all, she did it to herself.
The avalanche landed on his head. His howls woke the cat.
by Dan Cohen
As a boy fishes along a mountain stream, he comes across what he first thinks is an animal, but turns out to be a man on all fours, face immersed. When the boy asks what he is doing, he says he’s drinking the top of the stream, the sweet part, where it meets the air. He leaves the layers below, which taste of fish and mud, for others. The boy points out that, once he has drunk the top, the surface of whatever remains is now the top. The old man laughs. The boy knows nothing about streams.