Tag Archives: Nathan Hystad

Microfiction Monday – 34th Edition

MMMJune1Just Another Day
by Jim Harrington

Mom’s black pants are in the trash again. I don’t know why and never will. Her mind functions unattended these days. I give her the single rose and card. She says it’s not her birthday. I tell her I know. She reads the card and places it on her bed without comment. I help her to the window hand in hand, and we watch the trees struggle to stay erect in the strong wind. Life hasn’t knocked her over yet, but it will. I think she still knows that.

Missing Out
by Richard Jennis

Antoine desperately wanted to walk on the moon, but there were holes in his faded jeans and his teeth weren’t straight and his right eye danced during interviews. So they accepted Edmond Gray, who had a panic attack shortly after takeoff, compromising the entire mission. Now an engineering professor at MIT, Antoine forgoes the traditional suit and tie. Students find him relatable, funny, and endearing. Last Friday, he talked about the previous launch, and his right eye flickered like candle lights. The casual observer assumes amblyopia, but his students know he’s penetrating the ceiling, sweeping the skies for moon landers.

The Dog Died Yesterday
by Ronald J. Friedman

The dog died yesterday and so did my mother-in-law. My wife wanted to bury her in the back yard under the plum tree, but the kids and I had always planned to put the dog to rest there so we’re going to bury Helen’s mother over in Coffeeville next to the church. We ordered a laser-engraved plaque for the grave. It says, “Ruffles Forever”.

by Nathan Hystad

He is closer to the edge today than yesterday. The ground looms way down the cliff face, and he pictures how it will look when he finally jumps. Today is the day, he tells himself.
His toes touch the air, then the arch of his bare feet feel the rock edge press against them. For the first time in years, the ache in his heart is gone, replaced by calm.
The wind blows lightly against his back, urging him forward. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, as his phone rings. It’s her again.
There’s always tomorrow.

by Mattie Blake

I dreamed I was driving and stopped at a crosswalk. As the pedestrians crossed, they all met in the middle, embracing each other. Soon they all looked at me, sensing my impatience.
“Don’t you have love for people?” a man said.
I told him, “I do feel love, but it is buried with other things I feel.”
“Every place is a place for love in this world,” he said.
“Some places are meant for cars. You cheapen love with what you do.”
“You are sadly blind,” he said.
“And yet I see the road better than you.”

Microfiction Monday – Seventeenth Edition

Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Marc D. Regan.

MMMSept22Water Rush

by Richard Jennis

Robbie’s mind is a labyrinth where rabbits come to play, until cobras devour those rabbits in their glistening venom mouths. Somewhere in the labyrinth is Rachel Ellison’s bra from the time they got frisky while studying chemistry. Beyond that, in the most hidden and cavernous realm, is a small copy of “The Great Gatsby.” One day, Dr. Babylon tried to gain entry, and his life was never the same. Had he gone further, he would have met Rachel Ellison herself, and everything would have been illuminated. Unfortunately, he was scared off by the flickering symbols dancing on the serpentine walls.

by Nathan Hystad

I press my back against the cold, brick wall. The spirit hovers in front of me, her face inches from mine. I can see the anguish in her eyes as she stretches her ethereal hands towards my neck. I know I was wrong to come here again. Through it all, she still loves me. I can see it in her eyes as she chokes me; her wispy white hands clamp around my throat. I’m too far gone to care; I only want to be with her again. As all breath leaves my lungs I croak out two last words. “I’m sorry.”

The Sudden Obliteration of Things
by Marc D. Regan 

Things were going well. Interpret things as you choose. For me things represented my band, my relationship. I was finally happy. Things, of course, stood as irrefutable evidence that butt-ugly truth wielded the hatpin to burst my bubble. The call came early, I was asleep: They’d ODed. Kevin—best friend, band guitarist, and fix when life had me jonesing—and Annie—Bonnie to my Clyde, were both dead… but together? Now-exposed lies copulated frantically in my mind; the shared drugs, sex. Dead were concrete walls in a shrinking cell—on Pluto! Suddenly alone, I shivered, cried. Suddenly, things were obliterated.

by Tina Tocco

“Oh, you just pay him no mind, now, honeybun.” Momma leaned over the fence into the new neighbor. “Boy’s just lookin’ for attention.”
She dragged on her Pall Mall, and the man coughed, like little Shirlee with her asthma. I guess that’s why Momma didn’t hear me, see me pointing to the pool’s still surface, as she slid one finger down her own buttons.

Trash in the Garden
by Dakota Taylor

Her skin is cold, the stars faded from her eyes. Burnt lips, and scarred knees. Too young to sing the blues, did you know that money beats freedom? The Hollywood Dream. Drunks howl at the moon, grunting and sweaty. Lean, mean, and seventeen. The city is a neon forest. The camera is rolling, the mattress is vile. Leave the lights on when you leave.

Microfiction Monday – Twelfth Edition

Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Marc D. Regan.


by Rose Blackthorn

“I don’t know why we have to…present our son to him,” Charley muttered. “It’s creepy!”
“He’s my great-grandfather; he’s very old,” Moira replied. “This is the first son born to his line. It’s a big deal.”
Charley sighed.
Cian MacRaith sat propped up in bed. He’d waited so long for this day, and he was running out of time.
“Great-grandfather,” Moira went to him, taking one parchment-dry hand. “Meet your great-great-grandson.”
“He’s healthy?” Cian asked hoarsely.
“Perfect!” Moira beamed.
Babe and old man locked gazes. When the old man collapsed, no one noticed the cold satisfaction in the child’s eyes.

The Clockmaker
by Nathan Hystad

The clockmaker squints through his looking glass. His ultimate work is almost done, and he revels in the intricate beauty of the cogs and wheels. With a final twist of his tiny screwdriver, the back plate is in place. He cranks the lever and sets the mahogany piece down. Its hands start ticking slowly, backwards. A smile spreads on his face as the hands move faster. Soon his hair is less grey and his back straighter. It keeps moving backwards and he laughs. His wife comes in the room; tears stream down her face. He smiles. “We have forever.”

by Sarah Vernetti 

She had wrapped it carefully in bubble wrap, placed it in a box, and made sure to label it “Fragile! Not for moving truck.” As she glanced back at the old apartment for the last time, it was the only object she held besides her fringe-covered purse and a can of root beer. Ready to prove her trustworthiness, she walked down the stairs to the car, being sure to watch every step. After all, breaking the box’s contents could alter the state of the universe. Just then, a child raced up the stairs, brushing her elbow as he went by.

by Mike Zamzow

“Damn, there you are! How the hell you doin’?”
I didn’t answer. I didn’t know him. I didn’t know a single one of the two million odd Parisians. I didn’t know anyone for five thousand miles.
“Hey, man, where you from?”
“Hell, man, I’m from Chicago.” He spoke with a thick North African accent. “We cool. We cool. Come, man. Let’s go!”
I shrugged, put out the end of my cigarette and followed the man down the street.
“Wanna drink? My friend, we all hangin’ out tonight.”
“Got beer?”
“Hell yeah.” I shrugged. I could use a drink.

The Taste of Ivory
by Peter Cherches

I don’t remember what I said, but I remember her chasing me around the apartment with the big white bar in her hand, that crazed look in her eyes. I remember her catching me, grabbing me by the hair, trying to pry my jaws open, her long red nails scratching my face. I remember that the bar was too big for my little mouth, and I remember her turning it forty-five degrees so the corner could at least graze my tongue and make me gag. I remember the taste of Ivory soap.

Microfiction Monday – Tenth Edition

Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is “Mazatlán II” by Rachelle Olsen-Veal.


by John Laue

On New Year’s Day, 2009, Norman Moser, also known as The Good Natured Psychopath, walked from San Francisco to Sausalito across the Golden Gate Bridge, a feat he was accustomed to perform on Sundays. That day he was one of just a few people since the weather was rather blustery. When he reached the halfway point he saw on the sidewalk in front of him a pair of white running shoes. Since the shoes had no visible owner, he tried them on. They fit and he proceeded to his destination leaving his old shoes neatly in their place facing the rail.

So They Said
by Robert Scottellaro

The chickens pecked around their steps as they headed back to the house. The sky lay low, brooding, charcoaled by rain. It would soon be more intimate. They’d just returned from an exorcism. A boy with one leg shorter than the other. Who didn’t listen to his parents. Typed Satan-speak into his computer. Spoke sometimes in tongues. They said. All of them gathered around with God-words, and he told them to go fuck themselves. In a language they understood. They waited for the holy water to smoke and sizzle when it touched his skin. When it didn’t, they headed home.

Hunter’s Night
by Tanya Gouchenour

“Demons from hell…yep…” she muttered to herself as she filled in the hole. Sure enough, it had been a real possession and she was unable to save the host. Demons jumped into humans and kept ’em upright no matter what, but when that force was gone…nothing she could do. She knew some hunters left a trail of bodies in their wake, but that never felt right to her. She leaned on the shovel for a moment after finishing. It was gonna be a long drive to her next job, so she’d better pack it up.

Collards on the Corner
by Joan Leotta

A large swath of green plants extended back to a clapboard house.
“Collards 4 Sale.”
Thinking, “collards for tonight’s dinner,” I pulled into the driveway.
“Hellllllooooooooo….” A large man in a plaid shirt came out.
“Three bucks.”
I extracted three singles.
“Come on.” He had a machete! Hard to say no to a machete.
Despite fear, I followed Plaid down the plant rows.
“Which one?”
I pointed out a plant. Thwack! An entire plant, mine. Filled my trunk. Collards nightly for two weeks. I still cringe when I see collards.

by Nathan Hystad

I watched the whole thing like it was a car accident, craning my neck, slowing down to see the damage, but I was just a bystander. They signed the papers and told me Dad would be moving away. Dad’s apartment was small and musty. Signs of a female friend—a small, pink t-shirt, votive candles, potpourri in the bathroom—were there when I visited every second weekend. It became normal. Eventually Mom dated, Dad married Becky, and I was numb to it all. Years later, I’m divorced, and I’m numb again.

Microfiction Monday – Ninth Edition

Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is “Left in the Rain” by Sheri L. Wright.

Left in the Rain

by Jim Harrington

The fake rabbi stood on the frozen sidewalk leading to the Catholic church. He blew each parishioner a kiss as they exited the noon service. A bitter mix of alcohol and cigarettes permeated his breath. He saw her shake the priest’s hand, smile, say something that made the priest laugh. She, the drunk driver, the killer of children, the judge’s wife. The rabbi reached in his pants pocket, felt the knife, took a deep breath, and tottered away. Around the corner, he threw the beard and hat in a trash can. Revenge wasn’t in his nature.

The Garden of Love
by Patricia Crandall

“Elisa, I love you.” Hendrik said.
“I am engaged to your cousin. Tory has promised me the manor and I do love this garden.” Elisa dropped her hands among the folds of a rose and white striped cashmere dress.
“Tory’s an empty-headed boy.” Hendrik reclined beside Elisa on the grass and whispered, “You should be mistress of several manors. I’ll give you European gardens laid out with exquisite taste.” He pulled her to him.
Elisa screamed.
A tall youth darted from behind a hedgerow. Tory raised a meat cleaver over Hendrik’s head.
“Cut!” ordered the director.

Witch Way Home
by Nathan Hystad

I spat out shards of rock as I walked the overgrown forest path to the witch’s hut. The gravel left a dusty taste in my mouth, but it was the only thing keeping me from chewing everyone in sight. The curse she cast upon me–compulsion to chomp–wouldn’t go away. She would have to fix it or she would be my next victim. Greeting me at the door with hesitation, she told me there was nothing she could do. I ate her, and the compulsion died with her. Now I have a hut.

Domestic Indignities
by Stephanie Kerley Schwartz

Her tall, handsome neighbor, father of curly-haired daughters, exits his house carrying a large and elaborately wrapped birthday gift just as her dog takes a shit near the parked Subaru across the street from his house. He carries the pink box – ribbons dangling, like a piece of distasteful trash. She holds the opposite end of the leash from where the little dog is doing its little dog business, and stands up straighter. Above them all, life and death drama unfolds as a gang of mockingbirds chase a crow swooping away with its prize of crushed hatchling.

Baptists in Bed
by R.V. Scaramella

Under this sliver of porch, not quite keeping dry, waiting for a kid from Craigslist to show, wishing that I had a cigarette. We quit smoking when Em got pregnant. Daycare is $1100 a month. This guy wants to look at three of my last four guitars and will probably offer nothing on the dollar and I’ll probably take it. Fine, it’s fine though. Our band’s name was the one good thing about us, Baptists in Bed. Billy moved off anyway. That neighbor lady smokes. Daycare is expensive and I really do need a cigarette.

Microfiction Monday – Fourth Edition

Special thanks to Marc Corbier and Jessica Standifird for their editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Sarah Kayss.


by Stephen Gossett

The old house, standing naked and empty against the world, blank staring windows that cannot see. The door has locked out life. Flowers and shrubs growing and blooming, but for who? My youth peeled and blown away, only remembered as echoes. I had to cry today, standing in the deserted driveway. I am left bleeding and wounded. Through blurry eyes I try to see the old place in its former glory but it is small now. Time won out on its endless pursuit of the future.

Summer Nights
by Luke Strickler

I never had a rocky relationship in my teen years, but I did have a summer job at the mall. I got paid minimum wage. You got paid in whatever weird version of sex teenagers were doing. I stopped finding customers interesting. You stopped finding them interesting. And together we both drove home in separate cars listening to punk rock; me just having let out the last show, and you just having sat through it alone. The only difference is now I don’t like the taste of popcorn and you don’t like the name Alex.

by Tyler Woodley

If there was a time he wished he had never met that girl, it was now. That girl who haunted his dreams, she danced in his thoughts for him as if she owned his consciousness. So close sometimes, he could smell lilac. The summer dress she wore teased relentlessly; twisting elegantly, eerily silent. Dylan squeezed his eyes shut to envision her face, but it eluded him.
“She has green eyes, green eyes, green as emeralds. Emeralds.”
She gave one final twirl as she reached the very edge of Dylan’s imagination; a faint blue flash, then complete darkness.

A Better Plan
by Diana Kirk

When I was thirteen my mother kept a gun in her bedside drawer. Tears dropped on my arms as I held it, heavy in my hands, loaded with six bullets. The decision would be final. I at least felt that. I had to pull the hammer back but couldn’t decide where I should be found. Why hadn’t I thought this through? Her keys jangled at the door and I panicked, dropping it back in the drawer. It would be there tomorrow. When I’d have a better plan.

Lie Awake
by Nathan Hystad

I got off the sky train at the Omega sector. I looked around at the bleak planet and with a shudder pulled my trench tighter. The rain was ceaseless as I made my way to my new home. I walked around the green space for some time before I found my place. My name was carved in the stone, and I felt a tear mix with the rain on my face. I followed the instructions and laid down on the grass. My body sank into a casket. It has been hours, and I fear I did something wrong. I exist.