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Literary Fiction
(Fic)
Flash Fiction Collection
by Jo Hawk


Tall tales, snippets of conversations, general musing or dark thoughts from a disturbed mind, all retold in a few words. What ideas lurk in the corners of a writer's imagination? You can find out in a flash. "Sounds interesting!"

Repeating History

I took the stairs, two at a time, stuffing my gun into its holster as I tried to ignore the heavy strap digging into my shoulder. It was early, and I prayed as I approached her apartment.

“Please, be awake.”

Closing the door softly, I listened. Someone was in the kitchen. Relief washed over me as I peered around the doorjamb. Her small, frail frame bent over the sink. The house-dress hung on her like a worn rag, and white nurse shoes appeared too big for her thin leg...



Unexpected Love

My love affair started on our honeymoon, and I can assure you it’s not what you think. His idea. I preferred sleeping until noon, finding a great espresso in a cute shop and spending the afternoon wandering through the Uffizi. Waking up at four am was not on my agenda. Who does that on their honeymoon?

He was insistent. I figured since he conceded to the big wedding I wanted, and with our vows echoing in my ears, I agreed. That’s how I found myself, in a car racing down winding roads ca...



Brave Enough

Touching the scar on my arm, I let my finger trace the line.

The diner reeks of nostalgia, the linoleum is worn, but the coffee in the battered cream-colored cup is hot and strong. I sip, watching the two uniforms place their order and adjust their stools at the counter.

The glass door opens, the bell tinkles merrily, and he walks toward me, pausing, he towers over me, but I stand my ground. He sits in the booth. The table separates us, and he leans forward, reaching for my hands. I pull back...



The Business of Flying

They drift, while I watch with envy. Most times I pilot, but today I lead the chase team, earthbound. Owning the business, I have a job I love. Then there are these days. 

Two ground crew personnel called in sick. Airborne, the expedition holds its own excitement. With paying customers, the events, food, and photos at the landing site are more important than the ride. When the balloons reconnect with the earth, the focus becomes extending the experience, helping them re-live their ad...



A Matter of Survival

She hadn’t planned it, it just happened.

Self-defense drove Dolce to cook. The youngest of ten children, her boarding house reach left her scavenging scraps. Being closer to the food offered her ample opportunity to “taste” and it ensured her survival.

Resourceful, she devised methods of transforming inexpensive ingredients into haute cuisine. Her talent drew the entire neighborhood’s attention, and they insisted on paying for her home-cooked meals.

Unable to squ...



Running on Empty

Daylight faded and the gas gauge’s needle dipped ever downward. I alone followed the black ribbon which wavered, shimmering as it grasped at the horizon. Flat, desolate county rolled past my windows, a study in beige monotony. The only interruption was the occasional posts on the roadside. Shoes dangled there.

With nothing better to do and the sound of my own wheels driving me crazy, I counted them, noting the numbers on my odometer. Mile markers, they marched in tune with my evaporating gas....



Holding On

The sand flew right out the window. It left me frozen, asleep for a thousand years. The one thing I craved, I never found. Solid ground. I slipped, descending the slope, my fate was sealed.

Sentenced, I watch your world from total darkness. Longing for sweet sun to kiss my face, I promise to try harder, even if it never matters. My once dark doors are open wide, my soul laid bare. Will you be there? Will you reach for my hand? Judge me, forgive me, save me?

Please, answer my prayers for...



It Starts with One

Sandy hobbled past the people milling around the pickup counter. The barista slammed her Grande Iced Caramel Cloud Macchiato behind two carry out trays. Their owner was busy yelling at his phone to notice his order was complete and in the way. Her gnarled hand pushed them to the side. Moaning softly, she reached for her cup.

“Those are mine. Why are you touching my drinks?” The man rushed forward bumping into her, as he thrust his arm between them.

Startled Sandy tu...



Chalk Outline

The truth is lost in time. Erased by centuries of chest-pounding men. What power could a mere teenage girl lacking noble birth, hold over her betters? I’m here to tell you, women have their ways.

Fluent in Latin, an educated mind grasps diplomatic intricacies and gathers skillful, wealthy, and intellectual people into a formidable defensive circle. Ambitious men heed the girl’s counsel and indulge her whims. Ludovico the lover, patron of Milan provides influence and fortune. Rare books,...



A Matter of Timing

Odette glanced at the building’s clock as she walked. Early as usual, and Derick would be late, calm, cool and bemused by her irritation. Her heart pounded, as she scanned the piazza. An old man leaning against a column, feeding the pigeons. A woman wearing a headscarf pushing a baby stroller. Cafe tables spilling onto the pavement, red-checked tablecloths flapping in the breeze.

That’s when she saw him. His ball cap obscuring his face, contrasting with neatly pressed trousers and ...



Follow Me

Sasha’s quest for world domination was a slow process. Her extensive research in neuroscience and cult psychology formed the basis of her plan. Her studies confirmed the importance of preparing the subject’s mind, training and conditioning it to accept and execute her suggestions without question. 

The first steps were simple. Couched in benign requests, few people objected, and peer pressure forced compliance as she led them through children’s games. They were...



Cosmic Intervention

Darrius suspended his hand above the ancient vessel. His blood pulsed, forming a tiny pool, before he turned his palm and allowed a single drop to fall. Black liquor rose, eager, like a lover yearning to possess his beloved. As they joined, he spoke the final words.

“Nunc Ostende Te.”

The explosion blinded him. The blast rang in his ears and beat in his brain. Somehow, he was still standing in a space devoid of light. The pain radiating from his chest silenced the screaming c...



Going Home

“Be yourself,” Maeve said then paused. “Try to look normal.”

Colton raised an eyebrow.

“Maeve, I’m Cerulean.”

“You’re the only one who can open the gateway.”

Colton had agreed and now he waited, tapping his foot. Hoping he looked inconspicuous, he checked his chronoscope. The window was closing, and their next chance was decades from now. Colton couldn’t stay, but he didn’t want to leave them.

Final...



Quelling the Tempest

Everyone loved Mima, although no one really knew her. Quiet and demure she floated through the village. She had the ability to quell any quarrel. With her trusty teapot, she arrived to save the day.

“Tea makes good friends,” she said.

“Who can argue when you’re sharing tea.”

...



Scholarly Discussion

What do you think of the fifth precept, “I undertake the training rule to abstain from fermented and distilled intoxicants which are the basis for heedlessness?” Samten asked as he leaned across the table.

Dakpa studied the coffee menu, until Samten shifted restlessly in his chair.

“I think a double espresso should do the trick,” Dakpa said and with a twinkle in his eye.

...



Can’t Take It with You

His body lay dead and buried in the ground before Nydia met the man she had lived with for thirty-two years. He arranged his funeral, she signed the papers, and the undertaker handed her a yellow envelope bearing her carefully printed name.

An address and a key revealed a storage locker lined with shelves stuffed with labeled boxes. Thousands of them greeted her.

She opened the note with trembling hands:

Dearest Nydia,

I lied. My late nights were never at bars. I was a safecrack...



Revealing History

Gertrude thirsted for world knowledge. She studied ancient history, immersing herself in worlds far removed from hers. It seemed natural she found herself in Crete excavating the magnificent Minoan palace. It covered multiple square miles and reached four stories high. Filled with passages, tiny rooms, corridors, great courtyards and evidence of running water, the complex mesmerized Gertrude.

They assigned her a splendid area to work, dig and document. Brilliant colored frescos emerged as she swep...



Green Monsters

I screamed when Mom showed me her newest houseplant. Barely bigger than my thumb, I begged her to destroy it. She laughed.

Each time I visited; it was larger, more menacing. It developed tendrils, and under each leaf, were sharp, curved barbs. They reminded me of claws. Mom was unconcerned.

I tried to enlist my brother’s help. She would listen to him. He called me crazy.

One day Mom didn’t answer her phone. In a panic, I drove her house. A green vine opened the door, in...



Betrayed

“My God, Charlene… He’s barely alive.” Contempt tainted Haley's voice. 

I didn’t respond. She dug in her tool bag, grabbed a long silver instrument, then she peeled back her palm, revealing the gaping hole in his chest.

I watched her frantic movements, letting the gun spin in my hands. She clamped lines, sopped ooze, trying to save him. I began to question my decision to call Haley. She was the best in her field. Maybe too good. I mean, what would happ...



Honor Games

Theo’s palms were moist with dread, and they trembled as he rubbed them on his trousers.

“I must be crazy,” he said to himself. The god sitting across from him snickered.

“Perhaps you are…” he paused amused by Theo’s squirming, “or maybe you seek to restore honor to your family name.” He pressed his ashen-grey fingertips together in front of his hood shrouded face. Pale eyelids slowly closed, hiding the deep ebony pits of his demon tortu...



Tree Museum

“They once grew like this?” Ro let his fingers touch the rough tree trunk.

“Not exactly. Forests were much denser. There were multiple layers, areas of undergrowth so thick you couldn’t walk. The ground wasn’t level. There were countless rivulets, streams, they merged, forming great rivers which ran into oceans. And animals.” I paused, letting images develop in Ro’s mind. “The books describe deer, bear, fox, squirrels, and a multitude of birds al...



Gritty Gray Hope

Walking the city streets, I choke on the summer heat as it boils the simmering stench. Gray skies descend, reflecting the hell rising all around me. Everything lays dead or dying, and the devils threaten to consume the little I have left. This is my creation.

Time killed the last honest man. There is no way to wash away the rain. My black hole life ensures I cannot move past this singularity.

A warm wind blows, prying the cold, damp dread from my heart. I grit my teeth, grasp a...



Accidental Friends

It materialized, and I had missed her. Again. I said ‘her’ although it could be a man. My gut confirmed it was her. Why did she torment me? Why did I obsess?

Her story grew in my mind. With the consistency of each sunrise, her bicycle arrived, parked at my door by one o’clock and by three it was gone. She was meeting her lover; she was a spy stalking her mark. She was my aberration, my ghost, my diversion.

Then her bicycle wasn’t there. Weeks passed. I feared she ...



Rarefied Society

James caressed and cradled the book against his chest. It had taken months to locate. Local libraries no longer hunted and delivered your desired tomes. They were relics, dismantled by the Device and digital data proliferation. The Quest was difficult, part of the grueling initiation process qualifying worthy inductees for the Ambassadors Club.

He unfolded blue spectacles and positioned them above page forty-five. He played with the focal length until it snapped into focus. The lense...



Entering the Transcendental Curve

“It's not an easy story,” I shifted, uncomfortable under the weight of their eyes, I studied my shaking hands. “And you’re never going to believe me.” 

I peeked at Tenzin. His serene face mirrored the silent temple where we stood, surrounded by dozens of demure monks.

“Tell me what happened.”

“He said his world suddenly made sense. Then he rose and walked to the parking lot. He changed right there in front of me,” I paused,...



Fountain of Youth

Christopher was an ordinary boy who lived in an otherwise ordinary neighborhood. Like most little boys he loved playing outdoors and discovering secret gardens, talking animals, and harrowing adventures. His mother indulged his interests and read him bedtime stories. One storybook developed the telltale signs of the favored status, but that story couldn’t contain his imagination. He created his own fantastical stories about a boy named Chris and his giant tortoise named Bulldozer.

Nestled int...



Rejecting Lies

Lilith invited the serpent to coil around her legs, encouraged his undulating form to embrace her waist and hiss secrets into her ear.

Neither angels nor demons could dissuade her from the truth in her soul.

Fierce independence was the unpopular narrative, and she wore their scorn with pride

...



Ambush

I spied Springsteen’s ears peeking over the top of the cardboard box and I knew he was hunting trouble.

His patient stalking paid off as Winston, my English Bulldog, ambled past his hiding spot.

Springsteen sprung, pouncing on poor befuddled Winston, before streaking across the room to pause in the doorway, hoping for an encore.

...



The Warrior’s Path

Jeremy stopped looking for easy answers. There weren’t any. Not for him. Maybe the shaman had a point. His life would be less difficult if he didn’t fight.

“Fighting is a way,” he told him. The wise man smiled and nodded.

It is what brought him here tonight, his latest fight. The latest obstacle standing between him and success was fifty feet of bridge. Simple. Except the damn harvest moon illuminated the world brighter than a cloudless day at high noon.

Cables ...



The Greatest Gift

As the day approaches, my anticipation increases. Doubt wrings conviction from my heart while my head constructs lists designed to weigh each decision’s consequences.

My worry consumes me, and my mother sends me to visit the shrine. The Omikuji will predict my future, she says.

Thousands of paper strips tied to pine rods dominate the temple grounds. I fear the multitude of curses and bad fortunes others have tried to leave behind. Still, I make my donation and follow ancient custo...



The End of Summer Camp

In the main hall’s kitchen, Kitty bled the water faucet. Other than the expected bumps and bruises and a case of poison ivy, camp had gone smoothly. Nothing like last year. One final check, to perform. With the cabins locked tight, she could return the keys.

She didn’t hear the screen door bang, because a gloved hand guided it, closing it softly. She didn’t see the knife slash, because a stealthy attacker wielded it, striking quickly. 

Afternoon sunlight danced thr...



Delicate Balance

My soul cried, devoid of meaning, lacking joy. The city droned with an insistency I could no longer hear, while my failed dreams echoed through my skull.

By some miracle, I discovered the nymph clinging to a single swaying reed. My entire focus centered on the green darner while his concentration was the process of his metamorphosis and shedding the shell of his naiad existence.

He breathed life into his new form. He waited patiently, as delicate latticed appendages unfu...



No Respect

It’s true what they say. You can never go home again was a statement I had heard my entire life. I didn’t understand until today.

Mom said we needed to pay our respects, honor the hard work, the sacrifices, and the memories. So, the parade of cars turned left on Anderson and filed past the French Bistro. It held no resemblance to the place I remembered. Vulgar graffiti accentuated fading paint. Weeds choked the carryout window.

There was no honor, no respect for a lifetime&r...



Defying the Prophecy

Angerona’s lifeless hand slipped from Sirona’s grasp. It rested peacefully over her heart as she conjured a smile.

“I am sorry, my child. I tried to prepare you.  Know that his fate is tangled with your own.”

Sirona bent closer, straining to catch every word.

“Follow the Vovk Codex,” she exhaled, and the last ember faded in her coal-black eyes.

Numb, Sirona couldn’t breathe, couldn’t cry, couldn’t believe she was gone...



Promising to Never Leave

We stared at each other, motionless, neither willing to break the spell.

Time flew, the world spun, and the neglected building faded, crumbling around us.

When the structure failed, I lost you in the billowing debris, and my final thoughts were wishing we had one minute more.

...



Escape Plan

Filled with only the essentials, I tucked the bag under a pile of laundry in the closet’s corner. I closed the door and waited. Silence filled the apartment, and I dared to breathe. Months of planning, scheming, subterfuge, and second-guessing had brought me here. Perched on the brink, I wondered if I possessed the courage to jump.

“What are you doing?”

He reeked of vodka. His question froze my blood making my heart pound as it tried to keep me alive.

“...



Choosing to Decide

Annora teetered, swaying back and forth, she walked a thin line. She heeded the lessons, listened to the morality tales, and promised to be a good girl. Yet, she questioned their version of the golden rule. 

What once was black or white, now wore shades of gray that obscured tender truths and polished vicious lies. Distorted glass magnified the glaring light, while trapped in shadows, Annora couldn’t tell if she was the spider or the fly.

Praise or disdain, honored or dis...



The Emergence

Saying I was skeptical and creeped out, was an understatement. Jose promised me, I wouldn’t regret it. So, against my better judgment, I agreed. At least San Antonio offered a brief relief from Houston’s high humidity and gray skies courtesy of the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda. I had planned for the three-hour trek west on Interstate ten, packing water, snacks, and a good book to combat the flat, brown, monotonous scenery.

Jose had other ideas. I heard him comi...



A Rare Find

They labeled the reports fake news, a myth concocted to defraud the susceptible. Rumors persisted and experts swore to the claim’s veracity. Video evidence showed the transformation of an ancient chrysalis discovered in the museum’s basement.

“Roman,” some proclaimed.

“Greek,” cried others.

“Carbon dating says it’s much older.”

The curious stood in the line determined to see the beast before their eyes and discern the trut...



Broken Promises

Jorden felt a sweet breeze touch his body. It was a sharp contrast to the stale, putrid stench inside their cell. He pushed against the big oil drum until it keeled over on its oxidized rim and he rolled it away. It took him several minutes to clear the towering barrels stacked three high next to what he had assumed was a wall. With them gone, a weathered, rusty metal-clad doorway greeted him. Between the gaping fissures around the door handle, glimpses of freedom leaked into the darkness.

He ...



Less Than Expected

Teresa lived in happiness, cultivated friends and fun until her father issued his ultimatum. 

Straighten up, fly right, life is a serious business, he said. Walk the narrow path, focus on your goals, success lies in reaching your destination.

She complied, eliminating distractions until she sat alone, heartbroken in her hollow, golden paradise and wept for the life, she might have known.

...



Hitting Restart

Oppressed by smoke-filled lounges, pressured by incessant demands, and depressed by his dismal gray life, he sings of halcyon days when opportunities lay before him.

He clutches a faded photo, reliving wrong turns, what could have been, and love lost along the way.

After a lifetime spent running away, he croons, promising with the new dawn, a reborn man will stand tall to honor his legacy.

...



The Price of Survival

It wasn’t glamorous, but desperate humans took any job to help pay for survival. Trey learned early when the day boss paid cash, he wasn’t paying you to ask questions. Today’s assignment promised a hefty bonus upon successful completion of eight hours spent sitting in a black panel van. His instructions were to call to report any changes.

Trey watched a deserted alleyway, struggling to stay awake. A low-frequency hum made him twist in his seat as he tried to locate the source. It ...



Remembering My Forgotten Man

The best pieces were auctioned first. The hammer fell, the winning bidders paid, and scurried home clutching their new, old treasures. I stayed to the bitter end, bidding on lots no one else wanted. My prizes cost me a dollar, and the auctioneer tossed in other unsold items.

At home, I uncovered an antique trove. Pictures of a long-forgotten gentleman. My finger outlined his sepia-toned face, and I wondered about his life. Was he a good man? A brute? A devoted son? A cruel father? Whatever happened...



The Devil’s Playground

Friday night regulars, they met to drink, play cards and see how much of each other’s payday they could steal.

“Does it help?” Malachi asked flipping a card toward Tyrone.

Tyrone’s gnarled finger directed it to rest on top of his other cards. He sighed.

“Naw man. Ain’t nothing helpin my luck, tonight,” he pushed back his chair and took the last drag off his cigarette as it burned into the filter.

“Hey, you leavin?”

Tyrone...



An Event

Rachel checked the time. She was sure their text had said eleven, but the sidewalk café was deserted. Her compulsion ensured she was always early. But she expected someone would be here, setting up maybe? There were no life signs.

She sighed, digging her phone from her purse, and squinted at the screen. It was blank. She glanced around the empty street and looked skyward. She shifted, positioning her body to shield the sun’s glare. No bars. No connections, and when she tried to access her te...



Hollow Victory

Ginny balanced the Louisville Slugger against her leg and sighed, realizing she had earned her fifteen minutes of fame. Her friends would slap her back. They would call her the bomb.

She had grown tired of hanging her head, ducking questions and running scared. The trash talk time had ended, and the time for action had arrived. She stepped up to the plate, dug in, and swung for the fences.

The police, so slow to protect her, were quick to arrest her, but her file proved it was self-defense....



Choosing Action

Rosie heard the sayings, listened to the famous, sappy song, and she believed the pot of gold existed at the rainbow’s end.

It wasn’t a secret, no one contested the facts, but when a rainbow appeared, they stood motionless, staring, stuck with wonder, afraid to act.

The minute the colors splashed across the sky, Rosie chose an end and ran headlong towards her goal.

...



Masking Reality

Concentrate on the happy things they said.

But I don’t have happy things.

Nothing major. Something small that makes you smile. They bored me. 

Jeremy was much more pragmatic. He was still a pain in my ass, and entirely too optimistic, for his own good. But there were the occasions when he was tired, or distracted, and I caught an edge of cynicism in his tone. I could work on him.

In the cafeteria, they served a strong, black, bitter coffee in thin, brown paper cu...



The Stranger Within

Tilly stood at the pool’s edge, acutely aware that she didn’t belong there. The rippling water displayed a distorted image of a familiar stranger in a wedding gown. She searched the flowing reflection, ever-changing it offered multiple perspectives.

Beyond the pool deck, they had erected a white tent where everyone waited. Suspended, her future felt eager for her arrival. But she lingered here, contemplating the divergence, she felt the despair heavy in her heart.

The blacktopped...



Copper Wood Estates

Where I walked wasn’t unexplored ground. There was a paved path, and it didn’t materialize from thin air. I knew better.

Somewhere a committee passed a motion, they conducted an environmental impact study, employed an engineer, and a landscaper who proposed ideas, and they submitted drawings for final approval. Weeks, months or years ensued before work began. The surveying team finally appeared to translate the approved plans into the landscape. Bulldozers and excavators arriv...



Groundswell

The plane’s shell curved, brushing the top of my head. I sank lower in my seat as the big man on the aisle shuffled, adjusted his jacket and rolled the magazine page back on itself. Feeling claustrophobic, I scrunched down, huddling close to the wall and stared out the window.

Green patchwork fields below me stretched as far as my eyes could see. Flyover country. The place where the ninety-nine percenters lived, worked and created a base for the one-percenters to ignore unless they needed som...



Reading the Signs

The message floated as Gawyne read then turned towards Loreena.

“What does it mean?”

Loreena stepped closer, standing next to him, she contemplated the words, a thoughtful expression creased her brow.

“Who are these Knights of Cydonia?”

“Ancient stories tell of a warrior goddess whose sworn duty was to protect her king. She commanded soldiers, knights, into battle under her name Athena Promachos.”

“This part mentions a Muse. Wha...



Scientific Discoveries

Davinia and Leela spent years researching, digging through forgotten archives, searching for clues. Their mission was to locate priceless treasures. Their current site called White City lay at the tip of a once-massive inland basin. A Lake evaporated by the Great Cataclysm.

Discoveries in White City suggested that their ancestors once lived alone, in large spaces within larger cities. The theory sparked heated debates among their colleagues.

“Leela, you’ve got to see thi...



Ode to Poe

It was midnight. He had left me here, in the basement, with instructions to finish the display before tomorrow’s opening. At The Mütter, my tasks were never-ending. Each piece required painstaking placement and anchoring invisible to the naked eye. I pushed my fists into my low back. Creaking and popping, I stretched, seeking to ease muscles stiffened by too many hours spent hunched at my table.

On the stairs leading to freedom, a familiar inky mist gathered and swirled. He always appeared d...



Accepting Fate

The letter cut my hand as if it were a honed knife. The building was a riot of odd angles, incongruent lines, and an entrance door that dared me to open it. It was newer, probably installed to replace an ancient, rotting artifact destroyed by countless floods and untold neglect.

No mail slot, not even a crevice existed where I could deposit the message and flee with my mission accomplished. I should have guessed it wouldn’t be easy. With a trembling, blood-soaked fist, I knocked, and accepted...



An Unobstructed View

Holiday lights hung low over the familiar street. They made Phoebe happy and sad. She loved their historical significance, the celebrations they commemorated, and the cheery twinkle they attempted to immediate. 

Tonight, she searched in vain. A lifeless void hovered above the light’s glare. Phoebe longed for the Dark Sky Reserve and the miracle of an unobstructed view of the night sky. There, millions of stars, planets, the entire milky way was visible to the naked eye. It was the l...



A Day to Remember

Jake and I had a standing appointment. It was a college ritual, established to catch up and brag about our weekend escapades. Fate had a way of pulling us apart as we explored parties, women, and adventure. On Monday, we always met at our favorite coffee shop.

I was excited this morning. My latest exploit marked a huge event, one we had discussed at length. While I planned, Jake told me every reason he thought I was crazy. I wouldn’t listen. Sophie, the love of my life, and I w...



Castle Urartian

Countless legends told fantastical tales of a great castle, the king who build it, and the jealous wizard who hid it from humanity.

Finding it became Warwick’s mission and led him to hunt through ancient archives and pour over maps.

Funding many futile expeditions reduced him to a pauper, but today he felt as rich as any king, as he stood in the center of the long-lost Castle Urartian.

...



Tricks for Treats

The black iron caldron exploded when Jared tossed saltpeter onto the roiling ingredients. The piercing light gouged my eye sockets, the concussion split my eardrums, and my heart stopped beating. I felt myself falling.

I don’t know if I lost consciousness, but when I opened my eyes everything was dark. Every bone in my body ached, and they creaked and clattered as I struggled to sit. My head spun, thoughts swirled, the wind whistled in my ears, evoking the weird sensation of being in a deep m...



Never Enough

We tread the fine line between having everything and coming up short. We prioritized Claire’s education, a private school, to challenge her and kept her out of trouble resulting from too much idle time.

Claire wanted to be Daenerys Targaryen, for her Halloween party. I choked on the price of a store-bought outfit. Opening my sewing cabinet, I pulled lengths of fabric, pinned and sewed and created costume fit for the Mother of Dragons. She twirled before the mirror, ecstatic with her one-of-a-...



Gales of November

November’s Northwind witch is harsh as she blows across the big lake they call Gitche Gumee.

With sixteen-foot waves crashing the wheelhouse and freezing rain slashing the decks, the fate of the lake mariners seems certain.

Superior, they say, never gives up her dead, but one sailor has vowed to defy her.

...



Running into the Sun

My train rushes the setting sun, intent on outrunning the impending twilight. Sorbet clouds swirl across the sky. Blood-orange and tangerine confections engaged in a futile battle with eternal night’s black velvet fist.

Icy tendrils clutch my heart and I swear to keep running.

...



Lunch Box

Plastic containers remind me of school. Mom insisted on packing healthy food, and ample quantities. She always included a sandwich of homemade bread and last night’s leftovers. No one else brought salmon filet BLTs, or tomato, eggplant, and mozzarella on focaccia, neatly sliced and arranged next to weird snacks.

I was self-conscious, and embarrassed, as the kids gathered to investigate mom’s latest concoction. Most days they sneered, but sometimes, someone asked for a bi...



All Hollow’s Eve

Lilith felt the blood moon calling her. She stretched, breaking the sixth seal and the chains binding her to the underworld. 

The earth quaked and great men trembled in fear as she rose. She flung her head backward, her wild hair flying, it lassoed the blood-red satellite. Thrusting her hands behind her, she captured the orb and secured it on her back.

The prophecies of men held little sway with her, and she delighted in thwarting their oppressive desires. Lilith tugged and pulled ...



The Boiler Room Cafe

Salinger’s heart thudded in anticipation as he entered the famous Boiler Room Cafe. Roman couldn’t have recommended the place more highly. Posing as an organic coffee bar serving farm to table tidbits by day, it morphed into a grungy, hipster gin joint after hours. The skinny-jean, hipper-than-thou crowd, sported man buns and ironic facial hair. The place reeked of an ineffable and hopelessly unattainable coolness. Salinger knew he was home.

...



Homecomings

As the golden hour approached, Dillan rushed towards the shore. He breathed easier when he spied the familiar liminal creatures as they slipped between the cosmos, the sea, and the isthmus. Selkies, mermaids, and undine greeted him.

“Hi, Mom,” he called.

Perched on jagged rocks, amid crashing waves, one mermaid turned. Seeing him, she smiled and waved.

...



Moving Day

Stacy leaned against the kitchen sink as memories washed over her. This place had been her sanctuary, her safe space, her hideout from the traumatic events which threatened to kill her. The small, cozy apartment granted her precious healing time. Today, she could remember what happened, without fear, anxiety, or self-deprecating thoughts. It was, what it was. She survived the ordeal to emerge stronger and more capable than she imagined might be possible.

The movers arrived to pack w...



The Last Laugh

They laughed and said I was off my rocker.

I smiled, content to bide my time. I would win the bet, earn the last laugh and gain some cold, hard cash. Summer turned to fall, and autumn succumbed to frigid winter. I set the date to prove them wrong. 

“It’s the coldest day in a century,” they complained. I remained steadfast.

The polar vortex froze Lake Michigan’s shoreline, her beaches transformed from a liquid to a solid, firm enough to hold my weight. ...



The Beaver Moon

November calls and the Beaver Full Moon answers, lighting the frosty air for last-minute preparations, as we stockpile, and store the items which will carry us through the lean times.

Mars races across the sun, while Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn guard the evening constellations and Orion battles with the Taurid meteor shower, who flings its final Halloween fireballs across the sky.

The cosmos is alive, telling us to hurry, don’t waste a moment, our fate lies in our hands.

...



Promises

It had been years. Almost forty to be exact. Daniel left on his eighteenth birthday and swore he would never return. He kept his promise until today.

In the beginning, life was difficult, but he couldn’t afford to fail. He wouldn't crawl back and admit defeat. He crashed with friends, took odd jobs, worked from dawn until past midnight most days. Through sheer will, his situation improved. He started his own business, found a girl, and started a family. He had made something of himself....



True North

Josiah’s heavy heart pounded, consuming his senses, as they lowered the ornate casket. Heated arguments regarding the family business, scarred their relationship. Now every decision rested on his shoulders.

No one would stop him from testing his postulate that self-restraint and a strong moral compass would produce more profitable results than his father’s strictly enforced, draconian laws. 

His instinct told him he was right, but he risked everything. He touc...



A Skeptical View

I know it exists to protect me, that invisible, visible layer. Glass over glass, engineered to exacting standards, safeguards designed to stand between me and… I pause. From what does it save me? Certain death? Or the thrill of living on the edge?

Engineers have created car airbags, helmets for a bicycle ride, handrails, guardrails, safety instructions, protective eyewear, ear protection, and countless other safety buffers. I experience my life as a boy in a bubble. Germ-free. Sterile.

I ...



Enduring Hope

She arrived in a world consumed by strife, hardships, and conflict. They anointed her in struggles, endless toil, and heartache. Deliverance from the sin that created her would be an early grave.

A faint whisper, her angel of mercy, touched her heart, telling her castles crumble, and stones turn into sands that wash into the sea. Her guardian urged her to seek sunny hours and imagine unimaginable possibilities.

Despair forged a stony resolve, ensuring her longevity.

...



High Seas Adventure

“The ship’s bow rose as we climbed the Mount Everest size wave. We dangled atop the precipice while all around, rolling water raged. 

Gray storm clouds billowed overhead, dousing the deck with bucket loads of rainwater as our vessel groaned. Sensing her fate, she threatened to crack, and we didn’t dare to breathe. 

Over the edge, I glimpsed a multitude of creatures staring at me, before we tipped, sliding into the abyss. A deluge rushed into the void and colli...



Pirate’s Revenge

The sloop bucked and rolled, as her new commander navigated the cumulonimbus clouds thundering along the squall line. They sailed in pursuit of the notorious Nose Bender, the pirate who had slain their beloved captain and stole their hard-won booty.

The Heartbreak Kid, trained for pirate antics, seized the helm and dared to spin the wheel of fortune. He took command, shouted orders, and tamed the Bodacious Mermaid. His actions earned the crew's respect. They knew they played a deadly game. Facing ...



Defying Omens

Captain Graclynn Silver took the helm, barking orders for the crew to set sail. Doubt’s icy tendrils wheedled into her brain, clutching at her heart as the foghorn blew. Filmy sheets glazed the water’s surface, fusing with the sky to create a veil of uncertainty that did not bode well for their journey.

“Omens be dammed,” she shouted as she sought her bearings, and the ship crunched forward in search of open seas.

She tacked to starboard, advancing slowly, allowing hi...



Total Disregard

I woke disoriented.

Details flooded back. My body remembered searing agony.

“Remember to breathe.”

I peeked at my wrist. The needle, encased in Tegaderm and tape, confirmed I should be feeling no pain.

This was the price for not listening and disregarding the instructions.

The tv droned. I know I told them to turn it off. My lunch tray held a carton of milk, a cup of pudding, and a frosted container of ice cream, designed to tempt me.

Shaking my head, I pus...



Building on the Rock

Mael confronted the Rock, hands on his hips, legs rooted to the ground, his decision made. Here he would forge his fated destiny.

“This is where I build my castle.”

His men gasped. An incredulous murmur rose. The volume ascended, scaling the sheer obsidian cliff face until it drowned the sound of the relentless, crashing surf.

“Surely, he jests.”

“He can’t be serious?”

“No one dares to build upon Devil’s Bite Mountai...



If She Only Knew

I am repeatedly drawn to this bleak monument that commemorates my deepest regret and replays a scene I can never fix.

They say no one is to blame and tell me to live and learn.

Yet, I can still touch the whimpering monster, taste his evil spark and the heartfelt rage that extinguished my future. Hatred lived in those eyes, fueled by his all-consuming love.

Painful words thrown like brutal punches left me with smoldering embers of bittersweet anguish.

Selfishly, I demolished every...



Observations from a Park Bench

The clock in Trellech announced his daily passage. At seven-thirty he traveled into town, his feet dragging him forward, his pack dwarfing his tiny frame. Every afternoon at precisely two-thirty, lighter steps whisked him home.

Time slipped into years. As he grew into his backpack, it was replaced by a one larger and heavier than the last. His shoulders bent beneath the staggering weight, but he endured his regimen and never faltered.

His stamina increased, his burden kept pace, and I ma...



Snow Slide Survival

Nails on a chalkboard. Awake, I scanned my cold, empty room. Green alarm clock lights displayed 3:03. Experience said there was no chance of falling into a restless sleep. A noise from the street below echoed scars from my dream and shook the night’s unusual stillness. Beyond my window, streetlights illuminated snowflakes performing detached dances.

Snowplow, my mind decoded.

I considered my options and opted for the least obvious. It didn’t take long to dress and de...



The Looking-Glass Self

I’m looking at you through the glass, terrified to try again.

You won’t accept easy answers, repeating I’d be a fool to expect a different future.

Life’s only promise is my broken heart will never mend.

No one tells you how quickly epidemics spread, cuts you down, becomes your home.

Evaporated dreams reflected inside my tortured head make me question: Was it ever real?

...



Vestiges of Forgotten Purpose

Tristao shifted the heavy pack, gnarled fingers burrowed under the frayed strap as he eased the pressure on his stooped shoulder.

Once, he bounded through town, nimbly negotiating steep steps, winding ascents, and narrow passageways like the goats that climbed the mountain protecting his birth city. The residents greeted him, eager for the letters he carried. He was their noble messenger, their link to far-flung family and friends. They shared the latest gossip and a welcome snack.

Now h...



Step Right Up

Desi wasn’t looking for a job.

No one wanted a boy who hid behind sunglasses and an attitude to camouflage a pronounced stutter.

The arcade manager, seeing Desi’s ball-handling skills, declared speaking an overrated skill, and leveraged his talents to charge a dollar per try.

...



Teatime

Demir ordered four Caykur Rize teas from the gritty street vendor. Ender arrived as the man poured strong sludge the color of muddy streets into paper cups. Ender waved away the proffered plastic lids, passing two steaming cups to Demir while he grabbed the remaining two.

They didn’t wait long for Kadir and Cemil to join their party, completing their circle of trust. They shared bonds forged in a different world. None of them remembered when they met, how they became friends or any day they h...



The Paradox of Free Will

Tabbris allowed his gaze to follow the escalator’s path upward towards the light. In the eerie stillness, tinny speakers pumped strains of show tunes that echoed in the space like tennis balls bouncing off granite canyon walls. He hesitated.

A finger snap cut through the haze, reality thundered into focus and urged him to act. Tabbris stepped aside, letting the automatic stairs continue without him. He ran his hand over his eyes and considered his options. Was everything pre-ordained, a foreg...



Feeding My Soul

I close my eyes, allowing my shoulders to drop and feel my stress spiral outward, evaporating like the water from my pasta pot. I inhale, rekindling my dearest memories, I am transported. I see my dear Florentine friends Alighieri, Botticelli, Brunelleschi, Buonarroti, Boccaccio, Da Vinci, Giotto, and Masaccio. My goblet overflows with their life-sustaining Elysian essence.

...



Things We Do for Love

Abra was true to her name - mother of many. I had qualms about breeding her, but since she was the county’s best herder, every farmer wanted one of her pups.

She whelped ten, five males and five females. I named the girls after flowers and the boys after trees. Everyone asked about them. When would they be weaned? How much did I want for them?

I auctioned nine and they passed on the runt, Daisy. I gleefully keep her. Daisy resembled her mother, and she stole my heart...



A Storm Named Waterloo

I cracked an eyelid to face my accuser. One o’clock. I should have been up hours ago, and yet…

The tapping at the window urged me to forsake my warm cocoon. I stumbled across the room and opened the blinds. The day mocked me. Rain splatted on the pane. Foggy condensation distorted my view of the miserable world.

At least it's not snowing, I sighed.

Minutes ebb into eons, dulling the achingly familiar pain as I tried to reach past the emptiness.

At my end, I abandoned ...



Touching Divinity

Lenore dared to bend normalcy, pursuing a love the world condemned. 

She imagined perfection and drew truth from her memory like a strand of silk from the Bombycidae. Ancient powers surged from an eternal source. Devine words merged with graceful movements, creating a work that demanded to be made. Delicate fingertips balanced the intersection of fleeting inspiration with brute determination. 

Her hands revealed universal feelings which manifested in her beautiful sculpture.

...



Homeward Bound

I ran, rejecting the past, I raced headlong into my future.

Twisted years manipulated iron forged values that made me a success machine. I paid a tragic price, leaving my heart on the altar. Then one morning the prodigal child woke and realize what I had become.

I didn’t need the GPS. The red barn was the only signal I needed. She looked older, neglected, but she still stood. She greeted me without reproach, her sun-worn boards reached for me, offering me comfort I didn’t deserve...



Mums the Word

“Mums the word,” Calypso whispered.

Lethe stepped backward, sinking into the shadows, and pulled Calypso with her. Rivers of people surged around them. Lethe scanned their faces, searching for a clue. No one noticed two women hiding in plain view.

“Can you give me a hint?”

Calypso’s face paled as she extricated her hand from Lethe’s tenacious grasp, and she shook her head. “It’s a secret.”

Tears glistened in Lethe’s eyes...



Staring in Defiance

It’s been forever, and I wonder if I still look like I should.

You pause in the doorway. Your face reveals it was always about you. Despite your madness, I believed I could walk through fire, and I wear the battle scars of hardship, pain, and struggle. They are etched on my heart’s shield, and they call you a liar.

I introduce the characters in my parade, the countless faces, forgotten places, and lonely nights traveling to nameless cities for another show. The demands ...



Rediscovering Freedom

In our family cubicle, Grandfather told stories of his time before The Glitch.

Hushed whispers painted an unbelievable alien world. He spoke of blue skies, green grass, tall trees, and wild animals who roamed across continents. He said nature’s wind caressed his skin like a lover’s exhaled breath. When he closed his eyes, my favorite recitations began. His calmness and joy infected us, and his hypnotic voice recounted tales of the open road.

They labeled his accounts as mere ranti...



Creative Marketing

Mateo checked at his watch. Running his hand through his thinning hair, he surveyed his produce stall.

Minutes crept by, but still no Luca. Without the delivery, he couldn’t make money. His customers wanted choices, baskets overflowing with the freshest items.

It was time to get creative. Repackaging crates to make them look full, he piled the contents into smaller containers. He squished his offerings together and eliminated empty racks. He worked to finish before the daily rush starte...



Life Signs

He was an odd sort, friendly, mischievous, intriguing. I assumed he had forgotten me when my phone buzzed. His text served to perplex me further. Hyperlinked numbers connected to a map with a destination in the middle of nowhere. Answers to my questions lay in the palm of my hand.

A desolate road ended at a ghost town. Dilapidated buildings clustered together, lending each other the courage to stand.

Except one. Unbroken glass in freshly painted casings spoke of arrested neglect. I climbed ...



Ode to Clarice

Her obituary shocked me. The journalist revealed a woman I had never known. Who was this glamorous enchantress, this caster of spells and literary legend?

I caught her scribbling in her notebook either early in the morning, or sometimes late at night. She would look at me, smile, unceremoniously fold her pen within the pages, and conceal her secrets. By day she was nothing more than a middle-class wife and mother.

I discovered what she had shared with the world, unbeknownst to me. Ghost-haun...



The Summons

I am not a hero, just a nerdy book worm, who discovers a message hidden in a dusty tome. Once I decipher the phrase “Suspended power,” the code breaks easily.   

The prophecy brings me to Skógafoss and the 200-foot tall frozen waterfall on my planet’s darkest night. As I draw near, the humming grows louder.

Flipping on the 100,000 lumens flashlight, I heel the light into the frozen ground and face the pulsating wall. Five steps and I lay my hands on the ice. ...



Love’s Enduring Bond

The garden was the perfect spot for their rendezvous. Quiet, secluded, and bathed in gardenia’s fragrant scent. It was their calling card, a message without words.

Songbirds flocked to the eternal bubbling of the fountain, unconcerned with her presence. She twirled the red blossom between her thumb and forefinger, and closed her eyes, overcome with memories. Heavy footfalls crunched on gravel. Her heart leaped, and her skin tingled. Lips brushed her neck, her pulse quickened, and she rev...



Averting Annihilation

In the far future, Roya foresaw horrible suffering, chaos, and terror. Her lips moved, but she was unaware if she spoke the words aloud. Her hands stretched before her, grasping thin air, she fought unseen daemons, yet still searching for something beyond her grasp.

Duncan trembled as he studies her eyes, dark with bewilderment and as blank as those of a somnambulist.

Roya gasped. Present again.

“We can prevent it all. But first, we must take the castle.”

...



An Imperceptible Loss

You suspected a thunderbolt, exposing a grand drama. The truth wasn’t glamourous. Dull, daily life was peppered with subtle thoughts, vague feelings, and easy decisions. A tiny rival of water snaked across flat ground, growing, gaining strength and power until it became a raging river cutting into the landscape and eroding rock-solid canyon walls.

An unbridgeable distance cleaved what once was inseparable. I outgrew my placid past and soon discovered my desire for freedom. There was...



Mommy Time

Steam rose from Audrey’s 1950s “First Lady Pink” bathtub as she shut the door and locked out her hectic 21st Century life. Past midnight, she was long overdue to relax, unwind and unplug. She twisted the knobs, stopping the flow of water from the faucet and tested the temperature with her toe. Just right.

She sank into the tub and sensed stress leaching from her tense muscles. The second she closed her eyes, she heard a soft tapping. Wide-eyed, her body stiffened.

“Mom...



The Time Machine

Time travel’s first rule was validating your arrival date. I stepped through the portal and groaned.

A 1950s era diner? Was Josh joking?

Diners were ubiquitous on the timelines. I could cite countless examples over the last 200 years. This establishment offered no clues I was in the correct year before the portal slammed shut.

This place was quiet, too quiet. A shiver raced down my spine, and my stomach heaved. 

We told the initiates fantastical tales, our at...



Time In A Bottle

“She calls them, what?”

I picked up an empty red-tinted bottle. Raised letters spelled “Poison.”

“She called them ‘time bottles,’” Jared corrected as he reached for my specimen and replaced it on the shelf.

“I don’t understand.”

“Each of them holds a story that started with, ‘Remember the time?’ Now she is gone, and it’s my job to pass the stories to the next generation.”

...



Rabbit Moon

On full moon nights, Vivian lit candles, rained rice onto the altar cloth, and prayed to the moon goddess. She had never forsaken Vivian. Gossamer clouds slid like silk across the sky, obscuring the moon’s rabbit image. Tonight, her entire heart filled her plea, as she begged for her townsfolk’s safety. 

Cinnabun whispered to his mistress. She nodded. Armed with life’s elixir, Cinnabon descended to earth. Hopping to every village rooftop, he spread the remedy to eac...



Animal Instinct

Hunger burns the pit of my stomach. My focus narrows and all I see is you. Imagination fuels my senses. I smell the sweat of your body and taste sweet flesh with my lips. My muscles twitch and yet I wait.

I know the moment you see me, our eyes lock in undeniable attraction.

You come willingly, eagerly, sinking your claws deep into my heart before you leave.

And I wonder, “Who is the animal?”

...



First Draft

The retreat center advertised a magical, bucolic setting guaranteed to unplug the writer from an over-connected world. For hours, Catherine stared at the typewriter, her fingers mindlessly caressing the black keys. She sighed, rising, she stepped outside to tread the marshy moor.

The door clicked shut, and the stapler clacked his jaws.

“Is it good?”

Paper wiggled from under paperweights, wedged themselves into the roller, while the typewriter’s keys pounded words ...



Family Tradition

Past generations whisper reassurances. Embroiled in uncertainty, consumed by today, legacy bolsters my future.

The continuity comforts me through trials and tribulations. Loved ones walked this land, they struggled, persevered, survived.

I am never alone.

...



Mornings with Tweety

“Morning Tweety Bird.”

“Good morning, Tweety Bird,” I lifted the cage’s covering and peeked at my tiny companion.

Tweety ruffled his feathers and hopped towards me. I opened the wire door, and he flew into the kitchen.

“Tweety Bird want toast.” He cocked his head, waiting for me. “Tweety Bird want coffee.”

He pecked his empty saucer.

I placed a crumbled cracker on his plate, and he chirped his approval. I sipped my c...



Home Sweet Souvenir

Every penny went to pay the mortgage on my first house. Cash for furnishings was in short supply.

The family dubbed me the Keepsake Klepto when they discovered their sentimental items decorating my home.

Laughing, they let me keep their kitsch, saying it was cheaper than a garage sale.

...



Feeding the Soul

Saffron sunk the measuring cup into the container. The flour poofed, and billowing white clouds dusted the counter. The scent of yeast permeated the kitchen, as she worked the tacky, gloppy mess until it formed a loose ball.

The heel of her hand pushed into the dough and rolled it to its starting point. She kneaded the dough to a silky smoothness. After a quick rise, she created a rough circle and added simple toppings. The hot oven melted the mozzarella and browned the crust on...



The Glorious Aftermath

Deckhands danced in organized chaos. Our seasoned captain barked orders above the storm’s incessant din. My stomach lurched in opposition to the bow’s rise and fall. Misty Gale surmounted rough waters as we ran from the storm, seeking safe harbor.

The ship’s hull slammed against unyielding water, her mizzenmast popped and groaned as her wind engorged sail dragged us towards home. Lightning crackled, and gumball sized hail descended from the heavens.

The gods answered m...



The New Morning Ritual

I never thought I would be here, really living the dream. Released from Corporate America’s draining demands, I no longer wake before the crack of a sparrow’s fart, to fight rush hour traffic, to log long stressful hours.

My day begins with a gentle stretch, a hot cup of coffee, and a healthy dose of gratitude. Characters whisper in my ear, my desk beckons, and my muse smiles as I set to work. Ephemeral emotions coalesce, transformed into epic tales. My desire to create links me to the...



Spring’s Advent

Dismal clouds shrouded winter mountaintops. Cloaks of despair, they wept, their sorrow drenching the landscape. Parched souls, clinging to life, found solace in the mother’s healing tears.

Breathless, I waited.

Brown became gold as nomad tinkers arrived. Singing children frolicked. Their laughter summoned sunshine, and magical colors transformed the valley. Continually moving, they were always at home. Their work complete, they disappeared beyond the horizon, leaving hope behind.

...



Operation: Recover Home

Heavy metal blared, drowning the crackling and buzzing, as sparks flew. The fiery shower bounced on the cement floor.

“Jason.”

Switching off the torch, he pushed his heavily gloved hand against his forehead, lifting the face shield. Except for the music in his helmet, the garage was silent. Hot wind blasted through the open door.

He was alone.

Desperation clutched his heart. Glancing at his watch he assessed his chances of completing the needed repairs. He couldn&rsquo...



Unbelievable

Billionaires, rock stars, and those famous for being famous, envy my view. Unfathomable, inaccessible to mere mortals.

They never lift their eyes. Hypnotized, blinded gazes guide them. Lacking fortitude, unable to face brutal accusations, they deny responsibility. Curated lives avoid the uncomfortable, the awkward, the unbearable.

I walked with them. Until the unthinkable, the unimaginable happened.

Me, bastion of lofty ideals and a laundry list of what I wouldn’t do. Fate forced ...



A Matter of Perspective

Insanity is measured by degrees, strictly classified by definitions, interpretations, and clever disguises. A tight white coat choked the evaluator, stripping him of his humanity. If he would only release himself from his strait-laced leash, he would see. He scribbled unintelligible notes with invisible ink and labeled my actions a Hail Mary call for help.

Nobody listened to the warnings I screamed loud and clear. Sometimes a hero must first rescue herself, so that night, with the walls closi...



Mining for Gold

“What are you doing?” Hannah surveyed the discarded canvas in the alley.

“I’m taking the frame,” Kurt said, brushing off the accumulated dust.

“Why?”

“It’s nice.”

“And the painting?”

“Utter crap. Unsigned.”

Kurt scorned artists who were not proud enough to sign their creations.

“But–” 

Kurt ambled away, the frame swinging from the c...



Nature’s Alchemy

Crystal jars, tinted bottles, and woven baskets crowded the shelf-lined room. Identical labels with precise black handwriting adorned each vessel. Elena inched into the space, confused by the overwhelming volume of items. Her fingers traced unfamiliar words.

“Kamala Seed Pods, Madder Root, Mangosteen Peel,” her lips moved silently. As she continued reading, the chaos dissolved, replaced by an odd sense of order.

“What color does Pomegranate Rind render?”

Elena ...



Optimal Velocity

Miners extracted millions from Gold Mountain, but Peggy didn’t want money. She sought powder and speed. The day dawned bright and clear, as she and the longboarders climbed the 1,700-foot slope to the starting position.

Reaching the top, she strapped on her 12-foot long Norwegian skates. She had rubbed her secret dope into the hand-hewn, kiln-dried, vertical-grain Doug fir skis. The mixture of paraffin, tallow, tar, and hemlock oil guaranteed optimal velocity.

The contestants crouched, ...



The Smallest Detail

Lacey flipped through Mama’s checklist. She chewed her lower lip, then dropped the Blush Pink wedding binder into the trash. Dread colored what Mama said would be the happiest day of her life. Her stomach lurched the way it always did when Mama discovered one of Lacey’s many faults.

She tugged at the dress’s too-tight bodice, and a fake pearl fell. Freed, the tacky embellishment ricochet off the discarded notebook and bounced toward the window. Lacey became aware of the ragin...



Pulling the Plug

Terri’s bare knee touched cold linoleum. The distinct aroma of disinfectant, liberally applied over thirty years, was strong in this corner. She fumbled with the cord and wrinkled her nose.

“Is this no other way?” she asked.

“No, I’m afraid not.”

Terri yanked, but the plug and outlet refused to end their embrace. She wiggled and pulled until she broke the bond. The whirring compressor grew silent. The familiar vibration faded in Terri’s he...



Memory Lane

The night’s darkness hid his destination until he arrived. He didn’t feel nostalgia, hope, or even curiosity. He’d burned those bridges years ago. The freak spring snowstorm stirred forgotten habits, guided his car to a faraway country he could no longer call home.

Black snowfall accumulated. Cold hardened him, and he waited.

A light punched back grey edges of a lonely dawn, a harbinger of her brighter day.

A man moved through the house toward the kitchen. He pulled fi...



Grandfather’s Legacy

We discovered the tenacious evergreen sprig on our daily walk. Grandfather pitied the seedling clinging to bare stone. A full-grown pine needed access to the earth’s nutrients, and the minuscule reserves in the stone’s clefts and crevices would stunt the tree if it lived at all.

I was only a child, but I vowed to help the sapling. On warm days, we carried water. We sheltered it from storms and patted dirt at its roots.

Today my grandson and I took a walk. I introduced him to the ...



Adrift

He lived life at a safe distance, careful to keep his demons at arm’s length, far from emotional contact.

Buried memories spoke in voices he refused to hear, a broken heart smoldered in ashes, and though the pain was real, he remained apathetic, haunted.

Red lights marked where accidental worlds collided, leaving shattered illusions on a city sidewalk and the scent of her perfume in the air.

...



Why Not?

I climbed my mountain, reached the pinnacle, and discovered its peak was only a foothill.

Disillusioned, stranded by my too small dreams, time flew while I stood paralyzed, consumed with fear, and worry over “what ifs?”

At last, I realized I could wait no longer, so I gathered my courage and jumped.

...



24/7 Girl

My schedule promised a marathon. Starting strong, my trainer pushed my outer limits. The nutritionist questioned the candy bar breakfast I inhaled while consulting the laundry service and the hack who called herself a housekeeper.

The stylist sneered at my messy ponytail, baggy tee-shirt, and leggings. “You can do better,” she said as I rushed to rouse groggy children. The crisis negotiator morphed into the childcare specialist, reminding me of the lessons with the student-teacher.

...



Dark Encounter

I stayed too late. Perils line the path home and no guiding lights pierce the darkness to keep dangers at bay.

A rustling bush. I freeze. Frozen. Heightened awareness, my senses alerted to keep me alive.

Muscles tense, heart pounds, breath held, pupils dilate. My mouth fills with cotton balls.

Grasses sway without a breeze, an inky silhouette and steely eyes regard me. Somehow, they seem as surprised as I.

Flight or fight. Fight or Flight.

Sinews prepare for action as we sta...



Rock ‘N Roll Band

“I’m not a fan.”

My smitten boyfriend never heard a word.

“You’re gonna love ’em,” Ken insisted before launching into the reasons this band was on a collision course with destiny.

I caved, and let Ken drag me to the sold-out show. His date night extravaganza included backstage passes and an exclusive meeting with the lead singer.

That’s when it happened. Our eye locked, he rocked my world and brought me to my knees. The rest is histo...



Channeling Prometheus

Threats sometimes backfire.

You’d expect me to hide from a formidable opponent, but my soul is hard-wired for defiance and committed to protecting those who cannot defend themselves. Black cumulonimbus clouds rise forty thousand feet in the air to provide Cyclops with his anvil. His forge is the birthplace of lightning, tornados, and hailstorms.

Plunged into darkness, frightened souls huddle. Sobbing like small children, they pray and beg for forgiveness. Despite deafening thunder, eye-...



Kaidan

Twilight fell as storytellers crowded into the room. Ryu finished lighting one hundred candles. They gathered to repeat their favorite accounts of weird happenings, walking sprits, and vengeful ghosts.

They told tales of a man’s escaped from hell, monsters roaming misty woods, and bridges conveying the dead into eternity.

At each tale’s conclusion, the storyteller rose and extinguished the life of a single torch. The night progressed, the chamber grew darker, and sh...



La Dolce Vita

Reality’s wispy figments hung beyond her grasp. Days begun at four in the afternoon kept her translucent skin safe from the sun’s ravaging rays. Neon demons, crowded clubs, and illicit pharmaceuticals eased her into sensational poses. The paparazzi clamored for more.

Fellini scenes, gray-scale backdrops to life, encouraged Sylvia, sweet Sylvia’s whispers. Begging for peace, she scoured each avenue for escape from her manic world. Exhausted, detached, bordering on sociopathic ...



Limited Foresight

“I’m not gonna lie. This isn’t for everyone. In fact, I try to keep it a secret. My darkest secret. Can you imagine if this went viral? There would be lines. Hordes of people. The unwashed masses clamoring to join my procession. Let’s not mention the capitalists, the greedy sycophants, and the low-life scum whose sole purpose in life is making a quick buck. Whatever happened to hard work? Sacrifice?”

He paused in his diatribe, to push his face uncomfortably close to mi...



A Room with A View

Denise tried not to draw unwanted attention as she shifted her weight. The creak of the uncomfortable yellow leather couch betrayed her. Robert glared at her as she ignored him by examining her impeccable teal manicure, a perfect match to her turquoise and silver jewelry. She didn’t need to see him. She felt his annoyance. Robert’s voice continued, a dull buzz in the therapist’s office that reminded her of the irritating hum of a fluorescent light fixture.

The therapist must have ...



An Everyday Hero

Earl pushed the paper cap askew and wiped sweat from his forehead. The tiny kitchen was warmer than Hades.

As a kid, he dreamed of saving the world. He ran with his red cape streaming behind him. Flying in the sky, he shot lasers from his eyes and righted every wrong. He remembered the moment a disbeliever’s careless shoe squashed his purpose. Disillusioned, he became a hash-slinger, cooking meals for hungry customers regardless of their ability to pay.

A grimy hand returned an empty p...



Silver Linings

A derelict Airstream sat on the family’s vacation property. Tyler’s grandmother peeled apart pages of a fragile photo album, each image prompting stories of grand adventures shared with friends and loved ones.

Inspired, the intrepid Tyler devised a plan. Grandmother’s memory guided the trailer’s restoration and the promise of a remarkable life.

...



Take It All Back

It should have been a simple assignment. A modest portrait of his patron’s daughter. While he didn’t like children as his subject, the commission promised to launch his budding career. 

Except, when she showed for her appointment, she wasn’t a child. She was no blushing bride-to-be, but a temptress with a siren’s song. Engaged, another man’s prize, she exchanged the poor artist’s heart with her own. Forbidden love blossomed.

There was only one solution...



Attaining “High Flight”
and “Slipping the Surly Bonds”

“You’re full of hot air.”

“Who do you think you are?”

“You can’t.”

“You’ll never—”

 

Eyes closed, I clap my hands over my ears, hum to drown the sound of their echoing fear, and search for the quiet cry.

Creativity, inner voice, muse, true self, she answers to many names.

Squashed, derided as child’s play, and nothing more than popsicle sticks, school glue, and glitter, she retreat...



Lofty Undertaking

Skyscrapers defined the canyon walls of Anders’ world. Imposing shadows modulated light and dark and framed his existence. He marched predictable paths that left him stuck in mechanized monotony. 

Searching for more, his friends convinced him to kayak a Norwegian fjord. Landmasses dwarfed anything he had ever seen. The guides told stories of massive sperm whales, sixty feet long and weighing eighty tons, that ate giant squid who swam four thousand feet below his kayak’s thin fiberg...



Undercover in Broad Daylight

I identified the target. No one noticed the woman with a stroller. The device in my pocket would disrupt any surveillance cameras, but I still needed a diversion.

Stalling, I cooed to the baby. A panel van heading toward me promised the perfect cover for my heist. Timing was everything. I resumed my walk, activated the disruptor, and counted. The truck and my stroller converged at the package.

With payment confirmed, I dropped the package in the black sedan’s trunk. Safe from prying eye...



A Losing Battle

Be wary, my dear creative friend, when you say you wish to explore the seductive call of the arts. If your conviction is not solid, if your resolve is not resolute, if your ethics are not steadfast, clear, and true, then my advice to you is to run. Run, before it is too late.

Once you dip your brush, your pen, your sword, your soul is forever colored, consumed, altered.

Oblivion lurks at the bottom of a paint can, time becomes malleable, and insignificant thoughts recede.

Art has left m...



Bosco Verticale

Stefano lifted the heavy portfolio in his hand and swiped his forearm across his sweaty brow. A city bus whooshing past, momentarily offering a welcome breeze followed by the acid aftertaste of hot exhaust. Concrete, glass, and steel, absorbed, intensified, and reflected the summer heat.

As a child, Nonna told tales of long-ago country summers. Tree leaves danced in gentle breezes, birds sang, and the earth cradled soft blue skies.

He featured urban forestation and nature in his architectural...




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