Category Archives: Flash & Micro Fiction

Stories of 1,000 words or less

The One Reality


As she drew the curtains to let the sun in, her Big Ben door chimes rang out. The bay window afforded a view of her front door, but no one was there. The bell rang again, this time, with a strikingly sweet diinnnng! She entered the hall to find that her roof …was gone! The sky seemed to envelop her, sucking her in; no boundaries, no past, no future, no time – just – unfolding present. The deepest blue she had ever experienced evolved into a permeating nurturing pink – a conscious intelligence that knew every moment of her and it loved her without limit, without judgment, without expectation of any kind.

Behind her hundreds of “her” people had gathered, and their arms thrust her with such enormous speed – Whoooosh! Like child on a swing – it took her breath away, though she had no sense of breathing, only of the white light – closer and closer – it should have blinded her eyes with searing pain, but didn’t. She couldn’t look away. It, too, knew her with complete, perfect, and even amused love.

All too soon, from light years away, a pin prick voice called her name. Immediately she began to fall and the light, still brilliant, grew smaller and more distant, and she knew it was consciously letting her go.

“Don’t send me back! Please,” she cried. A sound – a loud, sharp CLAP dropped her and she was back, standing at her open front door where a ragged stranger was asking for a glass of water.

“Of course, come in,” she said and gently ushered him to a chair. At long last, she truly understood: the only reality and the only real choice is love.

Last May on Whidbey 062

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Filed under Fiction, Flash & Micro Fiction, Spiritual wisdom, Uncategorized

Resurrection


As she waited to hear back from the hospital she found herself thinking about her brother’s bedroom – magical, mysterious, and strictly off limits unless she knocked and received permission to enter. A rare treat that he gave only when she promised not to ask too many questions….

“Brucie, what’s this?” she asked, fingering a fishhook from the tin box on her brother’s workbench.

“Put it down. If that gets stuck in your thumb, I’ll have to push it all the way through and you’ll cry like a girl.”

She examined the sharp point and barb, then dropped the hook and picked up another one. “What’s it for?”

“Fly fishing.” Her brother set a small hook in the workbench clamp. Taking two scarlet feather fronds from a cardboard container he placed them against the hook and spiraled golden silk thread round and round the ends, flush to the base of the curved steel, transforming the hook into an alluring winged insect.

“Wow, that’s pretty. What do you do with it?”

“You tie it on your rod like this…” Retrieving a spool from his tackle box, Bruce threaded nylon through the fishhook loop, then tied a knot and cut the line in one deft movement. He tossed the hook into the air and flicked the line back and forth. Light from his workbench lamp glinted against the shimmering gold and scarlet.

She forgot it was merely feather and steel and sat mesmerized by the dancing insect that responded to her brother’s hand.

“When this lure strikes the water,” he said, “the trout thinks Supper! He leaps to the surface, gulps the insect, and snap!” Bruce jerked his wrist. “That’s when the fish becomes my supper,” he said with a laugh.

~ * ~

It was the jangling telephone that dragged her back to the here and now. After the call she sat in stunned silence. “He’s gone,” was all her sister could say.

She imagined the neurosurgeon tying silk stitches, closing the hole where the tumor had been. The surgeon’s thread was shimmering gold.

At the corner of her vision, something flickered past the window drawing her attention outside. There an incredibly beautiful, scarlet dragonfly danced in the morning sun.

“Hi Bruce,” she whispered. “How did you do that?”

dragonfly2

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Filed under biographical, Fiction, Flash & Micro Fiction, Non-Fiction

Friday’s 55-Word Challenge: Possum Story


He walked the night – a stalker, scrounger of meals, nose quivering, ears listening; a fence-scaler, traversing the edge with tight-rope precision, he reached the end. Dropping down to a black, wet tarmac he padded across. Two small spotlights appeared and grew, casting an illuminated trap. Splat. So ends this possum’s tale.

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Filed under Flash & Micro Fiction

Imagination


 

Do you remember when you were four, or maybe six,

it was summer

and you entered that empty room –

that wonderful space 

beneath the weeping willow?

 

Long strips of rippled green

hung in a circle around you –

a dancing wall when the breeze blew,

it waved the sunlight into shadows

and cooled your body

and you said,

“Let’s play house,” or

“This is my fort,” and

No one can find me here.”

 

Shivers of excitement ran down your spine

filling the air with a sense

that something

was going to happen – right here

and you were in it

whatever it was.

 

You waited and watched

and while you waited

you discovered a way to make rope.

You braided stems and leaves

then tied the curtains of green back,

but everyone could see you

so you untied the curtains

and made a belt instead.

 

You found a sharp twig

that would make a good knife

but when you tried to dig the soil

the blade broke

so you pretended it was a pen

and that you could write.

You made up stories, lots of them,

and they were so good,

that you scared yourself

out from under that tree.

 

You never could go in there again.

It was too darned spooky.

 

Claude Monet’s Weeping Willow, 1919 – Google images

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Filed under Fiction, Flash & Micro Fiction, Poetry, Uncategorized

Memories


“This was your mother’s,” the coroner said, handing her the homeless woman’s only belonging.

“Guess she couldn’t part with it.”

Inside the carefully wrapped parcel was a lock of hair.

The young woman embraced the lock.

“Looks the same color as yours,” he said, a kind, sad smile in his eyes.

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Lucky Dog


Homeward Bound’s Golden Taxi

Loaded up nine dogs today and drove ’em all the way

Highway 5 – Fresno to Sacramento.

See Rusty here? His owner died, leaving him tied

to the house. He’s been there since March.

People fed him, but no one thought, for four months,

(that’s one hundred twenty days or two thousand eight hundred eighty hours, and God-knows-how-many-minutes)

that Rusty needed more than food and water.

Shadow, the next dog down, has a tumor hanging from his testicles,

an ugly festering thing that bleeds and smells.

His owner said, get that dog the hell outa here.

And this pretty dog, Shady, was a lady, blonde and small

yet someone thought she could fend for herself

in the desert outside LA. She couldn’t.

Nearly died from hunger and fear;

When found, she was so weak she couldn’t run,

just hoped the strangers who approached wouldn’t kill her.

The big dog over there, with the dark red coat,

nobody knows his name. He answers to anything you call him.

He’s just glad to have somebody call him at all.

Doc needs to take the foxtail out of his eye

Then he can stop hurting and pretending he’s okay.

Digger there is a family dog, but his family can’t keep a job or a house,

so they sure as heck can’t keep Digger.

He watched them walk away after the boy said,

“Stay, Digger. Be good now.” The boy left, wiping his face

on a sleeve, and Digger stopped wagging his tail.

Trixie wasn’t sure if she even was a Golden.

Retriever, that is. She’s gold all right, but we suspect

she’s got more cocker than retriever in her genes.

We gave her the benefit of the doubt.

Some old lady who can’t have a big dog

will be mighty glad to have Trixie at her house.

Those two over there are Sam and Isabella.

Brother and sister, been together all their lives.

Long ones, too. They’re both over twelve. Nobody wants old dogs,

They say old dogs will break their hearts and die,

but Nobody never asks whether dogs’ hearts break.

At the sanctuary the old dogs get to live in the house

and sleep on big, soft clean couches

and wide fluffy beds, where there’s lots of space

for cranky old bones to settle down and sleep.

Last of all, there’s this poor boy here. Both his legs

got run over and he got left since nobody could afford to pay

for his surgery; This fella needs pins and long term care

so he can walk again, chase tennis balls and play.

Doc here will give him everything he needs.

Somehow we’ll pick up the tab and save the dog.

They’re all worth saving.

We named him Lucky.

If you want to help rescue a golden retriever, please visit Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary’s website. Donations of money, items, volunteering time, foster parents and adoptive parents are always greatly needed and appreciated. http://www.homewardboundgoldens.org/

To the world we are dog rescuers, but to these dogs, we are the world. Please join us!

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Filed under Flash & Micro Fiction, Poetry, Uncategorized

Across the breakfast table…


You sit, absorbed in another thick spy intrigue murder mystery political uprising story with just enough sex in it to keep you checking the this-has-all-the-right-ingredients tick box, designating the author as a best seller, stellar tale-teller who makes lots of money writing. His books fill your shelves to prove it.  We had to get rid of some last year to just make room for more.

Meanwhile I reside here on my chair with a fifty-page volume, so slender it could be mistaken for a magazine – if only it was taller, wider and the cover more flimsy than it is now. My book is one of only two that the poet ever published before he died. I need never worry about running out of room for his books or becoming bored with the same shape, plot and characters that, reworked one hundred and one different ways, receive new names and settings in each predictable story.

There you, enmeshed with the pages of your New York Times book-of-the-week, engaged with fast-paced heros and caricatured characters – thinner than the paper that holds their names – eat cereal and read, oblivious of my thoughts or even aware that I share the table with you, along with the salt, napkins and sugar bowl. I bet my poet would have written about the bowl; how the lid always drops sweet crumbs on the table; how I carefully wipe them up, look at you and smile.

Photo courtesy of Diane Waldron

4 Thursday Poets Rally week 28

Feel free to comment and star-grade. Thank you for reading!

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Filed under Flash & Micro Fiction, Poetry, Uncategorized

Grizzly Remains


 

I once heard Dad say that the bear who ate my mother did him a favor by saving us the cost of her burial. Perhaps, in a strange way, Dad did me a favor, providing some image, at least, of the woman who gave me life. You see, I never got a chance to know her, so I make her up. The black and white photo, hidden in Dad’s desk drawer – the drawer where he keeps his whiskey shows a woman with short dark hair and freckled arms. I never saw anyone like her until that day at the Stop & Shop.

She bought something small enough to fit into a quart-sized, paper bag. It wasn’t heavy; it swung in her fingers as she walked.  I decided it was a birthday card; a special one – for me.  In fact, there were ten birthday cards in that bag; one for each of the birthdays I had celebrated without her. I wondered what she would write on the cards.

“To my dearest daughter… Love, Mommy.” I couldn’t imagine what would go in the middle, between dearest daughter and love. That was why I followed her; so I could watch her write the messages in beautiful long-hand script, slide each card into its envelope, lick the shiny glue edges, seal them, and drop them into the mailbox, kissing each one before she slipped it through the slot.

She walked fast. I had to skip to keep up.  Her skirt swayed left, right; swing, swoosh; it was a very pretty skirt with wide pleats of brown, beige, charcoal and gold – earthy, autumn colors. Her blouse, short-sleeved and crisp, with no wrinkles bunched at the edges of the collar, revealed her skill with an iron. 

When she stopped at a corner to look for passing cars, I waited a few yards behind. I didn’t want to stand next to her just yet. She crossed the street. Two blocks down, I crossed as well, and skipping fast, caught up to her shadow. It stretched grotesque and crooked, while skimming over sidewalk cracks in the afternoon sun.  I carefully avoided the cracks.

I wondered if she kept lipstick and powder in the handbag that slung over her shoulder. I decided the lipstick was called Romance. I imagined her removing the tortoise-shell cap, twisting the gold tube, and a rising bullet of smooth dark crimson appeared. She would apply it to her lips with skill, and finish by pressing her mouth on a tissue, leaving a paper smile behind, cracked with tiny rivulet patterns in a passionate, blood-stain kiss.  I would ask if I could keep the tissue.

She turned up a drive and walked to the side of a clapboard house, removing a key from her purse. She stopped, pulled open a steel-framed, screen door, and hesitated, with the door resting on her back as she inserted her key into the lock. All I could see was her screened silhouette, except her ankles – clearly exposed, in brown leather pumps, beneath the door frame. Before I memorized the density and curves of those ankles, one by one, each foot stepped up, and forward, and out of sight, until nothing was left, except the sound – a screen door – slammed – like the slap of a grizzly’s paw.

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Saving Manatees


The old woman hovered backwards over the hairdresser’s chair and landed with an audible thump. “Not so graceful as I used to be,” she groaned, settling her wide bottom.

 “What shall we do for you today?” asked the twenty-something, less-than-a-hundred-pounds hairdresser.

“Well, you can’t erase the lines on my face or bring back my youth, so you may as well trim the split ends, and I’ll be on my way” the old woman said with a sigh.

The hairdresser pulled a fresh lavender cape from the shelf. As she shook it out and slipped it over her client’s head, she looked in the mirror, into the woman’s eyes. She smiled. “I think you have wonderful features,” she said. “You remind me of my grandmother, and she’s the most beautiful woman I know.”  She pulled the pins out of the woman’s hair, watching it slip and fall onto and down her shoulders, gradually exposing lush silver and gold waves that shone like watered silk. “You must carry a lot of memories in this hair,” said the stylist as she ran her fingers through the glowing strands.

“That I do, girl,” nodded the woman. “That I do.” She scowled into the mirror. “Memories are all I have left at my age. It’s no fun growing old. I don’t recommend it.” She tugged at the cape on her lap and tried to cover her knees.

“Are you cold? Would you like me to get you a blanket?” offered the hairdresser.

“No, I’m fine. I just hate looking at my knees. They used to be so pretty.” She pulled the cape back up, exposing her legs for the hairdresser. “Look at them. Why, they look like a couple of manatees.”

The young woman’s eyes met the older woman’s in the mirror. She hesitated, not knowing at first how to react, and then she laughed. “What a funny thing to say,” she chuckled.

The old woman nearly smiled for the first time that morning. She looked around the beauty salon and began to relax. She noticed a pair of pantyhose hanging from a hook beside the hairdresser’s station. One leg was half stuffed with something, giving it the size and shape of a foot, ankle and calf. The other leg hung empty and limp.  “What’s that for?” she asked.

“Oh, that,” the young woman laughed as she combed the old woman’s strands. They hung down the back of the chair, nearly to her waist.  “After we sweep our clippings off the floor, we stuff them into pantyhose. They say that hair makes a good sponge for soaking up oil. So every week we send what we’ve gathered down to the environment agency in Louisiana. They can make booms out of them – to protect the coast from the oil spill.”

“Hmpff.” The old woman cared nothing about the coast of Louisiana. It seemed too far from her reality to get bothered about a bit of oil. She had enough of her own problems. She fidgeted in her seat and crossed her legs. The cape slipped back, revealing her sausage knees again. I’m glad he didn’t live to see me like this, she thought. He only saw my youthful beauty. She pulled the cape down, attempting to cover her knees. “It seems like a waste of time to me,” she said. “They’ll never clean up all that oil. And if they do, somebody else will come along and spoil it some other way. They always do.”

Only once had she been anywhere near Louisiana. It was a surprise trip to Florida that he planned for her birthday. They rented a canoe and paddled up a river on the Gulf side of the Florida coast. Warm springs fed the river with a temperature that attracted strange sea mammals from the cold winter gulf waters. Here, for the first time, she saw a manatee.

The hairdresser’s scissors began to snip inch-long clippings that landed on the floor. “Don’t take off too much; just the split ends.” After a few minutes of silence the old woman spoke. “They’re ugly creatures, you know,” she said.

“What are?” asked the hair dresser.

“Manatees.”  The old woman stared in the mirror stuck in a defiant silence. Memories began to cloud the surface of the glass. A large, gentle creature with fan-shaped tail and arms that curved and moved with uncannily human gestures slowly appeared, a calf by her side. A small intake of breath escaped the old woman as she remembered the sunlight, how it sparkled on white sand beneath the turquoise water and reflected in her husband’s clear blue eyes. They sat together entranced, watching the two strange creatures. His face, which had long since disappeared beneath years of crusted grief and disappointment looked up and smiled at her through the mirror. He didn’t seem to notice her age; he only saw her youth and beauty as it was back then.

“How’s that for length?” said the hairdresser, spinning the chair around and holding a hand mirror for the old woman to approve the trim in back. “Will that do?”

The faded hair was still beautiful, luxurious, long, and now with ends neatly trimmed. But she couldn’t look. His face – it was so young, so alive. She pushed the mirror away, dropped her chin and bunched the lavender cape into her fists. “Take it off,” the old woman sputtered. “I can’t stand it.” Tears streamed down her cheeks as she tugged at the material on her lap.

The hairdresser reached to untie the cape, releasing the woman from her cloth prison.  “I’m so sorry; I didn’t realize the cape would upset you. It is a bit confining. Here, let me help you. I’ll take it off.”

The old woman grabbed the hairdresser’s wrist and held it with a firm grip. She raised her chin and expelled a deep sigh. She looked into the mirror, at the young woman’s eyes.  “No, not the cape,” she said. “I meant the hair.”

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