Wednesday, March 31, 2010

the involuntary boxer

Boxing – 253 words
Kevin Foster

A fist flies in and jars the world sideways with a dull thud, the blue sky spun to the left and on the right hot black asphalt. He feels his cheeks burn immediately, the white lasting sting of a hand and boiling pavement. He knows that everyone sees it coming even if he doesn't and he imagines what they think as they watch, grimacing with a little of his pain on their faces, or those who avert their eyes but stand there anyway. There is now a liquid on his face; at least there is a feeling of something running on down his face and he tastes metal in his mouth – his entire face pulses, tingling, and he is unsure if there is anything on it at all, including those features he expects to see every day. He attributes the taste in his mouth to either blood or a liquified form of his braces and he is displeased either way. Inside of his chest, his heart is thumping along, dutifully unaware of everything outside of its cavernous home. When he first began involuntarily boxing, his heart would leap to attention, wanting to join the fight, and stand guard far longer than necessary, but he took his role quite seriously and had since deadened even his deepest instincts so now not one part of him reacted. He feels them all saunter off in groups into the vertical clouds, sickened or bored. He will lay and look at the sideways world a little longer.

The Boxer - Simon and Garfunkel

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Clip - 268 words

Sarah Van Name

It’s been seven months and my roommate still doesn’t know that I steal from her. We have an amiable day-to-day relationship, occasionally share homework woes, and tend to turn out the lights between twelve and one on school nights. But I am a secretly a bandit.

It started one Tuesday when I had a paper due and needed a paper clip. Going college shopping, my mom and I had made sure to buy all the recommended items – shower caddy, desk lamp, AA batteries – but had neglected the schooling basics. I stole a paper clip while she was filling up her water bottle.

A few weeks later, I spotted a half-open bag of sour gummi worms on her desk while she was out at dinner. Two of the red and blue, one orange and green. The next Thursday, the pen lying on her desk when I was late for class, though mine was in plain sight. I had seen her write with that pen, and it had such a delicious, full black ink.

These are all minor things, which I’m sure she wouldn’t have minded had I told her, but it grew. One night I drank two bottles of her root beer and told her I had only seen three in the refrigerator. My kleptomania culminated last week when I stole her three-subject blank notebook, sunglasses, and study abroad informational booklet in one fell swoop.

We’re going to hug goodbye in a month, never friends but never enemies, and she’ll never know that I was the mystery responsible. And this summer, my eyes will be protected from the sun.

All the Pretty Girls - Fun

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rabbits on Easter.

Bunny- 364 words
Stephen N. Dethrage

Richard mused that in a fair, compassionate world, rabbits would not die on Easter. The other holidays would need no such regulation, because it's not as though there's a high risk of discovering Cupid, a Leprechaun, or old Saint Nick dead in the lawn on their particular holidays, but in this case alone, cosmic law ought to have made an exception and dictate that predators pass over rabbits on that single Sunday in Spring.

He thought these things with furrowed brow as he dug a small grave in yard, because, on the only day of the year that people spend much time at all thinking of rabbits, the last thing one should have to deal with is the mauled remains of such a creature. Nevertheless, this morning, amid the hidden plastic eggs and multicolored baskets, the carcass of the rabbit was posed dramatically, there on the lawn, as if to express to all passersby that this planet is neither fair nor kind.

The corpse, once swift and vernal, was torn, bloodied, growing colder every minute. The beagle, responsible for the murder and bored with the lifeless thing in the grass, stood a few yards away waiting for his next bit of fun to arrive. Richard took pity on the fallen creature, and set out to bury it before his daughter woke and discovered the morbid scene. He was glad to avoid her urgent questions about the gruesome death of the bunny on the lawn, because he knew from six years of such questions that he wouldn't be prepared to answer many of them. He would have to lie to her, and swear that he believed God had some overarching plan for the betterment of everything that neither of them could comprehend.

As he shoveled out the almost comically small grave, Richard sought deeper meaning and symbolism beneath the blood-stained exterior of the event. On the holiday of rebirth and resurrection, he pondered the death of fantasy and myth, and the death of youthful ignorance, and the death of all things old and new, eventually. Ultimately, though, the only thing he concluded was that in a fair, compassionate world, rabbits would not die on Easter.

High and Dry - Radiohead

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wherever will we go, the day we realize that we too can fly?

Tragic - 285 Words
Aaron Dethrage

The real tragedy is not that Romeo and Juliet die. It’s not that Ophelia never learns to swim, nor the sizable funeral necessary for the Lear family, nor the slow dissolve of manipulated Macbeth. The real tragedy is the way the world looks after one of these masterfully constructed endings slips from our trembling fingers to the unforgiving table beneath it. In an instant, our entire existence becomes as hard as the creaky, varnished wood that serves as the floor beneath our feet.

Tragedy, real tragedy, reveals to us a part of ourselves that we want to strangle, bag, and bury with the roses behind our house; but we can’t–despite any degree of effort–forget these things we learned.

Tragedy serves to teach us that all of our fantasizing as children–the perfect worlds we imagine, the happy endings we expect, the beautiful family, the perfection of love, every little thing that drove our existence–was a lie. People are conniving and cruel. Things don’t work out. Misunderstands, more often than not, culminate into disaster and bitterness. We all die, alone and defeated. The entire weight of the terrifying reality of the human condition is placed in our infant hands.

I once heard of a place free from this knowledge–though, I must confess, every bleeding body and crying child on channel-after-channel of television causes me to question the possibility of such a different and beautiful escape. Regardless, the proclamation the rumor makes is that the people don’t dream, because dreaming implies a potential for failure. Instead, with closed eyes and smiles that could blind the sun, they spread their boney arms to the wind and they fly–fearlessly, majestically, and eternally.

Sunday Bloody Sunday (U2 Cover) - Lisa Bresna

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Cave - 482 words
Mary Ann Loo

I couldn’t believe I had found it, that after twenty years it was still here, exactly the same. The tall timeless trees, the brook passing silently amidst, a familiar stillness in the air that resurrects memories of long ago. I had parked my grey SUV in the recently paved parking lot, and while my brother and his wife headed off with the kids to the camp ground, the wind tugged at my heart, and my feet took me along a path I didn’t recognize at first. But the more they journeyed, the lighter they became; the stirrings of a familiar tune rose within me, and I found myself humming along. And there it was – the rocky base of the mountain, and the dark gaping entrance into yesterday.

It wasn’t a cave, but there was enough room for two nine-year-olds and the treasures they held dear. They’d brought an old quilt for the hard rocky ground, a small blue pillow, and over time the collection grew – her favorite book “Alice in Wonderland”, his dad’s old telescope, her mom’s broken music box, a plastic sword… This was where they were pirates and sailed the seven seas, superheroes in their secret lair; they were anything they’d wanted to be, and nobody could tell them otherwise. This world was theirs alone.

Everyone called him Eddie, and though he hated his name Edward, he didn’t mind when she said it. He had a habit of brushing away his straight brown hair that constantly fell into his dark eyes, even when he just had a haircut. He never failed to make her laugh, typically with silly antics like wetting his hair in the brook just to shake it like a dog to get it dry. She was his opposite, a thinker, not quite the adventurer, but she knew he’d always look out for her. They’d grown up on the same farm, and were the best of friends; their parents were best friends too, until something happened they never quite understood. Her family moved five hundred miles away to Nashville, Tennessee, leaving those memories behind.

I looked into the semidarkness, catching my breath upon seeing the faded squares of the quilt, the narrow end of a telescope, and the shape of a book. I reached into the space, surprised at how much smaller it seemed, and my fingers graced the polished wood of my mother’s old music box. Suddenly I was no longer a recently divorced publishing executive and mom of two, but the quiet nine-year-old dreamer from long ago. A fountain of forgotten tears left me falling to the ground, gasping into the sleeves of my Northface jacket.


Squinting through my tears, I notice a man standing ten feet away from me. He was about six feet tall, and had straight brown hair. I should be terrified, but I wasn’t.

“Edward,” I half-whispered. “Is it really you?”

Yet - Switchfoot

Friday, March 26, 2010

never meant to fly

Runway - 131 words
Ben Azevedo

I've checked and checked again
But I'm still hours from the end
I need to find a way to spend
These empty waiting moments

With strangers turning friends
The minutes start to blend
And I'm trying to pretend
We're almost there

Stand at the other end of the runway
Watch the horizon dissolve to gray
We'll be tearing ourselves free of the sky
Because we were never meant to fly

The engines make me dread
A sky that's turning red
I close my eyes instead
We're flying high and fast

With stars above and clouds below
The sky a runway for my soul
My soul can fly without much fear
But I would rather it stay here

Stand at the other end of the runway
Watch the horizon dissolve to gray

Don't Panic - Coldplay

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Music Sets His Soul To Dance

Runaway - 275

Lindsey Thompson

The light summer breeze brushed its fingers through his salty hair as he loped out of the ocean surf, the foam licking at his heels, unsatisfied. He dried his exposed body with a used shirt before shaking out his shorts and pulling them over his still wet legs. He settled them below his waist before slipping into sandals and shoving his pack together. A smile trickled across his face as he shouldered his world again, the smile of an escaped animal. Free baths in the Pacific Ocean as he walked south along California’s coast never lost their power over his spirit. With the early morning sun to his back, he stared across the carpeted space between continents, and wondered what a desert of water could hold for him.

Some called him a wanderer; others, a runaway.

Sand consumed his sandaled feet as more beach-goers emerged from vacationed slumber to “seize the day.” He witnessed as two athletes jogged side by side in the wakes of waves, chatting about the schedule for the weekend, but he found himself more taken with the single older gentleman and his dog. She would bound joyfully after gulls and balls, charging into the ocean triumphantly and returning with a defiant shake of her body. But she never left her lonely master out of reach for more than a moment; she returned faithfully to his aide, checking on his being with an air of willing duty. She knew she was not owned, but rescued, sprung from her cage.

She paused, locked her gaze with the runaway, and grinned a dog’s grin as understanding passed between them, the understanding of freed spirits.

Ocean Stone - Chris O'Brien

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Roll - 336 Words
Kevin Foster

Lit only by the dull glow of icicle lights through the drawn shades over her window, she slouched on the floor at the foot of the bed she slept in as a teenager, gazing at the recently uncovered roll of film, her legs bent awkwardly and propped onto the lip of the drawer where she had come across it. She was surprised that the room had remained largely untouched since she officially left home eight years prior and embarrassed by the state of the bottom drawer of the dresser, the junk drawer, a reminder of the organizational deficiencies she still struggled with. Still, she wondered how a roll of film had escaped her, buried with insignificant papers and nicknacks – she had always felt that remembering was a grave duty to which she had been called and she did it in a regular and intentional manner.

She did not know which major period of her life the pictures would give her a glimpse of: perhaps a girl's night from high school, the amateur photography phase in between high school and college, or her admittedly foolish party phase when she began to split away from her parents, thinking that her values would end up somehow different and that they had not done the same or worse. She imagined everyone she had ever known crammed inside of a film canister, waiting to be sprawled out onto glossy paper by a drugstore employee. Her stomach was warm with and full, but she still felt the same ache that had plagued her since she left them all here; before she stranded herself. The film canister suddenly felt tremendously heavy in her palm; she let it drop to the floor and roll out of her sight under the bed. She stared at the patterns in the stained oak dresser. She remembered that they were downstairs. Slowly rising to her feet, she pushed the creases out of her dress and following the sounds of laughter downstairs, she slid back into the current.

Go Upstairs - Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


iPhone - 483 words
Sarah Van Name

I guess I’m glad that Apple got the tourism contract. The iPhone seems like a pretty useful device, and they were savvy enough to release a circular version that fit better in our hands. The new version, for the tourism contract, has all these features that my Earth penpal, Flora, says are new, like the ability to call to and from orbit and this speech translator if we want to go somewhere where people don’t speak English. My friend and I only know how to speak English.

I watched the demo on how to use it, and I should be always connected to the orbit and everything. There’s nothing to worry about. I know that. But all the same, I’m afraid to go to Earth.

I keep seeing demos on all the amazing things on Earth, but no one except me seems to understand how terrifying they are. The oceans are infinitely deep, I’ve heard the darkness at the bottom of them is more profound than the black of space outside the window, I’ve seen pictures of water creatures with wings eight times the width of me and what if I fall in? The sun, the idea that it can burn you there. That it can leave a permanent mark or make the surface of you peel off in strips. And gravity! The idea of being so pinned down, strapped in, unable to lift yourself above any surface. I couldn’t deal with that.

I’m told that it’s worth it for apples, breezes, the curiosity of human eyes, snow flurries, stained glass, cherry blossoms, dogs, music concerts, the taste of drinking water, bonfires, fountains, and birthday cake. The iPhone demo showed me all of these things. But I don’t know.

I’m going with my best friend, and we’re meeting Flora someplace called – let me look it up again – Louisiana, and then moving on. My friend really wants to see the tigers, but I’ve heard about how thin the bars are. More than anything I think I want to see a swimming pool. I’ve watched that demo a hundred times. The way the sunlight makes veins in the’s shallow, too, so I don’t think I could get hurt.

I guess talking about it now I’m a little excited. I got my iPhone yesterday and Flora keeps sending me messages on it that she’s jealous that I got the new model. She can’t talk to her friends in orbit on hers right now. But Apple just got the contract and only now released these, and of course I got some of the first batch out because I’m about to leave and I really need it. I think I’m a part of the first formalized tourist experience, but there were people who went before. Representatives and ambassadors obviously, and then stowaways. I knew one. He was this daring dreamy kid who really wanted to taste molasses.

Moth's Wings - Passion Pit

Monday, March 22, 2010

"That was swell."

Swell- 133 words
Stephen N. Dethrage

The time that passed between our last "Goodbye, love," and that particular "Hello again," were grueling, terrible things, and later that night, we embraced as if decades had passed since we'd last seen each other, not hours. We broke from each other only long enough for us to kiss like it was the only thing keeping us alive, and for me to whisper, "That was swell."

We were young and innocent then, like everyone else living in an age of youth and innocence. We were a generation of bows and bowties, pigtails and cowlicks. The Depression changed us, and the War to End All Wars, and all the wars that followed, but for those precious years, I know we lived better lives than anyone else on the planet has ever dreamed of living.

A Day in The Life - The Beatles

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Do you wonder if time will find us?

Lake - 132 Words
Aaron Dethrage.

The lake–while far from clear–is tranquil, and she is telling me all her secrets. Here, amidst a towering cityscape of trees and a soft breeze that’s lacing my fingers like an awed lover, I float on my back and stir gently with the current, listening to the words of the water. Her inflection rises and falls with each ripple and wave. She is telling me of her crystalline shine in the thick-iced winter and the tapestry she becomes with every spring sunrise. She is enticing me to stay, to abandon my life in the city for the peace I find with her. It’s easier than I expected; I raise my hands above my gradually submerging head and slowly sink away from the world–embracing the only love I’ve known.

Loxtep - Annuals

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Neck - 364 words

Mary Ann Loo

Justin knew she was beautiful the moment she walked into the History classroom, even though no other heads turned. She took the seat directly in front of him, smiling shyly as their eyes met, but he quickly averted his gaze, pretending to still be interested in his buddies’ conversation about last night’s football game. She wore her straight dark hair in a high ponytail, and as she settled in her chair, he noticed the freckles on the back of her neck, which appeared to form a stylized “J”. He was intrigued, even though she clearly was the complete opposite of the modelesque, busty, and fashionable blondes or redheads he’d dated every other week.

Lisa. He didn’t know why but her name reverberated through his entire being the second it escaped her lips. The entire class period flew by as he busied himself with the pictures those freckles painted – their first hellos, their first date, the first time their hands touched, their first kiss… scenes of their life together – and he hadn’t even returned that sweet sweet smile. No, it couldn’t be. The quarterback on the school team had a reputation to uphold, and plain quiet forgettable Lisa was in every way a misfit.

So twice a week he sat behind her silently, eyeing those freckles, musing about the mysteries they seemed to contain. Everyone was oblivious to his secret fascination, and even though he wasn’t in a hurry to confess it, his fingers wanted so much to trace the patterns on the back of her neck, to feel the magic hidden there, to know every inch of her. She hardly spoke in class, unless called upon by Mr. Benton, and her contributions to the discussion were always articulated, confident, and demonstrated her quiet passion for the subject. As a straight-C student, he realized the perfect excuse to connect with her, without breaking the natural order of high school society.

Four more classes went by; for the first time since middle school, this cocky, self-absorbed ladies’ guy struggled with the words that changed his life forever: “Hey, Lisa. Um… I was, um… wondering if you’d… uh… help me study for… um… that test next week…”

Poison & Wine - The Civil Wars

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Treatise on the Merits of Grapes

Grape - 113 words
Ben Azevedo

The thing about grapes, you see, is that they must be absolutely perfect. Any imperfection, wrinkle, bulge, or tear in the skin of a grape, and you might as well have a raisin. I don't like raisins. Grapes, though, grapes are great. I don't even remember the last time I had grapes. Grape juice, sure, or wine, but the last time I just sat down and nommed a bunch of grapes? Can't remember. Ever eaten a frozen grape? Freezing a grape is probably the only way (other than raisins, eew) that you can eat a non-perfect grape (maybe). I guess my grape juice may contain a few wrinkled grapes, but I hope not.

Note: This song, like this word, is completely random.

Pot Kettle Black - Tilly and the Wall

Thursday, March 18, 2010

River in the Skin

Veins - 456

Lindsey Thompson

Many of my brothers wish to be like you. They envy you, with your feet and your opposable thumbs, your lungs and your laughter. They want your world, to feel the earth and to climb to the sky, to know the tingle of touch not mediated by our surroundings, to feel a sense of gravity greater than the false pressures of our river world. They tire of being bound within water, of being stuck in streamline circles. But I am grateful; I know better.

You think that you know our home. With two clumsy splashes and some flailing, you slip and slide and call it swimming in the river. You stir up the canvas of our ancestors like exhaust fumes on your streets and in your air. You puff out your heads full of your breathing and fumble around under the water until your tiny supply runs out. You hardly look out for us, and God forbid we run into you, even though we live here. You are like a virus in our blood, for we are powerless to move you, while you rampantly take of our families.

But what you miss in your gracelessness and your discourtesy, I will attempt to reveal to you. Just as my brothers wish to run, you, too, somewhere buried deep within your superior skin and complex thought, you wish for this, heavenly and simple.

The sun reflects gently off the rustling of my sky, my roof to the world. The tickling of the body of currents, a life of its own. The warm pockets for resting and the cool pockets for awakening. The sound a tail makes as it runs just past your head. The rhythm of families in motion. This is my soundtrack. This is my symphony.

I don’t drink in the sky, I absorb it. The water that surrounds me cradles me, moves me, becomes part of me and gives me life. This river, so full of spring, begins a beat in my brain that I cannot ignore. With each passing slipstream that teases my fins, I smile to myself and dart forward, racing the undertow.

And suddenly, I am soaring, I am gliding, I am flying through streams and lakes and waters with no name into one another, like the veins of the skin of the earth, flowing and pumping life into every corner of her beautiful body. I twist through capillaries and tributaries and into the lake, the artery. Over rapids and through swift currents, I swim just to have the waves caress my scales and pull my tail with the resistance of the wake I leave, battling for equilibrium and an undisturbed existence.

You can only stare at your sky; I live in mine.

Weird Fishes / Arpeggi (Radiohead Cover) - Vitamin String Quartet

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Tower – 220 words
Kevin Foster

On the ground level of the tower, there is a small chapel, a twenty-by-twenty foot stone chamber. A few short wooden pews line the eastern wall, ending uncharacteristically but necessarily short three-quarters across the room, leaving enough space to either climb the steep stairs in the east or approach the simple shrine furthest away from the door, nothing more than a few candles, a worn bible, and a modest cross fixed to the stone wall. This is where I am. Against the wall at the end of the second pew, I am pressing my cheek against the cool stone, the only part of my face not shielded by the hood of my jacket. My tears have dampened the wall and its dirt is no doubt smeared on my face. I have not come here for the same reason that others do; I have not come to be with anyone I cannot see. Nor have I come here to be alone – I am not alone and I do not want to be. I have come to the basement of this tower to bare myself. Bent on this pew, I am exposed as the stranger that I am. I know that this tower is not for me, but I am here and I do not know where else I should be.

I Do What I Can - Lonely Dear

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Root - 101 words
Sarah Van Name

In the potato-sack weight of your absence, I still catch the scent of your laundry detergent or shampoo. I am reduced. Time adjusts the atoms around me like a dutiful matron to account for the sleeping breaths of one.

This sadness comes back over and over, a different creature each time, like sickness or clouds. Tomorrow I will set it aside and turn away, look away, turn my back. Tonight, I press myself into the ground, as if I could reach my hands like roots into the core of the earth and touch that iron crystal, old and lonely – real sorrow.

Comes and Goes (In Waves) - Greg Laswell

Monday, March 15, 2010

Suddenly free.

Keychain- 261 words
Stephen N. Dethrage

Her vice had been keychains for as long as she could clearly remember. Her room housed hundreds of them, some in drawers and others in boxes and a precious few actually on key rings.

Suddenly, the collection disgusted her.

Suddenly, it was a fiery prosecutor’s testimony to the failure her life had so far, a trophy labeled to the person she had pretended to be for years.

Suddenly, Diana realized that in shameless defiance of her innumerable trinkets and the 92,000 miles on her Mustang, she'd spent her entire life going nowhere. The odometer boasted enough miles past to have circled the earth at its equator nearly four times, and somehow she was still stuck in the same redneck city, collecting the same worthless baubles. It struck her that people weren't remembered for the number of gewgaws they bought before death finally stopped them. Hell, most people weren't remembered for anything at all. The only justifiable reason for existence was human interaction, and as Diana admitted that, her wanderlust was instantaneously replaced with an unfamiliar lust of the flesh, and she craved, for the first time, sex and drugs, true love and natural beauty.

And suddenly, she was resolute.

She fingered each keychain absent-mindedly one last time as it made its way into the bin, and eventually to the dump. Pieces from Taiwan and Germany and Orlando Studios alike found themselves ultimately unloved and trashed after so many years of worship and adoration.

Driving away, suddenly free, Diana watched her odometer count each mile closer to her new life with glee.

The Mall and Misery - Broken Bells

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Note on Her Desk, The City in His Rearview.

Myself - 44 Words.
Aaron Dethrage

I look in your eyes and what do I see?
Two emerald green mirrors as deep as the sea.
And in their reflection, so rich, so clear,
Shine all of my demons and all that I fear.

Love requires honesty; you're just my con.

Flume (Bon Iver Cover) - Peter Gabriel

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Nuclear - 455 words.
Mary Ann Loo

hey hey, sorry this is laaaate!! but it's here!! yay~ :D

The last time I saw my cousin Tim, he was a pudgy 14-year-old know-it-all who could not grasp the concept that most people don’t spend half hour trying to figure out the answer to some silly riddle. My brother Andy and I were thoroughly amused by Tim’s posture – his right arm across his chest, supporting his left elbow as he rubbed his furrowed brow in deep contemplation. Think Winnie the Pooh. Think. (Get it?).

I was six when Tim was born, which makes him 21 this October. In teeny tiny Singapore where the odds of running into a familiar face almost anywhere are pretty high, I’m fairly certain Tim and I have crossed paths at least once without realizing. I’m sure I don’t look too different from when I was 20, but seven years is long enough to forget a face you ordinarily see only four times a year – New Year’s Day lunch, Chinese New Year visitations, Grandma’s birthday, and Christmas Day lunch. Perhaps this isn’t odd to you, but considering Tim’s family lives a 10-minute drive away and the fact that he’s my first and only cousin on Dad’s side, it makes me wonder why, as far back as I can remember, our interactions have been few and far between.

Dad has two younger brothers, and if it weren’t for some facial resemblance, you’d wonder how they could possibly be related, let alone have grown up together. Our family gatherings have become so predictable – predictable and pointless. They’d begin by catching up on each other’s lives, but only the surface stuff. Then they’d start talking current affairs, minus their personal opinions. Then they’d run out of things to say, during which Uncle Greg, a decade younger than Dad, starts telling a joke and everyone joins in. Then the jokes run dry, are recycled from previous meet-ups, and eventually a semi-silence ensues. I seriously begin to wonder if this cycle will be handed down to my siblings and me, and admittedly at this point in time, that probability seems disturbingly significant.

Dad shares a three-year gap with Tim’s dad, Uncle Phil, and ever since Grandpa passed away the year I was born, they used to run his electronics business together. “Used to” because the business died six years ago. “Used to” because seven years ago an argument began in the office, which severed whatever brotherly ties they once had.

So I used to ask Tim silly riddles four times a year. And my brother and I used to laugh at his Winnie-the-Pooh pose. And we used to book one of those twelve-seat tables in partitioned rooms in Chinese restaurants. And even though we never neared the ideal, we used to be some sort of family.

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother - Neil Diamond

Friday, March 12, 2010

In The Doghouse...

Wanted – 117 words
Ben Azevedo

He just wanted to go for a walk. But it was cold and rainy outside, and his chances were slim. Despite this, he wandered around the house to each potential walker, querying.

The Man was in his office. He walked up to the Man and made an impetuous noise, somewhere between a grunt and a whine. The Man simply ignored him. So he tried again. Nothing.

The Woman was in the living room reading a book. He tried a different tactic with the Woman. He slowly climbed onto her couch and laid his head on her feet. She looked at him sorrowfully and told him that maybe tomorrow would be bright and sunny and merit a walk.

Salty Dog - Flogging Molly

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Labor - 318 Words
Lindsey Thompson

Annabelle nervously twisted her necklace as she stared at the edge of the sink, waiting. Her necklace, a gift when she turned 16, was a gold heart locket containing two pictures, one of her mother and one of her boyfriend. She would have included her siblings, but she had none, and her father took off with another woman when Annabelle was six. She opened and shut the locket's clasp rhythmically, in time with the ticking grandfather clock that lived just outside the bathroom, clicking gently.

Enough time had passed. With great weight, she moved to the sink and held up a thin white stick. Her breath came in short, shallow spurts as she saw two lines grace her vision. Head reeling, she sat down once again on the closed toilet as her whole body began to shake. Her heart pounded as the grandfather clock announced a new hour.

All Annabelle could think about was labor. The entire nine months of carrying a child, watching what she ate, sleeping only certain ways, staying away from the alcohol she'd been illegally consuming, visits to the doctor, all of that passed her by as she imagined the day she would have to birth the child. When her water broke, would it stain or ruin anything? How long would she be in labor? Couldn't she die of labor or in childbirth or something? What if the baby was turned sideways? She was pretty sure she couldn't birth a baby sideways. And God forbid, what if they don't get to the hospital in time to get an epidural?


She froze her thoughts there. Her boyfriend, her mother, her friends… They would surely not support her, not continue to love her the same way. Filled with scorn, their sympathies would come out of pity.

Her decision was made. There was no way she would make it through labor, she concluded with a sigh.

I Can Feel A Hot One - Manchester Orchestra

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Ghost Leaving the Ghosts

Hit - 323 Words
Kevin Foster

He moved from the rear hallway, dipping through and around party-goers clumped in groups of two and three, sliding in and out of their conversations swiftly and effortlessly, leaving sleepy, inoffensive jokes in his wake as he made his way toward the living room. A rapt girl awaited his return from the bathroom, standing there daintily in her own way on the words that he had left her with. He feigned ignorance of his charm in an attempt to be humble and to avoid abusing it, but it lived and breathed an existence in its own right, and especially at these sorts of functions, the type that indulged all the sagacious half-drunks, the smarmy philosophers in the faux suede of poor professors, and the coy and the artfully playful, sun-dressed and sad, he felt on good nights as a coach for his charm, a smartly-dressed vessel for its will, or as a helpless child latched on the leg of it on the bad. They perceived and appreciated his humility and they loved him all the more.

He made a short path through the small, dimly lit kitchen, wading through smoke and smugness and the deepest conversations of all, a congregation of those who were wise enough not to prolong their life unnecessarily. Emerging from the smoking room, his unmeasured, seemingly unaffected gaze traced an arrow and immobilized her in her spot by the dark hearth, and he flushed with guilt. If he ever knew the girl or anyone else in the house, the knowledge, the warm phantom, had left him. He called to, laughed and cried with, prodded and crushed on, but did not know these people. If they were once real, he would never know; he did not remember what it looked or felt like. Breaking his gaze, the hit of the party floated to the door and swept windlessly into a biting, cold night: unseen, unheard, a ghost leaving the ghosts.

Don't Be Scared - Andrew Bird

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The House with the Purple Door

Found - 460 words
Sarah Van Name

***Note: This may appear to have nothing to do with the word "found," but in my mind, it started out with "found." But then 460 words wasn't enough for me to get to that section. I promise, "found" prompted it!***

Walking into her house after the funeral, even the air felt subdued, like a stage after the last performance of a drama. The door was as bright a purple as it had always been, and the constellations on her ceiling waited for the dark, as they always had, to glow. In the back, browning magnolia leaves floated in the turquoise of the pool.

The house was going to my cousin, but it seemed too soon to discuss the will, so my mom and I volunteered to sort through my nana’s things – at least the drawers and closets, the full places. It was strange to be there without her. My mom opened the screen door to the kitchen. “We should throw out the food in here before it goes bad,” she told me, and pushed up the sleeves of her black dress.

The refrigerator contained a stale loaf of bread, three grapefruit, and butter, unsalted. My nana was not a thin woman. She had always told me, leaning forward on her plump arms, that she would never go without butter, salt, or sugar, no matter what her doctors said. “It is better,” she said to me once at dinner, “to eat real food and die two years early than to spend those two years and the rest of my life surviving off margarine and that Sweet ‘N Low shit.” She then picked up a forkful of pie and opened the lipstick stain that was her mouth, delicately, to savor the cinnamon and fruit.

Three years ago, I visited her and while I was dozing by the pool, she came out to me with some soda and a cookie. I was twelve and starting to inherit her thighs, but I took them anyway. “I wanna tell you something,” she said to me seriously, and laid her hand on my leg. Her palm was as warm and soft as bread dough. “I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been reading the signs” – she gestured to the magnolias, the fleeting goldfish in the pond, the moon emerging from the white Florida sky – “and I’m gonna be dying in” – she squinted as if it was difficult math – “three years or so, from this month. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were summer. August, late August.” I believed her. The chocolate on my tongue tasted like it was from another universe. She tucked back a stray hair from my cheek. “I just don’t want you to be scared.”

She kissed my cheek, leaving a soft red mark, and walked away with the swagger of a woman who has known the secrets of the world. “It would’ve been five years,” she tossed back over her shoulder, “but I couldn’t live without butter.”

Sugar and Spice - Basia Bulat

Monday, March 8, 2010

Missing Home.

British-127 Words
Stephen N. Dethrage

Desperate for lyric inspiration, and in the service of the Her Majesty's British Empire, Devon found himself hopelessly lost, deep within the living, breathing madness of the jungles of India. Innumerable exotic serpents, faster in striking than any other killer, silently surrounded him with their fangs dripping with venom. Muscular, carnivorous jungle cats stalked him, their next meal, and rustled the foliage with a whisper, staying always just out of sight. Monkeys, or birds, or some other forsaken creatures shrieked shriller cries than the loudest banshee of legends and nightmares. Immersed irrevocably in the world depicted by Kipling's masterpiece, with agonizing death on every side, Devon realized precisely the degree to which he took for granted the beauty of the rolling hills of Tennyson, Shakespeare, and Wilde.

The Bones of You (live)- Elbow and the BBC Concert Orchestra

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mom! I'm going to need some new clothes!

Growth - 107 Words
Aaron Dethrage

With a slight push of his toes and a flinch forward from the tickling on his heels by stray carpet fibers, an eleven-year-old Jonathan Turner confirmed that he had finally crossed the 5’ 3” red crayon marking on the living room doorframe. This could only mean one thing, he must have been correct when he told his mother the previous night that the seeds of his green beans were magical bean stalk beans. He was bound for giantdom; he knew it. His thoughts then wandered to if it would just be his legs that grew, or if his whole body would sprout and bloom proportionally.

We Looked Like Giants - Death Cab for Cutie

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Gun - 285 Words
Mary Ann Loo

It lay at the bottom of the empty dumpster, helpless, harmless. It hadn’t moved since it fell from this window a couple hours ago, from my shaking fingers, and the dull thud as it had landed rang in my ears, and even now still resonated somewhere deep within me. I shivered sporadically, even though the summer sun, high in the sky, poured through the window and engulfed me in its warmth. Nobody was around, nobody heard anything, nobody was coming. Not even her ghost.

She lay twenty feet away, a broken shell of who she’d been less than three hours ago, empty and abandoned like the building itself. The blood pool and its distributaries had finally stopped growing, dark and red and contaminated by these dusty floorboards, and they’d already begun to return the favor. The culprit remained motionless in the dirty green dumpster three floors down, unrepentant, unfeeling, leaving me to deal with its mess.

All I wanted was for him to leave her, was it too much to ask? He was everything I dreamed of, everything my imperfections worked and suffered for – and all she did was produce her perfect smile, bat her long lashes and he was completely smitten. I deserved to have all of him, and not share with some skinny twenty-something blonde tramp who could have just as easily wrapped any guy, any rich older guy, around those French-manicured fingers. I deserved the happiness I was entitled to for the past three years. She deserved to die, and she didn’t die beautiful.

The gun lay in the dumpster, stationary, silent. Its contents fully spent, its work complete. I shivered one last time, pulled off my gloves, and left the windowsill.

Bullet Soul - Switchfoot

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Spaces Between Your Fingers

Hold – 171 Words
Ben Azevedo

They were meandering down the sidewalk before her house. The sun had sunk behind the serrated edge of the trees that lined her street. They talked, in the low hushed voices people use to avoid discovery. They talked just to hear each other’s voice, about the weather, or the new movie at the local theater. After all, it was the first night. There was plenty of time for the real talks. Somehow they knew that, despite their youth.

This slowness was difficult though. He had been feigning coolness, participating in the casual discussion as they neared her house. But if he couldn’t do it, if he chickened out, and they reached the door too soon…all would be lost. So, as he casually expressed disinterest in that terrible zombie film (which he was planning to see the next night), his arm began to match the swing of hers.

Their elbows brushed (his heart leapt)

…his pinky hooked hers (he nearly fainted)

......her fingers slid eagerly into his and squeezed (he was Superman!)

Don't I Hold You - Wheat

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Suddenly, She Was Dancing

Letters - 359 Words
Lindsey Thompson

The envelopes fell heavily to the floor as the box tumbled upside-down over the side of the bed. The corners of pages slipped out of the open mouths, and the scent of the past crawled out from hiding. A single, lonely CD rolled out from the bottom, colliding with the leg of the desk and settling on the carpet. Gentle fingers pinched the edges of the disk and placed it into a CD player, pressing pause as she picked up the pieces of the cardboard prison. Melodies and harmonies emanated from the speakers and filled the room with a foreigner’s presence. He sang and drew her attention to the letters that now slumbered in her hands, waiting to be awakened by the trails of her irises, the trace of her fingertips.

Suddenly she was dancing, tossing her amber, curly hair among the stirring air of spring that rushed in and out of her windows. She sang with the voice of this man who she’d forgotten, more out of fear than anger, and she carefully turned the pages of each handwritten thought, rare in the days of typed speech and intangible messages. Each imperfect “e” and sloppy “t” warmed her heart, and her smile as he wrote her name radiated. She held these fragile things closer than life itself for one brief, poignant moment.

A knock, a hand, a face appeared at her door. He smiled to see her so bright. He asked, ignorant, what made her glow today. Sheepishly, she lied through her teeth, putting his name on her happiness. He grinned; she stood still. She took the letters she had dropped at his arrival and replaced them in the box. The music turned the now stagnant air while she filled the box with its abandoned contents and tossed it toward the wastebasket. She promised to be out in a few minutes, and he left her to soak in the song’s sender for a moment longer. She took up a pen and wrote a brief message to herself. She pressed stop on her CD player, picked up her things, and headed out to the man she loved second-most.

io (This Time Around) - Helen Stellar

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Secretary - 285 Words
Kevin Foster

“Janet, could you come to my office for a moment?”

Edwin released the direct-line page button on the telephone that rested amidst the files that cluttered his desk. Turning up the intensity of his lamp with one hand, he pulled his finger eye-level and watched the red tint crawl towards the tip; he had pressed too hard, but he wanted to be sure that this page reached Janet. He had pressed this button with vigor so many times that its dull gray paint had begun to chip away, exposing the tiny light bulb inside that flashed when he received a page from the secretary's desk. He shook his hand as if to extinguish an imaginary fire, but stopped, unaware of his nervousness but deeply affected by it. He clutched at his tie, wondering why he was still wearing it. He knew he had at least fifteen seconds until Janet rounded the hallway's corner and another six or so until the door cracked and her slender face peered in.

Edwin had been staying late at the office with increasing regularity over the past few months. He repeatedly told his wife that the crumbling state of the industry required him to do more to protect his job. This was not a lie, but he took secret pleasure in the quiet of his office at night – the quiet and the darkness. Each night, the shadows that darkened the corner grew and he felt the mystery in the room build, almost palpable anymore; the somberness excited him. He wiped his palms against his slacks, waist-to-knee, twice, as Janet padded down the hallway, her figure opaque through the window by his door becoming more real by the moment.

Shape Shifter - Local Natives

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

When the night turns to blue

Triangle - 388 Words
Sarah Van Name

In our high school all-girl band, I played the triangle. Maria had a lovely voice and Ellen’s fingers on the piano struck sparks, Beth’s careful guitar strums vibrated the very air, but I was bereft of musical talent except for the one, two, three, four that I could feel from my ankles to my teeth. I would not have been able to play the drums. It would have overwhelmed me. But I could listen for an off-beat and hit one thin piece of metal with another just as the voice died out, as the chord resolved. This at least I could do.

Sometimes I helped Beth write the lyrics, too. And I heard my words changed into melody as Maria’s thin body hugged an invisible microphone stand. “When the night turns to blue, I go searching for you,” she sang; the piano shivered, the guitar turned away disappointed, and my triangle bit sweetly into the air as if oxygen were an extraordinary fruit.

After practices like that, I would sit on the porch in the warm summer night, waiting for the mosquitoes to steal away my blood. Insomnia kept me there and I sang the songs in my head, tapping my knee with the rhythm of the triangle. Sometimes, in the delirium of exhaustion, I would start to think about expanding the possibilities of my instrument. I forged metal squares, circles, ovals, diamonds, shapes which had no name twisted like ribbon falling to the floor. One morning after one of those nights, my mother found me in the chair, bites on my calves, colors and shapes and words still swirling about my head in a maelstrom of light and sound.

She could not see these things. So she smoothed the brittle texture of the porch chair from my cheek, told me to wash my hands, and brought me a glass of orange juice. After I was cleaned up, I went to my room and opened the window. I hung the triangle there and hit it once. It sounded lonely, like a lost child.

I had dreamed of it taking the form and hum of the sun, of touching the fire of eternity with my young fingers; the mystical number three, creation stories, a raindrop hitting the ground and forming a silver shape. But it needed a human beat.

Have A Little Faith In Me - John Hiatt

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Idiot

Idiot- 260 Words
Stephen N. Dethrage

She was irregularly beautiful, and that should have been his first clue. Something indistinguishable in her fascinating amber eyes, her flawless golden skin, and the perfect curves of her body simply surpassed the realm of normalcy. And yet, drunk and lusty, he either missed or ignored the inhuman beauty she radiated. In spite of this, as soon as she saw him on his dilapidated barstool in the seedy club she found herself in, she chose him. She ignored his mediocre build, his inexpensive outfit, and the telling gold ring on his finger and ultimately, they left together. In a cheap room in the first hotel they found, their night was full of fire, passion, and pure animalism. She never once thought of the temples that were once built to her, or the carnal conquests of her past, or the vast difference between the men of the twenty-first century and the men of the Heroic Age. For the first time since Adonis died, she truly loved a mortal.

Hours later, disoriented and losing the fight to a pounding headache, Ethan rolled out of bed and pulled on his clothes as quietly as he could. The woman on the bed beside him was truly beautiful, but he wasn't willing to sacrifice his average job or his average marriage for some pretty whore he'd never met. He slipped out the door after one last look at her naked form and vanished into suburbia once more.

In the morning, for the first time in the entirety of her existence, the goddess Aphrodite awoke alone.

Idioteque - Radiohead