Monday, May 31, 2010

Shuddering in the Last Seat on the Left.

Train- 259 Words
Stephen N. Dethrage

The immense steel millipede of modern man crawls along its set path, and in its fifth car, in the last seat on the left, I shudder. Too many things are moving at once. Pistons, cylinders, rods, eight wheels per car, too many cars to count... it's unsettling. Any malfunction is catastrophe, and there are simply too many chances for malfunction. Still, I reasoned that the train would be safer than trying to fly, and in this blizzard, my only option was the lesser of two dangers. The countryside around me would be familiar in another season, but in the middle of a Russian winter, everything is blurred to white, slow mile after slow mile, with no gauge of time or distance traveled. I think of my marriage. The landscape of our love changed from bright and vibrant to dull and universally white. The change was slow, but then one day everything was alien, distinctly different than what was before, until at last, the foreign became the norm. In the end, we derailed, divorced. There were too many things moving at once. Critical, crucial things began to crack, and went unnoticed in the blur of everything set in motion. When the crack finally snapped and things broke that we could not love without, there was no repair to be made. We were lost in momentum. You can hardly change a faulty wheel on a moving train. We crashed. A Catastrophe. Too much motion in the cold. In the last seat of the left, in the fifth train car, I shudder.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Concerned German Mother

Leather - 117 Words
Aaron Dethrage

I've yet to understand why you judge us so,
your wrinkle-scarred brow and your tight-clinched toes,
as if we are, ourselves, to blame.

If time is the teacher of how to heal,
and those years've all vanished with the haze of your fears,
why then, do the days of your hate stay near?

It is my father's father that even recalls the march,
the stiff leather jackets and war-emblemed arms,
their guns like graph lines straight and stark.

Now I have a daughter, eyes blue, coat fair.
I hold her at night, and I twirl her curled hair.
I dream up a world without troubles or care,
but still lingers the judgment in her classmates' cold stares.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Wrapped - 129 words
Mary Ann Loo

It’s funny how
one moment changes everything.
It’s funny how I
never thought of you this way
until you dragged me to the dance floor;
disregarding my very clumsy feet,
you held my hand and
held me close.
It’s funny how we had
365 chances to meet for coffee,
catch a movie,
build a friendship,
but were wasted on mere hi’s and bye’s.
Yet each one led to this night –
we talked
and laughed
and soon the sun rose
and then we had to say
It’s funny
how I never really saw you before,
now I
can’t get you out of my mind.
And I wish I had reveled in the way it felt
when you wrapped an arm around me
and I began to fall
for you.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Collar – 139 Words
Ben Azevedo

He ran a finger along the inside of his collar one more time, trying to cool his neck, flattening the tag. This shirt was no different than the other ones he had to wear in the hot summer sun, except for the color, which seemed to attract only the hottest of the sun’s light. He would much rather have gone shirtless and run rampant and carefree through the summer. Those days were over, though. Instead, he wore this shirt-with-a-collar and let the sun etch its marks onto his skin; dark sleeves for his forearms, a preacher’s collar around his neck, and a facemask the color of rich brown soil. Everything the shirt covered stayed blank and undeveloped. He sighed and surrendered to this with the same cheerful amiability to which he had surrendered to so many of life’s responsibilities.

Growin' Up - Bruce Springsteen

Thursday, May 27, 2010

His Arms Are Heavy

Bow - 214 Words
Lindsey Thompson

I don’t know what I’m supposed to say. Every thought, every beginning, disappears like mist beneath a summer sky or cats into shadows. I grasp my necklace, create some empty phrases that appear as hollow as they feel, then erase them just as quickly from the page as I placed them. The summer weather is beginning to stick to my skin, and I can feel the south claiming me. The first lightning bugs will be out soon, and then I will forget about you.

It’ll be about four years, come next week, since that day we went to the park. The water glistened with the sun of July, and we sat on the grass as the wind pushed the blades and the waves across the surface of our world. The sun set, and we sat on a tree branch to watch it go, the tree’s arm bowed with the memories of other children and other sunset, other seats and other kisses that mirrored and rivaled our own.

That tree was cut down six months ago; the branch finally gave way under the weight of drunk teenagers, and one jack-ass got a broken arm. Truth be told, I was glad to see it go; I couldn’t see it but feel your breath next to me.

The Walk - Imogen Heap

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

she thought the white would like especially nice with the red leaves in the fall

Pillar - 498 words
Kevin Foster

Despite the kids' protests, they bought the house with the help of a substantial loan from the bank and a down payment sneaked out of the fifteen-year-old boy's college fund. The kids did not like the house for several reasons. The youngest, six, believed wholeheartedly that the house was haunted; why, she never said, though the wife secretly believed that the house – the mansion, the massive plantation – had a dirty pallor that made her uncomfortable. The wife had already decided that the first order of business would be to strip what was left of the tortured paint from the three-story facade and restore the house's purity. The nine-year-old girl flatly refused to see the pictures her parents had brought back after their first and only visit. The eldest boy, who did not know about the down payment, had only one experience with a person from the South, a pretty Georgian girl whom he had met at summer camp a year earlier, held hands with one night and realized the next day that her accent grated his ears. Unimpressed with what the state had offered him so far, he also did not want to move to Georgia. All three detested being marshaled into the South, or more truthfully, away from the friends they had known for their short, but entire lives in Minnesota. They did not understand a move for a job, a move for new opportunities, for the money that would send them all to school. As the rest of the family clambered out of their minivan, the father noticed the lone pillar that stood on the right side of the front porch and disappeared two stories up into the third. He had noticed the imbalance before but forgot. As he chased after the wife, who was shepherding the children into the home, he forgot again.

Within six months, the restoration was well under way. Over the summer, they had modernized the house, adding amenities they could now afford; a new air-conditioning unit, modern refrigerator and dish-washer in the kitchen, and the entire house was rewired so that their television could be moved from the bedroom to the living room. In August, the children had gone back to school, affording the wife time to take to the house's face with a scraper, so she toiled away as the atmosphere slowly cooled and the surrounding forest's leaves turned red and fell. She saved the pillar for last, as it would prove the most difficult to fix. Even if she could have seen it, she would not have noticed the pillar's rotting fringes, eroded by moisture, colonies of termites, time. When the pillar bitterly sighed and surrendered to the weight of its load, the rest of the house followed it, carrying the husband and the youngest daughter into its carcass. The other three were in town at a hardware store, waiting impatiently for the clerk checking the back for more gallons of white paint. They would need many.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Blood and Music

String – 483 words
Sarah Van Name

I am seven. Running into the crash of a wave, I cut my foot on a sharp shell. Apart from the pain of saltwater in the cut, I am afraid that sharks are going to attack. I don’t even bother to take off my goggles as I run to the shore. There’s just a small spot of red staining the sand, but it hurts and I sniffle and hug my dad’s leg. Off in the distance, a skinny pale teenage boy plucks at a guitar ineffectually, strumming the same three chords in the major key of a radio hit.

I never meant to get married this early, but I am twenty-four and planning my wedding with my mother. I want an autumn wedding. I want that spark of cold air in my lungs, I want to be awake. “How about the 15th?” I say, looking at a calendar. My mother clears her throat like she does before she talks to me about sex or doctors. “You want to make sure you’re not in your – ” she raises her eyebrows – “time of the month. It’s a white dress.” I wince.

When I’m fourteen, we do a writing exercise describing how we want to die. It’s morbid, but fascinating. The stocky muscled boy says in a car crash 120 miles per hour, or jumping out of a plane, and after the way he sweeps back his hair I don’t even think of it as a cliché. A girl with black eyes says suddenly and without any warning. My roommate knows with more precision than anyone here, but she lies smooth as a con man: quiet and without any fuss. I feel like I can see the cuts on her thighs through her jeans, but I say nothing. I echo the desires of millions before me and say: surrounded by love.

I am eighty; even the future can’t cure blood in the lungs; my daughter sings to me in the light-filled room, and I get my wish.

The summer after my fifty-fifth birthday, I go to Zelenogradsk, Russia. The oil and acid in the water shift into patterns of terrifying beauty and move with sighs and undulations. Miles across the bay, a nightclub pulses with the same beat. In the shower that night, I cut my leg shaving and find the sheet stained with a bright smear of blood the next morning.

A madman on the street, hair adrift in beads and hot hands outstretched for coins, tells me about string theory when I’m just seventeen. The grey-bearded violinist outside the coffee shop plays a sonata, a car drives by shaking the ground with its bass, and the summer sun caresses my back. “Everything is connected,” the madman says in the gravel tongue of a prophet, and though for now the future is an itch in my blood I can’t scratch, I know he is right.

Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl – Broken Social Scene

Monday, May 24, 2010

Scarred but Stronger.

Clash- 101 words
Stephen N. Dethrage

Your sharp words are a bugle sounding and my curt response is the first volley of arrows. This argument is a war and our kitchen is the battleground. Our words slash and cut, we bleed and we bleed. Love seems lost; hope has vanished. Then a lone tear, unwelcome and unbidden, streams down your cheek and our battle lines falter. Your sobs are the hoisted white flag, my embrace is unconditional surrender. When the crying stops at last and we break apart again, our kiss seals the treaty, and we survive another skirmish, scarred but stronger, tear stained but smiling still.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Space Suits Don't Come With Ties.

Rocket - 80 Words
Aaron Dethrage


When we are young, we exist formlessly, told to become


anything we desire, encouraged even to become astronauts--bleached
pockets of air stark against a starry, midnight
sky. However, the world slowly intervenes, gnawing


away our ambitions and childhood fantasizing,
grounding us to one place,
one job, one desk.


Our feet--like



We are reckless and wonderful creatures, something we must try never to forget.

Six Days At the Bottom of the Ocean - Explosions in the Sky

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Sweet Kind of Saltiness

Lantern - 486 words
Mary Ann Loo

“I knew you’d be here,” he said, stepping through the doorway into the chamber atop the old lighthouse.

“I knew you’d find me here,” she said, staring out into the black sea. “Turn off the flashlight, Jarrod. If you’re staying."

He complied, squinting in the sudden darkness and fumbling as he settled himself beside her. His arm leaned against hers, but she didn’t pull away like she usually did when he sat too close. She was probably too distracted to notice, or she welcomed his presence. Either way, he was pleased. They sat in silence, listening to the waves crash upon the rocky shore, the wind whispering in their ears as it ruffled their hair.

She said, “Thanks for coming to the funeral.”

“Anytime,” he replied, and hastily added, “Well, I don’t actually mean ‘anytime’…”

“It’s alright, Jarrod.” She drew in her knees and hugged them. “It’s strange. I always thought I’d be happy when he’s gone, but now that he is, I really don’t know what I feel.” She absently twirled her short straight blond hair.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

She sighed, and even though he couldn’t quite see her, he knew she was subtly wiping tears away.

She cleared her throat. “My dad and I never got along. He was always angry, always complaining, always criticizing. I never wanted to be like him, but sometimes I see him in me, and I hate it.”

“You know I think you’re great, Sarah,” Jarrod said.

He felt the coolness of the night air against his arm as she shifted slightly away from him. He swallowed his disappointment, and said, “I’m sorry. Go on.”

Sarah continued, “My dad grew up in this very lighthouse. Coming here kinda reminds me that he’s human, you know; he was once a kid, he fell in love, he had dreams.” She sniffed, and her voice cracked even as she tried to keep it together. “But he always made me feel like I don’t deserve to be happy, like I’m not good enough.” She smeared the backs of her hands across her cheeks, trying in vain to stop the tears. “That’s why I can’t be with you, Jarrod. You’re perfect, and I don’t deserve you.”

Her confession startled him. He’d been in love with her three years now, but every time he tried to make a move, she’d back away, or she’d tell him she wasn’t interested. A year ago she started keeping her distance, so when she called him two days ago asking him to come to her father’s funeral, the question “Why?” had plagued him ever since.

She was sobbing now, and shrinking further from him. Despite his instinct to back off, conditioned from her numerous rejections, he reached out and gathered her into his arms. And then somehow – he didn’t know how – his lips found hers, and all he tasted was a sweet kind of saltiness.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Hipster Hoagie

Sandwich - 168 Words
Ben Azevedo

I have a special treat for you. Today I am going to show you how to make the most pretentious sandwich ever.

First, the bread. Obviously for the most pretentious sandwich ever you have to have the most pretentious bread ever. This may sound like an easy task, but it is. Pretentious bread is made by using only the tallest wheat in the field. ONLY the tallest.

Second, the meat. Oh wait, this is a pretentious sandwich, which means it’s also a vegan sandwich. Yup, that’s right, no roast beef for you. Have fun chewin’ on that air.

Ok, now it’s time for the lettuce. You’ll want to make sure you’ve got completely, 100%, farmer guaranteed, eco friendly, chemical free lettuce. This can only be found in one place. You guessed it, the most pretentious farm in existence. Oh, they also make the pretentious bread. In fact, they have a trendy and fashionable café right NEXT to the pretentious farm, and they will make the sandwich for you.

Scat Sandwich - Space Ghost

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Legend of the Great White Kite

Kite - 400 Words
Lindsey Thompson

Once upon a time, there was a glorious, massive kingdom full of mountains that shimmered gold against the sun, forests that rustled with life, and rivers that sang each morning and roared with waterfalls after the rain. All who lived within the kingdom were grateful to the sun each morning it rose, the clouds for each drop of rain, and thanked the souls of the animals and plants that fed them every day. For every living thing has a soul, the inhabitants believed, and in return for their respect the animals served as friends and companions.

But the animal that no man could keep but every man wished to see was the Great White Kite. With eyes bright amber burning in his snowy head, the Kite was the messenger to the sun, the tamer of the winds, and the one who summoned the storms. His vast wings would shimmer a powerful silver whenever bad fortune was near, so the people of the kingdom looked to him as the warning sign.

Whenever one beheld the Kite, he ran and told all of the nearby villagers what color the Kite’s wings were and any words he had said or been given. One year, a young boy beheld the Kite, shining a pure white and holding in a powerful talon one succulent strawberry. After one loud call, the Kite was back to the skies, but that was the year that strawberries grew in every field, and no child went without food, for the strawberries were both the tastiest and the healthiest mankind had ever seen. Yet another year, an old woman saw the Kite in mourning, head bowed and wings a dark grey as storm clouds formed overhead. He stood next to the body of a once lively and well-loved fox, taken by a virulent disease. Silent, he flew into the trees and watched the woman weep, turning to heaven as she walked slowly back to the village. For seven months, man, woman, child, and beast died, leaving the kingdom devastated.

After a few hundred years, the people began to hunt the Great White Kite, believing that with its death, the sun and winds and clouds would not know what was done in the kingdom. With bows made of the arms of unwilling trees and strings made of protesting animals' sinews, men shot at the heavens and swore that the earth was theirs.

Speed of Sound - Angry String Orchestra

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Double Post!

An apology before my post(s): I fled to the boonies after my schoolwork was finished and experienced a very pleasant week sans internet (except to play Civilization IV with some friends). I have since returned to Stacheville and chained myself back up to my computer. Barring some internet- or Kevin-destroying disaster, there should be no more lapses in posting this summer. Thanks for your imaginary patience.

Kevin Foster

Balloon – 135 words (5/19/10)

He knew he was approaching nine-hundred feet because the air was noticeably colder, thinner, though he could feel the heat of the burner lick at his face. If the sun hadn't gone down or he hovered over a city, he would have seen the fields turn into a checked board, but he was tired of lights which is one reason he liked to fly at night. His chest stung as he took in the darkness through his nose; he liked it, the curious feeling of the cool, dry air and the lingering warmth of the propane fire. He tried to recreate it in his car, flying down the highway in the winter with the windows rolled down while unleashing the fire of the engine on his feet, but it wasn't the same and backwards besides.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Prequel to Adulthood

306 words – Dress

Sarah Van Name

I never told you this, Eleanor, but I liked the way you wore your dress that day. Even though the girls made fun of you for being so pale, I thought the blue complemented your skin perfectly. It hugged your waist and flared out at your knees. You looked so…classy, I guess, and it fit the way you sat in the lawn chair and sipped lemonade.

I was surprised you came at all, given the drama. Ryan and Will had been tense at school, making stupid comments at each other between classes, something about Sam and our prom after-party. It was her house we were at, and she sat with those two on either side of her like the queen you were. She was tanned already, dark and supple and smiling. It had been such a hot spring, and we were all tired of each other. We just wanted to get to graduation and out of the South.

I was watching Sam’s little sister do a cartwheel in the grass when I heard the voices escalate, and then a shriek from Sam. When I turned around, Ryan and Will were throwing punches at each other, fighting with the awkward rage of two strong guys who have never fought anyone before. Sam was shouting at them to stop, and you sat there in your infinite calm, looking just past them with squinted eyes at an invisible horizon.

I heard a punch connect. A grunt, a curse. But I was looking at you, Eleanor.

A tooth splashed from a mouth and landed at your feet. With the serenity of an empty swimming pool, you rose and opened the gate just enough to let your thin hips slip through, leaving me with the beautiful ghost of your white body, blue dress, and the chaos in the hot May sun.

Faster Side of Normal - Ben Lee (Daytrotter Session)

Monday, May 17, 2010


Reflex- 275
Stephen N. Dethrage

Lover of my recent past,

I lost my job today. I was not treated unfairly, so don't fret. This morning was my fifth day in a row to come in late, and I'm merely surprised this didn't come earlier in the week. The alarm clock sounded on time, as it has every day I've been tardy, but I slapped the snooze button, and rested for another half hour. To call this ritual a habit does it a serious injustice. It's more than that. Reflex is really the only suitable word to describe it. I can control it no more than I can control the direction of the wind. My right hand, as it reaches to fumble over the buttons every morning, has lagged behind my mind, and is yet to grasp that you aren't there any longer to rise out of bed and shower after the alarm's first ring. Four years of doing the same thing every time that incessant beeping dragged me out of the stupor of sleep can probably never be reversed.

It isn't that I haven't accepted that you're gone, I promise. I know you're with a better man when you wake each morning, and that he'll do a better job of treating you like the goddess you are, but that doesn't change anything.

Don't misunderstand, this is not a plea for you to come back to me and make everything normal once more. It's just a notification. An update.

It's very hard without you.

I wish you'd tell me that it's hard for you, too, so I didn't feel so pathetic.

At any rate, I love you.

Expect another letter tomorrow.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Train-Tracked Lives.

Destiny - 23 Words
by: Aaron Dethrage

Old childhood joys–tenebrous train toys and towering marble mazes–all mirror our destinies. With increasing speed and terror-filled eyes, we fly.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Meaning - 221 words
Mary Ann Loo

“Is your suitcase locked?” the TSA agent asks, taking it from me.

“No,” I answer.

She asks, “Does it contain any weapons?"

I know she’s referring to knives and guns and whips the like. But then when you really think about it, pretty much anything can be used as a weapon, even though they don’t necessarily possess the harmful characteristics stereotypically associated with what we label as “weapons”.

Dior Addict 2 can have the similar smarting-eye effects like pepper spray. A towel when completely drenched and twisted lengthwise immediately morphs into a whip, and according to Shanghai Noon is strong enough to bend bars. The tweezers in my toiletries bag can take someone’s eye out, or puncture their jugular artery, provided I know how to find it. A denim jacket, or any piece of clothing, can be used to smother someone. A leather waist belt can easily be pulled and tightened around someone’s neck. Steel-toed Dr. Martens can cause some real damage to a man’s baby-making instruments. Painkillers or sleeping pills in large quantities can ease one into eternal slumber, or at the very least you could develop an Advil addiction.

So yeah, I do have weapons in my suitcase. But I say, “No.” Don’t invite trouble; just catch your plane back to Nashville, and get some sleep that isn’t drug-induced.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bad Luck for the Boys of the Town

Crossed - 241
Ben Azevedo

Jack woke up exactly one minute before his alarm. He groaned and stared into the bright and painful LED screen until it went off. 5:00 AM.

The latch to the door rotated slowly and released its tenuous hold on the frame with a soft click. The boy stepped into the kitchen. Bathed in the soft glow of the microwave, he silently cursed. 1:45 AM. He would need to be awake in a few hours for school.

She had been up all night. She was nocturnal after all. And if the captors acquiesced to letting her out in the afternoon, she’d be damned if she let herself be caught before the next day. She licked her pink nose and tasted morning.

Shower. Clothes. Breakfast. Briefcase. And Jack was out the door, heading at a steady pace to the bus stop. Three streets to cross.

The boy wasn’t awake yet. What was wrong? Raised voices roused him and he remembered the night before. Shit. Had to get to class. The bus stop was one street over, right across from the city bus stop. 10 minutes.

The morning progressed. It had been a good night; she had left the spoils of her adventure for the captors to enjoy. Now she wandered the streets, drawn towards a cause she didn’t understand.

At one moment, they converged. The yellow school bus headed south, the white city bus north. And the black cat crossed their paths, west.

Black Cat - Mayday Parade

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Man Whose Name was Anonymous

Lack - 221 Words

Lindsey Thompson

He didn’t have much. He was a man of simple needs, so it mattered very little that his phone only had numbers and his source of music was the beat-up Diskman he had rescued from a trash compactor in a friend’s apartment. His only access to the internet was through a laptop he described as “older than Jesus,” but it ran just fine for word processing. If he needed more, he went to the library.

He would walk to his local bakery every morning to buy one sweet roll with a cup of coffee and then to stroll to the park. It was there that he sat and typed for hours, occasionally deleted his entire progress (sometimes from displeasure, other times from a dying battery). Once the battery died, he stopped typing and traversed the town to sit at his post as the translator for a major restaurant. His clothes hung in a locker—black slacks, shined shoes, a white collared shirt and black skinny tie—and were always clean and pressed.

After closing, he strolled home with the leftovers the cooks always sent with him. He crawled into bed, plugged in his laptop for another day’s writing, and would gaze at the ceiling until Morpheus took him.

He lacked nothing, he would think as he drifted sleepily, except, perhaps, a dog.

Dogs - Damien Rice

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Double Post!

An apology before my post(s): I fled to the boonies after my schoolwork was finished and experienced a very pleasant week sans internet (except to play Civilization IV with some friends). I have since returned to Stacheville and chained myself back up to my computer. Barring some internet- or Kevin-destroying disaster, there should be no more lapses in posting this summer. Thanks for your imaginary patience.

Kevin Foster

Wealth - 60 Words
Kevin Foster

He passed a wrinkled twenty dollar bill to the cashier and asked for two tickets. She thought that this was antiquated and stupid, as her parents supported her and he worked, but as always when she said, “Quit spending your money on me,” he squeezed her and said, “That's why I have it, kiddo,” and he wasn't lying.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Stand - 15 words
Sarah Van Name

I stand in the carbonated sunlight – barefoot, softened by love – and you open the door.

Settler - Balmorhea

Monday, May 10, 2010

Until You're Ready, It's Mine.

Withheld- 134
Stephen N. Dethrage

I do not lie to you. If memory serves, I never have looked you in the eyes and lied to you, and today is not the time to start. Still, when you ask me if I think we'll make it through the dark times all around us and end up together on the other side, I don't tell the whole truth. I want to sing to you, reassure you, drop to one knee and thrust the ring that I've fiddled with for the past five months into your hands and make you see that the answer is yes, yes, eternally yes. Instead, I keep the truth deep inside, and wait for the day that you'll be ready for it. I shrug a bit, offer a small smile, and say that I certainly hope so.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Bingeing and Purring (The One Who Starts The Fire)

Stride - 360 Words
Aaron Dethrage.

"Of all God's creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the lash.
That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve
the man, but it would deteriorate the cat." - Mark Twain

A grey cat strode confidently across the sun-warmed, hardwood floors that lie in front of the big bay window in my den. Her head was cocked ever-so-slightly upward–as cats often do when they realize that the world they live in is theirs to control. Her white, mittened paws noiselessly joined and detached from the floor with each perfect pace. It was as if roots–ancient and sturdy–were jetting into the ground to insure her balance and grace, and then were effortlessly removed, leaving no trace of their assistance behind. A droplet of milk hung firmly to her longest right-side whisker, remnants of her previous indulgences, undoubtedly being preserved for later enjoyment with unquestionable intentionality.

However, the intentionality of my state or that of the house were much more debatable topics. There were ashes in the fireplace that had been there for weeks, scarring the granite stone chamber, which mirrored the stray hairs that spread like plague across my face and down my neck. Papers are strewn about the room and my desk like the toys of a toddler–important, loved, discarded, forgotten. One scrap lay crumpled and haphazardly isolated from the majority of the mess, so I sat my empty wine glass on the table and retrieved it, pressing out the creases with my hand. I fumbled my pockets for my glasses to help return my focus.

Bingeing and Purring
Walter J. Sawyer
November 12, 2009

We drink alone, the cat queen and I.
Her saucers of milk, my glasses of wine
That sing songs of crystal
As they poison my mind.

It matters not that the sun hangs high,
Lighting the lands that beneath her gaze lie.
Now that you're gone, your scent, your bones,
We answer to no one, the cat queen and I.

I poured my third or fourth drink of the day. There would be another fire that night.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Trial - 320 words
Mary Ann Loo

The darkness descended upon the Interstate without any warning, even as I watched the sun set in my rearview mirror, and the sky turn a deeper shade of blue. One minute I could still distinguish the silhouettes of trees against the darkened sky, and the next it was pitch black. Only the lines on the road were visible, lit by the headlights of my roommate Steven’s Lexus. The AC in my VW Jetta wasn’t working, which didn’t bother me, but Dad’s really fussy, so Steven and I had swapped rides for the day.

Shortsighted with severe astigmatism, I have somewhat of an issue with night-blindness. And it didn’t help that I grew up in teeny tiny Singapore where even the most deserted streets are sort of lit. This extreme lack of lighting on the I-40, between Memphis and Nashville, was honestly freaking me out.
“Just follow the lines, and you’ll be fine,” Mateo said from the front passenger seat. Glancing in the rearview, all I saw was black with yellow specks, the headlights of some vehicle far behind me. I couldn’t tell if Dad was still asleep like he’d been before night officially began, and the last thing I needed at this point was more unnecessary feedback on my apparently not-so-great driving.

“Oh my God, it is so freakin’ dark,” I said.

Mateo said, “You’re doing fine.”

Dad didn’t comment; even if he’d been awake, he wasn’t accustomed to offering words of encouragement or affirmation anyway.

I managed by some grace from above to get us back to Nashville, and as I pulled up in the hotel parking lot, Annabelle said, “Thanks for driving, sis.”

Dad silently exited the car and collected his bag from the trunk. As he passed my window, which I had rolled down to say bye, he simply said, “Don’t forget to thank Steven for the car.” And he disappeared with my sister into the building.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Ship in Grim Silence bears the Wave's Lashes

Lashes - 409

Ben Azevedo


The man cried out as the salt-encrusted rope struck him. Mr. Farley, the first mate, squinted down at the man on the deck. The whip had raised a welt, but hadn’t broken the skin. People were so soft these days. Crying about nothing. The captain raised his arm again.


Another scream. Mr. Farley shook his head. His own back was covered in a map of scars from exactly the same treatment. Except in his day, the whip would have left cuts. Hell, a man would have been killed for doing what this blackguard had done.


None of that “walking the plank” bullshit either. Maybe in the glory days there was time for silly games like walking the plank, but those days were long gone. No, these days it was just a shot to the head, or a quick slash. Pirates didn’t have time for games.


There was no scream this time; the man appeared to have lost consciousness. The captain looked at Mr. Farley with disgust. Mr. Farley shrugged. The captain dropped the whip on the man’s raw back and stalked into his chamber. Mr. Farley looked around and shouted at the men to get back to work.

Inside the ship

Captain’s Log: May 1887

It’s been 47 days since we left port. I whipped a man today for speaking of mutiny. I was barely hitting him, but he passed out. I don’t remember where we picked him up. Mr. Farley is the only original crewmember left anyway. The rest were killed or were smart enough to get off this godforsaken boat. Can’t leave so I’m hoping for death.

The captain returns his pen to the inkwell and flips idly through his journal.

October 1875

We have survived our first raid! We are all rich! I have ordered the ship back to England so I may tell Amy of the news. Oh with this fortune I shall soon be able to buy us a house and retire to the country!

November 1875

We are leaving England. Amy has renounced me. I brought her a gold necklace from a French schooner, and she told me she never wanted to see my face again. As she turned her tear-stained face to leave the room, I watched a single lash drop from her beautiful eyes to the floor. I sealed it within the necklace and left.

The captain sighs heavily and absently traces the locket around his neck.

The Story of Benjamin Darling, Part 1 - State Radio

Thursday, May 6, 2010

New Life

Depth - 208 Words

Lindsey Thompson

He stared out of the porthole as he observed the schools rush by his window, analogous to his counterpart above the water. His well-oiled joints allowed his metallic fingers to drum methodically and swiftly upon the countertop of his only table. Being inorganic certainly had its advantages, such as low energy supplement requirements and minimal aesthetic furniture—though even androids had a sense of feng shui. His abode handled the water pressure of the ocean depth with perfect adequacy, and since very little air circulation was necessary for operation, the needs of the habitat were also very low.

On day 14,579 of his experimenting with colonization preparations deep under water, he began optimizing his space by eliminating waste from the previous inhabitant. Oh yes, there had been 3 predecessors to his leadership, all ending with melodramatic failures of historic proportions of which, for obvious reasons, the company funding experiments should remain ignorant. As he incinerated gratuitous data, he rediscovered a small, leather notebook belonging to Android 1, the contents of which he had unwittingly omitted from his previous purges. He swiftly opened the notebook to a random page:

How incomprehensible, the depth of life, that can dwarf this ocean floor into a tide pool at a child’s feet!

Life in Technicolor - Coldplay

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

who erases with a foam paint roller?

Roller - 120 words
Kevin Foster

The family gathered to paint the son's room after he departed in January. With the sister's marriage looming the following summer, they would need the extra space for the fiancé's family to sleep. They were all embarrassed by the room's state. Its walls had been painted a deep blue, especially somber in the glow of a lamp, then covered in disillusioned phrases scribbled in silver sharpie. The family laughed less and less about the room, and the anger, and when he was gone they decided to paint it back to white. One coat in February, another in March, again and again they painted; the words could be covered, but the somber blue gave the new white walls a strange hue.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How I've Never Had All of Myself in One Place

52 words - Chained
Sarah Van Name

I consider them not chains but ribbons, stretching between two pushpins on a map. Not even chains: phone records, text messages, Internet gobbledigook. Now I feel the people behind them coalescing here, pushpins pushing closer; if I were so lucky, I would wait years before I asked the stars for anything again.

When You Walk In the Room - Fyfe Dangerfield

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ignoring the Signs.

Regardless- 224
Stephen N. Dethrage

I know they're the kind of kids Mom always warned me about. The ones who didn't have a good family situation and never knew Jesus and allowed media's evil influence to irrevocably corrupt their hearts. Who else would reaching out to me now, needle in hand, daring me to try a hit and touch the sky? I imagine the hand that reaches out is not a hand at all, but the claws of some demon, wrapped sinisterly around that syringe, tempting and trapping me with promises of euphoric mayhem. I know all this, deep within me. I have an unprecedented awareness of the consequence of this one decision in all things to come.

"Damn it all," I think aloud.

I realize I haven't been breathing. I gulp air in, and release it, feigning calmness, and take the syringe. The prick that follows is in slow motion, and the plunger seems to take hours to finally depress and send the last of the drug coursing through me. It effects me in unbelievable ways, and the scales fall from my eyes, and the horns of the kids beside me are suddenly evident, along with his red skin, yellow eyes, bared fangs, fiery breath... His laugh is a cackle, and the others join him, and I tremble.

Mom was right about them all.

Sideways - Citizen Cope

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fuel for the Fire

President - 373 Words
by: Aaron Dethrage

Growing up, my father always dreamed of being the President of the United States.

He had it all mapped out. He would excel in school, rising to the top of his class. He would go to prestigious institution to obtain a law degree, exemplifying his diligence and aptitude. He would spend a decade becoming a revered and powerful attorney, building his reputation as a persuasive and intelligent speaker. Then, finally, he would begin his slow but progressive political climb–first as mayor, then governor, then congressman, then Chief.

A solid plan, noble and filled with good intentions and an idealized future for his children and theirs to flourish in.

However, this plan, like most plans–like all plans–dissolved into a distorted fairy-tale-of-a-life that could have been. An excellent scholastic record was replaced by wild friends, fast cars, and debauchery they create. His desire for a law degree was blurred by the seductions of wanderlust and the call of adventure. The decade of diligent progress towards his goal was a decade spent losing himself, finding himself, and losing himself again.

I’m not sure that even he is fully aware of why he ended up living in Anniston, working in real estate and buried in debt, but rather than a big, white house on Pennsylvania Avenue, he currently resides in a humble, beige one on Timuquana Lane.

Now, by all accounts he should be considered a failure. His political career culminated into nothing more than a single term as mayor in a city afraid of change. However, might it be possible that a man’s true accomplishments aren’t measured by how successful his plan was but rather by what he did with his failures?

Amidst the chaos that was his life–that is found in all of our lives–my father married and had three children, all smart, healthy and ambitious. To call such fortune “failure” seems ridiculous to me.

So here I sit, full of my own dreams and plans to achieve them, buried under the pressure of how I might do so. Still, I find peace in the realization that I am a child of failure and that I too will do great things, my failures fueling my success.

No Surprises (Radiohead Cover) - Marrisa Nadler (feat. Black Hole Infinity)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A whole lot of maybes.

Detour - 415 words
Mary Ann Loo

Twelve days ago, I turned 27. I look maybe 21, and age is really just a number, but part of me can’t help wondering if I’d settle the important things like career-path and marriage prospects by the time I turn 30. Sure, a lot can happen in three years, but we’re all aware of time’s ability to sneak by so quickly that some random event a year ago can feel like it happened only yesterday. I remember when I was 6, I wanted to be a visual artist; then Mom changed my mind to “doctor”. At 11 I wrote many stories. At 13 I adored Jim Carrey and wanted to be funny like him. At 14 I dreamt of being a Hollywood actress. 15 – a singer. 16 – songwriter. 18 and applying for college – a psychiatrist. 19 and a Psychology major – a psychologist. Pretty soon graduation was two semesters away, and I began an acting career, which I freelanced for a year, and was pretty good at it, until behind-the-scenes work started appealing to me. At 23 I was a props person for one project, then went into retail fulltime at 24, during which Mom asked if I’d like to go back to school. I’d be stupid to not say yes.

So now I’m at the end of Semester Four, pursuing songwriting, sitting in my third Nashville apartment, mulling over the detours in my haphazard life. A little over six months ago, I ended a two-and-a-half-year-long relationship with a great guy I’d presumed was The One. A little over one-and-a-half months ago, I visited a Honduran orphanage, and returned feeling like everything here was pointless. A little over a week ago, I picked up smoking again. I have no idea what I’m doing, no clue where my life is headed, not even sure if I’d ever really love some guy enough to spend the rest of my life with him.

I believe everyone has their own path, the route they’re supposed to take, but we all get sidetracked from time to time. Then again, what if these events aren’t detours at all, but part of the road itself? Would I be here if I’d be more consistent with my choices and more focused on certain goals? Would I still be who I am today? Maybe my life would’ve been better, maybe worse. Maybe I’d be married to The One, maybe some jerk.

Whatever. Right now I need to get off this detour and do some homework.