Wednesday, June 30, 2010

quit smiling!

Trend - 48 words

Kevin Foster

I'm starting to see a trend, here, John. It seems that each day you show up a little later, looking a little more haggard. Of course, then there's the inventive, but inappropriate cursing. Inventive, but totally inappopriate. Why are you smiling, John? This is a bad trend, here.

Let's Get Lost - Elliot Smith

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Boxing Day

Carve - 390 words
Sarah Van Name

“You can carve up anything with a knife,” he said with a wolf’s grin as he showed off the blade between his fingers. He whipped it shut with a satisfying click. “I could cut out your eyes!” He reached over to grab her glasses and she wriggled away, laughing and only a little unnerved, but his hands ended up around her waist and he pulled her closer. “But seriously. Thanks, baby, I like it a lot.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I would never cut out your eyes.” He reached up to smooth back a stray hair. “They’re too beautiful.”

“Cheeseball,” she said, and laughed, and swung away from him like a boomerang.

It was the day after Christmas and warm, almost hot, so she was wearing the dress he had bought her (with the help of his mother) and the park was empty. She sat down on a swing and pushed herself back and forth. He was still dangling his legs over the edge of the play structure. He looked at her going higher and higher, her long hair unraveled by gravity and wind, and wanted to say something but didn’t know what.

But that feeling was okay – he took a certain level of confusion for granted when it came to her, and began to cut a crooked heart into the wooden column with the idea of putting their initials around it. “Look, see,” he shouted to her, “you can cut anything with this knife!”

And as she felt the forces of gravity and wind, and watched the way his eyes squinted into the brightness of the sky, she wanted to say something but didn’t know what.

“No,” she shouted back, “you can’t.”

If she’d been able to find the words, she might have told him that you can’t cut air, or water, or time.

If he had been a poet, or older, he might have caught her on the downswing and told her that he wanted to save that day –the warmth of the sky on her skin and her new cotton dress – and cut away a piece of it to relive in later years. And she could have told him that it was impossible.

You can’t carve happiness. Happiness can only leap from place to place, of its own accord and shining, like a child playing hopscotch in the sun.

Crystalised - the xx

Monday, June 28, 2010

Spike- 210
Stephen N. Dethrage

A familiar phantom feeling arose when I parked at the house you once lived in again today. A sense of displacement and oddity that resulted from dwelling too long on the idea that you no longer live inside the home I stopped by. For only a moment, a moment that was like a sudden spike on a flat-lined EKG, I imagined you sitting inside, watching the television or surfing the web or having some cereal, and everything was normal, but you are no longer within, and the heartbeat of what once was stops again. I let myself in the back, the way you once showed me, so that I didn't need the code for the realtor's lockbox on the front door. Once inside, the only things that awaited me inside were ancient things, and buried things. A memory of the sound the floor made, the way your bedroom smelled, the color of your bathroom walls. You're gone, and I know that, but the realization is still an alien thing to me, and standing where we used to stand, then collapsing to my knees and crying like I always do, I am left alone with a long history of memories, and phantom feelings, and those damned spikes, few and far between.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Like a Crack in the Wall, Starting Small and Growing in Time

Fossil - 396 Words
Aaron Dethrage

This attic is the result of decades of neglect. The dust evenly cakes everything from head to toe, as if someone has meticulously spread its feathery matter over the boxes and bags with the utmost precision and care, but no, we’re just unbelievably lazy.

The kids are far from thrilled, but together we stand (the kids, their mother, and I), clad in our finest paint and/or bleach stained clothing, ready to take on the task before us.

Already, I feel terrible for how the day is bound to progress. What hypocrites we are, their mother and I. Years of, “if you had just kept your room even remotely maintainable, it wouldn’t take a whole goddamn two hours clean it” and “do you even know what color your carpet is?”

We were angrier back then, still fighting the world, still certain that we could win. Docility comes with age, I suppose.

Pre-lit Christmas Tree. Dad, what the hell is this?” The aggravation of her required attendance and a sense of injustice bite and crescendo through every word.

Sarah, our baby–eighteen now–remembers a lifetime of annually going out into the blistering cold to watch me mutilate the base of a cypress tree–two weeks later than we had originally planned, all of the good trees missing, and with barely enough time for it to mean anything–because that’s what Christmas was "supposed” to be like.

We never told her that it was a tradition we had started for her first Christmas–Jack still too young to remember anything differently–just so they’d have some sort of tradition to believe in. In reality, we dreaded the damn day in the snow just as much as they did. Maybe more.

I’m trying desperately to come up with anything that can justify the yelling and the cursing of eighteen pre-Christmas harvests, and then, it happens. My shoes, waxed by the dust that lines the floor, tangle into a knot under me and I plummet to the ground, a plume of smoke rising as my proxy.

It is there, on the floor, I realize that we're all just fossils, digging through the dirt of our past. The mother and I, fossils of parenthood, tyrannical and cruel. Jack and Sarah, fossils of youth, defensive and numb.

Dust settles into my hacking lungs, but none more than was there before.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Liar - 328 words
Mary Ann Loo

She was gorgeous when we first met, and I wanted so much to be like her. Her tanned flawless skin, the shape of her slender arms, the arch in her lower back, her effortless glide across the uneven street in 4-inch Jimmy Choos. She had said, “Don’t ever feel pressured by me. I have to look like this because of my career.” She’s an actress, a natural diva, the woman who’d turn heads of every man she’d sashay by and pretend not to notice. I knew she reveled in the attention, and hanging off my friend Damian’s arm, she’d silently announce she was a sweet ripe piece of fruit dangling almost within reach, but oh so unattainable.

We were barely creeping past 21, Joanne and I – six, seven years younger than Shannon, the newest and best looking addition to our little clique. She soon became the elder sister we never had, the one with all the advice backed with life experience, the one with makeup skills and flawless fashionable flair, who’d look perfect even if some crumpled garbage bag were draped around her. “You girls are crazy,” she’d say, “but when you’re at work, please behave yourselves and be professional.” We had nodded, puppy-dog-eyed and hanging on to every syllable.

It’s now six years, 4 minor supporting roles, and 15 pounds later. Shannon disguises her frame with loose-fitting dark-colored outfits, and stumbles ever so slightly in her 30-dollar heels. She wears her black wavy locks in a ponytail, an unsuccessful attempt to erase a couple years from her face, and makeup no longer conceals the crescents and creases under her eyes. She rises in the evening, lunches at 9, dinner at 2, plays computer games, surfs Facebook, and goes to bed when the sun fully awakes. Sometimes, she updates her blog – Today, she types, my darling Damian bought me three blueberry tarts. And they’re mine, all MINE. Soooo fattening, but who cares? Life is good. I’m so happy!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Statue of a Damaged Youth

Peculiar - 474

Ben Azevedo

His mother always said it was his own peculiar genius that led him to such things. It wasn’t slovenliness that led to his tornado disaster of a room. It was his peculiar genius. The lack of organization in his closet wasn’t senseless disorder; it was peculiar (but genius) sorting.

Charlie didn’t really think much of his mother. He didn’t feel particularly OR peculiarly intelligent, and so he figured his dear old ma was just deluding herself. Which made her a liar. She was a peculiar liar, but a liar nonetheless. Charlie didn’t like liars either. He was really a very grumpy young boy.

Charlie’s father loved to read the newspaper. He especially loved crosswords. He worked his crossword every Sunday at the round kitchen table with a mug of coffee and a ridiculously expensive pen. If Charlie walked into his light (coming in from the den you had to cross the light coming in from the window) his father would grunt distractedly.

If Charlie’s mother was deluded, his father was simply oblivious. Or ignorant. Charlie hadn’t decided yet. Charlie felt like the truly peculiar part of his life was how he had even been born to these two in the first place. First, they didn’t seem interested enough in anything outside their own tiny worlds to have met at all. Second, how they had managed to stay interested in each other long enough to marry and produce a child was simply beyond Charlie’s reckoning. He figured their parents must have arranged it. Maybe with the help of a magical love potion or something.

Anyway, on this particular day, his mother was tittering about his room, picking up dishes, cups, laundry, and scraps of paper. Charlie just wanted to be alone, of course, but he allowed her intrusion. Sometimes he even liked to play along and pretend like she shouldn’t move something because he had arranged it that way on purpose.

In this way Charlie had managed to build a veritable statue out of knick-knacks from across the entire house. It started simply enough, he had four exceedingly large textbooks from school, and he had left them in a rough square in the corner of the room. As summer continued and he didn’t need the books, he tossed some laundry into that corner. Each time his mother made a move to remove the offending clothes, Charlie would make a small noise and say he was planning to wear them the next day. Genius.

Next he added an empty shoebox. Then some bouncy balls, an entire set of pool balls, and a beach ball he had found in the garage. He didn’t inflate the beach ball, though. Three weeks ago he found an odd pillow in the attic. Yesterday some forks from the kitchen. Charlie figured he could get another box on there before it toppled.

In The Garage - Weezer

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Genesis and Revelation

Velvet - 141 Words
Lindsey Thompson

I suppose it’s easy to miss the beginning, the nervous plains rushing into a zenith with each first and each butterfly-touch. With every word spoken coated in rich chocolate and wrapped like it’s never been said before. Fingers that traced the spaces between and interlocked in secret communion as smiles crept across timid faces knowing more than those surrounding them. Your embraces like velvet enveloping my bare skin.

It’s easy because it never lasts. Nothing can be new forever, and so I sit and remember many months and years and lives ago when you first barged in on my soul, naked before my ears and mind. And now I think, how easy is it left to pass.

I am not the same man I was. You are not my muse. Now, we sit and read the paper as the storms pound.

Turncloaking - Annuals

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Beach - 482 words
Kevin Foster

He left his house shortly before dusk and soon he was headed northeast, toward the beach where they had planned to meet. He checked his rear-view mirror in hopes of seeing dust rise from the road, diffused into the air, dark freckles in the searing sunset behind, but there was no dust on the road and his view in the rear-view mirror was clear. Occasionally cars would pass heading west, toward the increasingly clear but still murky lights of the town he had just come from. There were no other cars heading toward the ocean that he could see in either direction. The approaching twilight would bring with it a cool, damp breeze from the ocean, which he always found bizarre and thought perhaps that it – the breeze – symbolized something that he couldn't put his finger on, but even in the now faint light of dusk, the air hovering over the blacktop was warbled and as his car cut through it, its stale, rubbery smell whooshed into his open windows. His hands sat lazily atop the steering wheel, motionless, glistening with perspiration – he did not reach for the air-conditioning knob though it might have made him more comfortable. He preferred the wind, and besides, he knew that the breeze was coming and it would sweep over the road and push the stale air away and soothe the road. On the dash, the odometer logged another mile.
He could smell the water before he could see it; thick groves of trees lined both sides of the road as the road twisted to run parallel with the coast, but he could smell the salt and he thought maybe the sand. If he did not know these roads so well, he might have no idea that he was less than a quarter-mile from the shore, but he did know the roads and anticipation for the breaks in the trees swelled in his otherwise dormant chest. In a moment, they came and he saw the improvised grass parking lot and the red jeep and the white SUV and the little blue car and he saw that he would park between the red jeep and the little blue car. In another moment, he was in the lot and he rolled to a stop. On the beach there was a small fire. Two men sat lazily back in the sand and prodded the fire along with long sticks and another man, the man who would leave for the navy soon, walked slowly from the edge of the woods to the south toward the fire carrying two logs. He reached into the glove box for the plastic bag with the four cigars he had bought for the night. They felt damp in his hand. The three men gathered by the fire looked his way at the sound of his door opening, tiredly but with great interest.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Tide - 325 words
Sarah Van Name

Ever since I was a kid (read: solemn, serious, blonde, good at poker) I have planned my beach trips for high tide, right down to the very minute when the ocean stretched its salty seaweed tentacles the farthest up the beach. Finding shells is cool, floating in the sea can be nice, but I don’t understand who would want pansy low tide when you can have the whip and push and hard spray of high. The ocean is not calm, it is frenzied and furious, it is pushing your body into a small ball of limbs as you’re shoved into the sand, turned over and over with the cold fishy taste of it in your nose, it loses your goggles, tangles your hair, I’m not saying it’s pleasant but it’s necessary. The ocean is vast and omnipotent, the stuff of nightmares.

I think there is a psychology of ideas on oceans, and what that says about you and your tangled-hair goggle-lost insides. It’s like digging your crescent moon nails into your skin or punching a guy in the face or kissing someone really hard after not seeing him for a long time. Loving high tide is an expression of passion, mostly anger.

When the foam lashed against the dunes, I walked along them as a solemn blonde child and didn’t fall in because I was afraid of getting my dress wet. It was evening then and the sky was too dark for me to try my strength. But the next day, while my mother made a sand castle and my brother’s skin slowly burned, I jumped so my body would catch the crest of the wave just as it crashed. I felt the full sting and the water broke in full and filled itself in around me. And my solemnity fluttered to the sandy bottom with the cracked shells and bits of seaweed, and it clings to me, but I try to cast it aside.

Swim Until You Can't See Land - Frightened Rabbit

Monday, June 21, 2010

Olfactory Delight

Bleach- 117
Stephen N. Dethrage

The bathroom was filled with the typical odors of one of her crime scenes: the metallic scent of his blood on the tile, thick enough to almost taste; the hospital janitor smell of the bleach that was changing her hair from the seductive red of her last conquest to a unrecognizable blond; a hint of musty paper and dust from the open duffel bag, and the thousands of dollars inside. It was an olfactory exploration of deceit, seduction and murder, and aside from the simple pleasures of the smell of books, new or old, nothing else tickled her nose just quite like the combination of unique aromas that fumigated the room she occupied immediately after a kill.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Songs of our Fathers

Waltz - 186 Words
Aaron Dethrage

An old, silver music box sits lopsidedly next to the dusty snow globes and spare pocket change atop little Julia’s nightstand. Every night she winds its fragile key and sways to the waltzed lullaby that is produced. It was a gift from her father, and she cherishes it more than any toy or gem she has ever owned, though its value is miniscule at best.

With each listen, she wonders if the box maker also had a daughter whom he loved very much and for whom he had written this magical tune, but never does she envy this fantasy daughter for her father or the gifts his hands could create. For her, the cracking hands and crackling voice of her loving dad are all she ever could have asked for.

With time, the melody that the relic box produced became less and less recognizable-- its tiny, tuned teeth suffering from the wear and forgetfulness of age that we all shall know. However, Julia never forgot its precious tune and sings her daughter to sleep every night with the same simple song.

La, di-da, di-da.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Revolt - 489 words

Mary Ann Loo

Charlene lay in bed, her cluttered bedroom illuminated only by the retiring sun’s red rays passing through her open window. In the semi-darkness, the mess seemed to fade, blurring into gray shapes that blended with the purple walls, now charcoal-colored in the waning light. Pierre should be getting off work anytime now, and he’d call to arrange when to pick her up. She contemplated stealing another 5 minutes of sleep, but her stomach growled angrily. With eyes closed, she felt under the pillow for her cell phone, and reluctantly squinted into the white glare. It was 6.38pm.

Sighing, she wrestled the covers off, and laboriously sat up. Should I eat something now or wait until dinner? The smell of fried rice beyond her closed door beckoned, so she sleepily stumbled over books, clothes and shoes into the living room, where Dad was watching the Chinese news.

“You’re awake,” Mom said, setting the table. “Come eat something.”

Charlene nodded as she passed through the kitchen of the tiny apartment and entered the bathroom. Standing before the sink, she reached for her purple toothbrush and glanced into the cracked mirror. I look like crap. She gently pushed at her eye bags, as if they could be flattened, and sighed at the small fine creases around the corners of her black eyes.

“I made your favorite – fried rice,” Mom said, as she emerged from the bathroom. “I know you’re going out with Pierre, but just eat a little bit.”

“Thanks, Mom,” Charlene said. Dad was already at the small square dining table, still glued to the TV, munching on rice. She settled herself at the opposite side, and spooned some rice onto her plate.

Her cell phone rang from her room, and she raced to answer it, half-closing the door behind her. Pierre’s voice made her smile, “Hey darling, happy birthday!”

“Thanks, dear,” she said.

“You just woke up?” he asked.

He’s disappointed. She cleared her throat. “Just a nap.”

“I’ll come get you in an hour. See you then.”

“Okay, bye.”

In the darkened silence of her room, Dad’s voice was rather clear: “…every single night playing with her computer. When the rest of the world is awake, she’s sleeping! What kind of life is that? 34 and still living here! Don’t know what to do with her anymore.”

She reached out and slapped the door shut, standing amidst the chaos of her possessions. Just you wait and see, Dad. I’m going to be in Pierre’s feature film, and when it gets to Cannes, I’ll be famous! And when we get married I’ll be starring in all of his work, and then you’ll know that I’m a DIVA – a diligent, intelligent, and versatile actress… Charlene smiled, enthralled by her usual daily daydream of fame and fortune, a blissful marriage, and everything she’d ever wanted to be.

The sun’s descent was complete, but the sky was a radiant glow of reddish purple.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Smiling is Just Another Way of Baring Teeth

Without - 319

Ben Azevedo

“So?” he said flatly, without emotion. He glanced at his wristwatch.

“So you can’t just do things like that, ya know?” said a man in a dark blue suit. His voice rose with emphasis, “you can’t just, ya know, just…anyone coulda seen…we hafta be careful these days.” The man was sweating; it was too hot to be wearing a suit.

He didn’t like Dark Blue Suit much. Wouldn’t let it get to him though, that wasn’t worth it. Dark Blue seemed to be waiting for some sort of response, so he raised an eyebrow. The eyebrow tugged at the corner of his mouth, begging for a smirk, but he resisted the temptation

“And?” Still no emotion.

Dark Blue grimaced slightly at the lack of response from Walter. He adjusted his tie and adopted a new approach. “Look, Boss sent me,” (did he catch a flicker of emotion cross Walter’s face?) “and he just wants to make sure you’re…” he trailed off.

“What?” The voice was low and still without feeling, but Walter needed more information. If the Boss was directly involved, it could change everything. Walter knew more than he cared to about how the Boss was these days.

“You know how Boss is these days,” said Dark Blue, echoing Walter’s thoughts, “if you don’t do what he wants, you could end up like,” his voice dropped to a whisper, “the others.”

There was a long pause. Walter sat perfectly still, eyes tracing the path of a fly. Dark Blue shifted against the plastic bench. He could feel a drop of sweat running down his back under the heavy wool suit.

“Well,” said Walter at last. Dark Blue leaned forward expectantly.

Walter stared into his eyes and grinned.

Dark Blue suddenly stiffened. Blood started to trickle from his left nostril and ears.

Walter leaned forward and whispered, “Tell Boss…"

Dark Blue fell to the table. Walter stood.

“…I’m fine.”

Beautiful Day Without You - Röyksopp

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy Birthday

Leap - 103 Words
Lindsey Thompson

Who decided that on the one year out of every four, the year I celebrate my birthday—February 29th—that it would be called a “leap year”? Doesn’t it make more sense to say that every year you skip that date is the leap year, and the one year you DON’T skip it is the NON-leap year? Most people don’t care about it, but I’ve been concerned with the backwards nature of the phrase since my second birthday. Now, my fourth birthday, I am getting my first real driver’s license, and I’m just excited I get a day on the calendar this year to circle.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Double Post! Again!

Matching - 88 words
Kevin Foster

He got up from table thirteen and stepped toward table fourteen, where a blonde woman was sitting, a newcomer to this stop on the speed-dating circuit. She was perspiring, but still she looked good, wearing a modest sundress that he saw hanging loosely around her shins and, he noticed, offered no hints as to her cleavage. He was always worried he would look at their breasts, and then he would but only because he was so nervous. But she seemed nice and he sat down at table fourteen.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Fallout - 406 words
Sarah Van Name

It’s been a while but I never forgot how to deal with the fallout from the bomb that hit me when I was thirteen, knocked the wind out of me like a well-placed punch to the still-soft gut and left me dizzy. My life has become a series of images I thought I had missed, ancestral things that tie me to my former selves and the rest of the fucked-up moon-eyed college kids across America. Hookah and the clementine smoke. Screen porches and clenched teeth and you. It’s easy to fall into pre-determined patterns when they feel so good, so right like driving fast in the dark in the middle of the night.

I am not too young for this. But I am young. Imagine me spitting these words like a slam poet.

I am happy, lost, senseless, young, I want to answer no questions. My future is the blue of the sky in October, clear and cryptic and beautiful. I gotta hope the world will forgive me for putting ambition in a prism and hanging it from the window, leaving it as I move from room to room, because all I want in my future is love love love and for these words to make you rock and ache.

I’m young and my confusion and my passion are still the bright hot red of a freshly scraped knee. I still have the rage of my childhood self that made me slam car doors and scream in swimming pool parking lots, the deep well of senseless fury that, when asked Is That All You’ve Got, responded No. And just like my childhood self, only the warmth of another human soothes me, only your arms around me, only the tightness of your arms.

You make me shiny brass bands on a sunny Sunday afternoon and you scare me. You make me feel like tobacco fields in the sun, you put the heat of the deep South in me, the passion of midnight fistfights, you in me. I am impossible to myself but you have changed me, and wherever I go I will send you love letters to tumble into your lap like leaves.

And out of nowhere, I lie in your bed and cry about death, freak the fuck out about death on a Wednesday night. Because sometimes the old fear that snuck its way into the bomb comes and pushes with brutal fingers on my bruises.

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues – the Gaslight Anthem

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sunset Thunderhead

Driven- 159
Stephen N. Dethrage

I idle at the light turned green, deaf to the honking of horns, blind to the display of fingers. Before and above me looms the biggest, most beautiful thunderhead I have ever seen, the grimacing face of a massive storm. Sunset paints the unbelievable cloud ten thousand colors, from a stark white at its visible peak to the dark blues and blacks of true rain clouds at the bottom, with scarlets and purples and creams in between. My car finds its way into park, and as the traffic builds behind me, I decide I've driven enough, and merely marvel. The cloud is massive enough that each time I trace out a definite shape in its contours, another is suddenly apparent. I see the profile of a woman relaxing in a bubble bath, as clear as day. A tiger appears, then a motorcycle. The colors shift and change in secret ways, and on the ground, I idle, and am awed.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sing Summer Bird, With Songs Uncontested.

Wash - 70 Words.
Aaron Dethrage

Darkness washed over the sky like soapy water over a grimy car, soaking and pure. It was appropriately hot–June in the South–and I speculated that maybe it was mandated so by some godforsaken decree. And as the old summer trees wrapped their arms full of leaves ‘round the birds then sleeping inside, I held her and promised tomorrows paved with promise that we both were certain were lies.

Kathleen - Josh Ritter

Saturday, June 12, 2010

One More Time

Smiles - 103 words
Mary Ann Loo

She settles in the armchair beside the window,
gazing at the wintry street outside.
People bundled in heavy coats and muted scarves
scurry about with their lives,
passing each other,
without acknowledging,
Are we all alone together? she wonders.
She takes a sip of hot chocolate from the mug in her hands,
her attempts to revel in the warmth emanating through her core
impeded by the chill deep within.
It's a brand new day,
a chance to begin again,
once again.
All is not lost,
she whispers to herself
one more time.
She smiles,
but her eyes are so so sad.

Smile - Nat King Cole

Friday, June 11, 2010

With Eyes Unclouded

Brave - 142 Words
Ben Azevedo

In the darkness before I fall asleep, I can see the future. It’s not like clairvoyance or anything, and I can’t predict anything, at least not anything useful. It’s more like staring down a long street in the summertime. At first all the lines are crisp and clean, the sky is blue and the clouds are white. But as the sky meets the street in the infinite distance, all the colors blur, and you think you can see someone standing there in the waves of heat coming off the pavement. I think we can all see the future. I can tell you, with reasonable accuracy, what I will be doing a week from now. Even a month. Further than that, and it starts to become the hazy heat mirage. But I can deal with the future. The trick is to be brave.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

To The Stand

Wand - 167 Words
Lindsey Thompson

He was told to use his wand on any unsavory character that gave him shit. It was his first night patrolling alone, and he wasn’t scared, he was just a little wound up. A little on edge. So he was patrolling, and he saw a rabble of suspicious-looking and unfortunately black guys making some kind of deal or something. So he got out of the car to investigate, and they circled around him, not touching him, but really crowding around him. So he grabbed his wand, then they started with the names and the reaching into their huge pockets and baggy pants, so he hit one, just to show them he wasn’t scared, jut a little on edge, and they began to yell and he kept swinging and hitting and they kept yelling until a neighbor called 911.

He was just a little scared. He told the judge that, that he was just alone and scared, and that color didn’t matter, but the judge said it did.

The Professor - Damien Rice

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Double Post! Again!

Strung - 150 words
Kevin Foster

For all of the things I could still remember my grandfather saying, I couldn't for the life of me remember how he'd said to string a catfish line. I did remember, though, and vividly, all of the times that he'd told me I didn't know how, a condemnation usually followed with a string of oaths and swears I assume he learned in his time in the Navy. He'd get this stern look in his eye and open his mouth and out would come this surprisingly high-pitched voice and if you didn't know him, you'd almost start to laugh, thinking that he was just pretend-angry – how could a voice like that, like a tired drag queen, convey anger – but then he'd abruptly stop and flick out his cigarette and swivel around and resume work on the line. I'm starting to think maybe he never told me how at all.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Brother the Criminal

Hawk - 30 words
Sarah Van Name

Yesterday, I discovered all of my Animorphs books gone. “Scott,” I said, “fuck!”

“I had to hock ‘em on the street for liquor,” he replied coolly from under his sunglasses.

Shots - LMFAO

Monday, June 7, 2010

Taking It Personally.

Remark- 490 Words
Stephen N. Dethrage

Man-to-man marking, close quarters, one-on-one, and the bastard looked me right in the eyes and whispered, "My next goal is for your whore of a mother, defender. Tell her hello for me."

The little voice in my head nagged at me and whispered to me gently, imploring me to ignore my opponent's words. It insisted that on a soccer field, sometimes things are said by men of less mental caliber, and almost always, their insults merely reflect insecurity. The competitor inside me disagreed. The striker whose words made my blood boil left me no option but to take things personally. Close quarters, man marking, adrenaline flowing, everything's personal.

A turnover at the other end of the field brought the ball into our half, and three passes later, it was at the feet of their best striker. The one who insulted me. My mark. He looked at me briefly as his feet took the first touch of the soccer ball, a skillful, gentle thing that kept the ball moving fast but close enough to him to discourage anything but perfection from our defense. In that single moment as my eyes drilled into his, before he committed his entire attention to the game, he winked at me. One impish gesture. An insult on top of injury. A spark too close to my fuse.

I was only vaguely aware of that little voice becoming louder and begging me to ignore the arrogant prick racing towards me, towards my zone, towards the net behind me. All intelligent thought was suddenly drowned by a klaxon set off in my mind that could only be satisfied by one thing. I sprinted to meet him and watched a dark smile cross his face as I closed the distance. My right foot shot forward, a sloppy stab towards the ball, inviting the striker to pass on my right side and, otherwise uncontested, score the point he promised for my mother.

The fool took the bait.

I crouched and pivoted and swung my left leg around behind me, a 180 arch, moving in a way that seemed more like Judo than defensive soccer. My left heel, powered by legs and hips and momentum and anger traced a straight line until, at last, it found my target and crashed with a terrible thunder just below the striker's knee on his strong right leg. He crumpled and crashed and rolled, just like I knew he would. A cheap hit. A dirty hit. An indescribably satisfying hit.

An hour and a half later, after the the red card, after the stretcher, after their blocked free kick and our eventual victory, as I unlaced my cleats in the locker that that little voice, somewhat disappointed but ultimately understanding, asked me if it was all worth it.

I thought of the comment, the wink, the hit, and the fall. I couldn't fight off the smile that crossed my lips.

Of course it was worth it.

Spitting Venom - Modest Mouse

Sunday, June 6, 2010

We're at our worst when it's from our lips.

Science - 327 Words.
by: Aaron Dethrage

I’m sure there’s some kind of science to it all, mixing actions with words and impeccable reactions to curveball questions into some kind of perfect performance. These carefully executed scenes then forming some kind of alliance that can sway the stray thoughts of the women that would just otherwise pass me by.

It’s a lot like chemistry, I’m sure, delicately adding false glimpses of foreign traits that she desires, as if dripping vibrantly-hued drops from a pipette into some wildly unstable compound that seethes anxiously in a heated glass beaker. Every drop hanging maddeningly on the end of the tube. Will this work... or is the whole damned thing going to explode? The suspense! The suspense!


* * * * * * * * * *

A second glass of Merlot is artfully entangled in my fingers, making too many words feel far too loose on my slowly numbing lips, however, she is laughing, so the alarms remain silent and the sipping-babbling-laughing cycle continues undisturbed.

There’s a band in the back corner, a jazz trio. Under the soft stage lighting sits a pianist at a spotless, black baby grand, his fingers sliding effortlessly across the perfect ivory keys. He is filling the restaurant with a variety of sultry chords that require numbers on numbers to notate for replication. There’s also an older gentleman at a drum kit. He is brushing across the top of his snare drum, eyes closed, head turning in time. He taps a foundational beat on the kick drum, using the kind of footsteps that children use as they sneak to and fro in hardwood houses. The head of the band is a trumpeter whose cup mute has transformed old Real Book melodies into poetic and persuading phrases. Everyone loves him, knows him, is transfixed by him.

There’s not really much difference between them and me, our improvised acts, attempts at swaying whatever ears are listening. However, it is growing harder to sway hers when they undisputedly have mine.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I Don't Mind. Honestly.

Suit - 145 words
Mary Ann Loo

You haven’t worked in three years,
and you’re broke.
You’ve lived with me for two years now,
and you don’t cook,
or clean,
or change the sheets.
You pass the time listening to records,
doing nothing.
You make me laugh,
with your boyish charm,
your touch excites me,
and when we make love I know I love you.
I never complained,
never pushed you,
I simply stopped wanting more.

But these days you’re hardly home,
you say you’re at the café down the street,
and one day you met someone.
It’s just coffee,
I don’t mind.
She sounds nice on the phone,
she’s seems nice in person,
and under different circumstances, she’s forgettable.
You brought her into our bed,
my bed,
and now she says she loves you.

I honestly really don’t mind,
as long as you never leave me.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Spine Curved Slightly

Spine - 381 Words
Ben Azevedo

The last time he had seen her, she had left him. Left him standing in a blown out building, among the twisted rebar and chunks of brick and glass. He had stood there for God-only-knows how long and stared at nothing in particular before walking dully back to his apartment. The last image of her he had imprinted into his mind was her back as she walked out the door, spine curved slightly to half glance back at him before disappearing.


“We can’t do this anymore,” she said.

“We’ve made it this long,” he protested, “the war’ll be over soon, and things will go back to normal.”

“You know you can’t promise me that!” she cried, her voice rising with emotion. “You could be dead tomorrow, and then what would we have! Every day the bombs are closer, with no end in sight! I can’t do it anymore!”

He had tried to console her, to comfort her with the old words that had always worked. But they didn’t.


The second to last time they had met, it had been in that same building. It was their hideout; the only place they could safely meet on his short leaves between battles. Already bombed, abandoned, and probably bombed again, they knew they would be safe under the crumbling roof. They held each other tight, and he told her of his adventures, with only slightly less enthusiasm than he used to.


“…and after Poland we were in Norway for a month. Have you ever been to Norway?” he asked.

“No, never,” she said with wonder, “was it quite cold?”

“Oh yes, but the coast was so beautiful”

She sighed, imagining the freezing, beautiful coast of Norway, while he recalled the deadly frozen waves crashing against the night-black rocks. She murmured something.


“Maybe when all this is over, we can go see them together”


He stared grimly at the remains of the old building. The war had ended, and so had the building. He had already been to his old apartment and gathered his belongings. He had also been to her apartment, a smoldering pile of bombed rubble. She might have escaped to America, but somehow he knew she had left more permanently than that. He was just looking for her ghost, now.

Sound Forged Like Spine - The Winter Sounds

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Decorated Angels and Absent Gods

Starlight - 471 words
Lindsey Thompson

Annabelle lay in bed, counting the clicks on her analog clock, waiting for her stories to come. She had already counted 642 clicks since her mother had told her to put on pajamas and banished her to her room. With the blinds pulled open—she refused to shut them at night—she watched the clouds move across the moon, waiting. Her princess nightgown itched a little, being brand new, so her fidgeting engendered more itches and more fidgeting. But finally, her stories came.

The slamming of the door announced the arrival of her father, who was greeted with harsh criticism for the noise. Her father yelled in response, clearly possessed with the powers of that gross drink that makes adults act weird and extreme. The arguing commenced, and Annabelle wiggled anticipation, for arguing meant that after the screaming and occasional banging and smashing about downstairs, he would come upstairs. And, true to his ways, he stomped defiantly up the steps and semi-quietly peeked into Annabelle’s room.

“Hey, papa bear.” She tried to whisper, to sound sleepy, but she failed.

“Hey, baby bear,” he murmured. “Why are you still awake?”

“I couldn’t sleep. I’ve been thinking.”

He grinned as he sat on his daughter’s small twin bed. “And what have you been thinking about?”

She shrugged beneath her My Little Pony comforter. “Stuff.”

He began to pat her leg, still smelling of that gross drink, and teetering a little on the edge of the tiny mattress. “Well,” he asked, “what would help you sleep?”

She beamed and sat up, almost giving away her true anticipatory excitement level. “A story!” Finally, they came.

He leaned in closer and began a story. Her favorite story. The story about the angel with stars for earrings and a heart-shaped moon as her necklace. Annabelle’s father always made up the best stories, and once he knew her favorites, he would retell them, embellish them, and occasionally get small facts wrong just so she could pout, cross her arms and say, “No, daddy, that’s not it!”

Drew lived for the stories he wrote for his daughter. Her chestnut eyes would gleam with curiosity and wonder as he narrated the betrothal of the angel and the hunt for the moon-necklace, how with her sadness, the stars she wore began to die, and that with her happy marriage to a man, she relinquished her wings and her stars, but gave the moon to the man’s world—after a bit of breaking and reshaping.

During his storytelling, he forgot the mortgage he was late on paying, the nights he heard his wife cry herself to sleep, the affair letters he discovered in her dresser. He would go to sleep praying for some kind of god to keep an eye on Annabelle.

And Annabelle would sleep, praying for starlight to decorate her jewelry.

Slumber My Darling - Alison Krauss and Yo Yo Ma

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

everyone has their century

Century - 365 words
Kevin Foster

Everyone's got a century, kid. Yeah, you're an eighties child, whatever the hell that means, but when you get to be my age, you lay claim to a century. One hundred years. You will not live to see one hundred years unless you're lucky and by lucky I mean unlucky 'cause if you live a hundred long ones, you get the uniquely post-modern experience of watching nearly every person you've ever known die, and let me tell you after 93 years of watching mostly death I wish I woulda kicked the damn bucket about twenty years ago. While we're on the topic, if that goddamned doctor laughs and pats me on the back one more time because I'm a widower and that's ironic, I'm going to knock his ass down on the floor. No I'm not, but I will find a new goddamn doctor. No I won't, what the hell is the point, for the last ten years every time your mother's made me go in for a physical I'm told about a new organ about to fail on me, different than the last time, and yet here I am plodding along with the rest of you sorry sacks but I digress. First off, I don't give two shits how ironic it is that my wife of damn near fifty years died before me, I don't wanna laugh about it you ignorant bastard. The best part is that it isn't even ironic. Don't they teach you damn kids anything in school anymore? They don't? I pay enough goddamn taxes that they oughta do something other than field a sissy-ass football team that couldn't buy a win if a win was a hooker and they were the King of England in a damn brothel. What was I saying? Oh yeah, everyone has a century. You may have been born in 1988, but you're a 21st century kid and I feel sorry as hell for ya. I seen all kinds of shit a person ain't supposed to see and your parents had a television in the nursery. All this shit is ours whether we like it or not, but I sure as hell don't envy you, kid.

The Times They Are A-Changin' - Bob Dylan

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Move On

Gong - 325 words
Sarah Van Name

Our first act as roommates was to buy a cat. Irma’s family cat, String Cheese, had recently passed away, and after she came back carrying all of this feline paraphernalia we figured there could be no better time. Our cat was a dark tawny gold and fat as anything, with short sausage legs. His purr was percussive. We named him Gong.

(There was no discussion of what would become of him after Irma and I split, but like young lovers waking up next to each other for the first time, we failed to consider the possibility of separation.)

Gong lived the good life for two years sleeping on top of our dirty clothes. We were careful pet-owners – bought him a million of those little colored mice and kept him unnecessarily plump. And then, suddenly, life wobbled and shifted in preparation for a change.

Eric, the guy I had been dating for almost two years, asked me to move in. I accepted, feeling the shiver of the future rush through me. The same night, Irma got a phone call offering her a job at an environmental research center in Alabama. She accepted.

Both of us, when feeling Gong’s reproachful engine-revving purr flit in and out of our thoughts, were comforted by the presence of the other in our old rented house. But Eric was terribly allergic to cats and the new job entailed a new place, an apartment complex that was “green” but unwelcoming to pets.

Irma refused to put him in the pound again, and so did I. After weeks of desperate phone calls, the parents of a girl I had once babysat told me of some family friends whose cat had just passed away.

Irma and I drove him over there together. The family had a little girl, blonde and shy, and while we talked to her parents, Gong curled himself among her legs like wind ‘round sequoias, purring a distant and harmless thunder.