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Flash Fiction

(or really, really short stories)

Every morning on Twitter, I play the hashtag game, #vss365. 

That means for every day of the year, I write a short story that fits into the confines of a tweet, using or based upon the prompt word of the day.


I've been playing since August 2018, and my archive is below. Enjoy!

Beware of Dog


The window to her #psyche was a little wide, to be honest. if someone got too close, they'd probably fall through. She could build a wall over it, but that'd be a lot of work. Explaining it would be hard.

But wait—a sign. "Beware of dog." 

Yep. That'd do.

Protect the Humans


"It's getting harder to #protect the humans," Rover said. "Time was, we only had to drag them out of wells. But look what they've stuck their noses into. Cloning!"

"Great," growled Spike. "Now we have to protect them from themselves."



Holt's solution was to eradicate—not the creatures—but fear. We all faced our worst fears as preparation.

That's why, at thirteen, the State knocked me up. As the little one beat a new rhythm inside me, I knew that, together, we would usher in a new #regime. 



I soon wearied of the overinflated #mythos of Bigfoot as the stinking, bloodthirsty monster.

Yes, I was hairy, but I kept it tight and trim.

Yes, I did have my shoes custom-made.

As I recall, Andre Roussimoff also had these issues, but audiences applauded him. 



At Count Dracula's post-retirement parties, even the werewolf forgot his failed acting career and critiques that he was "over-dramatic." But then he took one bite from a #silver fork and keeled over, choking.

The silver thing was a myth.

His critics were right. 

All Hail the Humans


Humans were coming.

Ogg scowled at his thumbless meat-hooks. Why were the gods so cruel? The galaxy was filled with spaghetti-armed aliens or rocks with eyes.

But humans had thumbs and compact brains. Their dexterity was unmatched.

It was a #cosmic disaster.



She should have been used to it, but the words were sharp. Her skin split open and tightened and stretched, a topography of #scars. She lay dormant as her chrysalis weakened, until it became paper-thin and one day she would escape, fierce and divine as Mothra. 



Ann coudn't stay in bed forever; she wandered to the nursery, where dead cornflowers sat on the sill and a swaddle lay wide open to forever await its first #embrace.

Empty vase in hand, Ann searched the flower garden as the western hills cradled the sleepy sun. 

The Bistro


She's alone, but he joined her at this #bistro once.

She almost forgets the days of liquid foundation, of spackling and repainting. She almost regrets his absence.

But no, too often we see the past darkly, the bright spots shining out like crimson headlights. 



Helen wasn't convinced the TED was human. Sure, he lounged and watched hocked like any humanoid male. But looking into his glassy eyes, she saw no recognition.

Once, she did witness him pick his nose and whimper in pain. So, the TED was at least #sentient. 



This #fog, this beach was all Mearle had. Trinkets from his life washed up: a Polaroid, tickets to Bon Jovi. Not that he recognized them. 

A skiff appeared. Drifting away, he saw a man run out of the fog. The man looked like Mearle's son. 

Awfully like his son. 

Totem Pole


Stu dropped to a knobby knee to peel the hairball from the carpet. He was allergic, but that was O.K. He always did as told. If questioned at gunpoint, he might've said he was subterranean on his wife's #totem pole.

That was O.K. too; he was terrified of heights. 



"Brief me." 

"Victim is Aaron Jacobs. Found dead yesterday. Friends described him as entering into weird trances lately, shutting himself in with #vintage movies. Get this: he was wearing platform shoes."

"You mean—?"

"Yup. It was the Saturday Night Fever."



Edna bit back a caustic remark. For over sixty-two years, they'd been bound by a #bolt of friendship, like something to wrap tightly around, something fusing them together, something that electrified them.

Edna refused to spit the acid that would dissolve it. 

Midnight Bark


Jen stands next to the #Midnight Bark, shaking, the box she holds rattling. She passes a gold coin, then the box, into the quartermaster's hand.

Her happy memories became nightmares long ago, but still she held tight. But not tonight. Tonight, Jen would let go. 

Do Anything


He turned away.

He he no #empathy? Of course. But not enough to exact the punishment she wanted.

He looked at her again and her eyes glowed, a cloud filled his brain.

He'd do anything for her: crash the stock market; kill the archduke; even extinguish an entire race. 

Two Wrights


—Wilbur, grab those feathers.

—I don't know about this, Orville.


—Chickens got feathers, but they don't fly.

—They also don't steal their daddy's feed for the poker table.

— . . . the feathers go on the #wings then?

Sometimes, two Wrights make a wrong.



Three years later, he continued to improve. She was a common #motif, and he drew her not as he remembered, but as he expected she grew, lips growing fuller, hair lengthening.

He drew her as a reflection, her trapped eyes reaching out beyond the looking glass.



Once when Ed was coming home,

Crossing the footbridge all alone,

Something in his knapsack stirred,

And from his pack there flew a bird;

His schoolmates cackled "#craven!" from the bush.

You've read the stories Ed Poe penned,

But did you know they're about revenge?

Imaginary Friend


Billy was Ernest's best friend in the world. Or only friend.

Ernest wanted to tell everyone, but there was no one to tell. Everyone treated Ernest like he was invisible.

It was as if Billy was Ernest's imaginary friend, a #phantasm.

Or was it the other way around?

Mood Killer


She'd still have to wait for her first kiss. 

They'd been so close! She could see the flecks in his eyes. Then a wail rent the silence and her belly spasmed.

She lifted her shirt, and sprouting from her navel was a #lotus with her mother's face.

Bit of a mood killer.



Lily was being followed. Fear clawed her throat and she turned; nothing there but a forest of #willows. She'd never find her way; the canopy had turned day to night.

The wind blew, lifted the willow's tendrils. It wept over, with her, soothing her with its sad embrace.



They always taught Julian it was a melting pot, but he saw a #crucible. He saw people spitting on each other, segregating each other, segregating themselves—scattered and senseless, like a bomb blast.

Maybe they could start over. Maybe he should place the spark. 



Society finally began giving everyone the respect they deserve. The hearts of nations were being restored. Only heart surgeons dissented. They'd open a chest only to find the heart #patched before they got there.

—Dammit, close him up.

—Can't they all stop getting along?

Orion's Belt


Nick and his mom used to play: What Tools Does #Orion Carry in His Belt? Nick would say field knives, duck calls, or extra feathers.

Now, as he sits at the window by her bed, he wishes Orion to come down, prove him wrong, show them what he really carries: second chances. 

Splash Zone


Kenny didn't resent building the science project alone. He was quite proud of his work, blue paint a stroke of genius, timer set to trigger it just in time.

But Kenny did #regret, as Tyler stood taking credit for Kenny's work, that Tyler stepped out of the splash zone. 

Stupid Frisbee


The stupid frisbee was shaped like a boomerang. And it always came back. Whenever she threw it out of her life it came whizzing back.

She finally threw it so hard the only thing that returned was #silence. It was sad.

It coula been worse. It coulda been the frisbee.

Just Breathe


What do you do with a #breath? Do you try to freshen it, offer it a mint to mask the ripe smell?

Or do you try to catch it? Take it for your own, knowing it's an endangered species, that ripeness as beautiful to you now as the voice that used to sing you to sleep.



The other gardeners called her #verdant, great! Until they said that was good for a garden, but not a gardener. Not great. It was cruel.

She could be cruel. She could harvest some slugs for their soup, watch them race to get to a trash bin in time. She'd show them who was green. 



She sat the cooing babe on the water-stained steps and turned away. A #frisson of something—was this unhappiness?—touched her heart, and she hesitated in her retreat. Then, in a man's gravelly #susurrus, the bundle of rags behind her said, "You better come back for me."

Lame Excuses


"Who are you shopping for today?"

"My girlfriend."

"May I suggest these lovely Reasons here?"

"Perfect! I'll take one #myriad."

"We have a sale, you know. Buy two myriad, get one free!"

"One's enough."

"—I'll throw in a Lame Excuse."

"Can't be too careful, I guess."



After 13 years, his drought had finally ended, his hands doing the work for which they were made.

Rain pattered down through the trees above, cleansing his instruments, washing a stream of red into the creek. He breathed in the smell of iron, like #petrichor.



As the boat slides away from the dock she thinks That ship has sailed! But so what she can swim can't she? She plunges in after it, strokes and treads and strokes and pushes on. She'll pursue it even when the wakes crest high, even when all she can hang onto is #flotsam.



His plan for domination was a nuclear weapon. He thought of it like a Trojan Horse; he'd present it to the world like a gift.

But it was more like a #chimera. The glorious power of the front end so mesmerized him, he didn't see the threat rattling ominously at the back.

Selchie Trail



The psychiatrist sat across from her #supine patient.

"It probably started when I was six years old—"

"Fascinating," she said, whipping out a prize-pumpkin-sized bottle of sherry, tipping it into her mug. "but if we're going back that early, I'm gonna need some more coffee."

Nanny Zucco's Lessons


Nilda's studies with Nanny Zucco required some interpretation. Home Ec. meant ironing Nanny's #azure frock. Agriculture meant weeding her petunias. Health meant massaging Nanny's feet.

Nilda decided: Nanny needed a biology lesson. But how to get her to the wood shed?

Mother's Day Sale


One Mother's Day, Tyler outdid hisself.

He loaded Mama into the car blindfolded. When she got out, she had the most #beatific smile. He whipped off the blindfold. They were standing in a field of stones.


"They had a sale!"Tyler said as Mama cried.



What do you do with a mistake? Give its sweatshirt back. Then, truss it up with the rest of the mistakes and plop them in a sailboat. Cement shoes.

Fire flaming arrows at the canvas, watch them burn and plummet to the #aphotic regions of the sea.

Finally, ice cream.

Experience Surreal


Alice had a rabbit hole; in the 25th century, we have #Surreal.

It's more than an escape, it's a new world--my own world in two little drops. Where death doesn't lie in darkness, my friends are not dragons, and loneliness is a forgotten memory.



"Let's check out the Empire State Building."

"Let's not. I'm kind of a #zenith-phobe."

"You're afraid of strangers?"

"No, I'm afraid of heights."

"'Acrophobe.' 'Zenith-phobe' isn't a thing."

"I'm also afraid of tall people--does that count?"

"Still not a thing."

All for Love


She deserves the best, and he knows he's best. Sure, it'll take time and money, but she's worth it.

He splurges on a machete and a tarp, clears his Wednesday evening. She'll be upset a while, but eventually she'll agree, it had to be done.

The things we do for #love.

When Love Dyes


For Marcy, who'd divorced three times, "till death do us part" wasn't everlasting, it was #ephemeral, relative to if:

1. her favorite TV drama character died and he didn't care

2. he dyed his hair pink

3. Love died (i.e., he dyed his hair pink)



Van Blucher collected kids like an entomologist collects butterflies. We assumed his new humanitarianism was a way of filling the crater his late Loraine had left behind.

But though #waifs went into his home with sad eyes and tatters, they came out with smiles and scars.



Born before you were a twinkle in your mother's eye: they blaze across our universe, map our way, leave a trail of wisdom for us, if only we'd look up.

They hold hands and #reminisce about old times. They watch their friends wink out of existence; the sky grows darker.

Space Ship in a Storm


Is there weather in space? Absolutely. The firmament rolls and crashes with infinite magnitude.

You've heard of #maelstroms in the sea, but space was so much worse. In the sea you know what lies below; in space we didn't know what to expect; it gragged us in, ever in. 

Why Is Cola Carbonated?


The effervene fell from the man's shoulder into his cola, but the man didn't see. The effervene sank--he was going to drown!

But every mouthful of cola the fairy liked more and he gulped it down, until he lay prostrate on the bottom, burping his #effervescent pleasure. 

In the Alley


The moon shone heavy over the rooftops, like a rain cloud ready to burst. The bright sounds of the city fell into a #cadence, the footsteps behind him fell into rhythm.

There was a click. The smell of burnt hair. A scuffle, a moan. He didn't look back; he ran. 



Always thought salespeople have gotten a bad wrap. They been called a lot of things: relentless, irritating, leeches, vampires. But I reckon this last one's true.

I know this, cause one time I held a mirror up to one of them, and he #vanished with my money.

How to Get Those Digits


"Almost" only counts in horeshoes and hand-grenades? False. It also counts in dating.

Once, I got in an accident and this blonde gave me her digits. She almost called back. That's #victory, cause practice makes perfect.

I should probably practice cheaper crashing too. 

New Jurassic Archaeology


Homo sapiens: once believed the most intelligent life on Earth. their #vestiges suggest tiny feet, nose, ears, and eyes, but huge brains.

Needless to say, they were hell on wheels with arithmetic; but unlike us in the New Jurassic period, not equipped to survive. 

The Danger of Indecision


Reg always has it tough with decisions. He rides 'em out like sittin' a bull, #vacillating this way and that, like he's gettin' paid not to choose a side.

Where I come from, if the cattle can't decide where to go, we sick the dog on 'em.

Turns out that works on Reg too.

The Volcano


Carbon footprint be hanged; we need to worry about the #volcano.

The Vitriol never stops erupting, leaking its lava of sarcasm and disdain, dumping it into the Atlantic. It puffs clouds of hate into the air; it blankets the land.

And you thought cow farts were bad.



"Unskilled and #vapid," said the critic.

"You don't gotta say it so meanly," said the 8-year-old.

"You'll need a thick skin in this life, kiddo."

"Oh yeah? Well you make pancakes dry and burnt!"

"Puhleeze, everyone loves--"

"--that's what Mommy thinks."

". . . Oh."

Finders Keepers


He wasn't perfect with social cues, but in the smiling eyes of the woman across from him, he was confident he saw what to do. He scooped up the last two slivers of pie and slid them onto his plate. Finders keepers.

The look in her eyes was something #vaguely like murder.



Shaggy the lion was looking shabbier than usual, so the zoo sent him to  special spa for a week.

He was groomed, given a special bath to soak in, and even placed on a #vegan diet.

Naturally, he died of despair within the week.



The girl's lips were blue, cheeks porcelain-pale. Hank grasped the snake's head, lowered its fangs to the girl's wrist. He waited.

Then: her breathing calmed, perspiration shown on the tip of her nose and her cheeks bloomed in a rosy glow.

The #venom was working.



She would be a real fixer-upper, but she was worth it.

He chipped away the #veneer of hard-heartedness, exposed the mahogany compassion beneath, disassembled the walls that isolated her--gently--brick by brick; and by so doing, excavated the depth and beauty of her heart.

North Boombu


The rainy season dropped in for six months. It rushed in like a flood, stirring up the sediment of restlessness.

Islanders of North Boombu rejoiced in the break from the heat; they danced, and splashed, and frolicked, #void of all civilized restraints.

South Boombu


The rainy season brooded for six months. It rushed in like a flood, stirring up the sediment of self-pity.

Islanders of South Boombu despaired; they grumbled and moaned, curled up in beds with sheets over their heads, #void of all hope it would ever depart.



"It's a crime!"

"It's pickles."

"On a pizza!"

"It's hamburger pizza."

"They're bread and butter chips!"

"You don't eat relish on your burger?"

"#Villain! Rogue! Rrrrruffian!"

"You EGOTing, dude?"



His first thought when he woke was, "It's Saturday!" but it was Monday.

The birds were chirping, the sun was shining. But he only had time for oatmeal and a shower. That was all.

His spoon swirled the oatmeal into a lumpy grey #vortex. He plunged his face inside.

Word Vomit


He had all the symptoms: the hot flashes, cold sweats, shaking. He had to get to a computer, fast.

He got there just in time. It all came out in a rush, word-#vomit spilling all over the screen.

When it was over, it didn't look pretty, but he felt completely restored. 

Perfect Day


They rolled in the grass, the air springy, the flowers around them the shade of laughter.

Everything was perfect; but something was strange. The sun smiled, creatures gamboled around, but there was no sound.

A robin landed and fixed them with a #violent stare.

The Last Juror


I was the last on the jury to decide on a #verdict. 

I got put under a microscope. A spotlight. I got death threats. Everyone was pressing me for my opinion. It was all too much.

I couldn't just make a snap-decision; not when I'd got so popular. 



Ever since they bulldozed Dave's house, he's been hunting for a #vacant one. But they're all full; they all got people living there already.

The Afterlife is too full to take him, else he wouldn't be in this mess.

 Life's awful tough when you're dead. 



Strange family heirloom, a bike. Stories passed down with it, of riders sprawling in the road, their heads cracked open, riders drowned in a creek. Why did it remain?

It appeared so expedient, so practical, and somehow always too new to resist.

It was a #vicious cycle.

Garden Secrets


Iris was all the buzz; every one of her entries won first place in the produce competition. What no one knew was: Iris was no gardener.

But she had caught a handful of nymphs and kept them in a #vase, and every day she'd pour out their secrets on her garden. 



He wasn't even looking this time. Then she walked in. She had that sleek, #vase shape.

And he'd make her just as breakable.



The #voices started when she was 6. They hissed; they growled menacing things about her face, her brain, her body.

She lashed out and clapped one between her hands. It struggled against her. She buried it in the backyard, the first of many in a vault of dead voices. 

C Is for Cookie


Poppy St. Bakery was broken into late last night, but authorities confirm thief took only cookies.

Suspect's identity hasn't been #verified, but surveillance footage shows him in a fuzzy blue body suit with hood and white goggles, dropping crumbs and milk cartons behind.

The Victim Here


At someone's house yesterday, I fell clear through a glass coffee table, cut my hand terrible. What parents get a glass table?

So, logically, I'm suing them.

Ok yeah, I broke in while they was sleepin' and it was dark but I trust our legal system knows the #victim here.

Wet Cement


Whenever Alan saw wet cement, it compelled him to touch it. A #poet at heart, he carved full verses into each square.

He just wanted to make his mark on society, like every human soul.

Also: he loved how the cement squished between his fingers.

Loved the squishiness.



When Jim resigned as president of the BiCranium Society, the room fell into shocked silence.

The VP looked at him like he had one head. The CFO facepalmed twice.

"But what will we do?"

"Just put your heads together," said Jim's first head; his #second head winked.

Crazy Cat Lady


Mrs Dilber runs a rescue for stray cats right from her home.

It's a lot of money to care for cats. I know; I had one. Imagine having hundreds! Dunno how she got the money for it—

—no wait. She must get it from the family furs business. They make the softest #robes.

Collecting Laughs


She works hard to get a laugh. Each snigger, each roar, she siphons from the air and #collects in a bottle. 

She prefers a good guffaw, a hidden cackle.

Nights, she pops open a vintage giggle, drinks it like medicine. It washes through her, warming the empty spaces. 



The longer they kept her shut in this cold, dark space, the more she lost herself. In her longing for the outside, she wasted away, shrinking inwardly.

She shrank till she was small as an ant; then she tiptoed through the #keyhole and fled the dark spaces of the world. 

Your Story


No one should have such power over the world, but you, author, do.

As police fail to #inhibit the world's rioters, do you: Draw machine guns in the rioter's hands? Push them over a cliff like demon-possessed pigs? Rewrite their hearts?

You choose. This is your story. 

How You Frame It


Ed was nervous to ask for a raise.

"It all depends how you frame it," his friend counseled, applying bandaids to Ed's bloody nail beds.

Monday, Ed strode into the office and set a photo frame on his boss's desk. It housed a paper that read, "I'd like a raise, please?"

Beware What You Chase


The monster in Jim's thorn bushes stared at him every day. He tried to chase it, but got a #thorn in his leg.

He tried to remove the thorn, but too late; it had sunk beneath his skin, and the monster sent it to Jim's heart. 

Heed well, dear children: beware what you chase.



It all started when he forgot to screw down the lid of the pickle jar.

She retaliated by #sabotaging his cappuccino machine. So he washed her delicates with the towels.

It was all fun and games until he was admitted for head trauma—after putting epoxy in her conditioner.

Sick of Riddles


Hachi was so sick of Saito's condescension. He countered all her questions with #riddles."

"How can I defend myself if I don't attack first?" she complained.

"What makes the sparrow ready to sing?"

"Hey, I got one," she said. "What's black and blue and bloody all over?"



One night, Dad took Junior out with a telescope to #magnify the moon.

"So many pimples!" said Junior.

"Actually, son, they're called craters."

Then, a loud voice shook all around, a voice as bright as the sun's reflection.

"Actually," it said, "they're beauty marks."

Shoe Drive


Ryan had shrewd business sense, but his common sense was in a safe-deposit box for which he had no key.

He began a hugely successful shoe drive for the homeless in Center City. Everyone gave.

Then he began using the #pseudonym Sole Snatcher. Business was never the same. 




It's Mutual

Tracy and I are in love. But we're on a break-up. It's complicated.

We didn't define any guidelines for the relationship, but I guess I'm not supposed to kiss her best friend.

Anyway, she dumped me. It was #mutual.

Better Blocks


Trapped here, they could never be together, never be free.

They began writing #cryptic messages with Better Blocks. Then, they flipped the gerbil cage. In the chaos, they slipped past childproof locks.

Under the swings, they held hands, played with worms, finally free. 

What a Crock


Seamus was a wizard at building rainbows. His 2019 arch was #awe-inspiring.

He wasn't, however, good at building wealth. So when the hunters finally reached the crock and found $0.17, they were . . . dismayed.

"Success is a journey," Seamus said, "not a destination."

The Meaning of Life


His trip to the Oracle of the Planets took half his lifetime. The trip home would take just as long, but he had to know the answer to life's greatest #question:

"What is the meaning of life?"

"The meaning of life," the Oracle said, "is the quality of not being dead."

Diamonds in the Sky


They hurled stones at her; little did they know she #craved them.

She caught them in her teeth, ground down on them until they were hard and sharp as diamonds.

She spit her diamonds into the sky. They twinkled and shone like stars, lighting the way for all who travel. 

Shrunken 250


They always asked her: "Where do you get your ideas?"

Her response was never the same:

"Prayer walks."

"Inspirational Fengshui."

She'd never tell the truth: that a witch doctor shrunk @250Fiction*, who now whispered stories to her from the anonymity of her pocket. 

*This story dedicated to my 400th Twitter follower. 



One day, Little Jay'd be like the Iron Birds that soared by his nest. They were so strong, so effortless in flight, so smooth in their return #approach.

His brothers laughed; until his very first flight. He rocketed right up, the new lights on his wings twinkling bright. 

Mona Lisa


I once dated the Mona Lisa, but I called it off. I was never good enough; she was a picture of disappointment. 

She always demanded I do poems or art for her. We once had a drawn-out argument over an Etch-a-Sketch portrait I did.

That relationship was #sketchy at best. 



Folks came from miles around to outdraw #Quick-draw Quigley. He had 'em fooled.

They'd find him speed-sketching portraits and still lifes and fixed to shoot him out of pure disappointment.

Then he'd snatch his charcoal pistol from the page and shoot 'em dead, every one. 

The River Syntax


The River Syntax: a beautiful and frightening place. Where t's, happily crossed, sun their wings from the rocks. Where i's, spotted with vibrant color, #dot the grassy knolls. 

Where sentences gambol over the hillsides—and mischievous semicolons stalk their fragments.

All the Days


She was the #epitome of the perfect housewife: nurturing, caring, quiet as a mouse, didn't even bore him with the mundane details of her terminal illness. She was good to him all the days of her life. 

But in her death, well, that would be a different story.



Her doctor said #she needed rest, but she visited her garden instead.

The melons would be ripe soon, swollen to the size of soccer balls, like she'd been.

She dreamed of the day she'd pluck them, break them, drink their sweet juice, and her tears soaked the soil. 



She always took her boyfriends' things—their hobbies, their taste in music, their sweatshirts.

She hardly cared they didn't #belong to her, and she never returned the things she took.

Except Joey; she couldn't stand David's little brother a second longer.

Gramma Jean


When I ask Gramma Jean what she carries in her hip-flask, she tells me it's #syrup.

She gives the best hugs—enveloping and sweet--like she's stuck to me and can't ever let go.

Most grammas give wet kisses, but my gramma's are sticky.



He'd been an ant his whole life, #overlooked by everyone.

But not today.

Today they couldn't miss him as he manned the controls of his shiny new 120-foot-tall battle-bot making its maiden jog down Broadway.

Today, they'd be the ants beneath his sedan-sized shoe. 



Charlie wouldn't have used his sister's bathroom, but the #2 hit him like some kind of bomb going off. 

She was gonna kill him if she knew he'd dropped her earring down the drain. He didn't have much time. He had to #improvise.

Her toothbrush worked like a charm.



Yesterday this bloke passes me as he gets off the bus, right? Snaps his gum right in my ear. By the time I'm up to cuff him, he's gone. Been looking for him ever since.

Nobody's seen him. They say I'm being belligerent. I prefer to think of myself as goal-#oriented; my goal is to tenderize that bugger's face. 

The Walls Have Ears


The walls have ears, they have eyes. They #listen. They watch.

They see the things you try to hide from the world, the monster beneath the mask--and they disapprove.

You don't notice, but they're closing in, eventually to hold you, to imprison you, to crush you. The world deserves better than you.



She built this prison herself: fired and laid each brick, lovingly extruded the metal bars, littered the floor with rat droppings, dirt, and stagnant puddles.

She burned the plans, locked herself inside. If she ever realized it had been a mistake, she'd never #escape.

Spelling Bee


They call Milly a cheater. They're just jealous she was named #champion of the 2019 Tri-State Spelling Bee.

You can't deny Milly's talent with magic; she's a gifted spell caster. She deserves this award.

The fact she'd jinxed the judges wasn't cheating, it was proof.



After 37 long years, Harvey was finally retiring. Everything was set--including the timer.

At his retirement #celebration, he made a spectacle of roasting himself and heckling his coworkers.

He always wanted to go out with a bang.

At 9 a.m. Monday, they would too.


He'd been on this platform for ages, awaiting his ticket out of here.

The #epiphany they sent wasn't the thundering locomotive of his dreams, but instead a squeaking handcar.

So he just sat and let it pass.

Yesterday Takes Its Place


Today is a happy place flowing with milk and honey, music, and children's laughter. 

But at night Today fades and Yesterday takes its place.

#Yesterday is a place too dangerous to visit, where hope is lost and old friends go to die.

It's unwise to linger in Yesterday. 

The Portrait of Dora's Daughter


Dora saw her once #humble beauty reflected in her daughter's young face. They might have been the same person. They were the same.

She immortalized her daughter in a portrait, gazed on it as if it were her own.

Then, she destroyed all evidence to the contrary.



Growing up on a farm, I learned a #lame animal was no good to anyone. Even when my favorite horse broke her leg, we had her put down.

Last year I dated a guy who enjoyed Harry Potter conventions. It was the lamest thing I'd ever heard of.

So yeah, I shot him.

Manliest of Men


He's the manliest of men, the greatest of warriors. He spikes his whiskey with the #teardrops of his foes, harvested just before the final death-blow. 

He has nary a weakness, except this one: when his darling daughter smiles, he is slain for good.

Wring the Clouds Dry


The Sky was leaking. At Nature's #behest, Sky held the clouds, let the sun stretch her golden fingers down. But the clouds were heavy, and tears leaked down his face. 

So he wrung the clouds dry, and only then was he strong enough to part them and let the sun smile down.



True Patriot


Not one to #malinger, John Hancock dragged himself to Congress despite a head cold. The moment they presented the document, he jumped up with his quill. Then he shot straight home, where the playoffs beckoned him to the telly.

After all, he was nothing if not a Patriot. 



When John was finally gone, every trace of him departed her too.

The smell of his skin on their sheets morphed into hers alone; the letters he'd written began to read like #demotic Egyptian; even his face in photos soon faded to a gayness, a person she used to know.



The sparrow applied for Little Dragons Training School. Of course, they didn't admit him; they weren't about to change the #paradigm. 

But the little spitfire didn't need them to chase his dreams. For his skin grew hard and scaly, and he learned to roar, just the same.



"How was Mikey's appointment this afternoon?"


"Uh oh. How was Mikey's behavior?"

"I can't say I loved it, but I can't say I didn't hate it."

"So. . .atrocious?"




This is Armageddon. They hear the committees with the biggest lungs, but not the #rapporteurs from the Committee on Overpopulation of Snakes. As the snakes overrun the earth, they evolve. They grow arms and legs, begin to carry briefcases and wear suits.

This is the end.

Protest Too Much


Call me they pretentious? They are but sodden-witted. 'Tis a mountain made of a mole-hill. 

Belike my vocabulary makes mockery of them, for my utterances are legion: "#eventide" and "bougie," "hangry" and "loquacious."

Methinks they doth protest too much.

Creature of Darkness


The light at the end of the hall tempted her, but no, she couldn't go. She was a creature of darkness and shade; in the spotlight she dissolved into the reassurance of shadow.

She retreated back down the hall, flickering under the #downlights as she passed underneath.

He Remembered Her


He was finally smiling again. I wasn't about to stop him. He'd become so #munted, he couldn't remember: not me, not anyone.

Except her. He called me her name. I became a #dual person, and I reached out to him, the ring he'd given her gleaming on my finger.

Dueling Shadows


I'd got m'self so #munted, I was #duelin' my shadow. Cap'n Morgan sloshin' in one hand, a yardstick slashin' in t'other.

Then--an' I swear it, right--that silly bugger leapt right at me, an' it shouted, it said, "Oi! That tickles!" 

Been sober ever since.

He's Cheatin'


He's the type of man that #facepalms Coors cans and fiddles with holey socks like they was hand-puppets. You see where I'm headin'? A man like that ain't comin' home offerin' to take his woman to Circ de Solee.

See what I mean?

That's how I know he's cheatin' on me. 

Hangry Hangry Dragon


Jerry found the dragon licking her paws. "Did I hear voices?" he asked.

"Yup," she said.

"We have a visitor?"

"Had." She preened.

"You ate our guest?! Again??"

"He said I looked #hangry," she pouted.

But now Jerry was hurt. "What am I supposed to do, starve?"

Strange New Person


The crystal in the game board swirls, smokey tendrils forming the words of the next riddle:

You're never ready for this invasion,

superficial discourse with a strange new person.

The doors to my left fly open and some #rando strides in, headed right for me. I run.

The Steel Peach


He called her #bougie and boring.

Little did he know she was endowed with supernatural power, the revered author of the literary novel series, "To Steel Peaches," the goddess of language, and that he'd be her next casting choice: the man dying from the incurable disease.

Too Little Nerve


She'd seen Glen do it, heard the things he'd said. For some reason, the cops chose to question her. The other guy was out cold.

She steeled herself to tell the truth, but as she prepared to speak, Glen slid an #object from his pocket. At the sight, she lost all nerve.



This is the #Desert of the forsaken.

Where everyone comes to find the things they've lost. Car keys, remote controls, brilliant minds, dead-beat dads--they all, inexplicably, end up here.

Some of these things don't want to be found.

Fork in the Road


He'd sat there 67 years.

Come to the fork in the road at age 23, paused to #deliberate, and never budged. Not even when caravans passed him, laden with luscious cakes, fragrant roses, or casks of pungent mead.

Whatever mystery was ahead, it was safer to stay behind.

Murder on the Bicycle Ride to Paris


The trial concluded for the Turkish man who was murdered during his bicycle ride to Paris.

The man was found in a petrol station toilet with a lethal concentration of fentanyl in his system. He encountered twelve individuals that day.

The jury #convicted all of them.



The trap was set.

"I'm not doing that," she said.

"You don't trust me." He said it with resignation, finality--and triumph, that she'd proved him right all along. His eyes were bleeding hearts.

She looked horrified. "No--yes, of course I do."

The trap #closed.


Sea of Lies


Humanity spouted an endless tide of lies, til the earth was awash with dishonesty, and fear and pride lurked in its depths.

In her fury, Love herself took the helm of the HMS Integrity. Its #bow, like a blade, cut through the sea of lies, leaving compassion in its wake.

Don't Stop


He started the book, but she has to finish. It's choose-your-adventure, but now that he's inside, she chooses for him.

She's forced to witness each decision play out in terrifying detail, but she can't stop #reading.

If she doesn't finish, he'll never come out alive.



She'd been congested all morning. Like Route 73 at rush hour in a snow storm. Agony.

Then, an idea clicked. She rushed for her notebook and pencil.

It began as a trickle, but soon the words flowed effortlessly onto the page. Her congestion had cleared. #Bliss.



Tragedy struck Wiener's Comedy Club when 32-year-old actor Oscar Frank dropped dead during an improv show.

Witnesses report Frank met his end during a Ballpark-themed game of Gestures-Only. 

The coroner confirms Frank choked to death on his own #pantomime hotdog.


London Eye


From the top of the #London Eye, she could see the world. 

From above the earth, she could see beyond the putrid fumes, beyond the faces snarling in hatred, to a world where the sun became a prism of colors, a world where patience stretched longer than the Thames.



In art class, they called him #Sticks, because all he could draw were stick figures. 

One day, he drew himself. His stick-figure-self found a door to a land filled with color and skinny kids like him, and he walked through.

He shut the door. He was never seen again. 

They Gave It All


"I wish you were dead!" she yelled. She slammed the door.

She ran down the block to the church, headed to her favorite tree, tripped over a headstone she'd never seen before. 

And shrieked.

Her #parents' names were written in stone: "They gave it all for their kids." 

The Playhouse


Jeffery was a special boy, the only one in school who went to the Playhouse. He knew the names of all the grown-ups there.

They would play together, spinning down hallways, swinging between parallel bars, or swimming in #pools of clear liquid that dangled from the trees. 

What Are You?

He'd asked her to, so she did. Now 5 #pink fingers bloomed on his cheek.

To her horror, he raised his hand and slapped her too. Now her face stung as bad as her pride. 

He pointed to the new scales on her cheek. "My bruise is human," he said. "I don't know what you are."

Like the Wind


Soleil is usually a #sunny girl, her smile as radiant as the sun blazing outside. When she's feeling nostalgic, I'll find her on a lonely knoll, the fog closing in around her.

But lately it's been too dangerous to go outside, which means one thing: Soleil is thunderous. 

Song that Never Ends


The #girls on Lynn's bus won't stop singing. it really is "The Song that Never Ends."

The bus isn't even moving, but still they keep singing. Even when flowers and crosses appear in the ditch outside, even when they've been there so long their bodies start to fade. 



She didn't care what everyone said; this was a land to be forgotten, of disease and monsters. If she ever needed this #bridge again, she'd find a new route.

The torch spiraled from her hand, set the bridge blazing. The fire's reflection danced in her emancipated eyes. 



She'd made this blanket in memory of him, of the way he'd captured her heart. The way his long #hair would glint and flip in the breeze. The scent of his hair when his curls caressed her face.

She held the blanket up, breathed it in.

Ah yes, that was him. 

Horseless Headsman


The horseless headsman got shafted. First, he had to drag his heavy axe round the country by himself. Then, his headless twin got the acclaim for being scariest. 

Ironically, they could have helped each other.

But no, the headsman's brother was always on his high #horse.

At World's End


The tides rose, threatening to overtake us. So we furled our hopes and dreams, our dearly held beliefs and jammed them into dusty bottles, flung them into the mouth of the sea, for the sea to expel them, abandoned and alone, to a lonely #beach somewhere at world's end.



Carrie waited for her date to appear. She liked her men like she liked her steak, often because they were one in the same.


His face was ruddy and #lean. She rose from her seat to hug him in greeting, took an almighty sniff.


He smelled delicious.

Spread Thin


Her husband kept saying she'd #spread herself too thin. She wouldn't listen.

When the heat was on, she couldn't say no. The months passed and she grew paler, until he almost couldn't see her, until one day he awoke to nothing but a pool of grease in the bed next to him.

Big Red Button


Silas was too old to be waking up in unfamiliar places, yet here he was, on a spaceship. They'd evacuated him from earth without bothering to wake him.

"How did this happen?"

"You know that big red button that always says, 'DON'T #PUSH'?"


"Somebody pushed it."

Willowtree Hall


Once inside the portal, I stopped. There were thousands of trees, sprouting from the marble floor. And more marvelous: #grass, shooting straight up from the tile.

And all the branches sagged with tiny green globes that could take me wherever I wanted to go.

🠟 The Selchie Trail

Morning Drive


Every day the same sight on my morning #drive: a couple walking, I never knew where, him leading her, both clutching their lunches. I tried to follow them as the days went by. My heart grew heavy as the snow did too, for now I saw something new: he began to walk alone.

Building Bridges


My dad, the dentist, #taught me all about his work. His favorite thing was putting in bridges.

Now I design bridges too, the kind that span water. I work to make them safer and stronger, the jersey walls higher, the guard rails thicker.

Guess I got it from my dad.

Running Away


Again she ran, boarding the silver bullet. 

Somewhere ahead of the train was another rising sun; but always behind her, ever so clear, was the lurking moon, mocking her with its ghoulish grin. 

The tracks beneath her rattled: Tick, Tock.


The Thinker


The model had held the same #pose for over a hundred years. He'd take a break--if he thought he could find the pose again.

So he continued to sit, chin to fist, elbow to knee, all the time wondering: when the sculptor leaves the room, does that mean he gets a break?

Thumbprint Cookies


Flour, sugars, eggs, jam; #Chef Daddy gathers the ingredients, leaves the salt in the cupboard.

He mixes it by hand, salts it with his tears. Rolls the dough into balls like bubbles, lines them on a cookie sheet, presses his thumb down. But his thumb is just too big. 



The city's new health initiatives included the first Cakewalk-A-Thon, a mile-long trek down Main Street, completed at your own pace, with the promise of a prize when you crossed the finish line.

It was a bad campaign.

No one expected the prize was protein bars. 

Locked Away


Every day, his brother #slides a piece of paper under the door.

"I love you," it says one day.

"I'm sorry," it says the next.

One day, the handwriting changes. It's larger, neater.

"This was the only way. When you're safe, you can come out."

Straw like Daddy


I miss the #straw my Daddy would give me, how I'd squeeze it between my teeth. How it was vaguely sweet and a little dusty, like him. I miss the work we did under the sun, he in his extra wide-brimmed straw hat and extra sunblock. I miss the sun. But mostly, I miss him.



He'd left her to rot, going on five years. She'd lay awake, thinking of him. How he'd come to her as a girl, in her classes or in bed, buzz in her ears and tickle her head. How now she grew gaunt and her mind decayed. In her waking dreams the Sandman never came.


No Room to . . . 


"Ernie, stop. What are you doing?"

"It's a cat. I'm #swinging him." 

"I see that, but why?"

"He was wet. I'm speed-drying him. You know cats hate water." 

". . . Well . . . for heaven's sake, have a care for my knickknacks and take him outside. This room is much too small."

Down on Your Knees


"'Get down on your #knees and tell me you love me.'"

"There. And how bout this? Does this say 'I love you?'"

"You're doing it wrong."

"No way."

"You're supposed to get down on one knee."

"Two knees, because I'd ask you twice. My only regret is I haven't more knees." 

Don't Cage Me


"Don't #cage me!" the dragon whined. His eyes made them sad, so they let him out and made him a habitat.

"Don't cage me!" the dragon whined, so they opened the door to the city.

They found the dragon picking bloody rags from his teeth.

"I told you not to cage me."

Tall Glass of Water


The man swaggered through the cafe, took the seat opposite her, uninvited.

"You must be parched, coming to a place like this," he said. "they say I'm a tall glass of water--with a whiskey kick." He winked.

She took a sip of her coffee and sighed. "I don't #drink."

She Will Eat Yours


She rarely #eats her own words, but she will eat yours, plucking them up as they fall from your mouth. She tastes them, rolls them around on her tongue. She shapes them into something new, knots in a cherry stem. Then she draws them back out slowly, never eating her own.

Bad First Date


Even at the #beginning, Hilda felt her date going awry. From the first giant hairy hug she'd given him, to the restaurant table--to which she'd physically dragged him--he'd been virtually unresponsive. Now he was drooling onto the table. 

So much for dating a homo sapiens.

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