Tag Archives: short short story

AC

 

She exhaled. The air froze her breath, turning it to mist.

She turned, her high ponytail bouncing, and headed towards the fridge.

In her home hung icy stalactites. The floor was slick as a rink.

She cracked off an icicle as she passed through a door and picked her teeth with it.

Once this room was stiflingly warm, full of chaos and arguments and pets and children and steaming meals. Every blanket was a shared blanket. There wasn’t enough house to go around.

Now things were much better.

She checked her fridge and swore to herself. There wasn’t enough milk for her to make the ice cream. It was already time for another grocery run?

Grabbing her keys, she put on a visor and sunglasses, a light shawl, considered sunblock but decided against it.

When she opened the door, the sun hit her hard, even through the sunglasses. She took a deep breath of conditioned air before heading out. Her mantra would get her through this: only five minutes, only five minutes. Then she could be back home, making ice cream, enjoying the cold dark quiet isolation of her safe, safe house. With any luck, she wouldn’t have to talk to a single person.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Housesitting

 

Checking up on my friend’s house while he was on vacation, I did a quick walk through, tweaking the thermostat, flushing the toilets.

As I was poking through the fridge for expired items, movement caught the corner of my eye. Something white on the kitchen floor. Before I could focus my attention on it, it had already slipped through the archway.

I followed to investigate, but it was no longer there. Perhaps it was my imagination.

No, there it was again! Going into the bedroom. It looked like the hem of someone’s dress.

Panic gripped me by the neck. There was no one else here. Not one sound but the abnormally audible ticking of the kitchen clock.

Hesitantly, I followed it into the bedroom.

And just saw the edge of it going into the bathroom.

There was nowhere left for it to go now.

Bracing myself for… I don’t know what, my hands shaking, I forced my weak legs to follow after it.

I rounded the corner and saw a woman in a white wedding dress standing before the mirror. She was taking down her old-fashioned hairstyle, removing hairpin after hairpin from her chestnut locks.

I blinked, and she was gone.

Before, I was shaking from fear. Now I was shivering from the unnatural cold that sank straight into my bones. I could see my breath.

Nope.

Rushing back through the house, I grabbed my purse and left through the front door, pausing to lock it behind me with trembling hands. I’d accidentally left my water bottle in there, but I wasn’t going back.

I texted my friend. “You don’t need a housesitter,” I typed. “Someone is already staying here. You can keep your $50!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Doomed to Repeat

This is almost entirely based on a bad dream I had. A little sci-fi/horror/I don’t know what. Interpretations are welcome, if you dare plumb the depths of my psyche.

 


 

He looked at his watch. “It’s almost time,” he said.

The kids groaned and put down their forks.

“Come on outside. Come on! No dawdling, do you want to drown in the kitchen?”

“What does it matter,” grumbled the older daughter. “We’ll die either way.”

“Don’t talk like that,” the mother snapped. “Just… please. Come out here on the porch with me and hold hands. We don’t know that it could be the last time.”

“Mama, how many more days?” asked the younger daughter.

“I don’t know, sweetie. Maybe until somebody does it right. Maybe until somebody fixes it. We tried once, to fix it. We tried building walls together. Do you remember all the people?”

The child shook her head.

“Well, it happens all over the world. We can’t get away. So for a while, all the people tried to get together and build a shelter. But no matter how many hands we had, one day just wasn’t enough time. After a while, we started to stay home…”

“It’s here,” dad said with grim finality.

“Remember, kids: if you survive the impact, breathe deep right away so you drown quick. I’ll see you again this morning. I love you.” She had to shout over the rumbling of the approaching tsunami.

“I’m scared, mama.”

“I know baby. It won’t last. It won’t last.” Knowing the outcome did not prevent her from protectively curling her body around the child, who started to cry. The elder daughter and the father stood together, gripping the railing of the porch and waiting silently.

The tidal wave took them.

 

 

 

 

 

Fading

I am an old woman.

I have a history. I have had a beautiful life. It’s made me the strong person that I am today.

We went hungry. For a while my husband and I were eating roadside dandelions and bad cheese from the deli garbage. During this time I got pregnant. When I found out, I cried.

I had four miscarriages and four children. A soul lost for each gained. Our marriage survived it all.

I got a job selling tickets to the movies. Ten cents a pop.

Then my husband got a good company job. I quit working and spent more time taking care of the kids. I watched them grow up. Watched them make mistakes, fall in love, get jobs, fail out of school, neglect their health. I watched them gain scars as I did, earn wrinkles as I did. One of my sons nearly lost his leg in a motorcycle accident. We held his hand in the hospital. My other son got arrested protesting. We bailed him out. My daughter married too early and fought with her husband, until my grandkids had to go through a divorce. They lived with us for a while.

Every day my husband says he loves me. Every day I make him breakfast. He fixes the plumbing. I remember birthdays. We take care of each other.

My scars make me who I am. I have seen so much. I have lived a full, rich life. Everything I’ve been through has given me a bottomless well of strength. My arthritis is painful, but I don’t really mind. My hip is like fire. Some days my hands ache so badly, we just eat store bought muffins for breakfast. But I remember the old days; we are lucky to have this food. It’s an easy life. Pain is part of living, and every day I have left is a blessing.

 

I am an old woman.

My memory isn’t what it used to be. I write down birthdays, but they keep slipping by me. It’s hard to keep track of what day it is anymore. The calendar is always marked up wrong, I get tired of fixing it.

My husband is very patient. Sometimes I forget to make breakfast. Sometimes I am so full I suspect that I made us two breakfasts, but he doesn’t say anything. The kitchen is a little more disorganized than I like it lately.

My children don’t visit very often. They always protest and say they do. Maybe they do. Maybe I’m just complaining. I don’t want to be any trouble so I try not to complain too much, but I can’t help missing them. I want to see their bright little faces. I heard one of them got married? I’m not sure which. I get them mixed up when thinking back, but when I see them it’s alright. I just haven’t seen them in so long.

My husband looks a little worried. I think whatever’s worrying him is aging him too fast. I hate to see him suffer. Maybe I’ll cook him something nice tonight; that always cheers him up.

 

It’s frustrating, living in the house with this old man.

He’s like a warden. Today I was done visiting and went for a walk back to my own house. I know it’s in this neighborhood. He chased me down and brought me back here. Nothing happens, I just get so antsy!

The kitchen is in disarray. He rearranges everything. Nothing is where I put it. It’s like living in someone else’s house and never getting past the house tour stage. What kind of devious person would keep moving the silverware drawer? I want my own house back.

My hands hurt. My hip hurts. Sometimes I forget and move wrong, and then the pain hits me, hard.

I miss my parents. I miss my sister. Sometimes people visit me, people I don’t know, and they claim to be family. I pretend I know them because they seem so sure, and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

I cry a lot lately. Nothing makes sense. I yell at the old man. He laughs like it’s nothing to him. What a bastard.

 

Ah…

Who is this holding my hand? An old man… he’s crying? And a few other people.

I am hooked up to machines. It’s hard to breathe…so hard to breathe. I must be sick.

Oh no. Everyone looks so sad. The old man is crying for me.

Don’t cry. I don’t want you to cry. I hate to worry anyone.

But I can’t talk. My breathing is too weak; I’m wearing a mask over my mouth and nose.

I don’t know how to handle this. I can’t take it.

A Quick Death

This is the only thing I wrote this weekend. Add it to the list of things I didn’t want to post. I don’t know why!

 


 

“I don’t want to,” he said.

“Do it,” she said. “You’ve got to get over your fears.”

He was trembling.

“Cast it at that woman over there.”

“But she hasn’t–”

“Do it! Prove you’re a man.”

The woman was reading a book in an isolated section of the great library. She was well dressed, wore glasses, had her hair pinned back in a clean bun. She had gotten caught up in a book and was standing up reading it. She looked nice.

The boy pointed his finger lamely in her direction. A gust of wind blew past her and she leaned into it, unconsciously enjoying the breeze.

Teacher glared down at him. “I am disappointed in you,” she said. “Now you’re going to have to watch her receive a worse death at my hands. This is your punishment.”

“Oh, please no,” the boy said.

She opened a chasm beneath the woman’s feet, and the woman dropped. She was too surprised to even scream. Nobody saw it happen. The chasm closed up just as quickly as it had appeared. Had she broken a leg in the drop?

“Come on,” his teacher said. “We’ve got work to do down there.”

Her own warm hand took his, gently. They phased to the dungeon at the bottom of the chasm.

“I’ll give you one more chance to try it yourself,” she said.

The girl was panting, sitting up on the floor in an uneventful position, one leg drawn up toward herself. She couldn’t see in the dark, but she could hear voices. She had been hurt in the drop after all, though the boy couldn’t tell where.

He had to do it. He had to be quick and merciful. Or else Teacher… who knows what she would do to the girl to prove her point and punish him.

A quick, merciful death. He took a deep breath. Sharp and quick, like a band aid. He moved his whole hand in a crisp motion, with assurance.

The girl’s head detached cleanly. It fell to her side. The body fell forward onto her knees and remained propped upright.

“Good,” Teacher said. “This is what it means to be a Reaper. Do you understand?”

The boy nodded, tears in his eyes.

“You gave her a good death,” Teacher said. “You’ve got to be proud. This is the best we can do for them.”

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