Tag Archives: short short story

Defenders

 

Ba-thump.
His infant daughter gripped his fingertip with her whole hand. Linda was small, fragile, beautiful, everything in the world. All he wanted was to protect her.
Ba-thump.
Looking directly into Mary’s eyes for the first time. He’d never had the courage to talk to her until now. Her eyes were pthalo blue.
Ba-thump.
Speeding around the curves on his motorcycle, feeling the freedom, roaring wind in his ears drowning out all grief.
Ba-thump.
Standing before the congregation to deliver his final sermon. Odd that he would be nervous now, considering he’d stood here many times before with ease, even boredom.
Ba-thump.
Coming under the blankets just as his mom opened the door. Had she seen? She grabbed his laundry and left nonchalantly. No way to tell. She was a master of polite pretense.
Ba-thump.
Kissing Mary’s lips at their wedding.
Ba-thump.
Kissing Mary’s brow at her funeral.
Ba-thump.
The car rolling over him.
Ba-thump.
Cold.
Ba-thump.
He hadn’t bungee jumped yet. Linda had begged him until he promised she could go, but only if he came along to supervise. She was more brave than he’d ever been.
Ba-thump.
In utero, everywhere pulsing. The voices of his parents carried through to him, muddled by protective walls of warm flesh. “Let’s sing for him,” his father said. His mother laughed. Soon the comforting vibrations of familiar song thrummed into his core. He hadn’t understood what he’d heard at the time, but he recognized the hymn now.
His heart skipped a beat.
Instead of catching, his heart missed the next beat as well.
This pavement was cruel. He was frightened. It hurt. Something was very, very wrong with his body. It felt unbearably still, without a heartbeat.
Linda. He needed to stay here for Linda. He willed his heart into action one more time.
Ba…thum.
Vision flickering. As his consciousness mingled red with the motor oil and spread down the road, somebody took his hand. Maybe it was impossible, but it felt like his father’s grip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

A fairy tale: The old man and his three daughters

 

Once there was a little old man who lived in the woods with his three daughters. As he lay dying, he called them over to his deathbed.
“I am dying,” he said. “I am sure one of you has poisoned me, but I don’t want you all to fight, so I’m not telling you which one it was.”
“He’s lying,” the eldest said. “He just wants us to fight.”
“I have a small treasure buried under the house,” he said. “There is only one way to determine the successor. You must fight.”
“Goddammit, dad,” the eldest said. “Why is it always this?”
“Give a dying man his wish,” the father insisted.
“I’ll fight,” said the youngest daughter, who was the sweetest and most beautiful (anyone who’s ever read a fairy tale knows that the youngest child is always the best and most enabling child). “Since it is what father wishes.”
“Oh my god, what kind of man is she going to marry?” The eldest groaned.
“Okay,” said the middle to the youngest. “You and me. Let’s scrap.”
“Thank you, my children,” said the father. “Please, someone make popcorn. As a dying-wish favor?”
There was a throwdown. Hair flew, blood flew, molars flew. The youngest nearly lost an eye. The middle broke her arm. After a bitter struggle, the middle child triumphed.
She dug where the father pointed and pulled a purse from the dirt.
“A dollar thirty-eight. Really, dad?”
But the old man was already dead, a faint smile on his face.
“At least we were able to give him some joy before he died,” the youngest said piously.
“I hate my life,” said the eldest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

The Broken Purse

 

Some kind of a weird noir parody. Best read with a sleazy saxophone solo playing in the background, because that’s how it got written.

 


 

I can feel this seedy bar etching itself into the backs of my eyelids. Once you’ve been in a bar like this, you can never really leave. Smoke from the lungs of a hundred scumbags saturates your soul, and then it seeps out of your pores for the rest of your life. It doesn’t matter how clean you get or how freshly pressed your suit; good honest folks can still smell it, and wrinkle their noses when you walk by.

She knew I was looking her way. Animals like her have a sixth sense for these things.

Well, I tried not to think about it. But then she sidles on over to me and starts purring like a kitten.

“Buy me a drink,” she says.

“Baby,” I says, “I’ll buy a dame like you a whole bottle.”

So we get to talking. Turns out she’s from Maine. Land of the lobsters, I say. She says nobody talks like that and I don’t know jack shit about Maine.

As we talk I get to studying her face. You can read some faces just like a book. Where they’ve been, what they’ve seen. Behind those velvet eyes lay a Pandora’s box of trouble. She’d seen more than most, lost more. She had a low speaking voice, the kind you had to really listen to hear. And a slow motion walk, like she carried in her hips the watery swells of the great lakes. Maine. Nobody ever leaves Maine. It’s too good there.

She tells me she’s been shopping, that she bought a new purse. That the strap broke today. She looks at me with those deep black eyes and my heart split into twenty pieces of silver.

“I’ll fix your purse, sweetheart,” I says to her. And I stretch out my hand.

She hands me the purse. Charming the way she tied it together. A perfect square knot, not a loose strap of leather anywhere. An organized woman.

Yeah, I offered to fix her purse. But I wasn’t playing straight with her. I didn’t know the first thing about sewing. But I knew something about knots. I knew about tight places. Ah, she had a dress on so tight, it could strangle a python.

I sneak myself a peek into her purse and I see a shiny wallet, a set of keys, lipstick, eyeshadow, mascara, and $300 in cold hard cash.

Yeah, I’m a lousy guy, and I love a beautiful woman with sad eyes, but I ain’t a sucker. I tell you she had a contact list in her phone that was a mile long, all of them Johns.

“Sweetheart,” I says. “It’s been a pleasure. I’ll fix this for you in a jiffy, just gotta run to the car.”

She looked kinda troubled when I said that. “Wait,” she says.

I get up and I move fast. She’s got too much of the Great Lakes in her, those rolly hips balanced on high heels couldn’t get any speed. She says something at my back, I think it was, “he’s got my purse! You son of a bitch!”

A couple of heroes try to stop me but I hit em right where their weight settled and knock em down.

Yeah. I am a son of a bitch. I’m a fast son of a bitch. And no one will ever catch up to me.

 

I made a choice that night. Sometimes, when I’m in bed, my thoughts come sneaking in through the crack of light under the door. I close my eyes and I see the bar again, and I see the girl from Maine with the velvet eyes. And when I look at the tattoo those three hundred dollars got me, I wonder if it was all worth it. A Woody Woodpecker caricature lasts a long time in ink. But a kiss from a woman like that, maybe that’s what forever tastes like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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