Say It with Flowers

flower-bouquet-422709_1920

By Hombrehompson

The flowers arrive without a message or recipient.

The husband accuses his wife of having an affair. In turn she accuses him of having the same. This soon escalates into a vicious argument, with years of unsaid truths hurled at each other in unison.

He wants a divorce. She wants a divorce.

As if prompted by this, their daughter enters the room, woken by the argument. She wanders past them both and finds a card on the floor.

These flowers are for next door, she says, before getting a glass of milk and returning back to her bed.

The Finger

girl-2189253_1280

By Maura Yzmore

When I met Jenny, she worked as a waitress at the diner where I often ate after my shift.

The day I fell in love with her, she gave me the middle finger—the whole middle finger, with the telltale writer’s callus and both knuckles. It floated alongside chunks of chicken in the creamy soup that she served me.

I was more curious than appalled. “How does one get the whole middle finger chopped off?”

“By flipping off a ninja,” said Jenny, deadpan. At that moment, I knew she was the one.

The settlement I received paid for our honeymoon.

    
Bio: Maura’s short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Fiction Pool, Storyland, Microfiction Monday Magazine, The Dirty Pool, and 50-Word Stories.

Spiders Don’t Write Poetry

autumn-1853968_1920

By James Blevins

“We’re here for only a short while,” Amy said out loud, sketch pad on lap, pencil poised over blank page. “Then it’s back to the spider.”

Her breath, a frosty, cloudy haze, emitted percussively as she spoke. “But as far as I know,” she continued with added emphasis, pencil dancing across her sketch pad, “spiders don’t write poetry.”

When she was finished, she looked down at what she had drawn, then back to its source, satisfied. Above her, the sun was young, far below its apex in the sky.

“Maybe they don’t need words,” she mused. “Not like we do.”

Split Custody

broken-heart-2084321_1920

editors pick

By Rachel Doherty

Again, I’m left waiting. It’s the third time someone forgot to pick me up at school this month. Mom will blame Dad and Dad will blame Mom. I blame them both. Living half my life with one and half with another. In other words, all of my life without someone.

They say it will get better. They say they just have to work out a better schedule. Ever since the separation I am told just give it time and the kinks will get worked out. I know better. This is the new norm. I’m done waiting. I’ll just walk home.

This Lady Has Lost Her Way

eye-1255968_1920

editors pick

By Robert Krenzel

This Lady has lost her way.

She is an immigrant: a French girl, originally.

She welcomed others, lighting the way to a better life.

She watched, twice, with pride as the boys sailed off to rescue her homeland. She counted them back; too many never returned.

She wept as she watched the towers burn and fall. They were immigrants, like her. How could they?

She grew angry and suspicious.

Lately she has lost her way. The light has gone dark. She no longer welcomes the wretched refuse.

Only for a time. Maybe just for a few years. Maybe just four.

     
Bio:
Bob Krenzel writes historical fiction in his spare time. A 24-year Army veteran, he served in the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Dear Me

girl-1721392_1920

editors pick

By Anonymous

You will fall in love with words and writing, and in the process, you’ll hear this a lot: “Don’t write like a victim.”

Don’t listen! Don’t let anyone else tell you how to express your truth.

Someday soon you will come to realize the Universe is arbitrary. Things will happen that are outside of your control, and some of those things will be painful. Yet, somehow you will make it through, I promise.

I’ve written this because I love you, and I don’t want you to ever forget that.

Love,

Your future self

The Color of Poppies

poppies
Photo supplied by author.

editors pick

By S. S. Hicks

How long did it take
turning battlefields into blooms?
Nourished from fallen soldiers,
clutching hearts not their own.
Nameless warriors, yesterday’s schoolboys
with combed hair and brushed teeth.
Given bayonets, helmets and cigarettes,
whispering to their mamas as they
colored fields with their death.

What Exactly Is Drabble?

Ernest-Hemingway-Quotes-Iceberg

By The Drabble

Poem? Story? Brain vomit? Snapshot? A representation of a thought, idea, feeling or emotion? An entry point for thought or feeling? Drabble can be all those things. Drabble is a form, not a formula. Just as a haiku or sonnet has rules, so too does drabble. Words: 100 or fewer. Drabble is a form requiring concision.

You may wonder if it’s even possible to write a good story in fewer than 100 words. We say yes, although it’s certainly not easy. Most modern narrative art adheres in some way to Shakespeare’s three-act structure (i.e., conflict, rising action/crisis, resolution), whilst presenting a clear theme. Must all these elements be present to tell a good story? Grant Faulkner, co-founder of 100 Word Story, thinks so. In his essay, “Writing with Gaps,” Faulkner says,

“I think the best 100-word stories move with the escalation any story has. They have a beginning, middle, and end—a telling pivot, an emotional velocity.”

While the old writing workshop trope, “What’s at stake?” is still germane; with drabble, the stakes needn’t always be presented upfront, but the subtext should be clear. To illustrate, we offer two examples of drabble done well by two great writers.

Example 1 – Lydia Davis
Look at what Davis pulls off in just 37 words in her story, “Contingency (vs. Necessity) 2: On Vacation.” (From her book, Can’t And Won’t: Stories)

He could be my husband. But he is not my husband. He is her husband. And so he takes her picture (not mine) as she stands in her flowered beach outfit in front of the old fortress.

This is a story about the timeless themes of unrequited love and regret. A woman regrets missing her chance to marry the man she now covets. Conflict: a woman covets another’s husband.

The rising action takes place in the narrator’s mind: the woman watches a scene that touches a nerve and stirs the inner conflict. Although Davis doesn’t offer an obvious resolution, she gives us just enough information to formulate one of our own.

Example 2 – “Hemingway”

Back to the iceberg, Hemingway wrote,

“If a writer knows enough about what he is writing, he may omit things that he knows, and the reader … will feel those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.”

iceberg

Legend* has it, while imbibing with some writing buddies, Hemingway boasted that he could write an entire story in six words. He then wrote these infamous words on a napkin:

For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

In writing workshops we’re often told to avoid using clichés, which is good advice, but with drabble, they can sometimes be used to paint a fuller picture in fewer words. This would be an example of a writer exploiting a cliché (in this case, the ubiquitous vernacular of the classified ad). Here, Hemingway seems also to be heeding his own advice, that is, showing only the top one-eighth of the story, while leaving the remaining seven-eighths below water to be conjured. In six short words he manages to paint a vivid picture of hope, loss, grief, and acceptance.

Does Hemingway’s story have a beginning, middle, end, a telling pivot, and an emotional velocity? No, not explicitly. Here he gives us only a tiny glimpse — a snap shot — but it’s all the pretext we need to fill in the rest of the story (i.e., sense, feelings, fear, thoughts, subconscious, etc.).

*See Snopes re: the veracity of this legend.

A Fresh Angle

great-horned-owl-874770_1280

By Nick Dunster

editors pickThe elderly tenant called me up to make a formal complaint, insisting that I visit him in person that cold, December morning.

“It’s that immoral young woman over there,” he explained, gesturing toward a window in an adjacent block. “Every day she wanders around in her apartment with no clothes on.  It’s really not acceptable.”

I peered across. “Well,” I said, “I can’t see anything.”

“Ah no,” the tenant explained. “You can’t see anything from there. You’ll have to stand on this table and then lean your shoulder against this wall. Then you’ll have the right angle.”

Daydream

woman-coffee-cup-mugBy Kazz

editors pickFor the next hour I am just me.

I sip coffee and watch the people.

A young man hooks my gaze. He is writing. You don’t often see that these days.

He is young but … attractive. I wonder if he would glance at me and see past the shell of motherhood. We would talk of art and of writing and of how it could never work. Then have a delicious affair.

He looks up. I quickly look away and think of groceries.

As I leave I catch the eyes of an elderly man. He averts his gaze. He looks uncomfortable.