Category Archives: Flash Fiction

Prompt: the smoke hung so think in the library’s rafters that she could read words in it

All Holly’s Eve

Holly was in on the scheme. She helped Jarrod set up the mysterious boxes with the magical switches and mystical buttons.

“I’m so excited for you,” she said again, giving him another hug.

He blushed. “I wish I could take you with me.”

She playfully punched him. “Stop that!”

“I know, I know. You’d only go with me if I love you, and I don’t love girls.” His baritone boomeranged through the library rafters.

“Miss Lovington will be so pissed.”

“She’ll get over it when I send her my first movie.” He held up his hands as he announced, “Special effects, Jarrod West.”

“I still think it’s magic.”

“It’s just technology, babe.”

She swatted him again.

Jarrod finished hooking everything up, and they descended the ladder to set up downstairs. The library had been a church originally, built by a self-made Italian immigrant, who imported marble for the floors, quartz for the altar, and the finest granite for the walls. Rails were added to the walkways in the rafters when the high school reluctantly let go of religious education in public schools.

Holly relished the irony of decorating the church for Halloween, her favorite holiday. Jarrod’s blueprints made no sense to her, so she anticipated the theatrics along with everyone else. Except she loved him as her friend, whereas others appreciated only his talent. Being a gay teenager who looked like a lumberjack in a little redneck high school was tough.

That night, she helped him carry up the bag that held, as Jarrod put it, the unknown quantity, his parting gift to his fellow high school students. Next, Holly arranged all the Halloween books chosen by Miss Lovington, lining them up with the ambient lighting strips for her “spooktacular” display. She placed fun-sized candy bars in front of the books, and she ate a couple. Jarrod finished upstairs alone, wishing to reveal his farewell to her this evening. Something thudded behind her, startling her.

“Sorry. Only way to get it down.” She widened her eyes at him in mock anger. His laughter bouncing off the walls rewarded her effort. He climbed down and attached the piece he’d dropped carefully to the wall, pulling the wires taut. “In the dim light, no one will see this. Close to midnight, when most of the people are in here—“

“Cuz it’s the end of the tour.”

“Right. That’s when you push the button.” He pulled her to the wall and pointed her own finger at the button.

“Okay, okay, I get it.” She snake-eyed him. “Won’t you be here?”

He grinned. “Yeah, I’ll be upstairs. Remember, don’t let anyone see you push that button.”

Just before the tour started at 9 pm, Holly and Jarrod supervised the placement of smoke machines on the outer walkways of the rafters. After quick instructions, Jarrod turned them on and set them to build gradually. Then Holly followed him downstairs to watch him work his magic with the laser lights. A few people drifted in, but hung back by the door, waiting to see Jarrod’s special effects.

As the smoke built, Holly could actually read the short passages in it. Miss Lovington had agreed to horror classics, Frankenstein, Dracula, and some less famous works. No Stephen King or Clive Barker. Absolutely no gore. She had conceded to Poe, so the lights frequently spread his words through the swirling haze.

Enchanted by the miracle of technology, Holly missed Jarrod’s departure, but assume he’d gone upstairs. She mingled with the Halloween revelers, oohing, aahing, and reading aloud at random intervals. With only a half hour cycle of quotes, Holly quit re-reading, getting excited again with newcomers. Fellow students who never spoke to Jarrod praised his work to Holly. She held her tongue.

Stifling a yawn, she checked her watch – 11:30, almost time. She could hear the tour guide outside the door telling a large group about the origins of the library. Then the guide continued with a few ghost stories the planning committee had conjured for the event. After a moment of silence, they were ushered inside. Holly stayed back to give room for everyone to witness the laser light show. Then she pushed the button.

Thunk! Jarrod’s surprise hung from the rafters over their heads, swinging wildly at first. As it stilled, the group gasped at the face of Jarrod lit up by laser on the body hanging above. As she stared, horrified, someone kissed the top of her head and whispered in a soft baritone, “I do love you, my friend.” She looked around, but he was gone. On his way to his uncle’s in LA.

Prompt: impulse buy that starts an intergalactic war

Aftermath of Iggy

I hate this planet. I want to go home. But home is gone. I was lucky to be drawn in the SOA lottery. I forget what SOA stands for, but we called it Save Your Ass lotto, cuz the shuttle took us to Ninger-14A when Imperiaz aimed their super nukes at us. They weren’t kidding with those babies. Those damn things ripped righ through our planet and took out a good portion of Fierasubuta, bringing them and their 1,400 ally planets into the Inter-Galactic War.

We call it Iggy. Apparently, we started it. Commandant Susifruze was having a really bad day. By accident, she bumped the arm of the ShoCo shuttle’s robot too hard against the Triad’s mounting sensor when repairing it. This caused a ricochet, setting off a small missile. It wasn’t aimed, so it hit the nearby Floating Flo’s space diner, taking out 14 Hellyions’ deep space scooters. They had to be rescued. And they were pissed. They blamed all three planets of the Triad. The rescue ship destroyed the Triad Station. Waymarrons had rescued the Hellyions, so that was five planets involved originally. We know how this escalated. We watched planet after planet explode. Now we’re here, scrunched like robot butlers awaiting assignment.

Commandant Susifruze apologized repeatedly, but no one listened. It had already been set in motion. I’ve seen her on dozens of talk shows, crying. A commandant, crying, over a superstition. She always chewed Tangerine Scream gum before every mission. I’m here on Tullivaara Planet Morning to tell Commandant Susifruze what an honor it was to meet her the morning of her last mission at Soar’n’Soar convenience store. And I’m really, really sorry I chose that day to snag the last Tangerine Scream. I never buy it. I didn’t know.

Are those antique manacles?

Where are you taking me?

Visiting Mom

The prickling at the back of my neck started about twenty miles from my destination. Though I’d been driving through the night, I was wired as though on triple espresso. Anticipation kept me wide awake. Mom’s threat to haunt me literally came true. She was waiting at the gate to Everton Cemetery, shimmering in the moonlight, just like last year, and the year before, and the first year before that.

The moment I stepped from the car, she was calling to me, “Honey Bear, you made it!” I hate that name, and now I would hear it for the rest of my life, not just the rest of hers. Asking her meant absolutely nothing. I may as well have asked my cat to stop meowing. She loved that name. Ugh

“Mom. Hi.”

“Come in. Come in. I’ve missed you so much.”

“How does that work exactly?”

And then she was hugging me, ghost style, moving her diaphanous self through me like ice water. I shivered and clenched my teeth.

“Stop clenching your teeth. You’ll give yourself a headache.”

“I can’t help it. You’re freezing me.”

“Oh, you’ll get used to it. Eventually.”

“I don’t actually think I will. Ever.”

“Sit. Sit.” She patted the stone at her grave. “I feel so much ‘more’ closer to my resting place.”

“I don’t even want to know what that means.” I set the ledge of my butt across the top of the stone. “Tell me again how this happened.”

She sighs. “Must we go over this every year?”

I nod vigorously. “Yes, because this is so far outside of what I believed was reality. It still feels like a dream.”

“You’ll get used to it, I swear.”

“I don’t think I will, Mom. I can never tell anyone. Who would believe me?”

Another sigh and she attempts again an explanation. “I panicked. There was so much confusion. You have no idea how confusing dying can be.”

“Yes, I can only imagine.” My hands are on my head pushing my hair back. “Except I have you to tell me from firsthand experience, which shouldn’t be happening.”

She reaches for my hands to pull them away, a familiar gesture, but this time eliciting only the shivering and teeth clenching. So she puts down her arms, steps back, and gently shakes her head.

“The choices offered made no sense until my kids were mentioned. After that, I kept nodding until I signed a contract.”

“Really? Signed a contract. Tell me again how that worked.”

Another sigh and she twirls in a circle, which honestly was fun to watch, the shimmer spiraling. “The paper appeared in front of me and I signed with my finger, just like magic, you know, in that show about that witch that you liked when you were a teenager.” I nodded, recalling my favorite after-school show.

“Did it sparkle, like a magic wand?”

“We go over this every year.” Her hands lay in front of her, palms up, beseeching. “We have only two hours. Please let’s talk about your life.”

“Okay, okay.” She leans back as though against something, in a reclining position on air, an action that makes me inexplicably jealous. “I’m still working at the same place, which is why I get my birthday off still. So no worries.” I give her my best ‘anything for you’ look, pouting just a touch.

“I’m not going to apologize again for having you at 3am. That was not my choice.” She reaches up and behind her, as though around a giant ball, in a melodramatic gesture. “The deal is made. You have to be here at 3am. That is also not my choice. You’re the one who moved so far away from home.”

The stone is making my butt numb. I’ve been here only half an hour and the sandman is sprinkling me. I yawn.

“Don’t you dare fall asleep. You know I cannot control the consequences.” My hands return to my head, pushing back my hair.

“Put your hands down.” I stand up and do jumping jacks. That helps. I try not to think about the wailing in my dreams, reminiscent of my night terrors as a child.

“Okay, if I start to nod off, hug me.” She nods, tight-lipped.

I tell her more about my life, which really doesn’t change all that much, especially in only a year. Then I ask about my baby sister.

“She doesn’t come. Still. I guess night terrors for only half an hour are not enough to convince her.” Her sigh this time sounds more wistful. “She was such an easy birth. Half an hour. Boom!”

Halfway done, I think, as I look at my watch. Fortunately, I am more awake now and enjoying the company of my deceased mother. I’m feeling a pang of guilt, and a little mirth, at the though of my older sister whose birth took 21 hours.

Rehab is Hell

Writing prompt from Facebook group Writing Bad:

The pain returns sooner after each successful release. It’s only been four hours and I already feel the ice creeping into my veins. I must find a sweet girl before the stiffness sets off the tremors. Carrying a book has always worked, so I set out again with a fresh copy of “Pride and Prejudice.” Jane Austen fans are the kindest, ironically. I’m not shivering yet, so my walk comes across as innocent still, and soon enough, a girl about my age starts walking next to me, glancing every so often at my book. She’s perfect, so naive.

“Are you going to the library?”

“Yes, to return this book.” I show her as I continue walking, not allowing myself a full head-on look to avoid climaxing too soon.

“I love Jane Austen. Is this your favorite?”

“No, I love ‘Northanger Abbey’,” choosing a less popular book to prevent discussion. Jane Austen bores me. She was not a sweet, kind girl, not like this precious flower walking next to me.

“Oh.” I can feel her disappointment.

“Are you walking to the library too?”

“Um, yes.” Now you are, my lovely.

I turn into an alley. She hesitates. I pretend to care and half turn toward her.

“I always take this shortcut. If you want to take the longer route, that’s fine.”

“No, no. I just didn’t know about this way.” She flounces into the alley. Such a flouncer, I almost break into two huge icicles.

Halfway down the alley, I swiftly thrust my foot in front of hers. She falls flat on her face.

“Omigod, I’m so sorry. Here, let me…”

Then my knee is on her back and my hands are on her face, wrenching her head back fiercly enough to rip the skin at her neck and stretch her vocal cords. I bash her face into the asphalt until the warmth caresses every inch of my body. Once again I have saved my life.

A scream breaks me from my revelry. A scream? There’s never been a scream before. I must be losing my mojo. I’m losing it. I’m really losing it.

“Rawr!” I growl down the alley. Something pierces my body and I fall forward, barely processing the woman leaning out the window holding a pistol that seems much too big for her. It’s still smoking as I go.

“You didn’t see that coming, did you?”

“Nope. What the hell?”


“Exactly what?”

“Hell. Exactly Hell.”




“Usually people start wailing at this point.”


“Hell. Duh.”

“Oh. What now?”

“Follow me.”

We go down a long hallway with padded walls and ceiling baffles, presumably for the wailing. At the end, he turns left and I try to keep up as I peruse my new surroundings. Frankly, I’ve always kind of looked forward to Hell. It couldn’t possibly be as bad as Earth. The Ice Age has been catching up to me this year. I didn’t realize that releases were coming so closely together until I needed another one on the same day. Hell and brimfire, here I come!

My tour guide explains every door that we pass on the left as classes in comportment, compassion, karma, etc., and every door on the right as services for well-being.

“You’re free to partake of everything as often as you wish, but you must attend all classes every morning. Afternoons are free time.” With that, he makes a u-turn and, walking past the hallway from which we’d originally come, leads me to an entrance that opens upon a cavernous, um, well, cavern. It looks exactly like the biblical representation of Hell. Fires are actually shooting out of the walls. Man, am I psyched. There are several people holding things up to the fires to watch them burn.


“Yes.” His face turns down at the mouth like a scolding grandma. Weird.

He motions me to follow again, so I do. We continue through the cavern, which is so big that it takes almost half an hour to cross. Women chase men past us. Men chase women. Adults chase children. There are some wicked costumes, no need to pardon the pun.

At last, we reach another hallway, with doors closer together. My guide opens #4,327.

“This is your room.”


“Remember, the only rule is that you must attend classes all morning.”


I settle into this life so easily. After working up the nerve, I lure a young girl to the lengthy hallway leading to the entrance to Hell and I wrench her neck while looking directly into her eyes.

Just for fun.

She is back the next morning. I see her in Karma class. She smiles at me. Shows all her teeth.

How delightful! I ask her again to walk with me, but she says no, that I am not fun.

So I find another sweet, kind girl. I wrench her neck in what I am now considering the ‘foyer’ of Hell. She too returns, smiles at me, and also turns down a second walk, as I am not fun.

My days become routine, classes all morning, a hot stone massage every afternoon, and a new sweet girl each evening just for fun. It seems as though everyone comes to Hell. The cavern I saw was not the only one, and the foyer not the only entrance. Hell is huge! Even if someone passes us in a foyer, no one stops me. No girl ever resists.

Three months into this amazing new lifestyle, my tour guide shows up at my door just as I am about to go in search of a sweet girl. He beckons me to follow with a crooked finger, his mouth in the grandma scold. We walk to the entrance room and through it to an office, where three others wait.

“Please sit,” requests the iron-haired lady in the 50s skirt suit. I sit in the lone chair facing them.

The two flanking her look to her, then at me. My guide stands behind me after closing the door. I feel as though I’ve been called to the principal’s office, which never happened in my life, ironically.

She begins, in a gravelly, yet firm, voice, “We’ve given you an extension due to your age. However, we’ve overestimated your ability to learn to live properly with your fellow man. The fact that at only 13 you are so capable of gleefully taking the life of another is disturbing. You cannot move onto Heaven and you cannot stay in Hell.”

“I had no idea.”

“Obviously, you fail to listen in class. You’ve gone through the Heaven and Hell class 14 times and gleaned nothing.”

“Wait. What? Heaven and Hell class?”

Disappointed grandma looks emerge on those flanking iron-hair, whose eyes shoots lasers at me.

Literally. Hurts like hell.

“You cannot be rehabilitated. You must be reincarnated.”

The floor slides open in front of my chair, which tilts forward too quickly to glom onto……….and

Bright lights blind me. I cannot speak. I can only cry. I cry as loud as possible to voice my distress. I recognize fur coats and mukluks, and then the memory of what they are fades………..and

I cry to voice my distress at the cold and the new sensations. The warmth is gone.

Scream for Ice Cream

Writing prompt from Facebook group Writing Bad:

Image may contain: text

As you run outside, holding your boobs, because of course you don’t wear a bra to bed, your attention is drawn to the receding ice cream truck, a clown waving out the driver’s side window and the dark curls of little Tisha poking from the window where the ice cream treats are meant to be served. She is laughing and yelling back at you, “Mommy, now I can have all the ice cream I want! Forever and ever!” You take off running again, totally forgetting to hold the boobage, screaming at your baby, “Jump, Tisha, jump! Mommy wants you to jump!”

And then you fall head over ass from an obstacle in the road. Ignoring the blood streaming down your face, and the pain streaking through your left knee, you crawl back to the obstacle.

It’s Tisha. And she’s ice cold.

Lucy Fer

Lucy scrolls through Facebook, trying to turn off her mind’s babble in an attempt to repress the words of those little imps. Sticks and stones indeed break bones, but words also do hurt. Natural disasters normally make her heart race. Troll commentary usually urges her to literally LOL. Grammar nazis generally get her goat going. Today, not even her secret pleasure of cat videos – those little beany toes! – suppresses the demonic taunting.

She clicks on a video of a blonde woman with an accent, the one she devilishly twisted for those happy-go-luckies “down under,” the ingrates, no appreciation at all her work. Down Under! Down Under! Just like her, but they refuse to get it. They’re too freaking happy to be the scariest country on earth, with the most fearsome animals. Still, the connection eludes them. Scariest? Fearsome? Hello!

Anyway, this blondie started The Body Movement, griping about hating her body. Betcha no one ever calls her a man. Wait! Look at these other women. They have big chunky bodies like Lucy. But none of them have her black hair, red skin. No one says they have goat’s hooves. None of them have claws for fingernails. No one calls them “Master.” No one calls them “Lucifer.”

She’s co-hosting her second religion. She’s changed her locale, her whole décor, from floral greenery to fiery red-hot mama, and they continue to mangle her name and treat her as a male deity. No matter how many thousands of years, she will never be Blondie.

“Whatcha doin’, Lucifer, watching cat videos again?” The little demon snickers.

“It’s Lucy Fer! I’m a girl!” She roars to the heavens. Yes, she knows her hears her. She knows he’s laughing. He’s been laughing at her since he called himself Zeus and lived on a stupid mountain. He’s been laughing ever since he gave her goat’s feet. He thought it oh so clever to match her skin to her latest decor. Always, the male has the power. Older brothers make for cruel deities.

They can’t hurt us, right?

They’re the shadows that you see out of the corner of your eye, the shadows you ignore, the shadows you call “floaters” when you hit middle age. It’s true they float, as they haven’t a corporeal body to anchor them. They float. They glide. They whoosh overhead when you look down. They slink close and tickle the hairs on the back of your neck. Many people learn to become blind to them, just as we become blind to seeing our nose so that it’s not a constant distraction. After all, they can’t hurt us.
“I don’t know how I fell down the stairs. It seemed to just happen. I would blame the cat, but I don’t have a cat.”
“I swear I heard a buzzing in the car. You know I’m allergic to bees. I told the officer I’m allergic to bees.”
“Her last words were, ‘Oh my god, a spider just crawled down the back of my shirt.'”

Puppy Trouble

“What time is it?” I asked my husband as I stared at the ceiling in the darkness toward the barking that woke me.


“4:47,” he responded in a growl.

“Do you know who lives upstairs?”

“No. What should we do?”

I sighed.

“I don’t know.” Thoughts of vicious reactions to requests to quiet the dog ran through my head, most of them mistreatment of the dog, which is what would keep me quietly seething.

We got up and had breakfast. Then I snored on the couch while he got dressed for work. I heard him on his computer after and only got up to kiss him goodbye. The dog had quit barking ten minutes after we decided to get up and start our day early.

I went to the endodontist for my root canal, ate lunch (soup) with the hubby, and bought groceries. We were off schedule on grocery shopping since arriving five hours late on the return train the previous evening from our family visit five states away. The delay and the dog dragged us both down into fatigue. Fortunately, I could nap after shopping.

Only the dog whined intermittently throughout the afternoon.

Just enough to wake me.

Our friend, and neighbor, texted that she would be down at 6 to return our key (for feeding the cats in our absence). It was not her who knocked on our door at 6, but our upstairs neighbor with her puppy, a black Lab with white toes, exuding excessive cuteness.

“Hi. My name is Karen, and this is Trouble. We changed it from Emily. We just got her a week ago and I want to apologize for her barking. She’s in training. We got the clicker and everything. She barks at night in her crate, but the vet said to let her bark, so she knows we won’t come just because she barks.”

“She’s a baby. She’s so cute,” I tell this woman who is treating her dog like an object. I offer to pet sit gratis while she works, but she informs me that they’ve already hired a dog walker.

She repeats her apology. I let her know we weren’t home the week before, which doesn’t seem to lessen her anxiety. I repeat my offer and she politely agrees to a future playdate that will never happen.

When my friend comes down the hall, I tell Karen, “I hope she earns her name back soon. She’s just a baby,” thankful for the reprieve before I say something too judgy to this woman who seemingly fails to understand that she has a baby in her home. My husband continues to speak with her as I invite my friend into our home.


With a capital T.

Her name should be


For she is only

A baby.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

“You’re so darn cute! How do you stand yourself?” I poked the cutest little girl in the nose and she giggled.

“I don’t know, Aunt Susie.”

It was getting late and I still had laundry to fold. Since the complex pool was next to the laundry room, I’d thought it convenient to wash clothes while we swam with our nieces. It was taking a bit longer than I’d planned, what with quality time with family delaying me.

Dear hubby was entertaining the older, challenging niece. So far, so good. I dragged little butt over to him and she climbed onto his shoulders. Her trust was well placed.

“I have to go fold the last load. I’ll try to be quick.”

“No worries,” he said, “We probably leave after this. It’s getting chilly.”

Little girl hollered from his back, “I’m not cold, Uncle Jack!” She was already starting to shiver. Drat! My night would end with clean clothes, in any case.

Halfway through the load, they tumbled inside, the little monkey shivering and blue-lipped, still protesting her departure from liquid fun.

Pulling clothes out of the dryer, I saw in my peripheral vision a little hand come up and then I heard, “What’s that?”

Europeans are more comfortable with their bodies than Americans, in general. At public swimming pools, I’d seen men wearing speedos that hid under their bellies. At least, I assumed they had on swimwear. My husband would tease that such a man hadn’t seen his little friend in a long time.

He’d compromised on swimwear, debating his usual speedos and baggy American-style swimtrunks, at last choosing a fitted pair of shorts, basically Americanized speedos.

Little niece poked him indelicately in the crotch and asked him a basic anatomy question.

A lowing sound poured out of his mouth before he turned and walked all the way up to the wall.

Our older niece then asked, “What’s what?” I couldn’t stop laughing to tell her, and likely would have walked around her question anyway.

The man pulled himself together and rejoined us.

Taking a deep breath, I let him know, “You were warned.”

And then…

The cutest little niece answered her cousin’s question, “I’m talking about that,” and poked his crotch again. My husband fell to the floor and curled up, lowing like a lost calf.

The older, but not so much wiser, niece and I laughed until we couldn’t breathe.

Little muffin stomped her foot and yelled, “Why is everyone laughing?”

Selling His Body

“So this is why you’ve moved to the guest room?”

“Yes.” He had the audacity to look me in the eye, no flinching.

“Why? Is your life with me so hard to bear?”

“I just don’t feel a part of the world anymore.”

“Husbands don’t do this. For God’s sake, why not simply become a Buddhist? I could handle that.”

“Religion isn’t the answer. I’ve tried. There’s a deep need in me to give back to my community.”

This pushed me to the wall. Literally. I couldn’t move, or I would slide down the wall to the floor.

“Someone in OUR community? Anyone I know?”

He shuffled to the window. I noted that he was breathing heavily. After five ads, no doubt he was suffering. Yet I dare not dredge up sympathy for this man I thought I knew.

“No one you know. I don’t think anyone in our actual community. No one in our neighborhood, for sure. I can’t say I even know any of them.”

“So just random strangers?”

“Yeah, sure. They’re all deserving.”

“Am I not deserving?”

“This is not about you.”

“How long did you think you could do this before I found out?”

“I think not much longer. I’m already weak.”

“It would be obvious soon.”

“Listen, the recipients are much better off. There’s no need to consider them any longer.”

“Recipients? I don’t even know what to say.”

He sat down with a “humpf” in the big corner chair in the guest room and pulled up his pants leg. Instead of his athletic calf with golden hair, I saw a prosthetic leg. I continued to hold up the wall.

“How long?”

“Two weeks ago.”

“What else?”

He took a long, shallow breath and leaned back, whispering, “A kidney. A lung.”

We stared at each other in silence for seven of his shallow breaths.

“Tell me the truth. I do deserve that. I deserve the truth. Craigslist?”

“Yes, well, it had to be anonymous. I truly thought I wouldn’t be taken seriously. Did you know there was a black market on Craigslist? I wrote the ad as a last desperate measure.”

“I don’t believe you. I don’t believe that you wanted to give back to your community.”

He nodded and whispered, “You’re right.”


“I’ve failed you. The money is gone. I lost my job.”

“What? When? Where have you been going?”

“Six months ago. I’ve been going to doctors, hospitals, once to Costa Rica.”

I gasped, “The business trip last March?”

“Yes. You have to understand. People will pay ungodly amounts for body parts.”

“I want you to stop.”

“It’s too late. My eyes are scheduled to go to some guy’s kid this summer.”

“Please stop.”

“This summer surgery is enough for your retirement. You don’t ever have to work.”


“I love you.”