Wednesday is about books and/or writing. And today I'm sharing a small handful of very short stories. Some mid-week micro-fictions.
Here’s a small handful of very short stories I’ve written over the last few months. Sometimes a prose-poem or micro-fiction is meant to be the length that is - it’s meant to be super-short. Other times, for me, it’s an idea I couldn’t follow through with - or I want to leave for a bit, possibly return to. So here they are in various forms, various capturings:
Be Careful How You Say You Were Not There
She said, “I met you at Mark and Ali’s house”, and you said, “I don’t think so”. So, with very much a case of too much enthusiasm indeed, she said, “Mark. And. Alison. Taylor!” Like that cheerleading enunciation would suddenly take you right back. But you stood firm, didn’t travel anywhere in fact. And said, “nah, not me, I don’t know those people”. She looked at you with slight sadness. You had burst her bubble. But also, you were a liar. That was you there. With Mark. And with Alison. The Taylors! That night they all played a game of scrabble, and Ali knocked over the wine and Mark got a bit cross, but the woman behind the counter, whose story you are killing stone dead right now, she was so quick with the salt and the teatowel and the calm vibes that all was not only forgiven, all was gone – vanished, fixed in an instant. You had to remember all that? The delicious vegan chocolate cake? The Irish coffees, which Gary had a second one of, even after the wine, and none of you stopped him from driving home. Remember? You must remember. But you don’t. Because none of that ever happened. Well, if it did you were not there. Not that this person cared. To her, you’re just a strange liar – ruining her chance of connection. Or reconnection, as she would have it.
We Could Mend Fences
We removed your post. Now the whole fence is in danger, having to take the weight of that one thing you said. We didn’t understand the context. Now your fence is going to have to support your views even with that post taken from view. Taken from you and placed in the pile of deadwood, put on file to rot. We removed your post so that we could keep watch over you. We removed your post because we had nothing else to do. And you fixated on the removal for the very same reason. Perhaps we should work together. We could mend fences.
When the wind comes up and the rain settles in and the lights are gone and the candles are dim and the music is only an ambient crust, and the lids are heavy but still there’s an edge to it all, that’s when you’ll realise there’s no horror in this world that can add anything to the real terror. Imagination is a wonderful thing, and its escapist therapy will help us all. But how do we get there when the actual world grows so grim, with tumours blossoming like fresh new truths every day, when a storm or power cut couldn’t begin to set up anything at all. Because the horror is in the parliaments and boardrooms and the corridors of all power, it’s in the caked expressions on the wax-eyed paintings and their dusty frames, fraught with opulence and mired in unacknowledged guilt; there’s no hope for false scares as a jolt to the senses – not when the real ones are forever threatening and grow quietly amid our collective silence. The cold death of value has killed all of the ugliness anyone might want to cultivate, but none of the rawness that sneaks through the gaps of hurt as dead-eyed monsters dress smarter and worker harder and haunt agile velocities with new pathologies of loneliness.
Let’s hear it for the meritocracy!
Let’s hear it for the meritocracy! Well, with all due respect, we’ll be able to hear the meritocracy in good time. It will have a chance along with everything else.
Lost In Manhattan
People ask about my childhood trauma. I sigh, and mention the Manhattan transfer. Oh no, they say. Were you left there without a connecting ride at a young age? No, it’s worse than that. My parents played their albums a lot.
The Old Joke Gets An Upgrade
//The old joke says that that guy goes to see the doctor and the doctor says there’s good news and bad news and what does he want to hear first. And so, the patient braces himself and says that he’ll have the bad news. And the bad news is that he has cancer. So, he has to ask, what then is the good news. Doc says to take a look at the receptionist and adds that he’s actually fucking her. But the new version of the joke is that the receptionist is a polyamorous invention, a shapeshifter born male and so that doc is actually – technically – fucking some dude. Cancer patient can’t laugh too much though or he’ll cough up a lung eh. And he needs both of those for at least as long as time will allow. Doesn’t stop him from having a laugh. Or a wee perv on his way back out.//
We Can’t Build Our Dreams
He startled awake. It had all been a dream. This would have been the perfect end to a story, clichéd? Absolutely. But safe. Secure. Instead, however, this was only the start. And it wasn’t even a story. Brandon knew the world he’d just imagined could never come true. And that was the saddest part of it all.
He plopped the small, single-serve foil packet’s contents into the cat bowl. He brushed his teeth, after slurping half of the coffee down. It was already well on its way towards being cold. He rushed out the door with his laptop-bag wide open, his gym clothes stuffed on top.
The bus was late. Making him even later. The wind was cold. The work he couldn’t yet see was piling up like existential grief.
No lunch break, and just the threat of more and more email. Most of them containing links to previous meeting notes or the threat of yet another meeting. Purgatory has a 15-minute break in its contract, but you try enforcing it!
Brandon missed the bus back home, sweaty and cold from his gym efforts. Around 9pm, he opened another single-serve foil packet. This one was for him though, looking just a little bit better than the cat’s – but only just.
The spreadsheet haunted him so he checked back in before bed. And immediately wished he hadn’t.
And then, eventually, to sleep. Perchance to dream. But only ever to startle awake. Elvis Presley’s opening line from Suspicious Minds soundtracking on a loop.