Tag Archives: short story

Therapeutic Memory Reversal

Author’s Note: I’m doing my own mini-McSweeny’s, running pieces of fiction that received multiple rejections from semi-pro or professional paying markets. This story has come close to acceptance half a dozen times but I need to move on to other ideas. I hope you enjoy it for what it is.

A 300-year-old supernova remnant created by the explosion of a massive star.Ze lifts the small crystal cover with one finger and pushes the red knob underneath it. With zir other hand ze holds down a metal knob and turns the instrument clockwise one, two tight clicks, waiting for the trickle of memories to start flowing through zir headpiece. Ze braces zir arms on the counter, the room lights kept low because receiving memories is still painful, even if they get easier to acquire over time.

The sessions with Dad went too far. Well. Really ze doesn’t know what went wrong. Ze only sometimes recalls expressions on people’s faces from before the time on ship. So ze—I—sneak back here and try unlocking another piece. When the other me isn’t busy living a hellishly boring existence.

Ze—I, I, I—I will merge us.


After the scandal and the election some people said it’s the memories that are gone, cauterized by the pulse of this evil, wild device. But ze wonders if maybe just the pathways are gone, and it can rebuild them, like a new bridge, or a portal. I have to try.

He only thinks he is happy.

Zir finger hovers over a green button. Sweat has lined up across my forehead and the back of my neck. I feel a Pavlovian lump in my throat. Before ze can change its mind, I turn the knob two more clicks. This is going to hurt. Read More…

From My Hard Drive

Author’s Note: This is a reprint of a short story than originally ran in SPLIT Quarterly.


He weaves the thick strips of brown leather together slowly, seemingly fascinated that they have a smooth and a rough side. On the suede he traces his index finger slowly, almost lovingly, pushing against the grain, and then smoothing it down with the grooves of his fingerprints.

She looks him over, wanting to make eye contact and knowing he’s not about to grant that small favor to her.

“Hi, honey,” she says, in as much sing-song as she can muster.

He goes about looping another strip of belt material into the snake he already created. She sees that he is making a neat pattern of light and chocolate brown leather. A bit of sweetness in this bland, quiet universe of his. His hair is tousled, even matted in a few places, and he smells a little of urine. Smelling that upsets her. She needs to speak to the staff about that.

She flinches as a man, across the floor from her, squeals at a piece of Formica that is escaping the countertop one increment at a time, near the arts and crafts station. He is suddenly obsessed, slipping his fingers under it and listening to the flap as it slaps back down where it was still glued in place. Flap, flap, flap, flap.

“What are you making there,” she asks the beltmaker.

He continues the pattern. “Water,” he whispers. Read More…

A Little Zombie Excerpt

Here’s a little something from a story I’m working on right now…


Ezra walks like a drunk sailor, or how I think a drunk sailor would walk, because like I have never seen one but I’ve heard that sailors drink a lot and drinking makes people stagger around the way my little brother does, but whatever, Ezra stumbles around the house all the time. Mostly he clings on to furniture if it’s near enough to cling to, but some of the stuff that Mom Two buys on her antiques shopping sprees is really tippy, so then I have to rush up to Ez and make sure that he doesn’t bonk his head or break some fancy Shaker end table in the process. It gets tiring, but the extra allowance is worth it. Plus he’s cute, and so when we’re out somewhere like the arcade on Folsom or the hipster park where everyone beautiful plays lawn Frisbee or whatever the hell it is, people come up to us all agog and shit because Ezra is teetering around, saying “arararar gagagaga Amuhwee” which is some apparently adorable pronunciation of my name, Emily.

Yes, our parents gave their two children E names. It is so awesome being us, let me tell you. Actually my original name was not Emily, I had to convince my parents that despite what the doctor yelled out as I was born, I was really a girl. It wasn’t easy to get them to believe me, but they’re more or less okay with it now, and I have learned all kinds of ways to be a more patient person. Maybe. The universe gave me my parents so I would learn how to get what I need, and then it gave me Ezra so I would continue to work out my core muscles. Thanks, universe, for looking out for me.

The phone rings, and it’s my friend Iggy who is also trans and who also left out extremely crappy high school because of it. Iggy has been funny as hell lately because he finally started hormones after years on the blockers and now he texts me every time a new chin hair appears. Seriously. I have like 126 texts from him, all about freaking chin hair. Guys are so weird.

“What’s up, Ig?”

“I was going to hang at Gus’s house, you wanna come?”

Gus is one of those kind of asshole, kind of cool dude you can’t ever pin down. But his parents have a pool and it is close to 100 degrees outside. Read More…

How Not to Respond to Success

Dame Sally Markham from Little BritainEmerging writers are tired people. We’re working on building our networks, improving our storytelling and writing, marketing ourselves as writers, and fretting over query letters to entice agents to represent us. The idea that novelists sit around eating bon bons and dictating prose into a recorder is a non-author’s fantasy. Real writers wear out their keyboards and keep going.

It’s impossible, quite frankly, to do all of this and keep every vestige of reasonableness in one’s body. Some of our patience wears thin; or we misplace a bit of perspective here or there. I think I have some alertness stuck under the dryer in my laundry room, for example. Or maybe it’s acuity; I can’t tell, because I’ve dribbled out some of my ability to ascertain my own aspects of intelligence. Read More…

Flash Fiction: After the Fall

It’s not as short as Hemingway’s shortest story (For sale: baby shoes, never worn.) but seeing as I don’t compare myself to him, it doesn’t matter. It is, however, my shortest story, barely scratching 450 words.

She feels the pressure at her knees, because this roof is on more of a slant than the hill behind her house, and she’s only used to running down dirt and grass. Something about this hard tile surface hurts.

Looking toward the sunset she’s excited by how far her vision extends. She’s only ever seen the curve of the earth when she visits the coast with her parents, and somehow, it never seemed as powerful a view as this does now. She wishes, for a snatch of time, that she could just extend this sunset into tomorrow. Read More…

Friday Flash No. 7: Mummy

My heart was on fire, or at least, it felt like it was on fire. I kept one hand over the middle of my chest to double check. A nurse noticed and came over to me.

“Inez, are you in pain again?”

I nodded. I still wasn’t any good at talking. Not on a consistent basis.

The nurse leaned in and squinted at the monitor behind me. “I can only give you one more increase,” she said, twisting something on my IV line. “The pain should start to subside soon.” She patted me gently on my shoulder and I resisted jerking away. I smiled at her in as small a fashion as possible, so I wouldn’t tear the corners of my mouth. Read More…


He handed the jar to me, a small glass container with a fluttery light inside it, some kind of hybrid between electricity, butterflies, and lightning bugs. The glass lid clattered a little as there was nothing sealing it to the jar itself.

For all of its importance Jayman pressed it into my hands without much care, not waiting to see if I had a firm grip on the thing before he headed back off toward his cubicle. I almost dropped it, and that would have been a disaster.

Read More…

I’m a big boy now

A couple of weeks ago, Johanna Harness on her blog talked about literary rejection as not unlike the experience of learning to walk. We humans, we learn to stand, then take small steps while holding onto something sturdier than ourselves, and we fall down, a whole hell of a lot. Somehow when we’re toddlers, without all of this cumbersome self-reflection and analysis, we don’t really mind the hiccups that are part and parcel with the learning process. But sheesh, get a couple of “I’m just not the right agent” letters, decades later, and it can be an unraveling worse than seeing your favorite baby blanket in tatters.

Something happened in the meanwhile, Johanna posits, that changed how we feel regarding the negative side of the learning process. And it behooves people trying to write for a living to retain the totality of experiences related to getting work published. Read More…

Short story: 8 Ball

This story is old. Old, old, old, like nearly two decades worth of mold growth old. But as I’m otherwise occupied today, with writing something new and inventive and much better than this, I thought I’d share. The story here today is not entirely based on a new story, but it certainly has elements of early 1990s Syracuse. Enjoy!

It’s about the size of a typical urban efficiency apartment, with a faded certificate of occupancy stuck on the wall by the front door, probably with some bouncer’s chewing gum, announcing it is fit to house 35 people legally. Thirty-five dyke pygmies, maybe, but not 35 wide-assed people. Smoke hangs next to the low ceiling, hovering around the light over the small and slanted pool table, a cheap but efficient way of adding a dramatic atmosphere to both the serious and poseur sharks who swim underneath it. Most of the patrons use pool-playing as a tried and true method of picking up dates, but this usually leads to them slamming the stick into the cue ball too hard, ricocheting the shot out of the hole and ending in a staccato set of swears as they express their “disappointment.”

My friends and I have just entered the place for the third time in five days because one of them has a new crush on a townie who usually hangs out here. Usually, however, being the relative term that it is, has not included any of these three nights, and has led directly to my frustration at winding up in this dump once again, cheap beer or no cheap beer. Read More…

Friday Flash No. 5: Lost Boy

He watched the activity around him: fruit salesman, old woman selling goat cheese, some loud man pulling people aside to show them silk scarves. Teddy was a little afraid of the scarves man.

Walking around seemed better than standing here waiting for Sophie to come back. The last he had noticed her, she’d been counting out change to give the woman from the dairy, two rows over.

“…Twenty-three, twenty-four, and twenty-five cents,” she’d said, standing up straight and running her hands down her skirt. She didn’t like touching money, she’d told Teddy. It was very dirty, probably the dirtiest thing a person would touch all day, except for live chickens. Read More…

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