I missed some days in February, but all of the stories I did post made the cut this month. Either I’m getting better at this, or I’m getting less picky…
The vending machine was broken, so Kim pressed the button to get her quarter back. Only she didn’t get a quarter; instead, the machine spat out a shiny gold coin. Didn’t get what you wanted? read the obverse inscription; the reverse said, We machines aren’t too happy either.
I had a babysitter as a kid who would tell us stories based on characters I made up for her. We had lively imaginations and weren’t afraid of monsters. The last night she watched me, she shook her head when I asked for my story.
I never saw her again. I still feel responsible.
“Have you written today?”
“No. My well is dry.”
“I could help you brainstorm.”
“I need a new water source.”
“Read a book?”
“That won’t help.”
“You’ve got it bad, then.”
“Yeah. I’m so thirsty, my hair is gross, and my bathroom stinks.”
“Wait… You were speaking literally?”
Shanna reached her hands up as high as she could. Dangit. Still too short. Someday, she would be tall enough to get her own cookies– or better yet, make them herself. Grown-ups always had all the fun. Mom said otherwise, but Shanna didn’t believe her.
FOOD FOR THE SOUL
Chop. Sizzle. Pop. Ouch! Hiss. Clang. Shuffle. Slide. Chink. Sniff. Mmmm. Pinch. Giggle. Hum. Whirl. Smooch! Tap. Gurgle. Splash. Shuffle. Plunk. Scrape. Creak. Steam. Inhale. Ahhhhh. Blush. Smile.
Food. Love. Contentment.
His power got him in trouble more often than it helped anything. Case in point: His teacher called him up to her desk.
“I didn’t steal Cassie’s lunch!”
Ms. Hoff took this as proof of his guilt. It wasn’t; he had just known what she was going to say before she said it.
She kept glancing at me over the top of her book, and I buried myself in my own to hide the blush in my cheeks. She wrote on a scrap of paper, tucked it into the book, and set it atop the library shelf before leaving. I picked it up and pulled out the note:
Your fly’s open.
HELP ME, DOC, BUT NOT LIKE THAT!
“So what brings you in today?”
“I don’t know what’s wrong, Doc. I keep having this urge to sting people.”
“That’s perfectly normal for a wasp.”
“But I’m a bee!”
“Oh. Right. Well, umm… Try this potion.”
“What’ll it do?”
“It’ll turn you into a wasp.”
“I don’t want to be a wasp!”
There’s a touchless sink in the girls’ bathroom that keeps turning on and off in spurts- some short, some long. I think it might be a ghost trying to communicate in Morse code, but the bell will ring soon and I have to go. “Sorry,” I whisper. “Same time tomorrow?”
INSPIRED BY “JOHNNY ONE NOTE”
Johnny couldn’t do much, but boy! Could he yodel! He yodeled in the shower, the kitchen, the car. Not at work. But as soon as he hit that parking garage, nobody was gonna hold him back! The EMTs who pulled him from his wrecked car had to wear ear plugs on the way to the hospital.
Cold filled her lungs, traveled up from her feet, and rendered her gloves useless. Her teeth chattered; she clamped her jaw shut. She felt her spine shudder and her legs moved faster as she hurried across the parking lot to the safety of her car. Thank goodness for remote start.
“Hi. My AI bot is malfunctioning.”
“It keeps repeating itself and getting louder.”
“I thought it would pick up after me, but it stands there and shakes its head.”
“I see. You have a MomBot V2?”
“That’s standard behavior.”
“How’s the novel coming?”
“I’ve got this one character who keeps derailing the plot.”
“Have you had a talk with him?”
“He won’t stop long enough to listen.”
“How are the other characters coping?”
“They keep begging me to intervene. I’m trying, but…”
“Now you know how God feels.”
Ivan could count better than most folks, honing his skill for 14 years as a button counter. He’d handled 100 million buttons; 30 million shirts bore the labor of his love. It all came out in the wash, but for those few moments when you held your new shirt you held a part of Ivan.
“This video I saw says baby animals are cute to us because they’re round like human babies, so we want to snuggle and protect them.”
“It just made me think, how you always say triangles are the cutest shape.”
“A question: What planet are you from?”
MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD
There was something moving behind the curtains. Nate scrabbled in his desk drawer for a weapon. He got up and inched toward the window, drew back the curtain, and jumped away. Aha! His manuscript draft trembled on the windowsill. He brandished his pen. “It’s time,” he said.
They say couples who live together begin to resemble each other. Bob married Sal with the hope that her attractiveness would rub off. His hope proved vain: every year she slid more toward his end. He gave her up and tried again and again, each time ruining another woman’s beauty.
The more he worked to sort things out in his life the less he accomplished, until someone pointed out to him how good he was at organization. Now he sorts out other people so they can meet their own goals. They still give him the credit, which was what he wanted all along.
SHOULDA GONE SECOND
The brothers freed the genie together, so they each got three alternating wishes: Dan wished for endless wealth; Paul wished for access to his brother’s account. Dan requested a beautiful wife- Paul for her love. Dan acquired a kingdom; Paul wished for an army to conquer it.
HAS TO BE
Little Jenny knew there were aliens among us. She’d seen the UFO lights. And once, while walking to school, a car passed by, driven by a woman with her mouth open impossibly wide. At least, the lady was either an alien or an opera singer, but Jenny felt sure it was the former.
You taught me how to make a glue cast of my hand: we waited what felt like forever for the white stuff to become clear, then carefully peeled away the layers; the other kids giggled and shrieked because it looked like we were peeling off our skin. I miss those simple pleasures.
My third mistake was ignoring the rain falling on the tent while I cooked my dinner over the fire. My second mistake was setting up the tent with the sky window exposed.
My first mistake was deciding to go camping in April.