Fred glanced over at the dark forest beyond the lonely lamppost beside highway forty-one that lit the entrance to the easement leading to Old Farmers Road. He gripped the wheel a little tighter, and checked his console to make sure he wasn’t speeding. He looked at his friend in the passenger seat to catch his reaction. Ronnie Joe wrapped his jacket tight around him and sank into his seat as though he felt a sudden chill.
Ronnie Joe had grown up in the house where Old Farmers Road intersected with the easement. The house was still there, visible from the highway during the day. It was one of a dozen weather-beaten wooden houses on quarter-acre plots with at least a half mile between them, in a neighborhood for the menial and the mendicant. There was no running water, no electricity, and no oxygen. The nearby surrounding trees leaned over precariously in a slow death thrall that had begun over a hundred years before when newly-freed black slaves called those buildings home, and that would most likely last another thousand.
“You should spend the night at our house,” Fred offered to Ronnie Joe.
“Momma won’t mind. She...”
“No!” Ronnie Joe growled, but immediately regretted his outburst. “Just let me out here,” he said in his most apologetic tone.
“Hold up,” Fred held up a hand, “I got you,” he said calmly. “There’s the Minit Mart coming up. I’ll drop you there so you can at least call somebody.”
Ronnie Joe nodded, smiling sheepishly. Their friendship was an odd one. As kids Fred had never been into anything Ronnie Joe’s other friends liked. When they would break into deserted houses to take the fixtures and sell later, or dive into the dumpsters outside of the Little Debbie shipping facility to look for discards, Fred simply walked away and went home. Truthfully, the only reason Ronnie Joe hung out with Fred at the time was as an excuse to see Fred’s sister Rhea. Eventually, after spending so much time at Fred’s house to see Rhea, Fred had become his truest friend. Ronnie Joe knew he owed a lot to Fred who taught him a different way to deal with his troubles growing up. “Sorry I snapped at you,” he muttered. “It wasn’t you that was intended for...you know?”
Fred smiled sincerely, “Yup. Don’t worry about it.” He pulled into the Minit Mart parking, and turned to Ronnie Joe. “Look. I don’t know what you got yourself into—not my business. I don’t know why you stopped hangin’ out, if you don’t want to tell me it’s fine, but I’m lettin’ you know that my door’s always open. Lemme give you my cell number, might not be home next time.”
“I don’t have a phone.”
“Call me from a pay phone,” Fred said, pointing to the pay phone outside the Minit Mart, probably the only pay phone left in the entire state. Fred found a pen and an old envelope in his glove box.
Ronnie Joe stepped out of the truck and waited for Fred’s number. “I appreciate it, Fred.” He closed the door and stepped back to let Fred pull out, then stood outside and lit a cigarette. He stared at the faded Minit Mart sign, remembering a time when he was eleven, when the store manager had banned him from ever entering the store. Until that time, the Minit Mart clerks had always welcomed him, having been known to them as Gene’s boy who had to walk there almost every day to pick up a pack of Kents and some Pabst Blue Ribbon for his father. They had never given a damn that he was underage, having preferred to stay on Gene’s good side.
That all had changed one day when, as he stepped toward the back to grab a forty of Pabst, he spied a pack of Bar-S bologna that a previous customer had left on the shelf where the microwave meals had been on display. Eyes wide with anticipation and stomach growling, he picked up the bologna, looked back at the clerk who was staring right at him. He tried turning casually toward the next aisle and shoved the bologna in his pants. Then he grabbed the beer and walked to the counter confidently, thinking he was safe.
About halfway home, he pulled out the bologna, tore off the wrapper, and stuffed all eight slices into his mouth while cupping a hand under his chin in case any would spill out while he chewed. Afterward, he practically skipped the rest of the way home, grinning the whole time. He placed the beer and cigarettes on the work table in the garage where his father had been rebuilding an engine. Gene noticed his son’s smile. “What the fuck you smiling about?” Ronnie Joe dropped the smile and sped off, avoiding his father the rest of the day.
Later that night Ronnie Joe was awakened by the phone ringing. He could hear his father growling at someone on the other end then slam the handset down. His father’s plodding steps echoed down the hall, and he burst through the door of his room. He stumbled several times, and even crashed into his tall dresser. He smelled like an ashtray doused in whiskey and oil. His body and clothes blackened by engine grease made him almost invisible in the darkened room. Without a word he grabbed Ronnie Joe by the leg, pulled him out of bed and onto the floor, and whipped him for several minutes with an old black leather belt.
Ronnie Joe, cowered on the floor, bringing his knees and elbows together to protect his face, knowing not to cry out. His arms, legs, and back were on fire, but if he had made a sound Gene would have had reason to prolong the torture. After the whipping had been done, Gene dragged Ronnie Joe through the house by the arm, stripped him down to his underwear and tossed him out of the house to sleep outside on the dirt. “Sleep outside with the other fucking animals!” Gene shouted at him. Ronnie Joe curled up on the ground and cried himself to sleep. After that day he was not allowed to go back in the store and Gene had to get his own cigarettes and beer.
Ronnie Joe flicked his cigarette into the street and watched the glowing ash break apart into a flash of tiny fireworks that slid across the pavement before disappearing. He smiled when he thought about all the times his father complained about having to make the trip to the store himself. Later in high school, when he would relate the story to his friends, even though he would continue to get an occasional beating over the fact, Ronnie Joe would say that he considered that day one of the greatest of his life.
#literature #fiction #microfiction
Michael was shown the x-rays of his upper body. On the outer edge of his left lung there was a large white spot the size of a penny, tendril-like rays shot out from it in all directions, and a tail curved over to the right so that it resembled a meteor falling from the sky. Cancer.
“Surgery is not an option...It’s difficult to say at this point, but considering the size you may only have 6 months left to live.” The doctor put her hand on his shoulder. “I’m so sorry.” Then she held his hand for a moment before leaving the room. Although he sat stoically on the exam table, waves of panicked energy moved through him until it felt as though his insides were escaping through the pores on his face and extremities. He was so thirsty.
He struggled to stand but managed to walk to the hand washing sink and gulp down handfuls of water until interrupted by the nurse’s entrance. The nurse asked him several times if he would be capable of driving. “I’m fine,” Michael lied and signed release forms before leaving. I’m fine, he thought as he sat down in his car.
On the drive back to work Michael had a sudden craving for a hamburger with fries. He pulled into a Wendy’s, and ate in silence. He chuckled at the thought that this most humble of meals would be the first of a series of last meals until he succumbed to the disease. He took out his phone and snapped a picture of the hamburger and fries, posted it on Facebook with the caption, I was given 6 months to live. To hell with healthy eating :). Michael stared at the post, found it to be so perverse that he deleted it within seconds after it appeared in his feed.
At work Michael walked straight to his supervisor’s office. Marvin leaned back in his leather chair shaking his head as Michael gave him the news.
“I’m sorry to hear it. How you feeling?”
“I don’t know...like I’m walking a few feet away from myself. You know?”
“Yeah, I understand...”
“Don’t know if it’s just shock, but it feels like someone’s already died.”
“Listen, if want to take the rest of the day off...take as much time off as you need, it’s fine.”
“Thanks. I...I think I’ll finish what’s left of today. Tomorrow...” Michael shrugged.
Marvin leaned in, fidgeting with the pen on his desk, and lowered his voice. “Don’t worry about making quotas today. I”ll mark you down as in-training.”
Michael thanked him and stood up slowly to return to his desk. Sheila was sitting at her own desk beside his and speaking on the phone. “Great. Have I resolved all of your issues today?..” She placed her mouse pointer on the end-call button. “Great, then I would like to thank you for calling today. Have a great weekend.” She ended the call and swiveled in her chair to face Michael.
“I’m going on break. Wanna have a smoke with me?” She asked.
Michael felt as though struck on the head. “...I’ve got to make up a lot of work.”
“Be that way.” She smiled and grabbed her purse as she stood.
He could smell her perfume as she turned, a familiar scent that, until now, had unfortunately become associated with work. She took a few steps before he called to her. “Hey!”
“Yeah?” She looked as though hopeful that Michael had changed his mind.
“We’ve been working beside each other for a few years—“ Maybe this was a bad idea. ”—I was wondering why we haven’t gone out?”
“You never asked.”
Maybe not such a bad idea after all. “Let’s do something?”
“How about dinner, for starters? I feel like trying somewhere nice. Somewhere I’ve never been.”
“Have you been to Mariposa?”
“No, but it sounds like a winner.”
“Great, then it’s a date.” She pulled her cigarettes out of her purse. “You sure you won’t join me?”
For a second he thought about telling her about his diagnosis. “You go ahead.”
He watched her leave then turned around and stared at his computer screen. The display showed over a thousand callers who were waiting for help but he suddenly realized at that moment that he couldn’t care less. He shut off his computer, told Marvin he was leaving and not returning.
Walking into his apartment at an hour when he was usually at work was always disconcerting to Michael—the light was all wrong and things seemed unfamiliar. It made him uncomfortable, like walking into a room where his mother was dressing. Now that disconcerting feeling was compounded by the awareness of the transience of all things.
He considering his options and decided to take a shower then he sat on the couch, with only a towel wrapped around his waist. He stared blankly at the walls for several minutes until his phone rang and jolted him back to reality. It was Sheila. She asked why he had left so early. He told her he wasn’t feeling well. She asked if he wanted to cancel. He told her no, and they agreed to meet at the restaurant.
He remained on the couch. Several hours passed. He watched the sunlight move across the walls and floor until the entire room went dark. Finally, he stood and got ready for the night.
As he dressed he thought about all the reasons to cancel. As he drove to the restaurant he had to fight off the urge to turn back and go home, but once he arrived at the Mariposa valet service he saw no other recourse than to proceed with the date.
There was a crowd of muted patrons standing at the front entrance. Sheila stood out wearing a brown and tan dress and tan heels, blonde hair spun into a bun on the back of her head. She looked very much like a chocolate and caramel swirl sundae. She smiled and waved when she saw Michael approach. Sheila told him how much she liked his outfit. Michael thanked her and told her she looked fantastic then both walked through the doors to wait to be seated.
The atmosphere of the restaurant was a meticulous harmony of color, and sound. It was a large dark space lit only by the reflection of the rose colored candles on the white linen tablecloths at each table. Orchestral music from hidden speakers played at a volume that attenuated the din of crowded conversations.
Sheila and Michael were led to a table near a window, participated in the performance of ordering their food, and waited for their drinks to arrive. He looked around the dining room and watched a nearby couple enjoying themselves, drinking wine and speaking intimately to one another. He imagined that he and Sheila were that couple and began to smile. Sheila noticed and turned to see what he was smiling about.
“Hmm?” Michael took a drink to hide his embarrassment over being caught then offered his glass as a toast. They exchanged a friendly smile as they touched glasses.
“Have you ever thought that life is a lot like a gameshow?” Sheila asked.
“In what way.”
“There’s winners and losers, but no one leaves without a prize.”
“Even if it’s only the take-home version of the game,” she added.
“That’s clever.” He said still smiling but struggling to hold back a sudden urge to cry. Again, he considered telling her about his diagnosis, but did not want to ruin the night for her.
As they continued talking Michael set aside his worry, and he allowed himself to draw some pleasure from watching Sheila smile and laugh, and from their servers’ nervous glances at him when they felt compelled by their position to respond to Sheila’s flirtatious behavior.
By the end of the night, most of the diners had gone and the conversations of those who remained began to echo through the increasingly lonely room. Michael paid for their meal and then he and Sheila stepped out to the valet to wait for their cars.
“This is me,” Sheila said as the valet approached in her car. “I had a good time.”
“Me too,” Michael said with a smile.
“We should do this again,” she said as she stood directly in front of him and sort off bounced nervously as though expecting a kiss.
Michael nodded but as hard as he tried to maintain a sincere smile he saw the realization that shown on Sheila’s face that something was not quite right.
Sheila frowned slightly, apparently misinterpreting the situation. “Okay... I’ll see you tomorrow at work,” she said as she walked around to the driver-side door left open by the valet. She waved from inside her car as she drove off.
Michael waited a while longer for his car. Once he left the Mariposa parking lot his body began to tremble as the same sickly feeling from before when sitting on the exam table returned with greater force. He had difficulty holding on to the steering wheel and his vision blurred. Though still a few miles from home he had no choice except to turn onto a dark neighborhood street and park his car in front of a stranger’s house.
He gripped the steering wheel with both hands and shook it with a murderous strength, grunting like an animal, then tossed his head back and screamed. Dogs began to bark, and he screamed louder, tears streamed from his eyes. He screamed until too exhausted to scream any further, then cried until he unexpectedly fell asleep.
Michael awoke to find himself still sitting in his car. Three hours had passed, and he was surprised that no one had called to report the crazy person screaming in his car. He practiced breathing deeply then adjusted his seatbelt and drove the rest of the way home as if nothing happened.
Once at home he walked straight to the den and turned on his computer. He searched the internet for cancer treatment. There was only a two percent survival rate after metastasis. Michael picked up his computer and tossed it onto the tile floor. It bounced several times but did not break. He laughed. “You son of a bitch.” He pulled the hair on the top of his head and considered kicking the computer into the wall, but walked into the living room instead and grabbed his phone.
Opening up Facebook he searched for Sheila’s page. There was picture after picture of them together at work and company functions. He looked at every one before swiping over to his messages and inviting Sheila to breakfast then he staggered to his bedroom where he collapsed on the bed fully clothed. He replayed the night in his head before dozing off. Michael promised himself to tell her everything in the morning.
#literature #fiction #microfiction #relationships
Kentucky in the spring is about as close to heaven as anyone can get this side of the rapture. Ronnie Joe remembered hearing his grandfather say that until the spring of ’07 when he succumbed to an indulgence of cigars and bourbon. For the most part, Ronnie Joe tended to agree. Temperatures rose above 60 degrees during the day and the snows receded, allowing for the welcomed start of a new Major League season. But the nights were too cold yet for the plague of gnats, and chiggers that overtook the entire state by summer, something a man like him would gladly endure for the advantages from nights marked by a steady din of croaks and chirps from bullfrogs and crickets, and a moon that hung low enough to touch and bright enough to throw a shadow.
Ronnie Joe followed his own shadow through the Sunville Apartments parking lot up to the ’87 Impala that he and Donald marked earlier at the Clarksville Speedway. Older model cars were always preferable to him, easier to break into and to tear apart. A quick pull of the jimmy bar and the door eased open. He jumped into the driver’s seat and broke the dome light with the handle of his screwdriver, used its head to pop the ignition ring and jammed it into the cylinder. A quick twist of the handle and the Impala gurgled to life. Bam. Easy. Peasy.
He pulled out of the parking lot and turned left, drove half a mile toward the Quick Stop on the corner. Donald was standing on the curb by the road, fat and balding, hands in the pockets of his Braves hoodie, swaying and tapping his feet nervously. Ronnie Joe parked the car along the curb and slid over to the passenger side as Donald took over the driver’s seat.
“Fuck yeah, buddy!” Donald laughed, baring his tobacco stained teeth and tongue, and as he often did because Ronnie Joe’s consistent lack of enthusiasm always irked him, reached over and grabbed Ronnie Joe’s shoulder and shook him as though waking him. “This’ll get us, least, a thousand.”
The routine continued as Ronnie Joe pulled his shoulder out of Donald’s grip, ignoring his friend’s attempt to get under his skin and keeping his emotions to himself. He checked his pockets. “Where are my Marlboros?” He muttered.
“How a fuck am I suppose to know where you lef’ your Marlboros?” Donald took out a pack of Pall Malls. He offered it to Ronnie Joe as he took off down the road.
“I don’t smoke that shit...the question was rhetorical.”
“Rhetoric...shit, s’cuse me, professor,” Donald laughed, trying once again to incite some emotion from Ronnie Joe.
It almost worked, but Ronnie Joe grit his teeth to maintain his cool. “Why don’t you try reading a fucking book sometime?”
“Books are for pansies, professor.”
Before Ronnie Joe had time to respond to Donald’s blissful ignorance he spotted the entrance road leading to Lake Moriah. His head buzzed as though trying to tell him him something. He pointed to the entrance road, “...turn here!”
“Don’t fuckin’ tell me where t’go!” Donald hit the gas instead. “Yeeee-ha—,” he shouted into Ronnie Joe’s face and happened to catch sight of an approaching police cruiser in the rearview mirror, “—shit!”
Ronnie Joe turned to see just as the police lights came on and the cruiser began gaining on them. “Pull over!” He shouted.
As their stolen car slowed, Ronnie Joe opened his door and jumped out, unwilling to wait for the car to come to a full stop. He rolled across the pavement and heard the cruiser screech to a stop then he jumped to his feet and ran toward the wooded area on the other side of the highway.
A deputy exited from the passenger side of the police cruiser, the butt of a shotgun up to his cheek. “Stop right ch’ere boy!” The deputy pumped the shotgun. “I got you in my sights!”
#literature #fiction #microfiction
It was a sweltering day in July when Heinrich was to be hanged. There was a large crowd as usual for spectacles like this. He searched the crowd for his love, Nicolette, a Countess, an alabaster goddess brought to life, with dark red curls like wine that sprung from her head and cascaded deliciously to her shoulders and her breasts.
She once had given him her ring as a symbol of her love, and he in turn had sworn to her his life and to serve her only. They would often meet at dusk under the linden trees to kiss. The nightingale was their only witness as it perched itself in the branches above and sang its lovers‘ song for just the two of them. Then one day they were caught holding hands by a servant to the Count. Heinrich was imprisoned, thrown into a darkened world of stone and iron from where he lamented at not knowing what became of Nicolette.
His attention fell on a blonde-haired boy with a mucus covered face. The boy looked directly at him while singing merrily through the din, a song the monks used to teach music to the peasant brood. The nitwit is a fool! He thought. But no more than I. And yet a fool for love is greater than the wisest with no knowledge of it. My love for Nicolette is worthy of my death, and I would die a thousand times if while I lived I could spend my nights drawing in her breath with every one of mine while we kissed under the linden tree.
At that moment he heard the order given and he was pulled off the ground by his neck. The noose burned hot like kiln stone as it ripped into his flesh. He flailed about for several moments until exhausted; then death, cumbrous and cold, crept up from his toes and fingertips. Slowly, it enveloped him. He felt its claws pierce his lungs then his heart, and draw a cloak of shifting colors down before his eyes. Gold like the sun. Red like the wine. Green like the field. Blue like the sky. Then all was black. Like the night when the nightingale had sung.
#literature #fiction #microfiction #tragedy #challenges #death
I could here Peaches purring in my ear. Damn cat. I rolled over onto my side to put my arm around Shannon when she suddenly pulled away and practically fell out of bed.
“Who, the hell, are you?” She exclaimed.
“What?” I sat up and immediately felt a slight tugging at my chest. I looked down and notice the new breasts dangling from my bare chest. “What the-!”
“Where’s Vic?” Shannon reached for the phone. “I’m calling the police!”
I jumped out of bed to knocked the phone out of my wife’s hand. “No! Please.”
“Victor!” Shannon shouted toward the master bath. “Victor!”
“Babe, babe. It’s me!” I looked in the mirror to verify that my identifying marks were still there. “Look,” I showed her the mole on the corner of my mouth. “See?” I said pointing to the scar on my eyebrow. “Look at the scar where the dog bit me.”
“Oh my god. Oh my god. What? How?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know.” I suddenly felt as though I was about to faint. “Hang on, I’m getting dizzy.” I leaned over, placing both hands on the bed to steady myself and noticed my new knockers swaying idly under me. “Oh my god. I have boobs.”
Shannon started to cry. “They’re so perky.”
“Babe don’t cry. You’re going to make me-.” I couldn’t even finish the sentence when I was suddenly overwhelmed by emotion. We stood on opposite sides of the bed and stared balling. Then the door opened and our teen daughter walked in.
“Why are you being so loud?”
I cupped my breasts and gave Shannon a look. She went over to speak to our daughter. “Just give us a second. Go back to your room.”
“I’ll explain later. Go on, baby.”
“I can’t go back to sleep. Who’s she?” she asked looking at me.
“I’ll explain it later! Go get some cereal, or whatever!” Shannon ushered our daughter out of the room. Our daughter didn’t fight but gave me one last wary look from the crack of the closing door. “Why is she topless-“
As soon as our daughter left I started balling again. “She wants her dad!” Shannon came around the bed to me. “She has no dad,” I said.
She sat next to me and started rubbing my back, “I know, I know. It’ll be okay. We’ll figure it out.”
I nodded and gathered my composure, “Okay,” when suddenly I felt Shannon’s hand casually stroke the area between my legs. I jumped off the bed and stood, “Whoa!”
Shannon tears up, “You have no dick.”
I pulled the waistband of my shorts and look. I suddenly felt dizzy again and sat on the edge of the bed. I have no dick. “What am I going to do?”
“We will figure it out,” Shannon said, placing a comforting hand on my shoulder.
“Call 911!” I stood and shouted.
“Let’s think about this-“
“Call 9! 1! 1!”
“Babe, babe, think about it. What are you going to say?”
I started pacing. “Your mother!”
“You want me to call my mother?”
“She never liked me much.”
“My mother adores you...what? Are you implying she turned you into a woman?”
“She could have.”
“Alright...you need to calm-“
“Don’t tell me to calm down!”
“Okay. Okay.” Shannon took my hand and sat me down on the bed. She sat next to me and put her arm around me.
“Maybe...call my mother,” I suggested.
“What will your mother do?”
“I don’t know..,” I placed my head on my wife’s shoulder. “I just suddenly have an urge to talk to her.”
Shannon stroked my head, “Awe. She stood and headed for the closet. “I think we should see if Dr. Ferm’s office has an opening today.” She tossed a pair of cute blue slacks on the bed and a red tank. “First you need to get dressed.”
“Eww. I don’t know if I want to wear anything so clashy.”
“Don’t be silly. This outfit looks great with theses platform shoes. Oh-“ Shannon stopped and stared at my feet. “Why are your feet so big?”
I looked at my feet and realized that I have not changed structurally. “I’m still tall. Those pants won’t fit.”
“Just try them on.”
I slid the pants on. They were short on me but my butt looked great. I looked over my shoulder at the dresser mirror to verify. “Wow.”
“Those slacks look better on you than me,” Shannon remarked.
“I know-“ I look at my wife and notice her look, “no they don’t. I wish.”
Shannon didn’t buy my modesty. “Mhm. Here put the top on.” She gave me a once over then said, “You’ll need a bra.”
“Right, Can I borrow your lacy one.”
“Oh honey. Your boobs are too small for one of my bras.”
I look at them in the mirror. “There not that small.”
“Give me a second.” Shannon left closing the door behind her.
When she returned she’s carrying one of my daughter’s bras.
“Ohhh no. I’m not wearing that.”
“Our daughter’s boobs were in that.”
“You were okay wearing one of mine. My boobs were in those.”
“That’s not the same.”
“Whatever. Just put this on.”
“I’m not going out in public with you looking like a damn crackhead, so put it on!”
I shook my head but removed my top. Shannon helped me put on my daughter’s bra.
“It’s a little tight around my chest,” I told her.
“Welcome to my world. Deal with it.”
I was not really liking the bra one bit, but I put the top back on and stood with arms straight while my wife inspected my outfit. She nods in approval. “That looks cute.”
I rolled my eyes. Then looked at myself in the mirror. “Do you have a belt?”
“No! Just throw on some flip-flops. You’re done.” Shannon grabbed her phone to call the doctor’s office. She managed to get an appointment before noon which gave her time to drop our daughter off at school. I waited at home until she returned.
“What did you tell her?” I asked about our daughter.
“I told her dad went into work early and that...you are an old friend of mine.”
“Did she believe you?”
“I don’t know. I’m not really worried about that right now. Did you call out from work?”
“Yes. I had to tell them I was you, but...”
“Okay, let’s go.”
We drove over to Dr. Ferms office and headed straight to the reception desk. The receptionist immediately recognized my wife, but only gives me a polite smile.
“Good morning, Mrs. Luna!”
“Hi Rachael, I made an appointment for my husband today.” Shannon looked at me. She’s smiling but her discomfort was apparent.
“Of course, just have Mr. Luna fill out these forms and we’ll call him in a few minutes.” She handed the clipboard with the forms to my wife who casually passed them to me. Rachael’s smile cracked almost imperceptibly for just a second.
We sat, and I filled out the forms. Every now and then I glanced over and notice the odd looks from Rachael. Then just as expected, a nurse appeared in the waiting room and called for me. I stood and headed for the door to the exam rooms as every eyeball in the room followed close behind me.
“Mr. Luna?” The nurse smiled. She looked at her paperwork. “Just a second,” she said still smiling, still flipping through the records in my folder. “Well...I just. Never mind,” she lead into one of the exam rooms and promptly took my vitals without a word. Afterward, she sat in the chair next to me and cleared her throat. “So. Tell me what brings you in today?”
“I used to be a man,” I blurted out.
“I would like to be one again...”
“I’ve only been a woman since this morning.”
“Right. Let me get the doctor.” The nurse left. I sat impatiently for a few minutes until the doctor finally arrived.
“Oh thank god. Dr. Ferm, how are you,” I said.
“I’m sorry, our records do not indicate that you’ve had a procedure to change your sex.”
“That’s because I didn’t have one. I woke up like this...I know it does sound crazy.”
I nod. “But...I had a penis. I kinda liked it. I would like to have one again.”
Dr. Ferm pretended to write something down but I could see that he was only drawing circles on his notepad. “So, you would like to have another procedure done to reverse your sex change?”
“I guess, but I never had...”
“There’s a process. It’s very involved. I want you to take this four times a day,” he hands me a prescription for one hundred milligrams of lithium, “and make an appointment with a psychiatrist. Rachael will provide you with a referral list.”
Shannon looked up from her magazine, surprised to see me out so quickly. She stood and headed over to me.
I hand her my prescription. “I just want to go home.”
Shannon smiled. “I love you,” she said sweetly.
“I love you too, babe.”
As we leave the office she leaned closer and whispers, “Wanna get a mani-pedi?”
#literature #fiction #microfiction #humor #comedy #challenges #thetablesturned
Driving through town Raymundo could already smell the bakery on Calle Dos and his mouth watered in anticipation of the pan dulce waiting for him at home. Light golden mounds of buttery dough, topped with caramelized sugar in a checkerboard pattern, perfectly paired with a strong cup of Cómbate coffee. Consuelo would be stoking the wood stove right at this moment, brewing the coffee so it would be ready as soon as he walked through the door for lunch. Just around the corner now. He glided the Chevy to a stop, hopped out of his seat and walked briskly to the door.
Consuelo turned and smiled sweetly as he walked in and set aside the fresh tortillas she had been making for dinner to place a large plate of half a dozen neatly stacked pan dulce on the table for him. He grinned at her, hung his hat on the back of the chair and sat down while Consuelo poured him his coffee. Raymundo held out his hands to grab the cup.
Suddenly, Chelito walked in and stood at the front door sulking. Consuelo frowned. Her keen eye spotted the mud on Chelito’s dress. Raymundo watched as Consuelo put the coffee down.
“What happened to your dress?”
“Oh darling, leave her. We can buy her a new dress,” Raymundo said soothingly and reached over for his coffee.
“That’s,” Consuelo slid the coffee out of Raymundo’s reach, “three dresses already this month.”
“Why aren’t you in school?” She asked Chelito, a hand on her hip.
Chelito began to cry. “Mrs. Burner yelled at me again for speaking Spanish,” Raymundo’s eyes widened, he shook his head at his daughter, “so I told her Papá said ‘go to hell.’”
Consuelo glared at Raymundo, daring him to reach for his coffee.
He grabbed a pan dulce instead, took a large bite, and sunk in his chair.
The bread was delicious.
#literature #fiction #microfiction #humor #contest #whysoserious
Army scouts watched the sun rise over an unknown man rumbling down a rocky hill. The scouts took note and returned to their camp. Weeks more went by before the scouting report would be interpreted. It was determined that the unknown man on the hill was a person of interest, so orders for a search and rescue were sent to a platoon of Rangers from Camp Blessing, patrolling just three klicks from the location.
By the time the Rangers had been sent in, Captain Repass had been MIA for seven months, alone, not by chance but choice. He was the third generation of Repass men to be captain, but his path was longer and more difficult than the one taken by his father or his grandfather, and it showed through his scars and disfigured bones. Seven months ago, in the middle of his company’s operation within enemy territory, he stood in the mouth of a dark cave that he had discovered earlier that day, and radioed in for air support, dropping one hundred and fifty-five millimeter rounds of pain and anger on the head of his men.
The Ranger platoon that was sent to find him walked up and down several hills around the valley for hours until they found boot prints leading up to the cave. They immediately recognized the rank smell of sweat and blood. While the rest secured the area outside, three Rangers went in.
They were greeted by neat piles of flayed human skulls, smiling, and staring back in gleeful surprise of their unexpected visitors. In the middle of the floor was a smoldering fire and a foot roasting cheerfully above it. There were hundreds of bones, everywhere, charred and flayed, splintered and crushed, scattered throughout. When the human flesh was discovered, hanging on wooden racks to dry, the Rangers raced for the exit to escape the revolting stench.
In the distance Repass watched the Ranger platoon through his rifle scope. On a tanned and muscled bicep he sported a tattoo of a skull, with glaring eyes, a dagger in its teeth, and the words Paladin and Knight written on red banners above and below it. His tired face was darkened and dry from too much time in the sun, and shaped into sharp points by hard winds and morbid diet. He aimed his rifle at the radioman’s head. When the Ranger started talking into his handset Repass knew he’d lost his cave.
“Die, you piece of shit,” he muttered, exhaled and took a shot.
The shot was off by yards. In frustration he stared up at the sun as if seeing it for the first time ever, he raised a hand to block its light.
“No more,” he said. “No more.”
#literature #fiction #microfiction #military #challenges #monsters
1 AM in Menlo Park
The cold bay air ran through the city, bounced off the buildings of downtown San Francisco on its way to Menlo Park, in powerful gusts that rolled in like ocean waves, making the trees move like dancers. Genevieve warmed her fingers with her breath as often as their heat was stolen by the cold. She stood in front of a 7-Eleven in a dinner dress, black heels in one hand, her phone in the other, and stared at Daniel’s name in her contacts list for a few moments until she forced a finger to touch the call button. She counted the rings until Daniel answered.
“Daniel, It’s Genni. I’m at the 7-eleven on 5th. I could really use a ride.” Her voice faltered, unsure of the response.
A second passed. Two. Three.
“Yeah... Sure,” he said with a trace of the anguish she remembered when they parted. He cleared his throat and told her, “Gimme about ten minutes.”
Ten minutes. It would be almost three years since the last time they spoke, three long years to realize she had made a mistake, to piece together the courage to get up from the table and simply walk away, ignoring the toppled candles, the spilled wine, the confused guests, and the disappointed look on her father’s face.
Genevieve smiled. “Okay,” she said and held her breath to stall the release of joyful tears as happy images of their future flashed through her mind, washing away the haunting memory of the day she left.
When Daniel arrived she hurried to the car, climbed in quickly and tossed her shoes onto the floor. They looked at one another for a moment then he smiled.
“Please tell me you didn’t rob the 7-eleven in your bare feet and an evening dress?”
Genevieve laughed under her breath and stars welled up in her eyes.
#literature #fiction #microfiction #romance
Ode to the Paratrooper
Like lightning about to strike, you wait, you sit.
With olive drab hopes, and gun oil dreams,
ticker taped in the torrent of air from the opened door,
left and forgotten on the floor as you leave.
The sky is a siren.
You jump through it and fall.
Over badges, and buckles, and boot polish, and starch.
You fly to the horizon,
with the promise of her call.
#literature #poetry #freeverse #military
Sunrise from South Camp
Anxiously, I climb the ladder to the top of guard tower Bravo at the start my pre-dawn shift. With each of my steps the rungs play a musical tone that both belies and confirms the solidity of the tower made from quarter inch steel. As I enter through the narrow door of the walled platform I am put at ease by the familiar, worn and splintered wood-sheathing floor, mottled by years of coffee and cigarette stains. I thud over to the north side and aim my rifle toward the main gate, then pivot across the star filled horizon to the lights of North camp, four small suns staring back at me blankly from over the distant and dark hills. I’m looking for the enemy.
Below, there are only paper cups and plates, and plastic bags from Metro and Alfa market, from far away coastal towns, lost in the wilderness of the Sinai desert until caught in the snare of concertina wire surrounding camp, rattling angrily in protest against the bullying wind and the heat from the lights beneath my guard tower. Somewhere a military officer is issuing orders to police that trash after breakfast. With a sigh, I prop my rifle against a wall and turn on an old dual-band radio left behind by some charitable ghost—Rick Dees announces the weekly top forty. I turn toward the east and watch the sunrise from South camp.
#literature #fiction #microfiction #military