Fiction in a minute: Voodoo Hoodoo

The tidy parlor smelled of decay and burning. Hand over her nose, Eustace scanned the floors, furniture and walls for the smell’s source. But the only disorder in her orderly room was the jumble of toys the twins left on the sofa. The boys were gone, but somehow she still felt their presence with an […]

Fiction in a minute: Straw hat

She waved at me today. The girl in the straw hat and red skirt stood on the roof of the abandoned Tolliver lace factory. She looked like Audrey Hepburn going a garden party instead of the usual street kid looking for a place to squat. She saw me staring at her from my apartment window […]

Drunken lit in real life

Ever read that melancholy writing that romanticizes alcoholic, desolate characters as broken geniuses hiding their light under dirty hair and scruffy clothes? I’ve heard it called drunken literature. Charles Bukowski and William Burroughs owned the genre. I just finished reading a short story along those lines, so I was intrigued to stumble upon a real […]

Fiction in a minute: Pizza Day

Jacob led the line of second-graders into the east entrance after the first recess bell rang. Even on pizza day, the hallway smelled musty and sweet just as he remembered from his own school days — a nostalgic combination of floor cleaner, old books and pots of paste. He pretended not to notice Emily, the assistant principal, leaning against […]

Fiction in a minute: Train

The cameraman said “rolling” and the red light over the lens glowed. The blond antiques appraiser slid his mirrored compact into his pocket and looked at Howard expectantly. “What did you bring to the show today?” “Train set. My father’s. He said it was the only thing he would save if the house was on […]

Fiction in a minute: Dancer

The heavy bass pulsed through my skin, alchemizing my old bones to stretchy, strong muscle. I danced and whirled and spun and slid, my body melting like liquid into the music. Then, silence. Laughter and the sound of high heels on wood floors echoed off of the dance studio’s mirrors. I opened my eyes to […]

Fiction in a minute: Mushroom

I fell into the dirt and dead leaves on the forest floor, banging my right knee on a rock and splintering my palms on rotten wood. I must have bit my lip too, because I tasted blood when I caught my breath. “Are we having fun yet?” Frieda said with a smirk. It was the […]

Value confusion

I’m more accustomed to hearing about values being talked about in a set – I’m thinking mainly of politicians touting “family values” and “American values” – as though there is some established list everyone who is important has agreed to. It also makes me think about times I’ve heard the word used as window dressing […]

When women were astronomical computers

Being a computer used to be one of the few women’s jobs in astronomy. Today, the word computer evokes plastic cases, microchips and power cords, but the term “computer” was actually first used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to describe people who solved mathematical equations using their brains and a pencil and […]

Nirvana: Yup, that’s the voice of my generation

I was angry in the early 1990s Los Angeles. My new college degree in business wasn’t helping me find a job in California’s deep recession and weak recovery. I was working two part-time jobs — one doing car insurance quotes on the phone and the other working as a receptionist in a Malibu doctor’s office, […]