September 7, 2014No Comments

Fiction in a minute: Voodoo Hoodoo

14770134062_a2ccc768ae_b 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 animal sense. They often hid at bath time. Her nephews inherited their father’s violet eyes, blond hair, and his tendency to flee any responsibility.

“Rene, I want you to leave now,” Eustace said to the old man sitting on her grandmother’s favorite chair. “You filled the twins’ heads with enough voodoo nonsense.”

“There’s the matter of payment,” he said.

“I’m not paying my brother’s debts.”

“I thought you might say that,” he said, still and coiled like a snake ready to strike.

A chill of unease spread through Eustace. Rene rose from the chair to pluck two identical male dolls from the toy pile. He gently sat them side by side, their blond heads back, eyes shut. Eustace watched as their eyelids fluttered open, revealing the twins’ violet eyes.

“RENE!” she screamed in horror. “What have you done to my nephews?”

August 15, 2014No Comments

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 fire," Howard said. "He wouldn't let us play with it."

"Sentimental value," the appraiser said, as an explanation.

Howard swallowed nervous laughter. His father was not sentimental.

"It's a cast iron train, early 20th century. Made by Ives, the precursor to Lionel Trains. You've heard of Lionel?"

Howard nodded, bored. They'd already told him this. He was just waiting for the magic words.

"It's worth about 300 dollars," the man said, his smile bright as the cameraman's lights.

Howard hid his disappointment and blinked. He'd assumed it was worth thousands of dollars, not hundreds. That assumption was how he reconciled his father's adoration of this train above any artifact from Howard's childhood. Above pictures of his mother. Now he knew the truth, and all he wanted was to get rid of it.

"Hmm," Howard said. "Wanna buy it?"

"That's not the way it works," the appraiser said.

August 8, 20141 Comment

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 see three young women dressed in tight-fitting shorts, crop tops and sandals with five-inch heels stood at the door.

The prettiest one gazed at me, blue eyes framed by long blond waves. She was accustomed to getting attention, and even I felt the magnetism of her smile.

“It’s time for pole-dancing class, grandma,” she said. Her cohorts tittered like sparrows at breadcrumbs. “Why don’t you stay?”

She was a mean girl. I knew plenty from my days on the floorboards. You didn’t make it for 17 years on Broadway as a dancer without knowing how to take a knife in the back -- or the front. I wanted to restart the music and dance, but my studio time was up.

With one hand, I grabbed the pole and scissored my legs around it, executing a perfect Hollywood spin. Blondie's mouth hung open.

“Maybe next time."

Photo copyright: yasemin / 123RF Stock Photo

August 2, 20143 Comments

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 third time I'd thought about killing her today.

Now I knew how to do it.

Frieda crossed her arms. “Come on already, klutz. It’s another mile to camp and it’s almost dark.”

“Coming,” I said. Electric currents ran through me. I cupped my hand over the death cap mushroom and pulled. The soil gave up slowly, as if asking are you sure?

She warmed herself by the fire, flames lighting her face as red as a demon’s while she played games on her mobile phone. I wrenched open a can of chili and poured it into the pot, along with finely shredded pieces of the poisonous mushroom.

At three a.m. Frieda shook me awake in the tent. “I don’t feel good,” she said. “My stomach..."

Her favorite question reverberated in my mind but didn’t make it to my lips.

“Are we having fun yet?” 

Photo copyright: cobretti / 123RF Stock Photo