Posts Tagged ‘short story’

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There was a time when the music hall was the place to be on a Friday night. Records spun; laughter rang; dancing shoes tapped; light glinted on sequined dresses. It seemed as if the nights would last forever, as if the dance could never stop.

But nothing lasts forever: not stone, not steel, and certainly not a dance. A dance is a fleeting thing, a patter of heart and feet.

A dance is movement and forever is so very still.

The records slowed; the laughter quieted; the dancing shoes grew fewer and fainter; the light glinted only on the tiled floor. The music hall lingered, clawing for life, but could not hold on.

By the time they shut the doors, it was bleeding money. A flurry of protests and indignation followed as citizens remembered for a moment that the music hall existed, then quieted down as they forgot again.

The building is empty now. There is no laughter, no dancing, no light. Cobwebs lace windows of broken glass.

An old woman enters. She has traded sequined dresses for wool sweater, dancing shoes for a cane.

She closes her eyes and lets memories flow.

For a moment, there is music again.


Word Count: 200

This is for Sunday Photo Fiction. Thanks to Susan for running the challenge!

Photo © Susan Spaulding

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The family hung bells everywhere: upon the gate, above the door, along the curving bannister, from gutters and from windowsills, and on the branches of weary trees. When the wind came, they would chime away and all the air would be full of ringing.

“It’s silly,” the daughter said. Arms crossed, she leant against the wall, watching her father tie a bell around the mirror of her new car. It rang as his calloused hands bound the string. “Just an old superstition.”

The father shrugged. “Better safe than sorry.”

She rolled her eyes and made sure to slam the door hard as she could on the way in. The bells above the doorway clattered excitedly.

Her father sighed. He had heard the whispers of the wild wind. The scar on his wrist showed pale against the brown of his skin where his wife had bound him so that he could not follow the voices of the faeries.

The bells drowned them out, ringing above the wind. And yet still, sometimes, he could feel them close.

“Come home,” they whispered. “Come home to us, you wayward prince.”

They would never stop whispering. Not for him. And not for her.


Word Count: 198

This is for Sunday Photo Fiction. Thanks to Susan to running the challenge and C.E. Ayr for providing the prompt photo!

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The portal first opened on an otherwise unremarkable Tuesday afternoon. By six that evening, it was all over the news. A door to an unspoiled landscape of craggy mountains and vast seas under a maroon sky.

An important meeting was called the moment the President was done playing golf. He glared at his advisors the way he usually did right before a lot of people lost their jobs.

“A flag,” he said. “We need a flag there.”

“Why?” the Secretary of State asked.

The Secretary of State cleared out his desk while the task force got ready.

Their objective was clear: claim this strange new world for the American government before anybody else got any clever ideas.

The flag was up within the hour. The portal snapped shut within two.

Over the desolate, alien world the flag fluttered, unnoticed by anybody else in the universe.


Word Count: 145

This is for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. Thanks to Priceless Joy for running the challenge and Yinglan for providing the prompt photo!

bar-in-mexico

To say the island had a reputation for the unusual was like saying the ocean had a reputation for being wet.

Every shop was full of potions and spells, every doctor was a magical healer, every homeless women begging change on the street corners was a witch who’d give you a spell for a penny or a curse for a mocking laugh. When the mists came in, the lost walked the streets. Tourists came with their cameras and vanished in the dead of night or found themselves having conversations with strange women who turned out to have been dead for decades.

It was a place with no rules, or no rules that no mortal man could comprehend. (One mortal woman could, but she took a particular delight in not explaining them.)

Amongst this magic and mystery, the bar was utterly unique. Which was to say it was completely normal. The drinks were drinks, the food was food, the chairs were chairs. The barkeeper wasn’t the devil come to make a deal for your soul. The bathroom doors led to toilets and not to an endless howling dark.

The locals loved it. It was such a change of pace.


Word Count: 198

This is for Sunday Photo Fiction! Thanks to Susan for running the challenge! Photo © Susan Spaulding.

venice-fatima

There is a city like ice in the sun, like smoke in the wind. It is a maze of sparkling water, of spanning bridges, of shadows and whispers.

Through narrow alleys the traveller walks, silent as a cat. Crossing a low bridge, he looks down at the waterway beneath. Small waves lap at foundations.

He thinks of a story about a bird that ground a mountain to dust.

The waves will not take as long as the bird.

The city is a dream, a mist, and one day it will be gone.

But for now, it is here.


Word Count: 98

This is for Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for running the challenge and Fatima Fakier Deria for providing the prompt photo!

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During the long cold nights, she liked to remember summer: the warmth of the sun on her skin, the lake a wavering war of light and darkness, leaves green on the reaching branches of the young trees, birdsong in the air.

In the ice, there were no lake, no leaves, no branches, no birdsong, and no warmth. There was only the cold. The cold forever.

When it first descended on her, wrapping her in fingers of blue, her skin stung and her bones shivered. Now it was nothing. All-consuming numbness.

Did I deserve this? 

It was a question she asked herself every day, every hour, every minute, as she stood, statue-still, encased in her ice tomb.

She would give anything just to feel the sun’s warmth again.

But the spell had frozen her until the mountains ground to dust, until the seas turned dry.

Until the sun turned cold.


Word Count: 149

This is for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. Thanks to Priceless Joy for running the challenge and Enisa for providing the prompt photo!

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Leonard sat on the bench, hat pulled low over his face, and tried to be inconspicuous. He failed. In his defense, it was his first covert rendezvous and nobody had ever really told him how they worked.

When he’d offered to fill in for his girlfriend Jean at work, he’d thought she was an accountant. Filling in for a CIA operative was a little trickier.

“Just take this drive,” Jean said. “And give it to a woman in a red scarf. Be careful. They have eyes everywhere.”

He fingered the drive and hoped the contact would show up soon. The bench was cold and the birds were looking at him funny.

Or were they birds? He squinted. Those black glassy eyes could just as easily be little cameras, the wings a disguise for a drone.

“You can’t have it!” he said, his voice shaking. “I’ll… I’ll die first.”

The bird craned its head to one side. Leonard swallowed.

“Well. Maybe not die, exactly.”

In a flurry of feathers, the bird flew onto the table, beak inches from his face.

“I don’t even know what’s on it!”

The bird squawked, Leonard shrieked, and, across the park, Jean laughed, filming everything.


Word Count: 199

This is for Sunday Photo Fiction. Thanks to Susan for running the challenge and Susan Spaulding for providing the prompt photo!