Literary as hell.

Category: Flash Fiction (Page 1 of 3)

“Vignette” by Claire Fitzpatrick

The paths wove through the vignettes like veins, around the koi pond, the stone retaining walls, the avenue of white pebbled and sandstone pavers, and down to the creek, where an arched bridge linked to a small island with a treehouse encircled by hundreds of daisies. Rebecca and Stephen had no ambitious landscaping plans when she’d inherited the estate. But after close inspection, they’d discovered the bones of the existing garden, uncovered its harsh lines and soft curves, and, after three long years, had opened their botanical paradise to the public. 

Rebecca believed gardens created themselves. Where trees had grown over time and brought more shade, the plants struggling to prosper beneath were moved. Where seeds were dropped, self-sown, and thrived, they were left. Advertisement brochures referred to their garden as ‘a living work of art’. To her, the garden was a structure to sustain life and was in some ways more important than her own. And while she and Stephen won awards for their landscape designs, and were featured on gardening shows and in magazines, there was one vignette of their garden that visitors were forbidden to enter. 

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“Avocado,” a flash fiction piece by John Brantingham

You try to steer Cyndi in her Hulk costume away from the house three doors down where the pediatrician lives. He opens the door and pulls an avocado and a toothbrush out of a basket and tosses them into her pillowcase. He says, “Happy Halloween.”

Cyndi thanks him, but you can’t help yourself. You say, “You know it takes a special kind of asshole to give a child a lecture instead of a piece of candy.” You point into his basket overflowing with the Earth’s bounty. “Is that a beet?”

He cocks his head. “What? Did you have a couple before you took your kid out trick or treating?”

Of course, you did, but only because you forgot it was Halloween, and anyway, you thought you’d mouthwashed the smell away. Apparently not. “Yes, madam,” you say, “but tomorrow, I’ll wake up sober, and you’ll still be a shithead.” The quotation is right on the top of your head because you’ve been teaching Churchill in your graduate seminar for the last two weeks. You know you got it wrong and the “madam” probably confused the guy a little, but it feels like a good retort, so you spin on the back heel and catch up with Cyndi who’s sitting on the front lawn.

By now, the guy’s slammed his door, so you say to her, “If you want, we can throw the produce through that fucker’s front window.”

“No, Dad, no. I’m the peaceful Hulk.” This is probably why she drew a Mercedes Benz symbol on the chest of her costume. She brings the avocado up to her nose and inhales and smiles and then lifts it up to you. 

You take it and breathe it in, and it fills you up. “You make a good point, Gumdrop, and besides there’s more loot to be taken on this street.”

She takes it back and smells it once more. “It’s so good,” she says. “It’s just so fucking good.”

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2021 Halloween contest finalist: “A Trick and a Treat” by Carl Herstedt

The small graveyard, tucked in, almost hidden, past the hills and meadows is nearly empty. I stop my car in the square of pebbles in front, take the plastic bag lying in the passenger seat and step out into the howling wind. 

The gate shuts on its own behind me with a thick thud. I make my way across the tombs that are spaced out seemingly haphazardly, and in a variety of sizes. For a moment, there are dim lights and laughter in the distance, then it’s gone just as quickly. Trick-or-treaters, perhaps, hunting for bounty in the residential are nearby.

Tilde brushes against my calf, sniffing into the wind at nothing. I can just barely see her tail wagging. I forgot to bring a lantern, so I use the screen of my phone to light my path forwards. The grass in here could use a trim. Long straws, still wet from the rain earlier today, sticks in chunks on my boots, but Tilde doesn’t mind it. Finally, I reach the tombstone I was searching, and pull the bouquet out of my plastic bag and place it in front of the stone.

“There,” I tell Tilde, “now we can play.”

The word ‘play’ seems to instantly switch on something in her mind, and she jumps around my feet as I dig in my jacket-pocket after a stick I picked up earlier before getting in the car. Playing with Tilde I lose all track of time – I exhaust myself physically, but mentally I’m in a pleasant, soothing lull of sorts. Tilde’s a bundle of energy, same as always. A man walks by, just a shadow against the fence and the trees, I don’t know if he even notices Tilde but he says nothing, just nods to me before strolling further into the graveyard.

I lay my plastic bag flat in the grass and sit down, and Tilde comes to rest by my lap. I scratch behind her ears and move my hand along her nape and back, and so we sit in silence until my wrist is tired and it’s time to part. 

“Sit,” I say and she winces, knowing it means our time is up, but looks a bit more eager when I put my hand in my pocket. She sits, and I put the bone-shaped little nugget in my hand on top of her tombstone. 

“Until next year,” I say and stand up, ready to rush back to my car, because I still can’t stand being left here alone. So when she turns around, I do, too. Much better to say good-bye like this, with a trick and a treat.

“Garbage People” by Emma Miller

garbage
It’s 2018 and we’re garbage people now, management tells us at the morning meeting. “Not garbage men,” Larry stresses. He strokes his Pomeranian, which is wriggling in his arms. “Garbage people.”

 

I look from Duke on my left to John on my right, then raise my hand. “But we are garbage men,” I say.  

 

“Shut up, Mick,” Larry snaps. The dog yaps. “You are a person, and what you think doesn’t matter.”

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“Room and Board,” flash fiction by T.K. Lee

“Why’s it matter? Why’s it matter?” Shelda—she calls herself Shelda now that enough years have passed — is yelling and she’s in the living room and she knows better than to yell in the living room, but she’s yelling and she’s yelling, and repeating, “Why’s it matter?” but it’s as much a yell as it is a point-of-fact that she knows (that we all know) can’t be taken as fact if it ends in a period, so she makes it look like a question—it’s that same loud spoken yell the desperate do at the last minute, or no , it’s that sudden fact that dresses for the occasion, always in season, or is the—

“Shut up, Curtis.” From Shelda.

“I’m not talking to you.” From Curtis.

“Goddamn, he shit on the floor. He shit on the rug. Our father shit on the rug in the goddamn living room.” This is Denise talking.

And he had. Continue reading

Flash fiction by Michael Prihoda

The Year of Looking Up Friends on Our iPhones Only to Wonder Who We Actually Met

 

Chloe read the Magna Carta backward. I’m sure of it, whether you are or not. Please tell me we are not the last people on earth. Please tell me if I open the door I will find the mail in the box, maybe a couple bills we can pay on our meager salaries. There was a guy named Peter one of us knew from somewhere, not a support group, no, I never went to that one that met down the street from the place where somebody my parents used to know lived. People started dying long before we started living.

Freddy is not worth talking about.

Oh. Raquel is another story. Well, there was this one instance, and I only heard this from Cam, who happened to be with her at the party and eventually got her home completely without taking advantage of the situation whatsoever (considering Cam this is almost unbelievable and I don’t even need to include any euphemisms for you to know what sort of activity he refrained from that I find unbelievable yet enlightening because, perhaps, humanity has some baseline goodness left and since Cam was probably five to six rum and Cokes heavier than when he started the night that this story takes place on makes it all the more improbable yet uplifting/encouraging/inspiring). Anyway, Cam tells me stuff went down and Raquel happens to be lucky in that there is nothing worth remembering (in a good or bad sense) from the night because she definitely remembered zero of what transpired in perhaps the best possible way of not remembering zilch. Continue reading

2016 Halloween Contest Finalist: “The Neighborhood Association” by Ani King

Nobody does Halloween like Ginnie Farrow. Just ask the neighborhood.

Sheila Canterwell, beloved kindergarten teacher, used to take the ribbon with her Haunted Haus, and before that Reverend Jim McGee smugly won decades worth of praise with his carefully planned Zombie Garden. He spent hours in his garage hand painting fake rubber limbs to look terrifyingly real when strewn in haphazard rows. We all enjoyed the results of their friendly feud, ohhing and ahhhing at each new height they managed to reach.

The prizes have varied over time, from gift certificates, to lawn service, to cash on occasion, but really, it’s the awe and appreciation of the neighborhood that most seek to win.  And growing ghosts? Well, that’ll do it.

Thing is, no one in the neighborhood ever managed to grow a decent ghost. Some tried, including Jim and Sheila, but the soil didn’t cooperate, or the corpse seed didn’t take even if it was planted at the height of spring, under a full moon. We once saw them collaborate a bit, trying to get a few to come up in the community garden in town. Nothing doing, it just didn’t happen.
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“Politics,” flash fiction by Kelly Evans

Politics

by Kelly Evans

“I’ve decided to enter the cutthroat and unforgiving arena of political life,” Frederick announced.

Mother looked up from her book. “Whatever for, Freddie?”

“I’m a natural born leader and others should benefit from my vast life experience.”

“And how do you plan to enter this world?” Frederick’s younger sister Constance smiled wryly.

Frederick sat on the settee and swung a leg casually over the arm. “I’ve discovered our local school requires a new governor, a perfect place for me to cut my teeth, politically speaking.”

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“The Worst Hangover,” flash fiction by Adam Kluger

The Worst Hangover

by Adam Kluger

 

Lady-in-a-Blue-DressHe was pretty hung over.

So bad that he was burping into a glass of water. He hadn’t noticed the waitress right away. She must have been new. It was wintertime. The morning after the Smart-TV Christmas Party.

Booger had secured the location for the station and he put together a very bad Christmas reel. The bureau chief cornered Booger at one point and asked what happened with the reel… why was it so lame? Booger was mortified and the only thing to do at that point was drink heavily. He ordered a shot of whiskey with a beer chaser and kept hitting the same number until the embarrassment gave way to stupor. He got home, smoked a bone, whacked off and went to sleep. When he woke up in the morning his mouth was full of cotton and his stomach was doing somersaults. He threw on a coat and went across the street to “My Most Terrific Dessert Company.” It was expensive but he could sit there order a soda and a croissant and feel a little better. The waitress moved across the floor like a ballerina. She was friendly too.

Very friendly, Booger thought. Continue reading

“Nest,” by Meghan Ferrari

Scabbed knees scurry down a path saturated with yellow leaves.“Hurry up!” Sam shouts at her younger sister, exasperated by her slowness.She navigates the strewn branches swiftly, jumping over their jagged edges like a well-worn hopscotch. At the foot of the path she pauses, leaning her body, newly lanky, against the large rock shaped like a jelly bean. The grey bean, swathed in green moss, once served as the perfect table-top for tea parties, and Barbie’s BBQs, but now seats Sam and her friends as they practice their fishtail braids, crossing and re-crossing freshly highlighted hair, and discuss the day’s drama, most recently Becca’s foray with Ben H. behind portable #5.Sam waits until she can see the fraying bows on her sister’s pale pink sneakers, then continues deeper into the woods. As she runs, she stretches her flannelled arms out, and with pointed index fingers, grazes the passing pines, as though leaving a line to retrace.

 

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