Short-short stories for summer

    Short-short stories through Labor Day: “‘But is this how it really happened?’ you might ask. And I might say, ‘It may or may not have happened, but it is all true.'” Read in one bite, comment, and contribute your own.

    We’re deep into summer. To take your mind off the heat, the crawl over the Walt Whitman Bridge, and the barrage of insufferable political ads, we offer up a brief respite: a short-short story a day, until Labor Day, by NewsWorks contributing writer Kathy Stevenson. None longer than 50 words. Read in one bite, comment, and contribute your own.

    Sept. 4

    But is this how it really happened? you might ask. And I might say, It may or may not have happened, but it is all true.

    Sept. 3

    A brief kiss by two lovers on the street, given hurriedly.  Even the moonlight doesn’t make them linger.  Times like this I feel loss the most, when I see others so careless with love.  When I see the moon, full tonight, knowing tomorrow it will be less.

    Sept. 2

    How will I live knowing that darks will get washed with whites, and eggs will sit past their expiration date because no one is making cookies.  It’s these things I think of, not loss of love.  Maybe I could write it all down for him before I go.

    Sept. 1

    Who is to say what we remember?  Stories murmured by mother and grandmother and aunts on screened-in porches on sticky summer nights re-imagine themselves as memories. Black and white photographs with curling edges, pasted in a scrapbook with yellowing pages are a mind-picture as real as any true memory.

    Aug. 31

    Crouched over the sleeping dog, he pressed his cheek to her warm jowls.

    “Good girl,” he murmured.

    “One day,” he thought, “I will say this in some fluorescent-stainless-steel room. If heaven is an endless string of the same moment, it surely must be one of these.”

    He smelled kibble.—submitted by Bill Wedo

    also, from Kathy Stevenson

    How will I live knowing that darks will get washed with whites, and eggs will sit past their expiration date because no one is making cookies.  It’s these things I think of, not loss of love.  Maybe I could write it all down for him before I go.

    Aug. 30

    Who is to say what we remember?  Stories murmured by mother and grandmother and aunts on screened-in porches on sticky summer nights re-imagine themselves as memories. Black and white photographs with curling edges, pasted in a scrapbook with yellowing pages are a mind-picture as real as any true memory.

    Aug. 29

    She was planning to return to Spain, looking forward to revisiting those moments when first they met at the hotel in San Escorial, on New Year’s Eve! What unexpected delight! But they had lost touch. Years sped by. On Google, she discovered the reunion would never happen. Teardrops. RIP, Manolo.—submitted by Linda Harris

    also, from Kathy Stevenson:

    She had gotten pregnant during those heady, careless months before high school graduation. He had not been her prom date, but she had been a princess. Her picture was in the yearbook as proof, and she was even wearing a crown. A tiara it was called.

    Aug. 28

    After the darkness, lightning and thundering rain, happy birds found places for drinks and baths. I was happy that I didn’t need to water the plants, dragging a 200 ft. hose all over the lawn. The free, automatic watering system from the sky was here!—submitted by Sandy Choukroun 

    Aug. 27

    “Eager children bask in every hour of summer break’s blithe, endless freedom. Eight o’ clock twilight gives rise to the pitter-pat of double dutch, the compressed laughter of hide-and-go-seek, and the pale echoes of worried parents beckoning for their children to come home.”—submitted by Tyler Richendollar

    Aug. 26

    She thinks of him at the oddest times; when peeling potatoes, ironing, sweeping the floor, folding clothes fresh from the dryer, their warmth going up through her fingers, to her shoulders, which he once grasped and held like he’d never let go.

    Aug. 25

    The last bluebirds of fall are leaving.  If you wait in patience and silence, says the leader, the birds will come to you.  We stand, faces turned prayerfully toward the sun, hoping to see a peregrine falcon.  But it is twenty cedar waxwings that rise as one and head south.

    Aug. 24

    Sunday afternoons are the worst, when all those imagined families draw closer in their orbits on solid maple chairs over roast beef served on the good china. On your bulletin board: a faded yellow boutonniere from a dance. I remember the girl, heartbreaking in her youthful beauty. Do you?

    Aug. 23

    “I don’t want to be a burden,” she says. But when I consider burdens, it’s not this. A burden would be empty hands with no sweater to button straight. Or not hearing that still sweet warble crooning to the birds at the feeder when she thinks no one is listening.

    Aug. 22

    The way Moira gets through the time in between men is by drinking.

    Aug. 21

    When the children were babies Sylvia used to worry obsessively about electrical sockets, grapes, and poisonous houseplants. Now she worries that her son drinks too much and her daughter won’t find love.

    Aug. 20

    At sunrise, as a scarlet-tinged Montana sky gave way to palest blue, three shots rang out in the distance and something died.

    Aug. 19

    “Are you afraid of him?” I want to ask her. But that is the one question that cannot be asked.

    Aug. 18

    This morning the Polish babysitters were at the beach with their young charges. One of them was recording a little boy splashing at the edge of the water. “Now I can show his mother what a fun summer he had,” she said to her friend.

    Aug. 17

    The wives bonded together over lunch once a month with nothing whatsoever in common except that their husbands had the exact same job. It was as if they’d all entered a raffle and ended up with the same prize.

    Aug. 16

    One morning Jeanette caught a fleeting glimpse out the Septa train window of a woman who looked just like her sister would have had she not smoked two packs of cigarettes a day and ruined her liver with booze.

    Aug. 15

    Sometimes Rona forgets which husband is sleeping upstairs.

    Aug. 14

    For an entire year my father asked every woman he saw, “Are you Ann Martin?” When they replied no, he would ask, “Are you sure?” Most of them were polite, but a few rolled their eyes. I hope they rot in hell.

    I never found out who Ann Martin was.

    Aug. 13

    When he sees his wife wearing a holiday sweater for the first time in her life, Sven realizes that he is headed straight toward baggy-khaki-pants land, and there isn’t a darn thing he can do about it.

    Aug. 12

    In the photograph I don’t have of my daughter and me, we are standing, smiling, with our arms linked.  She is not standing a foot away from me looking ready to bolt.  She isn’t pleading with her eyes to just take the damn picture and get it over with.

    Aug. 11

    Many women Jane’s age claim they are done with love and sex, but she doesn’t believe it for a moment.  If someone like Frank Whitman came in to their life they’d change their minds pretty darn quick.

    Aug. 10

    You can pray and pray for someone to die and they won’t. But then your brother gets leukemia, and your best friend gets killed in a car accident, when you know no one wanted them dead.

    Aug. 9

    “And there was my husband, standing under the very tree called the widow-maker when the thirty-five pound pod dropped squarely on his head, killing him instantly.” The story was tragic, however in Mavis’s re-telling, after many years, became slightly tinged with a wry humor.

    Aug. 8

    The mothers lined up in the carpool lane made him think of animals that chewed the food for their offspring and then spit it into their mouths.

    Aug. 7

    My husband had always told me that my curiosity and sense of right and wrong were two of my best traits. That was before he had an affair with Wanda Waters. Suddenly my best traits didn’t seem so good.

     

     

     

     

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