Twitter-Sized Fiction: 1

Feb 18 2014

"I give you strength," Dragon told his princess, tempering her with fire.  When rescue came, she slew the knights herself.

**cross-posted to my twitter (@ctbideas)

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I Am Me

Feb 17 2014

I Am Me

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Judgment Day

Feb 10 2014

The war was over too quickly, if it could properly be called a war at all. Only two people died during the twenty-four hour period in which the beings took the whole world over: one who suffered a heart attack through sheer fright; another who had been in the process of committing suicide and gone through with it through sheer stubbornness. Before any military prowess could be brought to bear on the intruders, everything had been effectively routed and subdued.

The beings called for a representative of each group of creature inhabiting the planet to meet with them, from the smallest ant to the largest whale.

“Who are you?” asked the representative the humans selected when it was their turn. He stood before the being in the middle of a large grass plain, dotted here and there with large boulders. The being, vaguely humanoid, of a color the human couldn’t quite pinpoint, rested before him.

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In-Between Alphabet: N is for Next

Oct 08 2013

Next always follows behind, never allowed to storm into the fray first.  Another has come first and once there is a first, all are designated as Nexts, an army indistinguishable from each other.  Next enjoys closeness, settling besides like a warm puppy, one second squeezed against you, the next wriggling with impatience to move on. 

She says Next, fingers flicking lazy through the air, indolent body sprawled on the couch as if lacking any sort of skeletal structure.  He may have been bestowed with remote control privileges, plastic rectangle warmed with the heat from his hand, but he’s not deluded.  When he’s too slow to change the channel, she breathes out a heavy sigh and pokes him in the thigh, fingernail sharp even through denim.  Next, she repeats, not amused or fazed by the way he mock-glares at her in exasperation.  He could tussle with her over this, insist on his way, and he’d win.  But then the heavy weight of her head would lift from the hollow beneath his collarbone, and the pressure along his side would cool, and he finds this expectation rather distasteful.  So he presses the channel up button.  The colors of the television screen flicker to black before rearranging themselves in new patterns of movement.  He glances down, rewarded by the small quirk of her lips, the narrowing of her eyes as her quicksilver mind processes the images into coherency.  She throws out a snarky comment directed at some aspect of the program now inhabiting the screen, sly and cutting, eyes fixed on him.  He’s laughing before he’s even quite understood it.  She says Next once again, and his hands reach for the remote control, more interested in the play of her expressions anyways.

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In-Between Alphabet: M is for Maybe

Jul 08 2013

Maybe consists of the tension between two or more choices, and the inherent initial indecision connecting them.  Maybe only appears when each possibility is equally viable but not equal in consequence.  It is a set of one-way crossroads.  Once a decision is made, the other roads dissipate into the amorphous ether of never-was.  Maybe is made of both yes and no, both existing as a part and a whole, an individual-sized Schrodinger limbo.

She says Maybe and he barely manages not to grind his teeth in frustration, the tick of the clock seeming louder with each passing second, minute of indecision.  It seems like such a simple thing, choosing what victuals to ingest, but they’re locked in a struggle of epic proportions better suited to a swords-and-sandals film than in the close confines of their relatively mundane home, the air outside hot and muggy enough to add fuel to his impatience.  Intellectually, he understands her hesitation in making the final decision.  Yet, no matter how often he assures her that he doesn’t mind either way, that his love for her won’t diminish if she chooses to eat hamburgers over sushi or vice versa, she insists on dithering, her mouth tight, her eyes watching each twitch of his facial muscles as if she can read his mind from the slide of skin across his bone structure.  She says Maybe and he throws his hands in the air, stomping off into the bedroom to see whether he’ll die of starvation before she makes up her mind.

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In-Between Alphabet: L is for Like

Jun 24 2013

Like is a feeling: positive, affectionate, an acknowledgment of choice and preference.  It signifies an invisible drawing force.  Instinctive, subjective, Like can not be taught, only developed, never forced.  Like also indicated similarity, a comparison of features inextricably linked in one’s mind, neural connections developed from experience and observation.  It is personal, a subconscious extension of oneself. 

She said Like after they’d known each other for 9 months, 4 days, and 5 hours, give or take.  Her eyes didn’t move from his, pink spreading across her cheekbones like a watercolor stain, her fingers clasped so tight in front of her, splotching a matching white and pink.  He’d fumbled and stumbled and not known what to say.  So he’d said nothing as they stood together on the top of the parking structure, only turned his head away far enough to see the rising sun peeking over the top edge of the horizon. She’d taken that as a polite dismissal, turning with him, the pink of the lightening sky five shades paler than the one darkening her features.  When they’d parted ways, to their own separate places, he’d watched her go, watched each step take her further away from him until she’d disappeared around the corner.  That night, sitting in front of his computer, his chest ached, not in a heart-attack sort of way, no sharpness or teeth to the pain, no throbbing or shooting, just a dull ache, a bittersweet one, like seeing the credits roll after a particularly good movie, or the last bite of an ice cream cone.  Like an ending.  But he didn’t want it to end, even if he didn’t know what it was, and the more he thought of her, of her eyes, and the pink and white splotches of her knuckles, the ache grew and grew until he could stand it no longer.  He messaged her.  Like, he said.  I like you too. She says Like 8 years, 10 months, 8 days, and 3 hours, give or take, from that message he’d sent her.  He pulls her closer to him, entwines her fingers in his, and watches the ring of silver he’d placed on her finger years ago sparkle in the sunrise. 

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In-Between Alphabet: K is for Keep

Jun 17 2013

Keep tucks away sentiments and objects and sentimental objects away, always for an explicit reason, and they become a part of identity, an extension of this discrete breathing spark of life.  Keep pushes forward, one step in front of another, a repetition of actions and the forces behind them.  It represents both the outer physical make-up and the inner amorphous engine separating each individual from another. 

She says Keep, smiling up into his eyes, hands feathering over his arms in the dark of night.  A hot cup of tea appears before him, translucent steam curls in fractal patterns before dissipating, leaving behind earthy aromas.  He rolls his shoulders, his eyes a weary mass of burning aches from remaining open longer than the muscles were designed to withstand.  Black symbols dance around him in a wavering mockery of a foreign tongue, taunting him with visions of failure, of money crumbling to dust, of proof of his oft-wondered stupidity.  Morning is leaking into the dark province of night, his exam approaches him akin to a battering ram, and at this exact moment, giving up seems the least painful option. She says Keep, slipping a biscuit, crumbling at the edges onto the white paper napkin, beside the tea.  He drags her close to steal a kiss and forges ahead.

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In-Between Alphabet: J is for Just

Jun 10 2013

Just is the bare minimum, the thinnest outlines of an entity.  It categorizes, in the basest way, each into specific patterns built from childhood instruction.  Just denotes the implications of equality, fairness, the delicate easily overwrought scales of morality.

She says Just and kicks a pile of books askew.  Frustration spews from every pore as she rampages through the bedroom.  He sits along the sidelines, not sure whether to intervene on behalf of the victimized objects flung around the room in haphazard patterns, whether the risk is worth the potential for being sucked into the whirlwind whipping through the thin walls of their home. But soon he can’t bear the waves of hurt rippling through the air and he pulls her into his arms, whispers fantasies in her ear of perfect worlds and ideal people and other mythologies, a muttered stream of nonsense with no other purpose than to soak up her unhappiness.  The tense vibrations shaking through her limbs slow, her heartbeat keeping pace, until she bows in his grasp, weeping angry-hot tears into the fabric over his heart.  She falls asleep, exhausted, breath hitching in random spurts, the word Just lingering against the curve of her lips before it falls headlong into the soaked fabric cooling in the still air.

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In-Between Alphabet: I is for Is

Apr 29 2013

Is is a state a being, an existence, a presence of fact.  Is doesn’t acknowledge the past nor casts its eyes into the future, content instead in each fleeting snapshot image of the present.  Perhaps the Is that embodies now resembles nothing of the Is that embodies the next now, but both are true representations nevertheless.  Is can describe the most minute detail, microscopic in notice, or it can hold within it the grandest truth stitched into the fabric of the universe.  It can be rooted in the most obvious of reality, or it can speak of the complex profundity of the most hidden human condition.  Is is everything. 

She says Is in the midst of a quarrel, her hands slashing down in emphasis, the tips of her nails flashing white in the afternoon sun pouring through the window.  Frustration wells up within him, trickling through carved channels of affronted justice.  He wishes he could convey the thoughts rushing through his mind, that particular shape of emotions dwelling in him, but it becomes scrambled in his brain, mixed-up and confused and the words spilling from his lips are mere shadows of what he means.  They fly out into the air, these word-spirits, twisting and morphing, so that by the time they dip down into the canals of her ears, they resemble nothing of their origins.  She looks at him, hurt shimmering over her features like a heat wave over cracked tarmac, then volleys words back at him, words that hold no meaning except that they render him injured in a mirror reflection of her.  As she turns away from him, he realizes he’s won.  But winning scratches chalky and bitter in his throat.  He reaches out, her shoulder slipping away from underneath his fingertips, because the prize of winning is only loss.  He would rather lose a thousand battles if the consolation prize is her presence beside him.  She says Is, her features softening, the tear tracks drying on her cheeks, then reaches out back to him.

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In-Between Alphabet: H is for He

Feb 25 2013

He is inherently masculine, the perfect embodiment of male.  It forms in solid layers, the singular embodiment of this entity that possesses a form of acknowledged life, perhaps even a soul burning somewhere inside.  He brings together two disparate chromosomes to form a potent mixture that falls into proscribed roles already predetermined possibly hundreds of years ago, and then throws it out so it sticks to another.  It isn’t personal.  He is not me nor you.  He is outside of that circle. 

She says He, and he stiffens, swiveling his head to pinpoint the particular specimen she’s referring to.  Sounds rise up his chest, to his throat, before he clamps his teeth in front, trapping them, afraid of whether they’ll burst out as antagonistic or pitiful whimpering, neither one welcomed.  He watches the other male, tracking him step by step, measuring, evaluating, comparing.  What about the other man catches her eye?  And does he, himself, possess those qualities?  He still can’t figure out why she chose him, out of every possessor of the Y chromosome alive in this world.  Maybe, at the moment of meeting, he was the only fitting option, and, as she steps out further into the world, more options, better fitting options, will coalesce before her, drawing her away from him.  And he can’t bear that possibility.  She is his.  Even if everyone she meets falls at her feet, and why wouldn’t they, he is the only one whose fingers twine with hers, whose nose nuzzles the soft hairs at her temple, who knows the imprint of her body against his.  She says He, and he wraps his arm around her waist, whispering inside jokes to her until she laughs and forgets everyone else in the room.

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