a cure for the common block

Matter of Silence

Mila danced around the house, carrying her tiny umbrella and pretending to jump in puddles. School was cancelled due to torrential a downpour and flash flood warnings, it was so bad her parents wouldn’t even let her play outside. So she decided to play in the rain inside, complete with raincoat and galoshes. Her mother made soup and grilled cheese, she sat with her father and watched the television; life was good. The next day at school she found out her friend, Jaye, was home sick, but nobody knew what with. Every day Mila wrote Jaye a letter, wishing he would get better and talking about the fun things they would do. A decade after Jaye’s funeral Mila was packing up to go to college when she came across a box of old letters and mementos, including her correspondence with Jaye. They wouldn’t tell her what was wrong at the time, and shortly after they moved she forgot about him. With eyes welling up with tears she walked into the kitchen and asked her mother what had happened, her mother lied about cancer, shielding her from the truth.

#ShortShortStories #MatterOfSilence

Party Crasher

Whenever Henry visited his friend Calvin he was always confused by the compliments he got from Calvin’s mom, how nice his skin was and how he had a “good nose”. He lost touch with Calvin somewhere in high school and hadn’t thought about him or the compliments until his 23rd birthday. He was sitting on the Q when his watched beeped, announcing the arrival of midnight and shortly thereafter a man in a suit came in from another car already in mid-rant, about “them” and “they”. When he saw Henry he pointed and shambled towards him, stringing together a tangent of slurs and expletives, condemning the “filthy thugs” and filling Henry with a deep discomfort, fearing for his safety until the man said “Not like us, you know?” At which point Calvin’s mom’s words echoed in his mind and it dawned on him that this man didn’t realize he was talking to one of “them”.

#ShortShortStories #PartyCrasher

Pot Luck

Weller and “Too” didn’t expect to become friends when they first met. Weller Thomas was introduced to Weller Kane by a mutual friend, Kane’s nickname came from a misunderstanding when Thomas introduced himself as “Weller” and Kane responded “Oh, I am, too.” Three years later and they barely ever thought about the mutual, except with regret. They strummed their guitars, tuning them as they waited for a commercial to come on advertising cat food featuring a talking dog; they were high and the absurd concept delighted them to no end. Weller had already started recording so they’d be able to watch it on a loop and just as it came on the doorbell rang. Too got up to answer it in a manic giggle fit that ceased abruptly as soon as he answered the door. Isabella was new to the neighborhood and needed help finding her puppy, and Too suddenly couldn’t care less about a dog shilling for cat food.

#ShortShortStories #PotLuck

By the Numbers

When Garrett lost his voice it was a blessing – for an entire week not a single teacher called on him to answer a question, and he could freely pass notes to his friends under the guise of “discussing the lesson.” When his voice came back the following Monday – much to his chagrin – his life returned to normal, with one exception: among the recipients of his notes was Jessica Hall (at least an 8 to his at-best 6), who agreed to go on a date with him, under the sympathy spell just like everyone else. Their relationship didn’t break down the barriers or put an end to high school stereotypes, but they both became disenchanted with the concept of a “point system” and gained the respective confidence and open-mindedness to pursue the unexpected.

#ShortShortStories #ByTheNumbers

Poor Reception

Lakeisha Greene raised her hand with an “Aqui!” after the noticeable pause following the calling of Jake Granger’s name. Little was more humiliating than being a junior in Spanish 1. It was bad enough that her 3 credits didn’t transfer from her previous high school because they “followed an unorthodox curriculum” – apparently immersion learning is “unproven” – but she could already tell she would face the same ignorance as every school she had attended since 5th grade. She was proud of how hard her parents had worked and appreciated how little they asked from her, but some days she would give up the nice textbooks just to see some familiar faces, and people who understood what her name meant. She finished a weeks worth of homework assignments before the bell rang to dismiss the class, packed her backpack, and walked out into the halls when Jake passed her by and handed her a folded note “Lakeisha”. She paused, unfolded it, and read the short missive from the tall ginger: “I need a tutor and you seem to know a lot. Help???” She laughed to herself, almost upset that she hadn’t thought of the idea herself; by graduation she saved enough to buy a new car.

#ShortShortStories #PoorReception

You’re Nobody Til Somebody Hires You

Mike balled up his shirt and with the flick of his wrist launched it onto his already-full hamper, which it promptly tumbled off of onto the floor. He groused every foot-dragging step to the corner of his room, picked up the shirt, dropped it back on top of the heap and pushed down with all his body weight. Since moving back in with his parents he made a series of concessions, one of which being that he would do his own laundry – with the conceit that he could wait until his hamper was full. He didn’t miss his apartment that never smelled quite right (or getting the landlord to take blame so he could prove to his parents it wasn’t him), but he missed his routines and he missed the convenience of having everything he needed in a five-block radius. It would be nearly seven months before he was fully recovered (and almost two years before he found a proper job) but he returned to the life he missed, albeit with slightly altered routines.

#ShortShortStories #YoureNobodyTilSomebodyHiresYou

The Big Uneasy

Chloe sewed the button in place for the third time in as many months. Two weeks later – as she crissed and crossed the thread – she silently fumed in frustration; she understood nervous habits, she understood minor compulsions to chew or rock or whatever, and just as she was about to get angry at her son for undoing her hard work by gnawing on his sleeve buttons she wondered, what was making him nervous? When Jon came home from school that day his mom sat down with him and had a long-overdue chat about school, his friends, and everything going on in his life.

#ShortShortStories #TheBigUneasy

Draw Partner

Cherie cooed softly at her young one as she stroked his chin, cradling him as he giggled and wiggled. She was considering options for names when Ty entered the hospital room with cookies and juice. She had a soft spot for “Lou”, a great-uncle who helped raise her while her mother was in the hospital, while Ty wanted to honor his own father – “Rey” – whom had recently succumbed to disease; they had already agreed his middle name would come from his father. At an impasse they resolved to settle it in their traditional way. “Louis Ty Allen,” Cherie said as she pointed at his nub of a nose “your father is terrible at ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’, so let’s hope you take after me.”

#ShortShortStories #DrawPartner

Another Saturday Night

Murray crossed his legs and tapped the pen to his temple as he furrowed his brow, looking down at the crossword puzzle. A little buzz of energy zipped around his brain and instantly retrieved “Charlemagne” from his memory bank. His eyes dropped down to 16 Across and smiled warmly at the clue “To reconcile.” Reconcile was a word that often eluded Murray and force him to settle for less eloquent language, or completely restructure a sentence if a synonym could not be found. The tangent sent him into a fleeting daydream which was interrupted by the announcement of suppertime over the speakers. He set the puzzle in his lap and began rolling his wheelchair to the dining hall, hoping for Salisbury steak.

#ShortShortStories #AnotherSaturdayNight

Grandma, What a Big Mouth You Have

Yves nestled into the sleeping bag listening to the soothing sounds of nature outside his tent: the soft rustle of leaves around his encampment, insects chirping to attract mates, an owl controlling its flaps as it landed on a branch and let out a hoot. A loud rustle made his eyes jolt open; he was disoriented, he couldn’t tell if he had just fallen asleep or had been asleep for hours. There was a steady rustling through the bushes to his right but it was too small for a bear and he was hundreds of miles from the nearest cougar sightings, so he closed his eyes to drift back to sleep before he noticed something – complete silence. Aside from the wind, he heard nothing but the beating of his heart, which grew faster the more nervous he got. To remain vigilant – yet focused – he began listing the animals it could possibly be. However his list became infinitely small when he heard a shriek from a maw he had never in his life heard, and from his throat bellowed a scream nobody would ever hear again.

#ShortShortStories #GrandmaWhatABigMouthYouHave

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