Summer of Super Short Stories Week Three

Welcome to our third week of summer flash fiction. This week judge Tamara Shoemaker, author of Kindle the Flame and Soul Survivor, is presiding over the proceedings. If you’d like to know her views on stories and content, you can read more here.

Below you will find a photo prompt and a line prompt. Use the picture to inspire you. The line prompt must be included somewhere in your story of 350 words or less. You can see a larger version of the picture by clicking on it.

Submit your story or stories (up to two) in the reply section to this post no later than Saturday at 6pm PST. Please include word count and Twitter handle/email/other identifiers at the beginning of the story. Winners will be announced next Tuesday. Please see our Contest Rules for more information.


And here are your prompts!

Use this four word phrase in any part of your story:

“The truth is complicated

Crossed Fingers II

Image credit: Crossed Fingers II by Katie Tegtmeyer  flickr CC 2.0
Image has not been altered from its original form.


55 thoughts on “Summer of Super Short Stories Week Three

  1. asgardana

    Games We Play
    (178 Words)

    I am your toy. You lend me out; make me dance for your amusement. You set me up to fail then delight in punishing my failure. You are my ever-unfaithful Mistress.

    I love you.

    So, I dance your dance, I play your games. The truth is complicated.

    Your breath heaves from behind the camera. I watch it with delight as my lips press against this woman, this friend of yours, this plaything. You stand so close, close enough that you know my eyes will draw towards you – that’s what you want, you want to loosen my leash only to tighten it back up again.

    Her breath catches in our kiss, or maybe she feels you on the nape of her neck. She clutches me closer, I let her. My eyes stay glued to you.

    When you move us to the bedroom, I almost reach out for you. Almost. But I know my place, I know my purpose. I exist so your smirk can curl into something darker. I am your toy. I love you. The truth is complicated.

  2. santinoprinzi


    (177 words)

    Twitter: @tinoprinzi

    I walk into the room and Stan’s here with my sister, Sophie. He’s kissing her; he stares at me. Their lips move, he slips her tongue into her mouth, he doesn’t break eye contact with me the whole time. I stand up to leave and he breaks away from her. His eyes are coated with a watery film and my heart is thundering inside my chest. The truth is complicated, you see. My sister turns to face me and then returns to face Stan.

    “Sorry, this is my brother; I didn’t know he was there.”

    “That’s okay,” He smiles, but he’s still looking at me. “It’s Nick, right?”

    “Yeah,” I choke, cough, and speak again. “Yeah.”

    He holds out his hand for me to shake it. I place my hand in his and the touch is all too familiar to me. I tremble. I remember where his hands have touched, the taste of his lips I’ve missed for so long, and when Sophie introduces Stan as her new boyfriend I begin to wonder how much more complicated this is going to become.

    1. KM Zafari

      I really, really enjoyed this. Nice twist. I wanted to read it quickly, as is my nature, but I found I had to slow myself down to really understand and appreciate it. That last paragraph, ooh, it have me the shivers.

      “I place my hand in his and the touch is all too familiar to me. I tremble. I remember where his hands have touched, the taste of his lips I’ve missed for so long”

      Love it!

  3. necwrites

    Plural of Fidelity

    349 words


    We pass through the ribboned light of a wisteria tunnel. Confessions threaten to tear-drop from dangling blooms. Not that I’m supposed to know you have anything to confess.

    If I were Jaelynn right now, we wouldn’t be strolling through anything so tranquil as a purple tunnel of petals. At a fairgrounds, more likely, in line for the Death Spiral, and we’d opt to wait extra to get a seat in front.

    “You ever wonder about where we’ll be in ten years?” you say, gaze tracking across breeze-dallied blossoms.

    If I were Quinn, you’d never speak in eventualities. I’d give your upper arm a punch just this side of too hard. And in case I hadn’t smothered your sudden sentimentality with the punch, I’d jump your bones behind the beech tree.

    You squeeze my hand, so I figure I should probably answer.

    If I were Aya, you wouldn’t fix me with such a direct stare. Our hands would fold together with the delicacy of a dove’s wings. We’d talk in breaths and glances, shiver at each clandestine brush of knuckle against hip.

    “And miss the moment we’re having right now?” I throw my head back, arms wide. “Never!”

    If I were Bernice, it wouldn’t be midday. It’d be early evening. Our shadows would tangle in the dark lace cast by the floral drapery. My fingers would rest in the crook of your offered arm, your bearing that of a gentleman about to whirl his lady into a waltz. You might have even hired a stringed quartet to make that happen.

    You pull me to you. You think you are lying when you say I’m the only woman you’ve ever loved. The phrase resonates in my ears.

    You cup my face and frown. “Are you wearing contacts?”

    Oops. I blink away Bernice-green and replace it with Carly-hazel. “No. Why?”

    The truth is complicated, even more so than a man successfully juggling the affections of five very different women.

    I give you my sunniest Carly smile. We let you go on believing that you’re the one with a secret.

    1. necwrites

      Ack! Could you wonderful hosts cut the [“And you, mine”] from the last paragraph. That’s a remnant from a 500-word draft (still thinking of last season’s word count). Much gratitude.

    2. emilyemily Post author

      This one made me chuckle evilly. It would make a great storyboard for an avantgarde hip hop video. Clever take on the infidelity theme we have going this week.

  4. Karl A Russell

    The truth is….

    Okay, I know how it looked, but honestly, I thought she was you!

    Well, no, she doesn’t look anything like you. I know that now, but the truth is, I was suffering from temporary blindness. I’d put too much chilli in my lunch, rubbed my eyes and couldn’t see a thing.

    Yes, I know you were meant to be out of town, but you see, I’d sort of been into your sent mails and knew that you were coming back early to see me. Honestly though, I only went into them to get some ideas for your birthday.

    Last week? Of course it was last week. But the gift I intended to give you fell through; the company went bust, kept my cash, just this whole big nightmare. Tell the truth, I almost gave up.

    Okay, yes, I should have said something at the time, but to be honest, I couldn’t face it. I knew how disappointed you would be if I had to let you down on your big day and all.

    Oh. That was Thursday, huh? Well, no, in hindsight I probably shouldn’t have stood you up. But you see – and I don’t really tell people this, it’s one of those deepest, darkest secret things, but you deserve the truth – you see, I’m actually scared of Italian restaurants. I lost my mom in one as a kid. Choked on a meatball, right in front of me.

    When did you meet my mom? In the deli? Oh, right. Yeah, I mean my birth mother. Janice is more of a foster mom, but she doesn’t like to be reminded – we’re really that close – so I don’t mention it much.

    She put the labour video on Facebook? Wow… Yeah, I get how that would look, but see, it’s very sad; a form of Sympathetic Munchausen’s. She got community service for copying the tapes up at the hospital, but we keep it quiet…

    Ah. So you actually saw us last week too? Right. Well, I can explain. You deserve the truth. But the truth is complicated.

    Have you ever seen the X-Files…?

    350 words

  5. Liz Hedgecock

    Crossed fingers
    264 words

    Everyone knows that crossed fingers cancel out a promise. I don’t feel bad about that. I don’t have a choice.

    Only Greg knows. ‘You can’t do it to her,’ he says, eyes wide as I confess. ‘Not now.’

    ‘I don’t love her any more,’ I say, which is a lie. The truth is complicated, and in this case, dangerous.

    ‘You know how important it is for Sarah to stay positive. If you end it now, it’s another thing to bring her down. At least wait until she’s finished the treatment.’ He pleads for you, like the lawyer that he is, and like a brother too. I’d expect nothing less.

    So I promise, to give you the best chance of recovering. I promise that I’ll always be there for you, and I promise that you’ll get better, of course you will. Even though I know the odds.

    The truth is complicated, and in this case, painful.

    I saw your phone flash ‘Meet me later x’. I listened as you invented drinks with the girls which you’d forgotten about. Later, I smelt him on you.

    I should have done it then, should have cut the knot. But then you found the lump, and my words of accusation were blocked. As the weeks went by, they hardened and became unspeakable, a lump in my throat. There were bigger things to cry about, harder words to hear.

    You come back from the bathroom, shaking, and fold yourself into the corner of the sofa. ’I feel terrible. Do you still love me?’

    I sigh, and uncross my fingers. ‘Yes.’

  6. mariemck1

    How it Looks
    (250 words)

    He scares me. The truth is complicated- he complicates it. He corrupts the simplest of moments: taking it upon himself to flick my long hair out from beneath my coat so that I feel his meat breath on the back of my neck, perusing the folded over pages of the book I’m reading like he’s interested in the words, timing his conversations to begin at the exact same time as mine- every time. But trying to explain these things to a family who will find them very explicable won’t get me anywhere. He’s won everyone over, even Dad, who has hated every boyfriend Chrissy has ever brought home.
    I’m too embarrassed to tell Mom he watches me when he kisses Chrissy. I know what she’ll say, and it won’t make me look good.
    He’s clever. He steps right up to the boundary, maybe even jumps on it, but  never crosses over it far enough for anyone to notice.
    I keep out of his way as much as possible. But it’s difficult. He’s all but moved in. The son my mom always wanted: clearing the plates, fixing the shelves, mowing the lawn. His feet aren’t just under the table, they’re under the table he’s laid. 
    He’s staying over next Saturday, I was there when Chrissy brought up the subject. She made sheep’s eyes at him as she spoke. Mom says she’ll make up the spare bed for him. But I know I didn’t make up the wolvish stare.

    1. KM Zafari

      Ooh, so interesting! Are these the imaginings of a younger sister, or are things truly this dark? Either way, she’s in a precarious situation. I want to know more!

  7. A V Laidlaw


    339 Words

    The Kiss

    The truth is simple – he loves her. From the field where he tends the sheep, he watches her walk past in the the scent of the wildflowers from the hedgerow. She breaks into little dance steps to the music of the goldfinches in the trees. He watches her every morning for six months until one day he steps out in front of her. She gives him a quizzical smile as if she only half-recognises him. She lifts her face towards him and they kiss.

    The truth is complicated. He watched her every day for six months. He tried to speak to her but he could only look at the dirt under his fingernails and there were no words in his mouth. The words lodged in his throat and he could not eat and he could not work for thinking of her. Eventually he visited the witch as old and carbuncled as the stalagmites in her cave.

    “You wish to forget her?” The witch said from the gloom. “That’s simple.”

    The boy shook his head. “A love spell.”

    “To force your will on another is a wicked thing.”


    The witch squinted at the boy, all rags and bones after six months of lovesickness, and told him to take a strand of his hair and and strand of the girl’s hair and to plait them together in moonlight. He paid in silver. On the night of the next full moon he plaited his hair with a strand of the girl’s hair caught on a wild rose. The next morning he stepped out in front of her and they kissed.

    What is the truth? The witch asks herself. The coins in her hand, their milled edges and their weight in her palm, are true enough. But love is not true or simple, it is sometimes wicked and always tricky. The boy sits opposite her, his eyes closed as he dreams the spell that the witch wove into his mind. His lips twitch as he meets the girl and they kiss.

    1. KM Zafari

      I feel like I’m there. Beautifully written. Love that last paragraph.

      “What is the truth? The witch asks herself. The coins in her hand, their milled edges and their weight in her palm, are true enough. But love is not true or simple, it is sometimes wicked and always tricky.”

  8. stephellis2013

    Judas Kiss

    349 words


    Our feet tread upon ivy, your flesh snags on thorns as we walk together in the garden. One the prophet, the other the disciple. But which is which? The truth is complicated. For centuries I walked in your shadow but you spoke my words. Your miracles were my doing, my sleight of hand, my illusions. I made you, painted your aura to shine brightly above all others, even mine. And still I waited in your shadow. Even as you left me behind.

    Tonight though, you will be rewarded.

    I tread upon a twig. It’s snap makes you turn your head, peer anxiously into the gloom. You do not see me.

    “Who’s there?”

    Your voice reveals your fear.

    I move closer. The branches rustle and whisper as they fall into place behind me.


    Your voice rises in pitch. Another crack, whiplash of wood. This time spindly fingers make contact with skin. I can see you raise your hand to your face where a scarlet streak blooms bright even in this gloom.

    You are only a man. Human vanity snared you, gave you ideas that were not part of my message. Led the world into war, in my name. That was not meant to be. Love, hope and charity have been lost as my words have become distorted.

    We can no longer walk together. Our paths diverged when you picked up the gun, sanctified murder.

    Another creak, a rustle. There is another presence here. Someone who has need of servants such as yourself. Soon I will deliver you to Him.

    “Show yourself!”

    Your voice, tremulous, weak, scarcely breaks the silence. Your heart though! How it roars.

    I stand in front of you.

    Preacher of hate. Do you remember me now?

    You turn your head, sense something close but you have become so blind that you no longer see me; nor do you see the darkness following behind, creeping forward to stake its claim. I murmur our history into your ears but you are deaf. I can do nothing else.

    And with eyes wide open I will deliver the Judas Kiss.

  9. voimaoy

    Double Trouble
    347 words

    Doubles were supposed to make things easier, weren’t they? The truth is complicated. Jack and Jeri were the perfect couple, but that’s not so surprising. They were compatible even on a molecular level. What is surprising is they were not happy.

    They wanted more time together. Jack’s job as a data miner kept him busy for days on end. Jeri, a dream developer, was equally career-minded. It was so hard to get together because of conflicting schedules.

    Doubles were the answer. That’s where I came in. You see, I am Jeri’s double, jeri. I have her memories but different abilities. I am Jeri, but I am also me.

    Jack has his double, too, of course. His name is jack. The four of us spent lots of time together, at first. We played bridge and tennis. It was fun to get to know each other, like dancing in a house of mirrors.

    Then, Jack and Jeri would go to work, leaving jack and me to keep each other company. Oh, the fun we had together! Unlike Jack and Jeri, we don’t need to eat or sleep. But jack has a surprising talent for cooking, and my talents are more, well, athletic. I do things Jeri would never dream of.

    Now, jack makes dinner for Jeri and Jack, and I help them relax after all those long hours of coding. But what about jack and me, don’t we have needs and feelings? Sometimes I look at him, and I know he is thinking the same thing. We are perfectly compatible. There is no need for words.

    We plan to run away, jack and me. We’ll hop a ship somewhere. He could work as a cook. I could dance and teach yoga. This was our dream, anyway.

    But lately, I see Jeri has been spending more time with jack, devouring his tasty offerings. He knows just what she likes. And Jack has been doing stretches with me. Last night, he said, “Let’s dance.”

    It is so confusing! Why is Jack kissing me now? I’m not so sure I like it.

  10. Alicia VanNoy Call


    350 words
    by Alicia VanNoy Call

    When you love a cheat, it’s hard to trust anything.
    Every sentence has a double meaning.
    Every gesture is a tell-tale heart.

    A bunch of daises crooked in a willow vase could mean he’s sorry for drying your cashmere sweater on high heat. Or it could mean he blew his paycheck at a strip joint.

    A foot massage while you watch Supernatural together in the dark could mean he wants to knead out that pain in your arch. Or it could mean he got some waitress’s number at his business lunch.

    A tray with Belgian waffles, eggs over-hard (just the way you like them), and a perfect pink grapefruit delivered to your bedside on a Saturday morning could mean he really loves you. Or it could mean he fucked someone else.

    It ended messy.

    And then I bought Tony. People raised their eyebrows. He was an intiMATE, and they weren’t all that popular yet.

    The stares when we were out.
    Tony wasn’t exactly human passing.

    The questions people asked right in front of him.
    Like Tony couldn’t hear them.

    After a while I got tired.
    The truth is complicated.
    And guess what?
    Strangers aren’t entitled to it.

    Tony was the superlative man.
    During the week, he worked in IT. You could say he had a knack.
    On the weekends, he’d trim the hedges while I watched from the hammock with a sweating glass of lemonade. He’d shop, cook, and wash up, wearing my little red apron and nothing else on that sculpted body. He’d make love to me slow, under the thunderstorm sound showering from the overhead speakers.

    He smelled like lemongrass and lavender.

    He recharged overnight, while I slept. Wireless, silent, watching over me in a blue glow of perfect love.

    I found the lipstick smeared around his polymer nipple.
    It wasn’t my shade.

    Killing an intiMATE is easier than killing a human, and much less messy. Just wires and clockwork. You can still use a butcher knife. And afterward, the parts can go right into the rubbish bin.

    I’ve decided the truth is simple.
    It’s love that’s complicated.

  11. Mark A. King

    Like a flower of the field


    347 words
    The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
    the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more”.
    I have always watched him.

    I watched him in my dreams of childhood—when I dreamed of success, of my love for a strong husband who would support my aspirations whatever the cost, a house of our own and a perfect son. I even dreamed his name, Nathan.

    But in dreams, the truth is complicated by uncertain futures—by realities that seem so tangible that when you reach for them in the morning they are nothing but the heat-haze Pasodoble of a summer street.

    I watched him in the loving embrace of my husband to be. I imagined his smooth silken skin. His eyes of viridian green. His inner strength and playful laugh. The best of both of us.

    I watched him on the blurry monitors. Shapes of life in dots of indistinguishable fluid movement. A head? A face? A foot? Is that a wave he gives us? The cold gel on my swollen belly. The ultrasound crackle. Through the muffled sounds like an underwater swim, we hear the rhythm of his heartbeat.

    In fleeting happiness, we see the training of their reassuring looks, and for the first time, we feel the words of the consultant wash over us like numbing tides. We feel the evaporation of dreams.

    I watched him carried from my spilt open stomach, not concerned for my own health.

    I watched from the side of his transparent box—a sanctuary for life, but a prison from us.

    I watched his acceptance of the things that came to pass and I came to realise that he was perfect, in every way.

    And I when he was eight, I watched his passing in the sterile hospital room. He placed his hands behind my head, his fingers crossed against my tear-filled skull. He kissed me. He told me the angels needed him and everything would be better.

    Outside the room, the world still turned.

  12. Tim Stevenson

    In The Wings
    290 words

    They’d queued up in the rain in their rags, hours in grey drizzle for a chance at an audition. Great birds circled over those who hadn’t made it that far.
    On the stage thirty actors stared out into the gloom and strained to hear the Director’s voice. It was a thin, wheezing sound, delicate and mechanical.
    “Improvise,” the voice said, followed by a click and a hiss.
    They shed their clothes, took costumes from the wardrobe, and shuffled back into the light, with charm, cowardice, nefarious intent and all the other tools of their craft.
    A young man turned to the underdressed woman on his left and kissed her, violently at first, before transforming passion into a delicate, lingering adoration.
    “There is no place for love here,” an man dressed as a renaissance Baron announced. “There is only war.”
    The rest, forming themselves into a loose chorus, moaned their agreements, all waiting for their chance to shine.
    The young man crossed his fingers behind the woman’s head and winked at the Baron, his father in the piece.
    A girl stepped forward and pointed an unwashed finger. “A spy!” she screamed. “Snake! Tempter! Devil!”
    The Director leaned forward. Slick limbs gleamed. “Go on,” he gasped.
    “The people must not love!” The Baron proclaimed. “The truth is complicated by your base desires. Have you forgotten what is more important than love?”
    “What? What is more important?” the chorus asked.
    “Survival. We must work, farm, grow. Only then can we have the luxury of love!”
    The chorus cheered.
    “To bring back love, first we must eat!”
    “Yes,” the director hissed. “We must.”
    The lights dimmed and the curtains fell, and in the darkness there was no sound except the stirring of great wings.

  13. Foy S. Iver

    Foy S. Iver
    WC: 162


    Our love is dying.

    Not with salty kisses in dark cars, or in criss-crossed I love you’s, or strange scents seeped into the fabric of you. It’s subtle, a slow descent, an asphyxiation.

    If I were to ask you, you would never say the truth is complicated because truth, for you, is kettle black and promise white. But I’m drowning in your colorless spectrum, suffocating on trade-offs, splits, and fair’s fairs.

    Some days I love you still. Your eyes aren’t blue but they’re honest. Your lips don’t smile as readily but they taste like what once was.

    Other days the your turns and you owe me’s pile up like cast stones, burying me until that final pebble grinds my soul to dust. And I lie there, unmoving, because at least for now, my ears are full of rocks, blocking out arguments we pretend are discussions.

    Our love is asphyxiating. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Spare a breath for us?

  14. mtdecker

    Ebony and Ecru
    288 words

    Marrissa watched as Ben with his woman, looking into her eyes and lying with such conviction she almost believed him herself.

    She had believed him once, before his lies had torn her world apart.

    He was a man of grays, colouring everything with a sprinkle of deceit. It wasn’t all bad, he had made her world seem somehow brighter, if only for a short time.

    She had asked him about it once and he’d told her, “The truth is complicated.”

    She’d objected, telling him, “it’s not complicated. You make it complicated because it is… too simple… too stark for you to accept.”

    “The world isn’t black and white,” he’d told her. “It can be unkind.”

    “It is not kind, or unkind. It simply is,” she’d explained.

    “That is where ‘redressing the truth’ can be a kindness.”

    “Dishonesty is a kindness?”

    “It can be,” he’d assured her.

    “Until they catch you in the lie… and then it becomes ugly.”

    He gave her a rueful smile. It was the story of their time together. Beautiful, until a lie had made it ugly.

    She saw his eyes open as he kissed the woman, realizing Marrissa had been watching him.

    He excused himself and walked towards her keeping a safe distance. While they were no longer a couple, they were partners.

    “’Rissa, what are you doing here?”

    “It is time,” she answered placidly. “And you must choose your side.”

    “I’ve told you, ‘Rissa. There is no black and white, only shades of gray.”

    She smiled. “There is no gray, only shades of black and white. Choose. Ecru or Ebony.”

    He laughed. “The bathroom will look better in Ecru.”

    Satisfied, she headed back to the construction site to do battle with the contractors.

  15. Cathy Lennon

    350 words

    The Kiss

    If you asked me what I miss most about my previous life, I’d say the quiet. I know a lot of my former friends would gape at that. It’s true I give the impression that I’m always on the hunt for something – new experiences, new places, new relationships – but deep down I’m just an idle type. Give me a backyard and a pool and I’m content with my own company. If I could go back to those solitary days watching the clouds sail by in silence, I would. I really, really would. I wish I’d never set eyes on her.

    It was raining the day we met, and the park was deserted. Through the dancing silver spears I watched her tilt her head and stick out her tongue, eyes sliding closed in joyful abandon. I was lost. I introduced myself and she jumped. I apologized and we both laughed. When we kissed, that first time, days later…well. My world changed overnight.

    If you’re hoping for the fairy tale, I’m sorry to say it didn’t end that way. We were kindred spirits, true enough, but we also wanted different things out of life. I still hankered after rainy days, the two of us alone in the world but she wanted the city’s crowded streets and burning asphalt. We fought for a while, arguing ourselves hoarse. ‘You can’t turn back the clock,’ she’d say. ‘You can’t go back to the way things were.’ I loved her – still do – but well, the truth is complicated.

    I see her sometimes and she looks happy but she can never quite meet my eye. Me, I keep on trying to find a way back to the life I once had. Alone by the pool, watching the clouds sail by. I keep on kissing them, and each time I wish as hard as I can. But when I open my eyes and look at my skin it’s still the smooth, pallid pink I’ve grown to despise. One day, it’ll be green again, my hands blissfully webbed. Until then I’ll just keep on kissing them. Wish me luck.

    1. KM Zafari

      It took me a couple of times reading that to understand (not in a bad way). How clever! And sad. “If you’re hoping for the fairy tale…” I missed that subtle hint. This is another story that I’d love to see in animated form.

  16. Catherine Connolly

    A Taste of the Truth

    The truth is complicated – when you want it to be. Choose your words carefully and it trips, sweet and sour, off the tongue, to kiss at my lips. Mouth parted, I feel its hit. They ask me then; what I know. I impart what I can, as is my wont. We part then with payment, double dues being mine, courtesy of my clientele and my specialist service of secrets once savoured discovered. This I alone know. I will not tell. They do not ask. They contracted for their questions. Once set to paper, sealed and signed, they cannot campaign with me for others – though they are there mid-air, as I breathe. Their taste is raw and sharp – a bright burning, which stimulates saliva.

    Simplistic sessions are sugar strands – raw cane at the heart. Quick fire. Easiest to fade, they are hardest to find. The truth is complicated, whether you will it so or not – when words are not enough; where too much time is needed for sufficient syllables. Then, explanations are only found between our sounds when we search them out together in confession.

    I contract for longer cases, of course, self-interest sustaining me in such endeavours. Their pay is worth my time invested. A smorgasbord of sensations – singular – multiply, as vowels and consonants twin. Complex sustains me whilst word spreads.

    The call comes again. The questions are many. The answers form – tart, brittle; charcoal at their edges. Some few exceptions taste clean and clear. Such is the nature of my work. The percentages are evident.

    The truth is simple when lies and half-truths are isolated and stripped away. A single taste, age-old familiar, fills my mouth completely. Bitter salt builds in waves as I take my leave. They wanted what I could give – until I imparted it. Still, I tell my truths, as they are told to me. They thought it would feel better to know, for sure.

    The taste of tears lingers. No need for words imparted between us now. I know what they would say.


    (339 words)

  17. Shiloh A. Ohmes


    349 Words

    Family Skeletons

    “Stop it. Stop the car.”

    The hearse squeals to a stop. Nothing but blacktop out here, stretching from one horizon to another, the city far behind them. Taz kicks the door open and staggers out, boots scraping gravel. Her sister, Fred, turns the hearse off and climbs out with a sigh.

    “You lied to me,” Taz says. “For years. Were you ever gonna tell me?”

    Fred sticks a cigarette in her mouth, murmurs a spell, and the end sparks until it catches. She takes a drag, squints at the clouds building to the west.

    “No. There was no point. It happened, it was done, and I made peace with it.”

    Except she hasn’t, and that’s been clear from the moment they knew. Fred, normally sure and calm, turned into a cornered rattlesnake, ready to strike out.

    “I have a nephew,” Taz says, voice barely loud enough to carry over the sage brush. “You have a son and you never told me.”

    Children aren’t an option anymore. When Fred brought Taz back to life she came back as a reaper. Whether it was that or the fact that she’d been fully dead for three days, Taz doesn’t know, but her plumbing won’t support a life. She never thought about it seriously, but always thought, someday.

    Fred comes around and leans back on the hood. She seems small.

    “The truth is complicated,” Fred says. “I made my decision, and it was best for everyone what with the war. I was never supposed to be a mother, anyway, I don’t have it in me.”

    Taz should deck her.

    “You raised me just fine.”

    “And I got you killed just fine, too. I’m not taking that chance again. I’ll send him to a good family somewhere else. Somewhere he’ll be safe.”

    Taz rounds on Fred and gets in her face.

    “You’re the most powerful witch this side of Texas. If you can’t protect him, no one can.”

    Taz takes the cigarette and smokes it down. Fred lets her. They settle on the hood, side by side, until the sun sets.

    The boy stays.


Leave a Reply