FIFTY WORD STORY – The Interview

The ticking of the clock was incessant. Every second echoed in Jim’s head like footsteps down an empty hallway. Every shifting seat; every squeaking shoe rattled in his ears. His knee trembled like a spooked horse, trying to escape. Then they called him, and he was off to the races.

——

 

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FIFTY WORD STORY – Jello Legs

The door looked like it was a mile away. The orange sky was quickly fading, and with it Jon’s strength to move. He lurched past the desks, struggling to keep his footing. By the time he got to the door, he wasn’t sure if he could find his car beyond.

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FIFTY WORD STORY – The Corpse

The sour smell of the corpse rose through the air. It smelled of feces and dirt, though the snow gave it the bite of icy wind. The blood had faded into a deep brown with time, and when he finally wrenched the body free, it seemed to whisper, “come back…”

——

 

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Snowfall on the Mountain

The grey wool coat clung to Harrison’s shoulders like a child to its mother. The first snow of the year was falling lightly through the brisk winter air as the last lights of the day arced over the horizon. It was his favorite time of the year.

In addition to his coat, Harrison had bundled himself in three blankets that draped from his neck down past the bottoms of his feet. Still, the cold had set in, and he felt it shiver through him in spite of his attempts at warmth. Up at his mountain house, the temperatures were half what they were down below, and even there the lakes had turned to ice. Still, the view of the pines daunted the grey city buildings he live for day in and day out. Their calm, cool whistle sounded to him like the voice of his grandparents, calling out to him from decades past.

The house had once been their house—though when they owned it, it had been more a shack than the manse he had built it into. The lawyers of the estate sale gave it up for less than a hundred thousand—a good price, but likely not much less than it was actually worth. The first year he had owned it, the roof gave out under the heavy winter snow, and he had had to bring in a work crew to fix it in the spring.

The memory of it brought a smile to Harrison’s face. It was bitter sweet to think of his grandparents, even all these years later. He had broken down crying that first year, after pushing his mourning to the back of his mind for work.

He lifted an arm out of his bundles, and reached for the Earl Grey tea he had brought out with him. It had been boiling when he brought it out, but the cold had swept the heat from the mug, and it hardly qualified as lukewarm now. The cold made the honey he had mixed in stronger, and for a minute he wondered if he had added a second spoonful by accident. He poured the rest of the tea onto the deck, though it simply painted the piling snow a grey-black color.

It was Harrison’s favorite time of year because the sunsets up the mountain turned the sky into a shimmer of yellow-orange diamonds. The light reflected through the snow, bouncing every which way, and from where he sat it looked like the stars had settled above the trees. In all his exotic business trips, he had never seen a snowfall to match the first of those up on the mountain. Eventually, the snowfall would grow thick, and even the highs of the day would become so cold that they would threaten a person if they stayed outside for more than a few minutes, but tonight it was still warm enough that Harrison could stay to see if the moon would be full or not.

He lost track of the days up here. Somewhere inside, his phone was waiting with an alert that would break the silence of his weeks off, and let him know he had to leave the next day, but for the life of him he couldn’t tell you where it was. All he could see were the snowflakes floating across the skyline, and the whispers of a long gone youthful innocence.

——

 

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A Sense of Adventure

Joshua awoke to the sound of rain tapping lightly on the rooftop of his Volkswagen Bus. A short suck of air revealed that the day was fast becoming a cold one. He rolled himself up, taking care to duck before he got to full height, tossed his blankets onto the back seat, and swung the door open. He breathed in the smell of the fresh mountain air as it mixed with the rain, and could taste the wet pine on the breeze.

He stepped down into the gravel and took a short few steps past a tree to relieve his bladder. As he walked back, he felt a pebble stuck between his toes, and shook it loose. He put on the well-worn electric kettle, and as it boiled he sliced some fruit he had left sitting in a bowl on the seat. The breeze invaded him on the floor of his car, and he threw on a light, brown jacket before he poured his tea. He grabbed a few handfuls of nuts from another bag—a mixture of almonds and cashews—before finally eating.

The tea took its time to cool, despite the weather, but Joshua didn’t mind. He was going nowhere, and had no real thought to get there quickly. The sleep was still in his eyes, and he chanced a yawn that tempted him back to the warm embrace of the blankets. The thought passed through his mind quickly as he sipped his tea.

Today was a good day to be driving. Not for the weather, but for the experience. Joshua loved the rain, and even more he loved how the trees changed in the rain. The wet bark seemed to melt away the decades they had put on, and they looked as though they were sprigs ready to spring their way back to life. When the van sputtered to life, he felt giddy to think that he would get to see Mother Nature so alive.

He pulled away from the bank of the road he had slept on the night before, and found a steady pace of forty miles per hour to drive at. Though he was going nowhere, he felt compelled to make a stop at the mountain ranges just along the horizon. The last few days had been made in that direction, and though sometimes the roads turned him this way and that, he always found his way back on to right path.

Joshua pattered along on his steering wheel to a beat that had festered in his head. It was catchy, but he couldn’t quite make out what it was from, so reached into his glove box and pulled out one of many CDs at random. When the noise finally came in, he found that it was The Wall by Pink Floyd, and felt a sense of bitter irony. The tracks wove their way in and out of the day, and the horizon slowly became the distance, which became the background, and then finally the foreground. By then the day nearly half gone, but Joshua didn’t mind. The sun was high somewhere behind the clouds, so Joshua pulled over and turned off the engine.

He hopped out of the car, and drank in the rain on his brow. The mountain stood before him, but he wasn’t afraid. It was a great day for an adventure. His socks would be wet by the time he was back tonight, ready to do it all again tomorrow.

——

 

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COFFEE SHOP

I really like coffee shops. Not really the coffee, but the smell of a French roast in the early morning, along with the crackle of the pastries being torn to bits by customers as they rush off to work. The coffee grounds rinsing down the drain, the boiling water, and the steaming milk all add a special chaos that is seen nowhere outside a kindergarten classroom, and the coffee shop.

I started going in the mornings for a barista I met named Stacy. Stacy wore her nametag over her left breast because she loved her job. She said that her day was made when she brought the hollow black eyes of tired workers life. My day was made at 7:30 am, two and a half hours after she put the first pot on, when the chime of the doorbells caused her to look up from the cup she was at. It was as though a rainbow had been caught in the sunlight, and the whole café reflected her color.

Of course, that was a decade ago. Now I just go in the morning, sip a cup of tea, and read the newspaper until the bus arrives. The driver, Mike, knows me by name, but he took to calling me James a few years back. He overheard a passenger say I looked like Daniel Craig, and that made him laugh so hard he had to get off the bus for a rest stop. We sat there for fifteen minutes, awkwardly waiting for his scraggly gray beard to make it’s way back through the doors.

Some people might be worried someone would run off with their bus, but not Mike. Everyone knows Mike’s bus. It’s the only one with paint so faded that the company’s label is gone. They asked Mike to replace it, but Mike’s been there too long. Nobody tells Mike what to do with his bus.

And then it’s time to get off the bus. Brief case in hand, I step through the doorway of the glass door of the office. And who is there to greet me? Stacy. You can’t let your sunshine stray too far over the horizon, can you? I picked up Stacy, and she quickly outgrew her role as secretary. She stepped over me, and then over the CEO, but she still comes around to giggle at my salt and pepper hair in the morning. Our matching rings don’t hurt either. That’s the new nine to five for me, and I can’t say it doesn’t feel right.

——

 

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LETTERS TO MY BOSS – FIFTY WORD STORY

I carried the boxes. I wiped the sweat as it dripped from my dirt-riddled brow—yet it was you who carried the weight of the vacations. The sunny beaches were your burden to bear; plagued by the pains of having to shake sand from your sandals before reentering your suite.

——

 

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FETCHING – FIFTY WORD STORY

The ball goes up, the ball comes down—over and over, until I am seated watching his one-ball juggling act. Then, he reels back and hurls it across the yard. It bounces once, twice…and just before it hits the ground, I nab it, though I never felt myself get up.

——

 

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THIRST

The thick pool of blood soaked through his pant legs as he knelt. A ravenous thirst had overtaken him, as it did everyone eventually. He scooped palmfuls to his face, lapping at it as it trickled down his wrist like a dog. In death, he had never felt so alive.

——

 

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WAX FIGURE – 50 WORD STORY

He pulled the carving knife away from the eyes, and blew a burst of air across the honey-eyed woman’s face. The thin shavings that carpeted the floor made up the last of the imperfections, yet as he shut off the bright lights for the day, she felt anything but perfect.

——

 

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