Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, The New Batch by Ruth Crossman

“Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world. I know, for I’m one of them.”
― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

Frog Fountain, Dallas Arboretum

I’m sorry, but I never really trust anything that I buy from Etsy.

The New Batch by Ruth Crossman

from Flash Fiction Magazine

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Winter Dance Party by Brett Biebel

“If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in your dreams. . .and follow your star. . . you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.”

― Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men

Dancers, Arts District, Dallas
Dancers, Arts District, Dallas

I wasn’t going to do a blog entry today – I couldn’t. It’s been historically cold here and our power went down at four this afternoon – no computer, no internet. It was our first outage during the event – up until now we’ve been lucky. Actually, the worst is that we did not have water (frozen pipes) until about three today – I hadn’t taken a shower in four days and smelt like it. I was stretched out on the couch when all of the spigots we had opened started to spew at the same time. It was a wonderful sound. Even better is that we don’t seem to have any burst pipes (knock on wood).

I am bothered by all the whining, blaming, and finger-pointing going on. This is the coldest stretch in over seventy years (it dropped to five below zero F here – an unheard of temperature) – and it covers the entire state (Texas is fairly large, BTW) – there is no way they could be properly prepared for anything like that. Deal with it. Afterward, see if there are any corrective actions that need to be done.

In this ridiculous, hyperbolic time – all I read about are accusations of racism (it is claimed the power outages have been less in the more affluent areas, which is not true) – blame set on conservatives (they are more interested in cheap power in Texas) – liberals (the wind turbines in West Texas are frozen). I even read that carbon emissions and climate change are to blame for the record cold.

So when the power went out we built warm niches (I dug out my camping sleeping bag from the garage), opened some taps (wish I would have thought of that a few days ago) and bundled in as the temperature inside slowly fell. It wasn’t too bad, really, and seven hours later (to the minute, so I know it was a planned, rotating power outage) the lights snapped back on.

I went around setting things right then realized I could upload a simple blog entry before midnight. So here you are, a flash fiction for the day – a good one.

Winter Dance Party by Brett Biebel

from Hobart

Brett Biebel Twitter

Podcast interview with Brett Biebel

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Mantis by Gina Chung

“The difference between sex and death is that with death you can do it alone and no one is going to make fun of you.”

― Woody Allen

(click to enlarge) Adam, by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, plus admirer Cullen Sculpture Garden Houston, Texas

When I was a little kid – kindergarten… maybe first grade – I remember finding a praying mantis at recess. I don’t, never kill bugs (except sometimes spiders) and nobody else would have – even at that young and cruel age. But someone said that praying mantises (what is the plural of “mantis”? manti? mantis’s? – so I looked it up) are protected by law and if you kill one the police will find you and levy a hefty fine, at the least.

I’m not sure why that made such an impression… but to this day, more than a half century later, I remember it, remember the bright green mantis and the other child seriously warning the rest about the protected status of the Mantis.

I still get a thrill when I come across one – they must be very special and rare to have a law passed to protect them.

Mantis by Gina Chung

From wigleaf

Gina Chung Homepage

Gina Chung Twitter

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, The Event by Jennifer Todhunter

“I think you still love me, but we can’t escape the fact that I’m not enough for you. I knew this was going to happen. So I’m not blaming you for falling in love with another woman. I’m not angry, either. I should be, but I’m not. I just feel pain. A lot of pain. I thought I could imagine how much this would hurt, but I was wrong.”

― Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun

Graffiti, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

The Event by Jennifer Todhunter

From Monkeybicycle

Interview with Jennifer Todhunter

Jennifer Todhunter homepage

Jennifer Todhunter Twitter

Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Collision by Bill Chance

“After being bombarded endlessly by road-safety propaganda it was almost a relief to find myself in an actual accident.”
― J.G. Ballard, Crash

Wrecked Car waiting for the decision – scrap or repair – like there is a question

Collision

He had a nice townhouse in the city, but Brian Newman spent every weekend at his girlfriend’s apartment, driving a hundred miles after work on Friday and back Monday morning before work. He would leave at five to be sure and beat the traffic. Brian was never a morning person and the Monday drive was difficult, but he had done it so many times over the last couple of years it became a familiar blur.

He was waiting at an ordinary red light with his left blinker on and his mind somewhere far away, but an oncoming truck still caught his eye. It was the middle of the summer and the sun was above the horizon. The truck was a big dump truck, red, faded, peeling, patched with rust. The massive front bumper, painted black, was an angry scowl. It was coming fast. Too fast. Much too fast.

It shot through the red light as if it wasn’t there. Brian felt his heart jump and wondered if the truck would swerve and hit him. He knew that there wasn’t anything he could do if it did.

Right then, a small white car moved in from the left, with its green light, and was hit broadside by the onrushing dump truck. The truck came on as if nothing was in its way. With a horrific sound of tinkling safety glass and rending sheet metal the car was pushed along until it was smashed between the heavy dump truck bumper and the stout light pole in the center median.

The pole snapped off and fell over but not before it brought the massive truck to a final halt. All that kinetic energy reduced the car into a wad of compressed metal like the foil left after a wrapped sandwich, ready to toss in the bin. Brian was in the left hand lane and as he looked out his side window the driver was only a few feet away across the hood and in clear view through the windshield as the light pole came through the side tearing him apart. Brian had a clear view of the man’s panicked face right before the collision crushed his skull, sending bone, blood, and brains in all directions.

The police interviewed Brian at the crash site and at the local office. Over the next week a parade of lawyers asked him the same questions over and over… “Did you hear brakes?” “Did the truck swerve at all?” “How long had the light been red?” “Did the truck sound its horn.”

It seems the driver claimed his brakes had failed. The suspicion was that the driver was on his phone and hadn’t seen the red light. It would be the difference in damages and possible murder charges.

“It happened so fast,” Brian said. “I don’t really know, I don’t know what happened.” He didn’t understand how nobody cared about what had happened to him. Just because he hadn’t been hit didn’t mean he wasn’t affected. The look on the driver’s face in that split second before he died haunted Brian. He thought they made eye contact. Brian was the last person he had seen, a complete stranger, before he died. There was not a scratch on Brian’s car but he had to go to the car wash and scrub off some of what looked like blood and a bit of what might have been skull bone.

Brian called his girlfriend and told her that he had to take some time off and stay at his place for work. She said she understood. He called his work and said he had to take some time off and was going to stay at his girlfriend’s. They said they understood and would sign him up for a workplace disability program.

The lawyers paid for a hotel in the town where the accident happened. Brian figured it was so that he would be available if the case, civil or criminal, ever went to trial. He wasn’t sure which lawyers paid for the room; the defense, or the truck driver, or the dead man’s estate, or the truck manufacturer, or the company that owned the dump truck. They all called him all the time, asking him the same questions over and over. They would always end with saying how lucky Brian was, to have so much violence and horror so close to him and yet to be unaffected. The truck did miss him completely, of course – even if only by inches.

He spent the time binge watching old crime shows in his hotel room or taking long walks around the perfectly ordinary town he was now living in.

As the weeks went by his girlfriend decided to make the man she had been seeing, cheating on him, for a year during the week while Brian was in the city at work her full-time partner. The man proposed and Brian’s old girlfriend accepted. She sent Brian a thoughtful and carefully-worded letter to say goodbye but Brian never opened the envelope. Though he didn’t know exactly what had happened he guessed the main thrust of things and didn’t care much about it.

His work eventually promoted the temporary replacement to take over Brian’s full-time job. Then, as the various cases were settled the lawyers told Brian that he would have to move out of the hotel. They were glad, however, to help him sell his city townhouse and buy a place in the town. Property values were less and he was able to get a small bungalow with a big yard and still have some money left over.

He didn’t need much and was able to find a simple, thoughtless position near his house with the town government and that was enough. Ironically, the job was vacant because it had been held by the man killed in the accident. Brian’s years passed in quiet, lonely peace. He never married, never left the town.

And never drove or rode in a car for the rest of his life.

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Poison Snail Fight by Robert Kaye

“If you don’t know what you want,” the doorman said, “you end up with a lot you don’t.”

― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Schwarmerei

If you are wondering about today’s image of snails on a beer stein – here’s what it was about.

Today’s little piece of flash fiction is a particularly good one. Click and Read – it’s worth it, trust me. Or at least listen to the Audio Version.

Poison Snail Fight Robert Kaye

Poison Snail Fight – Audio Version

From Fiction Southeast

Robert Kaye Homepage

Robert Kaye Twitter

What I learned this week, February 12, 2021

Fog in front of my house, Richardson, Texas

Want to Reduce Brain Fog And Improve Clear Thinking? Give up These Things Immediately

Mental fog is often described as a “cloudy-headed” feeling.

Common conditions of brain fog include poor memory, difficulty focusing or concentrating, and struggling with articulation.

Imagine if you could concentrate your brain power into one bright beam and focus it like a laser on whatever you wish to accomplish.

Many people struggle to concentrate. And when you can’t concentrate, everything you do is harder and takes longer than you’d like.


Something in front of Braindead Brewing
Deep Ellum,Dallas, Texas

How to Stop Overthinking Everything

 

Deliberation is an admirable and essential leadership quality that undoubtedly produces better outcomes. But there comes a point in decision making where helpful contemplation turns into overthinking. To stop the cycle of thinking too much and drive towards better, faster decisions you can: put aside perfectionism, right-size the problem, leverage the underestimated power of intuition, limit the drain of decision fatigue, and construct creative constraints.


Mural on construction fence, Farmer’s Market, Dallas, Texas

How gut microbes could drive brain disorders

Scientists are starting to work out how the gut microbiome can affect brain health. That might lead to better and easier treatments for brain diseases.


Art Deco mural from Fair Park in Dallas

The Science Behind Miracles

How our minds push our bodies to defy expectations, beliefs, and even our own biology—in short, to make miracles.


Self Portrait
Andy Warhol
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Fort Worth, Texas

Why self-compassion – not self-esteem – leads to success

Talking about being kind to yourself may sound like something from a nursery classroom. But even cynics should care about self-compassion – especially if they want to be resilient.


Posing for photos at the Leaning Tower of Dallas

20 Realistic Micro-Habits To Live Better Every Day

m sick of lists of habits that are unrealistic for the majority of people. Even worse is when someone says to wake up at 5 am or run 10 kilometers every day and calls it a micro-habit.

This is not one of those lists.


Happy Again

How to be mediocre and be happy with yourself

In the novel Catch-22, the author Joseph Heller famously wrote: “Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.”

He’d taken a quote by Shakespeare on greatness and turned it on its head.

The implication was clear: mediocrity is a bad thing, to be avoided. Yet most of us go on to live what by most measures are pretty ordinary lives.

So what’s wrong with settling for mediocrity?

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Airship Hope by Laurel Amberdine

“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Spirit of the Centennial, Woman’s Building, Fair Park, Dallas, Texas

Airship Hope by Laurel Amberdine

From Daily Science Fiction

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Six Youthful Encounters With Death by Julie Chen

“In the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with the title you were looking for. Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven’t Read, which were frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you. But you know you must never allow yourself to be awed, that among them there extend for acres and acres the Books You Needn’t Read, the Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading, Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong To The Category Of Books Read Before Being Written. And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of the Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You’ll Wait Till They’re Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out In Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them, Too. Eluding these assaults, you come up beneath the towers of the fortress, where other troops are holding out:

the Books You’ve Been Planning To Read For Ages,

the Books You’ve Been Hunting For Years Without Success,

the Books Dealing With Something You’re Working On At The Moment,

the Books You Want To Own So They’ll Be Handy Just In Case,

the Books You Could Put Aside Maybe To Read This Summer,

the Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves,

the Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified,

Now you have been able to reduce the countless embattled troops to an array that is, to be sure, very large but still calculable in a finite number; but this relative relief is then undermined by the ambush of the Books Read Long Ago Which It’s Now Time To Reread and the Books You’ve Always Pretended To Have Read And Now It’s Time To Sit Down And Really Read Them.”
― Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler

Red Line DART Train reflected in the gold mirror of Campbell Center at Northwest Highway and 75.

Six Youthful Encounters With Death by Julie Chen

From Cheap Pop

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Collisions by Nicole VanderLinden

“They sicken of the calm who know the storm.”

― Dorothy Parker, Sunset Gun: Poems

November Devil, David Iles, Denton, Texas

Collisions by Nicole VanderLinden

From Atticus Review