Short Story (flash fiction) of the day, Last Long Night by Lina Rather

Back home, we’d be treated for space sickness and starlust, our brains scanned and studied for signs that our grey matter had deteriorated in the vacuum. We’d be swaddled in hospitals, kept barefoot and away from the night sky until we stopped dreaming of plumed nebulas and stopped thinking we could hear the music of the spheres in C minor.

—-Lina Rather, Last Long Night

Time Exposure, Night, Downtown Dallas, Ross and Pearl

 

I’m picking streaming movies out – looking for clickbait web articles like “Ten Netflix Movies You Never Thought of Watching” and carefully copying names, reviews, and synopsis into text files for safekeeping. Then I watch them while I ride my spin bike. Candy and a friend were drinking wine a couple months ago and ordered new big flat-screen TV’s on a whim. When it arrived I took the old big flat screen and mounted it in front of my spin bike – filling my view. It’s a way to watch stuff and still get exercise.

Last night I watched High Life – an odd science fiction movie with Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche directed by Claire Denis.

I’m of mixed feelings about the movie. It is a unique vision – done with a lot of talent. It undoubtedly has amazing moments (Willow growing up, for example) and offers up a lot to think about. Ultimately… I don’t know… worth a watch but not completely satisfying.

Today’s flash fiction is very similar in setting and theme to the movie. Reading it made me think of the movie right away. I think I like the story better… partially for the fact that it has a similar reaction for a much smaller investment (in money and time). It is distilled.

Read it here:

Last Long Night by Lina Rather

from Flash Fiction Online

Lina Rather homepage

Lina Rather Twitter

Short Story of the Day (flash fiction), Out of Hand by Neil Clark

A cleaner at the airport asked what I’d do if I had a time machine.

—-Neil Clark, from Out of Hand

Charles Umlauf
Spirit of Flight
Love Field
Dallas, Texas

I found this from a link from yesterday’s story. It’s very short – spare and efficient.

Read it here:

Out of Hand by Neil Clark

from Spelk

Neil Clark

When I was a little kid I saw a Twilight Zone episode – A Kind of a Stopwatch. This guy is given a magical stopwatch – when the watch stops, time stops. When he stops the watch, he stops the world (except him). This is a Twilight Zone – so things don’t end well. While time is stopped, he robs a bank and accidentally breaks the watch. He is trapped.

A famous episode and rightfully so. Complete fiction – of course. But it scared the crap out of me. I was petrified of the idea of somebody else stopping time and never starting it. I would compulsively wave my hand in front of my face to convince myself that time was still moving.

Unfortunately, it never stopped.

Short Story (flash fiction) of the day, Junk Life by Chris Milam

After three hours, my body could sink the Titanic. The cold is savage, the kind of arctic hatchet only homeless people can comprehend. The Statue of Liberty costume doesn’t help. It’s thin and cheap; insulation clearly wasn’t a thought during the manufacturing process.

—- Chris Milam, Junk Life

Read it here:

Junk Life by Chris Milam

From Flash Fiction Online

Chris Milam Twitter

Today, a really good really short piece of writing. A whole life in a few paragraphs.

I always see the day-labor places – the shuffling folks in a line, the giant pickups or vans scooping up human misery – but, thankfully, have never been forced to find work there. As an adult I have never gone a long time – even in bad economic times – without meaningful, if not spectacular, employment. Once, long ago I had to move to a different city but I liked the new one better.  I guess it’s that… well, if you are a rich guy or you are a big company I can make you money. My goal is to always make more than (sometimes many more than)  ten times my salary in profit for my employer.

All the time.

That’s just the way the world is.

Short Story (flash fiction) of the day, Gator Butchering For Beginners by Kristen Arnett

Flay everything open. Pry free the heart. It takes some nerve. What I mean is, it’ll hurt, but you can get at what you crave if you want it badly enough.

—-Kristen Arnett, Gator Butchering For Beginners

Alligator, Robert Tabak, Frisco, Texas

Sometimes fiction is about one thing but really about another thing. Today’s flash fiction is obviously about butchering an alligator but even more obviously not about butchering an alligator.

Also… when it comes to butchering an alligator – what is it like to be a beginner? More importantly what it is like to not be a beginner – to be, for example, the person that writes the instructions?

Gator Butchering For Beginners by Kristen Arnett

from Electric Literature

Kristen Arnett

Short Story of the day, Escape from Spiderhead by George Saunders

Afterward, our protestations of love poured forth simultaneously, linguistically complex and metaphorically rich: I daresay we had become poets. We were allowed to lie there, limbs intermingled, for nearly an hour. It was bliss. It was perfection. It was that impossible thing: happiness that does not wilt to reveal the thin shoots of some new desire rising from within it.

—-George Saunders, Escape from Spiderhead

Louise Bourgeois, Spider, New Orleans

Trying to get through the isolation by reading more. Another short story today – a very good, if more than a little harrowing.

Escape from Spiderhead by George Saunders

from The New Yorker

This story is touted as a famous example of dystopian fiction. It’s a peculiar type of dystopia… a personal hell… maybe a penance, maybe deserved. Still, even under those circumstances the important thing is that some humanity and some sympathy for your fellow man remains. Still remains. Even if it doesn’t do anyone any good.

Excellent read. One plus – it’s definitely not safe for work.

Short Story of the Day, Regret, by Kate Chopin

Mamzelle Aurlie certainly did not pretend or aspire to such subtle and far-reaching knowledge on the subject as Aunt Ruby possessed, who had “raised five an’ buried six” in her day. She was glad enough to learn a few little mother-tricks to serve the moment’s need.

—– Kate Chopin, Regret

Kids love the reflecting pool. The water is less than a quarter inch deep.

I, like a lot of people, read Kate Chopin’s The Awakening in college. I liked it – and it left a lasting impression – though I obviously wasn’t paying much attention because I thought it took place in Europe – France to be exact. It wasn’t until decades and decades later I realized it was set in New Orleans and Belle Isle – places I have become very familiar with. I guess I wasn’t that far off – it’s sort of France.

At an rate, here’s today’s story – a tale of a very different place and an even more different time than we live in now. But the people are the same, after all.

 

Regret, by Kate Chopin

from American Literature – Short Stories and Classic Literature

Short Story of the Day – Lobsters, by Elisabeth Dahl

Tom’s barrel chest jerked up, then down at regular intervals, following the dictates of the hospital ventilator. Attached to the machine, he seemed all torso, his lower half an afterthought, like the straw-haired Resusci Annies that he’d haul around the high school gym during CPR units. That was long ago, when he was the coach and Helen was the music teacher and they were, improbably perhaps, in love.

—-Elisabeth Dahl, Lobsters

Crystal Beach, Texas

Today’s short story has a setting that, unfortunately, a good number of us are probably going to be experiencing soon… sitting in a hospital room with a loved one (or, technically, an ex-loved one) on a respirator.

Read it here:

Lobsters, by Elisabeth Dahl

from American Short Fiction

In the opening paragraph of the story, quoted above, is a reference to Resusci Annies. From the context, I assumed this was a CPR mannequin, but I wasn’t sure. I looked it up and sure enough, that’s what it meant. But, as often happens with this internet thing and all its rabbit holes – I found a story as interesting, if not more, that the short story itself. The face of a mysterious French girl who drowned in the Seine in the 19th century ended up saving millions of lives.

One small part of the story:

The lyric “Annie, are you OK?” from the Michael Jackson song “Smooth Criminal” actually stems from American CPR training, in which students practice speaking to their unresponsive plastic patient, CPR Annie.