Short Story Of the Day (Flash Fiction), Storage by Bill Chance

“Sylvia was driving and I didn’t realize how drunk she was and how icy the roads were. She slid around the corners, whooping and laughing like a crazy person. It scared the shit out of me but Sylvia thought it was funny.”

—-Bill Chance, Storage

Mural, Deep Ellum
Dallas, Texas

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#9). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

A flash fiction bit I wrote from a prompt from the book The 4 A.M. Breakthrough. I’ll put the prompt after the story. You don’t have to read the prompt if you don’t want to.

Thanks for reading.


All five of us were laying on Sarah’s huge bed watching Game of Thrones – she has a great big plasma television on the wall in her bedroom and an HBO subscription. It was actually very innocent, comfortable, and fun until Alice started kissing Sarah. She has a girlfriend and can’t go around making out with anybody she wants. It ruined the whole evening. I gave her a kick and pushed the two of them apart, giving both a piece of my mind. They laughed at me, even though they stopped sucking face. It interrupted the whole thing… it upset me so much I missed Arya killing some dude… they said she stuck Needle slowly right up through his neck. I wanted to see that. They wouldn’t even run it back for me. So selfish, so self absorbed.

Then, well, Alice was in the back seat, half passed out. She was still pissed off at me about the kissing Sarah thing from Game of Thrones night. Sylvia was driving and I didn’t realize how drunk she was. She slid around the corners, whooping and laughing like a crazy person. It scared the shit out of me but Sylvia thought it was funny. When we arrived home she said, “Big deal.. we’re here OK aren’t we? All’s well that ends well, that’s what I say.” What an idiot.

I swear that Alice and Sylvia are out to get me. I see them talking to each other, quietly, when they think I’m not watching. We all decided to go swimming and those two chose the spot – some lake out in the country. When we got there, I fished my suit out of my bag and they all laughed at me. We walked down and the place was full of naked people. They all stripped down and jumped in. It was disgusting. I wore my suit and everybody stared at me – stared at ME. They were the naked ones, but they made me feel like I was the one that had something to be ashamed of. Alice, Sylvia and Sarah all knew that I can’t stand people to see me naked. Joyce drove us down there but maybe she didn’t know. It was so humiliating, I get shivers thinking about it.

With those three all trying to destroy me I thought at least I had Joyce on my side. It gave me comfort. She has always been a good friend. So I called her up and tried to get her to take my side against the others, but she told me I was crazy. “Gwen, you have gone BATSHIT CRAZY!” was exactly what she said. I slammed down the phone and cried for an hour. That whole group has it in for me. My birthday is coming up and they haven’t even mentioned it. They know it’s my birthday and they are ignoring it. It is awful… I need new friends. I’m going to just ghost them, I swear.

So it was my birthday and that bunch of bitches completely ignored me. Joyce came by the house and didn’t even mention what day it was. All she wanted to do was get me to go shopping with her and I told her to go to hell. She laughed and absolutely made me go. On the way she said she had to stop at Sarah’s and I hit the roof. I said I’d wait in the car, happily, but she would have none of that. She practically dragged me out of the car and into the apartment. Right when we went through the door everybody jumped out and yelled, “Surprise! Surprise!” It was a party for my birthday. My friends are the best.

From The 4 A.M. Breakthrough

Writing Prompt:

Paragraphs As Containers

Write five paragraphs of narrative about one individual who has decided to stop spending so much time with a gang of friends. Each paragraph should be about an isolated problem of this larger issue. All five paragraphs should have overlapping characters, but you do not have to follow one character all the way through the five paragraphs. Think of the paragraphs as tiny stories in and of themselves. Separate each paragraph by a space.

This is a question of Story VS. Storage. Paragraphs are boxes into which we put information. Let each new paragraph in your writing signal another set of thoughts and ideas.


Short Story (flash fiction) Of the Day, The Barracuda in the Pool by Cecilia Kennedy

I’m suddenly aware that I’m smiling. I’ve finally made it here, to summer—after such a long winter—and I’ve treated myself to a dip in the pool.

—-Cecilia Kennedy, The Barracuda in the Pool

Mural, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Good writing will bring back memories. Flash fiction can artificially extend its length and value that way – by tacking strong memories onto the end of the text itself.

Today’s flash fiction brings back a couple to me (maybe spoilers… maybe read the story first).

One was (maybe 1972) swimming inside the shark netting in the ocean at Fort Sherman (now long gone) on the Atlantic side of the Canal Zone. I remember the taste of salt, the sweltering heat, and the primordial green of the neighboring rain forest. There was a large active crowd in the water and I put on my mask and dipped my face below the surface to take a look. There was a barracuda, a big one, gliding smoothly between the writhing bodies. Minding his own business. He looked so streamlined, so powerful, so prehistoric… like something from another world. I felt embarrassed because I dared contaminate his ocean with my pitiful presence.

The second was… maybe two years later and 500 miles northwest of there, diving into a pool in a country club in Managua. I mistook the shallow end and plunged my face into the rough gunite bottom. It hurt but the worst was when I stood up. A young woman standing in the pool looked at my face and the gore pouring down and let out the most blood curdling movie scream I have heard in my life. I was ultimately fine, the worst wound was the sound of her voice and the terror on her face. That remains after a half century has passed.

Read it here:

The Barracuda in the Pool by Cecilia Kennedy

from Flash Fiction Magazine

by Cecilia Kennedy

Cecilia Kennedy Twitter

Nanowrimo Day Three

Ultimate goal – 50,000 words.
Daily goal – 1,667 words
Goal total so far – 5,000 words

Words written today – 1,808
Words written so far – 5,378 words
Words to goal – +378

“Come come! Come Out!
From bogs old frogs command the dark
and look…the stars”
― Kikaku, Japanese Haiku


Dallas, Texas

Today I checked the third page of my writing prompts for the 30 days of Nanowrimo and found a few sentences about when I used to go swimming with some friends at night in a resort swimming pool. These frogs would hop up to the pool and croak, with their throats expanding like big frogthroat ballons. I took this little memory and expanded it, making it more dramatic and important, and wrote it up for today’s words. I’ll worry later about figuring out how to hook this into the main story. That won’t be too easy.

Snippet of what I wrote:

But there came a time every night when the four young people would hear a telltale sound from the low bushes and tall grass that surrounded the pool and they would then silently slip into the water and gather in a group in the center. They would tread water, looking outward, touching each other, but barely. All four would feel their breath quicken as they waited and watched.

Only a few at first, dark, small and moving in a jerky, irregular path, but then a whole swarm of frogs would appear and eventually move to the edge of the pool. The entire concrete apron would be lined with frogs, all facing the water, all staring at the four young people treading water and looking back at them.

Then the frogs would start to croak. Every one of them would swell their throat out like a living bubble until it was larger than the rest of their bodies. Then they would use that stored air, under pressure, to let loose with that unique sound, that amphibian mating call, projected out over the water.

At first only a few frogs would croak but after a few minutes it would be a cacophony, a symphony of frog song, a staccato husky squawking that filled the otherwise quiet night.

A Dog’s Wet Nose

“The universe contains any amount of horrible ways to be woken up, such as the noise of the mob breaking down the front door, the scream of fire engines, or the realization that today is the Monday which on Friday night was a comfortably long way off.

A dog’s wet nose is not strictly speaking the worst of the bunch, but it has its own peculiar dreadfulness which connoisseurs of the ghastly and dog owners everywhere have come to know and dread. It’s like having a small piece of defrosting liver pressed lovingly against you.”
― Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures

Isaak in the pond at NorthBark Park, Dallas, Texas

I came across an article the other day on favorite Dallas Dog Parks. Reading the list, I realized I had not been to one of them – NorthBark Dog Park in far North Dallas.

Isaak in the water at NorthBark Dog Park, Dallas, Texas

We have had Isaak since February or so. People ask how old he is and I say about a year. He was a rescue from Dallas Animal Control so we don’t know for sure – though I’d bet he is about a year old now. People ask what breed he is and we have no idea. We’ve sent his DNA test off, but haven’t received the results yet.

Isaak as a puppy, when we first picked him up in February.

It’s been fun socializing him – so I’ve been taking him to the Richardson Dog Park whenever I have time.

When he first arrived, he didn’t understand that a leash met go for a walk, not lay down on the ground. So I worked with him along the trail in back of our house. One day, early on, I picked up a book and dragged him to a little bench on the hike/bike trail that runs along the creek behind where we live. I sat there, reading, so he could get used to dog walkers, joggers, and such. He did good, interested in the passersby, but not going nuts.

Then a family of six on bikes came riding up the trail toward me. Two parents, two teens, and two little kids with training wheels in the lead. I heard the little boy say to his sister as they approached, “Don’t worry… it’s just some old man and his dog.”

Oh man… I didn’t like that. I especially didn’t like it because it was true. I was some old man sitting on a park bench with his dog, reading a book.

At any rate, back to today, I decided to take Isaak to the NorthBark Dog Park – since we had never been. It was farther than I anticipated, but after a wrong turn or so, we were there.

I took Isaak into the big dog section first and he had fun doing his usual dog park thing – running and playing dog dominance games with the other dogs there. After a bit he settled down and rested under a tree. I could see next door dogs swimming in the pond in the wet area – chasing after lures and retrieving them – thrown out into the water by their masters.

Isaak had never been in the water but I decided to give it a shot. We moved over to that part of the park and walked around to the back side where the bank was shallow. And, to my surprise, after a bit he jumped in the water and started to play in it. He had a bunch of fun running around on the bank and then plunging in. He would jump up and down, then dash out of the water again. Only one time he ventured deep enough to swim a little and was a bit intimidated by that.

Isaak swimming a little at the NorthBark Dog Park, Dallas, Texas

I walked with him around to where the real water dogs were swimming and retrieving and I talked to a couple of women about how to train a dog to do that. I need to work on teaching Isaak to fetch and return first, then start him off in shallow water. I think he’d enjoy that, I think. What do dogs enjoy anyway?

When we were done I hooked his leash on a pole and gave him a wash with a hose supplied for that purpose.

He didn’t enjoy that.

A Month of Short Stories 2015, Day Fourteen – The Embassy Of Cambodia

The last two years, for the month of June, I wrote about a short story that was available online each day of the month… you can see the list for 2014 and 2015 in the comments for this page. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.

Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year.

Today’s story, for day fourteen – The Embassy Of Cambodia, by Zadie Smith

Read it online here:

The Embassy Of Cambodia

I played badminton a lot, for some reason, when I was a kid. When summer came along, the cheap filmy net with its too-delicate poles and always-tangled stays would come out and be pinned into the yard somewhere. We would each get a delicate racket and then the shuttlecock would fly. I never met anyone, among the hundreds that I know I played badminton with, that actually had any idea of what the rules of the game were. It didn’t matter anyway – I always seemed to live in windy climes and the motion of the shuttlecock in the air was always more random than not – no fair game was possible.

I don’t see badminton played in people’s yards anymore – they play washers or cornhole or pool volleyball. Maybe it’s a Texas thing. Sometimes, though, when I’m randomly punching channels into the remote, I see a game taking place in a professional badminton league. Professional badminton players. Professionals.

This is a strange world.

Zadie Smith is a writer, possibly the premier writer, of the immigrant experience. I know her, as you probably do, as the author of White Teeth – a touchstone novel.

Today’s story The Embassy Of Cambodia is a long short story – or a very short novel (complete with numbered chapters) that was actually published in book form after appearing in the New Yorker. It’s the harrowing story of a semi-legal immigrant housekeeper in London. She is doing the best she can to maintain a life of her own.

In a discarded Metro found on the floor of the Derawal kitchen, Fatou read with interest a story about a Sudanese “slave” living in a rich man’s house in London. It was not the first time that Fatou had wondered if she herself was a slave, but this story, brief as it was, confirmed in her own mind that she was not. After all, it was her father, and not a kidnapper, who had taken her from Ivory Coast to Ghana, and when they reached Accra they had both found employment in the same hotel. Two years later, when she was eighteen, it was her father again who had organized her difficult passage to Libya and then on to Italy—a not insignificant financial sacrifice on his part. Also, Fatou could read English—and speak a little Italian—and this girl in the paper could not read or speak anything except the language of her tribe. And nobody beat Fatou, although Mrs. Derawal had twice slapped her in the face, and the two older children spoke to her with no respect at all and thanked her for nothing. (Sometimes she heard her name used as a term of abuse between them. “You’re as black as Fatou.” Or “You’re as stupid as Fatou.”) On the other hand, just like the girl in the newspaper, she had not seen her passport with her own eyes since she arrived at the Derawals’, and she had been told from the start that her wages were to be retained by the Derawals to pay for the food and water and heat she would require during her stay, as well as to cover the rent for the room she slept in. In the final analysis, however, Fatou was not confined to the house. She had an Oyster Card, given to her by the Derawals, and was trusted to do the food shopping and other outside tasks for which she was given cash and told to return with change and receipts for everything. If she did not go out in the evenings that was only because she had no money with which to go out, and anyway knew very few people in London. Whereas the girl in the paper was not allowed to leave her employers’ premises, not ever—she was a prisoner.

On Sunday mornings, for example, Fatou regularly left the house to meet her church friend Andrew Okonkwo at the 98 bus stop and go with him to worship at the Sacred Heart of Jesus, just off the Kilburn High Road. Afterward Andrew always took her to a Tunisian café, where they had coffee and cake, which Andrew, who worked as a night guard in the City, always paid for. And on Mondays Fatou swam. In very warm water, and thankful for the semi-darkness in which the health club, for some reason, kept its clientele, as if the place were a night club, or a midnight Mass. The darkness helped disguise the fact that her swimming costume was in fact a sturdy black bra and a pair of plain black cotton knickers. No, on balance she did not think she was a slave.

On the way to her illicit swim every Monday she passes the Cambodian Embassy where she notices two people playing badminton beyond the high brick walls. They are unseen – only the shuttlecock is visible as it arcs above the barrier. In one direction it is smashed – in the other it is returned in a high, graceful arc.

And then Fatou does something terrible – she saves the life of one of her employer’s children. That upsets the whole thing – the power doesn’t work anymore. Fatou is sent packing – though somehow we feel that she will make it through OK, depending, of course, on what your definition of OK is. Yours is probably different that Fatou’s.

And these are the days of our lives.

A Month of Short Stories 2014, Day 14 – Go-Between

A year ago, for the month of June, I wrote about an online short story each day for the month. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.

Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year.

Today’s story, for day Fourteen – Go-Between, by Peter Rock
Read it online here:


So many of the stories I have collected in this month of short story writing are by familiar authors that I have read before. Either classic masters of the form, well-known maniacs trying to stretch what’s been before, or modern acclaimed virtuosos at throwing letters on the page.

That will not do.

I wanted something novel, an author I didn’t know – I need a new drug. So I turned to Google and some literary magazines that are willing to stick an occasional piece on the web for free (I’ll pay for it, but will you?) and struck a vein. Luckily it turned out to be gold and not hemoglobin.

The author is Peter Rock and the story is Go-Between.

I wanted mystery – something that left important (the most important) details to my imagination, I wanted clean prose (a little description is fine, but no rococo showing off), and I wanted some oddly off-kilter excitement.

Go-Between fit the bill perfectly.

It’s a sad commentary on my belated position on the mediocre arc of my nondescript life that I felt more of a kinship with the clumsy besuited disheveled stalker than with the attractive young characters trying to figure out where their skinny-dipping habits are about to take them. It is what it is.

So now I have someone new to read… a freshly-dug rabbit hole to tumble down. I don’t know if everything else he wrote is so attuned to what I’m looking for – but I’ll do the work to find out.

“How’s your grandma’s house?” he said. “Is it creepy, at all, living there?”

“I don’t know. It’s nice having all her old things, I guess, but I keep expecting her to be in the kitchen or come down the hallway. I never had to feed myself, there.”

Two long yellow kayaks slipped past. A lady in a bright red hat, a man with a gray beard. Naomi waved, and the man lifted his oar.

“Have you seen Sonja lately?” Alex said.

“We had breakfast this morning. Is that what you wanted to talk about?”

Off to the right was a tangle of bushes and trees, some of them tipping over into the water. Hidden on the other side of those trees, down the river, was an amusement park. Screams rose up every minute or so, every time the people on the rollercoaster made the big drop, headed into the loop.