10-word Stories

Jun 24 2016

I sometimes like to try out contests/submission themes with interesting premises just to extend my creativity. Here are some six-word stories that I recently wrote for a contest (unsuccessfully, but I had fun, which, in this case, is all I ask for). They’re actually a lot harder than expected.

  1. Red. White. Blue. Blood. Snow. Eyes.
  2. Feet protruded from the open grave.
  3. She kissed me. He followed suit.
  4. He promised forever and then delivered.
  5. It wept as she unplugged it.

Have you ever tried writing six-word stories?

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Loch Ness Haiku

Oct 11 2014

I’m currently taking a class on “How Writers Write Fiction” through the Writing University Open Courses program. One of my assignments is to write a haiku that could potentially serve as a beginning to a story. It’s been a while since I’ve written a haiku, but, here, for your enjoyment:


No monster swirls round
our ankles at Loch Ness but


*cross-posted to my Twitter (@ctbideas)

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Ten Realities of a Retired Hero

Sep 20 2014


The air is chilly high up on top of the skyscraper, biting, whipping my hair into a swarm of stinging insects pricking at my eyes, hooking their way down the pores of my exposed skin. The chill of the concrete seeps into the palms of my hands, the seat of my pants, against the backs of my legs.

The cold leaches into my muscles, infusing my bones, crawling molecule by molecule into my organs, turning each of them one by one by one to ice.

A solid block of ice, clear and shimmering, soaked through with a million shades of colors. Blues, greens, reds, yellows, colors still yet unnamed, still not yet witnessed by another human.

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In-Between Alphabet: R is for Really

Sep 19 2014

Really is a realist, uninterested in fiction when it has facts. Exclaiming in a loud voice, its curiosity overrides its reticence in its search for the literal retelling of events. Really has an honesty that can be taken in extremis, but its lack of doubt is refreshing.

She says Really, frown lines smudged into her forehead. And the doubt that colors her voice sinks into his skin like invisible tattoos. He deserves it, knowing he’s stood her up multiple times already. Why should she believe in his promised presence? Still, it hurts the way a heavy weight on his ribcage hurts, deep and crushing and silent. He remembers those early gold-dusted days when she had no knowledge of his failings, when she had no memories of what his excuses sounded like.  So what if his excuses were legitimate? How legitimate could they be if their jagged edges tear away pieces of her fragile trust? He reaches out for her hands, and tucks away the glimmer of joy when she places them in his safe-keeping without hesitation. At least he still has this. For now. She says Really, and he nods, willing her to give him one more chance to prove himself.

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Alice & Wendy

Sep 13 2014

"My name is Alice. I’m an alcoholic and I’m trying hard not to be," she’d said before heading back to her seat, her pointed chin held high, red brushed over sharp cheekbones, and lips pressed together. Alice never said anything more after that first time. Only snuck in after the meetings started to sit on the hard metal folding chairs, then disappeared through the YMCA door afterwards with minimal interaction.

Wendy didn’t know why she still came to AA meetings herself. While she still struggled most days, she’d found her steady footing, sober for over five years. Perhaps it was the familiarity, the routine. Perhaps she’d still been searching for something, someone, but hadn’t known it until Alice.

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In-Between Alphabet: Q is for Quite

Sep 10 2014

Quite is a drama queen, shifting from one extreme to another, never happy with the middle ground. It likes to step out of the crowd around it and be noticed. With a high opinion of itself, Quite surrounds itself in the extraordinary, the exceptional, and the geniuses. Yet, it’ll suffer no fools. Quite gets to the root of the matter, speaking the truth in a no-nonsense manner. It lives in a black-and-white world. It is or it isn’t, nothing else.

She says Quite, delighted, bowled over by the puppies engulfing her with their flyaway fur and slick tongues and gleaming noses. He has been replaced by faces much hairier than his, the outlines of his body blurring into the general background of other-things-not-puppy. It doesn’t bother him. He’s always known he may come first to her on most days in this present-day scenario, but he ranks far below puppies and kitties and other animals with pelts much fluffier than his. Instead, he laughs, his camera phone capturing her and the surrounding vague blurs of frenetic action. When they leave, though, her whole face and body collapses into the center of her being. “Can’t we bring one home? Just one?” Someday, he says to her, someday we’ll have a home with a big backyard and a white picket fence and room for a hundred puppies to roam, even as he can’t even begin to imagine a scenario in which a hundred puppies can fit into a normal suburban household. Someday, he repeats for emphasis. And the fact that he can say someday, that their future together is so assured as to be predicted and assumed satisfies him the way he never understood during the phases of his life he shunned companionship and even during phases when he longed for it. She says Quite, and it sounds like agreement, like confirmation. It sounds like truth.

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Twitter-Sized Fiction: 2

Mar 20 2014

She salted his face with tears.  He peppered her face with kisses.  They swallowed each other whole. 


*cross-posted to Twitter (@ctbideas)

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In-Between Alphabet: P is for Per

Mar 17 2014

Per is exacting, but in a general sort of way.  It likes distilling large amounts of data into compact packages, sets the figures marching in neat configured lines so that they all blur together into one organized mass instead of the individual parts they are.  Per much prefers the forest to the trees, but only if the forests are sorted by rainfall and elevation and density, and only if completely attributed to it in the first place anyways. 

She says Per, and he yells back at her, “Stop it.  Stop categorizing me.  Stop analyzing my every action and reaction and putting them in neatly-labeled boxes.  I’m not an either/or.  I’m not a blip on a bell curve.  I am me, in all my complicated vagueness. I am a gray-colored mass of indescribable me-ness.”  The color drains from her face, from her lips which press together until they disappear.  Her hands splay out in front of her in surprise.  She doesn’t understand, and it makes everything worse, because she’s the one who’s supposed to understand.  He’s not sure why it’s this instance that sets him off and not another.  It doesn’t matter as he stomps away to the computer, covering his ears with headphones in hopes the loud music will drown out the sound the vibrating hurt he left in his wake.  He can’t help her.  Not with a matching pain vibrating through his core.  She touches his shoulder but he stays stiff.  “I just need to be alone now,” he says, hoping to clear his mind,needing to curl into himself until there is nothing in this world touching him.  She walks away, and he is glad.  Slowly, too slowly, the hurt ebbs away, and when he slips into bed, beside her rigid form, he touches her shoulder in apology.  She rolls over and molds her body to the sharp corners of his.  Holding her close, he contemplates the complicated creature in his arms, and how he’s glad she can’t be categorized either, because it means she’s worth knowing, worth falling into bed with, worth all the heartache.  She doesn’t say Per for a long time afterwards. 

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Happily Ever After

Mar 10 2014

Once there lived a princess surrounded by forces beyond her control. So she escaped by throwing herself down a deep dark well, falling down, down, down, for so long, even time stopped. Velvet black embraced her, the thick plush weight of complete darkness.

Soon, however, the princess missed the light and the velvet grew suffocating. She wanted to leave her haven, until she realized she’d no idea how.

"Throw down a rope," she called in the direction she deemed "up". The princess waited. No coil of rope fell across her shoulders. Perhaps her voice was too quiet, or their hearing too weak. Or maybe, they simply didn’t care. Perhaps they’d forgotten her, given up on her lost so long within the well. She sunk to the ground, wrapping her arms around her knees, curling into herself.

A voice called out her name, soft and gentle and warm. She lifted her head. Through the thin sheen of tears, she could just make out the glowing ball hovering beside her. Within, she could see the face of her first knight. "Oh," she breathed, "You’ve come to save me."

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In-Between Alphabet: O is for Of

Mar 06 2014

Of is curious, always wanting to know more detail.  It elucidates at length, distilling the topic smaller and smaller until it fits in the palm of someone’s hand.  Of isn’t content to see merely the general picture.  It scrutinizes each subject with squinted interest, examining and probing and categorizing until it’s satisfied. 

She says Of while her hands fly through the air, nails narrowly missing his eyes.  He ducks just enough to move out of the danger zone without bringing her attention to the movement, without bringing her attention back to herself and the fact that they’re sitting in the public arena of a fast food eatery.  The words spill from between her lips in waves; and she’s too excited, too passionate, too wrapped up in her thoughts to smile.  He pulls her earnestness around him like a cozy blanket.  Even if he doesn’t quite understand half the things she’s expounding on, it doesn’t matter.  Later on, the anxiety will silence her, shrink her to a fraction of her size, and still her expressive hands.  He’ll speak her words to the outside world, even if they don’t sound as beautiful filtered through the intonations of his voice.  He wishes she would show the world the same intelligent fervor she reserves for him, that he could convince her the world isn’t waiting around to mock her, that her past doesn’t have to mirror her present.  While her mind may understand, her heart refuses to comprehend.  She says Of, and he smiles encouragement at her, praying for the day those smiles manage to salve her soul. 

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