Category Archives: Short Fiction Sunday

Short Fiction Sunday- The truth about Lies

THE TRUTH ABOUT LIES

I walked up to the woden shack and peered inside the smoked-glass window.  I had a date to meet my writing buddies and loyal followers of my literary journey through the metaphorical woods. 

Okay, not so metaphorical.  I swung my canoe up and out, stopping briefly at the shoulder, then hip.  I propped it against the log building and wiped the sweat from my brow.  The woods were hot, as only a humid summer day can be in the Midwest.  I needed a drink and a break from the swarm of mosquitoes that had followed me along the path.  I was also late for my meeting.

I pushed my way inside and bellied up to the empty bar.   

“Tequila,” I said.  “With a clamato chaser.”

The barkeep eyed me skeptically.  “Odd drink of choice.”

I shrugged.  “I’m a writer.”  As if that would explain everything.  And it did.  In a sense.  Why else would I be portaging the BWCA?  I had something important to reveal and it had to be done in person. 

However, a quick glance around the room showed I was alone in the Cyber Cafe.  Alone with the multitude of stuffed, porcelain and painted calves that decorated the bar. 

“”Three seventy-five.”  The barkeep slammed a glass down in front of me.  Amber liquid sloshed over the rim and dribbled down the etched likeness of a cow. 

It was like a bad omen and I shivered slightly despite the summer heat.  I dug in my backpack for some change.  Organization had never been my strong suit.  Not since my big sister ran over my head with her blue banana seat bike.  I sported tire tracks on my forehead for days after that.  However, in moments like these, I felt my sis might be right that the damage was more than skin deep. 

I sighed and began emptying my bag onto the counter.  The barkeep blew out a sigh to rival my own as he watched the growing mound of junk.  Hair clips, chapstick, Kindle, trophy, kleenex…. 

“What’s this, eh?” 

I peered out from the depths of my backpack.  The barkeep held my blue and silver trophy in his hand.  His eyes gleamed for the first time.  “Oh, that’s nothing.”

“A tro-phy, eh?”  He reverently ran his fingers over the molded calf on top.  “Says ro-de-oh.”

My cheeks grew hot and I tugged at my collar, embarrassed that I felt the need to bring my trophy at all.  Yet I had a nagging suspicion my cyber buddies would have more than a nagging suspicion if I revealed the truth without proof. 

I reached for the trophy and popped it back in my bag.  I fished out my cash and dropped it on the counter, stood and scanned the room for my friends.  Their lateness had passed rude and was dangerously close to impertinent.  “What’s the name of this place?”

The barkeep shot me a look that said he was still unhappy about me pulling the trophy out of his hand.  “The Cyber Cafe.”

I paced.  Jean’s voice had been exactly how I pictured it when she explained the directions to our meeting place.  At the time, she had begged me to divulge my two truths and a lie.  I refused to give in.  Yet now, as I paced the back woods bar, my imagination took hold.  Maybe she was miffed with me for not telling her.  I shook my head.  Surely that wouldn’t be enough for her to misdirect me.

Eventually, the tequila ran right through me and I made my way to the restroom.  After washing my hands, I noted a sign on the door.  Thanks for stopping by the Cyber Calf.

A bad feeling settled over me as I made my way to the counter.  “What’s the name of this place again?”

The barkeep froze, his rag mid dry on the shot glass.  “I’ll tell ya for that neat little trophy you got.” 

I weighed my options.  I could hand over my championship trophy and figure out where the heck my journey had taken me, or I could stubbornly hold onto the only tangible evidence of my first place win (not second) and stay stranded forever. 

After adding to the barkeep’s growing collection of calf paraphenalia, I hoisted my canoe and made double time through the woods.  The trail ended beside a well-kept log cabin.  The Cyber Cafe.

It was with great relief that when I entered this bar, a crowd of familiar faces sat at a table with an open seat.  I dropped my backpack and plopped into the chair. 

“Sorry I’m late.”  I scanned the crew, putting faces to names in real time. 

Jean smiled, raised her margarita and said, “Must’ve made a pit stop at the Cyber Calf, eh?”

Welcome to Canada!

 

Short Fiction Sunday

Two things have shaped the post today.  One–the continued state of destruction and devestation in Haiti.  Two–my DH’s best friend since diaperhood.  BF’s mother is in her last weeks after battling cancer.  My heart goes out to all those who are suffering at this time and I hope this poem can bring a little peace to those who are left behind.

DON’T CRY FOR ME

Ashes to ashes

dust to dust

My soul soars to the waiting heavens

   Mother Earth embraces my body

     In the everlasting circle of life

 

Show no sorrow for me when I’m gone

  Rather, lift thine eyes to the rose-tinted dawn

And know that I am there

Watching

Waiting

Patiently, lovingly

For you

 

Breathe the succulent scent

Of every spring bloom

And know that I am there

            Each blossom a reminder of my serenity and peace

          Hear my voice in the songbird’s melodies

       Quench your thirst on the falling rain

      And know that I am there

 

Ashes to ashes

Dust to dust

Life to life

And love everlasting

Short Fiction Sunday

THE EYES ON THE BACK OF MY HEAD

Mom said she had eyes on the back of her head, but I didn’t believe her.  Not until I grew my own.  Then I saw Mike Mansky try to put a dead frog in my hoodie.  I ducked and he flew over my back.  The frog did too.  It landed on Mike’s face.

Everyone laughed and Mike got detention for having a frog outside the science lab. 

Later I side-stepped his spit glob before it hit me in the head.  Then, I weaved around Principal Stiitz just as Mike leaned forward to put a note on my back.  His hand smacked a yellow sticky on Stiitz’s chest. 

He got two more days detention for calling the principal a dork.

I didn’t tell anyone about my new eyes.  They were my secret weapon against Mike Mansky.  And I knew all about secrets.   They lose their power when you talk about them.  I certainly didn’t want to lose my edge with the class bully. 

I called them my super-secret laser eyes.  Although that might have been a mistake.  As soon as I named them, I started seeing things.  And not just the people behind me.

My lasers saw right into them.  I couldn’t see their scrambled eggs sloshing in their stomachs or their blood pumping through their veins.  That would have been cool.  What I saw was worse.  Much worse.  I saw their secrets.

I saw Layinda’s heart beat for me.  It got really fast whenever I walked by.  I knew Toby brought his DS to school and that his stomach looked like a pot of rotten cabbage because of it.  I even saw that Principal Stiitz hit a car in the parking lot—and wasn’t going to tell. 

People were different on the inside.  My super-secret laser eyes saw things my real eyes couldn’t see.  Like how Layinda cried every night when kids called her fat or that Toby brought his DS to school so the other kids would pay attention to him.  He liked having friends more than he hated getting grounded.

Mr. Stiitz?  I won’t even talk about his insides.  It’s just too gross to think about.

The one that really bugged me though, was Mike Mansky.  His secret made him mean.  I saw things I never wanted to see.  I tried to close my eyes, but they must not have lids.  At night I scratched at them, but they wouldn’t go away.  Even the hottest shower didn’t burn them out.

When Mike chucked the ball at me in gym, I let it hit me in the back of the head.  Right between my eyes.  It stung worse than the flu shot, but it didn’t stop me from seeing.

I didn’t duck out of the way when he “accidentally” spilled his lunch tray.  My eyes saw right through the chicken noodle soup and chocolate pudding.  I cringed at what they saw.  I was lucky that Mike Mansky’s lunch was the only thing that hit me.

It was just too much.  That night I begged Mom for a haircut.  She buzzed it right down to the nubs. 

“Do you seen anything unusual?”  I hoped my eyes would disappear with my hair so short.

“Nothing at all.”  And I saw that Mom cheated on her diet with a piece of banana crème pie.  Worse, she was disappointed in me.  Again.  This time for snapping my little sister’s crayons.  I didn’t think she knew about that.  Or when I buried all of Janie’s dolls in the backyard.

That weekend I wore a stocking hat to hide from Mom’s secrets.  It seemed to help.  She didn’t like how weird I looked, but I refused to go out of my room without it.  On Monday Principal Stiitz didn’t like my new attire either.  He made me put my hat in my locker—right next to the dead mouse from Mike.

I went to the bathroom to throw up.  Not because of the mouse, but because of all the secrets swirling around in my head.  I had to tell someone before I exploded.

That someone happened to be Mike. 

He followed me into the bathroom.  He wanted to laugh about the decaying mouse.  Instead, I made him cry.

“I know about your secret.” 

Mike’s face turned red, then white.  His fists bunched up by his side.

“Your step-brother.  I know what he does.”

Mike growled and stepped closer to me.

“He put that mouse on your dinner plate last night.”

Mike shook his head.  “How could you know that?”

I almost told him about the eyes on the back of my head, but I told him the truth instead.  The one my mom sees when she looks at me.  “Cuz I’m a bully, too.”

People are different on the inside. 

Sitting on the bathroom floor, I told Mike Mansky about my super-secret laser eyes.  He told me why he picked on me.  We both found out I was right about secrets.  They lose their power when you talk about them.  And sometimes that’s a good thing.

Two Truths and a Lie

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE

It was easy to dump my best friend.  Because, really, she wasn’t my best friend anymore.  We had grown apart.  Each walking different halls at school with different girls.  Maybe I shouldn’t have done it on Facebook, but I liked that I didn’t have to tell her in person. 

I also liked the kudos I got from my other friends.  My new friends.  The cool ones.

It was easy to text her all the things I wanted back.  My CD’s.  My blue tank top and matching shorts she borrowed when she spilled her malt and needed something to wear to the movies that night.  The newest book in the trilogy we were both reading. 

When she stood on my porch with a box, I made my sister answer the door so I didn’t have to talk to her.  She was just too lame for words. 

Her t-shirt was rumpled and her hair was tied back in two low pig tails.  Totally yesterday and not at all in.  I hid behind the door where she wouldn’t see me, hoping she would beg.  Just a little.  It would definitely earn me points with my new bestie, who stood beside me, snickering softly into her hand. 

Instead, she straightened her shoulders and turned away.  My stomach hurt until the party that night.  Guys, games and a dark room.  Did I mention these were the cool kids?

It was easy to fit in with my new crowd.  I learned that we were just better than everyone else.  We might talk about the same things, worry about the same things and laugh at all the same jokes, but we ruled the school.  No one could touch us.  We didn’t want them to.

It was easy to forget she taught me to smile when everyone else laughed at my messed up teeth.  It was easy to forget that she dried my tears when I was the punchline in the cool kids’ jokes.  It was easy to forget I ever thought she was special.

All I saw now was how she laughed too loud, flirted too much and didn’t care what anyone thought about her.  A-nnoy-ing.

It wasn’t easy to pull the box out from under my bed.  There was more in it than I thought.  Matching t-shirts we made on a hot summer day.  Home-made fairies in dresses of blue.  My favorite color.  And pictures.  So many pictures.  Of us swimming, fishing, hiking, laughing, making faces, hugging…

It was easy to blame her for our break up.  If only she had cared just a little, tried a bit harder, then she could have joined the cool crowd like me.  

And I wouldn’t be crying in my room all alone. 

Locked In

I often talk about being a writer, but until now, I haven’t given you anything to read that might make you believe I actually write more than a post here and there.  Please enjoy my quick fiction I put together today based on our youth group’s lock-in the other night.  Thanks, Pastor, for the great game and inspiration for this piece.

Locked In

I stood in the doorway with the other Christians.  Not now-a-days Christians—the kids at youth group hanging out at the lock in.  The then Christians—from Roman times when Christians were hunted down because of their beliefs.  The winter chill seeped through the windows and we huddled together, shivering from the cold. 

From somewhere in the church, a bell rang.  The boys sprinted out of the lit room, their feet thundering down the dark hall, as they sought the secret meeting place before getting captured by the Romans.  The rest of us hung back, clutching each other’s arms, giggling nervously.  Finally someone stepped past the threshold.  As one, we followed.  There was safety in numbers.  Not to mention it was warmer this way.

Battle cries filled the air as the Romans pursued our fellow Christians.  I trembled slightly.  I hated the dark and I hated hide and go seek.  Even though the cries were staged, a shiver traveled my spine.  The inky blackness made the game seem more real.  I envisioned the boys being hunted by the Romans in Pastor’s lame attempt to teach us something about the Bible.  I didn’t care where I was going.  I would simply follow the rest of the girls to the secret meeting place, pretend to listen to Pastor’s lesson, then go to sleep.  And I would never come to another lock-in again.

Something shuffled behind me.  The softest whisper of cloth against the wall.  A footstep out of kilter.  I looked back and saw a streaky shadow make its way toward our group.  A primal scream ripped past my lips and the girls scattered, leaving me frozen in the middle of the hall.  Alone with the shadow.

It approached.  A fellow Christian, some friend of a fifth grader maybe, one I didn’t recognize.  My vision blurred and I blinked to bring him back in focus.  His shirt hung in tatters from his thin frame and he had a cut on his forehead.  He panted and clutched at his ribs. 

“What happened?”

“The Romans…”  Before he finished his sentence, he slumped to the ground. 

 My cell phone buzzed.  They weren’t allowed at the lock-in, but I had kept mine.  I’d been texting my friends who had skipped youth group, choosing the movies and pizza over a night of Bible study.  Not for the first time, I cursed my mom for making me come.

Electricity sizzled through the air.  The light from the youth room went out, plunging the hall into total darkness.  I flipped open my cell phone.  Dead.  The boy moaned behind me.  “They want to kill us.” 

 “It’s just your imagination,” I said, though when I remembered the blood on his face, I thought he might be right.  My mom would freak when she learned Pastor had flipped and set up a real game of the hunters and the hunted.  Romans against Christians.  A tiny laugh escaped my lips.  At least I’d never have to go to youth group again.

The boy’s voice cut through the dark.  “If we get to the secret meeting, we’ll be safe.”

I snorted.  “There’s nothing secret about it.  Pastor’s worksheet wasn’t about clues, it was about confirmation homework.  There’s only one place it could be.”

“Sometimes it’s hard to find things when you’re lost.”

“I’m not lost.”  I stood up, determined to find Pastor, call my mom and go home.  I’d gone to this church since my baptism and could easily find my way to the sanctuary—even in the dark. 

“You’re leaving me.”

It wasn’t a question.  He knew I planned to leave him and it made my guts churn just a little.  Well, what did he expect?  I hadn’t brought him to the lock-in.  I didn’t even want to be here myself.

He settled into the dark.  “That’s okay.  I understand.”

I threw him a bone.  “When I find a fellow Christian, I’ll send him back for you.”  I ran my hand along the wall to guide me down the hall.  After a few steps I called back.  “Who’d you come here with anyways?”

“Myself.”

“That’s weird.”

“Not really.  The person who invited me stopped believing.”

I turned away and shuffled down the hall.  The silence was absolute.  The darkness almost.  Every once in a while I would come across a lit candle.  There was one in the choir room and another in the balcony.  I looked down upon the sanctuary expecting to see a light and a gathering of kids from youth group.  Instead, there was darkness.

The altar had been so obvious.  Where else would Christians meet to worship?  Now what?

I turned to make my way back across the balcony.  From below a horse whinnied.  The scent of fresh baked bread permeated the smoke-thickened air.  Impossible.  Now my imagination was acting up. 

I ran my hands down my body and found myself clad in a tunic, leggings and heavy clogs.  I kicked off the noisy shoes and felt the cold wetness of stone under my bare feet.  Something rustled behind me.  I crouched behind a pew turned to stone and waited, breathless, as a group of armored Romans swept past.   I shook my head to clear the vision, but they remained.

Clutched between them was a whimpering Christian.  “If I tell you where more Christians are, will you let me go?”

A traitor.  Pastor said there were some in the game.  But this was no longer a game.  I held my breath.  Angry that this girl would betray others to save herself.  A Roman nodded encouragement and the traitor spoke.  “There’s a hurt Christian on the hillside, hiding under a large tree.  A girl is with him, but she’s not a true believer.  She’ll give him up easy enough.”

The Romans drug the girl away, keeping her captive despite the information.  Her screams cut through the night and into my soul.  Something vibrated in my belt.  I reached in and found my cell phone, no longer dead.

We’re outside the back door if you wanna sneak out.

My fingers flew over the buttons.  All I had to do was find the exit and I’d be saved from this nightmare.  Just before I hit send, my stomach revolted.  With a start I realized the boy was the one I had left alone in the hall and I was the girl she had referred to.  I had to find the boy before the soldiers did.  I made my way to the steps, only to find them replaced by a ragged hill. 

I chucked the phone aside and ran over the rough terrain.  By the time I reached the unconscious boy, the mountain had changed back to hall and the tree rose behind him as a cross.  The light from the youth room flickered on and I could just make out the painting on the wall.  I ran my hands along the beam.  Something pricked my finger and I pulled my hand away.  A drop of blood oozed out around a splinter. 

This is my blood, shed for you.

I found my name, painted in yellow by the shaky hand where I had placed it on my first day of Sunday School.  I traced over it with my cut finger, binding my name once again to my savior.  The boy was gone.

A scuffle of tennis shoes sounded from the end of the hallway.  The Romans were here.  I ducked inside a room and hid behind a stack of chairs until the sounds faded away.  Quietly I made my way through the church, avoiding the Romans and gathering Christians as I went.  A tiny light guided us down the aisle and to the altar. 

Pastor sat under the candles with a smile on his face.  In the stained glass window above him, another smile shone down.