Showing posts from June, 2020

Counting Words

Packing a lot of content into a few words is what flash fiction is all about. There are magazines, online and otherwise, which set strict word limits. #Worthingflash accepts anything under 1000 words. has a limit of 101 words which is quirky. I wrote a short story for them and then checked the word count. Open Office word assured me it was 101 words. insisted it was 95 so in the end I had to count it myself. Then I rewrote it as 101 words and Open Office word insisted it was 110 words, had it as 101. I counted and agreed with them. I'll let you know whether it gets published or not after all that. Derek McMillan

The Barren Wasteland

OMG, what is going on here? I had woken up, startled, feeling a strange numbness in my mouth. I thought I tasted blood. I didn’t feel my teeth. My tongue erred in the empty space like a creature, dashing around, lost, and exploring a barren wasteland. It was a landscape full of ridges but no peaks. There were no two ways about it, I had to see what this empty, barren space was all about. I got up and went to look in the mirror. The sight it reflected hit me hard. Never would I have expected to see my mouth completely empty apart from my tongue either darting from side to side or sticking out. I opened and closed my mouth, resembling a fish more than a human being. No, there was no mistake. Nothing to see from my lips to the back of my throat. What a pitiful sight. I looked so ugly without teeth. I didn’t believe it. Never had I looked like this. How did this happen? How was I ever going to smile or talk, let alone go out to work, shop or meet my friend


I had finally gotten settled into first grade when the principal walked in with her hand on a girl’s shoulder and announced, “Boys and girls, this is Constance. She just moved to town and will be in this class. Constance, there are six empty seats, chose one.”  The Principal turned the expressionless Constance towards the class. She looked like a cartoon figure—a skinny girl with stringy brown hair, wearing a dress made from rice sacks and lace. Her socks had slid down her legs to lie on her mud-streaked shoes. Without looking around she walked down the aisle and sat in the empty seat next to me I nodded but I wanted to hold my nose. She smelled. I knew what sweat smelled like, but she didn’t smell of sweat, she smelled a strange soap or perfume smell that I feared was going to leap off her and onto me. We stayed at our seats for lunch and the teacher passed out little cartons of white or chocolate milk and a straw. I had a system. I took chocolate if I had meat and


So, Grace and I have been performing our collaborative piece, “Now That You’re Dead,” and it’s a big hit. It was a big hit in Modesto last Tuesday. It got us a spot in the local Peace & Justice Newsletter and an invitation to perform in Turlock next year. Amazingly enough, it’s not even about you. So many others have taken themselves out in these last 21 years, you didn’t even make the cut.    Just kidding, you were probably too big and messy to make the cut. I handed all these pieces of all you dead people to Grace and she picked three others that fit more neatly into stanzas.    Then she did a great job tying them in, sandwiched between her glimmering words. She takes the lead on this one, since she’s still trying to convince people to stay alive. I’ve more or less let that go. Nowadays, I would sum it up by saying I keep busy with listening, leaving them alone, getting back to work on this book, or whatever comes to hand – there’s alw


By Frances Edington Lockdown affects different people in different ways. For those addicted to routine, for those allergic to the dictates of Authority, for those who feel alive only in a football crowd or packed pub, Social Isolation at Home is a constraint at best and at worst a nightmare. Luckily not everyone is the same; some of us are putting out the flags in celebration of Peace and Quiet. But this isn’t my story, it’s about Billy and how Lockdown changed his life. In the twenty-five years Billy had lived on Earth, he’d known only a life of crime. His father Joe was a burglar and provided well for the family; he’d only been caught once – as a teenager – since when he’d adopted the mantra: don’t get caught. It was a mantra Joe taught his sons before he passed on his other skills. From an early age, Billy had proved adept at picking pockets – or handbags or supermarket shelves. At first, his gleanings went into the family fund, but when he married Wendy, his earnings w