always short and almost true stories :: winter

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My latest set of 35-word stories, sponsored by the longest of seasons, winter.

 

She blames gravity.

Winter rains.

The election.

Guilt for what, she can’t recall.

The death of Princess Leia.

Melted glaciers, never known.

She doesn’t realize

caring is for the strongest.

And spring will eventually come.

 


 

Leo,

alone by the fountain,

greets all who pass by.

He’s not at the retirement resort,

but the Italian Riviera,

60 years younger,

and his wheelchair

is a shiny red Vespa,

with room for two.

 


 

Her smile doesn’t move,

encased by plastic surgery.

It seemed a good idea, but now

without her laugh lines, how do we know

where she’s been, what happiness she’s lived

and how she really feels?

 


 

Storm’s coming.

I gather rainy day provisions:

Red wine, truffle popcorn, fancy cheese

and chocolate.

Meanwhile, under the freeway

shopping cart forts

built of cardboard, tarp,

rope and defeat,

shelter others.

Two roofs, different storms.

 


 

They sat until they ran out of nothing to say.

Staring without seeing each other.

Tense, anxious,

afraid of what comes next.

She spoke first.

Your move.

Yes.

King me.

Checkmate.

Damn you.

Another game?

 

I began writing 35-word (or shorter, never longer) stories by accident, a result of my failed attempts at a decent six-word story. I couldn’t be that concise and not feel some regret for the leftover words. The short-short-short story kept at me, until I found a format that gave me enough, but not too much. The stories reveal themselves almost every day. I can’t make this stuff up, or at least not all of it.  More stories live here.

Photo by Kim Tackett, Barcelona.

always short and almost true stories :: adulting is hard

clarion alley girl

Today’s 35-word stories about the challenges of being mature. I’ll let you know when I get there. More stories here. Thanks for reading, my friends. -K

 

Adulting is hard, I said.

I’ve never been good at it, she added.

There we stood, at 59 and 82,

amazed we made it this far,

without

life vests,

safety goggles,

or 24-hour supervision.

 


 

Bandaids, three just this morning.

Rivulets of blood, seeping through.

Sore, throbbing, and a little embarrassed.

This is why I can’t have nice things.

Like sharp Japanese knives, thinly sliced persimmon,

And evidently,

fingers.

 


 

With children,

one must feed them,

day after day, year after year.

Luckily, we made it.

They’re grown and gone,

and I’m grateful that

frozen cookie dough

was acceptable as dinner,

once in a while.

 


 

Banking, taxes, and mortgages,

eating without spilling on myself,

changing my car’s oil,

cleaning under the refrigerator produce bin,

understanding the voting propositions,

baking,

farting silently and scent-free,

Grown up activities I will never master.

 


 

Adult things she can  do:

Make a fantastic salad,

be on time,

say I love you,

listen carefully,

hand write notes,

forgive,

coffee,

pee anywhere,

nap anyplace,

ideate and create,

look you in the eye.


Photo by Kim Tackett. Clarion Alley murals, San Francisco, CA.

more 35-word stories :: orange, this time

orange ornament

Here’s my newest set of 35-word stories, brought to you by Election, 2016. I tried to be funny, but you know, it’s just too soon. Maybe later, much later (like in 2020). More short short stories are here. Thanks for reading. -K

 

The evening started with Nasty Woman cocktails,

popcorn, and expectation.

We watched,

shocked,

as the map turned to blue,

and realized that orange would take over.

I called my daughters

to mourn and apologize.

 


 

Pride, patriotism, progress.

It was a great eight years

and caring is a tough gig to give up.

Wondering,

how we can turn our backs

and turn away,

on what might have been.

 


 

Resistance by punctuation.

I won’t speak, or write

his name,

and president will always be lowercase,

never our but the.

No one else will notice,

but I will know what

I did and didn’t do.

 


 

A joke would help.

Some humor about the orange one’s small hands,

flyaway hair and big boast.

Laughter heals.

Not yet, because it still hurts.

Though that scotch-taped tie photo,

that was pretty funny.

 


 

How must it feel to be an other?

Not aspiring to be

rich, powerful, strong, or great.

But wanting only to be

fed, warm, well, safe, and equal?

How do you feel today,

other America?

 


 

To my friends, the others.

You are loved, you are welcome, you belong.

We will watch and work, and wait.

We will change,

slowly,

backward and forward,

and we will hope for the best,

again.

 

 

 

always short and almost true stories :: making it work in Chicago

chicago work stories

This set was inspired by our recent trip to Chicago and the people who work there.  More short short stories are here. Thanks for reading. -K

 

Eli’s position as an elevator operator

was certainly

the best job

at the Chicago Stock Exchange.

He knew

when

to expect

the ups and downs,

and controlled the red button

that made them so.

 


 

Professional pumpkin carver at

Lincoln Park Zoo

wasn’t the first item on Jonah’s checklist.

But when a truckload

of 1000 pound pumpkins showed up,

his career path seemed destined,

at least for the season.

 


 

Art school prepared him

for his latest gig,

applying faux gold leaf to

the faux fancy store window.

Contemporary realism—

creating the illusion

of authenticity

with plastic, glue and good enough hand skills.

 


 

Sylvia drives around Chicago,

dutifully delivering Uber customers

to their destinations.

She has a novel in progress and

collects stories,

one passenger at a time.

Everyone needs a bit of fiction

to get where they’re going.

 


 

Most Chicago Cubs fans

were nervously optimistic,

but the guy who spray painted his dog

to look like a goat

(with red, white and blue socks, no less)

was 100% committed

to the winning cause.

 


always short and almost true stories :: singing into the wind

music man

Thirty-five words or less. These stories show up and I do my best with them. This is my latest batch. The rest are here. Thanks for reading. -K

 

Today would be different.

She would be strong enough.

She’d be in control and

show she could lead.

Courage mustered,

the six-year-old reached for the leash

and called the dog for their morning walk.

 


 

He had always been

a risk taker,

a daredevil.

Rules need not apply

when one eats danger for breakfast,

with an adrenaline chaser.

It’s not over.

Leaving his walker behind,

he scaled the stepstool,

undetected.

 


 

“Walking,

that’s the hardest part

of being a mermaid,“ she said.

“Also, everyone asks if I know Ariel.

Which is ridiculous,

because there are lots of mermaids,

and it’s a really, really big sea.”

 


 

Practicing his cantata,

he sang into the wind.

He stood on the bluff by the bay,

sheet music in one hand, conducting with the other.

The percussion section rowed below,

keeping beat with their oars.

 


 

Part One:

He was dancing on the street corner,

spinning a “world’s best sandwiches” sign,

and wearing a giant pickle costume.

Last night’s cocktail party question of

making a living or making a life

wasn’t relevant today.

 

Part Two:

On a good day,

he imagines his giant pickle costume

is wearable art.

No one knows he’s listening to NPR podcasts

while spinning his sandwich sign.

He’s no fool,

just an artist in a pickle.

 

 

always short and almost true stories :: meeting in the middle of the road

I’ve been writing 35-word stories for a while now… they force me to edit to the essentials, not too much, just enough. They start in real life, and sometimes end there, or sometimes they resolve in my imagination.  This is my latest set. More stories here.

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We met at the train crossing. His shopping cart was overflowing, and he nodded hello. I smiled back. The train flew past us, and we crossed the tracks. Back to work, in opposite directions.

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For weeks I practiced for my first karaoke night. But when the trio of bikers, in studded leather vests and American flag headwear, began their Little Mermaid medley, I forgot everything I thought I knew.

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There are many miracles required to raise a child (or two) to healthy young adulthood. The one that boggles my mind is that we were capable of making school lunches, every day, for 19 years.

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The moment she stopped pretzeling herself to fit their schemes, she stood up, breathed deep, and straightened her shoulders. As she walked out the door, she grabbed the hot and spicy mustard as a souvenir.

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The ball flew, hanging in midair, waiting until the last moment to drop. The crowd tensed, collectively willing the ball into her glove. The team lost, she won, everyone cheered. Game over, life begins.