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.

 

maybe, california :: always short and almost true stories

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My weekend in a few thirty-five word stories. Mostly true.

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The hammock was perfect from across the pond. Closer, she saw a huge hole where her head would lay, and another for her bottom. Perfectly imperfect, but perhaps not intended for her secret afternoon nap.

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I saw the town’s name on the map, but didn’t believe it until I came upon the sign on the road. Maybe, California. Does growing up here mean you’ll always have a questionable past?

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They were riding their bikes 100 miles as a weekend adventure. However, plans didn’t include riding into a 1,000-pound bear as their paceline sped down the mountain. Everyone was surprised—most of all, the bear.

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He wasn’t the real Joe Montana, but here in the mountains, they weren’t so sure. He sold fancy Barcaloungers from the tiny shop on the corner, where his Scottish accent added  mystery, charm and sales.

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The empty highway made sense. So did the cattle. Barns held together by spider webs and spit. Even the llamas. But the red high heels, abandoned by the side of the road, those troubled me.

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I began writing 35-word 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.  Some of my favorites are in the masthead above.

Photo by Kim Tackett, Maybe, CA.

 

 

midsummer (always short and almost true) stories

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More thirty-five word stories (sometimes shorter, never longer), midsummer edition.

I refuse to call it a losing streak until my team loses 15 games in a row. Then it is simply a winning streak waiting to happen. Baseball’s seasonal affliction defies logic and common sense.

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Smooth hills, smothered in fog. A gray bay and the biggest pelican I’ve ever seen, fishing for breakfast. Still in bed, coffee is dripping, and it’s a good morning for all of us.

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Discovering the flaws in our individual default problem-solving solutions was surprising and somewhat helpful. However, the fact that we were currently swimming next to our capsized kayak, 100 yards from shore, was problematic.

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Initially I was concerned when the periodontist prescribed seven days of soft foods post-gum surgery. Once I realized that cheese, pate, lemon bars and wine qualified, I was more than happy to follow doctor’s orders.

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It was slightly unnerving when she noticed how much her Sunday morning communion cup resembled last night’s shot glass. She closed her eyes, drinking up and asking for forgiveness, just one more time.

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Overheard: “We’ve been married fourteen years, so technically we’re in a same sex marriage­—same sex all the time.” He said it like it was a good thing, and it made me laugh out loud.

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I didn’t exercise because I’m grumpy. I’m grumpy because I didn’t exercise. I know, and know that you know. You know I know that we both know. So let’s just agree to agree, silently.

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The cousins squirmed, waiting the 100 hours between dinner and dusk on the 4th of July. It wasn’t fair, much less patriotic, to request patience, when they weren’t even sure what they were waiting for.

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I began writing 35-word (sometimes shorter, never longer) stories as a result of my failed attempts at a decent six-word story. I always felt 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. Some of my favorite past stories are up at the masthead.

always short and almost true stories :: the one with the lavender piano

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I began writing 35-word (sometimes shorter, never longer) stories as a result of my failed attempts at a decent six-word story. I always felt 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.

When I declared a Secret Dish Washing Standoff, he said it wasn’t so secret. It had been a 35-year standoff, and someone always drew the sponge first. Clearly, it wasn’t me.

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By day she studied geophysics, by night she was a belly dancer. Alicia was a believer in consistency. Also, stability, whenever possible.

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I tried the deep dive into adulthood and still don’t feel grown up. I’m testing the shallow end of the maturity pool today and bought four matching wine glasses. Big ones. That should do it.

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He has Dr. Seuss boxers. Also, Batman briefs. He is 59 and unapologetic about his choices in life, including the Tigger sweatshirt he’s worn for 19 years. And yes, there is something sexy about that.

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It was ridiculously hard, and I whined myself through the day. This is why some people live in caves, he said, and I was comforted to find a realistic solution. I’m going in, I said.

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I found myself staring at her nose ring, suddenly feeling old and curious, and not in a good way. I worried about her future nose hairs. When they show up (and they will), then what?

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Optimism. Hope. Ecstasy. Disbelief. Disappointment. Despair. Repeat. Baseball.

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Carlos dreams of being a concert pianist. He works at the carwash, the one with the lavender piano on the corner, just beyond the detailing area. Sometimes he practices during breaks, thrilling everyone. Even himself.

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Photo by Kim Tackett. Previous sets of 35-word stories are here, here, here, here , here, and here. Some of my favorites are up at the masthead.