Category Archives: flash fiction

These are some shorter stories, focusing a bit more on the moment and less on character development and storyline.

Imagine That

Imagine that, one day, some day in the future, some popular kid loses a bet. Everyone loves this kid; the boys emulate him, the girls follow him around and stalk him on Facebook. Or if it’s really far in the future, some new version of Facebook. But getting back to the kid, let’s call him Eugene, because this is the future and in the future Eugene could become a cool name. So Eugene loses a bet, with his other football-playing buddies – or maybe chess-playing..we don’t know what the future holds – and he has to wear a pink bunny suit to school. He is honorable, so he follows through with this bet, and goes to school wearing a giant fluffy pink bunny outfit, large pink ears and all. But instead of kids pointing and laughing, they see him and just think “Wow, that Eugene, he’s so cool, only he could pull off a giant pink bunny suit.” His football-slash-chess-loving-friends see that he’s not the least bit embarrassed, and so they decide it’s now cool and do the same. They go to the store, and next thing you know, there’s a run on pink bunny suits for teenage-sized people, and they can’t be bought anywhere. Totally sold out. No store within a fifty-minute drive has anything even resembling this bunny suit. Sure, they have white, and blue, and some even have indigo, but those aren’t the cool ones. It HAS to be pink. Imagine if the principal somehow missed this trend because he was too busy in his office reprimanding deviants, and one day, he walks to the cafeteria because it’s tots day and everyone loves tots, and he finds a whole giant caf full of teenagers dressed as pink bunnies. Pink bunnies in line. Pink bunnies eating with friends. Pink bunnies doing homework. Reading books. Listening to iPods. Texting. Getting into a fight. What would he say? What in the world would he say?

Probably something like “What the hell is this, some kind of pink bunny rabbit brouhaha?”

Probably something like that.

This absurd story was inspired by a few words/phrases people asked me to use in a story, “pink bunny rabbit” and “brouhaha” by Jess and Tiffani, respectively. And if, for some reason, this story made you want to dress like a pink bunny rabbit, please click on the pic and you can buy those.

Underwierd

“I don’t like my underweird, daddy,” she said to up him as they stood in line at the market. He had no clue what she was talking about, but noticed she was doing the pee pee dance.

“Your what?”

“Underweird.”

“Do you have to go to the bathroom?”

“Huh?”

“The bathroom. Potty? Do you have to pee?”

She looked up at him and seemed to think about it. He couldn’t believe she was surrounded by all of that candy and not begging for some.

“No, thank you. I don’t have to go.” He was baffled. Why was she doing the pee pee dance if she didn’t have to pee? You don’t just do that awkward dance, grabbing at yourself and putting your knees together. He’d never seen her act like this before.

“Okay, let’s go to the bathroom,” he said to her, reaching out for her hand. She took it and he carried the basket of food towards the restrooms. The marmalade slipped from side to side due to its weight, which threw him off a bit as he walked. As he stopped in front of the restrooms, she pulled at his hand a bit.

“Can I wait out here?” she pleaded.

“What?”

“While you pee?” she said to him.

“You’re the one who has to pee,” he responded with his eyebrows up. He had no clue what was going on.

“Nuh-uh. I don’t have to pee.” She started pulling at herself again.

“Then what are you doing?” he asked, pointing to her hands. She began to do what he thought was the pee pee dance once more.

“It’s my underweird. I don’t like my underweird.”

“Your WHAT?” He looked up into the flourescent lights of the market as if God or the loudspeakers of the supermarket could help him. Meanwhile, she pulled her skirt up and pointed at her underwear.

“My UNDERWEIRD!” she said, pointing. He finally understood and pushed her skirt back into place.

“Okay hun. We can change them when we get home. And for the record, it’s underWEAR.”

“What’s a record?” she asked.

“Never mind.”

Drawing by the super-talented Larissa Meek.

Zinnias, Zinnias Everywhere

As I ran down the dirt path through the wood my sneakers kicked up a slight dirt cloud, creating a simple map for them to follow. I certainly didn’t want them to lose me; after all, they were just children and couldn’t be left unattended in a forest so dense with trees. Plus, I had no clue where I was going – we had never taken this particular path before.

The density of the trees began to thin as I huffed. The backpack of supplies kept thumping against my back with each stride. I was not in shape for such a run, but I could hear the giggles gaining on me as their little feet clomped on the same hard dirt as mine. The sun began to strobe into my eyes, momentarily blinding me for split seconds here and there. The path widened into a field as the brightness of the sun’s rays made it impossible to see. I stopped and put my hands on my knees for support as I panted in an attempt to regain my breath.

As my eyes adjusted and the children gained on me, the random rainbow of colors started to come into focus. Where was I? The field came into focus as my irises adjusted, and I saw a huge field of flowers. Zinnias, zinnias everywhere, zinnias taller than me.

The children caught up and asked for a drink from my backpack. I decided this field, this beautiful, amazing force of nature, was the perfect place for our picnic lunch.

This story was inspired by the phrase “Zinnias, Taller than me” shared with me by my friend Kerri. This comes from a project I started where friends give me random words and phrases, and I write whatever comes out. Hope you like it.

Speaking & Spelling

She heard a robotic voice, somehow reminiscent of the 1980s, echoing up the stairs, possibly from the living room. She poked her head out of the sewing room to listen.
I-L-O
“What the heck is that? What are you doing down there?” she yelled down to him.
V-E
“Seriously! What the heck is that voice? It sounds like a robot.”
She waited for an answer, but he stayed silent. It was just her and the strange robot.
Y
She had enough and dropped the fabric she was sewing onto the chair. “That’s it, I’m coming down there!” She was smiling now.
O
“If that’s what I think it is you’re in big trouble, mister!”
U
She jumped to skip the last few steps and slid a little on the hardwood floor because of her socks. As she grabbed the bannister and slid around it she had a view of the love seat across the room where he was sitting with a giant, sly grin on his face and a red machine of some sort on his lap.
“You didn’t!” she yelled as she ran across and jumped onto the love seat and hugged him.
“Like it? I found it at a yard sale down the street while you were sewing. Still works!”
She went to hug him again but instead, as he prepared for the love, she snatched the machine from his hands.
“I love Speak & Spell! I had this as a kid! I’m playing.”
First she ran her fingers across the multi-colored keyboard, then across the words Texas Instruments. She giggled at the little icon that included the state of Texas in the corner. Her finger landed on the Go button and it spoke in a monotone voice. “Spell-through.
“How do you know which through it is?” he asked her.
“Hell if I know. This thing is thirty years old! I’m just guessing!”
She pushed the buttons and the robot spoke the letters as she hit them.
T-H-R-O-U-G-H- that is correct. Now spell, love.”
She smiled and started again.

If you enjoyed this, please follow Dennis on Facebook.

Albert’s Arc

John was trying to communicate but just couldn’t get anyone to assist him. “Excuse eh mwa,” he said to a man who ignored him and continued through the Jardin de Petit Palais.
A tall thin man passing by overheard his struggles and approached.
“Bonjour, madame, monsieur,” he said in a thick French accent. He spoke in his native tongue to the man who nodded and walked away.
“Well, it’s nice to know not all Frenchmen are rude,” John said to the stranger. “I’m John, this is my wife, Mabel. Won’t you join us?” The man adjusted his glasses and sat down with them on a park bench.
“I’m Albert. First time in Paris?”
This time Mabel spoke. “Bon-joor, Al-bear,” she exaggerated his French name, trying her best. “Yes, it’s our first time. And we love it. Dja adoor,” she said with a smile. He smiled back, appreciative of her attempt.
“Don’t judge Paris on this man. Not all Parisians are like him. Where are you from?”
“New York City,” John said with pride.
“Ah, yes, ze big pomme…er…apple, yes? I’ve been zere once. I loved it. Very fast. What have you zeen zo far in Paris?”
“We climbed that tower of yours. It’s no Empire State, that’s for sure,” John responded.
“But beautiful and very romantic,” added Mabel. She adjusted her jacket and fixed her white hat.
“Ah, been to ze famous Parisian stores, hmm?” Albert asked her, regarding her hat. She giggled and blushed a bit. “It is very…you – as you Americans say. Where are you headed now?”
John pulled out a small travel guide and flipped to a specific page. “The Arch De Triumph.”
“Say it like ze Noah’s Ark. Ark.”
“Aha! The Arc de Triumph. Got it. Thanks, Al-bert,” he said, forgetting not to say the final t of his name. “Er…Al-bear.” Albert nodded in appreciation.
“I am heading that way, would you like me to show you?”
Mabel giggled again. “Oh, yes, please do join us! Is it okay Johnny? Imagine being shown around by a true-blue Frenchman!” John nodded and they were off.
The café was just three short blocks from the arc, so they barely had time to chat before they came upon the street they had to cross to get there. “Be careful crossing here, it is a very busy street and Parisians don’t always stop.” He laughed as Mabel looked nervous. “I kid, I kid. Come.”
As they approached, another man in some sort of uniform saw them approaching the building and headed for them. He spoke French to Albert, who responded quickly as if the two were great friends.
“Zis is my friend, Francoise, and he has agreed to let us go up to the top. Would you like zis?”
“Oh yes! Of course we would!” Mabel said. Francoise led them to a door and unlocked it with a smile.
“Bon journee!” he said to them after shaking Albert’s hand.
After many stone steps, they made it to the roof. Mabel ran to the stone wall that surrounded the top and pulled out her camera to take a shot of the Eiffel Tower.

“Look at this view!” she said with a gasp. “John! Look at Paris from up here! This is better than from the tower!” She snapped a few shots while John and Albert watched.
“We really appreciate this, Al-bear,” he said. “Mabel sure loves it up here.” She ran from side to side snapping shots and advancing the film in her camera as the two men watched on.
Albert walked to the wall facing the tower and sat. “You can see all of the arrondisements, from here. I am from the 4th, which is just zere,” he said, pointing. “And I work in the 11th, as a professor, that way,” he pointed again. “I’ve fallen in love in each of ze arrondisements except the 12th. No luck there, yet.” Mabel sighed and leaned into John, taking his hand. He was startled just the smallest bit because he wasn’t aware she was there listening.
“You’ve fallen in love that many times?”
“Oui. How many times pour vous?”
“Just the once…John!”
Albert sighed. “Perhaps I should be in ze twelfth.”
Mabel smiled. “Oh yes! That’s probably where she is! Waiting for you!”
Albert leaned back and let the sun warm his face. “I have a…friend there. Geraldine. She is lovely. I adore her. But…she is just a friend. She does not see me zees way.”
“Nonsense! You’ve got a stable profession, you’re good looking, what else could a woman want?”
He stood and placed his hands in his pockets, looking over the city in the direction of the twelfth.
“You should ask her on a date. Why not? She’d be crazy not to fall for you lickety-split, I tell you. Tell him!” she said, nudging her husband. He just stood looking toward the tower, pretending not to hear.
Albert’s eyes looked distant as he continued to stare into the twelfth arrondisement. “Perhaps,” he whispered.

A Moment at a Sigur Ros Concert

As Sigur Ros played melodically on the stage, a Chinese paper lantern gently rose, lifted higher, and disappeared on the horizon, creating a moment of pure magic.

Denial

Flash fiction typed onto a vintage photograph using an antique typewriter. A collection of similar pieces is available here for Kindle and here for paperback.

Long Lost William from Coney Island

They all gathered to hear the letter from their long-missing relative, William, Junior. His mother Betty called to her sisters from her alley window, who called their children from slumber, and they all met on the community patio outside of Betty’s home to hear the news. Frank, a second cousin, had secretly been taking bets that young Will had been killed in a bar fight, while his sister Evangeline insisted he had joined the Peace Corps and was saving the world.

Betty didn’t even change from the robe she wore around the house; as a matter of fact, she hadn’t even bothered putting on shoes or slippers. The others, some of whom took the time to get dressed in their day suits, some still in pajamas, all congregated around the family matriarch, whispering at the possibilities of what the letter might contain as she carefully pulled at the envelope. The markings on the postage said California, which was quite a long trip from William’s hometown of Coney Island.

They were waiting for Will’s youngest brother, Peter, who had run into town to get his father, only to have the elder William return before him. Moments later, Peter ran up to the group, panting. Nobody bothered to ask what had taken him so long as Betty pulled the three pages out and started skimming the letter before her public reading. A single tear ran down her cheek as she cleared her throat and prepared to read aloud.

Anthology Philly

I am super proud of Anthology Philly, a collection of short stories from up and coming Philadelphia Area authors. Here is the intro I wrote and never put into the actual book because I was so excited about it and forgot:

The City of Brotherly Love is known throughout the nation as a place with a depth of historical wealth. Philadelphia is the home to history-making locations such as Independence Hall, and the most famous bell in the country, The Liberty Bell. The “Love” statue in Love Park has become an iconic image of the modern art world. And who can ever forget the William Penn Statue and all of the urban legends surrounding that?

With such a magnitude of meaning, it’s no wonder that Philadelphia has become a cultural epicenter of the United States. The city boasts several arts and events such as First Friday, the Philadelphia Film Festival, the Philly Fringe Festival, and First Person Arts. Philly has recently evolved into one of the great cultural centers of our time.

Anthology Philly showcases work from some of the great new writers of the Philadelphia area. Each story pays homage to The City of Brotherly Love and all of the aspects of our wonderful metropolis. Even through generational changes, Philadelphia continues to touch its residents and visitors in a meaningful way. Some will always remember the Christmas light show at Wanamaker’s while others will think of the same show at Macy’s. Some will reminisce about the days of seeing Sinatra play Convention Hall while others love the memories of standing in line waiting for an R5 show at the Unitarian Church. In either case, the experience of Philadelphia creates memories and sparks creativity across generations.

The richness of Philadelphia’s culture has inspired the stories within this anthology.

We hope you feel the love.

Colorful Altercation

I plopped on the orange couch, shocked that I had experienced heartbreak in Ikea, of all places. It started with a conversation about possible plates for our apartment and escalated into something much bigger. We couldn’t decide on a sofa, either. Or an ottoman. In the years we’d spent together it was always like this; we couldn’t agree on anything. A movie. A television show. Which park to hike in. I guess I should have seen it coming.

She exploded. She’d had enough. I wanted the white plate with the gray circle. She wanted the white one with the orange line. And now I find myself on an orange couch with no ride home to an apartment that was ours, but will probably just end up hers.

I couldn’t help but wonder if this were the first Ikea breakup over color choices or if this was a common occurrence. It probably happens a lot, considering the strong colors they tend to prefer. Maybe they come onto a loudspeaker and say something like “We have heartbreak over color choices in the Living Room section,” and someone brings the broken person a complimentary plate of Swedish Meatballs.

An Ikea worker in his blue and yellow outfit approaches me, but his hands are meatball-less and he continues right by and into the shortcut to the children’s section.

Photograph by the talented Kate Hiscock. Click the image for her Flickr.