Archive for fiction

Beth, Clary, and Ben (a scene)

Posted in creative writing, dialogue, fiction, flash fiction, short stories, short story, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , on December 14, 2017 by Robert Crisp

After a long bout of freewriting (which included trees exploding into instant bloom, a computer coducting a therapy session with a teenager, and all manner of peculiarities), this scene emerged. I don’t think there will be a second part, but who knows?

“Hey, you remember when we all had phones?” Clary asked.

Ben popped his head up from behind the sofa. God only knew what he was doing back there. Looking for change? Scraps of food? His dignity? “You mean landlines?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Clary said. “Those were good days.”

“How?” I asked. I didn’t want Ben in this, or any, conversation. In fact, it would have been nice if Ben had found a discarded piece of pizza crust, popped it in his mouth, and then choked on it. Such are my fantasies.

“Because you had to answer the phone if it rang,” Clary said. “You couldn’t just ignore it.”

“Well, there were answering machines,” I pointed out.

“Okay, Beth, before answering machines. Those were the days.”

“I think I’m stuck,” Ben muttered from behind the sofa.

Clary and I ignored him. “The good old days were never actually good,” I said. “At least, not as good as we remember.”

Clary shrugged. “I think they were objectively better than now,” she said. “People were more connected. We weren’t all stuck on our phones and Facebook and Instagram and all that shit.”

“A little help here?” Ben said, a little more loudly.

“Yeah,” I went on, “but we still had problems. People may have been more connected, but as long as we’re all big, walking bundles of neuroses, there are issues. I think things are better now. We can segment our craziness and choose to not inflict it on others. That’s why I don’t have any friends. Present company excluded, of course.”

“You’re such a cynic.”

“I’m literally stuck behind the couch!” Ben wailed. “Will one of you get off your asses and move it so I can get out?”

“Fine,” I sighed. Clary hopped off the sofa and she and I moved it forward a few inches. Ben, sweat dripping into his excuse of a beard, crawled free. “Jesus, that was awful,” he panted.

“You’re such an idiot,” I said, shaking my head.

“Hey!” Ben protested. “Why are you being so mean tonight?”

“It’s my talent,” I said and walked toward the door. My people meter was full, and it was time to make myself scarce.

The Severed Finger (flash fiction)

Posted in characters, creative writing, fiction, flash fiction, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , on November 29, 2017 by Robert Crisp

This scenario ran through my head as I drove to work. 

fingers

Image courtesy of Flickr and the Creative Commons license

They both stared at the severed finger on the kitchen table.

“Well,” Daniel said, “that’s not what I was expecting.”

“I can’t imagine any scenario in which a severed finger is what you’d expect,” Heather replied.

“You lack imagination.”

The two were silent were a few moments. The finger didn’t speak or move, but Daniel pretended it did. He couldn’t quite make out what it said.

“Look,” Heather said, “we just need to decide what to do. I vote we put it on ice.”

Daniel stepped closer to the table and inspected the finger. It looked to be an index finger, rather tanned, not terribly wrinkled. A youngish finger. “It depends on who it belongs to,” he said.

“Why does that matter? If someone lost a finger, we should save it for him, right?”

“Or her. Unless she’s a horrible person. Then we might be doing the world a favor by depriving her of the finger. Maybe she couldn’t get up to as much evil if she was a cripple.”

“Missing a finger doesn’t make you a cripple,” Heather said. “Besides, that’s not a nice term.”

“Cripple?”

“Yes.”

“I guess so.” Daniel scratched his chin. He was grateful to be in possession of all his digits. “Do you know,” he asked, “what a polydactyl is?”

Heather thought and then said, “Someone with an extra digit.”

“If the person that lost this digit is a polydactyl, then he doesn’t need this finger.”

“Or she doesn’t need it, as you pointed out. I find it funny that you’re concerned about the gender of this person but you’re quite cavalier about using the term ‘cripple.’”

Daniel smiled. “I’m a mystery wrapped in an enigma.”

“Something like that.”

The two continued staring at the finger, no close to deciding what to do than when they first entered the room.

Leaves for a Pillow (short fiction)

Posted in character development, characters, creative writing, dialogue, fiction, flash fiction, short stories, short story, story telling, surreal, Uncategorized, writing, writing craft with tags , , , , on November 27, 2017 by Robert Crisp

I remember writing this creepy little story while at my son’s taekwando practice…and then, as I do with so much of my writing, completely forgot about it. I did a little tweaking here and there and am mostly satisfied with it. Why you would gather leaves for a pillow is beyond me, but that’s what the character insisted on doing, both during the first draft and this morning. So be it.

Now that my health is back under control, I’m writing again but not as frequently. I have zero interest in submitting poetry, so I’m taking a break from that. Instead, I’m combing through stories and poems written during the last year and seeing what can be salvaged.

Here’s the story. As always, thanks for reading.

 

leaves.jpg

Image courtesy of Flickr and the Creative Commons license

 

“You’re very kind,” the girl said, kneeling on the ground and gathering leaves.

The boy watched. He wasn’t kind, but the girl didn’t need to know that yet.

When she had enough leaves, the girl walked back toward the farmhouse. Not enough for a pillow, but a good start. The boy followed but stopped on the porch while the girl opened the door and went in.

“Do you want to visit for a while?” the girl asked. “Mama won’tt mind. She’ll be in the kitchen, fixing supper. Daddy’s gone to town for the day.”

The boy studied the girl. He liked her bone structure, her fine ankles, the tilt of her head and the slow blink of her eyes. She dazzled in a bar of sunlight. He nodded.

“You don’t say much,” the girl remarked, turning and facing the boy. “Or anything, really. Can you talk?”

The boy nodded.

“But you don’t have anything to say right now?”

The boy nodded again.

“Well, then,” the girl said, “I need to get these leaves in a pillow case and gather more. I’ll introduce you to Mama first. Come on.”

The boy followed the girl into the kitchen, where a tall woman stood over a sink snapping beans. She turned and regarded the girl and boy.. “And who’s this?” she asked.

“I don’t know his name,” the girl said. “I found him in the woods. He’s very kind.”

The boy studied the girl’s mother. He didn’t like her bone structure. The girl didn’t favor her at all, lacked the woman’s long face and protruding brow.

“We don’t take in strays,” the woman said. “We don’t have an extra plate, if it’s food you’re after, and we don’t need help on the farm.”

The boy didn’t move. The girl said, “He doesn’t talk.”

“I can see that,” the woman said. “Is he deaf?”

“No,” the girl answered.

“This is my house, you understand?” the woman said, tossing the beans into the metal colander and closing in on the boy. “You’re not welcome here, no matter what my daughter says. Go back to where you came from.”

The boy still didn’t move. The girl said, “Can he help me put leaves in my pillow.”

“No, he can get himself out of here.”

The boy flicked his right hand and the woman disappeared. The girl gasped. “Where’d she go?” she demanded.

The boy shrugged.

The girl thought for a while. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad with her mother gone. She could be quite cruel, and the boy was very kind. Her father might be a bit put out. Maybe the boy could make him disappear, too.

“Would you like to help me now?” the girl asked.

The boy nodded and followed the girl upstairs to her room.

Awake (part 1)

Posted in short stories, short story, surreal, Uncategorized, writing, writing craft with tags , , , , , on November 16, 2017 by Robert Crisp

mannequins-in-love-2

This is part one of my story about mannequins coming to life at night, a scenario I first read in a Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) style book when I was young. I’ve since looked for the book online with no success (this might be it, but I can’t be sure). The book chilled me to the bone, but I read and re-read it, trying out different outcomes. If you’re familiar with the CYOA books, you know the endings can be quite dark. In one ending, your left as prey for the evil, animated mannequins.

In my mannequin story, there’s no boy or girl trapped in a store after the mall closes. It’s a love story, and a sad one, at that. I haven’t done more than spot editing, so there are undoubtedly mistakes and things I’ll change in the final draft.

If she stood away from the security lights and stayed in the shadows, Ashley almost looked human, which made Barry more than a little uncomfortable. They had agreed to be themselves with no adornment, but Ashley had applied lipstick and eyeshadow, and she had found a wig. Her lips were curved in a permanent smile, even when she was upset.

Barry looked around the department store, but he didn’t see any other mannequins about. They used to all animate at once, exactly fifteen minutes after the mall closed. It was magical, all of them gathered in the center of the first floor by men’s casual wear, looking at each, flexing their plastic fingers which didn’t move more than a little, but any movement was a miracle.

That had been close to a year ago, and Barry supposed it was inevitable that the newness of consciousness had worn off. That still didn’t account for the different animation times…or the fact that some of the mannequins didn’t animate at all.

Barry took a few halting steps toward Ashley, suddenly unsure of himself. He considered changing his shirt, a complicated task that usually required another mannequin, but he decided against it. He would stick with the plan he and Ashley made. If she wanted to break it, fine. She was her own…person? Her own entity? Barry didn’t know. He imagined he felt a headache coming on, which he knew wasn’t possible. He could barely feel when he touched something, as if he had stunted nerve endings. Perhaps I do, Barry thought. Perhaps I have a functioning brain, but the rest of the system isn’t complete. Would it ever be complete? Barry liked to think so.

“Good evening,” Barry said to Ashley. He remained formal with her. It seemed the right move.

Ashley didn’t turn to face him. Her cool, flawless face stared at an unseen point on the shadowy wall. “You don’t approve,” she said after a moment.

“I don’t approve of what?”

“The lipstick. The eye shadow.”

“It’s not that don’t approve,” Barry said. “I just thought we were going to be ourselves.”

Ashley turned. Barry had to admit that she looked good. Somehow, she had expertly applied the lipstick and eyeshadow, and the blonde wig was situated perfectly on her normally bald head. She had always been more flexible than Barry. She had almost a complete range of motion in both her hands, and she could turn her neck more than a few degrees without causing tiny fractures in the plastic. Other mannequins usually whispered jealously about Ashley’s abilities, but Barry saw none of them around tonight.

As he scanned their corner of the department store, he realized they were the only two that had animated. He saw Evan in his corner, wearing the store’s latest fall jacket, along with a red scarf, jeans, a flannel shirt, and hiking boots. Beside him, Joey–no more than ten if he’d been human–wore the same outfit but in a smaller size. From where he was standing, Barry couldn’t see Elizabeth, Cierra, or Tonya. He also couldn’t see Alex, the half-mannequin with no eyes whom Elizabeth usually carried to the center of the store.

He heard no voices. He and Ashley were only ones awake.

Perhaps a Little Fiction to Change Things Up

Posted in fiction, short stories, short story, writing, writing craft with tags , , , on November 10, 2017 by Robert Crisp

I’ve sensed lately that I need a break from poetry. Perhaps it’s all the rejections I’ve been getting. I certainly want a break from submitting poems. I still have a few out there, and maybe they’ll find a home.

I have a few stories running through my head. One is about mannequins who come to life at night in a department store, two of whom have fallen in love and find immense difficulty mapping the emotional and physical terrain in which they find themselves. Another springs from a wrong number text I received last night, and the other has something to do with this:

junk

There’s a story hiding in this big ol’ pile of scrap metal

I’ll post the stories as they progress, as I used to, breaking them up into parts. I generally do little editing and revising of my fiction that I post until I’m finished with the story. I like having a record of the piece as a work in progress.

Here’s the beginning of the tale of the love-smitted mannequins:

If she stood away from the security lights and stayed in the shadows, Ashley almost looked human, which made Barry more than a little uncomfortable. They had agreed to be themselves with no adornment, but Ashley had applied lipstick and eyeshadow, and she had found a wig. Her lips were curved in a permanent smile, even when she was upset….

So stay tuned, and thanks as always for reading.

Minister Hot Tea Denies a Bird a Proper Burial (surreal fiction)

Posted in creative writing, fiction, flash fiction, freewriting, story telling, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , on October 31, 2017 by Robert Crisp

This oddness poured out a few days ago. Enjoy?

Minister Hot Tea Denies a Bird a Proper Burial

“I give not a fig for how the bird died,” said Minister Hot Tea, “nor do I wish him to be buried on this sacred ground. A pauper’s grave for the bird, now see to it.”

Minister Hot Tea’s wife was an unwilling accomplice, but she had run grown weary of playing Go Fish with ghosts, so she gathered the bird’s broken body and transported it to the burial ground just outside of Gehenna.

She said a hot, hasty prayer that got tangled in the clouds and lingered in the air long enough for the bird to reincarnate, leave the nest, and glide through an immaculate sunset, his heart beating in time with his strong, blessed wings.

Ms. Volta and Mr. Charlie Pincushion (Surreal Flash Fiction #2)

Posted in creative writing, fiction, flash fiction, surreal, writing with tags , , , , on July 7, 2017 by Robert Crisp

“Well, fuck me on a Tuesday,” said Ms. Volta, inspiring others around her to remove their clothes and curse. The others were blank slates, genderless, and were fond of violin solos that made them cry.

“It’s not Tuesday, Ms. Volta,” Mr. Charlie Pincushion said delicately. His veins, blue and beautiful, trembled in anticipation. His heart thundered like a little horse tramping in the grass.

“No, it isn’t,” Ms. Volta sighed. She dismissed the others, who left their clothes behind. Ms. Volta burned them. She and Mr. Charlie Pincushion roasted frogs over the flames.

“I found a new job,” Mr. Charlie Pincushion announced. Frog juice dribbled down his bearded chin.

Ms. Volta was not turned on, but she wasn’t hungry any more, either, so that was okay. “What was wrong with your old one?” she asked.

“Benefits were bad. Didn’t include enough…you know.”

“No, I don’t.”

Mr. Charlie Pincushion blushed a royal shade. “It didn’t include coverage for murder,” he whispered.

“Ah, yes. Good murder coverage is hard to come by these days.”

Mr. Charlie Pincushion ate the last of his frog. “This new job has great murder coverage, though. It’ll kick in after thirty days. After that, I’ll get back to it.”

“Any prospective targets?” Ms. Volta cleaned her nails with a French knife.

Mr. Charlie Pincushion smiled. “A few.”

“Anyone I know?”

“Steve Handler, the Microscopic Twit.”

“Interesting. I don’t have anyone in mind. I’m sure that’ll change, though.”

“If you ever need some ideas, Ms. Volta—”

Ms. Volta raised a thin hand. It flickered in and out of existence. “No, no. I can find my own people to kill.”

The two sat in front of the burning clothes until night fell. As the moon climbing into the purple sky, Mr. Charlie Pincushion fell asleep. Ms. Volta stabbed him in the heart at 2:34 AM. Mr. Charlie Pincushion’s eyes flew open and stayed that way.

“If it had been a Tuesday, I would have fucked you instead,” Ms. Volta said softly.