micro - Fiction
Atheist by Raquel D. BAILEY
Lyrical Passion Poetry E-Zine © 2007-2012 P.O. Box 17331 Arlington, VA 22216
Liminal Realm by Dustin Putnam
A custard yellow and gray-green mottled hard-boiled egg yolk hangs low on the horizon, a pockmarked nightlight in the sky illuminating stray wisps of clouds pinned to the star speckled frontier overhead. Myriad facets of an agitated sea shimmer.
Hunched over my surfboard shrouded in a monk black wetsuit, I bob like a buoy staring into the void of night sitting chest deep in the wintry Pacific. Shivers vibrate from my bones sending shock waves through my body. A frigid offshore wind whispers in my ears and stabs at my back taunting patience, discipline, and endurance as I clutch my biceps straining to hold in warmth, and hold out against the creep of hypothermia.
Swells born in the oceanic wilderness thousands of miles away pass beneath me pounding the nearby rocky shoreline, the energy from a distant storm grinding the edge of the continent into cobblestones and sand like crumbs from a cookie. I float up over crests and down into troughs to the rhythms of the ocean, a babe in the cradle enjoying the motion. And wait.
A swell rolls out of the depths of night. Everything else ceases to exist, the wave a vehicle to an alternative universe. When racing down the face of a wave the world is left behind like slicing a nick in the fabric of time and entering another dimension for a fleeting moment before piercing back into reality. I slip into a liminal realm where the space between seconds stretches into something that matters. All burdens and concerns vanish. Where there is no cold. No problems. No pain. No job and no responsibilities. Not a worry in the world. There is no world. There is only a single minded focus on the wave and my relation to nature. And nothing else matters.
In Ink by Ruth Schiffmann
“Don’t let the steam get you,” Mom says.
I lift the lid from the pot and add a handful of noodles.
“I hope when it’s my turn I don’t give up living just because I’m dying.”
Hurt streaks across my mother’s jaundiced face. She takes a sharp breath and blows it out through pursed lips; the way she always deals with the storms between us.
She places a cantaloupe on the bamboo cutting board, cuts thin slices and lays them like a fan on a paper plate. This is her art now.
Billy comes through the door dripping sweat. The sprawling umber tree tattoo she gave him when her art lived and breathed glistening on the smooth skin of his back. “Cripes, Ma, it’s too hot to be cooking.” He turns the fan to high. His hair blows back. The creases in his forehead remind me that he’s getting older. I’m not far behind. Mom offers the plate of cold fruit and he grabs a handful.
“Everything’s temporary,” I say. She finally looks at me.
“What is it you want?”
I pull out a photo of She, Billy, and I, faces crammed together, eyes fierce with expectation: our “I Will Survive” picture taken the day Dad left, so long ago. I slip my shirt over my shoulder and point to the spot where she’ll ink our faces. “Together forever,” I say. She takes a labored breath. When she looks up there’s a hint of the old fierceness in her eyes.
Summer Picnic by James Tipton
Edith could never forget the Pioneer Pump Company Summer Picnic fifty years earlier at Brookside Park.
That day the wife of the company president drew out of a hat Edith’s partner for the three-legged race. That partner turned out to be the new Director of Maintenance, a tall and muscular man named Eugene. They were first to cross the finish line.
As Eugene loosened the baling twine that held their legs together, he whispered to her, “I think I’ve found myself a winner.” A few minutes later she was digging into barbecued chicken with Eugene and his maintenance crew and their wives.
Now, decades later, on a summer afternoon, Edith stretched back on the bed, smiling as she remembered.
Eugene lay beside her, dying.
“Diabetes complications,” said the doctor, and one leg had already been amputated below the knee.
He leaned over to Edith and tried to wink, “Honey, I feel like I already have one foot in the grave.”
Edith rolled toward him, sliding her own foot over to the space where she used to rest it over his each night.
“Honey,” she said, “You know what silly thing I did that day we won the three-legged race together?”
“The silly thing you did that day was letting me begin to talk you into a life together."
“No, Eugene. The silly thing I did was after our race. I slipped those pieces of baling twine into that bag I always carried.”
“Honey, you’re hopelessly sentimental.”
Edith sat up. She stuck her hand under her pillow and pulled out the old twine. She began tying what was left of his right leg to her left leg.
“Edith, what are you doing,” he murmured, tears in his eyes.
“Just reminding you, Eugene, we run all of our races together.”
Before and After by Austin Alexis
She never had a boyfriend. But she went to heaven, where an angel accompanied her everywhere.
The Trigger by Darrell Lindsey
Remembering that she liked the scent of Old Spice, he added more than a few drops of it to the last letter he ever wrote.
A Pre-Season Game by Daniel Gallik
Jimmy and I were watching 'Cincy' playing the Jets. We were over at his apartment. He lives on the third floor of Cellofane Towers- on 4th, in the city by the Ohio River. Jimmy says, "Their coach is fat. The NFL ought to outlaw that kind of thing."
I grunt, "Sure."
Jimmy kept at it, "I mean, fat athletes and their coaches aren’t what America is about. We all should stay slim, not chew tobacco, or smoke, or drink booze or play around with women, their suggestive bodies."
I took a chance, replied, "Maybe you ought to run for office." For a sec, Jimmy said nothing, then he yelled, "Well, listen Dan, I remember meeting this tackle who played for the Browns when the Browns were a damn good team. I was living in Eastlake near Cleveland. He was at a Lujan’s eating breakfast. He was smoking Camels as he was downing his three eggs over easy, sausages and home fries. I came right up to him, told him he was wrong. He said, "Get away from me little boy." Man, that really ticked me off. I was ready to hit him and his slutty girl friend. But I didn’t. You know why?" Of course, I asked Jimmy what held him back.
Jim said, "My religion. I’ve always been religious."
INNARDS - by Gary LeBel
Tommy and Rae were the caretakers of a ramshackle turn-of-the-century mansion that had once belonged to a now forgotten New England poet. In the parlor stood a rickety old Bluthner whose sour complaints could easily fill up the last square inch of a house crammed to its cornices with leather bound books, knickknacks, antique furniture and assorted Victoriana, all glazed over with about a quarter century’s dust. The two spacious rooms the caretakers had redone and occupied upstairs were Spartan, if not a tad post-industrial, but cozy nonetheless. Tommy was an aspiring art star but worked as an occupational therapist at the same convalescent home where I was an orderly. That OT could work a room like Bill Clinton, and goad even the most hardened of grumps into slathering a loaded brush with passion against a canvas.
One day Tommy announced a field trip he’d planned to none other than the rambling old mansion which also fronted a salt water inlet; I was to come along and help him look after his elderly ‘legion’. He’d arranged everything.
When we arrived on the day of the outing, I watched from the bus window as one of the patients, a tall and spry old salt in his eighties, stepped off first and made a beeline for the water. Squatting down on the banking, he reached in and pulled up a brownish shell: in less than ten seconds he’d pried it open, and was working the innards down his throat like a heron. I couldn’t help laughing, and when Tommy heard me, he looked instantly where I was looking, and saw Harry stretching his neck, massaging his Adam’s apple and swallowing profusely. Tommy leapt off the bus, parted the crowd, threw his hands up in alarm and ran to the water.
“HARRY! For god’s sake WHAT are you doing? What did you eat? Are you choking?” the OT demanded, scolding him as if he were a ten-year-old. Harry smiled and licked his lips. Tommy, whom I’d mistaken the last six months as a devil-may-care artist type, grew irate. “Don’t EVER eat that stuff,” he warned. “It could be poisonous, full of red tide or something. Not on MY field trip.” The others gathered around, having never seen their hippie therapist so angry.
“Look here,” Harry said. “My loving son and daughter-in-law got power of attorney over my bank account and my house, the one I built and raised him in. First they persuaded my doctor to have my driver’s license revoked, then they sold my Mercedes, yes, my rag-topped Mercedes, and it’s been a goddam feeding frenzy ever since. Then they put me in that place that you, yes you, young man, get to punch a time card and go home from to that pretty wife of yours every afternoon.” And looking Tommy straight in the eyes he said, “So if I want to slide a raw clam down my throat, I’ll damned well do it! I don’t need your permission.”
Just then came an awful crash from inside the house, and everyone knew it had something to do with a piano, though instead of being played, it sounded as if it had fallen off its legs to the floor—it rang for a full minute. Tommy dropped his head and groaned. Harry snickered. Four patients were waltzing into the woods like faeries.
The Tiff - by Henk de Kruyff
She went through her morning ablutions perfunctorily. Messing up her hairdo was the natural consequence of the previous evening’s tiff and the bad night that followed. The polished copper reflected an image unworthy of a queen.
The mountain carried the palace like a crown. Numerous sandstone apartments hugged the mountaintop. Colonnaded promenades connected the apartments to the main part of the palace that formed the true summit of Olympus, the seat of the Gods. As the sun peeked over the horizon, the palace came slowly awake.
She looked out while she walked through the open colonnade to the banquet hall where breakfast would be waiting. She could tell the main character of her thoughts had not entirely cleared his mood either. Post storm clouds roiled and thunder still grumbled.
He had brought it upon himself. Him and his pompous airs! She sulked. Even before their marriage they had been equals. She, Hera, daughter of Cronus and Rhea. His sister-wife. She was as much the royal as he was. And she was the elder sibling!
The Sea had calmed but it still lapped with abeyant hunger at the ruins of what had been a small fishing harbour the day before. A tempest unlike anything even the elders could remember had thrown the full force of the sea at the defenseless fishing community. The morning found the village in turmoil. Six ships lost, deaths among both rescuers and un-rescued, houses wrecked, the grapevines ruined.
Lying on a hilltop just outside the village and as a consequence the only building that had survived the onslaught unharmed, stood the village temple. A simple affair of a few columns and a rectangular stone building. From it echoed the wailing of the priests, adding to the tumult below.
“Had they displeased the Gods this much?” they asked.
Qualms by Jane Banning
I watched his eyes– blue, blue eyes. I saw sailboats on an October lake - a lake filled with silky water, smooth at sunset - blue eyes like a slice of turquoise Caribbean curving against white Mexican sands. Blue like freshly-laundered denim over hard muscles.
He fixated on my mouth, his eyes calm, inquiring, knowing, leading me. He succumbed to my mouth, my lips, time and again, as if to the ocean’s depths. We always surfaced somehow but yet I always left him, unable to stay, unable to give in, unable to follow through.
His fingers slid against my lips. They’d been there before. I knew his touch. He leaned down to me, his fingers slippery now, gentle, inside. I relaxed finally and dived into the blue, deep lake of him.
“I promise not to hurt you,” he said.
“Alright,” I said. “Alright.”
And he started the drill.
Crumbling Bridges by Jane Banning
“The bridge footing gave way. Just crumbled like sand,” said the man from the semi-truck in front of me. His eyes were clear as quartz and he laid a warm palm on my arm as I sat in my car. Traffic was backed up for miles.
“Who the hell you talking to?” my husband asked, on the other end of the cell phone. His voice sounded murky, miles away at home.
“Just a guy,” I said. “I’ll call you back.”
The man took his hand away and eased it into his pocket, rocked back on his heels, exhaling a languid breath.
“How long will we be stuck here?” I asked him.
“CB radio says it’ll be a while. Long as it takes for this whole line to get turned around.” His forearms glinted with golden hairs, lying down flat and easy.
“It’ll be hours, won’t it?” I asked, feeling my face glow with an expected heat.
“Probably. Nothing anyone can do but wait and make the best of it.”
My phone buzzed again like an angry insect in my lap.
“Can’t you tell me what’s going on?” my husband asked. “Jeez.”
“Nope,” I said, something settling in me like warm pebbles finding their places. “All anyone can do is wait and make the best of it.”