one hundred words: Takeoff

She feels what her twin feels, on the other side of the globe. He goes to the fish market and she feels his fingers slip over scales. He goes to the mountains and she feels air whipping against her cheeks. He goes to work and her heart grows thick and heavy. It’s a weight she didn’t know he felt. She wishes, from the other side of the world, that she could lift it. But how? She goes to the market, to the mountains. She sits very still and concentrates on the warm texture of his heart. She feels him lift.

one hundred word story #101

The girl had been living in the staff lounge three weeks before they found her stash. She’d bundled her jeans and sweaters behind the biggest lounge sofa and stuffed granola bars and candy wrappers beneath couch cushions. The office building was brand new; they’d only just furnished the third floor. All the administrators worked behind locked doors. “Does she work here?” the building manager asked, watching as the small woman put on her hat and slunk outside. “No,” said the janitor. “But how did she get in?” the manager pressed. “The same way you did,” the janitor said. “She applied.”

one hundred word story #100: Bean counter

It’s a tireless game, all this imagining. You want a universe and so you must invent it. You want a popsicle and so you must make it drip down your chin. You want a man with a Frisbee for a head, so you draw him. Etcetera. Other people--PhDs, MBAs, MDs, JDs, CFOs, UFOs—other people perform real services, create real goods. Other people can weigh what they’ve created in two hands. Other people chat you up at cocktail parties, say, What you do sounds so fun. You smile, but inside you know. Your hands are dirty from counting words.

one hundred word story #99: Red tide

He takes me to witness the red tide. The beach emits sparks as long as the tunnel waves exploding out of black water. When his feet touch sand, the ground blanches, white jets light up the rich black earth. We sit at the intersection of two glowing tides. The water leaks into the heavens: long, black, fluid, star-like waves extend skyward. I stay here until I, too, am bioluminescent. My freckles become stars, my hair its own Milky Way. He star-gazes my freckles. When I brush my hair, he sees shooting stars. I glow. It’s not forever, but it’s enough.

one hundred word story #98: Collage

Hey buffalo breath. Hopefully I've learned to stop falling in love with extremely beautiful women with brothel talent. Come to think of it, yes I now hate you. You got the clown nose. I was in the Mustang GT500 that passed you doing 144mph. I heard some B/S bout you, hope yr ok. To the girls in the past who led me on: Be real. Ditch the out-of-state vanity plates and the personalized bumper stickers. You looked super cute as a zombie looking for very dirty, dirty graphic designers. Must be from the South. oh well im used to it.

note: this is all found text from online missed connections ads

one hundred story #97: Upside down

She never used to let me hold her. She'd rub against my legs, purring, and when I’d pick her up she’d climb up my shoulders until she was atop my back. I’d walk sideways until she jumped off. Last night we found her on the deck. She smelled terrible. It's strange, holding an animal you know won't be alive long. As the night wore on she deflated in my arms. She preferred the outdoors, but the last night Josh slept here, she curled up alongside him—as if she knew. I turned sideways and when the time came, she jumped.

one hundred word story #96: Santa Barbara

So we're sitting around eating shish kabobs when Toya announces that the truck on the corner has a bed full of ice. "Dirty snow," she says. Half the house gets on its feet. I am still eating when Allie stuffs a snowball down my shirt. Ten minutes later, there’s a trail of snow prints on the kitchen floor, a miniature snowman (with orange peel arms) outside the front door, and ten wet housemates. Allie and I rendezvous to ambush JC. I launch a snowball into his room. It lands in his underwear drawer. Some things are too perfect to plan.

one hundred word story #95: Letting go

I was skating alone until a boy, seven or eight years old, zoomed across my path. We spun together in a little circle, clutching each other so we wouldn't fall. I grabbed his collar. Every time I tried to let go, he’d fall backward, losing balance. I clung harder. We kept twirling until we’d worn a slow groove in the ice. I let go. He stood there with his jaw ajar, as if about to blow a bubble."Are you all right?" I asked. He nodded and skated away--right into the little plastic shield. I never should have let go.

one hundred word story #94: Exoskeleton

In high school I had a crush on a single boy. One day I decided I would just not like him anymore. It was cold, January. I wanted to leave my feelings out in the safflower fields. I sat down amongst the cover crops, hugged my knees, and the feelings slid off like a snake's exoskeleton. I was molting. Eventually I stood up, leaving behind the ghost shell of infatuation and the one thing he once said that made me feel pretty. I ground my heels into the dirt, crushing the crush. That night, my skin grew in even thicker.

one hundred word story #93: High flyers

They were flying. I parked along the bluffs overlooking the water. I saw humans in the air, surfing marionettes tied to kites in the sky. The wetsuited men and women were strapped into wakeboards and harnessed to enormous kites, kites so large and powerful that the wind carried them over the crashing waves, into the air. They braided the water. There was at least a dozen of them skimming the water and leapfrogging into the air, shimmering over that velvet blue as if it were soft fabric. It was color, wind, water, sun, flight. I didn’t blink for thirty minutes.

one hundred word story #92: Baby talk

Victoria never liked babies. She hated their spittle, the high decibels of their cries, their complete reliance on the world. As a babysitter, she was aware of all the ways children could be broken. Playground slides. Sharp corners. Scissors. Babies were like overripe fruit. Adults had to be much tougher. One night a white bird appeared in her bedroom, dangling a swaddled thing in its beak. She shooed it outside but the damage was done: the baby had already soiled her sheets. I didn’t even have sex, she said to the baby, who, despite his overripe smell, had broken her.

one hundred word story #91: Heartbreak

She has a heart but all it pumps is blood. She can't fall in love. One night an infomercial changes everything. There it is: a love machine. It arrives two days later, this small contraption that slips right in her bra, as close to the atrium as she can get it. She wears it on her next date, and immediately Craig is more attractive, more wonderful. Months pass. Craig proposes. She has never been happier. But she forgot to read the fine print. The machine short-circuits on her wedding day. As she walks down the aisle, her heart races, bursts.

one hundred word story #90: A question of choice

A panel of men is selected to decide if health insurance companies should cover birth control. While they determine who gets protection, and how, a panel of women assemble in a room opposite. Their topic? Little blue pills. While the men turn away women needing medication, their own special prescriptions are not being filled. That night, at the pharmacy, the line is long. Later still, their wives are even more disappointed than usual. How could you, the men pout. What we do in the bedroom is not your business. Oh, but it is now, the women say. It is now.

one hundred word story #89: The bully

The bully spikes her chocolate milk with Tabasco. She watches the parade pass her by: the girls with their glossy magazines, the boys with their cards. Fear runs down their arms with sweat. Junior high is sticky. The bully spots her girl, the smallest sixth-grader, and pushes her against the wall. The girl crumples. This is it. This is her moment. Whatever it is the bully takes is never as good as the taking itself. But this time the girl leans forward and kisses the bully, a practiced maneuver, long and severe. It stings. The bully slumps; she’s been taken

one hundred word story #88: Legend in the making

She carries a pistol in her bra and a match in her boot. Occasionally the townsfolk notice the odd bulge in her shirt but they know not to ask questions. Not since the great stick-up of ’47, when One-Eyed-Wanda single-handedly saved the town from invading chipmunks. One day Wanda smells something suspicious wafting up from behind her cabin. She loads the gun, nestles it between her breasts, and goes downstairs. Two outlaws are roasting chipmunks on a spit. Wanda reaches for her boot and they freeze. She strikes the match and throws it on the fire. Bon appétit, she says.

one hundred word story #86: Crunchy

He’s synesthetic. He’s macrobiotic. He’s vegan. Al eats only raw food that, when written down, appears yellow, green, or brown – colors of the earth. His body is so pure, so unadulterated, that if you stared down his throat, you could read the Adidas swipe on the sole of his shoe. His body is a wind tunnel. When winter turns to spring, you can spot him out west of town, shooting through the fields like a kite. I found him once, tangled up in my cherry tree, and asked, Why? Al’s smile was beatific. Because it’s wonderful, he said, being raw.

one hundred word story #85: The curve

Isn’t it always a question of timing? She asks, hair swept across her face. I think it’s always about timing. George isn’t listening. He’s watching the race unfold. They are professional Nascar drivers. See how James takes that curve, nice and slow? She points. He knows when to gather speed. I don’t care how James takes the curve, George says. He turns away, buries his fists into his pockets. She stiffens. George, if this is about last night—. She senses him waiting. I can be patient, she says. Yeah, he says sadly, only when you’re in the driver’s seat.

one hundred word story #84: Transit

We park my bike next to yours in the shed overnight. The next morning, three small tricycles hide under my back wheel. The tricycles have my curvy handlebars and your racer stripes. My bike looks tired, her tires deflated. Your bike’s pedals spin midair. You reach for a trike, but it rolls out of view. Maybe they belong to the neighbors, you say. You reach for the door but I stop you. Let’s leave it open, I say. We’re not gone long, but when we come back, the bikes are gone. That night, we park our cars down the street.

one hundred word story #83: Migrant

Gertie wants to follow the birds south. She can see them from her window: Canadian geese, loons, the occasional egret or blue heron. It’s been a long autumn. Sometimes, on days when it is all too much, she gets on her bike at sunset and tails the birds around the pond. The birds fly in one great vee, swooping back to their nesting grounds in time for dark. But sometimes there is a straggler, a lingerer, a loner who considers the darkening sky an invitation and just keeps flying. Gertie understands. One day she’ll go. Until then, she waits, nesting.