one hundred word story: Werewolf

Gertie never liked Harriet’s boyfriend. He combed his hair into a ponytail and rarely bared his teeth. Maybe it was the loose way he buckled his pants. Maybe it was his hugs—long, excruciating embraces that crumpled women in his arms. Gertie resolved to be kind, until the day he surprised her after work. His face was darker, his eyebrows bushier, his hands mottled with scars. I feel like we can’t connect, he said, brushing one paw along her palm. The moon gleamed. Gertie called security. That night, she eyed the waxing moon, waiting for that long and plaintive howl.

for a longer version of this story, check out Fictionade Magazine starting April 21

Introducing the 100-word-story postcard

Starting in late April, I will be selling 100-word stories as postcards. All of the images and stories are my own; my boyfriend Ryan helped me upload, tweak and design the postcards. I will bring a set of postcards to Stories on Stage in Sacramento on April 27th, when a local actor will perform my short story, "Big Dog."

It's my goal to get these postcards out into the world, mailing stories around the globe. Spread the word!

one hundred word story #78: His story

When she tells him her major, he says, Let me tell you something about history. History is dust. History is the dirt under your fingernails. What are you going to do with that? She doesn’t say anything, so he says, I study political science. I’m going to make history. He hasn’t looked up from his drink, so he doesn’t notice when she walks away. But she does remember his face—-enough to recognize him ten years later, when he interviews for an internship at her law firm. Has your political philosophy changed? She asks. Oh that? He says. That’s history.

one hundred story #77: The sound of music

She used to listen to records with her father while they washed dishes. Her hands had to be dry when it came time to flip the record. She’d hold it with her thumb and forefinger before placing the needle. This is sacred, he’d say, peering through the record’s eye. Twenty years later, when she’d fit her music collection onto a single hard drive, she realized what was missing. Aretha, Bob, Etta—they were invisible files written in invisible code. She longed to hold something. That night, at the music store, she thumbed stacks of records, rubbing music into her hands.

one hundred word story #76: The letter

On your way out you say, write me a letter. I watch until your car is white speck on the horizon. Monday is lousy with rain so I let the drops fall on the page. Tuesday the trees are dewy with blossoms, so I squish some in the envelope. Wednesday a squirrel leaves footprints on the paper. Thursday I want to fit the rest of the world in, but there aren’t enough words. When Friday comes, you are here again, your books on my desk, your smell in my room, you say, don’t worry, baby, this is what I meant.

one hundred word story #75: Good girl

She always worked hard, took out the garbage, brushed her teeth every night. By all accounts, she was a good person. What was so special about good? Or was that just it—good wasn’t special? She decided to test her limits. She started small: biting her fingernails, lying about her age, skimping on tips. No one noticed. She took it up a notch, sending passive-aggressive emails, “forgetting” to file her taxes, letting her dog shit on the park lawn. She’d never felt better. Then she realized: good is defined in terms of bad – and bad felt so good. Thank goodness.

one hundred word story #74: When you're a skunk

Stefano and the skunks sport gang colors, comb their white stripes into mohawks, The cats stake out windowsills kitty-corner to the crime scene. The trouble started when the chief cat, Maurice, discovered the trash heap behind the student co-op and snuck his ladyfriends in for a late night snack. By the time Stefano’s crew showed up, the good stuff was gone. The ensuing battle was a sensory explosion: Maurice and his girls’ sharp claws could only do so much before Stefano launched his secret attack. The stench inspired a silence so raw, so reverent, the cats got drunk on skunk.

one hundred word story #73: Intelligent design

Elsie works nights as a nurse, volunteers every week with the elderly. She prays on her hands and knees. She is vegetarian, vegan on Sundays. Her clothes are second-hand. Then, one night, Jesus comes to her in a dream. He says, I can grant you one wish – peace on Earth, eternal life—anything. Her dream self asks for a tree that grows Louis Vuitton purses. Jesus is surprised but he obliges her. Elsie wakes up embarrassed. She’s nearly forgotten the whole thing when she steps outside and there it is: a tree decorated in designer purses. “Hell yeah,” she whispers.

one hundred word story #72: Bedside manner

"Open wide," the dentist says. Clarissa hates the dentist. She hates the smell of his gloves and the brusque way he flosses her teeth, see-sawing between molars like he secretly wants to saw them all down. He always asks he questions when his hands are deep in her mouth. One day he asks her to recite the Quadratic Equation, then waits while her mouth fills with saliva. Clarissa takes this as a sign, and studies before her next doctor’s appointment--a pap smear. When the gynecologist says “Open wide,” Clarissa recites the Pythagorean Theorem. “Um, other end,” the doctor says.

one hundred word story #71: Ninth life

Their mom said they could no longer afford the cat. Rudy filled a burlap sack with rocks. Gerald coaxed the old girl inside, her fur matted and dirty. Tom tried to block out the mewling, the incessant throb of her purrs. When they got to the bridge they saw that the riverbed was dry and cracked. The brothers looked the other way while Tom wound up. He didn’t notice the fabric shred just so. When he released, the bag was light and airy, the cat gone. There was no plop. The boys waited. And then: the bridge began to purr.

one hundred word story #70: Hit and run

Burt is a lonely medical student. He spends long hours studying in the library and as many hours at the pub, decoding graffiti on the wall. And then he meets his match: a leggy brunette with fascinating viscera. Her lab report says it was a hit and run. Burt cannot understand who could run from her. They keep her face covered but a single curl escaped below her jaw. He writes her poems on pub walls, leaves notes in biology textbooks. One day he sees a note balled in her fist. Fuck off, it reads. Burt hits her and runs.

one hundred word story #69: Penny Pincher

Stefan was afraid of money—the leathery, scratchy feel of green in his palms, the metallic smack of coins. He sold artisanal crafts at local flea markets, although he turned away cash-paying customers. His bottle-cap mobiles were a big hit. And then it occurred to him: his cure. He kept his eye on the asphalt for stray dollar bills. He spent weeks weaving bills together, George Washington’s face kissing Abraham Lincoln’s. The result was a patchwork quilt; Stefan’s biggest piece yet. Though a bit unwieldy, the quilt worked: for years it was his bargaining tool. His money never exchanged hands.

one hundred word #68: Speech impediment

Fern was born with a strange ailment. Every word she uttered, she could only speak once. She wished she could say her name, that beautiful way eff curled so easily into ern. Her parents devised a complicated sign language, along with color coordinated flash cards, to get her through each day. Whenever she made up a word her jaw would lock. Then Fern discovered William Shatner. More importantly, she found Esperanto. Because so few people spoke those words, there was enough room in the universe to repeat them. Each night before bed, she whispered dankon, dankon. Thank you. Thank you.

one hundred word story #67: Démon

I swore in church and so my babysitter washed my mouth out with soap. Organic, tea tree sandalwood soap, French milled vegetable soap the color and texture of satin. She didn't realize the soap would alter my vocabulary. After I'd choked back the silky suds, the first words I said were por quoi? Shut yer trap, she said. I tried but my lips bubbled. Voulez-vous dansez? Quit yer fooling, she whispered. She didn’t want to dance. Instead, she took me back to church to exorcise the demons, this time with good old-fashioned industrial strength Dial soap. Il n'a pas travaillé.

one hundred word story #66: Dangerous liaisons

Ernest never learned to compliment. "Your face," he says to Belinda, "looks like a thousand tiny suns, all converging in a massive eclipse." "Your eyes," he says to Emily, "are like apple seeds, except bigger, and shinier." “You’re pretty and everything,“ he says to his barista, “but really, it’s your insides I’m interested in.” This time it registers. Words don’t work; gestures do. He brings her a cup of coffee at her café. “For you,” he says. “Is this from down the street?” she asks. “This coffee is like my feelings—hot,” he says. “Then keep it,” she says, “please.”

one hundred story #65: The truth

Harriet could not handle the truth. It was so hot it burned her hands. She let it simmer on her stove. And there the truth sat, curdling in her kitchen until the smell drove her housemates away. But Harriet had grown accustomed to the air, which was so thick she had to cut through it with a flashlight to get to the sink. Then the fog grew so strong it sprouted arms and legs and shattered the kitchen windows. It wasn’t until the truth permeated the atmosphere that Harriet was forced to accept it: she never was a good cook.

one hundred word story #64: Art?

Her cellmates don't understand. "The thing was mocking me," she says, fists balled under her arms. "Some dude sprays red and black on canvas -- with a trowel -- and they call it art." Carmen paces, shoes clapping the linoleum. “Who’s to say that what I did wasn’t also art?” One of the women says, “Didn’t you piss on a painting?” Carmen isn’t listening. “I had color, shape, form, perspective.” The warden appears. “I was provoked. All artists want to provoke an emotional reaction, right?” He sighs. “Wait til you see what I can do with a trowel,” she says.

one hundred word story #63: Caving

Follow me, she says. He sidles up, one hand on his hip, edges inward. Mind the gap, she says. The sunlight splits above her head, a hundred shafts of yellow splintering through blackness. They hear water. A thousand things could happen here, where it’s dark and dank. A thousand invisible, undoable things could happen. He could lose her. He could lose himself. They both could lose the sun. Instead, they trundle forward, grabbing rock when they don’t grab each other. When it’s over, they measure dirt in their palms, grateful they can see. Next time, she says, bring a flashlight.

one hundred word story #62: If only Benjamin Button learned to surf

Let loose the rope and cock your knees. The water won't reach your chin. Watch the egrets hover. See how everything on the river does what the water wants? There's no fighting this. Even when you accept the cold, every moment you sit here, you float backward in time. You shrivel. Your jacket dwarfs you. Hit it, you want to yell, but you’ve waited too long. The boat, too, has morphed. You are tied to a lousy sapling; the engine sank miles back. Don’t panic. You made it to the sea. Surf those waves, and you just might grow up.

one hundred word story #61: Winning

The arena's full. Fireworks ejaculate off baskets as the players emerge one by one, unsnapping pants at the knees. We pay these men to play. We hope these games have meaning. When they score, we shout. When they foul, we squirm. When their opponents huddle, sweat beading their brows, we beat our chests, yell Give up--go home. If only we could sweat out our problems on some grand stage. If only we could slam dunk our tiny victories, paid bills and good health. If only our labor strikes were half as fruitful. When we win, they’ll buy our words.