Free Flash Fiction: “A Revised History of Earth”

A Revised History of Earth

Sherla was lying on her belly on her bed, one of the two tiny singles in the tiny cabin she shared with one of the research girls that just came on board. “Mattie,” she said without looking up from her nail polish, “you can keep talking if you want but I don’t really care about any of that.”

“But the tests are conclusive,” the other woman replied, waving her tablet in the air. “I’ve got it all right here.”

“Don’t care,” Sherla repeated. She applied another strip of opaque black polish to a blank nail and watched as it slowly expanded to cover her nail perfectly. The backs of her hands were criss-crossed with faint scars, leftovers from much worse damage the regen machines back at the base had almost finished repairing, before she got called up to the ship. Still, they were good hands, she thought.

Mattie wasn’t giving up though. “You don’t care that the ruins we found on Planet X are actually older than any known civilization on Earth?” she asked.

“Nope.”

Mattie sat down on the edge of her own bed with a heavy sigh. “I mean… that’s a big deal to me.”

Sherla turned her head to look Mattie in the eyes. “I care that you care, honey,” in between blowing on her nails to set the polish. “But I think we just see this two different ways.”

Mattie shook her head, barely ruffling her close-cropped curls. “How’s that?” she asked.

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Free Flash Fiction: “Breakfast on the Moon”

Breakfast on the Moon

Your AI beeps at you until your eyelids flutter open and your eyes, slowly, adjust to the screen in front of you, projected inside your helmet.

“I’m awake,” you mumble. “I’m awake. Stop… making… sound,” you add, struggling a little to find the words. The beeping stops but in its absence, the throbbing in your head actually feels worse. You check whether you can move your limbs, which, yes, are all there, and then scan the readouts for a sign of what’s happened to you.

“Armor is at 45%,” you say to yourself. Your AI already knows of course, but you want to figure this out for yourself. “Everything’s intact, though left leg and left forearm show radiating fractures. So, an explosion, close enough to knock me out, far enough away that I didn’t sustain any serious injuries.”

You make yourself stand up to be certain. You ache everywhere, but your bones support your weight and your armor remains airtight.

“Distance from the ship?” you ask.

“Approximately 340 kilometers,” your AI tells you, then adds, “but it’s in pieces.”

“Figures,” you say, mostly to yourself. “Which direction?”

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Free Flash Fiction: “Diplomatic Relations With Angry Rabbits”

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Diplomatic Relations With Angry Rabbits

“Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Mayor, but the rabbits are back.” At least Siobhan was kind enough to look sincerely apologetic about it.

Evan Mikumba smiled slightly. “Thank you,” he said. “You may send them in.” She nodded and left.

Easy for her to feel sorry for me, he thought. She doesn’t have to find a way for us to live together. He shuffled random papers on his table, trying to put the thought out of his head. Until the rabbit problem, his biggest concern was getting the half of his town that voted for the son of Indonesian immigrants to get along with the half that thought there was no place for a guy like him in Texas. Hell, they’d be happier if got “sent back”, even though he was born in Austin and graduated from good ol’ UT. (Go Longhorns!) Instead he had to worry about whether giant rabbits could read his mind. Continue reading “Free Flash Fiction: “Diplomatic Relations With Angry Rabbits””

Free Flash Fiction: “Notes On My Recent Job Interview With Your Firm”

Started in 2013, recently revised, and finally (I think) just right. 1130 words.

Notes On My Recent Job Interview With Your Firm

Dear Nancy from HR,

I am writing with answers to the survey I found attached to your letter. I realize they were mailed to me several weeks ago, but I was unavoidably detained during that time, and unable to respond earlier. I have been advised by medical professionals that answering your questions in depth may only amplify the strong feelings of unease I have been experiencing since my interview, but lately I feel oddly compelled to complete any paperwork put in front of me.

Please bear with me, as your form has limited space for additional notes. Some answers continue on the back.

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Free Short Fiction: “Annabelle Tree”

This story was originally written for Southern Fried Weirdness: Reconstruction, an anthology to benefit tornado relief (2011). I later republished it in my 2013 short fiction collection, Women and Other Constructs. It remains one of my favorite stories, and the one I’m most often asked to read at events. (I also haven’t quite gotten through a live reading of it without tearing up.)

Annabelle Tree

The tree grew up around her as she sat at its base, day after day. It had been a sapling when her parents bought the house by the creek, and it made the perfect backrest for Annabelle-the-child. She sat very still, her chubby three-year-old hands clasped together, arms tight around her knees, as her father sat alone on the creek bank. He waited for a fish to appear on his line, and she waited with him.

“I don’t want you sitting all day out on the ground,” her momma had said after the second day faded into evening and Annabelle once again walked into the kitchen with a dirty bottom.

“Yes, Momma,” she’d replied quietly as her momma brushed her off with a hand broom and quick, hard strokes. Her momma sighed.

“There’s no use. That dress is ruined.” Annabelle was given a hot bath, a cold supper, and sent to bed without a story. She wrapped her arms around Mr. Bunny and listened to her parents’ raised voices float up through the floor boards until she fell asleep. The next day Daddy couldn’t fish because he had to work on the house, as it was “in no fit state for people to see,” Annabelle’s momma had said, and there were church people that wanted to come over for a house warming. Annabelle liked the church people, who’d come over to their old apartment with ambrosia salad and fried chicken and Mrs. Cramble, who wore flower print dresses and had thick, soft arms, would give her great big hugs and extra helpings on her plate, and Momma never complained. Annabelle followed her Daddy around all afternoon, holding the tin bucket with his hammer and nails in it, and when he needed one or the other, she’d lift it up as high as she could, and he’d reach down into the bucket and take what he needed. Sometimes he’d smile at her too. Continue reading “Free Short Fiction: “Annabelle Tree””