You pop a cherry or berry or grape in your mouth, chomp down, and along with the gush of sweetness, feel a wave of must and rot waft into your senses: You taste the wretched and sublime in one breath; you hold perfection and devastation on your tongue; and for one resonant moment you do not choose.
Kindly reader, you may know that I have other fictional experiments brewing. Namely, the ongoing investigation into how short a story can be without feeling like just a taste of something more. Here are the very short stories I attempted this year; some worked, some not quite. There are typos and false starts; that happens in a lab (and when typing on a phone). To find more such pieces by other writers, follow the #vss tag, and check the links at the bottom of this post.
Visit @jbonze for everything I have ever tweeted, but before you go, please leave your own inspirations and impressions in the comments below.
3-8-12 Lou packed them in but his act fell flat for all but Lyn.
Love is a wrapt audience of one.
3-17-12 You think he will be there when you stumble home late at
night. And he is. Until he isn't.
7-5-12 You begin to see that he will not call. Will not bring
dinner, drape his clothes over the chair. Because you told him not to.
7-5-12 Where one hand slips, another is quick; one face sad, another
glad, when a red ballon lost is caught, then carried away.
7-5-12 Nose sniffs, leg lifts, odor drifts. And on and on and on the
7-6-12 I was going to call. I had phone in hand. I needed air. I
opened the window. And my line to you slipped, fell two stories--crashed.
7-25-12 Rae can't toss Gil yet, she can get a little more from him.
She works him like a flattened toothpaste tube, untold brushes left.
7-29-12 The bird lady drops bread, collects a flock around her. Her
laugh is as squawky as the pigeons' and her hunger just as acute.
7-29-12 In a hot field, after hours of hard labor for low pay, the
worker wonders: Is it wrong to savor one berry--or not to?
7-30-12 One lick, Jo knows. Mine's better, she crows. Lou looks up.
Wants to trade. Jo hesitates, then: OK! Smiles. Bites the rocky road.
8-28-12 He doesn't know where to go: left, right, center, legs. Which
pair to call to? He lies back on the dolly and slides under the car.
9-7-12 I told him the stroller was crap. He called me bourgeois.
Until a wheel fell off, his son tumbled out. In front of the neighbors.
9-7-12 Her mouth is a puckered hole, her hair a habitat. In the
morning she collects old bread. Later in the park she tosses it to pigeons.
9-8-12 He drifts into the 4-way stop--screw pedestrians--then
halts. The short skirt gets the right of way, so he can watch.
9-11-12 They sit on the sidewalk. She is closer to the dog, which
lunges at the baby, who is reaching for a turd. What does she do?
9-15-12 I know you! You're my every fantasy rolled into one. Aren't
you? Call me? Please?
9-18-12 First and last day on the job site: Jak revs the crane. Zigs;
shoulda zagged. Knocks a full john from the 12th floor to the ground.
10-9-12 The tune hits him hard. He circles back, drops a dollar in
the cello case. Buying coffee, he realizes it was a 20. And is glad.
10-27-12 Was the kale unwashed? The carrot too old? Oh, alien
invaders! What did you ride to my insides, now a roiling tide churning all I
12-20-12 The phone rings itself to death. You don't know if I hear it.
I don't know if you meant to call. We may never know.
12-20-12 Funny how night brightens a room. A dash outside to escape
argument allows a secret view: you holding your chin, mulling my move.
12-27-12 A dream to hear your nickname on the PA, then that thing you
texted me--oh no but then: "You left your phone in the spice aisle."
It's not as light as it looks. Not as wispy, fine. Up close it like to jab you, take out an eye. Jimmy said Touch it. He said, You don't make something like that and not want people to touch it. Come on now. I said You touch it. He said I said you touch it. I've got the camera, I'll take your picture. By the time I get over there someone'll come in, then it's too late. I said, See, we're not supposed to touch it.
Jimmy has ideas. Jimmy knows how the world is. He's right: Why would you put those swirly curly colors shining, pointed, smooth, right in people's face if you want everyone to keep hands off?
I wasn't afraid of getting in trouble. I get in trouble all the time for doing stuff Jimmy says. But I don't get in as much trouble as he would if he did it, and when people see me with him they know how it is, they can tell I work for him. There's advantages and disadvantages to everything, Jimmy says, Whether you're the big brother or the little brother, there's pluses and minuses. You're lucky you're cute, Jimmy tells me. People can't stay mad at you long.
I know this is true.
So I stood very still for a second that felt very long. I looked around the room and listened for someone coming, but we were all alone. I looked up to the top of that thing, and it was crazy and beautiful and I wanted to go bigger than Jimmy asked, I wanted to show him how much I knew he was right and I looked back at him to see if the camera was ready and Jimmy was ready and I nodded. I put out my hand and took one of those candy things in my hand and it was so easy I grabbed another. And climbed.
May you come alive in the bracing air, know the promise frozen within the ground, which sleeps until it is time to unfold and blanket your world with violet and gold; and should you pace, trudge, or wander around may you know a friend walks with you somewhere.
Speak to me of rivers
and bones; show me what to do with this mouth full of stars. Listen—what am I
The dogs lie still;
grandfathers dance through the shade of days to come. The snows of yesteryear
melt into tomorrow, watering what might have been. No more.
Take these stars, these
bones, this river—take them far away from me, take them to the other side of
time and see how I find you, see how I am already there.
Here's what I mean: I feel you in my bones, riding a river of light that sparkles on my tongue. This current, strong and steady holds the willing in its sway. It will come for you, for me. Will we—dare we—be carried away?