short stories

21 articles tagged as short stories

The witch made her a promise, and she hoped the witch would keep it.

Every day she went out into the woods and she collected something.  A twig.  A dried grass with a soft buff of seeds, feathers.  She glued them together with the glue the witch gave her, every day she would carefully drop a tiny bit on a plate, then use a needle to prick the ring finger on her left hand.   One drop of blood, mixed with the green white of the glue.  She used the glue and the blood to connect the things she found, building them into a box.

It was the shape of a heart.

In the next room, her husband coughed weakly.  She looked through the door, saw him leaning, weakly against the table.  “Do you need me?”  she called.

“No…just a little out of breath, is all.”

And one day, the box was done.  She waited for one of his bad nights…he had far too many, and she used it as an excuse to sleep in another room, the box on her chest.

The next day, she placed the box on his chest, holding it over his heart.  She stroked his hair away from his forehead, traced her fingers over his features with the lightest of touches.  “I love you,” she breathed softly, “I love you, I love you.”

And when the dawn broke, she took the box outside, and buried it.

And he was better.

And she was worse.

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banshy:

Royal | Rafael Atempa

She reminds me of Aziza, from The Bell WItch story I wrote. 

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July 5th Book Challenge is Short Story…so I am doing Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman, which is a story that always inspires me.  Read it legally here:  http://thedreaming.joefulgham.com/1999/10/10/snow-glass-apples/  It is genuinely one of the very best re-told fairy tales, ever, and started me on my love for writing them.

Art by Daekazu, who is super talented:  http://www.cuded.com/2012/01/digital-art-by-daekazu/

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And now I will leave you with the final (for now) short story, “The Fortunate Ones.” It is by far my grimmest short story – and one that is the hardest to talk about. Partly because it deals with spousal abuse, partly because it deals with how the mind tries to escape what’s happening to it. The main character is of a race of people who believed that all of their fortune resided within their women, and so they became a commodity…slaves to be bought and sold.

It’s about a woman trying very hard to be brave, and about the imagination, and about not knowing what’s real.

All of my stories I can remember why I wrote them…I can tell you the catalyst (and have, I remind us with a wry grin) and what life was like. I just remember typing this one out…it was another story that would not shut up, and it wrote itself right over another short story that I was writing. Come to think of it, I never did finish the other one…but some stories are like that. Stories have power, they have things that need to be said. I wrote one that no one has read because it’s somewhat erotic (very for me, not so much by most standards) because I wanted to try and capture the emptiest moment a person could have.

Now. I shall stop blogging and work on one of those stories that must be read.

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“One Hundred Eight Degrees” is a short story that was meant to play an idea that is, off and on, very popular in fantasy…the mundane, every day person from our world traveling to another.

Don’t get me wrong…I’ve always liked the idea, it’s very seductive. I remember, particularly, Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger and Magic Kingdom Books, But I wondered, about all the characters from these books who go to these magnificent worlds, who do these marvelous things…and then they come back. They come back and they are secretaries instead of sorceresses, workman instead of wizards, they work at Kings instead of being Kings. How would you deal with that? Worse, how would you deal with it if there was a chance you could go back?

Between you and me and the internet, I keep wanting to write a travel to another world story, but keep avoiding it because I worry that people are sick of them. But maybe, someday, I will.

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“Every Word I Speak” is the last of my re-told fairy tales, and the story that got me published by Drollerie. I still remember and treasure the comments Deena Fisher said, because I was submitting stories and starting to wonder if I would ever get anywhere. It was originally published as one of the downloadable short stories, and now is in But Can You Let Him Go?

For me, this story marked my return to writing short stories. I’d quit for a time – life got in the way – and I played with the longer stories I’d written, but it didn’t really work for me. I was too tired and fighting battles I wasn’t ready for.

Then, one of my friends lent me a copy of Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors, and I fell in love with the short story form. Furthermore, I could feel short stories forming in my head, the feel, the sound, of a story that will be a short story is different to me. The voice of the words, if that makes sense?

The final ingredient to this recipe was the fact that I was haunting a discount bookstore called Book Country every chance I got, and on a whim bought the Dover edition of Perrault’s Fairy Tales. One of the stories was “The Fairies,” a tale about a young woman who does a kindness to a fairy, and in return is blessed with the gift that every word that comes out of her mouth is either a diamond, a pearl or a flower. Of course, in the story (sorry, spoiler!) she rides off with a prince and lives happily ever after. And I started thinking the whole thing was a bit suspect. The story I wrote became a sequel, and explores the price of her gift.

And, the original cover to the story:

speaklowres smaller

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“What Will I Do When This Dream is Over?” is another story inspired by travel. Like most of these, you can find it in But Can you Let Him Go?”

For awhile I was living at home writing and freelance editing. My father was itchy…he couldn’t stay home. He had a hobby, HO model trains, and he used his desire to go collect things for the lay out as an excuse to drive all over the place, usually we were never gone for more than a couple of hours.

And so I spent a lot of time in the back of the car, looking out the window, and thinking about the lives outside. Then one day I wondered, “What would happen if a woman was riding a unicorn through that red light?” Then I started to wonder why she was riding it.
It’s a story that gives me a chance to play with the mundane verses the magic…and I got to describe a couple of things that were common place to my travels through south western PA…old mills and abandoned farms.

Right now I’m actually away at Pennsic…so yay for the ability to post ahead on one’s blog! It’s the first weekend…by now my tent’s been set up for a couple days, and I fought yesterday at my first fencing battle (hopefully.) If I’m smart I’ll bum around and be relaxed all day, but I bet you I’m probably heading with my gear to the fencing field, unless it’s 90 degrees…but this is actually, title wise, a good short story to do this week, because I often wonder what I will do when the dream that is Pennsic is over. (Yes, it’s that cool. When I take care of my feet and have a good night’s sleep, at least…)

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I think I will depart from stories that are in my anthology to pick up another stray, “The Train,” which can be found in Needles and Bones. It was the second one I wrote, done partly because I wanted to capture an experience I’d had.

When I was a freshman in University, my grandmother died, and my mum and I flew down to Florida to help my grandfather. He wanted to move back up north, so we decided to take the auto train, this way he’d have his car but it wouldn’t be such a hard drive. My mother and I couldn’t sleep…we were sharing the top bunk of the room, while my grandfather snoozed on the bottom one, and it was close and hot.

We ended up going to the observation cart and playing cards, all night long. But there were a lot of the things that I wanted to capture, and a lot of Hester’s thoughts, as she looks out the window, were my own. Because of some of the thoughts she has to wrestle with, I consider this my Frankenstein story.

Here’s the cover for the antho…rather creepy, isn’t it?
needlebone.lit

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Remember is the first short story I ever wrote. I’d never really attempted to write anything short, but a set of circumstances inspired me to try. What you see now’s gone through a few re-drafts, but it has not strayed too far from the original. You can find it in the But Can You Let Him Go? anthology.

I was in college, and I’d been reading short stories for classes, and as an editor for the college magazine, Flipside. So I understood the format, it was in my head, waiting to be used. During the time I was a big fan of the band INXS, and a friend had sent me the Dogs in Space Soundtrack. The movie starred Michael Hutchence, and was about the punk scene in Sydney in the 70’s, I think. There were some really good songs…Iggy Pop’s Endless Sea, Marie Hoy and Friend’s Shivers…

Ooh. The songs are on Youtube. Check out Shivers…: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1h9xoSsuPQ
“My Baby is so vain that she is almost a mirror” is such a great line.

And then, of course, there’s the song that brought us here, the song that brough the story right into my head, Rooms for the Memory.

I’m at work (I wrote this the week before) so I’m not really watching the video, so I am thinking there are no spoilers, but I may be wrong.

The song and the story, to be honest, have little in common. But I listened to the song over and over and over while I wrote the story. And it was on a tape player…so I would listen to the song, re-wind the tape (the song is the last song of the soundtrack…I got to the point where I knew when the stop exactly.) push down the button, and, with a loud click, I’d start back to writing again.

That’s how it was. Play. Rewind. Click. Play.

Listening to as much of the song as much as I dare, I am reminded by how much I loved
Michael’s voice. I miss him, sometimes, in a vague didn’t-know-him-but-he-was-part-of-my-life kind of way.

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