Category Archives: Flash Fiction

Closure (revision)

“Let’s just go get some coffee and talk about it.”

Aiko sighs, as if to say, “Yes, let’s go but I still hate you.” Yeah, well the feeling’s mutual.

The Starbucks is too crowded. The line goes to the door and the seats are all taken up. “Man, I hate lines.”

“Well, you wanted to go here.”

“Yeah, this was a mistake.”

“You think?”

“Everything was a mistake,” I mumbled.

“What?”

“Nothin’.”

“No, I discretely heard you say…” The word is “distinctively.” Get it right. “What?”

“What do you mean ‘what’?”

“It looked like you were about to say something. You get that look on your face.”

“No. I wasn’t going to say anything.”

“Yeah, right.”

“Whatever!” I sigh, throwing my hands into the air.

Aiko’s face gets fireball red. “Don’t do that. Don’t you do that!”

Someone pokes me in the back. “Hey! You’re next in line. They’ve been calling for you.”

I take a deep breath. “Oh. Sorry.” Everyone around is looking at us. Let’s just get this over with.

Aiko nudges me out of the way. “Grande Chai tea with soy, no water. Five pumps. On his bill.” She jerks a thumb back in my direction.

“Um, I’ll have a… pumpkin latte. The cold version.”

“Iced pumpkin latte?”

“…yeah.” I hand her the card.

“Size?”

“I’ll take the small.”

“Tall?”

“Yeah, the small one. Tall.”

I hold out my card. “Uh, debit.”

“Here or to go?”

“Here. I mean, to go.”

She glares at me and changes something on the register. “Name?”

“Huh?” I’m waiting for her to take the card.

“Your name?” She could probably look at the card and get my name. “It’s Kouta. What’s your name?”

“…Tara.”

“Pretty name. I feel like we go through the same conversation every time, Tara.” I expect Aiko to get jealous but she’s already hitting on some graybeard in a suit.

Tara flashes me a polite but impatient smile. “Your coffee will be ready in a minute. Next please!” Women are so fake.

I bring back the drinks. Tara has managed to procure the old guy’s table and slip him her number. She thinks she’s sly, like she’s a little ninja. She has money, sure, but she never bothered to learn the trade.

“Here,” I throw the drink to her side. “So, when can I pick up my shit from your dad’s? It’s kind of embarrassing that it’s still there.”

“You left it there when you took off, didn’t you? I’ll have my people drop your stuff off. Just give me your address.”

I take a sip. It scalds my tongue. I try to swallow it fast, which was just as bad an idea for my throat. “You can understand if I’d rather you not know where I live,” I say hoarsely.

“Hmph. Well, good luck getting your stuff back.”

I run my hand through my hair. “Just set a place and time. That’s all.”

She sits back, probably thinking about how best to take my balls away from me.

“Well… maybe—”

A shuriken chops into the table.

“Ninjas? You really hate me that much?”

“No, it wasn’t me. I—”

Ninjas leap out from the ceiling. Only two. Good. I can take two as long as there aren’t more waiting to ambush me. I thumb my belt knife, hidden beneath my t-shirt.

As the first leaps down, he chops the table in half. I kick the chair into his face, but he chops that in half. Stomping his sword on the downswing, I uppercut his jaw. Another sword swishes toward my ears, close enough to shave hairs. I kick back but ninja #2’s already gone.

#1 and #2 work in unison, but I am a lightning eel, twisting around their blades. Intuition reads makes up for what the eyes can’t see.

I hang low under one swing, kick my legs out to dodge another, but now I’m on the ground. I grab the remaining half of the coffee table, smashing #2 in the shin. Retreating over the counter, a third ninja lunges out from his hiding place.

“Surprise!” I scream, delivering a coffee house table to his face. He lets go of his wakizashi after I’ve crushed his hand.

I push the coffee machine at the other two, followed by the register. They chop out with their swords to push forward. #2 is able to block the sword heading for his neck but not the knife headed for his liver. #1 throws his own projectile, a shuriken aimed at my head. I duck behind the counter and #3 is in the corner of my eye, shuriken in his hand. I raise my arm to defend and the weapon lodges in my arm. I pull it out and throw it back at his head.

Expecting an attack from #1, I raise my sword. The sound of a body hitting the ground leads me to raise my head from cover. Aiko stands on the other side of the counter, blade dripping with blood. #1’s body lies at her feet, his throat slit.

“You really make such a scene,” she smiles. “It’s no wonder Dad thought you were too weak to be my husband.”

The blood trickles down, making my palm wet with blood. I drop the wakizashi to the floor.

“Hyaa!”

My body seizing up as a blade tears through my back and I crumple to the ground.

“Aiko?”

“Father!”

Dooshite, Aiko-chan? I thought you hated this man.” He kicks me over with his foot. I slash out at his leg, but he slides back and literally cuts the knife out of my hand. I don’t think he cut to the bone, but there’s blood everywhere. “Why do you kill my men so needlessly, child?” He continues speaking to his daughter, ignoring me like I’m trash. I can feel the blood pooling up in my shirt and all over my hands.

“I… I don’t… I…”

“Hmph. You still love him.” He frowns in disgust, looking like he wants to kill me right then.

I breathe heavily, clenching my teeth now that my adrenaline is dying down.

“Look, I’m just here for my stuff. Aiko and I are through.”

“And why should I believe you? You meet my daughter in private and think I won’t know? You insult me!”

He kicks and I can hear a rib crack.

“You think I’m a fool? Men like you and I don’t give up. We take what we want.”

“Father! Stop it!”

“Hmph.” His eyes are the eyes of a killer. This is a guy who would sooner slit your throat than have you breathe on him.

How can you love this man?” Aiko’s father grabs my by the t-shirt and dumps me on the counter to present me to her. She averts her eyes from my mangled, bloodied state. “He’s so… weak.”

“I… don’t… I pity him.” She can’t meet my eyes.

“Pity?” Laughter bursts from his chest. “Oh, Aiko. You’re just like your mother. It must be something about women.”

A sharp jab pushes me off the counter. This time, I scream in pain and surprise.

“Take him. Bring him to the hospital. Whatever you’d like. But if I ever see him again, I will kill him.”

Aiko bows her head. I cough, gag, and throw up. Aiko calls for an ambulance on her cell phone and waits for the sirens. I never see her again.

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How to Adapt to the New World (“Interlude to a New World” revision)

How to Adapt to the New World

Take this cat.

Now flip it upside-down… it lands on its feet, doesn’t it?

 

Now take this dog.

He just falls and hurts himself.

Dogs can’t adapt to change. It’s a known fact.

 

Ever throw a cat at the ceiling?

 

A sloth is a creature that can exist its whole life upside down. It exists on an entirely different plane than cats or dogs. Even so, a sloth still has less world perspective than a cat. It was born upside-down; that’s the only world it knows. Turn a sloth right side up and it wouldn’t even know what to do with itself.

 

Some animals are able to compartmentalize each perspective.

Bats use the upside-down world for sleeping and the right side up world for hunting.

Some lizards and insects can live either way, but they can only stick to the walls.

Monkeys are strongly rooted in the “right side up,” but they have no qualms with using the “upside-down” to their advantage.

 

Don’t throw cats at the ceiling. It disorients them.

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Parade of a Thousand Orchids (Revision)

Basil was a British man, fascinated with flowers and Orientalism. He had the amazing talent of rambling over a pint about the effects of Chinese philosophy and trade on the Western world. “I see,” I would tell him, smiling and nodding as he continued. Basil was my guide, and we were about to attend what he called “the most amazing and elaborate festival in this part of Asia:” The Parade of a Thousand Orchids.

“It’s a flower festival celebrating the beauty and prosperity of the village and its women.” His hands swooped across the rice paddies, gesturing toward something that only existed in his mind. “Seamstresses work almost the entire year to make these dresses. Of course, these are all made of passion rather than the daily affairs of sewing and hemming!” He laughed. I laughed, too, not wanting to seem impolite. I wasn’t particularly interested in flowers or seamstresses, but I did enjoy women and a good parade every now and again.

We arrived an hour early. Even so, the streets were crowded, but only with men. In fact, I couldn’t see a single woman. Even the very young and old seemed to be preparing for the parade. The entire time we waited, Basil rambled in my ear. I wished I had a pint or at least someone to talk to other than my giddy-as-a-schoolboy guide.

As the hour came to a close, the men’s idle chatter boomed into rigorous hollering. Basil said that they were calling the women out, though the women would not come out until the felt the men were suitably loud. I felt out of place standing there quietly with Basil, but then I wasn’t even sure what the men around me were shouting. I wouldn’t want to shout the wrong thing about some guy’s wife.

The first to emerge into the town center were the youngest wives and women of marrying age. They wore red aprons over their white dresses. For some reason, even in their shy demeanor, their dress and actions seemed a little suggestive at times. Even though the dresses went no higher than the ankles, it always seemed like they kept having to hold them down or they’d fly away.

Dendrobium Frosty Dawn,” Basil whispered. I scratched at my chin hairs and nodded sagely. The words meant nothing to me, really, but I let him go on.

Behind the first group of women was a chipper group of little yellow dresses. “Macradenia multiflora,” Basil whispered again. I felt as if we were at the cinema and he was spoiling the plot. I was thankful that he was trying to educate me, but I would have preferred to enjoy the parade without him interrupting.

The second entourage held all the young girls of the village, three-year-olds holding hands with fourteen-year-olds, six-year-olds orbiting around eight-year-olds. A lot of them looked like they’d sewn their dresses together themselves. The older girls stared firmly at the backs of the Frosty Dawn women or at the ground. The younger girls looked up at their older counterparts or proudly out at the men, who applauded violently in their presence.

The next group was much smaller: it was the pregnant women. Some of them looked like they could have belonged with the Frosty Dawn girls. Others were clearly about to pop and had to walk with their hands supporting their impressive bellies. Their maternity clothes were golden bronze at the sleeves, white shawls at the shoulders, and the bright yellow around their stomachs.

Paphiopedilum villosum. Beautiful,” Basil whispered in excitement. I wanted to brush him off like a gnat.

“Oh!” he exclaimed, then covered his mouth, even though the men around him were shouting loud as firecrackers. “These are the matrons of the village. Cattleya violacea.” Basil spoke the name with subdued reverence. To me, they were just a flock of old birds. Someone made them nice dresses, though. Or, most likely they made them. They were royal purple, the silk hems rippled like water as they walked. Each fold of their clothing suggested a deeper shade of purple layered within the first. As the women strode forward, the deeper layers presented themselves more clearly. The men organized into a chant like a vocal version of the wave, and I couldn’t even hear Basil anymore.

Finally, a slow procession of elderly women began to march through the village center. These decrepit few wore light, white wool coats over their thick purple dresses. The dress was much simpler for these women but unlike the other women, they all sported large floppy yellow hats to protect them from the sun.

Haraella retrocalla,” Basil told me, then tugged on my shirt. “Get ready to join in.” Sure enough, the men began gathering to the sides and behind the group of old women, offering them their arms and cheering them on from the back. Some of the women walked in a shuffle and looked like they were going to keel over at the end of the march. Others were at a more sprightly age and they smiled, cried, or waved.

Blowing on reeds and banging drums, we escorted the old women until they reached the end of the line, where all the other ladies were waiting. The women all hugged each other and bowed to the men. The men, quiet for the first time, bowed back.

“And that is the parade,” Basil smiled and exhaled with some sense of finality. “Now, we drink and dance.”

Now that was what I liked to hear. In a finer mood than when we started, I joined in with the men as they picked up their chanting once again.

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Sleepytime Tea (revision)

Mom Mom says that when I drink sleepytime tea that I’ll have good dreams. And you know what? She’s right!

I used to have dreams about monsters that chased after me and I was never fast enough because of my “amnormal” heartbeat, and they would catch me and I’d wake up and go to my mommy’s room. When I drink sleepytime tea, I have good dreams about ponies that fly and butterflies that sing songs. Mom Mom told me once that worms grow into butterflies. Mom Mom knows about everything because she’s old. Even older than Mommy is!

Mom Mom told me once that God created me special because He has special plans for me. Sometimes I feel like God is mad at me because my chest hurts sometimes. Mommy has some gooey stuff she rubs on my chest that helps me calm down and feel better. She tells me bedtime stories. Sometimes I dream that I’m a princess and that Mommy is the queen and Mom Mom is a good fairy who grants my wishes. Sometimes, I don’t have any dreams. That’s because the silver worms ate them. I see them crawling on my eyes before I faint. When I wake up, everyone looks scared and that makes me feel scared.

Me and my family used to go to church but we left. Our pastor said that I fainted because I didn’t believe in God hard enough. Mommy got mad. We left the church after that.

Mommy and Pop Pop got and a fight because Pop Pop wanted me to go to church. Mom Mom said I should decide for myself. I didn’t want to make Pop Pop mad, but the pastor scared me. I like God though, so now we pray at home to Him every morning. Mom Mom and Pop Pop still go to church most Sundays but Pop Pop’s back and legs sometimes hurt too much so they can’t go.

The silver worms sometimes crawl on my eyes but maybe one day I’ll wake up and they’ll turn into pretty butterflies that sing to me. I’m happy that God made me special and gave me Mommy and Mom Mom and Pop Pop too. I know that God loves me and we’ll be happy forever!

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Dealing with Dragon Ladies (“Match” Revision)

Day 1

I live across from a dying neon sign that says “seafoo.” It flickers through the blinds, making my bedroom/living room look like a makeshift torture chamber. The only way I can get any sleep is by leaving the TV on infomercials all night.

Day 2

Mike and Carla came to visit today. Carla goes straight for the fridge.

“The beer’s not for dragon ladies!”

“Shut the fuck up!” her squealing voice is consumed by the frosty Dos Equis house.

“Yeah. Shut the fuck up!” Mike hits me upside the head. It doesn’t bother me much that Mike hit me. I deserved it, after all. It bothered me that the bitch didn’t come over here and do it herself.

After a couple hours of drinking and watching T.V., we start commenting on the way that fat chick’s voice sounds on Operation Repo.

“She says stuff weird,” I say.

“She looks weird, too. Who cares, man?” Mike kills the last of my beer.

“Sounds like white trash. Ain’t she Latina?”

“You sound like white trash.”

“Hey. Fuck you.” I say. “I’m Chinese, bitch. Ain’t no white trash in my house.”

“Oh, right.” He and Carla look at each other and I know its trouble. It’s like two pieces of flint trying to start a fire, except the flint is two morons.

“Ah soo. Ching chong ping pong pow! Belly good. Me likey fat ratina. Likey berry much!”

I hit Mike in the face with a bottle. The bottle doesn’t break, but his jaw does.

Days 3 through 48

Bought some more beer. Life is good. The room is flickering green. I turn on the T.V. and it feels like I’m winning.

Day 49

Mike came by today.

“Been a while, Mike. Long time no see.”

“No shit, dick! You broke my jaw! I had to have it wired!”

“Yeah, but I paid for it.” I couldn’t see what he was getting at.

“But you broke my jaw! I just got the wires removed last week and it still clicks!” He had his jaw clenched, which was probably bad for it. I’m not his mom, but I did pay to fix the thing. He could take a little better care of it.

“And now you’re here. Did Carla kick you out again?”

“No! I just wanted a formal apology from you.”

“Did Carla send you for this ‘formal apology’?”

No! Well, yeah, but still… you owe me an apology!” His eyes darted around,

“The couch is all yours, man. You really need to find another girl, you know that?”

“Hey, you shut your mouth! Carla’s an angel, man! A fucking angel!” His jaw popped like a firecracker. “Ow! Fuck!”

I put a bottle to my lips. I’m not his therapist, either, but I did pay for that couch he always sleeps on.

Day 50

Mike is keeping me up all night talking on the phone. I get sick of “I’m sorry, baby,” but then they start shouting again. I can hear her voice screeching from the phone. He must be dating a velociraptor.

“Can you guys keep it down?”

“Man, I can’t help it! I’m having a crisis here!”

“Fuck, dude. Just go over there and apologize in person.”

Day 51

Carla burned down my apartment building this morning. Mike must have said something wrong.

Day 52

The hotel I’m staying at smells like cat piss. There’s a red sign across the street missing a third X. I turn on the TV but there’s nothing good on. What I really need is a drink, but Mike took my last one and his girlfriend burned my place down.

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Sweet vs. Sour (revision)

The two stared at each other for hours without blinking. One held a rifle in her hands. The other, an ice cream cone. The ice cream never melted. The rifle never shook. Onlookers called the police. The police shouted through megaphones. Neither moved. That is, until the rifle began to drip.

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The Monogamous Bonobo (revision)

“I don’t care who you have sex with,” the male bonobo smiled, “as long as it’s with me.”

“What did you say?” the female asked.

“I said I only want you,” he puffed his lips out to kiss her.

“Noooo. No, no, no. What about all my girlfriends?”

“But I want only you,” he said, puckering his lips again.

She pushed him away. “But what about my other male sex partners?”

“I’m not enough for you?” The male bonobo pouted, holding his hands to his heart. He looked crushed.

“How about…” she scratched her chin, “I just have sex with my other mates while you’re not looking?”

“No!”

“No?”

No!”

“Look, pal, I’m trying to work with you here. You’re saying I can’t have sex with any females either?”

“Hmm. How about only when I am looking?”

The female bonobo threw up her hands. “Why are you making this so complicated? All I’m asking in this relationship is that we can have sex with whomever we want, whenever we want. That’s it. You’re so greedy.”

The male bonobo stuck out his lower lip. “But that’s not what I want.”

“Well, you’re crazy!”

“Hey! Humans do it that way.”

“Humans like to wear pants.”

“…but I love you.”

“No you don’t.”

“What do you mean I don’t?”

“You only love the idea of loving me.”

The bonobo scratched his head. “Huh?”

“Look, if you can’t understand something as simple as that… Ugh! You’re getting me all strung out. I’m going to go have an orgy with my girlfriends. Take some time to think about your priorities, okay?”

After he watched her leave, the male bonobo when to his favorite termite hill. Even though he wasn’t hungry at all, he still poked it with a stick just to watch the termites scatter around.

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