Wednesday, June 06, 2012


(Here's a little short short story I wrote recently.  I've been playing with this very short format and am enjoying the way it forces me to use words conservatively, to make them count.)
Image used courtesy of Sylwia77 at
     She lay in bed. More like she tossed in bed. But she didn't want to wake her husband, so when she tossed, she did it slowly, deliberately. She would turn, then pull the covers up to her chin and try again. Sleep had never been her ally. She often felt a deep suspicion she would miss out on something important. Her mind would flit from one thought to another like a hummingbird in search of sugar. She would do this dance, this thinking and turning and resettling until the words in her head would fracture and jumble together, tangled into a mess. If she allowed herself to be fully aware of the incongruity of a dozing thought, she would wake too much and have to start from the beginning. If she were lucky, she could play with the weird mixture of ideas without waking her mind and fall into strange, comforting dreams that frightened her. Dreams about horses that teach her to fly and how she would fly and lose control and crash into an ocean where unknown creatures waited for the sweetness of her flesh. It must be terrifying to be a mermaid and grow up among such immense and grotesque creatures, she would think. I will write a story about mermaids, one that doesn't involve a princess and a handsome man. 
     All the next day she will have an image of a fierce mermaid in her mind and it will plague her. She will sit to write her story and then cower away from the chair because the mermaid in her head will come out impotent and flimsy on the paper. She wishes she had the right words to make the mermaid alive and chilling like the one she imagines. She will try again. She sits and swings back and forth on the swivel of her chair, staring at the expectant screen. She writes four words: hair, piercing, fangs, spikes. She sees the word spikes which has jumped out of her fingers and immediately the mermaid in her head has punk rock hair in a mohawk and a studded leather collar around its neck. She shakes her head to loose the image from it. She reaches into herself to find what the spikes mean. She closes her eyes and pictures the terror of the mermaid and sees that when she peers close enough, the scales on the mermaid's lower body each have a sharp point in the middle, like artichoke scales. She keeps her eyes closed and tries to know the mermaid better. In the back of her mind she thinks, this is the only time I enjoy closing my eyes.

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