Short Story

The Secret of Courage

The sound of the door closing brought me out of the world of numbers I had entrenched myself in. Not the sound itself, but the particular tone. When your life slips into a steady rhythm and the harmonies blend perfectly, it is easy to notice a single missed note. Although the door did not have the force of a slam, something about its dull note seemed off.

 

I slid my chair away from my desk and got my head through my office door just in time to see the bottom of my son’s feet disappearing up the stairs.

 

“Austin.”

 

A familiar, “Yeah?” came floating down from somewhere above. Again, something seemed off. A note slightly off key. I couldn’t say which one, only that I heard something that shouldn’t have been.

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Stella’s Voice

“You can choose twelve.”

The words hit me like a sucker punch. My hands found my knees as I struggled for air that had come so easily just a moment before.

Thirty-four young girls stood lined up against a bus with black letters that had faded into blurred lines. A few stared at their worn shoes. I was thankful for that because I could not bear one more set of eyes on me. The rest watched me with desperation and guilt, wanting so badly to be chosen, but knowing what that would mean for the ones who were not. My soul seemed to collapse under weight of the choices before me.

I turned to the Mr. Diacov who stared at me in an effort to avoid the silent pleas from the girls. Black buttons struggled to hold his grey suit together around the bulge of his stomach. The dark circles under his green eyes nearly matched his coal-black shaggy hair and the stubble that covered his chin.

“Please.” I begged. “There must be something we can do. The home can hold more than…” (more…)

Vampire Sushi

When you’re in a fight with a vampire, you don’t have a lot of advantages. My vampire had this I’m-invincible-so-I-can-toy-with-you-for-a-bit-before-killing-you thing going. It wasn’t much, but in the end it was enough.

 

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. I didn’t want to be stuck at home alone, but had nowhere else to go. So while little monsters and princesses where getting their fill of candy and slutty nurses were throwing back shots, I was still at my desk working on TPS reports.

 

The sound of lips smacking in the silence of the office rang out like a clap of lightning. I looked up to see a man in a slate grey suit sitting on the edge of Harold’s desk. His black silk shirt lay unbuttoned at the top revealing skin as smooth and pale as milk. Wavy black hair fell perfectly in place, nearly to his shoulders. The way his dark eyes stared at me immediately gave me chills.

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The Chase

children-runningThey slid into their booth with goofy smiles, careful to avoid further tearing the rips in the red pleather seats. Rudy’s Cafe had been their favorite little food joint since college. It was the highlight of a random road trip James and Alex had gone on and the two friends made the hour-long trip back once or twice a year ever since.

James picked up the laminated menu and began searching for what made his stomach growl the loudest. Alex already knew what he wanted so he scanned the rundown cafe to see if anything had changed since their last visit.

Rudy’s Cafe had opened in 1981 according to the story on the back of the menu and the decor had never quite made it out of the decade. White and black linoleum tiles checkered the floor. Every inch of the walls and ceiling was covered with 1980’s memorabilia or movie posters. A life-size image of “The Fridge” stared at Alex from the door of the men’s restroom. (more…)

Hungry Eyes

Sitting in these seats countless times before was not enough to keep Sarah from scanning the sanctuary. Each beige seat folded up against the backrest when not filled. A myriad of lights hung ready to be used with the flick of a button from the industrial looking ceiling. Memories of the first time she walked through the doors seemed like fiction now. It all seemed so large then, but the crowd of two thousand or so that would join her this morning now felt like a family.

The soft pop of a chair flapping down drew her attention. She was ready to explain that the seat was saved for a friend, but much to her surprise it was Mark that had sat down with a Starbucks cup in his right hand. Whatever caffeine the beverage was providing had clearly not reached his half-asleep eyelids yet.

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The Tip

Jenna barely heard the rough clicks of Sam’s key in the door over the gentle hiss of the water as she washed the vegetables. A quick sigh escaped from her mouth. As much as she loved her husband, after work he tended to be a bit grumpy. The fresh stack of bills that lay on the counter would only make it worse. She turned off the water and began to wipe her hands when she saw him come into their tiny apartment, turning to close the door and lock it behind him.

Jenna grinned at the sight of him. He had an unassuming cuteness about him. When she had first seen him at their church she never would have pictured them together. He had shaggy brown hair, hazel eyes, and an average frame that could easily be lost in a crowd, but he was smart enough to know that those were not his strength.

The first time Sam had approached her it was simple and quick. He introduced himself and came off as shy. Each time they spoke after that he emerged from of his shell a little more. It did not take long for Jenna to see his heart and know that it was more beautiful than any other she knew. He had a rare combination of a sweet spirit and powerful intellect. Sam could make you feel like the most wonderful person in the world or like you didn’t exist. He knew the power of words and just how to use them.

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Into the Fire

It looked like a normal letter from the middle school Max would be attending in the fall, but as I read a hollow rattle rolled through the page from the shaking of my hands. I dropped it on table, grabbed my keys and fled. This is my default action in the face of tragedy. I first learned this when I was about Max’s age.

We were driving to a cabin on the Lake of the Ozarks. An army of trees with shades of green that Crayola could never hope to box surrounded the road on both sides. Two yellow dotted lines marked the way to a perfect weekend. Just me, my dad, and a lake full of fish. I stared over the high dashboard looking for the sign that would mark our turnoff. This would begin our game of who can spot the water first.

A flash of movement was all I saw before the impact jerked me forward. My dad told me to stay, but I was so drawn to the front of our station wagon that I barely heard his words.

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