Floral Arrangement

I have a new story on 50-Word Stories, titled “Floral Arrangement.” This one grew out of a #vss365 prompt for which the prompt word was #riddle, so not only does this one concern a riddle, it’s kind of a riddle itself. It appears to have already stumped one reader on the site.  

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Road Mage

…. Hexed against right turns, they’d loop until they ran out of gas. Then they’d walk in circles. ….

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Constellations in Mourning

By Graham Robert Scott The morning after Sandy Hook, I drove my boy to a birthday party. He was seven, same as some Sandy Hook kids. “The flags aren’t up all the way,” he observed. Texas wears a lot of Old Glory, now a constellation in mourning, flag after flag bowing low. “It’s all the…

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Stan

As her key catches and turns the lock, she spots his face in a downlight, end of the hall.

Instant recognition. In a beat, she’s in. Throws the deadbolt, reviews decisions.

Fanfic about bad boys of crime? Okay. But next time? None about men still living. Men uncaught.

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Furbaby

Animatronic taxidermy. The new bougie thing to do with their beloved. God, Hector wanted out of door-to-door sales.

“Oh! Don’t mind him,” his host said. “Never met a lap he didn’t like.”

On his thighs, the thing rolled onto its back, waggled its paws: pet my belly.

Hector’s churned.

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A Raging Fire

The library carries old rituals, shelved in wafer-thin booklets.

He checks out a pictorial history of London, the ritual to cure erectile dysfunction secreted within. Its magic doesn’t work, but the painting of the Great Fire of 1666 does.

Great. Another thing to be embarrassed about.

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Sigil

Taking the podium for her turn at the campus Big Read, fifty peers below, she spots the word debut two lines into her first page. Fear surges. She’s seen the word before, but has never heard it pronounced.

Then she recalls Matthew Mercer’s sigil: missteps don’t define you; strengths do.

Emboldened, fortified, she conjures her voice and speaks.

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Bad Seed

They find it in a crater ringed by burning corn. A polypy thing with tentacles, but they take it home. Always wanted to be parents. When it eats a girl named Lana, the Kents figure it’s just having trouble adjusting. Cover it up. Tell each other he’ll grow to do great things.

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The Situation Is Fluid

Water blunts radiation. There’s a zone in the spent fuel rod pool of a nuclear reactor where you get less of it than you would under a night sky.

Particularly tonight.

My oxygen’s low. Above and below are death.

Water blunts radiation, but it’s damned hard to breathe.

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A Student-Centered Approach to Improving Performance in Cognitive and Affective Domains

While hiding from bullies behind a school-ground bush, Evie found the old ball. Dusty and abandoned, one of those early smart models, the annoying talky kind. Soon she was huddled with the thing, whispering, all hours. We considered confiscation—no toys allowed—but having a friend seemed to improve her test scores.

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Browsing

Three-hundred years ago, when the pictured book wheel was in full use, a book open on each of the seven planks of its wheel, the following dialogue was recorded by an archivist, the record of which was uncovered in a chapel dig yesterday:

“Wow, look at how many browser tabs Abernathy has open.”
“Yeah, he’s got another one just behind it.”
“He’s doing the dual-monitor thing? What a weirdo.”
“You don’t think it’ll catch on?”
“Never in a million years.”

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Last Contact

My story, “Last Contact,” appeared in Nature Magazine in September, back before I really committed to this site. As a result, it never got announced in these pages. Nonetheless, I recommend it. It’s an elegiac piece about a gorilla lost in a large city and about personal connections. I remain rather proud of it.

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In-Flight Movie

In the video, the move is smooth, practiced: As Tiffany slides past the wheelchair, she reaches down and swipes half the girl’s sandwich.  Grinning at a friend around a bite, Tiffany joins the line to board. The girl stares, slack-jawed.

On Twitter, Tiffany’s first post after landing reads, “What the—?”

Her second, “Oh God.”

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