Tag Archives: flash fiction

Drop the Net

Under a moon-less night, illuminated by one under-achieving street lamp, the net of the basketball hoop shone like a neon pink sign.

Hello and welcome, all who venture into this four-sided rectangular space.

The man with the bag of discarded fish heads pushed upon the gate surrounded the basketball court.  His eyes darted around, searching for surveillance cameras, other night-dwellers, and general signs that he should take his burden elsewhere.  But, he was alone, so he sat down on one of the moss-covered benches just outside of the street lamp’s light.  The bag hit the ground faster than his thighs reached the bench.

He wished he could throw it in the river or in a dumpster or anywhere that would swallow it up and let him forget he was being paid the price of a princess’s frivolous weekend to relocate a dozen fish heads.  Salmon, trout, sword, shark — he didn’t know and didn’t care.  He’d hauled worse smelling and heavier things before, but something about this particular delivery made him feel unexpectedly uneasy.

The man looked up at the basketball net and wondered what would be the worst that could happen if he hoisted the bag into the hoop.  He knew it wouldn’t fall through.  Was it worth it, though?  To risk being seen or leaving innocent day-dwellers to deal with a sack of steadily putrefying scales, eyes, and teeth.  The man remained on that bench and considered his illusory options.  He didn’t really have but one, which was to continue through the city until cement gave way to dirt and chuck the bag into a well.  He made a mental note to be more discerning with his next assignment.  No more transporting materials that can decompose and emit unpleasant aromas.


I have no idea what inspired this piece of writing… the mental image of an outdoor basketball court at night and a bag of fisheads manifested, and out came the rest of the words.

And Just Like That the Globe Split Open

Gunther shouldn’t have worn the light blue jeans, the only clean pair he could find in his room with only twelve minutes before Darlene would arrive at his house to take him to the only park in the neighborhood with an ungated basketball court.  The jeans were a couple inches too small about the waist and a couple inches too long at the ankles, but Darlene liked the way Gunther looked in them and none of his more appropriate athletic pants had been washed yet.

Unlike the others within a five-mile radius of Slonder Heights, this park didn’t have enclosed basketball courts or skateboard ramps.  The owners believed that mischief-makers were more likely to get a thrill out of being obnoxious than nocturnally athletic, so they didn’t see a point in keeping access to the court or the ramps to a schedule.  Remote surveillance technicians could administer an array of environmental agitations (via touchscreen and other controls) should any late-night visitor display criminal intent.  Hidden speakers and fragrance misters could unleash a barrage of airhorns, cougar screeching, and parfum du durian if necessary.

It was nearly 11:30 pm at night when they’d arrived at the park.  Darlene stayed in her pale grey convertible as Gunther practiced free throws.  He was trying to get back on the basketball team after taking a year off to recover from muscular injuries sustained while startling a bear during a camping trip.  He didn’t even want to go on that trip but Darlene begged him to take her to somewhere sufficiently north to see stars and Gunther was in love with her.  No, he wasn’t, not her.  Gunther was in love with the effect she had on him.  One glance, one casual hand on the back, one well-timed sigh and he felt as though he were unbreakable.

For someone who grew up chronically sick with ear infections, stomach viruses, and a sprained ankle every other year, Gunther couldn’t get enough of how Darlene made him feel.  So what if he had to sit out all of his sophomore year and a third of junior year not only for physical therapy but also to catch up on school work.  It was a minor setback.  He would persevere.  It didn’t matter to him that he wasn’t in the top three free throw shooters among his teammates.  He just wanted to do what he loved doing in front of very loud spectators.

Gunther shouldn’t have worn the light blue jeans because they were much tighter than the last time he wore them.  He stretched his arms in front of his chest and massaged his calves.  He picked up the ball from where he had set it down on the center of the three-point line, spread his feet apart just so, bent his knees, brought the ball up to his chin, and took a deep breath.  Before he could complete the preparation to launch the ball to the hoop, an odd scent wafted up to his nose from his hands.  He put the ball back on the ground and smelled his hands.  The odor was there but faint.  He retrieved the ball and smelled it.  There it was again…salt, sweat, head cheese, and wet dog.

Gunther squeezed the ball.  Instead of that rock-solid sensation he was expecting, the ball softened against the force of his hands and then stiffened again.  He dribbled it a few times in front of his body and between his legs.  The ball behaved no differently than a normal basketball would, but it still smelled.  Gunther slammed it against the ground and it rolled toward the bottom of a bench.  He collected the ball and walked back to Darlene’s car.  He asked her if she still had that apple knife she occasionally kept in the glove compartment.  She produced the knife and Gunther plunged it into the basketball.  He drew the blade downward six inches.  A dark red, thick syrup squirted through the slashed skin.  The scent of barn and abbatoir smothered Gunther, who started coughing like his lungs were sparkling with fairies in a frenzy.  Darlene sneezed and slapped herself across the backs of her hands.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.  She admonished herself for failing yet again at one task.  The basketball wasn’t supposed to smell like anything but a basketball.  None of Darlene’s dealings with Gunther progressed the way they were supposed to — not the camping trip, not how long it took for him to heal, not how quickly he surrendered to her whims, and not this foul-smelling ball.  Gunther was supposed to exercise a certain degree of self-restraint so that he would be so much more delicious when he finally offered up his will to her on a silver plate.  Darlene patted Gunther’s back as his coughing fit quieted and ceased.  She asked him if he wanted her to take him home.  He nodded.  She gave him a disinfectant wipe for his hands, instructed him to leave the remnants of the ball outside, and reassured him that everything would be all right.  He just needed to take a hot shower and go to sleep.

Audrey Tautou - En noir et blanc

Apologies, Incomplete Pass

He rubbed his chin with the fingertips of his right hand, then he bit his lip.  I looked at the blue laces of my black ankle boots and exhaled loudly enough for her to tell me to answer the question he’d asked a moment ago.

“Well,” I began. “You don’t just make your way up and down the line of scrimmage, make one complete pass, and run straight for the end zone.”

“Why not?” he asked.

“Because you have three more opportunities to move the ball down the field to be in a better position to run it in or make a complete pass in the end zone.”

“I just really wanted to get into that end zone, I mean, you said you wanted to see what I could do with the ball.”

“I did…by making a field goal, by making several complete passes before going for a touchdown,” I elaborated, trying not to sound exasperated or condescending.

“I just, uh, wanted to get straight to it, though,” he said as he glanced at her.  “There’s nothing wrong with that, is there?”

She parted her mouth but instead of answering him, she looked at me and cleared her throat.

“Don’t look at her,” I said. “She’s just here to be a witness to my thought process.”

“Are you saying you didn’t want to play?”

“I permitted you entrance onto the field of play, didn’t I?  But, just because you’re granted access, just because you started and I didn’t whip out the playbook to make sure we were using the same one, doesn’t mean you can fast-forward to the two-minute warning.  I mean, good lourdes, I didn’t want a haiku.”

He may have chuckled right then.

“I don’t play haikus with other people; there are only Three-Act Plays, and if you can’t begin Act 1 satisfactorily enough to make it to Act 2, why would you think you can jump right to Act 3?”

He may have laughed and then shaken his head.

She looked at him and then at me and asked, “Wait, are you really talking about football… or poetry or theatre?”


Et puis.  Bon anniversaire à moi.  Je ne crois pas que j’ai quarante-et-un.  Je suis allée au café au’jourd-hui et le barista m’a donné deux traches de gâteau.  C‘était très gentil.

Fringe Benevolence

In a swift, diagonal upward thrust of the arm, Michaela dislodged the velvety teal shawl that her step-mother draped around her shoulders at the start of the diving meet.  Water droplets slid down her arms and puddled around her feet.  Michaela tightened her swimming cap and stared at her toes.  The springboard reminded her of a reluctant lover, sprawled out in supplication but betraying no facial expressions that communicated a yearning for gestures of passion.

Michaela noticed the shawl dangle on the edge of the diving board to the right of where she was standing.  She took a deep breath, looked up around the empty stands, and imagined a crowd of impatient, bored spectators.  There would be no official competition until she could make this dive, the one that fractured the skulls of the best swimmers the school had seen in the last ten years.  It didn’t make sense to her why such a difficult and fatally dangerous routine should be required of an aspiring diver if the whole point was to win and the odds were high that the university would lose athletes to it.

But Michaela buzzed with the right amount of pride and delusion to believe that the worst that could happen would be death and not paralysis.  She repositioned herself on the board, went through the requisite arm motions to prepare for a take-off, and as she leaped forward, twisting her body like a projectile pencil, she saw the water in the pool steam and turn the color of fruit punch.  It tasted much worse than it looked.  Exuberant, bright red appears as though it should taste of luxurious strawberries, but its flavor was much more like the sweet and sour inconvenience of apple cider vinegar and cranberries.

Michaela was still falling through the water, though.  She didn’t understand how she could taste it if she was still in it.  The bottom of the pool kept getting farther away the further she fell.  And there was no slowing her momentum.  She wondered if the shawl had fallen into the pool, and if so, where it had gone.



I don’t know why this fall jazz music mix inspired this piece of flash fiction.

Original pic cred: Adrien Ledoux @adrienl, unsplash

In the Graying Blues

Or greying blues.

I don’t know which vowel looks better.  I doubt, though, that Dorian would agree to being a Grey instead of a Gray.

The old street hockey team uniforms were once blue, but they’ve been turning greyer, no, grayer — neither of them look good — for many seasons.  Yes, my school has a street hockey team, just a dozen-years-old.

It doesn’t seem like a long time for a sport at a school, but when there are no balls to be thrown, kicked, struck with wood or passed around with hands, then it does seem odd.

My teammates and I believe the principal gets pleasure out of watching teenagers enclosed by protective gear (helmets, knee pads, wrist guards, elbow pads, and mouth guards) trying to play regular hockey without ice.  We don’t get into fights for random reasons, but a slide across the asphalt and our skin starts dripping.

It is not cold enough for ice.

And even if it were, I don’t think the principal would prefer to see his body-conscious male students fully covered by protective gear and needing a lot more dental insurance than the local orthodontists and insurance agents would care to negotiate prices for services categorized as for the teeth or for the body.

The last I checked, the teeth are part of the body.

Now, our uniforms are blue again. And I still don’t know if gray or grey is better.

Earl gray.
Earl grey.

What do you say?


This piece of flash faction came to me while listening to this mix.