Photo copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

I notice rough places where workmen slapped paint right over the chipped surface of the balcony columns. I look away. “No stripping, no sanding…lousy job.”

No one even tries any more, my father’s ghost sighs.

In a sudden fury I break off my manicured fingernails, leaving them bleeding. Inside, I bandage my fingertips, then drive to the hardware store for sandpaper, paint stripper, gloves. I am sanding away when my husband arrives.

He squints up at me. “Alicia, what are you doing?”

Fixing what your hired hands left wrecked. A true craftsman’s daughter, I sand harder. “Trying,” I yell down.

If it is worth doing…it is worth doing right. 😉

Find more Friday Fictioneers flash fiction for this week here.


The Birthday Gift


photo copyright Melanie Greenwood

In my dream I am alone in a garden labyrinth. “If I could give you a gift today,” I whisper, “I would finish those drafts I let you read, get my stories out into the world.” I take a shaky breath. “But I’m scared. My books–and my life–are such a mess.”

In her later years she delighted in bawdy language. I hear faint snickering, then her voice from a distance, quoting the handwritten note to herself I found on her writing desk. “This story is not going to unfuck itself!”

“Too true.” I give up and laugh. “Happy birthday, Mama.”

This lovely photo of a garden arrived just in time for February 4th, which was my mother’s birthday…and the first thing I thought of was how much she enjoyed visiting the local botanic garden. I admit the memories made me sad, since she’s been gone almost three years now. I envisioned myself there again with her, was probably about to write something maudlin–and then suddenly I got a dose of motherly advice. She was not one to put up with weepy self-pity.  🙂

Though she had been a rather formal person most of her life, in her last years my mother developed a love of vulgar language because she found it so “juicy and expressive.” She adored the author Chuck Wendig, and because she was a writer herself she read his blog every day, relishing his writing advice. After her death I found a yellow post-it note, written in her tidiest printing, on her desk. It says simply: “This story is not going to unfuck itself!” which is a quote from Chuck’s blog. I keep that post-it in a silver frame now, and every time I see it, I can hear her laughing at me…gently reminding me (the way some mothers do, no matter what) to get off my ass and get to work.

How funny. It’s her birthday, but I’m the one who got a gift. 😉

Find more Friday Fictioneers flash fiction for this week here.

“The Switchbox”

Rated R

(think David Fincher’s “SE7EN”)


Image copyright Ted Strutz

“And this…” the young photographer bent to look through the hole. “What was this?”

Detective Lewis slid his hand down the wall, covering the hole. “You don’t want to know, Johnson.”

“Come on, Detective.”

“Suit yourself.” Lewis shrugged.

Dim light in the space beyond the hole revealed enormous hooks hanging from the ceiling, rusty streaks down the walls, layers of thick, dark stains on the floor. “My God. He…hung them up…” Johnson began shaking. “And those cables?”

“Wired to this switchbox.” Lewis pointed. “Three settings: pain, agony, and death.” He looked down. “Forensics says he never used number three.”

I admit it. I’ve watched too many seasons of “Criminal Minds.”

Find more Friday Fictioneers flash fiction for this week here.

“Life Is Like A Boat”

Image copyright Georgia Koch

Image copyright Georgia Koch

I trust, I let you go, I never know if I will see you again. You fade from my sight as the gates between our worlds close, my heart wrenches hard in my chest. No one knows more clearly than I how fragile life is–who could know better than a shinigami? Death follows my tiny boat, I feel its chill breath lifting strands of my hair as I sail. I try to shut my love for you inside me, but it slips free each time our eyes meet, a silver koi swimming up to the golden light of your soul.

My first entry for Friday Fictioneers is a meditation on the difficult relationship between a young man who is still very much alive and a beautiful shinigami girl who loves him. The title was inspired by the lovely song of the same name.

Find more Friday Fictioneers flash fiction for this week here.