Thursday, February 16, 2012

Six Word Stories

Six Word Stories

I enjoy poking around on the internet and lately I've noticed all sorts of sites and blogs talking about six word stories.

Smith Magazine even has an annual six-word story show. Their website lists hundreds of "six word memoirs" on every imaginable subject.

Here in Canada our own CBC Radio's blog for the arts and entertainment show Q, held a six word love story contest.*

To inspire participants they posted some six word stories by famous authors:  

"Found true love. Married someone else." - Dave Eggers 
 "Starlet sex scandal. Giant squid involved." - Margaret Atwood
 "We kissed. She melted. Mop please!" - James Patrick Kelly
 "Failed SAT. Lost scholarship. Invented rocket." - William Shatner

I went looking for more and found these gems on Wired's website:

"Longed for him. Got him. Shit." - Margaret Atwood
"The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly." - Orson Scott Card
"Easy. Just touch the match to" - Ursula K. Le Guin

I guess if that novella-length wip I'm working on doesn't pan out I can always try something smaller. LOL

*Q's blog has a Modern Love series featuring topics such as monogamy and its alternative, relationship and sexual anxieties, arranged marriages, infidelity as a marriage saver—fascinating stuff.
Q Blog Modern Love

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesday Briefs - Broken Bones and Mended Hearts

I managed another flash piece, though this might be the last one for a couple of weeks. Busy times just ahead.  

This week's prompt was: I got you under my skin.

The alternate prompts were:  Use Paul Bunyan, bad food, and wishes
use paper mache in your story
make a reference to Doctor Seuss.

Here’s my contribution.

Broken Bones and Mended Hearts

Jeff Coates drifted in a sea of bleached cotton and plastic tubing.

He slowly regained consciousness, aware of the slow beep of monitors and the hiss of oxygen long before he opened his eyes. His head felt full of mushy pulp, like a rotten fruit and his face felt weird, wet or cold; maybe both. Underneath the chemical tang of canned air he could smell disinfectant and plastic.

Alarmed, he opened his eyes. His vision swam then steadied and he realized he was staring at acoustic ceiling tiles.

“Welcome back.”

Jeff cautiously turned his throbbing head. His boyfriend Mike, sat in an ugly orange plastic chair. He tried to read Mike’s expression but he had his game face on.  “What happened?”

Mike pressed his hands between his knees. “You don’t remember?”

“I was…” Jeff struggled to remember. “No.” He tried to sit up, fighting the urge to panic.

“Mike adjusted the bed ‘til he was upright. “Should I call the nurse?” He reached for a cord tucked in beside the mattress.

“No. I’m okay.” Jeff looked at his arms. One was in a bulky white cast, looking like a kid’s paper mache project.  The other was wrapped in heavy gauze, like his brain. “I’ll be okay. I’m just kind of fuzzy and my mouth tastes like chemicals.”

Mike grabbed a cup with a straw from the nightstand. He leaned forward and held it as Jeff sipped cautiously. His eyes met Jeff’s then dropped to the thin cotton blanket.

“It’s probably from the anesthetic or the painkillers. You had surgery for the broken arm. Your bike’s beyond help.”

And just like that Jeff remembered. He’d been downhill mountain biking. One minute he’d been flying along a twisty trail then his bike’s front forks had buckled and…he was here. He also remembered he’d broken up with Mike a month ago.

He told himself the ache in his chest was from hitting that log. It wasn’t regret. He’d been the one that had left.

Mike looked him over and shook his head. “You were lucky. Only one broken bone. Plenty of other injuries though.”

“I don’t understand why you’re here.” Jeff saw that he’d hurt the other man. He hadn't meant to. “I am glad to see you though.” And he was. He still cared about Mike. Too much.

“The hospital phoned your parents and they phoned me.” Mike made a face. “You didn’t tell them we’d broken up.”

Jeff bit his lip. ““Did you? I hadn’t got ‘round to it.” His parents had thought Mike was a good catch. Jeff had wanted to avoid explaining who had broken up with who and why.

“No.” Mike fiddled with the straw. “When you get out of here you’re going to need help. You could come and live with me.”

Jeff shook his head, wincing as his brain banged around in his skull. “That’s not a good idea.”

Mike gave him a lopsided smile. “Why not?”

“If I didn’t live with you when we were dating I can’t live with you now.”

“You never would agree to move in. I still don’t know why.” Mike studied his face. “I don’t know why you wanted to break up either. You wouldn’t say.” He started to reach out as if to touch Jeff but pulled back. He laced his fingers together and put his hands in his lap. “I can’t get it right if I don’t know what I did wrong.”

Mike stared at his hands. Jeff thought he looked tired. His suit was rumpled. He’d probably come straight from work and been here for hours. 

“You didn’t do anything wrong.”  

It was Jeff that hadn’t felt comfortable moving in to that fancy apartment: Jeff that felt awkward with his shabby clothes and his rusty old beater of a car, his crap-paying job. If he was honest with himself he’d never felt…good enough. Every day he’d expected Mike to realize he was with the wrong man. He’d wanted out before his heart was too broken to mend.    

Mike scrutinized his face. “You’re so fiercely independent. So proud. I always tried to give you room, tried not to pressure you, but maybe you took that as disinterest.”

Jeff frowned and winced as tape pulled against his skin. That’s how Mike saw him? Proud? Independent? He’d done a good job at convincing one of them.

Mike traced his jawline with a thumb. He stroked lightly over Jeff’s chin and up to his mouth as Jeff held still, soaking up that tender caress.

Mike’s face twisted.  “The thing is…I’m not sure I can get by without you. I love you,” he said simply. “And you need looking after. Move in with me. Not just ‘til you’re better: for good.” 

Jeff blinked. Mike had never said that before, but then he’d never said that to Mike either. He hadn't even admitted it to himself until now.

Mike carefully cupped his chin, leaned forward and kissed him as Jeff stared up at him.  For a second Jeff worried about his chapped lips and possible bad breath, but it just felt so damn good to be this close to the man he loved. The man who loved him back.

“Sorry. Hope I didn’t hurt you.” Mike smoothed the blanket, his fingers playing with a loose thread. 

Jeff stared fondly at the top of Mike’s head. Taking his worn-out mountain bike on a double diamond trail wasn’t the stupidest thing he’d done. Breaking up with Mike was.

“Well, if you’re lonely in that big bed all by yourself I guess I could keep you company.”

Mike looked up, his eyes caressing Jeff’s face. “We can make it work,” Mike said softly and Jeff felt overwhelming relief. His eyes stung and he blinked fiercely. He was acting like a girl.   

Mike tucked his fingers around Jeff’s, careful not to jostle the IV or his bandaged arm. He smiled, his eyes crinkling. “And when you come home I promise to play doctor.”

The End.

But wait, there's more. Check out the other flashers:

Nephylim    m/m
Sara York    m/m
Lindsay Klug    m/f

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Swept Up In Blue now available at Smashwords

It's taken me a while, but I finally managed to make time to upload my free short story, Swept Up In Blue, to Smashwords. The cover was made just for me by the lovely and talented Lou Harper. Isn't it gorgeous?

Here's a quick blurb.

When Tait goes out for drinks after work he meets Jude from Sales. Tait's more than interested, but he's sworn off coworkers. Can Jude market himself as an employee benefit? 

If you'd like your very own copy, head on over to Smashwords.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wednesday Briefs - King of the Couch

At last! I get to use our gorgeous new flash fiction badge.

I wasn’t expecting to have a flash piece this week. I’ve been busy with work and family as well as trying to get somewhere with at least one of my unfinished stories. But I’ve been doing some writing exercises too, and this week the focus was on repetition.

I didn’t start out to write a story but it sort of wrote itself as I was working on the writing exercise and with a little tweaking, it fits this week’s prompt for the use of food in an erotic manner. So here you go. Enjoy.  

Less is More

King of the Couch
Copyright © 2012

Kurt sat on the ratty couch, feet flat on the floor, hands clasped loosely around his cup.

The smell of coffee and wet clothes permeated the air. Customers came and went. Some ordered their drinks to go. Some stayed to take a break from the winter weather, read the newspaper, take advantage of the free Internet. 

Outside the rain fell in a light mist, collecting on the windowpane in large drops before rushing pell-mell down the glass as if it had somewhere important to go. Somewhere it had to be. Unlike him. He could sit here all Saturday and no one would worry. No one would care. Not since he’d broken up with his boyfriend six months ago. Probably not before that either, since he’d been dating a cheater. Why did he always go for the wrong kind of men?

Kurt watched the froth from his empty latte cup dry to a lacy scum. He’d ventured out because he’d felt restless. Now he just felt tired. Still, he didn’t want to go back. He had no one waiting for him at home. But the coffee shop was popular. The couch was popular. Already a few people had given him the stink eye as if they thought a solitary man wasn’t entitled to a little comfort. As if he should be sitting in a corner of the room instead of a corner of the couch.

Someone was staring at him now. Biting their lip as if they weren’t sure how to ask him to move. Too damn bad. He wouldn’t make it easy for them. Wouldn’t let them chase him away. He had the couch first—though the shop hadn’t been busy then. The guy could find his own damn couch.

“Excuse me. Is anyone else sitting here?”

He was cute, but not Kurt’s type. He looked more academic than athletic and Kurt, to his chagrin, had a thing for jocks. Big, obnoxious, cheating jocks.

The guy fidgeted as Kurt stared him down. He wasn’t going to let a pair of pretty brown eyes make him give up his comfy seat. But they were very pretty brown eyes.    

The guy’s mug tilted slightly, slopping coffee onto his hand. “Ouch.”

Kurt winced in sympathy. “Here.” He held out a paper napkin.

Brown Eyes shook his head. “Thanks, but I’ve got it.” He transferred the mug to his other hand and licked coffee off the back of his knuckles with his tongue. Then he sucked on the skin between his finger and thumb as Kurt watched entranced. Pretty eyes, pretty mouth.

“I was wondering if I could join you.” He tilted his head and gave Kurt a tentative smile.  

Kurt sat up straight and narrowed his eyes. “Why?”

Brown Eyes’ smile faltered. “Are you always this unfriendly?”

Kurt chastised himself. He didn’t have to be a dick just because he was feeling sorry for himself. He made an effort to be sociable. “No. Sorry.” He moved his messenger bag from the cushion beside him. “Sit down.”

“Thanks.” Brown Eyes sat down, a little closer than strictly necessary, though here in the university district no one would care. He smiled at Kurt then sipped at his coffee, his fingers wrapped around the mug.  

Kurt watched the muscles of his throat contract as he swallowed. Desire flared in his belly and he looked away ashamed. He shouldn’t be imagining those fingers wrapped around him, that pretty mouth licking him, sucking him, swallowing him down.

He fiddled with his empty cup. He felt stupid. He was hogging one of the best seats and he didn’t even have a drink. But if he left now Brown Eyes might take it the wrong way. His feelings might get hurt. Kurt didn’t know why it mattered, but he didn’t want to do that to the other man. He’d wait a respectable amount of time and then leave. 

Except now more than ever, he didn't want to go. Brown Eyes smelled like freshly washed cotton and soap. Wholesome. Honest. Kurt bet he was the kind of man that would like to hold hands in public and cuddle. He'd make love with a playful attitude then fall asleep in your arms afterward.  

“Hey, you’re out of coffee.” Brown Eyes sounded ridiculously pleased.

Kurt’s heart gave a little lurch. “So?” He didn’t mean to sound defensive. It just came out that way.

Brown Eyes’ lips twitched. “So if I buy you another, will you tell me your name?”

Kurt smiled. His facial muscles felt weird, as if he hadn’t done this in a while. “Only if you tell me yours.” 

“It’s Chris.”

Chris waited, his eyebrow raised.

“Oh. I’m Kurt.”

“What do you want, Kurt? Another latte?”

Kurt hesitated. Don’t over think it. Just take it one step at a time.  “A latte would be great. Thanks.”

Chris stood. “Don’t move. I’ll be right back.”

Kurt nodded. “Okay.”

He watched Chris make his way to the counter.  Pretty eyes, pretty mouth, pretty amazing ass. Kurt settled, getting comfortable, as a couple eyed him uncertainly. He met their gaze and rested his arm along the back of the couch. They chose a table instead.

Kurt grinned. He was king of the couch. He wasn’t going to abdicate his throne. But it was a big couch and he was willing to share with the right person, and as he watched Chris smile at him as he waited at the counter, Kurt had a feeling that Chris might just be the right person.

The End.

Here’s the rest of this week’s flashers. Don’t forget to check out their stories.

Sara York     m/m
AJ Jarrett   m/m
Nephylim    m/m
LM Brown   m/m
RC Donitz   m/f
Scarlett Knight    m/f