Flash Fiction

(Featured image by Nico Paix via Flickr)

I’m organizing my thoughts, going through a huge stack of notebooks trying to parse the skeleton of my novel’s series. All that to say, expect me to feed you some of the scraps that I find in the coming weeks. Like this six-word short story I wrote forever ago:

I insult strangers because of you.

And this one is seven words, but who’s counting?

Pain tempered her, made her more swan-like.


Writing is the act of peeling your skin off in front of an audience.

I’ve lost the villainy of what the Mad Scientist is. I love her, so I want to make her loveable. I want the world to love her too, that rare lady.

I had an unsettling dream about a car crash on the freeway last night. I followed the wrong car and tried to make my way back to the scene of the collision on foot. But dreams are like walking through thick water, and I never made it. Wound up at the house I grew up in, instead.

My mom and I aren’t speaking.
“You have mama issues,” F says.
I can’t deny it. I do.

I don’t talk about it, because what can you really say?

“People will let you do anything, Mads. You’re smart and you’re cute.” It heartens me to hear it, that people still believe in me.  I feel like I am getting too old for this. I’ve heard it all my life– “You’re so smart, you can do anything.”

But if that were true, then why am I still here, doing what I’m doing. Why aren’t I Somebody yet?

“Because you don’t apply yourself,” he tells me, entirely without malice, and this too comforts me. That it is for lack of trying, and not for lack of ability.

Privately I think to myself that I’m just scared. It’s always been easier to be bland than to be real. If they reject the construct, then who cares. You’ve got no skin in the game anyway. But if they reject you— the real flesh-and-blood, beating heart of what you are– well now that’ll hurt.

“What’s a little pain?” I’ll laugh when I’m feeling cavalier.

What is it; but I know what it is. A deterrent. A balm against rejection. A flame retardant.


I was the girl with the magic bullet, trying to weave fantasy into the world, trying to make the myth flesh.

And sometimes I succeeded, in that little cozy room with the lights that winked amethyst, that winked rose-water pink, cast soft shadows on glittering wall tapestries. Rigid and straight-backed, often I failed, but sometimes I wrought such beauty.

Does the joy outweigh the pains, I wonder? In the sea of time, do I count it as a loss or gain?

Hindsight isn’t always 20/20, but sometimes the fog does lift for a little while. Sometimes we do come out of the forest.

Tassajara, what did Ginsberg pray for? What steep yellow lights have laid your insides so bare and foreign?

The night folds her wings around us.