Grandpa Al ~ Short Fiction

Photo by Rushina Morrison on Unsplash

Grandpa Al radioed coordinates during the Korean War.

He was quiet, loved his Yankees, and sipped O’Doul’s in the summertime.

He had a fake leg and owned a ukulele, too –

A sweet, beautiful instrument boxed up in his basement.

I can see him now.

He’s smiling. Sipping. Strumming and plucking.

“Grandpa Al” was originally published in Fifty Word Stories. Click here to see the original publication.

***

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The Woeful Farmer ~ Short Fiction

Photo by Leon Contreras on Unsplash

When the lightning danced across the sky and the deep thrum of thunder carried out across the plains for the fifth night in a row, he knew the end had come.

Torrents of rain and softball-sized hail pounded all around him, devastating his crops, ripping through them like swinging scythes.

***

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Purgatory ~ Short Fiction

Photo by Jordan Connor on Unsplash

Purgatory was different for everyone.

When John entered, he was thrust back into his old world, forced to live out his new life firmly rooted in the ground.

See — John became a tree.

As he aged, he understood tranquility. He became home to animals and insects alike.

He still stands.

***

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Paws ~ Fiction

An old man named Luke entered the Humane Society alone. He walked with a limp and wore a stern expression.

“Heard about the Golden Retriever pups,” he said. “Mind if I see them?”

The assistant brought him back to the kennels. The puppies yipped and cried as expected, crawling over one another and jumping about clumsily. Half of them already wore yellow tags, marking their future owners.

Out of the corner of his eye, Luke spotted a dog two kennels over. The mutt was a bit older — probably at least eight or nine, judging by his gray snout. He was somber. He didn’t bark. Instead, he gazed at the man, almost in deep contemplation.

Luke approached him. “What’s your name?” he asked. The dog tilted his head ever so slightly. The man glanced at the tag on the door: Paws.

“How’d an old guy like you end up in a place like this? Guess you could probably ask the same of me.”

Luke dropped down to a knee as Paws walked closer.

“Hey,” Luke called over to the assistant, “what’s his story? I think I’d like to take him home and tell him mine.”

***

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Inhaling Her ~ Short Fiction

Photo by Mari Partyka on Unsplash

Blaise watched his wife from the cabana. She was ankle-deep in the Caribbean, collecting seashells – a perfect memory.

When he gulped the thin mountain air, trapped in an icy crevasse, he inhaled her. Hypothermic, somewhere above Camp 4, he’d surely die. But the summer breeze would take him home.

***

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Birdsong ~ Fiction

Photo by Jan Meeus on Unsplash

You don’t know me, but I know you.

I know all of you.

I watch you from the windows, but you don’t notice me. Not ever.

You, tall man with the beard, are the first to wake. Sometimes the little girl joins you early in the morning when the sun has barely risen. She helps you brew the coffee, feed the dog, and let him out. He’s kind of nasty, if I’m being honest. He’s the only one who glances in my direction, though. Most of the time he chases me away, and I retreat to the skies.

When the woman and louder child — the boy, the one who cries and clings to her — come downstairs, you all enjoy breakfast. You cook. You eat. You sing and laugh and play. Yet you never see me.

I call to you in the mornings, and afternoons, and evenings — even at night, when the lights are out and the stars guide me to your dwelling — but you carry on with your little ones and your love. Your life.

The days turn into months, the months into years. I try to sing to you. No one listens.  You change before my eyes. The boy and the girl grow taller, thinner. She has ribbons in her hair, and he wears a cap on his head. You seem happy.

A third child appears one day, as loud as the others used to be. Now they’re a different kind of loud.

The seasons change again and again. You have specks of gray in your hair. The woman’s has turned silver, wavier.

My bones grow old, worn.  Still, I try to sing. One day in late spring, when the trees are in full bloom, I fall from a high branch. I’m too tired to do anything about it. It feels like the end.

But then you appear. You stand over me. You kneel — murmur something. It sounds like music.

And then the girl appears, and the boy. The woman and new child, too.

You’re all here with me. It’s all I ever wanted, but now I’m too tired to sing.

I take it all in — your faces, the trees, the never-ending sky — and close my eyes.

***

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New Story Published!

Hi everyone,

I have some exciting news!

Spillwords Press published my short fiction titled “A Mile Away” on November 5th, 2021. The story is about overcoming obstacles, not giving up, and the importance of being a steadfast parent.

If you’re interested, please follow the link here. (It’s a sixty-second read!) Thanks a bunch.

Wishing you all the best,

Justin

“New Attendance Codes” has been published by The Daily Drunk Magazine

Happy New Year, everyone!

I’m a little late getting around to posting this, but I wanted to share another publication update. The Daily Drunk Magazine published my hybrid flash fiction story “New Attendance Codes” on Christmas Eve. I was excited to add this to my list of publications for 2020.

I wrote “New Attendance Codes” in an attempt to capture the pure absurdity of this school year. Schools and families are doing the best they can – I mean that earnestly – but this year has been unlike anything we have ever faced before. Each day poses a new challenge, and the challenges are far from what we used to typically experience.

Writing this story was simply one teacher’s way of having a laugh to help find his way through an obscure time.

I hope you enjoy it!

– Justin