We asked 10 Portland authors to write us fresh short stories. How short? Tweet short. Here’s fiction in 280 characters or less.
It’s bad luck, you said, to step on your lover’s shadow. We kept walking. Lover, you’re bad luck, you said. We kept walking. Your shadow loomed large beside me, inviting sudden clumsiness. Forgive me.
—Gina Ochsner (author of The Hidden Letters of Velta B., published July 2016)
“Be honest with me,” he said. “What would you do?” “Have no regrets,” his oncologist replied.
—Wayne Harrison (The Spark and the Drive, Dec 2015)
The ogre gave us a room in the house, which we weren’t so sure was actually his, and told us we could eat whatever—mostly canned goods ten years out of date. Told us to beware of the witch in the woods out back, where we could see a friendly porchlight burning.
—Susan DeFreitas (Hot Season, Nov 2016)
She asked me to hold it for safe keep, then snuck in the small hours and begged it back. Dawn, noon, nights. She staggered in reeking of proof.
—Mitchell Jackson (Survival Math, Mar 2019)
Like summers of childhood, our world ends in an eyeblink. A black moon rises, chaos from the primordial void. Her light, blue-shifted and trembling in my eyes. My arms tight around her as we fall into the sky. In a trick of relativity, time stops. I will never have to let her go.
—Daniel H. Wilson (Guardian Angels & Other Monsters, Mar 2018)
20 years ago, the sex tape made her famous. “I’m tired of being ignored,” she told the man as she took off her robe and pressed record. “I want them to see me.” The man said she was the hottest thing he’d ever seen. The internet disagreed.
—Jennifer Wolfe (Watch the Girls, July 2018)
The MS Vulcania. 23,970 gross tons. An immigrant ship. The ship that brought my family here, in 1946, Cairo to Naples to New York. The lifespan of an ocean liner. 45 years. And then? Sold for scrap, and sunk, on the way to Kaohsiung.
—Pauls Toutonghi (Dog Gone, Apr 2017)
I want to be seen but not looked at. She stands at the mouth of a cave, a mother in the mouth of another mother. Sharing stories of yellow. Yellow as the color that calls things to it, yellow the color of a soiled white. But maybe sometimes a yellow dress is just a yellow dress.
—Dao Strom (We Were Meant to Be a Gentle People, Oct 2015)
We don’t speak in hashtags here. There is no shorthand for wildfire burning the skin at the back of my throat, or for rivers running sluggish and brown if they run at all. The smoke rises, signaling.
—Rebecca Clarren (Kickdown, Sept 2018)
My mother named me B. When I was six, I asked why. “If you write out the name of each number—o-n-e and t-w-o—you won’t use the letter B until you reach a billion.” She looked out our window at the endless forest. “You are that rare.” Rare enough, apparently, to keep hidden away.
—Tammy Lynne Stoner (Sugar Land, Oct 2018)