I once attended a wedding that had a ring warming ceremony as part of the service. This was new to me. The wedding bands were circulated among those attending and the guests were supposed to say a little prayer or extend good thoughts for the lucky couple. Ultimately, the rings made it up to the altar, warmed by all the happy wishes. In my version of the ceremony, this didn’t go smoothly. Published by 96th of October.
Here’s a speculative piece that’s a departure from my other stories. It’s told in the voice of an eight-year-old child. From his perspective, he may have otherworldly powers or it just might be his imagination. First published in February 2020 by Bewildering Stories.
by DL Shirey
My legs don’t work right. Mommy says my muscles are little-boy size and will catch up to me some day. I am eight and a half. Daddy thinks I should go out and play more, but it’s hard to keep up. I can run without my crutches on flat ground pretty good, but I still fall too much. Daddy takes me to the park a lot and says I don’t need to use crutches when I play on grass. He says Mommy’s right about sidewalks and streets, to always use my crutches or I can fall down and skin my knees.
I have a wheelchair but Daddy hates it. He said that it will make my body lazy and to use the crutches and keep strong. When he takes me out on Daddy Weekends, he leaves the wheelchair in Mommy’s garage. He tells Mommy I get around good enough without it, but Mommy thinks I need it sometimes. Grown-ups are funny.Continue reading
This is a character study of a dark relationship between a photographer and his former muse. They meet again years after their collaboration brought them both fame. Published by Siren’s Muse, it appears in their 2020 Halloween issue. Download the PDF to find dozens of speculative stories and poems. Amy’s Face is on page 14.
If more people are born than die, how are souls reincarnated? This flash fiction tells all. First published in January 2020 by Grey Sparrow Journal.
Why Whales Beach Themselves
by DL Shirey
And God said to Phelan, “You know the rules. Every human baby must include a resurrected soul.”
What else could Phelan do except nod in response; her long, platinum curls bobbing as if confident the problem would be solved. As Angel-In-Charge of reincarnation it was her job. Not to mention, the higher echelons of divinity had too many perks for Phelan to admit that quality control had slipped in recent centuries. So many soulless newborns had snuck through already, and the world was beginning to feel the affects from their lack of empathy, forgiveness and cooperation.Continue reading
Here’s another sci-fi tale that packs a lot of story in a small space. It tells how a moon got its first homesteaders and how society grew. It’s also about a mother teaching her son about death. All in 1,462 words. Published by the speculative fiction magazine All Worlds Wayfarer.
In an interesting addendum, writing this story lead to an author interview.
This is a story of two parks in Portland, Oregon. The physical description is that of Mt. Tabor, an extinct volcano within walking distance of my house. There is a statue in this park, erected in 1933. The name of the other park escapes me. At the time I was writing this story, local news was reporting about a change to the name of this second park; its previous designation celebrated a person whose past was tainted by racism. Oregon has a history—to be polite—of not being particularly welcoming to minorities. The renaming of this park was an effort to atone.
As I said, there is a statue at the top of Mt. Tabor Park, of a newspaperman pointing west. He is alone. In the story the statue is of a man and a boy. I invented Statue Boy to add an element of surrealism and to have another character to interact with the protagonist. Fleas on the Dog published my story as a PDF download.
After Dinner Conversation is a unique magazine. Not only do they publish excellent short stories, acceptance is predicated on the premise that what you read is worthy of discussion. “The One That Damned Me” is about a man wrongly accused of a crime. The editors then follow up with philosophical or ethical questions for further conversation. All six stories in the July issue are well written as are topics posed afterwards. There are also free downloads for this issue (pdf, ePub, mobi), but I urge you to buy a subscription. It’s well worth it.
In January, 2020, A Story in 100 Words published my Drabble. (That’s a story of exactly one hundred words, folks.) It can be quite challenging to craft a beginning, middle and end into extremely short prose. At the time, I was struggling mightily with another microfiction piece and my frustration inspired me to write this:
by DL Shirey
The crumpled notebook paper can’t be hurt, no matter how hard it’s thrown. An anemic crackle sounds at impact, a lazy, pointless attempt to uncurl is its sole achievement. The lopsided wad sits atop the unburning end of a Duraflame log. Mercifully, black char ashes the paper’s edge, further loosening the ball until gravity pulls it down to hearth. Still misshapened, I see blue ink, evidence of the second worst opening line in the history of writing. The winner is in my fist, ready to toss to the flames. It’s the only way to bring fire to my words today.
Six words published by Briefly Write.
Of the dozen stories published in 2019, this may have been my favorite. Atmospheric and eerie, it tells quite a complex tale in about three-thousand words. First published by Eternal Haunted Summer in their Winter Solstice issue.
by DL Shirey
Veta barked. As dog breeds went, the bone-thin hound would have been hard to identify. Jorge claimed she was purebred, but as underfed, filthy and beat up as she was, Veta looked more like a stray gone wild.
The dog trotted on the sand and gravel in the shade of a four-foot barranca. The edge of the streambed seemed to defy gravity, standing firm against the wind from the Chihuahuan Desert, each gust kicking off bits from the brittle layers of sediment. Sprouts of sour grass clung magically to the walls, out of the direct rays of the harsh, low sun.