What events would occur in the preliminary phases before time travel was perfected? To me, the electronic transmission of messages through time would be developed before a living creature or an object crossed that threshold. At least that’s the premise for this short story. Published by Theme of Absence Magazine, they were also quite kind to do an author interview.
Those who expect something speculative will find this a change of pace, a sweet story about a little girl and her auntie. This short story was first published in July 2018 by Ariel Chart.
The Sleep Game
by DL Shirey
This is wrong, stealing money from Aunt Maybelle. At month’s end, no less, when choices get made by the day, by what’s needed most. Like last night, Mom shuffled the pile of envelopes on the kitchen table. “Pay that,” said Mom and tossed it with ones that had big red-stamped words. “Not that,” as she put the envelope on the taller stack.
Here at Aunt Maybelle’s, choices are different. “Child, bring me my pills,” and I do. It’s a long plastic holder—sort of like my pencil box—with snaps covering divides, each decorated with letters like M, T, W. Auntie chooses not to take all the pills under F. And this morning she saved the bowl of dry cereal Mom and I brought her. She hasn’t eaten yet.
Writing thank you notes is a lost art, one I only found after marrying my wife. Sometimes it’s a point of conflict between us, as this story shows. Published in Gravel.
Zeroflash published my story on the stand alone flash pieces page of their website. It’s the story of a photo found in the trash and a remembrance of the moment it was taken.
You will need to scroll down a few stories to find it.
In my opinion, when you have a piece that is 101 words, there’s a great place to submit it. First published in June 2018, this story, though fiction, has a real character from my youth: a tree.
by DL Shirey
The dreamy, slow circle of the overhead fan. The sound of a fly making lazy pivots on this hot afternoon. “Sweltering,” Mom would have said, “But the lawn won’t mow itself.” A push mower leans against the maple we named Old Man. His leaves cover the tall grass. The rake is just outside the screen door. So are the grass shears. Mom would have made iced tea, jangled cubes in the sweating pitcher to tempt me, to show my reward for doing her yard. I’m nursing a beer instead, satisfied, having trimmed around her headstone and raked up all the leavings.
True story. I volunteer my time at a bookstore. We sell lots of used magazines, so it wasn’t surprising to see a stack of the British royalty mag, Majesty, show up. As I was unloading the box, there was a lonely copy of Confingo, a literary journal. I read it and thought I had something appropriate to submit. It was accepted and in May 2018 my flash fiction was in print. Confingo is a gorgeous, high-quality publication available in the UK and elsewhere. Here is the reprinted story:
by DL Shirey
I thought shyness demurred her eyes each time I tried to meet them.
“I’ve had a bit of facial surgery,” she said, “When people look at me I always forget they’re not seeing what I used to be.”
She patted at the back of her head as if a hair was out of place. It was odd, the hair I mean; what I could see of it, at least. Plaited in thick ropes, it reminded me of dreadlocks, but there was no fleece or fuzzy texture to it, just smooth, bulky twines pulled up under a top hat.
This story is one that never would have been published without a draft or two (or three) presented to my writing group. Thanks to Craig, Emrie, Mireille and Steph for the candid feedback and patience to sit through yet another revision. It was first published by Ariel Chart in June 2018.
A Harmless Prank
by DL Shirey
Morning came to the courtyard between iron bars of a skylight, brightening the floor outside his cell door. Finner dropped to his knees and touched his cheek to cold concrete, eyeballing the distance and angle from his door to Peralta’s. Finner had an idea how to cheer up his shipmate, then he wondered, are we still called shipmates on dry land?
Prisoners weren’t allowed to speak, so they wrote messages instead. Finner hadn’t traded words with Peralta for three weeks, not since their jailers confiscated the conveyance used to pass notes. When it was found, Finner took a beating, but it didn’t stop him from assembling another rig.