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
In November 2015 my first piece of speculative fiction was published. I didn’t know it at the time, but a trend would be set that has continued for five years. Most of the 60+ published stories I’ve written fall into genres like science fiction, fantasy, horror or just plain weird . The Middle Box is about a “doctor” who specializes in weight loss and has an unsettling method to help his patients achieve their goals. His patients are mostly female and we learn that the good doctor is also quite attracted to the full-figured women he treats. Reading it now I see many flaws, but the inherent creepiness remains. That is what I still strive to achieve in writing this kind of story.
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
This month marks the 5th anniversary of two published stories. Deep Pools of Tepid Remorse was my first ever published story. It tells the tale of a muralist and a journalist and how street art brought them together. g.lentz follows an eccentric-looking woman and a man who she fascinates. Both stories were great motivators as each was accepted for publication after only a couple submissions. They also showed me that while writing is a solo effort, revisions need the feedback of other writers. I had recently joined a writers group and members’ feedback had helped make these stories much better.
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.
If a bright spot can be found in these days of pandemic and seclusion, it’s that many more new journals have come to our attention. Since March, The Short List has featured 112 new inclusions, places where writers of short prose can submit their stuff. If you’re anything like us, these past few months have been a boon to writing. Now, it’s time to start submitting.
Keep checking back for opportunities to publish your short stories and flash fiction. And if you haven’t already, please follow us on Twitter for notifications about new journals.
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.