Published

Belts

belts
image : sandipointe.com

This piece is less about being a band geek in high school and more about adolescent humor and bad judgement. It stars my pal Charlie Banks and kindly published in July 2018 by Twenty-Two Twenty-Eight.

Belts

by DL Shirey

It went like this: Two high school buddies square off in mock confrontation, voices brimming with testosterone. Mine’s longer than yours. No way, mine’s longer. Belts are unbuckled, giving the impression to nearby girls of an imminent comparison of penises. They are whipped out with a flourish–the belts, I mean–and held up to one another to see who wins.

This was foreplay in 1973, when I had no idea what it took to attract the opposite sex. Acting the buffoon was a way to get attention, as was ’70s fashion statements like bell-bottom Levi’s, flower-print shirt and a white belt. I even had a pair of platform shoes, which, thank God, went out of fashion before the year was up.

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Character Count, Published

Pathological

MRI-750x500
image : europeanpharmaceuticalreview.com

This Drabble, a story exactly 100 words long, was published in September 2018 by Friday Flash Fiction. It’s a tale of an unnecessary medical procedure. Unnecessary because, well, that would be a spoiler.

Pathological

by DL Shirey

The MRI hums to life and the technician says, “don’t move.” I do. I smirk. The thing that nests inside my head isn’t easily fooled. It doesn’t move very fast but is always a step ahead of the doctors.

The machine clanks and chirps in earnest. Too late. The soft, warm bed atop my left parietal lobe is empty. No telltale traces will be found where it slipped down my brainpan, nor handprints on the ladder of my spine.

I can feel it now, spidering to the back of my ribs where it will stay until the test is over.

END

Published

The Sleep Game

sleep-game-60p
image : pxhere.com

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.

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Published

Reflecting Fire

reflecting
image : vintag.es

In August 2018, Zeroflash published my story on the stand alone flash pieces page of their website. You’ll have to scroll down the page a bit to find it. Or read it below. This is a story of a photo found in the trash and a remembrance of the moment it was taken.

 

Reflecting Fire

by DL Shirey

Her eyes flame from the camera flash. Mother looks like she saw the devil and is just about to scream. In the picture she’s with her sisters. Beck is celebrating thirty, Maggie six years older, Mother in the middle. Beck’s puffed cheeks prepare to blow candles. Maggie, always talking, is caught mid-sentence, so her teeth show like a grin. Mother has seen the camera, a blurred wine glass rushes to block her face, the flat of her irises reflecting fire.

Halves of this photo, found in the garbage, are now whole under yellowed cellophane tape.

The picture taker was seven. He now knows why Mother got so angry. Why people were family one minute, then the anger made them act like strangers. But at seven he wondered why parties were never at his house, and when everyone did get together, why his folks were always first to leave. Dad said it was the long drive back. Mother didn’t say anything, had her arms folded tight against her chest.

It was a long drive. Me in the back seat. Dad never talked, his eyes hard ahead in the rearview mirror. Mother was slumped beside him, softly snoring.

END

Character Count, Published

Leavings

leavings
image : Pinterest

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.

Leavings

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.

END

Published

Eye Contact

Eye Contact
image : weddbook.com

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:

Eye Contact

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.

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Published

A Harmless Prank

prank update
image : fast.lunchrock.co/fold-a-note

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.

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