All of these are meant to be 3-10 sentence responses to one-word prompts, which are the title of each piece.
The way I write usually has a twist at the end, and as such it’s difficult to include content warnings without giving away the endings.
But I guarantee you that none of these stories include sexual assault, slurs, suicide, drug or alcohol use, or explicit sexual content.
Specific (non-spoiler) cws:
Tooth: deathDare: drowningClosingAfter the last customer finally grabbed their eighteen boxes of tictacs, three taquitos to go,
and sale-rack novelty singing nativity scene figures and paid in quarters and dimes, it was finally time to pack up.
As I pulled the metal frame door closed behind me, thick raindrops slid down the rooftops like fat in the deep fryer and slapped me viciously in the face.
It was when I was probing for the keyhole that there was a light tap on my shoulder.“Um,” said the girl.
She was pretty: curly hair with a pink streak in it, dark skin sporting goosebumps where the rain hit her flesh, and eyes like dark dark pools I couldn’t swim in.
However, I had just done a double shift.“It’s 2 AM.”“I just need one thing,” she added quickly.“I set the alarms already. Here, I’ll get it. What do you need?”She shifted.
“Well, someone told me this was where I could get a. You know.” She lowered her voice. “A curse.”I raised an eyebrow. On a second glance, her ears had a slight point to them.
I slowly turned the lock, officially closing the store.
And then I reached into my shirt and pulled out the other key that hung on a necklace. When the door opened again, the slushie machine was replaced with rows of off-colour liquids and boxes.
For the human world, it was closing time. For us, the night was just beginning.ToothEveryone remembered old Mr. Jones.
He was the grandpa type, the man who sat on his wicker rocking chair and gave out popsicles to the kids walking home from school, a tarnished silver tooth glinting in a crooked smile.
His wife, whose name I never actually knew, could be seen smiling from the window where she placed one of her neighbourhood-famous pies to cool. When Mr.
Jones died, the neighbours showed up in droves to the funeral. I was just a kid, and though it was a closed-coffin funeral, I raised the heavy bottom lid and held his leathery hand one last time.
I walked alongside my dad, one of the coffin bearers, and felt the weight on my own shoulders.
I threw a handful of dirt on the descending wooden box, dirt threaded with grass roots and a lone mangy dandelion. When we went back to old Mr.
Jones’s house, sitting somewhat emptier for that still wicker chair, his wife gave out slices of pie.
It was delicious, as always - except for a crunch halfway through, which turned out to be a tarnished silver tooth.CliffThe cliff was something of an unofficial deity to us.
The older kids, the ones who turned 16 and got their license, or the ones whose puberty-stretched legs were just reaching the gas pedal of a borrowed car,
would drive us out there to watch the storms roll in.
It turned into a kind of ritual: we watched the storm and counted the seconds between lightning and thunder, and we dug our fingers into the dirt so the cliff would protect us.
Sometimes flecks of rain would test our invisible barrier, but our little town down in the valley never flooded.
We took to driving around the neighbourhood before we went to the cliff, picking up furniture left for the garbage truck and paperbacks abandoned in the street,
beach glass and interesting stones. We left these as offerings on the cliff, carefully picking up any garbage left by tourists, and when we came back, the offerings would always be gone.
We worshipped the cliff. We stroked its stubby grass and whispered our stories to the crevices.
We wanted to know what the cliff’s face looked like, but we were afraid that if we looked over the edge the magic would be broken. Against our protests and struggles, Benny Goodbook did it.
“The cliff,” he whispered, “it’s just the shell.”
DareLightning flashes, and you wake with a start.
You clutch your blankets closer, afraid somewhere in your reptilian mind of the branches’ shadows reaching to you like gnarled hands from beyond the grave.You had been dreaming of your sister.
You look, but she is not in the bed beside you. She hasn’t been for a long time. You remember the long winter nights when the two of you played cards in the cabin.
You remember snowshoeing hard, struggling to keep up, through the quiet white forest.
You remember the water churning under the almost clear ice, and the taunt of competition that she could never do it.
You remember the first brittle crack and your sister disappearing underneath, limb by limb.
You remember her hand reaching out, a last plea, and hesitating that one crucial moment because you had finally, finally won.You have not seen her since.Lightning flashes.Until now.