Short Stories

#VSS365 January 2021

#VSS365 is a daily prompt based on Twitter. VSS stands for Very Short Story and the challenge is to get the story to fit into a single tweet. 

I am currently publishing the daily stories on twitter, but am also working through the backlog! Here is January 2021, for your enjoyment.

My therapist gives me a new word. Verklempt. To be overcome, overwhelmed, drowned in emotion. Crushed beneath a tsunami of feeling. Trapped and lost and trying to remember to breath.

Repeat the word, he says. Verklempt. Verk, in, lempt, out.

Reminding me I exist.

A velociraptor’s claw, delicate and wickedly sharp. Brittle now, ancient. A curious choice for a weapon, and yet here it is buried deep in the man’s eye.

They called me in to investigate, to solve this awful crime.

Smiling, I bend to admire my handiwork.

I’m a perfect dinner guest. I’m polite, I’m punctual, I’ll always bring a gift. Being a vampire shouldn’t be an issue: we’re well known for our hospitality!

All you need to do is open your door when I knock. Ask me to come in, welcome me into your home.

I won’t bite.

They circle like vultures. Waiting for me to fall. I stumble and quickly rise, but not fast enough. A claw sinks into my calf and I shake it free with a cry. The blood running into my shoes is unbearably hot.

I kick out uselessly, and the coconut crabs circle closer.

As a junior witch, she had accidentally hexed herself. A misspoken word, and she was cursed.

Even now, as the elder in her coven, she cannot remove the vex hex. Little annoyances, piling up day after day. She bears them with a smile, revelling in her early magic.

Perhaps this is a foolish vendetta to pursue. I fear that I have chosen a pointless war to wage, and that I will fall in battle over this insignificant point.

But, goddamn it, raspberry jam is superior to strawberry jam and I will die on this hill.

The creatures didn’t know the site they were entering was sacred. When they passed through, touching ever surface with their strange, gloved hands, they didn’t know they were violating our temples.

Still, we cowered beneath the coral as the humans swam over our reef.

There are many different kinds of magic. Academics have tried to map them all out, in flow charts or time lines. I’ve found the best way is to use a Venn diagram.

In the centre, where the circles overlap, is untamed wild magic, beyond the ability of any mortal witch.

I have a terrible and completely irrational phobia. I know it’s ridiculous, but I can’t stop myself from obsessing.

I dream that my voice has been stolen: snatched away and used against me.

Needless to say, I stay home when the ventriloquist comes to town.

Perhaps it is an act of vandalism. I don’t care. I have rearranged the stars to spell your name, I have burnt your face into the sun so everyone can see your beauty.

Unrelated, can you bail me out? It’s definitely a crime and I hate jail. Thanks, love.

Her story was written on the finest vellum that money could buy. The ink sparkled with gold, catching the light to glimmer even in dim rooms. Each word transcribed in exquisite calligraphy, every letter lavishly curliqued.

And all to mask the blandness of the tale.

I’ve cross-stitched you your own medal of valour. Your favourite colours intertwined, because silver and gold are boring.

It’s a birthday present. I give it to you proudly. When you understand I hug you tight.

Depression is a battle, and I will fight by your side.

I always get vouchers. A mass of experiences, piling up in red envelopes. From base jumping to gin flights. I work my way through them and tell you in intricate detail what I felt, tasted, enjoyed.

Since the accident, I understand you living vicariously through me.

I mine other languages, searching for words to describe my feelings. Zweisamkeit and mamihlapinatapai, even going so far as tuqburni. They fit so well, and yet don’t come close.

I curse the limited vocabulary I have available to describe how much I love you.

It’s time to vacate. I drift around the old house, touching the marks I’ve made on the walls, the stains and scratches accumulated over my tenancy. Heart aching over a thousand moments that go half-remembered.

Ready now, I open the front door and step into the light.

I preen in front of my reflection, enjoying the glittering rainbow refractions off my enormous diamond jewellery. I place a fascinator in my hair and watching the shining peacock feather flutter above the empty space of my face.

Who says vampires can’t enjoy mirrors?

The moon is full and low overhead. I dance beneath her silver face, naked, vulnerable, untouchable. The song of my coven echoes through the forest and I feel the power of my ancestors trill to life in my veins.

I am a young witch, and the night is open to me now.

I catch the movement in the corner of my eye: a brief flickering shadow passing the open window. When I turn, there’s nothing there. I ignore the twist in my gut and turn back to my work, pretending the hairs on my neck don’t rise.

The sense of being watched pervades.

It’s dangerous to feed my ego. The compliments and awards only serve to swell my head, larger and larger.

Please stop! I can’t fit out of my front door any more, and the roof is pressing closer by the day.

Her new glasses come with a state of the art filter, designed to mask blood and gore. She wears them to a horror movie and laughs as the screen pixelates.

The algorithm isn’t perfect, but she’s managing dinner without seeing the steaks.

The stigma is everywhere. As soon as I mention it, I’m inundated with disbelief and pressure to reconsider. I keep my lips sealed, my thoughts inside, my secret shame to myself.

Apparently it is a cardinal sin to dislike Nutella.

I paint my nails, a glimmering holographic blue that catches the light. My skirt is knee-length and pleated. It fans when I spin.

For the first time, I look in the mirror and feel euphoria.

To guard against telepathy, I line my hats in aluminium foil and direct mean thoughts to anyone who makes eye contact with me. It may seem like overkill, but I know my mind is mine alone and also I always get to sit alone on the bus.

You treated me like a queen, worshipped the ground I walked on, provided for my every whim. Any imperfection, you ironed out until I was flat and lifeless. A paper idol propped up by your words.

When I left, you didn’t understand.

I just wanted to be seen as a person.

Standing on the edge, staring down into the abyss, the darkness that seems to rise up to meet her. Feeling her stomach twist and churn with anxiety. She forces herself to take shallow breaths, then steadies herself an jumps into the darkness. Sinking into the water.

Klazon blaring, lights flashing, an alarm screaming out. Danger! Danger! Danger! I freeze, overcome, synapses overwhelmed, joints locking.

You see my anxiety and, by simply taking my hand, soothe my fight or flight response.

I know I am safe with you.

I make us cocktails with obscene amounts of rum and a splash of pineapple juice, served in carefully cleaned coconut halves. Together, we lie in front of swaying palm trees on TV in our sunglasses and swimsuits.

Our own little paradise in our 34th floor apartment.

To protect ourselves from disease, we anoint ourselves with sacred oils and dress in the garb of our ancestors. It shielded them from plague, and so we walk in their footsteps.

When we meet, we use hand sanitizer and make sure our masks are covering our goddamn noses.

I never thought I was made for politics. For much of my life, I was priviledged enough that most politics didn’t impact me. When I became aware enough to realise how I could help, I was inspired to start.

All that said, please support my run for mayor. I’ll do my best.

Kisses so delicate they feel like butterfly wings brushing against my skin. I close my eyes and lean in, captivated and flushed. You hold me gith and murmur sweet nothings, and I am lost in the feeling of you.

We are entwined together.

I force more slang into my lexicon, stuffing sentences full of words I barely grasp the meaning of. I know I use them wrong, that it highlights my unfamiliarity, but the grimace on my teenage son’s face makes it all worthwhile.

I’m a totes dope mum.