micro fiction micro monday

I Won’t Lay Dave to Rest If He’s Naked by Kenny Mitchell

I Won’t Lay Dave to Rest If He’s Naked | Kenny Mitchell

My father threatened to haunt me for eternity if I buried his corpse. I don’t know, it was about the chemicals they pump into your skin that weirded him out, or something like that. He was a man with leathery flesh who billowed at the gut, with tattoos disfigured by years of stretching skin. The urn I selected out of some strange sense of obligation seems unfitting for such a man; unless you think a hummingbird skittering above a patch of daylilies perfectly describes Dave. He definitely would not have approved. But hey, he’s dead. And I like hummingbirds. I didn’t put too much thought into the container my dad was going to chill in.

And I don’t see why it matters.

The urn is small in my lap. Surprisingly small. Small enough I’m questioning whether the crematorium gave me all of my dad. He was too broad-shouldered to fit in a fancy terracotta jar, even if he had returned to dust and ashes. They presented him to me in a translucent bag—a funeral suit too skimpy to properly honor the dead. As if Dave were naked. And now, Dave is clothed in a jar depicting the tiniest of birds.

As I amble up my driveway, sun setting, grasshoppers fluttering, I’m not quite sure I want to keep him. I don’t have storage space for an urn. I just moved out of his house, so my dad moving in posthumously is unsettling. I’ve already purchased the urn, and the crematorium did emphasize urns were nonrefundable. There’s no one else to take him. It would make a nice pot for a fern, maybe an aloe plant. I could replace my battered umbrella stand with it. No one needs to know.

It’s peaceful in my driveway. The birds chitter, and the grasshoppers are hissing, probably in response to their feathered predators. Dave’s favorite joke was about taking me on a trip to a nudist beach, so I could finally get some action. I could never understand him; he wore so many layers like it was frigid, and barriers were the only warmth he knew to embrace. He wore so many layers—

I start to pour my dad onto the concrete. Slowly at first, a sprinkle, but you can fit a lot of dust in tiny urns. I turn the jar upside down, disrobing him. I thought he’d flutter away with the breeze, but he just sits there, nude with no showmanship—fitting. I can somehow stomach the sight. A grasshopper lands on the pile of ash, small and mighty. From above, a starling glides to the earth with an open beak, swooping toward the grasshopper. The swoosh of the speckled wings spreads the ashes for me. The grasshopper, alive and well, is a few inches to the right. He escaped.

About the Author:

Kenny Mitchell (He/Him) is a third-year student at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Airgonaut, JAKE, The Gorko Gazette, and Flash Fiction Magazine. Kenny drinks (inhales is a better word) an obscene amount of coffee and has been described as “the world’s most violent typist.” He (semi-occasionally) tweets @kennymwrites.

micro fiction micro monday

Big Lots Indulgences by Anastasia Jill

Big Lots Indulgences | Anastasia Jill

The neighbors have Jesus glowing in the backyard. First night, I thought I hallucinated him but no. As the day broke into a yawn, a breadth of sunlight on the green revealed a plastic Messiah suspended between a bird bath and a molting lawn chair. He glowed Neptune blue in the midnight dark, but I preferred him blank and dew covered in the mornings. 

I loved their yard, minus the Lord. Wind ruffled the skirts of pink flowers, potted palms bent into the grass, ends pale and frayed from the Florida heat. There was a shed with Christmas lights, where the husband spent hours building bird houses and filling them with thick seed for cardinals and blue jays.

But Jesus. 

I hated that Jesus, especially at night. 

Aunt Mara left the windows without blockage, and her cats cracked the blinds years ago. He watched me at every angle, an insensitive blue solar right demanding I pray, or at least pay him heed. 

“I want curtains,” I told my aunt one morning over breakfast. I hadn’t slept, but spent the entire night at eye level with the windowsill. 

She told me, “We don’t need them.”

Her reasoning was sound — no one was looking in, not physically. There was nothing to fear

I couldn’t tell her JESUS IS WATCHING!!!

She would think I’d gone crazy, yet again.

Aunt Mara didn’t budge on the curtains, and I didn’t eat my breakfast as an act of redress. When she gave me my morning meds, I hid them under my tongue. Haldol, Thorazine, and Rexulti sat like chalky spare teeth beside my aching gums.

I left the house for school, and spat them in the neighbor’s yard. Jesus saw that. I flipped him off just as the husband came out his front door.  

“Morning,” he said to my finger. He couldn’t see well without his glasses. 

All I said in reply was, “Nice Jesus you got there.”

“Got it at Big Lots.” He wiped his frames on the edge of his shirt before placing them on his nose. A cross of nostrils flared at my multicolored hair. He told me, “Jesus saves.” 

“Apparently, he saves Lots.” 

The man didn’t laugh.

I walked away.

And Jesus saw. 

About the Author:

Anastasia Jill (she/they) is a queer writer living in Central Florida. She has been nominated for Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, and several other honors. Her work has been featured or is upcoming with, Sundog Lit, Pithead Chapel, Contemporary Verse 2, OxMag, Broken Pencil, and more.

micro fiction micro monday

The Vanishing by Jenn Ashton

The Vanishing | Jenn Ashton

He said he was trying to be more organized. Soon his desk was tidy, the drawers were cleaned out and little by little I saw less and less of his things laying around until one day I noticed they were gone and so was he.

About the Author:

Jenn Ashton is an Award-winning Coast Salish author and visual artist. She is the author of the prize-winning “Siamelaht” in British Columbia History in 2019, and her book of Short Stories, People Like Frank, and Other Stories from the Edge of Normal (TidewaterPress 2020) was a finalist for the Indigenous Voices Award 2021. She was shortlisted again for Hail Mary Mother of Pearl in 2022. Jenn is the Writer in Residence at the British Columbia History Magazine, an Authenticity Reader for Penguin/Random House USA and currently reads History at Oxford University.

micro fiction

Two Micro Stories by Lauren Dennis

Two Micro Stories | Lauren Dennis

Your Dulcimer’s Too Loud

I had found the perfect outlet. It was quiet, but I could sing to it. I could perform; I could pick it up whenever I wanted. It lived at my house. I would pick it up in the evening when the girls were just falling asleep.

I had reduced my creativity to a small wooden box that produced pleasant sounds. I used to star in plays, ate my mind raw with their personalities, let them invade me pleasantly, occupying my mind, body, and soul until I could find another play. But plays were taking up too much of our time; the actors were too “obnoxious. I was encouraged not to hang out with them, and how could I stand them anyway?

I began to write, practiced my art quietly, non-performatively. Sublimated my creativity to the page, and produced pleasant click-clacks across the keys. I started a writing group. Then writing became a threat, in a way that the quiet click-clack wasn’t. Other people took our time. Our time was precious, you said, and why was I being so self-indulgent. I was a  woman who had more pressing concerns, like her kids, and being there for her husband’s constant complaints.

Then I discovered the Mountain Dulcimer, found out Joni Mitchell played one. I met up with a man in overalls and a dusty green truck up on 104th Street. He said his wife had attained it on some kind of artsy whim. Maybe his wife was dead. Maybe he had an easier time without her. The dulcimer had not been used much. We laughed about his silly (possibly dead) wife.I paid him $125, and he drove away.

Then you and I separated, and you had rights to the bedroom for way too long. On a day I had the bedroom, I brought out my sweet dulcimer, dusted her off, and re-tuned her. You told me to be quieter. I wasn’t using a pic, I said. You told me it was bothering the girls. It wasn’t. They said they loved it, that it gave them good dreams. You made a dulcimer curfew. You told me how long I could play. I stopped my fingers from working through us, emitting small sounds to replace the big ones. You told me my dulcimer was still too loud.


It’s hard because he’s such a mess, and he knows what a mess I am. It is one of the reasons we’re not married anymore and also one of the reasons we loved each other. When he comes to pick up the girls today, he says words having to do with needing suitcases, but this is all I hear: 

I’m nervous to take the girls to Mexico by myself. We used to do this together.

He stands on my front steps, steps he used to walk up every day when we lived together. He is describing luggage he needs for their travel, and his hand gestures are terse and caring at the same time. I’ve always been attracted to his hands. They slice through the air and form several rectangular shapes, and then it starts to rain. I look at him getting wet and laugh and tell him there are no such bags. We both stand there. What happened to make it so that we are standing in the rain, his motor running in a driveway that used to be ours, our kids in the car, but now he’s going by himself to a place we used to go together?

I leave him in the rain to run downstairs. I want to answer his unspoken questions. I return with four small suitcases. He tells me none of them resemble the ones he was thinking about. Today, I am not annoyed by this. I think that if I can somehow find what he is describing, even though we both know it doesn’t exist, maybe we will know more about why we aren’t together anymore. I make two more trips downstairs, him in the rain, me with subsequently worse and worse excuses for luggage. I  shrug after my last trip. I wait for him to say:

This was so much easier when we were together.

He doesn’t. I wave to the girls in the car. His new car’s tinted windows hide their wave. They drive away. I put away six empty suitcases and watch the rain.

About the Author:

Lauren Dennis is a mother of two, violently fighting against the confinement that may or may not come with that title. She writes because she has to, and has been published in Scarlet Leaf Review, The Flash Fiction Press, daCuhna, and Microfiction Monday Magazine. She was the featured experimental writer for OPEN: Journal of Arts and Letters’ Theme “Tranche de Vie.” She has received formal critique and feedback from the Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver, Colorado, where she resides.

flash fiction micro fiction micro monday

Dress Code by Kennedy Essmiller

Dress Code | Kennedy Essmiller

Gather round, girls—preteens, tweens, teens—crowd together. It is time for your annual women’s talk. You each are given two squares of tile with shimmering surfaces to stand, to sit. You can reach out and touch the shoulder of your best friend, the shoulder covered in a wooly sweater despite the Oklahoma heat. 

The Dress Code is in place for a reason, the administration says, the office ladies tell you, the women who give you Band-Aids and Tylenol, the women who are paid to protect. 

Pay attention. 

This year will be no different than last year or next year. Each girl, each woman, could say the speech by heart. You silently mouth along. 

No spaghetti straps—blouse straps must be at least three fingers width apart, but not three of your fingers, three of your male teachers’ fingers. You think that maybe we should use Mr. Stewart’s as his are the smallest, thinned with age, the skin sagging with the weight of wrinkles. The thought of his fingers on you bare shoulders make you squirm, and you shudder and spill out for a moment, briefly broaching the borders of your carefully allotted tiles.

The administrators continue. 

Do not wear skirts that are above your knee and don’t even think about shorts. Jeans or dresses, there is not an in between, not for the Daughters of Christ. You cannot wear such skimpy attire around the boys. You remember the-not-so-virgin Mary, they ask, like clockwork. Of course, you remember her, even those of you who were years behind her, those of you who never even saw her belly swell with life. Mary, whom they memorialize and vilify with each and every meeting, ever since she fell pregnant four years ago, back when most of you were in middle school, beginning to receive the same speech she had received. 

The road to pregnancy is paved with short skirts and spaghetti straps. If you get yourself pregnant, you will be asked to leave. If you get yourself pregnant, you will become a cautionary tale, told to future generations, the children you will carry. Your name will be heavy with shame, taste metallic in your mouths. They do not say what will happen if you get yourself pregnant and hide it, remove it, make your own choices about your own body. Your body, Mary’s body. 

Mary, who used to read Junie B. Jones to you when she babysat, who was forbidden from walking across the stage at graduation.

And still, it continues. The boys cannot control themselves—boys will be boys. You are women, the presence of blood between your legs declares it so. It is your obligation, your privilege, and your joy in life, to protect the boys, the students, your teachers, your principal, and your friends’ fathers. 

You think of the father of your best friend, consider his eyes on you, and you shy away from her, inching ever so slightly back, retreating ever so slightly into your squares. 

If your shirt is hugging your budding breasts, it is too tight. If your shirt is hanging low and revealing your collarbone, it is too loose. Show no straps, bras are a hidden delicacy, meant to be shared between a man and his wife. Embrace your femininity. Wear makeup and shave your legs. Be ashamed of your body. Cover your legs, only sluts wear red lipstick. Boys don’t like girls who don’t put out the effort. Adjust your cleavage or your male teachers will have no choice but to send you to the office. Be ashamed of your breasts that can sustain life, boys will view them as sexual organs. 

Their perception is the authority. 

Cross your legs, collapse into yourself, take up as little room as you possibly can. Remain in your two tiles, always. Boys like small girls, petite girls. Obey the Dress Code, or you will be sent to the office, sent home to change. 

Your education, your comfort, you are not valuable.

About the Author:

Kennedy Essmiller is a queer writer who earned her MFA at Oklahoma State University. Her short story, “Mountains” won second place in the University of Western Alabama’s 2017 Sucarnochee Review Fiction contest. Her nonfiction essay, “The Three Drinks of Christmas” was accepted for publication in Oklahoma State University’s online undergraduate literary magazine Frontier Mosaic. Her short stories, “Permanently Inked” and “Bittersweet” were chosen as the winner for the 2018 and 2019 Oklahoma State University Ruby N. Courtney Writing Scholarship, respectively. She is an academic advisor and dog lady. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @kennedywogan.