Category Archives: Flash Fiction

In a Lightning Storm, Sheep Run through Barbed Wire


I used to fear things. The lonesome wind come through the clapboards. Dry hillsides rustling. My own skin in the summer heat. Rattlers. Lurking. Abandoned coal pits.

Pa said I was afraid of desolation, but I didn’t know what he meant by that. How can you be afraid of something all around you been there since the day you were born?

I used to fear. Hard. But hard is what we had … and the stink of sheep, goats, some cattle and horses. I’ve seen my sister kicked, bucked, and bloodied more often than I care to remember. Mud in her hair. Booze on her breath. Blue-blackened skin. Used. Useless. Pa used to do the castrations himself. He learned the old-time way and used to use these fucking rubber bands, but he eventually said that the old-time way wasn’t the right way anymore, that it took too long, would oftentimes get infected. He feared infections, like the one he said my sister had, so he set about teaching me the right way.

I didn’t understand why we had to do it at all. It was bloody, and sometimes, the gonads were small, slippery like marbles, and you had to dig around in the sack with your fingers until you found the sinewy cord. Pa would say, “Keep digging,” and I’d cry and cry and cry because there was so much blood and I was afraid I’d never get it out from under my fingernails, but Pa would shush me and tell me that it’s good for them, and I’d ask why through a dirty fistful of tears while waiting for him to spit into the chicory and rub his chin for a spell before explaining, the way he does, that boys need it, makes them more polite. Something about hormones, he said. Maybe I was afraid of them, so I asked Ma about it while she was fixing the fried gonads for my supper plate, but she just shushed me too, wiped the grease on her apron, and said I was too young for talk about such things.

Image Source: Imagur

I’m not too young. My breasts are coming in and I feel all funny. My sister said it’s normal. I’d get used to it. I go to high school next year. My sister talks about it all the time. Says high school boys have the hormones too. I asked my sister if boys were like the horses and the cattle. She said no. That they were like the mules, and I wondered if they stunk like them. She just smiled at me and scratched at her crotch, so I told her I was afraid of getting kicked, like she always did, but she shushed me too and said not to worry …

Told me that Pa was teaching me the right way.

Originally Published at Revolution John, December 18, 2014


Me, You, and They


I drink the sound of you — begging
In the darkness.
Begging for what I’ve given,
And for what you’ve taken — from me.
I pray now for the silence
To overtake
Your blackened heart.

Nightmares | N G | Flickr

Nightmares. | N G | Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

You didn’t know that’s what I was writing on that piece of parchment stained with your blood. Things have been a blur lately, all emotions, anger, and don’t touch me because I’ll scream. It wasn’t the first piece of parchment I’d burned and buried under the light of the full moon, but it would be the last. The last words I would never speak to you.

“You clumsy fucking worthless piece of shit!” wasn’t the only peevish and pedantic phrase you used to scream into my face after a long night of booze and pills and dangling your cock at every skanky twat working the freeway. Your dinner was cold. You didn’t like the way I vacuumed the carpet or cooked your special meat. I might have forgotten to record your favorite program, or maybe I’d simply bought the wrong kind of beer. You liked to call your fits of rage an intervention, when you humbled me with your fist. Said it would make me a better lady, wife, and someday — mother. Said the discipline would save my soul from the voodoo spirits that had borne me out of some trailer trash womb, but it wasn’t an intervention, and it wouldn’t save me. It was simply your way of justifying the use of all the angry words you had become addicted to.

I didn’t have to listen, though.

I had this place I liked to hide whenever you got in one of your moods and decided to kick-start a marital uprising. I liked to go there when it was dark and snow-covered. I prayed there, sobbed there, and bled there. In the dirt on the floor, I would scratch things down in inches of minutia and then straightaway cross them out. I would leave pieces of myself in the corners — dissected thoughts and bits of hair and fingernails mixed with mud and saliva. I’ve piled up the worry stones over the years, on the stoop and up in the eves. I’d even written and re-written your obituary and passed the judgments I wasn’t entitled to pass, but nothing ever happened.

Nothing good, anyway.

Just dark, and cold, and quiet.

Maybe it was like they said, when the shadows came to me hollow-eyed in the misty dawn. Maybe I wasn’t soulful enough, hungry enough, willful enough … to leave the memories well enough alone, but I wouldn’t stop trying.

Praying of them.

Begging mercy of them.

I took your hair and fingernails while you slept. Scraped your semen from my bludgeoned cunt when you finally said you’d had enough of me. I’d even collected your fallen eyelashes when I pretended I loved you and kissed you softly, and your spit when, in anger, it hit my face. I’ve stood in the circle, called the watchtowers, and drew down the moon a thousand times since we took our vows. Since then I vowed to put you in your grave. I thought I might try arsenic and old lace. It grew wild and beautiful in the abandoned field behind our house. That’s when they first came to me, when I was barefoot, gathering weeds in the wood. They said they wanted the meat, but I didn’t know what they meant by that. Just the meat — no hair, no bone, no gristle — only meat. So I made offerings: rats, chickens, even your dog. Gutted it with my bare hands in the mid-day sun, but I got nothing in return, except a beating — from you.

Until now.

I went to the shed, you see. Even though you told me not to, ever. I found your “things,” wondered how many you’d tortured before me. I couldn’t remember you ever being that quiet, when I put the claw hammer in your skull. Couldn’t remember you being this heavy when you lay on top of me, or that your skin was this tough. I was clumsy, like you always said I was, hacking away at you until the sun was set and the crickets had started chirping in the field. I lit a candle with my bloodied hands and just stared at your meat in the flickering light. You looked different to me then. I could finally see a softness in your glistening sinews.

They came for you that night. After all the years and all my tears, they came, clicking and clawing their way out of the shadows to gnaw upon your rotted meat. They were hungry and waiting … for me.

I would never starve them like you did.

Previously Published (2011, August 6). The Carnage Conservatory

A Post Not About Cats – No Shit!


I write a lot about relationships. Not Harlequin, daytime TV type stuff, but the other stuff. The subcutaneous if you will, or rather, I write about the sinew after the smile has been scraped off of it. Enjoy.

Hiatus Concretion

We roll up top-down-crumpled-clothes-empty to the motor court. It’s a relief. By cygk - Enjoy the sunny Midway Country Motel, CC BY 2.0We’d been screaming highway days long forgotten, and we both stunk of sweaty vinyl, cigarettes, and licorice. There’s so much desert on my teeth that my lips are permanently stuck smiling to them. You wipe yours on your shirtsleeve; smile back at me; tell me I have bugs in mine. I get out of the car, bones creaking in the shifting earth beneath my feet.

Shifting Memories.

Shifting Sand.

A parking lot of sand stretches beyond us, a lone tree clinging to it in the shadow of a snowy mountain range that overshoots the distance so far into the future it seems we might even get there someday. There’s a plaid lounge chair next to the tree, a shipping pallet, and a dog tied up, miserable barking in front of the office door, a rot wood screen door, whitewashed, hanging from one rusty hinge. “Like home,” you say, then you forty-four the dog in the face. The motel owner doesn’t mind. Says he didn’t have the heart for it, and the damn dog was an asshole.

The sickness is coming.

I can already see it in you, your hand shaking when you pay the man with a hundred dollar bill. You don’t want to let it go, and he isn’t sure. Two gnarled hands clasped through sunset over chipped Formica.

I ask him if he has a shovel.

I’ve never been good at running from things. I let a woman seduce me once at a discotheque. There was something about the way she moved across the dance floor, all quicksilver in crimson, nipples pressed tight against silky fabric. We had a few drinks. She flirted with the bartender, not me, so I told her I liked the way her skin looked against the lights and colored glass. Sparkling. Like she was covered in rhinestones. She wasn’t a she though. She was something like me, but more dangerous. She held out her arm. There was barely any flesh on it. Tattooed Bone. Black Market Ivory. The way she looked at me, kissed me in the alley. My Luciana.

It’s getting harder to breathe alms in this vortex.

It’s getting harder to breathe near you.

“It’ll only be a few days,” you say, but I know that’s a lie. The carpet smells of stale whiskey, and the shower drips chlorinated rust onto the floor. The TV is only black and white, but the bed vibrates — for a quarter. We do that a couple of times, pretend we aren’t who we are and giggle until we fall asleep to the coyotes snarling over and tearing at the dog carcass I forgot to bury.

I want to love you.

But I can’t.

Hiatus Concretion was previously published at Metazen, June 2014, and is included in the short fiction collection Kitsch.

Bike Trails and Ash Clouds – A Halloween Freebie by Cheryl Anne Gardner


1930 Bat GirlYou just have to let the hunger take what it needs and love what it loves.

I love you.


I don’t even know what love means or how to do it. You robbed me of that.

I hear the sound of running water, or it might be the sound of your blood running down the length of me.

How pretentious, you, offering me a light … a drink … and then a ride home.

Is it because I can’t dance?

How did you know I couldn’t dance? I’ve been sitting here all night, and yes, I’m an introvert; it’s obvious to me, but when you say it, it sounds so thin.


We’re both awkward, but even so, your advances are suspect. Lewd. Just the way I like them, but I don’t tell you that. You said, “Hey. Remember that fat girl from high school? The one they called miss kitty because she liked to finger herself in the shower after gym class?” and I said, “That was me.”

You’d taken her panties. Left her crying on the football field when you promised to kiss her and then didn’t. It was just a random moment in time. You told everyone you’d fucked her though, and that she liked it.

Everyone laughed.

At her.

Not you.

I used an alias on my name tag tonight. Though you wouldn’t have known it was me even if I hadn’t. I’m not that Barbara anymore. I’m thin. Beautiful now. And you’re … not. I saw you slip that powder into my drink. A few minutes ago, when I went to freshen up. Some things never change, but I’m immune to your charms now. You couldn’t know that, either. I wasn’t then, so in the end, assumption will be your undoing. Not mine.

“Oh, how silly of me; now I’m being pretentious.”

That’s what I’ll say to you. Just before I shut the trunk so I won’t have to hear you begging. It’s the silence I’m after. I’ll seek comfort tonight, in the moon … and in the dream I once had of you screaming. I’ll smile. I’ll revel in the small comforts, offered, until now never taken. Just like I did all those years ago on that cold lonely football field where you and your scumbag friends scarred me for life.

You were the first, so how could I not still love you?


I’m a snow angel now. Thanks for lending me your skin to make my wings. I hope the thought of me doesn’t haunt you anymore.

© Cheryl Anne Gardner (2011, November/December Issue II). Stone Highway Review (Alternate version)