Stanchion placed 2 microfictions into the 2023 edition of the Best Microfiction Book. Here's to hoping one or more of these fine five make the 2024 edition!
Shannon Wolf "Ode To My Husband’s Ass" from Issue 10
Sweet swooning slopes like long drives on Sundays: makes me want to tie up my hair in a silk scarf and put the roof down, apply lotion to the soft skin around my eyes and take a sip from a warm, flat soda, abandoned in the car cup holder for a weekend of hammocks and wrists laying lazy in the shallow bed of the river. When I was eleven or twelve we would paddle shin-deep in the stream that bisected Waterlake Road. The others would grow tired, climb back up to the footpath, and I would remain, trespassing into the dark hollow where the tepid light could not pervade the thicket of trees and I could see myself in the water; big green eyes and cracked elbows. Now, you look back at me, your fingers dipped in the pages of a book, your mind somewhere else. My hand smoothes a path from the small of your back to the gully of your thighs. It feels like summer, I say. I want to swim.
Julia Travers "Here Comes Trouble" from Issue 10
Blood brothers, you said once. We skipped rocks and classes or showed up painted in mud. On school breaks, on road trips up and down the East coast, we lived individual days organized by creased maps and Camel Lights. We stopped to climb boulders, swim streams. With my feet propped in the open car window, my young mind tried so very hard to let go.
Your lion-eyes glowed between branches while an uneven campfire sparked in my chest. We caught meteors on the parkway, tried secret incantations by the reservoir, tied horns to our ears, pasted stars to our eyes. Sang out, gripped hands, kissed, passed our favorite lyrics under the table. We heard the same song and stepped on each other’s toes while dancing. Tussled over invisible binoculars that revealed other kingdoms and argued over the right to name them.
Cued by song, or at dawn, when I’m half-awake, the book of my life flies open. I browse across your marker – a high-five in red paint. These 20 years, it’s been good to see you wander and work. You met your giants and made them your friends, chopped it all down and grew a family.
We collected wooden palettes behind grocery stores and tied them together. You sang “Moon River” as I pocketed my star charts, and my feet sank in the silt. Remember, you wanted to make a raft before graduation.
Kath Richards "Little Memory" from Issue 12
“Did you decide what you want for your birthday,” Mom asked.
“Slippers,” I said again.
She clicked her tongue on her teeth, “An experience.”
I told her that I desperately wanted the experience of warm feet in my new apartment, which has all wood floors that groaned under every bare-footed footfall. I wanted to have warm feet, please Mom, and if she must get me an experience let me experience warm feet while doing a puzzle. A puzzle would be just fine for a present. I always like a puzzle.
She gave me the gift at breakfast the next Sunday in a little zebra print paper bag and I think she didn’t want me to be mad at her because she told me not to open it until I got home. She also said that she got me a puzzle, a hard one, but said I could only do it at her house.
When I got home, the gift was sort of slippers, but actually more like the absence of slippers. It was a crochet kit to make a pair of slippers myself. Materials included.
There was an app to teach me, little videos that I could slow down or speed up, but I’d never crocheted a thing before, so it took for-fucking-ever.
Mom was as useless as me at crafting, but I worked on the kit every Sunday while she worked on the puzzle, her standing up to flip the record on the turntable I got her for Christmas intermittently. I’d make some progress on one, then I’d mess up so bad I’d have to unstitch a lot of progress and try again. Mom sorted pieces, flipped the record, finished the border, put on a new album, picked out the almonds in the bowl of nuts on the table.
After all that, one shoe was tighter than the other on account of my uneven stitching. I still have the slippers, last I saw somewhere under my bed, and the little memory of the ache in my neck and fingers from working on the shoes, the quiet between records where we breathed and worked, puzzle pieces softly clicking into place, yarn slipping and stitching through itself in loops.
Janna Miller "House Rules For After The Polar Shift" from Issue 12
We are all disappointed in our houses eventually. The foundation boards sag in the corner by the French Armoire, a soft spot where ankles bounce on rotting springboards and the serving dishes tilt. Water damage on the shared bathroom wall dampen during spring rains like the flooding of the Nile, behind which leaves not fertile land, but stained drywall and warped baseboards. And of course, there is the gap between the window sill and the curtains, where the sun must not shine through.
You didn’t leave your shoes by the door in the best of times, but tracked mud all through the house. Why would I expect you to do it now?
Radiation seeps through daytime crevasses no matter how many towels are stuffed into the attic rafters. I spend all night checking for starlight cracks. They are old towels, in case you wondered. Not even the ones from our wedding registry, but before that. From when we lived in the furnished garage apartment and kept the bedroom curtains open wide, where anyone could see.
There’s not time to engrave the new list of rules to hang above the door. Or even to place them in a frame on the last mid-century sideboard. I repeat them and hope you will remember: the sun stays outside, eat canned goods from the pantry, and burn the antiques last.
The old sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica can be used for any old thing. Play frisbee with them if you like. Use the margins to doodle in your caricatures or write our epitaph, whatever you want. As long as you stack the dishes in the sink.
I’ll sweep the ash into mounded corners on the screened-in porch while the night winds blow in hot eddies. The Northern Lights pull far south enough to reflect in the old duck pond. Blues and greens drip down the sky in ribbons, winding their way through the Big Dipper and the clear swath of the Milky Way.
Just this once, if you sit with me, we can leave the washing for later.
Jo Gatford "Lovesong for the 0% finance king size mattress" from Issue 13
There is only one sharp knife in this damn kitchen and I can take the whole world as a personal insult but you can slice vegetables without drawing blood; live your entire life without once doing a tax return; can stand in the sun the way a body was meant to and not burn deep enough to bruise.
Remember when we disemboweled our mattress, broken backed and heavy as a corpse—four-hundred-and-sixty-seven springs cut out one by one until our hands turned rusty blister purple—and I fed a list of songs I knew you’d hate through the tin can speakers of my phone just so you’d have something else to be angry about?
We sprawled its guts out all over the patio: ten years of skin, sweat, and dust mites clouding into the air. And maybe it wasn’t the moment to get sentimental about the fevers and the breastfeeding and the fucking, and god, how long it took to pay off, even with zero interest—financial babies before the real babies came—but it feels like a betrayal to the new mattress as we lie awake past midnight, the freezer buzzing like it’s full of crickets, and I say:
Remember when we cut a mattress into pieces — what were we thinking? I let you take the knife, I took the scissors. And you know I would bury a body with you, right?
Because we are closest this way; skin and linen sliding past one another while we wait for the rain to come, waiting for the exhale of the sky, still so solstice bright the birds don’t even know it’s night.
Give us ten more years and we’ll be experts on each other, but for now we need to wear a new groove into the middle of the bed.