A collection of six-sentence long stories and snippets
Copyright 2015 by Kathleen Gabriel
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To me, dark-roasted coffee smells like different things on different days. After a good sleep, it’s like toast and incense and warm earth and sunshine, and it makes me want to stretch and smile. After a night of tooth grinding, twitching bad dreams, pain, insomnia or any revolting combination thereof, it’s like burning and skunk, and makes me want to snarl.
Of course, I never drink the stuff, or my perspective might be different.
My husband encourages that dark-roast fragrance in daily espresso ritual, from the grinding of the beans to the wiping of the counter. Though the ritual is much the same, his attitude varies from day to day—on Mondays surly mutterings predominate, while on weekends it’s more like bliss.
“…something that gets better mileage, like a Honda,” she said, but that was all he caught since, as usual, he hadn’t been listening to her middle-aged blather.
“Whatever you want to do is fine with me,” he said, but woke later wondering if she really meant to buy a car all on her own, without him along to oversee the process.
The next day after work, he thought she’d given up on the idea since her Lincoln was still sitting in the driveway, big as life and twice as dusty. But the vexed look on her face as she combed snarls out of her hair told him that something unusual had happened.
“I forgot to braid it,” she said.
He puzzled for a minute, then ran to the garage and stood staring at the Honda 350 motorcycle and the terrifying vision of his gray-haired wife riding it.
Scissors are a pair and they are knives, bottom line, knives that work in sync to cut things. Paper, chicken, twine, yarn. You can cut your fingers with them, too, but not as easily as you can cut your fingers with knives. Most people would say that knives are the more dangerous. But I’m not so sure. With scissors the illusion of safety might work against you.
The waiter came to us and asked us yet again if we wouldn’t like a better table. I began to get angry, but then I noticed that he was sweating.
And so I said, “Yes, please, give us a better table. This one’s too close to the kitchen.”
He hustled us to one closer to the door.
Less than five minutes later, an explosion burst out from the kitchen.
Sunlight streamed in the window in spite of the occasional snow flurry. She knew she needed the vitamin D, but it was cold. She took a deep breath and stepped out onto the deck wearing nothing but wool socks and her favorite red slippers. Yes. This wasn’t so bad. As long as she went inside while she could still feel her fingers, she’d be okay.
I got a nervous feeling in my gut that those people really liked me—not just my jokes, but me. Now just what the hell kind of tasteless people would actually like a jerk like me? So I walked off the job today. They’ll wonder for a day or two, but they’ll never know. I like to leave while they still think well of me. Before I have a chance to let them down.
The sword of despair slashed through most of the household as they learned that their beloved Ferret Bueller was going to be taking a permanent day off. Going under the knife wouldn’t help him much when he had so many tumors in his tiny pancreas.
Someday there might be a decent cure for insulinoma, and putting him in the deep freeze for that day was obviously the right thing to do, rather than letting him suffer the way he was.
The veterinarian, an intuitive sort, knew they were thinking of this and offered to assist; “Really, though, it could be as few as six, or as many as twenty years before we have the cure. I wonder if it might be better to duplicate him by cloning?”
They looked at one another, then the mom—the person who had to deal with the stolen socks, the puddles in the corners and the bubble wrap stashes—shook her head and said, “The only good ferret is a sleeping ferret.”
“Cold Calculation” originated with a writing challenge to make a story of six-sentence length and using the words sword, knife, obviously, intuitive, six and duplicate.
One day after my shower I find I have places to dry where there have never been places before. I still eat the same amounts of the same things, and I move as much as I ever did, but this huge person in the mirror—damned if that’s me.
The shrink says, “You must keep taking it or you could have another episode.”
The naturopath says, “Your liver cannot deal with a major toxin and still process nutrition, so all of your food is stored as fat; you know your hair will fall out next, right?”
I stop taking it.
Please excuse the crayon—they don’t let us have anything sharp here.
Phil walked back to the spa room and had to admit that it looked pretty good. Jeanne’s idea, Sebastian’s implementation. What did they need him for? He shook his head. That was negative thinking. He had plenty of good ideas himself; he just couldn’t think of any.
“Poor Phil” is an excerpt from an unpublished novel, Her Thirty Percent.
Due to her psyche’s already stimulated condition (which is in turn due to the 40% off already-low-clearance-price price) McKenna’s new smartshoes conduct the expected energy from her feet to her brain at an unprecedented bit rate, stimulating her visual, auditory and olfactory cortices; delighted, she high-fives the sales bot, and exits the shoe store. Halfway around the crowded food court she espies a man in a yellow apron handing out something—she sniffs and detects coffee.
The opening phrase of the Blue Danube waltz drifts up from the ice rink below and her feet recall knowledge they had of antiquity when she was taking ballroom dancing lessons.
She is there in four precisely-spaced bounds, and curtsies to his bow; his pupils widen in response, his right hand drops the coupons into his capacious apron pocket and slides to a light touch on the back of her shoulder. The flow of energy encompasses her partner as they glide and soar, gravity hindering not a whit, until the end of the waltz when they alight at the coffee shop. “Let me buy you a ring,” he says, but McKenna turtles her head back and he amends his offer, “or perhaps a mocha?”
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About the author
Kathleen Gabriel has been telling stories since she was a child, though she no longer tells them to explain why her homework is late. Kathleen has had three novels published. She is a graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop.
Kathleen is a member of SnoValley Writes! in the Snoqualmie Valley near Seattle, Washington where she lives with her husband and Gizmo the dog, who was, yes, named after a gremlin.
Have you ever thought you’d like to write a novel? Kathleen participates yearly in , also known as National Novel Writing Month. Here are a few of
Espresso Bliss is a small collection of very short stories, each made with only six sentences. Humor and weirdness predominate, with science fiction, family tales and a little bit of romance included.