A Work of Fiction

After much consideration, I am going to continue posting my six sentence stories weekly, but my short stories and micro fiction are going to move to a biweekly schedule or the rest of the year so I can accommodate other projects. I finished my first novel last year, and would like to focus on getting it ready to publish.

This started off as a background piece for a character in my novel. There are a few different version of the story, this one is a “grew up in the city” narrative that I tossed out. It was also inspired a little by the “lie that got out of hand” idea, and I had just watched Sweet Home Alabama, and wondered what would have happened if the main character hadn’t been married and needed a divorce. Would she have lived the lie?


When people saw me, they made assumptions about my childhood. That I was the type of child who grew up in a penthouse, summered at the cape, and spent Christmas at the family chalet. I could never let people know the truth. I was from the city all right, but not the good part.

We were in the poor neighborhood, and even then we shared the three bedroom apartment with another family. There were 9 of us living there in that apartment, and there was no problem with the tiny kitchen that had no virtually no cupboards, because neither family had to money to buy so much that they would have to store it.

That was the thing about being poor. Not TV poor, where people live in lofts and wear designer clothes, and complain about having no money while eating take out. We were real poor, which meant it didn’t matter that it was half the price per gram to buy the jumbo package of rice, we only had enough to buy the small one, and there wasn’t any way to save up to buy clothes that would last long enough to be considered a good investment.

I honestly think the only new clothing I got my entire childhood was the few years that I managed to get a winter coat from the coat drive. It was strange, and I had to admit, though I loved the vibrant colors, the rough fabric irritated my skin, which had never felt something that hadn’t been worn down by two to three previous owners and countless washes.

I had ambition though, and I learned to sew, to fit the clothes I did have, which meant that while it was often threadbare, I didn’t have the wearing a tent look that my older brother had. To people who didn’t know my siblings, one would almost assume these were actually girls clothes, not just re-purposed cast offs.

My parents thought it was dumb, the idea of going to college. Why would you spend so much money to get a job anyways. If you worked that time, you would be making just as that new graduate, sometimes even more.

I didn’t argue with them, it was true, but only because they couldn’t see the big picture. It was almost impossible to get promoted past a certain level without a degree. The didn’t recognize that the other person had worked 5 years to get to a level the graduate got on day one, and after that the promotions were usually faster. Ya, sure, if you loved your job, and it didn’t need a degree, than getting one was stupid. But growing up the way I did, I wanted out, and I wanted big, and I was never going to meet the people I needed to meet to make that happen if I never left the two city blocks that was out neighborhood.

So I worked my ass off. I applied to a program for the underprivileged that would give me a subway pass, and I used that to get me to every free design, or sewing, or business class that I could get to, cause none of that stuff existed in my part of town. When it was time to apply to college, I applied to as many as I could for free, and then I begged, borrowed, and pleaded until my guidance counselor helped me get funding to apply for more. Then I applied for every scholarship, contest or grant I could. I don’t think I slept more than three hours a night the first six months of my senior year, and my grades were good that year, but not spectacular. I wrote more essays about growing up poor than I wanted to admit, and I hoped to hell some soft hearted admissions person read one and took pity on me because I was a lot of things, but I couldn’t be above charity, not if I wanted out.

And then I got in, more than one place, but the one I took offered me a full ride to a school of design, plus living expenses. My portfolio was impressive, they said, and I walked out the door of that apartment and never looked back.

My first semester was pure culture shock, but I quickly learned what to say, and what not to say, to fit in with the others. We were allowed to keep our projects, and so I toned down my physical submissions, and created myself a wardrobe. I tried calling my parents a few times, but they didn’t have much interest in me, more focused on my brother’s who still lived in the neighborhood. I gave up, and decided to make a clean break, and change my last name to something a little more, in. By the time I graduated, most the people I started with had washed out, and I had made connections with people who had no idea I wasn’t of the “those” Allertons.

When it was time to write up my bio for my first fashion show, it was a work of fiction, and the second I pressed send I wished I could take it back, knowing someone would find me out, but they didn’t. Apparently no one really cared that much about your childhood when you were designing fashion. I wasn’t an A-lister, so looking into my past just was not lucrative enough, and I rode that.

I met a woman, I got married, we adopted, and I raised three wonderful children without any of them ever knowing about my family. I wish I could say it was great, but it haunted me, loomed over me like a sword of Damocles, waiting to come down and destroy my life. How do you tell someone you are a lie?

It wasn’t first date material, or third, and at some point it seems like telling them after so long would be a betrayal, and I couldn’t lose my girlfriend, then my wife, then my kids, by admitting the lie. I knew I was going to die someday, under a name of my own making, and my parents, more likely just my brothers wouldn’t even know I had passed.

What had I done?

For the Love of Dairy

This was written for the six sentence story prompt juice. It is an ode to milk, and the sad story of someone who found out that they will no longer be able to drink it. As I exist partially on cheese, I cannot myself imagine enduring this.


She looked down at the “milk” in her glass, and a frown furrowed her brow. It wasn’t milk, there hadn’t been any milk in months, since she finally went to the doctor about her stomach problems and was diagnosed as lactose intolerant.

She couldn’t do soy, not with her thyroid issues, and as much as they wanted to call what she was trying now milk, there was a part of her brain that remembered the meme, and could only remember the term nut juice.

She stared into the glass a little while longer, trying to get up the nerve to try it, everyone said that she would love it, it was better than milk even, but at the end of the day it wasn’t what she was craving. She probably would have thrown it out, but it was so expensive that she just couldn’t bring herself to do it, it was a waste of food and money.

In the end, she was saved by her roommate, who loved almond milk, and was more than willing to take it off her hands, and Ashleigh had an unsatisfactory glass of water.

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

This one will speak to anyone who has ever tried to make friends with another human being as an adult. Especially if your personality is on the abrasive side, poor John isn’t sure why he was invited to lunch, but he doesn’t trust it, not at first at least.


I waited for the punch line, and it didn’t come. So, I tentatively, trying not to hope, went back to work. I put it all to the back of my mind until an alarm went off at 11:55, 5 minutes to lunch time. 5 minutes to truth time.

I saved my documents, put away what I was working on, and headed to the cafeteria, hesitant, but hopeful. There he was, sitting at the table with a few others and my stomach dropped. Was it a joke after all, or maybe I was just that forgettable?

I was about to turn, walk out, maybe send a message saying I was working through lunch today, when he turned and caught my eye. He smiled, and I froze.

“Hey, John, you made it, come join, saved you a seat.” He patted the empty spot beside him, and I smiled, which was probably way more awkward looking than happy, cause thats how I roll. So, I walked over, in way that was probably a way too eager, and stated. “Uh just gonna grab some food first” and then went and joined the line.

I usually did the hot lunch, but I was nervous enough without adding the complication of trying to wind spaghetti to the mix, or keep a soup spoon level, so I grabbed a sandwich, an apple, and some pudding. Might have to come back and grab a snack later, but better than getting fries and flipping my lid if someone else touched them. Got coffee though, needed coffee to make it through whatever this is.

When I got back, Chris was alone, and he gestured to the seat across from him. “Guys were on early lunch, had to head back. Just you and me now. On that note, I am going to go grab something myself.” He explained and was up and heading towards the line before I had even figured out where he wanted me to sit.

I sat down, and tried to figure out if I was supposed to start eating,or wait. It had been a long time since someone had wanted to eat lunch with me. I wasn’t exactly what people would call friend material. I was loud, and abrasive, and if my sister was to be believed, pretty fucking obnoxious.

I focused on adding the milk and sugar to my coffee, stirring, tasting, adjusting. I was saved the trouble of what to do about the rest of my food by Chris returning just as I was double checking I got the lid on right. Nothing is worse that taking that first sip, and then wearing your perfect cup of coffee instead of drinking it.

“And I’m back.” He slid back onto his bench seat and grinned again.

“And my coffee is perfect.” I joked, holding it up and taking a small sip. God it really was perfect. I looked across the table, and saw that he had the spaghetti. I couldn’t imagine having the confidence to do this and eat spaghetti of all things, but then again if I looked like Chris, maybe I would.

The standard small talk followed, and then I blew it with an inappropriate comment, only instead of getting offended or chastising me, he did the unexpected, and laughed.

“Really, kind of served her right a little. But don’t tell anyone I said that, wouldn’t do for someone in my position to making comments yanno?” And he was grinning, he was entertained, and I realized that he didn’t want anything. The whole lunch was just that, lunch. The other shoe didn’t drop, he actually seemed amused, sent back a few zingers himself, and like me he was a lot more relaxed leaving the cafeteria than he was entering it.

I want to say I accepted the implicit offer of friendship, and went with it, but well, it was three more months before I realized that we were friends. That was all that this was, friendship. There was no ulterior motive, and it was watching him chat with someone else, one of the other “popular” people at work that made me realize it.

If I hadn’t known him better, I would say he was relaxed, cool, confident, and enjoying himself, but I did know him better now. His shoulders were hunched a little forward, his body turned away, and his smooth answers were too smooth, rehearsed, a little boxy even for him, not that his companion seemed to notice. He was like that with most people, playing the cool guy. He wasn’t like that with me though, he was, shit, he really was my friend.

I watched him another few days, between our weekly lunches and I came to a realization. I might be his only actual friend here. Everyone else came, they chatted, wanted something, got it and left, except for me. I literally just wanted his company, we weren’t even close enough in departments for me to see him most days. If it hadn’t been for that stupid supervisor lunch and learn where we ate horrible food and learned nothing, we wouldn’t have even met.

Next lunch, I had the spaghetti, and when the topic of movies rolled around I found myself blurting out. “Ya, I can’t wait for that to come out. We should go!”

He froze for a second, and I thought I fucked it all up, but then he smiled. The real smile, not the impressive one. “Ya, that would be great, I haven’t gone to the movies in ages.” And I went back to my spaghetti trying to keep my face from showing how happy I was. I think I actually had a friend!

Destination Holiday

I made the prompt for this one on the Writer’s Mess. I was thinking happy destination christmas, Mele Kalikimaka, and instead got an unhappy woman freshly divorced and mourning the idea of her husband and the loss of the extended family. I wish I could say the next one would be happier, but apparently I am not a happy person.


She stared out at the beach and all she felt was loneliness. She should be happy, it was the trip of a lifetime, but spending the holidays alone…

It was better than being at home though, if she could call her studio apartment a home. This time last year she was in a house full of people, married, planning for kids. Then Tom decided that he was more interested in screwing his secretary than he was in a future with her.

She took him for everything, her lawyer was divine, but she was being practical, no huge decisions so soon after a loss like that. It was a loss, not Tom, because he was an ass. It was the idea of Tom, the family she had never has as a child. It was Tom’s sisters, and his parents, and his aunts and uncles. It was 27 people jammed in a 3 bedroom house, so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think, and she loved it.

She loved it so much that she ignored the affair at first. They had been married for 6 years, but if she was honest with herself, she saw the signs about year 2. She let it go though, pretended that she being paranoid, because she loved the life she had, even if she didn’t really love Tom that much.

She let it go on longer than she should have, and it was only when he came home, drunk, reeking of sex, his clothes mussed, that she finally reached that breaking point.

In the end they sold the house, she didn’t want it, and more importantly she didn’t want him to have it. Every time she walked around town though, all she could see was the life they had planned to live, and as the holidays approached it got worse.

So she entered a raffle, for a destination holiday, and won. It was a trip for 2, but none of her friends would leave home for the holidays, so she went alone. She sat on the beach watching the waves roll in and swore to herself: Next year would be better.