Of Course It Means Something

by Peter Wild

"Please," he said. "Give me a chance. This can't be the end. It can't. I love you. Doesn't that mean anything?"

6S

Peter Wild, author of Other People, is the editor of a forthcoming series of books for Serpent's Tail, the first two of which - Perverted by Language: Fiction Inspired by The Fall and The Empty Page: Fiction Inspired by Sonic Youth - will be published in 2007. He is also editor of The Flash, which will be published by Social Disease in February 2007. His fiction has appeared in Word Riot, Pen Pusher, Scarecrow, Thieves Jargon, Rumble, The Beat and a bunch of other places. You can read other bits and pieces at peterwild.com.

What They Act Like

by David Miller

After school, three seventh-grade boys sit on a bench outside the cafeteria, each waiting for a parent, or a stepparent, a babysitter, or older brother or sister to pick him up. "Who else is Jewish?" one of them asks. "Jonathon Levy," another says. "Jonathon Levy? He doesn't act Jewish." Then they notice me standing nearby and lower their voices. A few minutes later, the leader (the one with the most bleached-out hair of the three) skates across the sidewalk and gets into a steel-grey Range Rover that starts pulling away from the curb before he even finishes closing the door.

6S

David Miller, author of The Wraith Can't Do His Homework, is a regular contributor to magazines such as Mountain Gazette, and the webmag Matador Travel.

Daily Routine

by Rebecca Jane

I have learned that like history, mystery repeats itself. Have you ever seen that movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray? My life has repetition, too, but mine is different. Every afternoon, at 4, I come home from my administrative job to find my spouse rolling in bed with the same skinny, nameless mistress. Every time I open the bedroom door, they're shocked as if cheating has never ever been revealed. I confess: I have tried every reaction in the book, but this "discovering betrayal" drama just repeats itself day after day.

6S

Rebecca Jane, author of A Tune to Croon in the Suspect Room, writes fiction to stay out of trouble. She always grins. She sometimes fails. She never squeals.

The Journey of Life

by Kimberly Dawn Wells

Life is a journey, but Earth is not a cruise ship. The most fulfilling events in life don't come with a planned itinerary and a staff of 1000 to make sure everything goes according to plan. If you forget your toothbrush, the front desk isn't going to bring one to you on a silver platter. Plan for anything to happen and pack accordingly! Keep your agenda flexible enough to accommodate unexpected opportunities, and don't get so caught up in the dinner menu that you fail to notice the lottery ticket you're standing on. The trip seems long but will be over before you know it, so make the best of every situation.

6S

Kimberly Dawn Wells is a writer and much, much more.

The Trick

by Shawn M. Hetz

The trick is dark, so dark I'm afraid of it myself. The trick is easy but still scary. The trick is no fear of anything, not even death. The trick is a value of zero on my life. The trick is not to be afraid to risk it all, to have a chance of losing it all. That is the dark trick I use to succeed.

6S

Shawn M. Hetz, author of Beating the Odds and Society, wants people to realize they can do anything they set their minds to.

The Kindness of Strangers

by Elizabeth McQuern

She had never made the wish aloud, which is the lesser part of why she was shocked to wake up one ordinary morning and find that two hundred pounds of protective, insulating fat was simply gone from her body, and, far from being saggy and old-looking, she was fit and strong and beautiful for the first time in her twenty-eight years. Initially terrified by the unfamiliar state she now found herself in, then sedated by an overwhelming cascade of neurotransmitters released by an inhumanly instantaneously evolving spiral of DNA, she huddled under a sweltering pile of blankets in her bed until her mother knocked urgently on her bedroom door, then entered to assess the transformation. Her mother surprised her further by, rather than betraying any disbelief, expressing a grim resignation and quietly saying, "It is your time." It was convenient that she'd never established any social bonds and had a job she could unremarkably disappear from, because now her mother packed some money and a few other things for her into a small suitcase, put her on a ship to the other side of the world, and hugged her goodbye, saying through tears, "You must call me once." When she did call her mother, it was to confide her dismay in finding that, in her new location and form, that the kindness of strangers was a relative thing, as she was taken aback by the gracious opening of doors and other everyday courtesies from strangers, the kind of people who scorned or ignored her in her previous incarnation, and she felt alienated and apart from humans in a whole new way. Her mother's vocalizations through the telephone triggered yet another immediate evolution in her DNA, her muscles instantly building mass visibly under her clothes, and her jaw setting with resolute predatory purpose as the instructions came across the telephone line, the most important of which was "Be sure you cull the right ones."

6S

Elizabeth McQuern probably read more science fiction than she should have while growing up in Indiana. She blogs at Bella Rossa and writes about Chicago comedy for The Bastion.

Other People

by Peter Wild

It was twelve short of eight. So I guess you could say that I was early. But I didn't think it mattered. I wanted to be there, waiting, when she arrived. Man, I was so stoked. It felt like, all my life, I'd been waiting for this one chance to prove to myself that yes, I could do something good if I put my mind to it and tried hard to act like other people act.

6S

Peter Wild, author of The Happiest Days of Your Life, is the editor of a forthcoming series of books for Serpent's Tail, the first two of which - Perverted by Language: Fiction Inspired by The Fall and The Empty Page: Fiction Inspired by Sonic Youth - will be published in 2007. He is also editor of The Flash, which will be published by Social Disease in February 2007. His fiction has appeared in Word Riot, Pen Pusher, Scarecrow, Thieves Jargon, Rumble, The Beat and a bunch of other places. You can read other bits and pieces at peterwild.com.

The Real Article

by Del Griffith

You want to hurt me? Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better – I'm an easy target. Yeah, you're right: I talk too much; I also listen too much. I could be a cold hard cynic like you, but I don't like to hurt people's feelings. You think what you want about me, I'm not changing. I like me, my wife likes me, my customers like me, because I'm the real article: what you see is what you get.

6S

Del Griffith was a fictional shower curtain ring salesman portrayed by the late John Candy in John Hughes’s Thanksgiving classic, Planes, Trains & Automobiles. His six sentences are taken from Hughes’s original screenplay.

Welcome Home, Son

by writeorbust

I have a picture of Neil in the family album sleeping on our couch when he was a video game playing, backwards baseball cap wearing kid of thirteen. He wasn’t family, but a lot of neighborhood kids have made it into that album over the years by hanging around enough to achieve quasi-family status. A few years later on, when Neil dropped out of the world of expectations and took up the nomadic lifestyle of the chronic ganja smoking hacky sacker, we all wished him luck. We saw him only a few times after that, times he showed up unexpectedly for Thanksgiving dinner smoking a fat blunt and sorely in need of a bed, bath ... and beyond. As I passed the stuffing, I asked about his parents, and he told me he hadn’t seen them in years, wasn’t exactly what you'd call welcome there. Neil was killed last year by a train in Auburn CA, walking down the tracks with his headphones on just before Thanksgiving; the obit said his body was brought back east for a private family funeral.

6S

writeorbust, author of Wait Until Your Mother Works Here, lives in Pennsylvania with a rotating cast of cats and family members. She writes short stories, poetry, and plays on the backs of envelopes. A few have made into print and production.

Mental Chess

by Rod Drake

“So you claim you can read people’s minds?” “That’s right.” “What am I thinking right now, old friend?” Rick asked. “You’re wondering if I know that you’re sleeping with my girlfriend.” “My God, that’s incredible, unbelievable; look, I’m sorry that you found out like this, but, well, Gwen loves me more than you, so that’s that, I guess.” Greg smiled a funny little smile: “Oh, by the way, I also have another ability -- I can shut down minds permanently.”

6S

Rod Drake, author of Suppertime, enjoys watching Heroes, Veronica Mars and Smallville when he isn’t writing flash fiction. Check out Rod's longer stories in Flashing in the Gutters, Flashes of Speculation, Fictional Musings, Flash Flooding, Flash Forward, MicroHorror and AcmeShorts.

The Wraith Can't Do His Homework

by David Miller

The wraith is this skinny 4th grader who never says anything, just stares out through the cafeteria windows, wondering who -- mom, step-mom, dad, step-dad, babysitter -- is going to pick him up from the after-school program. He has a way of floating around the playground, hovering over the homework table, watching everything as if it were a TV show. Today he pulls a sheet out of his backpack and says in his nasally voice, "I have homework tonight that I can't do." "What do you mean?" I ask. He passes me the sheet, which announces CSAP STANDARDIZED TESTING, explaining that for students to achieve maximum performance, teachers will not be giving any homework this week, but ask that parents assist students in getting a good night's sleep and eating a good breakfast. "I never get a good night sleep or eat breakfast," the wraith says as he pulls the sheet back with his delicate fingers. Then he files it away in his homework folder and goes back to his place by the window.

6S

David Miller, author of They Wore Ties, is a regular contributor to magazines such as Mountain Gazette, and the webmag Matador Travel.

Six Questions

by Christian Smith

What if the dead don’t go willingly? What if our eulogies only mock them? What if they step into darkness instead of light? What if the soul is not a soaring bird but a shriveled worm entombed within the decaying flesh? What if they fear the coffin nail and the falling clods of earth? What if they’re screaming inside?

6S

Christian Smith is a stay-at-home Dad somewhere in the desert Southwest. He has flashed at Flash Forward, Flashing in the Gutters and in several local parks. He also writes longer things but no one has read them yet.

Stupid Thumb

by Kimi Goodrich

She must have been around 4 or 5, with deep dimples and brown hair in pigtails tied in purple ribbons that matched the romper dress she had on. I spied her sitting with her mother, who was busy reading Time magazine while her daughter finished her dinner, and I drank my coffee at a nearby table. The little girl’s plate had a half eaten hamburger on it, a few french fries, and a mound of ketchup, which she was gleefully smothering her french fries in as she sang a little song about how much the fries liked to bathe in ketchup. When she ran out of french fries she glanced at her mom to see if she was looking, and once she realized her mom was still immersed in the magazine, she started dipping her thumb into the ketchup and licking it off. This went on for a few minutes until suddenly she looked down in disgust at her thumb and said, “No more for you, you stupid thumb!” With that point made, she then started to dip her other one in.

6S

Kimi Goodrich, author of Dinner with My Family, My Newest Lover, Take the Money and Run, The Unborn Kiss (and now Stupid Thumb) is officially 6S's most prolific writer. She's officially cool, too.

Bird Bones, 1906

by Fernando Benavidez

The air was always unbreathable on Sundays after church, grey and thick with heavy clouds looming over us, resisting the thirsty pull of the buried bones below. Up until I was twelve or so, I used to walk around the old tombstones, trying to get to ’buelo’s grave, trying my hardest to avoid los muertos at all cost, to avoid stepping on one of them out of respect, in case they still felt something. I remember, near all the white wooden crosses next to ’buelo, I saw bird bones arranged in some weird circle, on purpose, put in some shape in the dirt, and I kicked them with my right foot because I knew what they meant, I knew from what ’buelita had told me once—what she’d done a few times to other graves. ’Buelita just stood there watching me, holding the rosary tight and shaking her head like she did when she couldn’t hug me into submission but had to force herself to let me let it out. “La Muerte no discrimina mijo” she said, “hasta los pajaritos que pueden volar, can’t get away,” but I wasn’t mad that she wasn’t angry at the bird bones or that all the names in the cemetery were only Mexican names, except for Billy Johnson, the only black boy I’d ever seen floating down the river, bloated. I was mostly mad that the rinches who patrolled the border along the edges of the river were still alive and well and my ’buelo wasn’t.

6S

Fernando Benavidez is a graduate student at Texas Tech University working on a Ph.D. in American Literature. He grew up down in Brownsville, a town on the border in south Texas where some of his stories come from. His short fiction has appeared in Fictional Musings, Flashing in the Gutters, MeatJournal and Pindeldyboz.

Rejoice in Love

by Sherry Heyl

Why is it important to create, to do your best and to share your dreams? It is because not only does it give you strength, it encourages others to be bold in their endeavors and to know what is possible. It is better to take pride in yourself and celebrate your glory than to chain yourself to the ground with bitterness and jealousy. Celebrate and you will be with others rejoicing in celebration. Live and you will be recognized by the living. Allow yourself to be consumed by love so that it overwhelms you and becomes the only thing you are able to give.

6S

Sherry Heyl is an idealist in every sense of the word who truly believes in the power of authentic and entertaining writing.

They Wore Ties

by David Miller

The Gestapo pounded on doors and when our ancestors opened them they found well-dressed men, men wearing ties. And in the South where I was reared, where only a generation before black men were lynched, the men who strung them up: didn't they wear ties? I'll wear anything but a tie. I didn't wear one to get married and I won't need one in my grave. Even when I was a kid and my parents made me put one on for temple, I felt like I was choking. Those of you who wear ties: ask yourselves why you need one, and who it is you wear it for.

6S

David Miller, author of Lakeside Country Club, is a regular contributor to magazines such as Mountain Gazette, and the webmag Matador Travel.

The Happiest Days of Your Life

by Peter Wild

They decided he was worthless, after all. He received notification in a buff-coloured envelope in the post. You are worthless, the notification read. Everything you think or have thought, everything you will do or have done, every attempt you make or have made, every hope, every wish, every dream, every intent, everything pertaining to you, in your entirety. Worthless. Perhaps surprisingly, the days, weeks, months and, eventually, years that followed the receipt of the notification turned out to be the very best of his life.

6S

Peter Wild, author of Public Displays of Affection, is the editor of a forthcoming series of books for Serpent's Tail, the first two of which - Perverted by Language: Fiction Inspired by The Fall and The Empty Page: Fiction Inspired by Sonic Youth - will be published in 2007. He is also editor of The Flash, which will be published by Social Disease in February 2007. His fiction has appeared in Word Riot, Pen Pusher, Scarecrow, Thieves Jargon, Rumble, The Beat and a bunch of other places. You can read other bits and pieces at peterwild.com.

Good, Bad, Batter

by Madam Z

Stealing is bad. Especially when you steal someone's heart and beat it up so bad that it almost stops beating and then throw it back in someone's face and say you don't want it anymore. And then you skip town and even the policeman on the beat can't find you, but as long as I have a pulse, I'll remember how fast my heart used to beat when we made love. Even though it was make-believe love, it felt really good, so good that I didn't feel your hand in my pocket, grabbing my heart, my liver, my kidney and anything else you wanted. You wanted me, I thought then, and even now I think you did, at least until you didn't anymore. And that was really bad.

6S

Madam Z, author of Life is Cliche, lives, loves, and writes unpublished stories in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, though her heart is still in her native California, which makes it extremely difficult to do much aerobic exercise.

Blue Mink

by Lauren Collins

A few years ago, Ervin Rosenfeld was asked to make a mink jacket for the Bronx rapper Fat Joe. This would not be just any mink jacket; it had to be the pale blue of a Tiffany box, light as champagne fizz, and flattering to a man who was said to weigh three hundred and seventy pounds. Equipped with Fat Joe’s favorite North Face parka as a template, Rosenfeld set to work on the garment, for a video called “We Thuggin’.” He tracked down a skin, a white ranched female mink, and had it dyed the requested hue; after stitching the pieces together, he cut up pillows and stuffed the material between the fur and the lining, to get a quilted effect. The resulting creation, a size-XXXXXL bomber jacket, was ready for delivery in three days. But there was a problem: Fat Joe was indeed so fat that Rosenfeld didn’t have enough blue mink left to fulfill the other half of the commission – R. Kelly was meant to appear alongside Fat Joe in an identical coat.

6S

Lauren Collins is a staff writer at The New Yorker. Her six sentences are a slightly-altered version of the opening paragraph of “Mink Inc.,” her article on Ervin Rosenfeld, which appeared in the magazine’s October 23, 2006 issue.

Exposition

by Robert McEvily

Whenever Julie sees a skull and its corresponding bones in a museum, she's struck by thoughts that make her not quite sad, but close. She imagines a year well into the future (2506, say) and thinks of herself - her remains, her skull and bones - in a glass case in a museum. She assumes human nature will remain unchanged, and assumes the basic tendencies of the people of the future will be the same as they are today, just as our basic tendencies are the same as the people of five hundred years ago. She thinks of future teenagers roaming the museum making jokes, of future children complaining of being tired, of future museum guards indifferent to all that surrounds them, of the museum after hours, her remains lying in darkness, surrounded by EXIT signs. Her final thought, always: the odd privilege of eternal rest in a museum, perhaps the lamest, most anonymous kind of fame. A fame unknown and unasked for by its subject, a fame barely perceived by its subject's audience.

6S

Robert McEvily, author of Don't Tell Jill and reviewer of Anonymous Lawyer, is the creator and senior editor of Six Sentences. He lives in New York City.

Weak Coffee

by Tom Mahony

Man, I hated this place. The coffee was weak, the muffins stale, the waiters arrogant jerks. As I read a newspaper and struggled through a blueberry muffin, I tried to ignore the music blasting from the overtaxed speakers and the kook beside me, barking into his cell phone. Enough - I would never return to this dump. I rose to leave, to head for my unkempt and lonely apartment. I'd be back here tomorrow.

6S

Tom Mahony is a biological consultant in central California with an M.S. degree from Humboldt State University. His fiction has appeared in flashquake, VerbSap, Void Magazine, Flash Forward, Laughter Loaf, Long Story Short, and Surfer Magazine. He is currently circulating a novel for publication.

The Bay of Love

by Steve Himmer

What else can we do? Fred won’t come out of his basement, banging away down there night after night, hammering heat shields onto the flimsy frame of his rocket. He’s planning to visit the moon, says he’s always wanted to see it and finally can. That his wife would have wanted him to. So the rest of us who live on this street have been sewing moon-person costumes and turning our neighborhood playground into the Sea of Tranquility, rushing to finish before the morning he’s set for the launch. And hoping -- though we don’t talk about this -- that once he’s had a look at the moon Fred will want to come home.

6S

Steve Himmer's stories have recently appeared or are forthcoming from Monkeybicycle, Ghoti, Juked, Pindeldyboz, Brevity & Echo (Rose Metal Press), and A Field Guide to Surreal Botany (Two Cranes Press).

Get Your Rocks Off

by Starstruck

I licked my way around until my tongue was completely coated. Closing my lips together I waited in dead silence, anticipating the cheap thrill. Without warning, a crackling chaos exploded in my ears. Tiny daggers stabbed at my throat. Then suddenly, the party in my mouth ended. I love Pop Rocks.

6S

Starstruck prances around. She's from Connecticut and spends her free time defending Tommy Lee to haters.

Suppertime

by Rod Drake

When Carrie walked into the small but tidy kitchen, her husband stood by the sink, grim faced and holding a revolver. She looked at the gun, then up at Wayne and wondered if he intended to kill her or himself. Or maybe her and then himself; murder-suicide Carrie had heard it called on the news. Wayne looked at her, his eyes full of pain and regret. His left hand was shaking a little, but his right hand, the one holding the revolver tightly, was steady and set. Carrie could only think of one thing to say: “So you don’t want any supper, then?”

6S

Rod Drake. Las Vegas. His name, his byline. He writes them like he sees them. Check out Rod's longer stories in Flashing in the Gutters, Flashes of Speculation, Fictional Musings, Flash Flooding, Flash Forward, MicroHorror and AcmeShorts.

Public Displays of Affection

by Peter Wild

She was fat. I didn't care what the other kids said about what was right and what was wrong. She was fat and she was ugly and she smelled real bad and we could all of us go through life pretending that those things were not true but it wouldn't help her, it wouldn't help her at all. So I told her, I told her what we all thought. And I learned something about her that I hadn't known before. When she punched you, you stayed down.

6S

Peter Wild is the editor of a forthcoming series of books for Serpent's Tail, the first two of which - Perverted by Language: Fiction Inspired by The Fall and The Empty Page: Fiction Inspired by Sonic Youth - will be published in 2007. He is also editor of The Flash, which will be published by Social Disease in February 2007. His fiction has appeared in Word Riot, Pen Pusher, Scarecrow, Thieves Jargon, Rumble, The Beat and a bunch of other places. You can read other bits and pieces at peterwild.com.

Flashback

by Eric Wrisley

The hand soap in our office smells like the Avon Christmas candles my mom used to have. I mention this to Lisa, the receptionist. She says, "Yes, I noticed the smell stayed on my hands a long time." I say, "It smells like the 70s." "Yeah," she says, "The 70s." I can tell by her reaction she didn't have Avon candles in the 70s.

6S

Eric Wrisley's life is a CautionaryTale with a parental advisory sticker. Lately, he's all about lunch.

The Corner Booth

by Leah Jones

Everyone thought that I was just a bus boy and I operated as one for seven years. It was a good cover and the corner booth at the Greek diner soon became a safe place. Quietly, I protected the family, refilled coffee, cleaned tables and passed information. I was so quiet, the waitresses thought I was a mute, but they could trust me to turn a table in less than three minutes. I was so quiet, the family thought I was deaf and they could trust me to hear everything and say nothing. So quiet, that when I slipped into a car moments before the explosion, nobody ever asked what happened to the bus boy.

6S

Leah Jones is a writer and occasional talker who writes at Accidentally Jewish, Shebrew and Jewish Fringe. Once upon a time, she was a chemist.

Dinner with My Family

by Kimi Goodrich

Sitting at the dinner table, I look around at the faces that surround me. I get that I am a part of these people, I understand the whole flesh and blood theory, I know how tightly ties can bind. I am aware that I wouldn't be able to plant my roots without having been harvested from my family tree. It's clear that my ass looks good in jeans because of my parents' genes, and that the very life that I have was made because of them. I get it. But do I owe my life to my family, or do I owe it to myself to live it the way I know I need to live it?

6S

Kimi Goodrich is the author of My Newest Lover, Take the Money and Run and The Unborn Kiss.

Lakeside Country Club

by David Miller

"You know, we helped to build this club," my grandfather told me over plates of lox and onions. "We were charter members. We wanted to play golf, swim, but the Country Club of Virginia didn't allow Jews." "Oh," I said, watching a black man with a bow-tie fill our water glasses. I must've been about 10, and nothing made sense - the country clubs, the golf courses, dressing up just to eat lunch - except the small dam we had to walk over to get to the clubhouse. There was a stream that roared out of a tube, splashing down 20 feet back into the creek bed from where it had been taken, and had to return.

6S

David Miller, both a fiction and nonfiction writer, is a regular contributor to magazines such as Mountain Gazette, and the webmag Matador Travel.

Life is a Cliché

by Madam Z

It was a dark and stormy night the day I was trying to figure out what happened once upon a time when I was young. In the beginning, I was born, but that didn't last long and the next thing I knew I was 21 and old enough to drink, but no wiser, so I got married. But then I had the mother of all hangovers and became the mother of two kids, and I said to myself, no more drinking and no more birthing. The kids grew up and I threw up my hands and left their dad in the lurch, whatever that is, and set out to find the meaning of life. I found it under a rock, but when the light hit it, it shriveled up and died. So now I'm footloose, with a few screws loose, and trying to figure out what will happen, now that I'm old and life has no meaning.

6S

Madam Z lives, loves, and writes unpublished stories in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, though her heart is still in her native California, which makes it extremely difficult to do much aerobic exercise.