Single Malt Scotch

by Debra the Barmaid

He sniffs deeply despite my warning, and rears back at the surprising burn. "You said I should try a mellower one for my first time," he says. "Are you sure this is a mellower one?" I nod, and he takes a sip, this time remembering what I said about forming a spoon with his tongue and holding the liquid there. After he finally swallows, he turns to me and says, "Wow." I don't know if he has any idea how excited I am that there's one more thing I love that I can share with him.

6S

Debra the Barmaid used to work in publishing, where she had to read some of the worst first novels in the history of bad first novels. Now she slings drinks at a New York City bar and writes about that, and about other parts of her life, at The Barmaid Blog.

Quest

by Sondra Harris

They are all dead; all, save me, and there is nothing left but for me to finish what was begun. Hard going, particularly in the desert, where the baking sun and the nearly-spicelike odor of corpses mummifying is no less nauseating than the meatier, wetter, reek of the putrifying corpses in town, yet I press on, traveling by night as much as possible to avoid becoming a victim of the scorching sun and the oven of the sand, barely sipping what water I have remaining, knowing that I cannot possibly succeed, knowing I nevertheless must not give up. On the twenty-first night (or the twenty-second, perhaps, for I have forgotten my accounting), I believe I see it on the horizon, and convince myself it is a mirage, or that I am hallucinating due to dehydration — but it is still visible the next night, and the night after that, it is still visible, and larger... closer; I gain ground. I revise my accounting some few nights later, when the moon rises full, and call myself having traveled for twenty-nine days, near enough to be correct; the gates loom before me but they are locked for the night and I must wait till morn, so I drink my droplet of water and sleep. At sunup, I am blasted awake by the trumpets and the creaky gates scraping across the sand; I am relieved because after these many weeks of no contact with living beings, I have come to imagine that all in the city might also be lost. I summon my energy and dash past the gatekeepers into the city; the tree stands in the center green: tall, lush, limbs bowed in remembrance of their former burdens, but now utterly stripped of fruit; a townsperson tells me if I wait three days there will be more, and I am so beset with exhaustion and disappointment she suggests I visit the marketplace; there, indeed, through much wheedling, bribery, and shady commerce, my quest is over... I have no coins left, and I still must trek back across the desert, but the apple... the apple is in my possession.

6S

Sondra Harris is the author of Caffeine Fantasy and the book Getting My Think On. More of her work may be found at her website. Sondra does not yet have an iPhone and claims to be waiting until all the bugs are worked out and the next generation is released. That is her story and she is sticking to it.

The Golden Child

by Quin

She asked for a puppy when she was six, instead, they brought a baby boy home and said, "Look! A little brother for you to love!" Over the years, she played with him, and looked over him, and was always there for him, crooning when he had his accidents. The fall from the tree that broke his collarbone, the time the car hit him when he was playing with his trucks in the middle of their suburban street, everyone so thankful it was a small car, who had heeded the sign saying "CHILDREN PLAYING," although the driver hadn't actually expected to see a CHILD PLAYING. The time he was found blocks away, in a strange neighborhood, sitting in someone's garden, she was the one who scooped him up to carry him home when they'd searched for him all night long. She was the one who pointed out exactly where he went under when he decided to swim the lake to win his Boy Scout badge, and huddled over everyone while CPR was administered, the one who sat next to him in the hospital after the tragic accident that took the life of his new wife, holding his hand, telling him he would survive, there had been a bleed in the brakes, not to worry, she was there, she was there. When he died, she mourned and howled at the funeral, not in grief, but in anger, because cancer had taken his life before she finally managed to accomplish the job.

6S

Quin, author of If Only She Knew, is the nom de plume of a woman born and raised in New Orleans, who spent time in Colorado and later in Utah (where theater was discovered and taken to heart). Her children are loved forever, a terrier sleeps at her feet, and words ache to escape onto paper. Her version of life in New York is here.

I Loved Him Enough to Allow It

by Stephanie Bee

I loved him in a magnificent way. None of it made sense, it was both messy and gorgeous. The way he made me breathe, the way I was afraid and alive with him, the way I could cry gloriously in his arms, sob as I confessed my deepest fears, laugh as he spun me around the dance floor in front of all of his friends. And then, because I allowed it, he hurt me. He hurt me because I gave myself permission to be vulnerable, because I let him touch my secrets, because I trusted him to make them better. But most importantly of all, he hurt me because I only spoke to him when I knew he was listening, and when he was listening, I spoke the truth.

6S

Stephanie Bee, author of I Shall Be Punished, was trained as an investigative reporter, and has lived all over the world, including London and Australia. She currently resides in New York City with two fabulous roommates who politely deal with her assortment of male suitors. You can read more about the sagas of Stephanie's love life (and other adventures) at Spread Eagle in NYC.

Destinies

by Stanley Bing

Some of us have destinies. Some of us don’t. If you don’t believe you have one, you don’t. Sorry. It’s really difficult to manufacture this kind of belief. It’s possible that it has to be given to you by your mother.

6S

Stanley Bing's six sentences are excerpted from What Would Machiavelli Do?

Retirement of a Secret Writer

by Billy Garcia

At the company I wrote product user guides, which no one ever read. At home, I kept journals in black composition notebooks that I stored in plastic shopping bags and stashed about the apartment: in my sock drawer, under the bathroom sink, in a cupboard above the stove next to the Tabasco. Those notebooks were not worth looking into. They were so internalized, so lonesome and cryptic, that I imagine if anyone ever chanced upon them, they would find little more of interest than some flat red roach, mummified from boredom on a page of troubled prose. Tired of being a secret writer, I finally put aside the mournful journals, the number two pencils, and the shunned step-by-step manuals. I changed jobs and got a girlfriend.

6S

Billy Garcia is a pen name for WPM, who is contributing editor of 3711 Atlantic.

Trial Separation

by Kristen Tsetsi

Orson heard her walking around upstairs, the sound of the heels she never took off after work clack-clacking on the old linoleum, and he knew she was in the kitchen, then opening the refrigerator for milk to go with her chips – or peanuts – because all food made her thirsty. Softer clomping, now, into the living room where the noise stopped and was replaced by the pop of the speakers coming on with the TV, loud audience laughter punctuating the end of some talk show. She wouldn't get up for a while, now, he knew; it was her after-work sit-down time with her hands full of chips - or nuts - and the jug of milk. The bag she made him pack last night was soft under his head, though not as soft as a hotel pillow, but he'd lived here for thirty years and wasn't comfortable leaving, with living in a hotel, a building made for strangers and travelers and he was neither. She never came down to the basement - always made their son do it when Orson wasn't home, and if no one were home but her, she'd wait – so it was safe, and he could stay here, climb in and out through the window for work (he would have to take off the screen completely; she'd be likely to notice a tear in the mesh), and sneak up for the microwave when she was gone. And while the food spun on the plate, maybe he'd look through her things, see what she hid in her drawers - if anything - and look for any new books she's bought, notes she'd scribbled on pads of paper while talking on the phone, eavesdrop on thoughts she spoke to herself that he never thought to listen to before and probably should have.

6S

Kristen Tsetsi, who gave us Killing People is an Art, he said, is the author of Homefront and the founder and co-editor (with Shelly Rae Rich) of Tuesday Shorts. Her stories have appeared online in Storyglossia, Opium, edificeWRECKED, and others, and in print in RE:AL, Red Weather Magazine, and the 2006 Storyglossia Fiction Prize issue.

I Want to Be Free

by mgirl

My life is like a shipwreck and I am floating in a lifeboat trying to survive. Fierce waves drive me to the sandy shore, safe from your words and actions. Is it you or is it I that launches my raft out from the safety of the shallow shores back to the dangerous seas of your turmoil and abuse? How long will I play this game before I finally learn that my lifeboat will sink and I will drown? I dream of the warm sands between my toes and solid ground beneath my feet. I no longer want your raging sea, your churning waves, or your bitter words, I want to be free.

6S

mgirl has just started writing, and this is the second piece she's submitted. (The first is here.) She loves to read and write, is from Canada, is forty something and has just become a Grandma. Both of her children have moved out and she spends most of her time now reading, writing and in the garden.

Cacti or Bust

by Gina Perry

My cactus went missing from my doorstep (I thought there it'd be safe, of all places there). I put up posters around town, I had no photo so sketched an artist's impression, I pasted them to lampposts, put them in shop windows, I even handed them out at festivals. Weeks passed, summer went, the cactus should have been brought in from the cold nights, the bare spot on the doorstep became the bare spot on my table. Winter: still no word. Then one day the doorbell rang: on the doormat a cactus in a blue porcelain pot, with the same pendulous branches and near identical purple flowers, it had returned. But that night as we settled down in front of the telly, it somehow felt like it would never be the same again.

6S

Gina Perry is a writer and storyteller in Manchester, England. She likes to entertain herself in pubs/bars/cafes/parks by asking strangers to tell her stories, true or otherwise. She loves her cactus (things have settled down now). Her next writing project is an ode to her Gary Fisher bike.

Sleepless in BC

by Gillian L. Lockwood

The digital clock tells me it is precisely eleven forty-seven. I sigh; sleep is eluding me once more. To occupy my mind I try to unearth a problem or two that I can worry about, but nothing worth losing sleep over. I could say I was pondering the effects of global warming, only being a child of the sixties, when nuclear war hung over our heads, I just can't work up the necessary enthusiasm about polar ice caps melting. It would seem for as long as I can remember man has lived on the brink of his own destruction, brought on solely by himself. No, this does not cause me sleepless nights, for it is only a matter of time before man also becomes an extinct species.

6S

Gillian L. Lockwood lives in British Columbia. She enjoys reading and one day hopes to write reasonably well.

The Lie

by Ethel

He looked right into my eyes and uttered a complete untruth. It slid from his lips like butter over hot pancakes. Trust flew out the window. I don't know if I will ever believe what he says again. I wonder if the lie was worth it. I think not.

6S

Ethel is hoping to recapture her creativity. It became misplaced while she was busy taking care of others. Now she is trying to take care of herself.

Views with a Room

by David Gianatasio

There are many windows in my room. Well, not "windows," exactly; they're photographic prints of windows. Each shows an enlarged portion of my face: a wisp of hair... stubbly chin... tear-smeared cheek... hesitant smile. Through the photograph-door, footless socks and empty shoes race down golden steps to a rain-streaked street beyond. One day each year, I never know when, all the window-pictures show your unhappy eyes from different perspectives. The next time I see the components of my face, they will be blurred and less distinct, eyelids several centimeters closer to shut.

6S

David Gianatasio's first book of fiction and commentary, Swift Kicks, was published last year by So New Publishing. He's the author of Wartime in Reverse.

9 New Sixes! All At Once!

An Announcement from Six Sentences

Hi! Thanks a lot for visiting the site! Quick FYI: Robert McEvily will be offline until Thursday the 26th. Therefore, nine sixes have been published all at once! So grab your favorite beverage, get cozy, browse the site, and be sure to check out all the recent work. If you love 6S, you’ll love Quin’s If Only She Knew, Jack Swenson’s Tornado, Jennifer Gravley’s Los Angeles, Neil Fox’s Hello Miss, Mr. Schiavo’s Friendship Brings Enjoyment, Joseph Varvara’s Graduation Photo, Madam Z’s Felling Time, Kristen Tsetsi’s Killing People is an Art, he said, and Daniel S. Irwin’s Night Passage. Enjoy!

6S

Six Sentences likes Cute Little Waitresses.

Night Passage

by Daniel S. Irwin

The sun bore down in the desert heat as I shuffled in my flip-flops along the Sonora Desert highway. Just last night, I was making the night passage cruising toward the California line. Nestled in a cooler full of ice, chilled tequila and Coors kept me in a laid-back, mellow mood. Opportunity to help pass the time on the road with a little pleasant conversation presented itself in the form of a stranded traveler banging upon the hood of my mo-chine at a crossroad above Nogales. I didn't expect my being robbed of my booze any more than I did the car jacking. That's the last time I pick up a rider in the middle of the night who's holding a bloody machette in one hand and a recently severed head in the other.

6S

Daniel S. Irwin is an artist/writer working as a medic in a maximum security prison ('cause you gotta get cash money somewhere and everybody gotsta eat... then there're those creditors... drat!). His work has been published (and rejected) around the world (and burned in public in some places).

Killing People is an Art, he said

by Kristen Tsetsi

Jenny, drunk, slid to her knees and clutched and groped at his thighs, her chin raised so that she could look up into his face. "You're embarrassing me," he said, and he apologized to the other couple still sitting at the table with half-formed game clay molded around their fingers. "Aw, c'mon," Jenny said, her hand sliding toward his zipper. "This is why you love me, 'cause I'm crazy, remember?" She curled herself around his legs and whispered, Don't leave me, don't leave me, I know you're leaving me. He used her shoulder to shove her away, onto her back, where she flailed like a toppled beetle.

6S

Kristen Tsetsi is the author of Homefront and the founder and co-editor (with Shelly Rae Rich) of Tuesday Shorts. Her stories have appeared online in Storyglossia, Opium, edificeWRECKED, and others, and in print in RE:AL, Red Weather Magazine, and the 2006 Storyglossia Fiction Prize issue.

Felling Time

by Madam Z

Sadie goes to the gym three times a week, whether she wants to or not, and she never wants to. But she must, since it’s a major part of her obsessive strategy to slow down the ravages of Time, which continues to march on, of course, but it least she’s making him march uphill. She also dyes her hair flame-red, which is like waving a red flag at Time, but, thanks to her thrice-weekly workouts, she is able to bob and weave quite nimbly and she is hopeful that if she keeps it up, she may succeed in exhausting Time and perhaps even stick a sword or two into his glistening hide. And her own hide glistens as well, since she slathers it daily with sundry “age-defying” oils, crèmes and butters, to the point that she can slip into and out of her clothes quite effortlessly. Sometimes, especially when confronted by an almost uncontrollable urge to consume great quantities of chocolate cake with thick, butter-cream frosting topped with crème-filled chocolate truffles, Sadie wonders if she should just give it up and grow old gracefully. But then she looks at her handsome, much-younger husband, sighs deeply, and heads for the gym.

6S

Madam Z, author of Driving Me Crazy, likes Six and isn't afraid to admit it.

Friendship Brings Enjoyment

by Mr. Schiavo

May I have your attention please. Thank you. Now I understand that many of you have been friends from way back. Friendship brings enjoyment. Enjoyment brings loudness. I would like you to turn down the VOLUME on the LOUDNESS in the LUNCHROOM.

6S

Mr. Schiavo, who spoke these words in May of 1982, was the Principal of Belhaven Avenue School in Linwood, New Jersey. He is quoted by Barry Corrigan, brother of Dawn Corrigan, who was Third Runner-Up in our First Contest.

Hello Miss

by Neil Fox

She looked a little like Rachel Hunter, only slimmer. He tried to catch a look at her calves without getting caught; her skirt rested just above her knees and she seemed engrossed in her newspaper, but he didn’t stare. He figured most men would be trying to peek up her skirt right now, or at least imagine what was at the end of her wonderful thigh’s journey but it was the calves of a woman that fascinated him and this was his mission. Her high-heeled feet were firmly planted on the floor meaning her shapely calves were in their prime mode but he couldn’t make out the nuances and definition from the angle he was sat. Lightly tanned and erotically smooth he knew he would be on this train as long as they were, and that when they left, the moment this beautiful woman stood up his bag would spill and he would be on his knees to steal the precious glance his heart desired. The entire time he was plotting his moment he failed to realize the woman was frequently trying to catch his eye.

6S

Neil Fox writes, DJs, produces films, organizes film festivals, stage plays and music events, all in the much derided and equally much misunderstood town of Luton. A friend of his once called him a Cultural Saboteur.

Los Angeles...

by Jennifer Gravley

...becomes condensed in memory, becomes black cow eyes, becomes the seed-choked jelly of the spine, the 10 a thin thread pulled through thick smogscrapers, barrio to ocean. I drive us as on a magnetic track, hot and bright as any first time. You can't help but look. We wade through a thick hotel lobby to the glass wall where ocean overtakes sand — see the living shells! Ambitious creatures attach to the glass and suck; when you lean in, they suck the ends of your hair. Suddenly, I remember: everything sad and hungry I, autogenous, brought into being.

6S

Jennifer Gravley's recent work appears online at 400 Words, 21 Stars Review, and Triplopia.

Tornado

by Jack Swenson

There was no place to hide, so he just stood there looking out the cabin window and watched. He watched the light fade, the lake froth, then an unseen hand sweep the scudding waves away. It began to rain, and he watched until the window ran with rivers of water and the lake disappeared and the rain pounded the roof with the force of a jackhammer. And then the wind died, it stopped raining, the sun came out, and he went outside. A tree was down next door, its root mass pulled free of the ground; the hole at the foot of the tree looked liked a bomb crater. A single bird was singing in the top of a tree on the shore of the lake: Come out, come out, we're safe, we're alive!

6S

Jack Swenson, author of First Time, teaches creative writing at a Senior Center and spends most of his spare time writing. His wife thinks he should be working in the yard. Check out his books at iuniverse.com or amazon.com.

If Only She Knew

by Quin

He loved her, he realized, enough to put aside his miserly ways, his penny pinching, all those habits he had to save a penny, save a dime that drove her mad, with the revelation hitting him the day she'd moved and changed her number, his only contact now her email. There he stood in his thrift store furnished flat, polyester pants and shirt, holding the second-hand faux diamond ring with tape wrapped around it to make it fit, as his world collapsed, taking with it all of his need to control life by controlling money. He was a changed man, flinging out the old, bringing in the new, from clothes, to dishes, to the beautiful ring sitting by his elbow. She'd agreed to one meeting, with the understanding if he didn't answer this email in the next ten minutes, it was over, no more tries, and he labored over the reply, pouring out his heart, his love, his need and desire for her, begging her to see her changed Silas Marner. Yes, a new man; with one small exception. He simply couldn't see paying for the internet on his new computer since you could just as easily "borrow" someone else's connection and so it was, as he typed that letter to change his life, to make her his, as his fingers sped their way across the keyboard, five seconds left, his finger moves on the mousepad to place the cursor over send, rises up to tap it and the connecti

6S

Quin, author of One, is the nom de plume of a woman born and raised in New Orleans, who spent time in Colorado and later in Utah (where theater was discovered and taken to heart). Her children are loved forever, a terrier sleeps at her feet, and words ache to escape onto paper. Her version of life in New York is here.

Handicapping Dating

by Katie Schwartz

I despise, loathe and abhor the creepy chick syndrome game, "What if your fictitious husband loses a limb, goes blind, goes deaf, develops an allergy to pussy or winds up in a wheelchair?" This is how I want to spend my evening, pondering acceptable handicaps my non-husband may or may not get?! It's a no-win situation; in every game there's always that one altruistic dame who dates handys for sport, making the rest of us look like Cunt of the Year recipients. Predictably, each bird's list does a 180. As long as I don't have to roll him out of his wheelchair and on top of me, I can sit on his face; if he's flaccid and crippled from the waist down, he can finger bang me. As if that's an upside.

6S

Katie Schwartz is a comedy writer and essayist. She's written for Ostrich Ink, Girlistic Magazine, Farmhouse Magazine, Tastes Like Chicken, and a host of other festive rags. She also has a blog, All the Way from Oy to Vey, filled with her OCD about the zealotinas of the world and rants about nothing in particular.

The Upside of Extinction

by Nathan Tyree

A meteor, large and rough and ancient, is even now rushing through the cold of space toward us. It will strike. The destruction will be sublime; this is called extinction. Every living thing will be wiped out by the wrath of stone. However, there is an upside to this. American Idol will, finally, be gone.

6S

Nathan Tyree's work has appeared (or is forthcoming) in Flesh and Blood, Doorknobs and Body Paint, The Flash, Bare Bone, Dogmatika, Wretched and Violent, and The Empty Page: Stories Inspired by the Songs of Sonic Youth. He's also the author of God is Dead, and helps edit Magazine of the Dead.

i stand all amazed

by Neil LaBute

it's astonishing how needy people are. i had no idea. it was a technical advancement like anything else -- the microwave or the radio. the blog was born and millions of gasping little voices appeared, spilling out of their journals and crying a chorus of 'me, me, me!' so many electronic hands reaching out. some collective 'i was here.'

6S

Neil LaBute is a writer/director for theater and film. He remains suspicious of technology (and most other things as well).

Under the Influence

by T.J. McIntyre

"It's cold here" were the last words spoken through her chattering teeth before gulping in a breath of air and then exhaling her soul. I saw it leave her body, a pink trail of iridescence floating upwards like a smoke ring widening and dispersing to nothingness above my head. I put my face in my hands and wept for her safe passage to that other realm we glimpse when wearing open minds but most often hide from behind a veil of rationality. I stood, looked at the twisted metal wreckage, heard the police sirens as if for the first time, and felt the strong hands of a paramedic lead me to an ambulance. The police read me my rights and informed me that I would be taken to the hospital for observation before they returned me to prison. I knew I shouldn't have gotten behind the wheel after that last hit; I was still on probation from last time, after all.

6S

T.J. McIntyre, author of The Endless Night, is an author of speculative and literary fiction from Alabaster, Alabama. An insurance agent by day, he spends his free time trying to capture imaginary worlds and daydreams in nets of words. His work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in such publications as The Swallow's Tail, 55 Words, and Escape Velocity. In addition to being a being a published author, Mr. McIntyre is currently collecting stories and editing a print anthology, Southern Fried Weirdness 2007: An Annual Anthology of Southern Speculative Fiction, and the e-zine, Southern Fried Weirdness Online.

One

by Quin

One chance. One missed phone call. One unreturned message. One ignored email. One broken date. One chance, because I won't live with the lure of "trust me, I promise" again.

6S

Quin, author of Civics Lesson, is the nom de plume of a woman born and raised in New Orleans, who spent time in Colorado and later in Utah (where theater was discovered and taken to heart). Her children are loved forever, a terrier sleeps at her feet, and words ache to escape onto paper. Her version of life in New York is here.

love fades from black to white

by Paul Kavanagh

kiss me. desire expires. love me. tomorrow it rains. open the window. it was around six when they both simultaneously opened their eyes to the first rays of light that surreptitiously seeped through the clouds and their faded curtains, they woke to the exasperating twitter of birds and the sporadic coughing of a car that was suffering from some perplexing malady, they understood how it felt, there was an affinity between them, while this cacophony filled their senses they struggled into an embrace and shared their ephemeral, limited carnal knowledge, they decided - without acumen - to work it out, start all over again, a fresh start, forget about the night before, just silly puerile disagreements, put it down to the cheap wine and the inebriated state that they mistakenly found themselves in and the ambiance of the night; it was a strange night.

6S

Paul Kavanagh was born in England in 1971. He is happy. His wife is happy. Together they are happy. His book, everybody is interested in pigeons, has found a home at 40ft and so too is happy.

I Shall Be Punished

by Stephanie Bee

Today I have been wicked. After skipping the gym to stay in bed with my vibrator, I ate a huge breakfast and pitifully emailed the drunk idiot who took me out for a bad date last weekend. At the office I used the company's messenger service to send a CD to my best friend (who lives four blocks from me), gobbled five chocolate-chip cookies from the snack cart, and refused to smile patiently when the intern screwed up the only thing I asked him to do. After work I lied to my psychiatrist, answered the phone when my commitment-phobe late-night hook-up booty called me (no doubting looking for one thing), shared an entire bottle of red wine with my roommate, and spent $8 on junk food I didn't need. And then after all this, I sat in my room, door closed, window shut, chain-smoking cherry-flavored cigarettes and crying about the one who broke my heart. I think tomorrow I shall work harder at making healthy decisions.

6S

Stephanie Bee, author of This is How I Start My Day, was trained as an investigative reporter, and has lived all over the world, including London and Australia. She currently resides in New York City with two fabulous roommates who politely deal with her assortment of male suitors. You can read more about the sagas of Stephanie's love life (and other adventures) at Spread Eagle in NYC.

First Time

by Jack Swenson

They climbed the stairs that led up to the girl's bedroom, and with their backs to each other, they took off their clothes. Boo made a dive for the bed and pulled the covers up over her slender body before chubby Beany turned around; they lay side by side and stared up at the ceiling. As you might expect, it was the young woman who took matters into her own hands (ha ha), and in five minutes they were no longer children; he was one of the boys, and she was a Woman of the World. Thank God that's over she said to herself. He expressed his thoughts aloud. "Let's do it again!" he said.

6S

Jack Swenson, author of Wonderland, teaches creative writing at a Senior Center and spends most of his spare time writing. His wife thinks he should be working in the yard. Check out his books at iuniverse.com or amazon.com.

Caffeine Fantasy

by Sondra Harris

I walk into Geo's Coffee and Book Shop; as usual, the barista greets me by my first name, takes my cup down from its place on the shelf of "regulars," and begins preparing my morning brew to my preference. I take a one-chair table close to the counter and turn on my laptop. Glancing casually to my right as one of the other baristas walks past, I see another customer sipping from a Geo's High Octane Morning-Starter cup and snickering over a book. She realizes she's been noticed and apologizes for laughing out loud in public, but the book is funny and she thinks she wants to be friends with the author. I smile without speaking – I want to tell her who I am and I am scared at the same time, but then the barista puts my mug and my water bottle in front of me and says, "Here you go, Sondra," and the customer instantly flips the book shut onto her finger, looks at the cover, looks at me, and gasps, "Oh, my, are you ..." The above isn't true yet, so maybe I should think about leaving a copy in the coffee shop.

6S

Sondra Harris lives in Connecticut, where she bides her time at her day job (which she does love, but would far rather be writing full time) till she becomes successful. She is the author of the book Getting My Think On and more of her work may be found at her website.

In the Light of Marci

by Elizabeth Rose

The best stories are always told after a familiar lunch with a familiar face; especially if your companion has skin made of imploded light. "It reminds me of when the KGB was following me in Russia, and we accidentally fell down a manhole but couldn't giggle." This was the sentence that made me brim with anticipation, fuelled further by the honest look in her eyes. And it was almost too beautiful to ask for an explanation, but I couldn't help myself and so she shrugged and poured each word like a simple stroll along a sun drenched street. "Well, they arrested me because I didn't want to leave and interrogated me in the highest building possible because I was scared of heights." Then she says how blessed her life is and her golden hair puts a bounce into your stride as you leave.

6S

Elizabeth Rose, author of Valediction, is a writer and artist living in the south of Spain.

I Call a Do-Over

by caccy46

I don't know if you had to have been born in the 1940s to understand the childrens' phrase "I call a do-over," but, obviously, it was always shouted out when your hopscotch stone didn't land on its intended number ("Do-over, Bobby bumped my arm") or if you saw Susan peak when you hid behind Mrs. Helmstetter's garage during Hide and Seek (and anyway she counted to 10 way too fast); "I call a do-over" I'd whine, and usually get my way because I was the youngest and would cry over just about anything. Do-overs were really cool, and I don't ever remember feeling guilty or wrong for calling one. And, for the most part, do-overs were pretty much always respected and given to the caller. You never really argued much about do-overs. My dear friend, David, my friend of more than 40 years and the smartest man I've ever known, died Wednesday, long, long before we finished playing our games. At his burial, as I put my shovel full of dirt over his casket, I screamed, silently, "Do-over," but no one heard me.

6S

caccy46, author of Birthday Boy, is 60 years old, a mother of two, and has been married for 32 years.

Untitled

by Sophia Macris

This was the winter I stayed in a lot, listening to Blonde on Blonde on repeat, the whole damn album, because it was the only thing that made sense to me. The rest of my life was lived automatically. The alarm rang and I went to work, stayed there my regulation ten hours, laughed in an obligatory manner at jokes in the office, walked home when it was dark outside and then listened to Blonde on Blonde. I maintained my appearance, but in a generic way. A face made up like the magazines, outfits assembled like paper dolls. My apartment was hot; it was a mild winter and the heat in the building was oppressive, so I would lie on my bed naked and listen to Blonde on Blonde.

6S

Sophia Macris, author of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, likes owls, James Merrill, and tequila shots.

Civics Lesson

by Quin

She spoke through the cigarette smoke, letting it filter her words, her memories. "It was horrible after the fall, when the Government vanished overnight," she said, giving the word a capital letter, making it a person, not a thing. "We stood in line for everything: food, clothing, ration coupons, coupons to get coupons. My parents stood in line for two weeks to get furniture, taking turns in that line just to get furniture for us to live on, and it was bad, ugly furniture that was like our lives, flimsy and handed down, but, it was ours. When we could afford good furniture, my mother made my father keep one piece, so we could remember, as if I would forget going to school in boys underwear." Her words fell to the floor when she stopped talking, reminding me she was only 23, and all of this had happened in a time when I was worried if shoulder pads would stay in fashion another season, and I wept.

6S

Quin, author of Words, is the nom de plume of a woman born and raised in New Orleans, who spent time in Colorado and later in Utah (where theater was discovered and taken to heart). Her children are loved forever, a terrier sleeps at her feet, and words ache to escape onto paper. Her version of life in New York is here.

The Endless Night

by T.J. McIntyre

Life crept up behind me like a shadow and whispered in my ear, her warm breath caressed me with a message I didn't understand. I turned around and she was gone. I rode seasick with the ferryman, his rowers slapping the water with steady strokes, the smell of death emanating from the rippling blackness we crossed. I looked forward, strained my eyes to see the other side, and there was nothing but more ocean; I looked behind to see more of the same. Luna rose above me, glistening white, lighting the emptiness, and I saw beauty. A spark of hope for the hopeless.

6S

T.J. McIntyre, author of They Call Me Elijah, is a writer of speculative and literary fiction from Alabaster, Alabama. An insurance agent by day, he spends his free time trying to capture imaginary worlds and daydreams in nets of words. His work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in such publications as The Swallow's Tail, 55 Words, and Escape Velocity. In addition to being a being a published author, Mr. McIntyre is currently collecting stories and editing the upcoming title, Southern Fried Weirdness 2007: An Annual Anthology of Southern Speculative Fiction. More information about him, his writings, and the anthology can be found at Southern Fried Weirdness.

In the Wall

by Rod Drake

Banner knew there was a rat in the walls, a big one from the sound of it, probably an escapee from the test animals kept in this section of the laboratory. Considering the painful things done to them, it was not surprising to Banner that they would try to escape. Lots of enhanced amino acid combinations, refined pituitary gland extracts and dangerously unstable steroid cocktails were pumped into the helpless lab rats daily; he felt sorry for them, but after all, the goal, to develop age-delaying concoctions for humans, was important. That was odd; Banner noticed that all the lab rats in all the cages were suddenly quiet, eerily still, no scurrying movements, no furtive scratching. Then the wall cracked open loudly behind him, showering Banner with plaster chunks and dust, and the rats went crazy, squealing and running with purpose, pounding their little bodies against the glass walls of their cages until they tipped over their prisons or knocked them down to smash open on the tile floor. From out of the hole in the wall came a rat as large and heavily muscled as an alley cat, who used his monstrous fangs to rip open Banner’s throat, and as he lay bleeding rapidly to death, the army of freed rats, along with its giant leader, hungrily lapped his blood as it quickly spread across the white laboratory floor.

6S

Rod Drake, author of Snowy's Smackdown, is now the Offical Author of "Friday the 13th" here at Six Sentences. From now on, anytime the 13th day of a month falls on a Friday, Rod’s work will be featured. (He decided at an early age that real life was too scary, so he retreated into the world of fiction. Check out his longer stories in Flashes of Speculation, Fictional Musings, Flash Flooding, Flash Forward and MicroHorror.)

Wonderland

by Jack Swenson

I'm in a grocery store when the earthquake hits. A woman screams, and an aisle of shelves in the liquor section falls over, filling my nostrils with the smell of whiskey. I crawl along the floor looking for a hole to hide in. The Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts are huddled together by a checkout stand arguing about the size of the quake; she claims it was at least an eight; he says, no no. When the shaking stops, a man gets to his feet and peers over the counter at a clerk who is cowering on the floor below the cash register. "Hey," he says in a loud voice, "can't a guy get any service around here?"

6S

Jack Swenson teaches creative writing at a Senior Center and spends most of his spare time writing. His wife thinks he should be working in the yard. Check out his books at iuniverse.com or amazon.com.

My Reflection is Killing Me

by Bob Jacobs

I'm shaving when my reflection leans out, grabs me by the ears and pulls me through the mirror. I crumple on the floor in shock. He kicks me repeatedly in the guts, screaming, but the words don't make any sense and it's all I can do to throw my arms in the way of his blows. Kicking over, he leans down and punches me in the face over and over until my head hurts, my arms hurt, and my insides feel like they've been through a blender. He pauses, panting, and I think it's going to be okay, but then he puts his hands around my neck and starts choking the life out of me and I think, "My God, this is it, my reflection is killing me." As suddenly as it started it stops and as he heaves me back through the mirror, leaving me wondering what the hell that was all about, he shouts, "!dratsab taf uoy thgiew esol - hguone dah ev'I"

6S

Bob Jacobs, author of How Women Make Fools Out of Men, lives in the south-east of England with his wife and kids and Sony Vaio.

Walking the Dog

by Alun Williams

Sometimes I lie on my bed and think of that lady who walks her dog past my apartment every afternoon, the one I call the pink poodle lady. I ain't never seen a dog that's pink before and I guess it gets as many stares as her tight ass. She lives two blocks away, on Fifth and Washington just past Bellini's Diner. It's a big building but I know that she lives in apartment 903 as I made friends with the janitor, a Puerto Rican guy called Alvarez who told me all about her. She's called Miss Darlen and her poodle's called Paris, but I guess she ain't from Texas. One day soon, I'm gonna call on Miss Darlen, gonna walk right after her and knock on her door, but the bone I have won't be for the dog.

6S

Alun Williams, ex-member of East of the Web, lives in Wales. He now writes in Critters Bar and Zoetrope under "maxie slim" and "Maxwell Allen." Several shorts by Alun have been published in Write Side Up, Cambrensis and Secret Attic.

Driving Me Crazy

Part 6 of 6 by Madam Z

Oh dear, you must think I’m terrible! I don’t know what got into me... I guess it’s just the luxurious surroundings back here; the leather seat is so soft and smooth. Maybe I should come up in front with you. No, no... I didn’t mean, “come” with you, in that sense; I just meant I should move to the front seat. Do I move when I come? What are you... omigod, stop the car and find out for yourself!

6S

Madam Z, author of Part 5 of Driving Me Crazy, likes Six and isn't afraid to admit it.

Dookey Earl... Pukey, Hurls!

by Harry B. Sanderford

Reigning Ex Ex Games Containment Competition champ, Earl "Retainy" Gainey, blew chunks Saturday after clinching his fifth world title in the 6th Annual Exlax Extreme Games. Gainey, who has long attributed his counter-crapping capabilities to a near bovine tolerance for lactose, stirred widespread panic at one point during the competition when, fearing he'd blow, Earl's grimace and gutteral growl sent the crowd of constipatory constituents clamoring for the exits. Earl managed to keep his shit together long enough to defeat fellow fecal freighter "Skid" Mark Loafster, but moments later erupted spewing Vesuvius volumes of vintage but vile and viscous vomit from veranda to vestibule. Following Ret Rainbird's imitation, manager Dung King was quick to issue a statement countering speculation that the champ's bungus may have actually grown shut. Proven true, these allegations would have led to Gainey’s disqualification, but King assured the press that Earl had indeed employed an XXG-approved asshole, leading to further speculation as to whether King referred to himself. Reached for comment, "Retainy" seemed unconcerned - "Retention records come and go," he offered, then further articulated, "but all that corn... I ain’t ate no corn in two years!"

6S

Harry B. Sanderford, author of Reach For It, is a Central Florida surfing cowboy who'd sooner spin yarns than mend fences. (Sometimes the eighth grader who lives in his head gets a hold of his keyboard and must be indulged before Harry can move on.)

Bargains

by Don Pizarro

You'd never know Gerry was into weekend swap meets unless you saw him drive off to one wearing his "lucky craphound fatigues" (a faded Pabst Blue Ribbon t-shirt and jeans), with the "Theme from SHAFT'S BIG SCORE!" in the CD player. Likewise, Lulu, who he'd brought home from a swap meet, never would have guessed Gerry was really a well-off, sophisticated guy who could get pretty much anything he wanted brand new. It took her some time to adjust to his neighborhood, but she seemed happy. They both did for some years, bargain-hunting together even on weekdays and accumulating more and more stuff until it started spilling out onto their lawn, ticking off the block association. One weekend, Gerry came home by himself. Apparently she found a better deal, leaving him alone and hip-deep in crap, to count the cost of everything he'd traded for her.

6S

Don Pizarro, author of An American Memoir, lives in upstate NY. His writing has appeared online at McSweeney's, American Nerd, and Byzarium.

Deep Sixed

by Gary Beck

The light of day has faded. The probing eyes of street lamps emit glimmers on the walls of houses. Vast office buildings stand abandoned. We are reminded of our brief tenancy on the unheeding earth. Concrete crypts await us. The comforts of deception will construct our resting place.

6S

Gary Beck's poetry has appeared in dozens of literary magazines. His recent fiction has been published in numerous literary magazines. His chapbook 'The Conquest of Somalia' will be published by Cervena Barva Press. His plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes, and Sophocles have been produced Off-Broadway.

Snowy's Smackdown

by Rod Drake

Snow White was prepared when the queen, now transformed into an unattractive, mean elderly woman (politically correct substitute for witch), showed up to offer her a poisoned appletini. Snowy knew the drink was poisoned because she had read ahead in the fairy tale and saw what was going to happen unless she revised the story. So Snowy took the opportunity during gossip about Sleeping Beauty’s rumored sleeping around to switch the drinks, watching with relish as the elderly woman downed the cocktail in a gulp, her drinking problem as the queen still evident despite her change in appearance. Once the woman was out cold, Snowy had the seven little people (politically correct substitute for dwarfs), who had been living in the woods without work since the Grimm Brothers Circus and Exhibit of Differently Abled People (politically correct substitute for freak show) had folded, haul the comatose body into the Afro-American (politically correct substitute for Black) Forest to a partially eaten gingerbread house. Swapping the queen for the misunderstood child molester (politically correct substitute for child-eating witch) in that fairy tale, Snowy left the queen’s fate in the sticky hands of the two hopped-up-on-sugar little brats, Hank and Gertie (substituted names for Hansel and Gretel due to their underage protected status), who would later push her into the fiery oven. The misunderstood child molester owed Snowy a big favor, which she collected in the form of a boob job, naturally blond hair and a fat recording contract with Flaming Dragon Records (a subsidiary of Disney), allowing Snowy to live happily ever after.

6S

Rod Drake, author of On the Bus, had a dream that he was Hemingway, until Hemingway made an appearance and said “No, you're not.” Check out Rod's longer stories in Flashes of Speculation, Fictional Musings, Flash Flooding, Flash Forward and MicroHorror.

Driving Me Crazy

Part 5 of 6 by Madam Z

That’s nothing? What do you... oh my goodness, you can? Well, you have certainly aroused my curiosity. No, that’s not all you’ve aroused, as a matter of fact. You’re a very attractive man, and talking about the things we have been can’t help but make a woman’s mind race; plus, I’ve been watching your hands touching the steering wheel. They look so strong; it makes me wonder how it would feel to have your hands touch me.

6S

Madam Z, author of Part 4 of Driving Me Crazy, likes Six and isn't afraid to admit it. (Look for the conclusion on Wednesday.)

Late Shift

by Teresa Tumminello Brader

You wake up in the deep darkness. Knowing what time it must be, you trace her movements with your mind’s eye. She locks the thick glass door of the late-night diner and strides to her car in the nearly empty parking lot. You stay awake to follow her up the three flights of stairs to her apartment. Not until you have envisioned her sliding the deadbolt into place do you fall back asleep. You hold your daughter’s image in your mind’s hand - to keep her safe.

6S

Teresa Tumminello Brader, author of Going Back to College, was born in New Orleans and lives in the area still. Her short fiction can be found at Rumble, The Flask Review and in upcoming issues of Long Story Short and Brink.

Words

by Quin

I've words to say. You've written something painful, something searing, something that hurt, something not meant to hurt, which hurts more in the end because it was so thoughtless, so throwaway in its manner, typed with partial attention as a reply with a click of "send," it shows how little I meant. To all the words written and as importantly, the words not written. Fuck you. Yes, you. Oh, and have a nice day.

6S

Quin, author of The Question, is the nom de plume of a woman born and raised in New Orleans, who spent time in Colorado and later in Utah (where theater was discovered and taken to heart). Her children are loved forever, a terrier sleeps at her feet, and words ache to escape onto paper. Her version of life in New York is here.

Pure Bliss

by Jared Wahlgren

In the spring blaze, when all the children were playing, Mark was standing on the white line because he looked up Elise's blouse. He ignored the social standards that most kids adhered to, even though they were too young to know it, or to spelling bee them out loud. As Freud boiled the egg down, sex was a major ingredient. The boys and girls would listen to their sexual education courses, but Mark just stared into space. He smirked as his head was busy conjecturing up images of Jupiter and its moons. Because of this, he wrote good imaginative verse, and this is why he received his only good grade in his writing program.

6S

Jared Wahlgren is the editor of The Flask Review in Boston, where he plays guitar for his grey and white feline. His poems can be found in Beauty/Truth & elimae. His first book, "Chariots of Flame," will be published in December by Maverick Duck Press.

New Perspective

by Dionicia Valencia

This most recent time I looked down at myself, I was struck suddenly with pride. This had never happened before, you see; the angle was the same but the perspective was new. The scars on my stomach had taken on a pattern that looked very much like twisted roots. Roots? When my daughter was growing inside me, she was branding me from the inside out. Now I look down and see my scars winding and reaching like the roots of a tree and I know that she has branded me "Life- Giver."

6S

Dionicia Valencia lives in Philadelphia but her soul is in New York. She astroprojects between the two cities all the time.

Letter Left in a Cell

by Vanessa Gebbie

How can six sentences be enough to say what I have to, Marnie? I guess I have to tell you that I don't believe in no gods, so when the needle goes in, all it'll be is darkness. I truly believe that. And I guess I ought to be saying that I am innocent. I may be a true murderer, Marnie, but I just ain't no liar as well, so I can't state that. I guess, too, when you get this it'll all be done and over so just you remember that the one good thing I ever done was loving you.

6S

Vanessa Gebbie is a writer, an editor, a teacher, a wife, a mother, a friend and occasionally an enemy. Her work can be found on the web and in print, in the USA, UK, Canada, Vietnam, India and probably other places. She's won a few writing things, and is writing a novel.

Driving Me Crazy

Part 4 of 6 by Madam Z

Well, sure, I’d like to hear a story. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. He did? Wow! Well, that horny old fart! Who would think that he could do it three times in a row, just between D.C. and Georgetown?

6S

Madam Z, author of Part 3 of Driving Me Crazy, likes Six and isn't afraid to admit it. (Look for Part 5 on Monday the 9th.)

I Miss You Dad

by mgirl

Happy Father’s Day, Dad, I miss you. Would you like a bouquet of flowers placed neatly on a grave-site with your name written below ‘Our Beloved Dad?' Or maybe a balloon set free to soar over the churning blue sea, with a wish scribbled on a scrap of paper and stuffed inside, hoping to find you someday? Should I buy a card just in case you decide to come back home from your faraway place, when you left us after Mom died three years ago? Do you think of me Dad, your only daughter? Happy Father’s Day, I will always love you Dad.

6S

mgirl has just started writing, and this is the first piece she's submitted. She loves to read and write, is from Canada, is forty something and has just become a Grandma. Both of her children have moved out and she spends most of her time now reading, writing and in the garden.

Driving Me Crazy

Part 3 of 6 by Madam Z

It was awfully nice of you to come and get me at the airport. Of course, you’re just following orders, I guess. Do you listen in on what goes on back here when you’re driving Mr. Greenspan and his guests, or are you in your own little world? Oh yeah, I guess it would depend on who the guests are. I’ll bet you’ve heard some stuff that could be blackmail material, if you wanted to make some easy money. I’m just kidding... I know you wouldn’t do anything like that.

6S

Madam Z, author of Part 2 of Driving Me Crazy, likes Six and isn't afraid to admit it. (Look for Part 4 tomorrow.)

Hugger-Mugger

by 6S C1 Grand Prize Winner Peter Wild

Hugger-Mugger, she says, Hugger-Mugger, Hugger-Mugger, Hugger-Mugger, over and over and over again, without breath and without interruption: hugger-mugger, hugger-mugger, hugger-mugger. I try to break the spell, say ssssssssh and baby and come on now, push the sweaty hair from out of her blank terrified eyes, tell her it's okay, daddy's here, hugger-mugger has gone now, hugger-mugger has gone, ssssssssssssh, but nothing I say and nothing I do seems to work. This goes on for the better part of an hour and, you know, my patience isn't limitless, I do have work in the morning, after all. So, listen, I say, raising my voice to get the kid's attention, you'd better be quiet, I say you'd better be quiet right now, because I think... yes... Hugger-Mugger's coming back, I can hear him on the gravel outside in the garden, he's... looking up at the window... and we both know... he has an especial fondness for children who won't shut up. Her eyes grow wide as she clamps both hands across her mouth to manually silence the pants and the gasps and the sobs. I pull her to me and hold her tight and think to myself: you have to be cruel to get what you want.

6S - C1

Peter Wild is the editor of The Flash & Perverted by Language: Fiction inspired by The Fall. You can read more here.

Tourist Trap

by 6S C1 First Runner-Up Rebecca Jane

Balthazar "Old Bull" Orfanelli, our quick-fisted leader, decided to abandon the usual tricks we play on tourists in favor of a sick joke whose punch line could incite either mass panic or mass laughter, depending on where the visitors come from. Our past swindles included picking pockets, running off with cameras when an unsuspecting couple asked us to help them shoot a photo, or giving Seniors' travel groups bum directions to Times Square. Now, Old Bull removes a smuggled stogie from his chops and releases a purple plume that sends us all into fits, coughing; furtively, Old Bull assures us that we're ready to pull off a high stakes confidence game, and so he instructs us to lure all the tourists who pass through Strawberry Fields by informing them of a trendy must-see spot — New York's secret Whip-Tease-Kissing-Booth-Cultural-Wonder-Booby-Trap Expo; however, only the boldest, most curious tourists can attend, and they must agree to be escorted to the site blindfolded. Just when we win these tourists' trust, we are to lead them on a walk uptown to an abandoned high school once open to pregnant teens until the state closed down all such schools because these Institutions for the Knocked-Up turned out students who performed far worse than their peers at regular high schools where the teachers say with pride, "our babies aren't expecting babies;" but, if you ask one favorite member of our task force, Marla Swarthmore Peabody — who is twenty seven weeks and pissed off because they'll give her plenty of vaginal exams but no Regents Exams, nor will any mainstream public school welcome a girl who's showing — she'll tell you she reads at the sixth grade level, "…which is more than they can say for most NYC P.S. grads!" Anyway, phase two of Old Bull's big con involves locking the blindfolded tourists in the former school building with all the Gray's Papaya they can eat and all the champagne they can drink and forcing them to listen to Paris Hilton's 2006 pop hit, "Stars are Blind" over and over on loudspeakers; we wait for the NYPD to declare a hostage crisis and then negotiate a deal in which we handover our bloated captives on the condition that the U.S. Congress agrees to pump more government money into a project to install a global positioning system between Paris Hilton's breasts so that we can all get our skewed bearings straight as they were back when Ralph Macchio was a teen idol (imagine where we would have installed a GPS on that beloved Karate Kid)! If the tourists-cum-hostages are from any place other than the American Midwest, they'll probably laugh the whole thing off when Congress approves our spending bill, and we set the poor bastards free; yes, this event promises to fly off the proverbial meat rack, so keep up with our intrigue by staying tuned to Fox News; it's Old Bull's hope we get our own HBO series and call it "Tours Gone Wild."

6S - C1

Rebecca Jane writes fiction.

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by 6S C1 Second Runner-Up Margery Daw

We were headed directly towards [ _ _ _ _ _ ] when we realized we needed not to be. We would have to divert not only ourselves, but also our [ _ _ _ _ _ ] - a force vastly more powerful. We were additionally hampered by our own [ _ _ _ _ _ ]. It was far too late to [ _ _ _ _ _ ]. We were about to find out: what were we made of? [the cliff / the iceberg / war / marriage / an affair • horse / ship / elected officials / society's expectations / attractive coworker • bad leg / bad arm / conflicted loyalties / emotionally deprived childhood / libido • jump / radio for help / recommend a diplomatic solution / call off the engagement / get out of the car]

6S - C1

Margery Daw, author of How to Not Get Killed, is a pseudonym and part of a nursery rhyme.

The Wrong Idea

by 6S C1 Third Runner-Up Dawn Corrigan

It seems a shame to go through life with a wrong idea, so I set about trying to correct them wherever I encountered them. No, suppressing your libido isn't the better part of morality. Goodness does too exist, and is worth fighting for. Carrying a torch for someone you can't have isn't romantic, it's a waste of your bloody time. Atheism leads more surely to a sense of sanctity than religion, because only if you imagine this as the last and only life we'll have do you begin to treat the breath of others with the tenderness it deserves. But then I remembered: no one likes a know-it-all.

6S - C1

Dawn Corrigan is the author of An Interrupted Meeting. Her fiction has appeared recently or is forthcoming at VerbSap, Pindeldyboz, Monkeybicycle, The Dream People, Rumble, 55 Words, Defenestration, and 3711 Atlantic. Her nonfiction appears regularly at The Nervous Breakdown.