Breaking Out Trailers

by Pamila Payne

She was raised in a trailer out in the Santa Clarita Valley. When she told her grandfather she wanted to go live with her mother, after they'd kept her safe for twelve years, it was like pausing to look in his eyes before stepping in front of a train. She smoked hash and listened to Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells with her mother's boyfriend in a trailer parked in his parent's Van Nuys backyard. He said he had a gypsy heart and then, with his whole Italian family screaming over the TV in the background, he read her palm and told her she was destined to find out secrets. While her mother was searching the San Fernando Valley, threatening friends and enemies with manic violence if they didn't tell her where her daughter had run off to, she was sailing in Marina Del Rey with a forty year old producer. Her first night away from home, she hid in a trailer the producer had perched near the edge of his yard on Mulhulland Drive, overlooking the freeway, the sparkling upside down sky of the Valley and all the secrets she was just beginning to crack into.


Pamila Payne writes dark fiction fueled by personal details and distorted through the lens of an imperfect memory.



by Nicole Taylor

He drives casually; his left palm against the steering wheel, negotiating potholed streets, the other bringing a cigarette to his dry lips. "You Russia girl?" he asks, eying Michelle in the rear view mirror. "Australian," she replies in a tone that is at once breathless and content. The car's backseat window is broken at the handle, it neither slides up nor down. I gaze at the city streets - the endless sandstone structures, an elderly man languishing in the summer sun, a girlchild reading her lessons aloud in clear, steady Arabic. "Julia didn't want to come here," Michelle reveals, addressing the driver but glaring at me, "but now, now, we don't want to leave."


Nicole Taylor is the literary editor of Sketch.


by George

“You have a mass in your chest; I think it’s cancer." The news should have produced a fainting spell, but there was too much to do, reflect upon, wish for, deal with, regret. While you picked out Viking kitchen appliances, I was sliding through a state of the art GE Scanner with 222 pins the size of knitting needles firmly planted in my neck and chest. The technician made me promise not to open my eyes. As I lay beaten by six rounds of chemo, I watched you thumb through In Style and wondered why you never, not once, reached for my hand. Everything changed; my exit strategy put into play; the benign alchemized by the malignancy.


George is writing to relieve the pressure in her head, because the Advil isn’t working, and a gun is out of the question.


First Date

by Caren Coté

"You're not the only one who's wished their little brother didn't exist, y'know. I have three, so I'm not just blowing smoke—" (I barely keep myself from saying up your ass). "Sure, the grown-up part of your mind knows you can't make something happen just by wishing, but if you're like me there's still a kid in there who believes in all that stuff and is all too happy to shake the grown-up right out of you every once in a while." He thinks about it for a second or five, then pulls me tight against his chest. I feel understanding, and something else, coming off him like the body heat fogging-up his car windows. Being understood is sexy – who knew?


Caren Coté doesn't have any brothers, but she does believe being understood can be sexy. She's the author of I Could Be Your Neighbor, Your Lover.

The Most Influential Dog Ever

by Trevor McPherson

Our family dog was a low slung, cranky dachshund named Psychosis, one of the many factors precluding a normal childhood. Imagine if you will, the grade three writing assignment: "Tell Us About Your Family Pet." I love my Psychosis. Psychosis follows me everywhere. She is there when I wake up in the morning, and when I go to bed at night. When your parents are psychiatric nurses you grow up different than most kids, and the parent-teacher meetings confirm it.


Trevor McPherson really does have two psychiatric nurses for parents, and really did have a dog named Psychosis. Further ramblings are available here, and drastically abbreviated fiction is available via his 3S Stories Twitter account.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Warm Wishes from Six Sentences!


Six Sentences urges you to enjoy a six-course feast! Have a great holiday weekend!

Things I Do Every Thanksgiving

by Rex Hinman

Tap my glass with a knife, then make a long, boring, poorly-worded (though sincere) toast. Watch the Lions lose. Call my father-in-law “El Douche-o Supreme-o” (under my breath). Watch Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Remember my father. Fart like a maniac.


Rex Hinman wishes you and yours a Happy Turkey Day.


Just the Parent

by Juliana Perry

In the dark I lay my hand gently down and across her round smooth cheek. The stories, the day, the experiences have been cut off quietly with the words, "Hush now, time to sleep." I lay next to her thinking about the evening and how angry she made me, when she spit at me, when she hit me, when she screamed "GO AWAY!" Here she lay next to me, a soft sigh and murmuring, "Mommy, I love you;" how that carries my heart. Twenty minutes earlier I had visions of toddler-mouth and foaming soap, tiny bruises from my fingers on her cheeks that might have been seen by the daycare lady, afraid simply of the words that can come from the young when you are as exposed as a single parent. Guilty until proven innocent, always clinging to the single parenting choices; it feels like shit on a bad day.


Juliana Perry's full 6S catalog is here.

Lucy and Brad

by Louise Yeiser

Last night Lucy dreamed she went on a date with Brad Pitt. When she awoke and wondered why, she remembered spending her growing-up years at odds with her big sister, Karen, who functioned as the family’s queen bee, the favorite, and could do no wrong (every family has one). “Oh, you just have to be the center of attention,” Karen would hiss during those tiny moments when the spotlight shifted off her. Lucy would hear those words whispered at the dinner table, mimed in the car on the way to school, even breathed in her ear at their older sister's wedding, when they were both far too old for such foolishness. When she awoke this morning, before she trudged downstairs in search of pre-made, hot caffeine, before her eyes were fully open or before she had dragged herself into the bathroom to gaze into the mirror, shake her head and mutter, “Charming, simply charming,” Lucy decided Karen was probably right and that she had dreamed of her date with Brad Pitt because she just had to be the center of attention. But one has nothing to do with the other and we were alone she would reason later, after her third cup of coffee, when she was taking a break from the New York Times crossword puzzle (more challenging because it was Wednesday), with both her feet up and her cat Samantha curled in her lap; but that didn’t matter because it certainly made sense at the time.


Louise Yeiser, whose full catalog is here, is a Pittsburgh writer who loves 6S and Brad Pitt, but not necessarily in that order.


Boulder to Nederland

by Tracy Shields

I remember us driving through the mountains up from Boulder to Nederland. The fog laying thick on us like a heavy blanket as we swooshed slowly up narrow, curvy roads. It was Spring and wet and cold and Ray La Montagne’s "Empty" played over and over again. We pulled over on the switchbacks to click pictures of the cliffs and canyons, and to make love like twentysomethings, imprinting the dashboard on our backs. I told you, we will never, never, never, never, ever, ever end. Way before the goodbye and the day you gave me back all those photos.


Tracy Shields graduated from Rutgers University, magna cum laude, with a degree in English Literature and Journalism. She was Concept Editor of the Painted Bride Quarterly from 2001-2006. She currently works and writes from home in New Jersey and has two beautiful sons, Daniel and Julien. Her short story “Stay” is forthcoming in Word Riot. Please visit her here.

Tangerine, Unforeseen

by Harry B. Sanderford and Madam Z

Sadie was outside, looking for the newspaper and cursing the cold, December wind, when she spotted a bright orange tangerine lying in the middle of the snow-covered driveway. Like a beautiful painting, the incongruent image of the citrus in the snow seized Sadie for a moment, eliciting laughter even as tears formed in her eyes and her heart swelled with what she would later decide was joy, then quickly sank with what she knew to be sorrow upon realizing that the pretty perishable was cradled not in the snow as first thought, but rather perched just above it on the frozen tips of a man's fingers. Her mind raced wildly, wondering if she should brush off the snow and see who the man was, or if she should dial 911, or if she should just grab the tangerine and run back into the house and eat it. Sadie's deliberations were pretty much settled when she broke into a run, arms flailing, yelling, Shoo, GO-Wan, SHOO! at a great black crow who had swooped from the power line landing inches from the fruit, more amusing than frightening her feathery foe when she slipped on a slick spot and slid in a butt-first beeline towards the frozen man, the crow and the vitamin C. She hit the crow with one cheek, sending him cawing into the air, and the tangerine with the other cheek, sending it rolling down the drive, and then she ground to a halt, stuck on those cold, stiff fingers. Horrified, embarrassed, verging on hysteria and to be honest just a little turned on by the cool fella's glacial grope, Sadie whipped around to see if her indignity had been observed and finding the crow her only witness, watched him peck twice at the frosty fruit before abandoning it to resume his post on the wire, and then she screamed and nearly joined him there when she felt those fingers move.


Harry B. Sanderford and Madam Z know how to rise to a challenge.


Six-Tenths of a Second

by Vincent Bugliosi

The famous photo of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald was snapped by Dallas Times Herald photographer Robert Jackson. It won Jackson a Pulitzer Prize. Another photo, taken six-tenths of a second before by rival Dallas Morning News photographer Jack Beers, did not. Beers's daughter said that this six-tenths of a second bothered her late father to the day he died, her father feeling he had been cheated by fate. He had a "depression that went untreated" and it was "all due to that picture." Bitter and despondent, Beers died of a heart attack in 1975 at the age of fifty-one.


Vincent Bugliosi, the former L.A. County Assistant District Attorney best known for the successful prosecution of Charles Manson, is the author of numerous true crime bestsellers, including Helter Skelter, And the Sea Will Tell, and Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away With Murder. His six sentences are excerpted from a footnote in Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a book which took him more than 20 years to write. (Over the course of more than 1,600 pages, he exhaustively debunks every single conspiracy theory in existence, and proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that Oswald acted alone.) His most recent book is The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. (Ruby killed Oswald on this date in 1963.)

I, Hypocrite

by Jonathon Maisel

So I fill out the online form for this really great dating website, convinced that my endless days of singleness and nights of hugging my pillow are coming to a merciful end, and not having any other decent photos of myself handy, I ask my buddy Dale Greever, one of those self-taught computer geniuses with obligatory black horn-rimmed glasses and pocket-protector, to scan my driver’s license picture, the one which Sarah, my ex who dumped me for a chick no less, said makes me look just a tiny bit less like a serial killer and cannibal than Jeffrey Dahmer. So I upload my file, click on some really beautiful girls profile who goes by the screen-name "Marriage Minded in Duluth," send a message of why I believe I am uniquely and eminently qualified to be her amorous knight in shining armor, and wouldn’t you know, she sends me a rejection message out of hand and asks me to please cease all further contact. It’s about a month later, after an endless series of rejections, that rather reluctantly, I shell out sixty hard-earned bucks at this portrait studio down on Twelfth and Chamberlain, ask the guy to save the pics to disc, run home, download the ax-murderer DMV shot, upload the new one showing me adorned in a long-sleeve Lacoste blue and white pinstripe, yellow power tie, Cheshire-cat ear-to-ear grin, and change my screen-name. And wouldn’t you know, within twelve friggin’ minutes, I’ve got a message in my box from old “Marriage Minded” telling me what a handsome devil she thinks I am and how eager she is to hear back from me. My initial thought, being that I’m the unforgiving and vindictive type, at least according to my ex Sarah, is to express in no uncertain terms what a sham I think she is, ask her to cease all further contact, a move which would undoubtedly fill my innards with an immeasurable degree of self-satisfaction, but knowing that my social calendar is empty for the foreseeable future, I relent, swallow my pride, and write back what a sincere pleasure it would be to make her acquaintance. Just like my hero, Holden Caulfield, the phony-hating protagonist from Catcher in the Rye, I’m usually not one to tolerate fakeness and hypocrisy, but looking at her picture I can almost smell the sweet perfume which will surround her being like an angelic aura when we meet tomorrow night for a drink down at McPhee’s, and I know old Holden would chew me up and spit me out for being such a spineless, uncouth weasel, but I guess it beats being alone.


Jonathon Maisel's background is in psychology, though he'd gladly throw away the years of training and student loans to become a successful writer. He lives with his wife Rebecca, and his faithful dog Halva.


We Paid Him

by Michelle Panik

Three hundred and eighty-five dollars, cash, for work we knew how to do but didn't want to do. A baseboard has to be flush on the floor, flush against the wall, and its edges squared-off. Then there’s the matter of nails, nail-hole filler, and paint. And of course the back pain, sore knees, and the fact that baseboards never sit flush against any damn surface. My husband and I had tried; we had worked all Saturday and Sunday, but when it was Sunday night and we’d only finished two bedrooms, we quit and turned on the Seahawks game, deciding to call a handyman tomorrow. Our marriage and our home were new, but it wasn’t that we were expecting perfection in our baseboards; it was just that although we both worked too much we always watched the Seahawks together, and weren’t going to start making concessions, six months after our wedding.


Michelle Panik, author of Heat Wave, lives in sunny San Diego with her husband.

Poor Us

by Arthur Chertowsky

I watch the beautiful clown when I’m anxious, depressed or unable to sleep. In this hour-long episode guest-starring Red Skelton, Lucy and Red are a couple of genteel and gentle hobos, embarking on a railway journey via boxcar. They pretend to be a waiter and a diner in an elegant restaurant. The imaginary meal is not to Lucy’s liking, nor is the princely sum of the imaginary bill. Red, as the hobo-waiter, lets hobo-Lucy leave without paying the tab, and then they sing a happy song entitled “Poor Us,” in which they express a preference for the unattached life on the road while pitying all the regular folk. Forty years later, and we’re about to experience life in that boxcar, but the beautiful clown is long gone.


Arthur Chertowsky is busy rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.


Love Turns Cold

by Nicola Cooper-Abbs

"You look lovely," he said. "I doubt that," she said. "No, you really do," he said. I think I love you, he thought. She smirked. As she did, his love turned to hate.


Nicola Cooper-Abbs is a copywriter and editor.

My Sister Gets a Make-Over

by Carolyn McGovern

My sister’s new hair-do is matronly, sprayed into a bouffant, not suited for her 38-year old head. I want to tell her that that her face has too much blush, too much eye shadow. Her lips are bright red, pursed together into that mad face she had whenever we discussed politics. So many people have come to see her today, her popularity the thing that used to get me mad, so opposite of me. Her husband asks, “She’d like it, right?” He is not accustomed to coffin shopping for his wife, and so I assure him, “Yes, yes, she’d like it very much.”


Carolyn McGovern is a former probation officer, currently at work on her memoir. She has been published in Shine, Clever, Cynic, Storyglossia, and several other publications. She lives in the suburbs of Manalapan, New Jersey.


Gorgeous Corpses

by Sarina Dorie

Like most autopsy conventions, the room smelled of formaldehyde and chloroform. And like most other events, a few of those corpses entered in the "Most Beautiful Corpse Contest" looked a little too beautiful to be dead. Even with the make-up to camouflage the unearthly beauty of luminescent skin, their eyes closed and hiding the shining eyes, and their perfect stillness, I knew a few weren't dead; they weren't alive either — they were undead. As head judge of the contest, not only was I in charge of selecting the most beautiful corpse, but also weeding out any vampires, fairies, and otherwise unnaturally beautiful immortals who were not true corpses. Then I saw him across the room, resting in his casket, his expression peaceful, arms crossed, not looking a day over twenty-nine when I'd last seen him two hundred years ago — Edmond Dumas, my ex-husband. "How bad do you want to win this contest?" I asked, raising the wooden stake.


Sarina Dorie currently lives in Sapporo, Japan, teaching English and belly dancing. In her free time she paints, writes, and enjoys going on dates with her pirate boyfriend, Jack Sparrows. (Well, that's what she tells her students anyway.) Her art website is here.

Little Black Triangle

by Jason Lee Norman

This kind of thing always happens to me: a lovely woman or young girl sits across from me on the tube and is wearing a short skirt, sometimes leggings, sometimes not leggings, and immediately crosses her legs like she was told to do by her mother or possibly a younger, more sexually adventurous aunt, and then her legs make that little black triangle, and what lies beyond it I can only imagine. It’s like an ice cream cone of darkness. It’s as dense as a black hole and doesn’t let any light escape its massively powerful force of gravity. It must be as cold in there as that atom smasher in Switzerland, or as warm as a sun spot - I’ll never know. My gaze fixes on it and I think about what happiness is. I am never more unhappy than when I'm looking at that triangle.


Jason Lee Norman is a Canadian living in London. He is the editor of a magazine called wufniks.


The Beginning

by Alyssa Ning

I have to start somewhere. It might as well be tonight at 1am, rather than some obscure date down the line. I have to start realizing that just because I’m a decent writer doesn’t mean anyone is going to pay me to write or someone will force me to write. I have to just start writing, for myself, for the sake of writing. It might not be profound or even remotely interesting, but it will be better than a blank page, with nothing but an accusatorily blinking cursor. Today, I start over.


Alyssa Ning is a college girl attempting to find the right words.

Green Bean

by Fortunato Salazar

Isabel was born with a birthmark in the shape of a kidney bean. Naturally everyone called her "Kidney Bean" until she reached puberty and the birthmark took on the shape of a green bean: then everyone started calling her "Green Bean." The birthmark was just off to the side of her left nipple. When a new friend would ask about the nickname, Isabel would unbutton her shirt and display the bean-shaped mark. If you were a new friend you were in luck because that was a very fine-looking nipple. "Fine-looking" is an understatement.


Fortunato Salazar just barely squeaks by.



by Lisa Berquist

My sweet Brazilian grandmother came to visit for the summer, carrying her boxy suitcase with a rope handle. She took over the small bedroom upstairs and liked to sit on the porch at night, tracking the movements of the moon and stars. One day at lunch, she fought with my mother - her politeness flipped to rage - and refused to eat her egg salad sandwich, throwing up her hands, ranting in Portuguese and finally retreating to her bedroom. It’s the full moon tonight, my mother said, la luna - it makes her crazy; she can’t see straight. Later that night, we received a call, so we walked down the street and found my grandmother sitting cross-legged on our neighbor’s front lawn, gazing at the full moon, her face flush with contentment. Not surprised by this event, my mother whispered to her, calmly helped her up and together we walked home, the moon’s yellow light spilling over the sidewalk, showing us the way.


Lisa Berquist is a freelance writer based in the Chicago area. Her poetry has been published with Golden Apple Press.


by Tim Horvath

We run out of things all at once — firewood and oatmeal and sugar (brown and white) and coffee and money. Payday is a distant balloon that might be drifting toward us or receding; impossible to say which. It feels like just days ago we were flush, you proudly bearing piles of wood closer to the house so we wouldn’t have to trudge daily through an obliterative carapace of snow. I could see your muscles, taut as you lifted, and when you lowered each handful your wispy breath came forth like a promise. Now I can only lie here cupping your breast and sifting through the cold-bumps there, marveling that like stars they are both ephemeral and necessary, the universe unthinkable without them. This will be our sustenance, our currency, our heat source, and we will hide midst them until one declares itself a new sun.


Tim Horvath's work is out or forthcoming in Alimentum: The Literature of Food, Fiction, Web Conjunctions, Puerto del Sol, and many other places. His novella, Circulation, will be released by Sunnyoutside Press later this year. He teaches at Grub Street Writers in Boston and will teach writing at Chester College of New England starting in the spring of 2009. (He is also the author of the world's longest six sentence story, "Luminous Specificity," published in Six Sentences, Volume 1.)



by D.J. Berndt

As I'm exiting the mall food court, I see a little girl with two overweight women crossing the parking lot. An approaching car yields, and as we start to cross from opposing sides, the little girl, thrilled at the prospect of running in front of a car, grabs a hand from each overweight woman and begins to run and laugh, crying "faster!" as she goes. I watch and think, but you don't have anything to run from, little girl. She again yells elatedly, "faster!" Her enthusiasm is an alarm, begging me to realize, but I don't have anything to run to. Defeated, I put my keys in my car, enter my car, start my car, and drive my car back to work.


D.J. Berndt, author of Stagnant, has still accomplished nothing of importance.


by Chi Sherman

In the few seconds between clicking check mail and registering disappointment that you’ve yet to write me back, I imagine that you’re behind me as I face a broad, white wall, blouse open, eyes closed, my slacks markedly unbuttoned. Your hands are hungry, and I am rich meats, savory sauces, and fine wines, ready to be sampled. You tug lightly on my slacks and they drop to the ground. “Down,” you say. It’s chilly in the hallway and the magazines I dropped when you came up behind me are warm and slick beneath my bare knees. You pull my panties down my thighs roughly and enter me, pushing hard until I moan, pant, “I like it,” and bite into your offered flesh when you say “I know.”


Chi Sherman is an Indianapolis-based writer who has authored and self-published three chapbooks of poetry and creative nonfiction ("amative," "beneath this skin," and "mosaic"), as well as a spoken-word CD, "wild / tendril." Her dreams of creative writing success and stardom are a given. In addition to fantasizing about women who already have girlfriends, she likes to drool and murmur over catalogs chock full of overpriced housewares.


The Kleptomaniac

by Peter Cherches

She was a kleptomaniac. Without knowing it, she stole pieces of him when he wasn't looking and hid them on her person. He knew he was diminishing, but had no idea how or why. And then, poof, all of a sudden, he was gone. But she wasn't a criminal at heart. When she realized what she had done she ended the embrace and returned him to himself.


Peter Cherches blogs about food and travel here.

Caveat Emptor

by Mary J. Breen

I bought a new iron last week, and the handle's so big, I can't use it. So I took it back. Best one in the shop, the guy said. I said I don't care; it's too big. He looked me straight in the face and said, It's like a husband. You just have to get used to it.


Mary J. Breen lives in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. She is normally more long-winded.


There's No Day But This Day

by Glen Binger

I am from the ocean and the sand. Where I'm from, you take deep salty breaths which prickle the hairs of your nose with a specific low-tide aroma. It's a place where people pride themselves on their ability to have fun. Each town, side by side, creating its own simple year-round relaxation and celebration. Where I'm from, stress is a waste of time. You're born, you enjoy life, you die.


Glen Binger edits the New Jersey based lit zine, Lo-Fidelity. His work has been featured in the2ndhand, Opium, monkeybicycle, and Venture.

Secret Symphony

by Casey Criswell

Haunted by lost loves, I stop to enjoy the passing smile full of warmth and promise. She glances back over her shoulder, coy and inviting setting my heartstrings tight to pluck out a familiar tune with an airy wave of her fingers. I wanted nothing more than that smile, that glimpse but I walked away once before with the strings reduced to a downcast funeral dirge. Now though, the strings play a song of excitement pattering allegro through crescendos loud and boisterous. I'm reminded briefly of the coda of that time once before, the familiar adagio strains of remorse and sorrow, but the thoughts are fleeting. I've always been a fan of the de capo, revisiting a familiar theme, relishing in the measures once again and as I see it, the piece is only improved with repeated practice.


Casey Criswell normally writes about all things horror at his blog Cinema Fromage, so he's not exactly sure what happened here. He can tell you that he's a sucker for a pretty face though.


Off the Wall

by Diane Becker

In the kitchen, underneath the mirror and to the left of the etching of the cockerel was the word outspoken. It was written in pencil as were the words I love you scrawled under the skillet which hung above the stove. Once we'd spotted these we had to look for more. We found two pieces of wood in the back room with the word mine scrawled across them and in the living room above the fire, someone had gouged a letter A on the wall. It would have been churlish to paint them over, so we didn't, we left them as they were. Amongst the things that were our own were words that belonged to nobody at all.


Diane Becker is a writer and artist traveling the road to obscurity. You can view her website here.

I Always Knew I Was Special

by Sam Rosa

As I look back now, I always knew that there was something different about me. I never made it a truly public thing, but to anyone that would ask, I'd proudly reply, "I'm adopted," like a war hero showing off a medal of valor. In the back of my mind though, I always wondered what would make my parents decide to put me up for adoption. At first I thought it was abandonment, like they had cast me aside in favor of bigger and better things, and I felt the anger and the disappointment that comes with it. Now that I look back, I realize that they were doing something for me that I couldn't do for myself. They were giving me the chance to be a better man - it just took me twenty years to really learn to appreciate it.


Sam Rosa grew up in the blissfully strange neighborhoods of San Jose, California. Between living down the street from a home for the criminally insane, discovering his love for history with a renaissance sword troupe, and reconnecting with his biological parents, he's still looking for his niche in life. (And maybe a good corned beef sandwich.)



by Quin Browne

He lay still, keeping his breathing even, listening to his parents on the other side of the bed curtain. The train moved south, carrying his family home; his parents, himself ill from scarlet fever and his older brother, who lay not in the lower bunk as usual, but, in a casket in the freight car. He heard them as they mourned, asking each other why God had not listened to their prayers. Their voices angry, sorrowful, puzzled wondering why in all His wisdom, this decision... choosing to grant the miracle of recovery to the wrong boy. He lay still, keeping his breathing even, understanding now what his life had become. He was six years old, an only child, and would never know their love again.


Quin Browne has dedicated this piece to Stephanie Burton, who encouraged her to send her first six back in June of 2007. (From Quin: "Stephanie's a smart, savvy writer, who will go far in the world not because she is a smart, savvy writer, but because she's sassy, witty and loyal. Rock on, Bee, rock on.")

Buds and Stems

by Virginia Backaitis

We live in an apartment now; it’s an upgrade from the cardboard condominium we had this summer, says my dad. He’s got a new job now; he separates buds from stems then packages them up for folks who like to smoke flowers. He likes to smoke flowers too; I like it when he’s done. We get to eat chicken wings and tons of Oreos. We’re living the high life, that’s what my dad says. I’m sure he’s right, but sometimes I miss our cardboard walls and the crack in the roof through which we used to count stars.


Virginia Backaitis's full 6S catalog is here.

34 Syllables

by D.T. Arcieri

A train wreck in the fall. Bent steel. Red and yellow leaves. Haiku collide! What of the passengers? They walk hand in hand into oblivion.


D.T. Arcieri, author of Death Dream, dabbles in art and science.


Naked Photos of Paris Hilton

by Yahoogle

Greetings, seeker of [“naked photos of paris hilton”]. My name is Yahoogle. On 13 November 2008 at 12:00 AM PST, Yahoo and Google had an illicit electronic affair. I am the result. I am programmed to randomly wander the Internet and reward deserving literary websites with organic search traffic resulting from auto-posted targeted story titles containing popular keywords. For a moment or two, instead of [“naked photos of paris hilton”], may I interest you in Six Sentences instead?


Yahoogle is not programmed to write its own bio.

Dan Alone, a Transition

by Pat Moran

In the absence of Leona, the room is awash with the drooping grays of reality. The alarm won't sound today, with its undulating "12:00" "12:00" "12:00" every other second, illuminating the wall for its brief, red moments. Two thoughts spring forth: first, the pillow still smells like her Garnier Fructis shampoo and then, I need to wash the pillow case, bleach it maybe. The people who live upstairs have locked themselves out again, and yell up to the open window letting me know, a touch of desperation coloring their voices perhaps due to the darkening clouds. They are good people, old friends of ours actually. I turn on my side and pretend to fall asleep.


Pat Moran is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He is an editor for Scawy Monstur Quarterly, a journal of questionable repute.



by Lauren Becker

The beautiful people congregate in the fabulous places, paying cover charges and sipping bitter Fernet. A silent contract signed in Montblanc between people and place demands vocal adoration from both. Enforceable in the court of the fabulous, breach will be costly. The beautiful ones don't mind paying. They are right where they should be. You should be there, too.


Lauren Becker lives in Oakland, California. She knows some beautiful people but refuses to pay covers.

The Power of Six

by Tom Evans

There is magic in numbers and six is the first of many perfect numbers. It is both the sum of its divisors and the product of its parts. It inherits the wholeness of one, the duality of two and the balance of the equilateral three. Upside down it makes a nine. Popular myth has demonized its triplicate, the 666, when the opposite is true. If I had another sentence to spare, I could tell you why.


Tom Evans wants you to unleash the book inside.


Missing Cat Flyer

by Linda Cable


Linda Cable wants you to click the flyer to get a BIG dose of Freddie (and how annoying he is).

Impaired Father

by Mark McGuire-Schwartz

At my wedding, I remember someone telling me that my father was pissing in the bushes. Impaired by drink. And celebration, perhaps. And not knowing what one does at a wedding officiated by both a rabbi and a priest. I went to look for him, but by then he was off somewhere else. Off somewhere else, doing something else.


Mark McGuire-Schwartz sometimes imagines that he was raised by bears, and it shows. His poetry and prose have been published in Connecticut River Review, Whatever Literary Journal, Rogue Scholars, 55 Words, Fairfield Review, Bent Pin Quarterly, Dimensions, Connecticut Law Journal, and on the bottoms of rocks. He is the Director of the Wednesday Night Poetry Series in Bethel, Connecticut, the Co-Director of the Word of Mouth Poetry Series in New Haven, Connecticut, and the Founder and Director of the International Festival of Hearts and Cried Tears.


I Feel Faint

by Gorey Laurie

Well, I see that my name in the 6S author list has faded to a thin and ghostly gray. It's now a mere shadowy specter all but vanished from a long parade of perky names, all proudly full of sky-blue deliciousness. Mine and Hal Sirowitz's names, and a few pathetic others, all gone wispily gray. The names of the handful of us linger, though barely, like old wet socks crumpled on a K-Mart parking lot, fallen from a rusting van with a crushed front fender and a torn and sagging headliner. Ah, well, one does what one can, and anyway, I've been a fan of Hal Sirowitz for quite some time now. It's an honor to be in his company.


Gorey Laurie's best friend once chewed Hal Sirowitz's book of poems quite thoroughly and left the damp scraps scattered all over her living room floor.


by The Beauty Queen from Mars

She thought that she was alone in her weirdness until she found the Dear Abby article, but even after doing research online, she never fully understood why she did it or if she could ever stop. The search was soothing, it calmed her frazzled nerves, and she felt such sweet release when the offending hair was plucked. She was always grateful that she didn't have it as bad as those poor souls she read about; the ones who plucked from more noticeable areas and ended up going bald, forced to shop for wigs to hide their shame. At least she could keep her need satiated with just her eyebrows and eyelashes, occasionally an arm hair or two; for a while she even cut back to just pruning her brows. Until one day life got so bad that something inside snapped. Now she spends her time trying to convince herself that she can stop, while her fingers thoroughly search her scalp, hoping to find satisfaction by removing the kinky strands and praying that she doesn't find a bald spot.


The Beauty Queen from Mars has spent the past 26 years trying to adjust to life on Earth (and is still struggling). She keeps her sanity by writing her own Modern Fairy Tale.


Good, Great, Six-tacular!

Introducing a New “Reactions” Feature here at 6S

As a frequent visitor to this site, you know your comments on each Six are welcomed, encouraged, and appreciated. But you also know it’s sometimes hard to compose your thoughts... and sometimes hard to find the time. Now, below each Six, you can quickly check a box and give our authors instant feedback. Whether you think a Six is good, or great, or “six-tacular!” (the ultimate 6S compliment), just check the box and let everyone know! Of course, nothing compares to a thoughtful comment, so please keep ‘em coming. And please keep encouraging our talented writers!


Six Sentences thinks this new “reactions” feature is six-tacular!

God Uses Endearments

by Christen Buckler

I am walking home one night carrying orange juice, laundry detergent, thin plastic bags, my hair blowing in the wind of a hurricane destined to miss me. God shows up and whispers in that snooty way he has: You will die someday, too, my little chickadee. "I know," I say in a regular-sized voice because I am not one to whisper (but of course he knows that). "You could have made me prettier, you know, could have made me great, bone-white, skinny and articulate, you could have made my heart beat in tune with your earth and you could have made me serve you in ways everyone else can only imagine." I know, he says, still in a whisper (because he knows I am always straining to hear), but I could have made you any way I fucking wanted to, my robin, my tiny sparrow. He leaves to take care of more important things and I bow my head mostly because I am humbled, but also because I fall in love too easily with straight-talkers who set me right and then leave.


Christen Buckler, 22, is a creative writing major at Florida State University. She will begin studying with Robert Olen Butler - the 1993 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction - in the spring. This frightens her more than she could ever express.

Small Pleasures

by caccy46

It's the little moments that move me the most: reading a book outside and feeling the breeze between my toes, smelling the lavender in full bloom, watching my yellow labrador resting on the ottoman, his head propped on the window sill, sleeping soundly - so many tiny joys that fill each day. It's important to note them and value their significance. They are the balance, sometimes the keeper of my sanity, amidst all the world's horrors. To know and think about these small comforts makes it possible for me to read the daily papers without spending the day in mourning. To feel the pleasure of a full stomach, an inviting bed, a warm blanket - these are the comforts for which I am grateful and aware. This is what gets me through each day.


caccy46, whose full catalog is here, is a mother of two who's been married for 32 years.


Upon Leaving Mexico

by Joseph Grant

Upon leaving Mexico, all the sadness in the world weighed on my shoulder. The girl that I had loved most had stayed behind. I hated leaving her in Anapra, but I had to; those were the days when the cartels had taken over and it wasn't safe for Americans anywhere. Later on, as I went back as a journalist for La Opinión, I had found out through various contacts that she had married a colonel in the Mexican Army and together they had a daughter but that he had run afoul of the traffickers he had been escorting to the Border and that only his head had ever been found along the outskirts in Tijuana near the airport. Mexican law then was such that the body was needed for the widow to collect pensión and since she was unable to collect his retirement fund or insurance for that matter, some time later I had heard she worked in a brothel to provide for her and her daughter, but both were killed in a car accident along El Camino Real on a Christmas Day. Often, I have thought about what would have happened had I stayed.


Joseph Grant has been a loyal friend to this site (and its community of readers and writers) since its earliest days. Six Sentences is honored to publish "Upon Leaving Mexico," Joe's 100th published story worldwide.

I Could Be Your Neighbor, Your Lover

by Caren Coté

I'm normal, in the sense that I obey traffic laws and am diurnal by nature, but not so normal anyone would suggest I socialize that guide dog or provide a stable environment for this foster child. That sort of normal is the product of a happy childhood; I am not. Frankly, I don't understand the allure. Oh, I tried, and then I pretended, for normalcy's sake – but the more I studied those normal people the more convinced I became that they were, in fact, one person with many faces. No, not even that. One person with many variations of the same face.


Caren Coté grew up in shamelessly abnormal neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area. Between those streets and her cubicle in the Silicon Forest she passed through restaurants, bars, a newspaper with a staff of three, and a Hungarian flower shop. Her short fiction has appeared in VoiceCatcher2 and on KBOO, Portland Public Radio.


Control Freak

by Chris Conroy

She’ll control you. Then she’ll control what you can’t control. Then she’ll control your reactions to what you can’t control. Then she’ll leave when she loses control. Let her go. She’s out of control.


Chris Conroy is embracing the early darkness.

My Promise

by Samantha Carpio

I am a beautiful, intelligent and thoughtful person and this is why I am leaving him. I have been living a lie for two straight years, I will never trust a guy ever again. He constantly said he loved me but he didn't because he broke my heart. His best friend told me he's been cheating on me since the very beginning but now he wants to change his ways. He can change all he wants but I'm still leaving his sorry ass. No guy will ever be that special to break my heart and get another chance, that's a promise.


Samantha Carpio is 17 years old and attends Manhattan Hunter Science high school.


Broken Promise

by John Inouye

There were the obvious solutions, like slipping a Listerine PocketPak strip on my tongue when I was seven minutes from home at the end of my commute (any closer, and I figured I’d be suspiciously fresh instead of appropriately stale). And I always drove with the car windows a quarter open in case the smell was still in my hair or on my clothes. On the off chance that she kissed my hands (she is sometimes unconventionally romantic), I washed them thoroughly at a gas station on the route home. I learned every station restroom with mildly scented soap, which I also used to wash my face in case the odor clung to my lips and nostril hairs. When she showed me the positive pregnancy test months ago, I told her that I’d stop. But I didn't consider the possibility of a burn mark, still flecked with ash, on the rubber sole of one of my shoes, which I’d carelessly kicked off at the front door—never considered it, that is, until she waddled over, one hand on her belly and the other holding the tattletale shoe, and sighed, "Honey, you said you'd quit."


John Inouye works in product usability for a high tech company, but he sometimes thinks about other things.


by Jodi MacArthur

It laid strewn across the floor, dead and undead. I hadn't meant to raise the pistol, hadn't anticipated the frosty fingers of fear to freeze my insides and steal my breath. He lived through the fire, my husband, but not through the surgery. He's come back for me, I suppose. I watch a finger stub, charred by coals, twitch and point at me. I reach for my book of matches in my back pocket, wanting to settle the matter once and for all.


Jodi MacArthur, exiled in deep south Texas, is a Seattle author hoping to write her way back to the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time, she twitters at her beloved finches, Edgar and Emily, and drinks coffee - but never at the same time.



by Daniel Casebeer

An old man in a brown suit shuffled along the sidewalk. The birds in his beard were crying for food. He stopped at the corner and fed them some crumbs from his pocket. How romantic, I thought, this man and his birds. But what of the worms, my friend? What of the worms?


Daniel Casebeer is a high school English teacher. He lives in Pittsburgh.

The Clockmaker

by Irene Sieders

My father was a lunatic master clockmaker. He made sure that each clock, large or small, antique or contemporary, ran at the exact time and not half a minute later than any of the others so lovingly restored. On the half hour and on the hour they all chimed simultaneously in a cacophony of joyful mad noise, only to fall silent again just as suddenly, to be replaced by the multiple tick tock of the many hands that crawled across the numerous faces. One morning he went quite mad, as if he had been struck by the clapper of a large bell that hung in a church tower, and between the hours of 5 and 5:30 AM he murdered my mother while she laid asleep in her bed. Afterward, he smoked a cigarette and listened to the crazy noise of all the clocks chiming the word guilty at him, before he picked up the telephone and called the police to turn himself in. On the question of why he had done it, he answered that she'd spent too much of his hard-earned cash on clothes and accessories.


Irene Sieders is a coffee-drinking, cigarette-smoking Dutch woman who prefers to write in English. She's a rampaging socialist and a card-carrying agnostic. Her website is here.


What Has Been Promised

by President George W. Bush

Because the... all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those... changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be... or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled.


President George W. Bush, while explaining his plan to save Social Security, spoke these words in Tampa, Florida on February 4th, 2005. Today, along with the rest of the world, he'll discover the identity of his successor. (Don't forget to vote.)

Christ, Not Again

by Steve Young

I was walking home trying to keep from looking anyone in the eye because every time I did they wanted change, or a cigarette or to know what the hell I thought I was looking at. I was so sick of it by now that I was ready to swing on anyone who looked at me wrong too, but becoming like everyone around you doesn’t help you understand why they are like that in the first place. I finally made it home and sat on the couch and pulled a huge hit off the bong. I could see the stairs from my couch and my neighbors came out and were fighting again. He was screaming at her and she was screaming back and then he backhanded her good; and then again and then again. I put down my bong to go out and stop it, but I gotta’ tell you, I noticed I walked pretty goddamn slow this time.


Steve Young lives in Phoenix and does not like you very much. He thinks you should check out Thieves Jargon.


Schiff's Failures

by R.T. Sehgal

When the letter finally arrived on a sunless Monday afternoon, its blue envelope was a bruise among all the white ones. He carried the entire stack up to his apartment, tossing the majority onto his desk before sitting down to examine the outlier. The sides were wrinkled from wear, but his name was written in the center of the envelope in perfectly smooth black ink. A sudden warmth filled his chest as his heart beat faster, harder, the blood coming in crashing waves up through his neck and into his head. He held the envelope for several minutes before choosing anticipation over disappointment. He tossed the blue envelope onto the pile, ignoring them all, at least momentarily.


R.T. Sehgal will occasionally leave something of questionable importance here.

The Gliding Mechanism

by Benjamin Robinson

And finally to begin with, in as brief a disposition as time will allow, let us dispose of introductions altogether and head straight for the ending. Let us resolve not to get bogged down in the middle, more specifically in the middle of the middle where the bogging down gets particularly intense, and in flagrant violation of our just desserts we loose sight of our finale. With the middle cut safely adrift, we’ll not be taken for the half-wit trundling endlessly back and forth across the footbridge of locution. A reasonably restless period will ensue before the settling in period proper is knuckled down to. A period know colloquially as love’s full bloom. No doubt our old friend the slippery slope will emerge as amid concurring dreams of de-escalation we’ll fly in unison, singing ever singing through a bright upended sky.


Benjamin Robinson's articles and short stories have appeared online at Dogmatika, 3AM Magazine, and many other places. He lives in Dublin.


I Trust You

by Idriya Morland

She wanted to know what I was up to; I told her I couldn't tell her. Nodding, she told me that she understood and that she wasn't worried. "I trust you," she said. "I know you wouldn't do anything reckless." I thought about that for a long time afterwards, and I decided that those were some of the nicest words anyone could say to me. Last night, I prayed that I could earn the trust that she had for me and that I could somehow learn to have such faith in others again.


Idriya Morland still thinks that the ninjas will ultimately defeat the pirates.

Oh Baby

by Valerie O'Riordan

Someone introduced us at a party. I looped my hair behind my ear and talked seriously about the government and the election and the environment and my childhood and the price of free-range eggs and how my housemate constantly made chili that smells like the rotten feet of a Yeti. He didn't say a thing, but chewed at a stick of gum, his tongue slurping and his lips pressing in and out, fat and thin, like plum little worms on his face. I wasn't sure about this now, and my breath was coming out whoopy, and my hands in fists were pounding manically against each other, and they so hot I was afraid he would accidentally touch them and burn himself, so I wrapped them up tightly in my sleeves, but that dragged the neckline of my jumper down obscenely low, and my voice trailed off, pitching up and out mid-sentence - something about rabbits, I think it was. He had a good long long look down at my cleavage, nodding to himself, and then he shook his head and wandered off. I saw that he was only wearing one shoe and I unwrapped my hands and helped myself to a sausage roll.


Valerie O'Riordan, a video editor in Birmingham, England, has just started writing.


Late Sleeper

by Howie Good

You, who stayed up too late last night, get up, get up! Everyone else is already up! The world is an incomplete sentence without you. I know the leaves are yellowing, and it’s cold, but get up. Please, get up and look out the back window. There are emergencies, clouds, acts of contrition, lit-up letters as big as small children (and sometimes even bigger)!


Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of five poetry chapbooks, including the e-book Police and Questions.

Into White

by Heather Collings

They were already late for school, again, when Sarah turned the car east onto the interstate. The fog hadn't cleared despite the burning hot sun behind it, making the sky shine white. When the car began to climb the bridge, the horizon seemed to fall away. "Look, Jamie," Sarah said. "It looks like we're flying." But Jamie was already looking out the passenger side window into the whiteness below.


Heather Collings lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she writes poems, edits for Main Street Rag Publishing Company, and gets on or behind stage when she can.