Self Checkout

This man, waiting in line, arms full of groceries, short smile, eyes not quite darting, but active, hopeful, looking for any kind of social interaction. Something to remind him he was human. Something to cut through the fog. The loneliness. Some little thing that will let him break free, if only for a small moment.

The woman behind him, bumps his heels with her cart and he turns his head, his acceptance and her apology ready on his lips.

But she says nothing, eyes focused on the items in her cart, rooting through, looking for something buried near the bottom.

Daybreak, Your Heart

He reached over to stop the alarm. Pushing against the heft of the blankets, he turned, lifting, until he sat on the side of the bed. He gave the empty space to his left two taps and stood, walking stiffly to the washroom.

The kettle was on and the coffee ground.

He opened the front door and stepped out on the porch. Frost wasn’t far off now, he thought. The night slipped down behind the apartments across the street, pushed by the rising sun.

Realizing there wasn’t reason for him to wait outside, not anymore anyway, he went back in.

Not Quite a Tablespoon

Tensions increased in the domestic cold war between Mr. and Mrs. Elk.

Strained civility, already taut, stretched further as the diminutive missus found, for the she-didn’t-know-how-many-th time, even though they’d gone over and over this, the medium sized spoon set away with the teaspoons.

“What did we decide?” she asked in such a way to make sure there was not but one answer.

“About what?”

“The spoon,” she said.

“Which spoon is that?”

She threw. He ducked. The spoon flew into the buffet, clattered against, and cracked her grandmother’s china serving platter down the middle.

Toss the Marker

PHOTO PROMPT – © J Hardy Carroll
PHOTO PROMPT – © J Hardy Carroll

They walked up from the river until they saw a couple of girls playing in a graveyard.

Owl and Raccoon watched one toss a coin, and heard it clink against a tombstone. She then took off skipping.

The other started singing, the rhythm matching her partner’s hops. Both noises grew, echoing off the walls, to a cacophony.

“Come play,” they said, the world snapping into silence.

“Looks fun,” Owl said. “But we don’t have the time.”

“We know why you’re here,” the girls said in unison, their dull black eyes glaring. “You want to see us. But we’re playing now.”


Prompt courtesy of the Friday Fictioneers. Read more stories here.

Just Another Walk In – 2

A buzzer sounded, and the secretary stopped ignoring Dzinski long enough to press the button.

“Where’s that file,” a voice said, cutting through the static.

“On your desk,” she said. “Where you told me to leave it.”

“What? Oh, all right, I see it. Thank you.”

Dzinski figured they must be married. He coughed, just to bother her.

“There’s someone here to see you,” she said.

“Who is it?”

“Says he’s a private investigator.”

“What does he want?”

“Ask him yourself,” she said, disconnecting their conversation.

The door to the office opened, and a man stepped out, straightening his tie.


Just Another Walk In

The woman behind the desk had the same colour as week-old Wonder Bread.

“If you don’t have an appointment,” she said, “I don’t see how you’ll get in to see him.

Dzinski thought her attitude reminded him of stale bread as well.

“I’ll wait,” he said, walking across the office and sitting on the stiff sofa. He picked up a housekeeping magazine and flipped through the pages. “Besides, I’m feeling lucky. I’ll bet it won’t be too long.”

Her eyes narrowed, concentrated, down the thin ridge of her nose.

“What was the name again?”

“Dzinski,” he said, “Private Investigator”.

Mid-Night Ramblings

Dzinski awoke, and after a tense moment of confusion, realized he’d fallen asleep in his armchair. His half-empty glass almost slipping from his fingers, and the screen in front of him showing nothing but static.

He heaved himself up and stood in the darkened living room, then crossed and turned off the television.

Muted yelling came from somewhere. He guessed his neighbour had just gotten in and his wife was giving him a piece of her mind. Laying his ear against the bathroom wall he heard that he was right.

“Keep it down,” he hollered, before shuffling off to bed.


PHOTO PROMPT – © Dale Rogerson

Owl tossed seven pebbles into the swamp. The frogs stopped croaking and the shore birds took flight.

The crocodile surfaced.


“We need passage to the other side.”

“No,” the crocodile said.

Raccoon drew a plump, plucked chicken from his satchel. “We can pay.”

The crocodile blinked.

Raccoon lobbed the carcass.  the crocodile’s jaws snapped shut, and then retreated under the water. They were just about to leave, when the crocodile resurfaced.

“Very well,” it said. “I will ferry you. Be warned, the journey is treacherous and Death himself awaits on the other bank.”

“That’s who we need to see.”


Prompt courtesy of the Friday Fictioneers. Read more stories here.

Taco Tuesday

They wanted tacos and had heard about a new place a couple of blocks away, so they pulled themselves from the couch, dressed and walked over.

“It’s cold,” one of them said. The other watched their breath escape from their mouth as agreement. There was a line-up. People crammed the small restaurant, more than a few idling outside, leaning against the wall or bench or lamppost.

The people inside came outside, frowning. “Stove busted. Have to close,” someone said. The man behind the counter shrugged.

“Now what?”

The other one languidly watched the traffic light change from green to yellow.