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  • Endless Joke
    Endless Joke
    by David Antrobus

    Here's that writers' manual you were reaching and scrambling for. You know the one: filled with juicy writing tidbits and dripping with pop cultural snark and smartassery. Ew. Not an attractive look. But effective. And by the end, you'll either want to kiss me or kill me. With extreme prejudice. Go on. You know you want to.

  • Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    by David Antrobus

    Please click on the above thumbnail to buy my short, intense nonfiction book featuring 9/11 and trauma. It's less than the price of a cup of coffee... and contains fewer calories. Although, unlike most caffeine boosts, it might make you cry.

  • Music Speaks
    Music Speaks
    by LB Clark

    My story "Solo" appears in this excellent music charity anthology, Music Speaks. It is an odd hybrid of the darkly comic and the eerily apocalyptic... with a musical theme. Aw, rather than me explain it, just read it. Okay, uh, please?

  • First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    by Sybil Wilen, P. J. Ruce, Jeffrey McDonald, John Page, Susan Burdorf, Christina Gavi, David Alexander, Joanna Parypinski, Jack Flynn, Graeme Edwardson, David Antrobus, Jason Bailey, Xavier Axelson

    My story "Unquiet Slumbers" appears in the zombie anthology First Time Dead, Volume 3. It spills blood, gore and genuine tears of sorrow. Anyway, buy this stellar anthology and judge for yourself.

  • Seasons
    Seasons
    by David Antrobus, Edward Lorn, JD Mader, Jo-Anne Teal

    Four stories, four writers, four seasons. Characters broken by life, although not necessarily beaten. Are the seasons reminders of our growth or a glimpse of our slow decay?

  • Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited

    I have two stories in this delightful compendium of every 2012 winner of their Flash Fiction Challenge—one a nasty little horror short, the other an amusing misadventure of Og the caveman, his first appearance.

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Entries in Women (9)

Sunday
Mar312019

Tragicomic

I wanted to tell you about the ones who watch. But I lost the thread. Look, if you have to begin again, whatever story you were trying to tell is no longer the same story. 

So take two.

They are the ones who watch.

Different ones. They are dirty and silent and sit on the landings of broken motels, and they wait. Surveilling some squandered lot under a pewter sky.

A gravestone is a lozenge. Place it on your hungry tongue and wait while it dissolves. This might take a while. Decades even. Until… ah, death (death you rascal, you holy, holy rogue) is now inside you, as it should be. Let us meet again beneath a canopy of green, smiling and true, and grab my forearm, clasp my augmentations, my fingers as you insist on calling them, as they gesture and curl, urging unity, emblematic of accord, my compañeros, my luminous sisters, my radiant brothers, and wait. 

Sounds arrive, fashioned from beachcombed shells and the gentle breath of a hundred tides. An inner ear and some vulvic sculpture, such tender whorls and devotional twists of flesh. Folds and fabrications. To listen is to love. 

Following the atrocity, you arrive late at night. Unobserved, you think. Sleep a fitful hour or two. Moments after a weak and dilute dawn withdraws in shame, the children flock and sing their crude atonal rhymes beneath your window, and reluctantly you stagger from your bed to witness them. 

"Mister, we know why you're here!" shouts one, because they're the children of the ones who watch. 

But you can't let it go, because comedy, so you call back.

"Of course you do. It's because this tale needs a Greek chorus."

And instead of retreat or bewilderment, the children's grimy faces under the lice-swarming tangles once known as hair crease with such genuine joy that it brings you to your knees, and you begin to sob like a small child yourself, one who first believed the promised gift would be a pony or a trainset before you opened it and found the irradiated post-tsunami ruins of a miniature coastal town, which turned out, stunningly and over time, to be a more apposite bestowal.

Because, mindful now, you watch too.

How funny tragedy is. How hilarious the unfolding of awful things, witnessed from some window with a flower box beneath it, while songbirds gather staves and clefs for abstract nests from which they compose and perform something lovely, even though friends and colleagues plummet in fiery feathered arcs around them. 

It doesn't take a giant rock. Just millions of smaller ones. 

And still we laugh. Because it's funny. There's literally nothing in this world that isn't funny. Otherwise nothing is.

Friday
Dec282018

Reckoning

"All that happened after was predicated on before."

I came upon the group gathered in the blue twilight, silhouetted atop a ridge, the half moon rising behind them. The coming night crept in silently, and the gathering was silent too. A gentle scene, though I knew if they saw me they would kill me. Without words they stayed awhile, lingering in the quiet grain of the air, and I held my place below, hidden by a great stone and a small grove of aspen, whose song was muted by the absence of any wind. This was dry land, and no rains came that night either. 

Why did I linger? That's simple; I needed something from them. But no, truer still—they had something of mine, and I wouldn't be leaving till I could balance that ledger at last.

When they left the bluff, filing down a narrow rocky trail on its flank, I stayed in place until they'd returned to their camp. Then I climbed the trail myself in the vast silence of that star-blessed night. It took less than a minute to find my daughter's footprint in the soft dirt, the extra toe on her right foot a private sigil.

***

"On the nature of daylight."

This world. It's sumptuous. It's freighted. Wherever you can, cook things in the surplus juices of the last ingredient.

***

Once I knew she was there, I closed in the next dusk. Waited a drawn-out moment.

Soon, she wandered near the perimeter and I hissed our reptile code, and she stopped in her tracks and hissed back after a beat and came to me.

"I found you," I said.

"You did," she whispered.

The horizon crackled with something bright and infected.

"Ready to leave?" I asked.

When she didn't reply, my heart skipped two full beats, and something buzzed in my brain pan. I repeated my question, and she still didn't say anything, her foot with the extra toe dug into the sandy dirt. 

I looked at her face and willed her great brown eyes to stay open and gaze at mine, and I give her credit, because she made sure they did. Respect is a strange animal; I felt it steal into the clearing of my heart and force hope into the crowding bush, while love crouched unmolested. I sort of almost got it. I knew that loss and grief were boiling thunderheads amassing in belligerent ranks beyond the next ridge and the next, someplace way ahead, awaiting me nonetheless. 

I didn't even know what sound to make. I brushed her small and bony hand with my own tentative reach, like the soft and flickering wings of a moth, and something happened inside my chest, and I saw tears fall in small beads from those nut brown eyes, and I left, and I never looked back, though I wanted to look back and squeeze her with the entirety of my raw and shrinking heart.

***

Why do we come here? Better yet, why do we stay? For the light and shadow at play on a woman's hands. For the nighttime murmur of a dreaming child. For the boughs laden, the twilight fading. For the huddle of warmth at the eye of the storm. For the room at the end of the couch with all the feverish cousins. For the eloquence of silence in the wake of ferocity. For tender care. For sweet triumphant justice. 

For the enraptured.

We are all poets. Troubadours of love. Now write me yours. Write us ours. And always, always try to go in the unbroken strength of peace. 

Friday
Jul062018

Fury

She is bound on a cold stone floor in a spare cottage by a crag, the wind a tuneless piccolo through cryptic slits.

A flurry of dark birds arc jagged across a slate sky past twilight.

The ink upon her arms and chest echo both flocks and sundown: three tiny boiling hearts on her inner right forearm and a stutter of crows below her clavicle, above her breast.

Outside, some black and odious structure silhouetted on the cliff edge: pitiless, stark, and mannish.

Pricks. If they are going to deem her a witch, then she will damn well rise witchlike.

A beetle meanders by her feet pursuing crumbs, flakes, specks.

These are fragmentary things, these moments, what she sees, hears, smells, feels. Nothing good will happen if she resists, but things far worse are pledged by her compliance.

The beetle is by the wall now, still seeking and vacuuming tiny morsels. She envies its autonomy, its thralldom to its own rudimentary will.

Her will is more wilt than heft. She stares between her legs at the stone and shudders. Imagines something ludicrous. Some unruly erection. Resistance. She must resist. Weakness now is unconscionable.

She is a woman not some failed man.

As if in answer, heart all slashed and ragged, Blossom appears in the murky air, her friend long slain by similar hands, twirling a familiar dance.

Speaks.

"Oh, Blanche, this is it. The inevitable. The moment you decide how to leave this aching world. I urge you to choose well. Its about you now, not them. They are filled with impotence, choked redundant by hate and unwarranted envy. Believing they're the heart, they are the true outcasts of our tribe. The overarch, the arc is in our favour. Even when they kill us, they don't win."

"Yeah, yeah. You always knew how to speak, my poet. I appreciate the pep talk, hon, but I ain't ready to die."

Sudden silence. No sound. The wind itself has swooned. Even the surf has ceased its assault on the rocks. No Blossom, no beetle, no beating heart. For a moment, no battery. A hush. This is the cold edge at the end of things, the blood loss, the muffled aftershocks.

However grim the lookout, love—love—is the thing.

The throng is coming, my brave and blissful amour, with their whetted instruments and their senseless rage, frail and pitiful as the keening of birds.

Friday
Jul212017

Chesterman

When you ran alongside me, barefoot, following the beach pier below, I thought you meant to tell me something profound, announce something real. When you caught up to my shadow and climbed the iron steps and looked in my eyes and said, "Your mother died," I thought you were either funny or cruel. It took a long time for me to realize you were going for both.

I can't help it. I associate your metronome hips toiling in a sandblasted skirt with the death of my mother.

At my tea party, Kate Winslet is Emily Blunt's aunt. Kelp lies forlorn on the shore.

"Honey, don't make me do anything. Let me do it 'cause I want to."

Escape your uterine penumbra. Ask me how?

"I'll ask this. Impossible to answer, no doubt. How is it you seem to know me when all you know is my menstrual smell? And what is it that tastes like people? Makes us numb?"

"Because you climb men like we're trees."

"Seriously, no words. You should be banned from speaking."

"True. But then I'd write."

Here we all are, rulers of a thousand silent kingdoms. Wearers of so many tawdry cotton shifts.

"You are not the marrying guy. You are the affair guy."

"Welcome home, girlfriend."

"Ugh."

The wind gets up. Stirs the treetops. Will you dream of a monster hunched among the dark limbs, breathing quiet, awaiting its time? All I know is, every coward craves a gun. 

Friday
Jul142017

Hostile

We're a long way past those plastic wood panels. That studded belt. The brackish shallows.

She was born Ida Grace Showbuckle, a Midwestern girl in a middle America world.

By the time she arrived in Hollywood, she was Shyna Lite, but that only shepherded her briefly pornward until she settled on Gloria Spensky, which combined a classic first name with an authentic East European family moniker while largely avoiding complications. America fell quietly in love, even before they'd truly parsed the name for prestige or infamy.

She was fortunate. Spectacular and tawdry. Resplendent with dubious pedigree.

Before tomorrow, the deviant mollusc will have devoured eleven faces. Be ready. This carnage won't be silent or demure. Segmented limb parts the texture and disavowed color of forsaken tarpits will skitter from bleak corners, antennas tuned to utter wreckage, trojaned in by the aroma of coffee beans and the poise of a nylon seam, a lukewarm foot cupped by a cool stiletto heel.

You have no idea what I'm saying, do you?

Don't worry. I don't either. I no longer know how to ask for help.

Was something birthed in the vomit of some homunculus, before any of us were here?

Gloria made progress, found a modicum of genuine affection among the glitterati. If she is filled with secrets, then so are we all.

Laura was my neighbor. She was older than me, not by all that much. Sometimes she babysat us. Her hair was the color of a raven's throat. My fingers ached to stroke it. Then came our private Armageddon, and our priorities changed. Although I never stopped loving the girl next door, whatever her guise. She was my ingress. 

Psychotic girls might be our last shot. Please rearrange words accordingly.

And please give me an invitite. Smurn me with lashes. Starl. Aglutor. Abrogate all this. If langrage is a skareton, the very bones of our syntax are fragmenting in clouds of sweet white dost, like wedding caek. Our vocalumnary crombles. Restet my gladdamned jawmoan. That bird has flone. Hear me haol till dawn. 

Chronology isn't my strong suit. Nor is lucidity. Especially when my brainpan hosts its silent apocalypse.

Gloria met an enigmatic young woman named Evelyn who'd come down from Canada alone, for altogether obscure purposes. Gloria and Laura, who met at a club in Inglewood in July 2011, would help her sometimes, both sensing her dangling-over-a-cliff vulnerability. Evelyn had landed on skid row—in a hostel once opulent but wearing its own sad fall from grace in its crumbling facade—either because she felt it was her natural home or believing it her launchpad to Hollywood. She was pretty and sweet, listened to J-metal and read dystopian fiction, but she was already a wraith. A waif like a leaf gyred by November winds through a caterwauling valley someplace north of the forty-ninth. Her appointment with death kept getting postponed, and they took this as a sign she would be okay. They bought her meals now and then, took her to shows. But one day they didn't see her, no one did, and the internet seized on a shiny new mystery and Evelyn became a made-to-order character for websites dedicated to creepiness, not even rounded enough to be tragic.

Gloria kept going, but Laura went home, could never shake the sorrow of Evelyn's disappearance. They still talked now and then, but things had lost their luster. I loved all three, a walking, pulsing Bechdel test, but Evelyn will always hold a special place for me, allowing me my moment to school them and to fail them, her soft porcelain throat collapsing under my thumbs, her epicanthic stare beseeching me until her light slipped away, already heading back up Interstate 5, searching at long last for home.

Now you've read this nonsense, answer me this: what the fuck is wrong with you?