by Ben Zackheim | Sep 3, 2019 | Writing |
I was nine when I spoke to Dad for the last time. I’d forgotten to thank him for a birthday present. I believe it was a Radio Shack radio.
“You forgot, huh?” he said, on the phone.
Long pause. I was a sensitive kid. I think I knew that my nine years as his son were about to get gutted.
“Screw off,” he told me, a thousand miles, and a two-month old divorce, away.
I remember Mom grabbing the phone and screaming, “What did you say? What did you say to him?” until she was crying as hard as I was.
Ten years later, he’d finally succeeded in drinking himself dead. As I stood over his coffin, I was out of tears. And regrets. I was out of everything, even breath. But I shoved a goodbye through the scar tissue. I found some words.
“Thanks for the radio, Dad.”
by Ben Zackheim | May 26, 2014 | Writing |
He used a pencil to say goodbye. Maybe that would make it less permanent. Words are only as strong as their intent and he didn’t want to leave.
His parents had once hinted that they knew the truth. But by the end of the day their heads were back in The Good Book — their eyes on everything but him.
So with a whisper he crafted his goodbye on paper.
He made the sentences sharp. His points were daggers. An eraser could make them go away. But he knew his parents wouldn’t see that.
“That’s why I have to go in the first place,” he thought.
And when he took his first step into the world as an honest man he felt fixed.
He’d left the note next to the TV. Burnable, tearable. Eraseable.
Maybe after they did all that, they’d remember he was just their son.
Stepping Out, With Pencil is a 150 word story that’s part of a series of short stories that I’m working on. I’m fascinated by the idea of crafting a tale with a tight restriction like this. It may seem arbitrary, but I’ve noticed something happens for me when I limit the word count to 150 words. I find that the stories end up being 150 words exactly.
Not 147, or 151.
I’m not sure why this happens time and again, but when I finish the first draft I do not check the word count. I make my edits until I’m happy with the story and then I check. Every time but once the count has been 150 words. Naturally. No affectation.
I hope you enjoy the stories!
Other 150 word stories:
Bridge of Laughter
by Ben Zackheim | Apr 20, 2013 | Writing |
The first rev of the Wisdom CPU was a disaster.
The infant, Sam, was new to the world but the chip in his head was stuffed with 3000 years of history. If the gentle, neural prodding of the CPU worked, he would learn to never repeat the same mistakes humanity had made for millennia. Sam would be the first generation of a New Human.
To track his progress, a network connection transmitted Sam’s decisions to HQ. Sam was born hungry and it upset him. The boy’s anger instantly hacked the signal and launched a Denial of Service attack, which brought down the power grid state-wide. Three critical patients in three hospitals died, including his own Great Uncle Harry. Almost 1000 airplane passengers were dead by the time Sam’s circumcision wrapped up.
He was indeed a new kind of human — one who would make us yearn for our old habits.