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 | Aug 15, 2016 | Writing |
I have a special 150 word story for you. This one was written by a friend of mine. I had no idea he wrote at all, but apparently he stumbled on one of my stories and was inspired! Kirk Sandberg is always a man who surprises you, one way or another. Thanks Kirk!
The Cowardly Skydiver by Kirk Sandberg
At the age of 43 he made the decision to jump out of a plane.
The idea scared the shit out of him but the reward of finally feeling like a real man was worth it. So all geared up away he flew — the plane’s door open during the whole flight.
Trying hard not to gag in front of anyone he approached the door once they were above the clouds.
Don’t think you coward! Just jump! What’s the worst that could happen? Living like this is far worse than the shoot not opening, he thought.
So he jumped and fell towards the Earth at 120 mph.
He felt at peace as he fell. Frantic thoughts did not cross his mind as one might think. Just peace.
When he hit the ground and stood up tears filled his eyes.
He would never be a real man.
That ship sailed long ago.
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 | Sep 1, 2013 | Writing |
Having a claw for a hand wasn’t so bad. Its prongs could grasp any surface. In fact, Sam had enough control to pick up an egg or crush a head, which is what he was doing.
The scream strained the average eardrum. Underling scientists whined in the corner of the lab. Sam’s victim was the scumball who cut his hand off, among other things, and used him as an experiment. No permission asked.
He deserved a death that treated him like dirt.
“Why?” Sam growled. The prong that was his new middle finger prepared to burst through the guy’s cranium.
“Oh God! It was a step!” he shrieked. He saw that Sam was listening. “A big step. One more Disposable and we…EVERYONE can live forever in steel bodies!”
“One more Disposable, huh?”
Sam broke his arms and tossed him to the scientists.
“Yay. There’s your Disposable. Get to work.”
by Ben Zackheim | Aug 31, 2013 | Writing |
Mom always thought Jungle Jim was creepy, but I liked him. He sold ice cream and said hi to every kid in the playground. Sometimes, when a bunch of us said hello at the same time, he twirled in circles howling, “HELLOOOO!”
We laughed hard at that. The kids did. The grownups acted like they didn’t trust him.
The truth about Jim came out when Allison disappeared from the playground.
Her Dad was frantic.
He screamed, “ALLLLLLISOOOON!”, twirling around like Jim.
“Daddy?” Allison was across the street. I bet she was staring at toys in Walgreen’s window.
She crossed back without looking.
A car turned the corner, fast.
Jungle Jim jumped into the street and fell into Allison hard enough to knock her away.
Now he’s in the hospital. He’ll be okay. Allison’s dad is using his vacation to sell ice cream for Jungle Jim.
I think that’s super nice.