fewerthan500.com FewerThan500 – An ongoing collection of fiction, written in fewer than 500 words.

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FewerThan500 – An ongoing collection of fiction, written in fewer than 500 words. Skip to content Home About FT500 Contact Us / Submit Your Story Submission Guidelines ? Older posts Love of My Life August 16, 2016 - 6:36 am | Just the Stories Leave a comment By Kate Mahony He sits on the pavement, singing an off-key The Ten Guitars song from the 60s. He’s a terrible singer, in his 40s, one eye yellowed and rheumy looking. In front, he has a notice, handwritten: “I’m singing because I need to make enough money to get my guitar fixed.” I dig in my wallet and find a stray $2 coin to put in the cap lying on the street. “Thanks.” A tooth is missing from the row at the top of his mouth. I’m about to move on, but then I pause, stand in front of him. I’m curious now. “What’s wrong with your guitar?” He reaches behind him for a piece of wood, broken off the neck. He drags the rest of the guitar out, too. The strings are missing. “Yeah,” he says, looking down at the beat up instrument. “It’s because of my house mate. He brought drugs back to the house one night and that’s not allowed. So I told him and his friend to get out. The mate got angry and that’s when he broke the head of the guitar.” He touches it gently. “I could’ve cried.” He looks at me again. Sees that I am still there, listening. Waiting for something. “Yeah, I’ve had her for years. Love of my life.” “So can it be fixed?” I stare at the remains of the guitar. “Yeah, yeah, it can,” he sounds as if he wants to believe it himself. “It’ll cost $80 the guy in the music shop said, and it’ll all be hunky dory.” We both look at the guitar, an instrument that appears to have had its life beaten out of it ten times over. “So I need to get the 80 bucks.” “What about the strings?” “Yeah, he broke them off, too.” It seems all too much. I begin to move away. He fixes his gaze on me, takes a breath, and when he speaks his tone is higher, more urgent. “Yeah, my dad gave it to me.” A sound whistles through the gap where his tooth should be. I consider this for a moment. The age of the man in front of me. The age of his father. “Really?” I ask. Maybe it’s my dubious tone. He shrugs and turns to stash the broken guitar behind him, the conversation now over. At least for him. Something makes me take a $20 note from my wallet and stash it in his cap even though he doesn’t see me do so. As I walk off, I tell myself: his story alone is worth at least that much. Kate Mahony’s fiction has appeared in literary magazines including Takahe, Flash Frontier, The Island Review, and Blue Fifth Review. It was shortlisted in Fish Publishing Ireland’s short story competition and the New Zealand National Flash Fiction competition, 2015. She has an MA in Creative Writing and lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Share this: Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Click to print (Opens in new window) Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window) Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window) Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window) Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window) Tagged kate mahony Author Profile: Sandra Arnold August 10, 2016 - 6:26 am | Author Profiles 1 Comment How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer? I was a prolific reader from a very early age. At the age of eleven I wrote a play and had it performed by my class at school. I also wrote a collection of poems around the same time. I wrote poetry for myself only throughout my school and college days and early adulthood then turned to short fiction in my thirties. Some of these stories were broadcast on radio and published in literary magazines and anthologies. A couple of novels followed. In 2005 I did a MLitt in Creative Writing and in 2010 completed a PhD on the topic of parental bereavement. Part of my thesis was published as a book by Canterbury University Press in 2011. What inspired you to write flash fiction? At the beginning of 2016 I completed another novel which had taken over three years to write. I wasn’t ready to begin another long project so I started putting together a collection of short stories. Around the same time I discovered Flash Frontier, a New Zealand website edited by Michelle Elvy. I found some beautiful examples of flash here and on other websites so I set myself the challenge of trying to write it. Soon I was hooked. I love the way a complete story can be told in so few words and at the same time leave gaps for the reader to fill in with their own imagination. My first flash was long-listed in the New Zealand National Flash Fiction Day Competition, the second was short-listed in The Short Story Competition (UK) and others have been published or are forthcoming in Flash Frontier, The Jellyfish Review, Flash Flood and The Linnet’s Wings. Describe your writing process. When I was teaching I fitted writing around evenings, weekends and holidays. Now that I’m writing fulltime I work for about six hours a day in my study which overlooks farmland and mountains. Mornings are usually devoted to new material and the afternoons to revision. When I’m working on long fiction or non-fiction I do a lot of research and a lot of revision. Flash fiction begins with an idea and the process is much quicker though not necessarily easier. What was the inspiration behind what was published on Fewer Than 500.com? The story ‘A Strategy for Change’ began with a news item I read about bullying in a local primary school and the principal’s response to it. ‘The Girl Who Wanted to Fly’ sprang into my mind as I was feeding my alpacas one beautiful morning when a rainbow arched over the sky. The best ideas arrive when I’m not sitting at my desk. What are you working on now? I’m writing more flash fiction as I have found it to be excellent discipline for writing in any genre. At the same time I’m continuing to work on longer short stories. Share this: Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Click to print (Opens in new window) Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window) Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window) Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window) Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window) Tagged Sandra Arnold A Strategy for Change August 9, 2016 - 6:32 am | Just the Stories 1 Comment By Sandra Arnold “I do understand your concern,” The principal said. “These incidents can be challenging.” “The little shit beat up my daughter again. What are you going to do about it?” “We’re dealing with it, Mrs. Trulove. We’ve asked Dax to fill out a think page where he can reflect on his behaviour and the impact it has had on Sophie. And the counselor is supporting him in his efforts to effect change.” “You’ve got to be bloody joking! The little sod’s a bully and needs stopping!” “We don’t have bullying in this school, Mrs. Trulove. These recent few incidents have involved a minority of young children with behavioural issues. When they exhibit challenging behaviours we put strategies in place to support them to respond more appropriately.” “The little bastard punched her in the face. He stomped on her hands. He kicked her in the belly. She cries every morning when I take her to school. Where are you lot when he goes rampaging around the playground?” “There’ll always be the odd playground scuffle, Mrs. Trulove. The teachers can’t be everywhere at once.” “I want the little thug excluded this time!” “Education is for all children, Mrs. Trulove. Even those with behavioural challenges.” “The little sod needs a good wack with a leather belt.” The Principal brought the tips of his fingers together under his chin and closed his eyes. “Mrs. Trulove, as I’m sure you’re aware, we live in a more enlightened age now. We don’t hit children anymore.” “No. You give them a bloody think page and let them carry on terrorising!” “Mrs. Trulove, please be assured we are doing everything possible to maintain a learning environment where all our children feel valued, supported and safe.” ”Yeah. Right. Well you can stuff your think pages and your safe learning environment! If you won’t take action, I will!” The sound of the slamming door left his ears ringing. The third that day. He closed his eyes then reached into his desk drawer for the Panadol and lavender oil. His secretary said a dab on each wrist was good for alleviating stress. He had fifteen minutes before the next parent. He’d better call a meeting after school. He had a feeling some of these parents would go to the media this time. He needed to formulate a response. He needed to do something about that door. At hometime she told Sophie to get in the car and wait. When Dax came out she stepped forward to block his path. On the way home Sophie asked what she’d said to Dax to make him run off like that. “Oh I told him what we had in our freezer in the cellar.” “But we don’t have a freezer. Or a cellar.’ “No. But he doesn’t know that.” “What did you say was in it?” “Put it this way. It helped him reflect on his behavioural challenges in a way that would affect immediate change.” “Eh?” “He won’t hit you again.” Sandra Arnold is a New Zealand novelist, short story and non-fiction writer with a PhD in Creative Writing. Her work has been widely published and anthologised and has won and been short-listed in several literary awards. Share this: Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Click to print (Opens in new window) Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window) Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window) Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window) Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window) Tagged Sandra Arnold Author Profile: Angel Zapata August 3, 2016 - 6:23 am | Author Profiles Leave a comment How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer? I was assigned a poetry writing assignment in high school. Reading Wordsworth, Blake, and Shakespeare ignited my spirit. I saw the beauty they created and wanted to create something beautiful of my own. I began submitting my work to journals— via snail mail in those days— and publication credits quickly followed. Poetry felt like the tip of an iceberg for me and, through gradual exploration, I slowly slipped into writing fiction, specifically genre fiction, which I wholeheartedly love. What inspired you to write flash fiction? I was writing flash fiction before I knew what it was. While my writer friends kept me informed on the number of pages they completed daily, I was penning these really short, 100-word stories. The concise nature of them just felt perfect to me. I love knowing there’s the potential for twelve flawlessly-strung words to shine brighter than five hundred indiscriminately placed. Describe your writing process. I usually write during the day, rarely in the evening. Most of the time I’m on the go, so my writing is squeezed into every free moment I get. Some writers have daily word count goals that far exceed my weekly goals, but I’m okay with spending the day writing one sentence and tweaking it to perfection. I also spend a lot of time reading and researching a myriad of topics. It’s made me a stronger and more confident writer. What was the inspiration behind what was published on FewerThan500.com? This is the type of question I get asked a lot, and it never gets any easier for me to answer. More often than not, I don’t know the exact moment a story sparks to life in my brain, don’t always recognize the trigger. As it so happens, The Boy Who Plays with Knives sprung from a playful exercise I like to participate in from time to time. I was thinking about the novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I wanted to create my own Larsson-esque tale in as few sentences as possible. Four hundred words seemed just right. What are you working on now? Lately, I’ve been quietly working on a new chapbook of literary poems and fleshing out the next installment of my crime thriller series, featuring my character, Roddy Sanchez. I took several months off from sending out my work to e-zines and printed journals. I was absolutely enjoying the movement of my pen on the page and didn’t want to break my stride. But now I’m more than ready to leap into the fray again. Share this: Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Click to print (Opens in new window) Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window) Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window) Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window) Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window) Tagged angel zapata The Boy Who Plays With Knives August 2, 2016 - 6:30 am | Just the Stories 1 Comment By Angel Zapata His sister tells me he’s been rushed to the emergency room about a dozen times. No one can get it to stop. “Why do you like knives so much?” I take a seat across from the boy. He skirts the question, eyeballs my office from left to right. “Pick something you’re tired of looking at in here,” he says. I point at the dusty drapes. He flicks his wrist and a short dagger flies, pins the curtain panel back to the window frame. Slivers of afternoon light pierce the shaded walls. “Impressive,” I say. “What else can you do?” Metallic squeaks amid a swirl of hand motions produce an open butterfly knife. I lean forward in my chair. Scabs on his fingers and palm are visible though the molded holes of the polished handle. “Watch this.” The bandages on his face crinkle as he grins and performs a series of spinning blade tricks. “You like?” “You’re a very talented young man.” I hesitate for a moment. “You’re bleeding.” “Am I?” He latches the handle of his knife and sets it down on my desk. Blood seeps from the blue stitches near his elbow. “Do you know why you’re here, Jason?” I ask. He takes his time responding. “Because you like to play with knives too.” I chuckle. “Never thought of it like that. But I guess you have a point.” “You know what made me get my first knife?” I shake my head. “There was this hiker guy somewhere out west like five years ago,” Jason says. “A tree fell down on him, trapped him by the leg out in the forest in the middle of nowhere. He couldn’t get loose. He called out for help until he had no voice. There was no doubt in his mind he was going to die out there alone. So he made the only decision he could make. He took out this small pocket knife and sawed off his own leg. It took hours, but he survived.” “I can’t imagine what he went through,” I say. “I can,” Jason says, “it just takes practice.” I stand, walk around the table. The hospital gown barely conceals the multiple scars above Jason’s left knee. “It should be me doing this, not you.” Jason pounds his thigh and cries. “It’s my body.” Sunlight amputates the inkblot shadows, illuminates the breach where Jason’s other leg should be. Angel Zapata calls Augusta, Georgia his home. Born and raised in New York City, his award-winning fiction and poetry is a conglomeration of street smarts and Southern charm. Recent work has appeared at The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly, The Gyroscope Review, and Melancholy Hyperbole. You can find more of his work on Amazon. Share this: Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Click to print (Opens in new window) Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window) Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window) Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window) Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window) Tagged angel zapata Hooked July 26, 2016 - 6:14 am | Just the Stories 4 Comments By Kerry White Not far from the small town of Stiles, yet clearly beyond the indication of civilization it offered, was the Bend. Set back from the road and down a steep, rock-filled embankment, lay the river with its dark swirls, muddy fluidity and brooding trees. The Crow River, which flowed through town and often flooded in the spring, turned here creating lumped sandbars and pockets of stillness in all the rush and power of its flow. Scooter, all of eight years old and enthusiastic, had rushed ahead of Lem to the fishing spot. Giving Scooter the privilege of being there first was an easy father’s gift. Besides, maneuvering down the embankment wasn’t as easy on Lem’s old knees as it was on his son’s. As soon as he reached bottom, Lem knew something was wrong. Scooter stood silent and still by the bank, head down. The fine new fishing pole drooped, the line slack out in the water where it disappeared below the surface, hooked. “Scooter….” Almost inaudible Lem heard, “It’s Ridley, Pa.” Ridley? Ridley’s dead, lost in last week’s flood. Scooter’s best friend. Lem scanned the water and realized something bobbed just below the surface. A piece of checked shirt drifted up and down with the water’s current. He knew that shirt well. “We need to bring him in, Scooter.” Eyes filled with tears, so large and deep brown, looked up at him. “I … I can’t, Pa.” Lem kneeled down and took his son’s shoulders into hands, rough and scarred from years of working at the sawmill. “Scooter, his folks will want to mourn and bury him. They need to be able to say goodbye. If your mom and I …” his voice faltered, “If we had lost you, son, that’s what we’d want, too.” Scooter turned to look out on the water. “He’s gotta be cold, wet and cold, Pa, and the fish …” Lem gripped his son’s shoulders tighter, which made Scooter face him again. “He may not be the same as we remember him, but he’s still Ridley. Can you hold the pole while I work the reel?” Finally, Scooter nodded. Scooter brushed the tears away and gripped the pole so hard his knuckles turned white. Lem slowly turned the reel and drew the body toward the shore. Once it reached the shallows he stopped. “Scooter, I need you to do something important now. Hand me the reel, ok? I want you to go to the post office and tell Mrs. Stern what we found and to call the sheriff. I’ll wait here with Ridley. Can you do that?” “Yes, Pa.” “You can stay at the post office.” Scooter shook his head, “Pa, I want to come back.” He looked towards the river bank. “I want Ridley to see I’m still his buddy.” He brushed his son’s tawny hair just before Scooter started to climb. It would be a long walk back for him but Lem knew his son had just grown long legs. Once upon a time in a small village there was born a male child of unusual strength, vitality, incredible handsomeness and intelligence. He lived down the street from where Kerry was born. This required Kerry to become a thinker and writer of …thoughts. He constantly strives to find the uncommon, unusual or nothing at all; gazing off into some far away distance before the dinner bell rings. Other days, he is a pirate, for pirates have no bounds and can do anything they want, when they want to and however they want to. Kerry has been published in FewerThan500, Flash Fiction Magazine, “FoxTales 2, 3, 4” and most currently in “Phantasm’s Door.” Share this: Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Click to print (Opens in new window) Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window) Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window) Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window) Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window) Tagged Kerry White Author Profile: D. L. Shirey July 20, 2016 - 6:30 am | Author Profiles 1 Comment How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer? Of all the family stories my mother used to tell, there was one about me watching TV. It wasn’t so much the programs that fascinated me, she said, as did the commercials in-between. I was hooked on advertising and thought Darren Stevens, the husband character on Bewitched, had the greatest job, working for an advertising agency. And when I found out it was possible to make a living at it, I became a copywriter. I also found out that it can be a tenuous profession; the loss of a big client can also mean loss of employment. When I went to the corporate side of marketing, managing agencies instead of doing the actual creative work, I still needed to flex my writer’s muscle. I spent many years writing and publishing poetry, then moved into flash fiction and short stories. Continue reading → Share this: Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Click to print (Opens in new window) Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window) Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window) Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window) Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window) Tagged D. L. Shirey 123?? Show me: Author Profiles From the Editors Just the Stories Writing Tools Search by Author or Title Subscribe to Blog via Email Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Email Address Like FT500 on Facebook Like FT500 on Facebook Sites We Like 3:AM MAGAZINE 5X5 Apocrypha Abstractions Body Parts Magazine Boston Literary Magazine Brevity Magazine Burningword Literary Journal Cease, Cows Cheap Pop D. L. Shirey's List of Flash Sites Dogzplot Elbow Pads Every Day Fiction First Stop Fiction Flash Fiction Chronicles Flash Fiction Online Flash Frontier Hoot Nano Fiction oblong Postcard Poems and Prose Pure Slush Spelk Story Shack Magazine University of Chester Flash Magazine wig ● leaF FewerThan500 | Powered by Mantra & WordPress. Send to Email Address Your Name Your Email Address Cancel Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Email check failed, please try again Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email.

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