Blue (new prose poem/flash piece for the 99%)

Blue-chip companies take their name from the color of the highest-valued chips at poker tables on October 28, 1929.

(we’re reliable, all-American, safe)

Then comes October 29, 1929: the day the stock markets crash.

Then comes October 30, 2009: me, new to a minimum-wage custodial crew, learning that the most important thing, when you clean the headquarters of a multibillion-dollar corporation, is the executive washroom…

Read the rest.

Room Four (new flash fiction)

AT LAST, ALICE returns. She bares her bright scars to the class, in a group notice like a wedding invitation or a graduation announcement. She says, “I had to tell my roommates…”

—from “Room Four,” flash fiction about strangers, kindness, and survival, published this month at Five on the Fifth.

Read the rest…

The 17 best micro-flash stories from the past 17 years (at Vestal Review)

If you’re looking for quick, good reads, consider Vestal Review’s collection of its best 17 stories.

VR invited readers to vote on the best stories from their 17 years of publishing–and each story’s under 500 words. A couple weeks ago, I bookmarked the collection on my phone, and I’ve enjoyed returning to the page and reading another story every few days. My favorite, so far, is “Chickadees Dance on My Windowsill.”

If you find a favorite, let me know!

The Quizzical Lizard (new flash story)

This is a little piece about my six-foot-long pet iguana, Quiz. I nominated him for “Literary Pet of the Month.” He never officially won the title, but formercactus picked up the vignette anyway. Who’s your literary pet?

Once we get the iguana, we have to figure out what to do with him. We name him “the Quizzical Lizard” and call him “Quiz,” for short. When you talk to Quiz—say, reading from your seventy-ninth draft of Harry Potter fan fiction, which is definitely honing your craft—he cocks his head in a way that suggests interest…

Read the rest!

New flash fiction: To My Friend with Diabetes, On Losing Her Foot

Somewhere between a prose poem and flash fiction, please enjoy To My Friend with Diabetes, On Losing Her Foot. Just like my friend, the poem is quirky, uplifting, and full of heart.

To my friend with diabetes, on losing her foot

You walk sixty-seven years while childhood diabetes, against your iron will, poisons your peripheral nerves with sugar, and the muscles of your feet, starved of circulation, gradually dissolve.

Your toes gnarl and curl backward at wild angles, as if aspiring to adorn gargoyles. (You’ve always had a dragon-and-knight heart.) Unruly tendons draw themselves into bows, aiming toes in every direction.

The doctor calls nerve death a blessing: unmuffled shrieks of twisting bones, no one could stand. But nerve death isn’t sudden, like cremation; electric signals climb your calves like flames.

First, you walk in special shoes; then, titanium braces, laced to your knees. Then, as orthotic specialists bite their fingernails, you cut holes in shoe leather with razors, because you have places no one can touch.

A medical resident offers custom replacements: braces with art printed on the back of your calves. You imagine the black-on-black silhouette of an animal whose feet don’t have to touch the ground. You imagine a city to save. You say, “Batman.”

Black on black is more than a side-eye at fate. You’re making an all-season fashion statement: black shirts, black knee socks, elastic waists in cropped black pants to hold insulin pumps and air your knees.

(Your nerves still crackle like static.)

The new braces arrive, featuring 1950s comic-book Batman—blue cape and yellow belt, swinging a punch and yelling “Bam!” because nothing turns out as we anticipate. At the checkout line in the grocery store, you become popular among small children…

Read the rest…

Thank you to Hektoen International for publishing “To My Friend.” This was the first piece of my creative writing accepted for publication, ever, and by coincidence, the acceptance arrived on the night before my friend went into surgery. All good news–my friend came out of surgery and continues to heal.

New micro-flash + science: SPACE INVADERS

Over at Story Seed Vault, publisher Alex Massey challenges authors to craft speculative micro-fiction based on real science. She calls this story “Story Seed #59.”

I also call this one “Space Invaders.”

Story Seed Vault

They slipped their young into our cribs. If we refused to raise their babies, they destroyed ours. Generation upon generation, they preyed.

In a story that raises echoes of the fae, Anna Kander writes inspired by the brown-headed cowbirds, a type of bird called a brood parasite. Cowbirds fool robins into raising their young. If robin parents push cowbird eggs out of their nests, cowbird parents retaliate by breaking all of the robins’ eggs. Scientists believe cowbirds undergo an “anti-imprinting” process; the birds are born knowing a special call to find other cowbirds. // Alex Massey

//Anna Kander is a social worker in the Midwestern US. Her work is slated to appear in Breadcrumbs, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and beyond. Find her at annakander.com.//

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