Misc. Fiction Snippets (Spring 2024)

Various snippets of fiction that I've written here and there in the last couple of months.

Misc. Fiction Snippets (Spring 2024)
Original illustration from 2021, background expanded with Adobe Firefly to fit this cover.

Various snippets of fiction that I've written here and there in the last couple of months.

Snippet 1 - May

Greg tapped his foot on the marble floor, making sure the movements were quiet. He didn't want to piss off the other five people stuffed into the elevator. He might have to see them again tomorrow, and getting strange sideway glances wouldn't do. Greg always hated being judged.

The elevator dinged on every other floor, straining to open its doors to hallways with nobody waiting half the time. It was a bit of an inside joke in their building. "Phantom neighbors", they'd say, nodding to each other with a light chuckle.

But today Greg didn't have time for pleasantries. He was already late by the time he even put the address into his Maps app. The dumb A train always had a 15 minute gap at this time of day - not quite late enough for the 5 pm rush hour, but not quite early enough for tourists grabbing lunch uptown.

Has Sara answered?

He swiped his thumb down from the top of his phone screen over and over. But no matter how angrily he refreshed, there weren't any notifications. She was probably ignoring him.

Some ditz waltzed into the elevator on the dreaded fourth floor with a gigantic laundry basket, forcing the rest of them to scatter pressed into the mirror walls. Greg glanced at the side of his face, noticed an unwelcome patch of red around his temple, and began scratching at it.

Finally, the lobby. That damn elevator took way too long to come to a stop (it always felt longer on the final floor, whichever floor that might be), and when the doors opened, everyone poured out with the velocity of professional athletes.

Snippet 2 - May

"Is the spot on your leg still there?" Beatrice asked.

I stopped washing the dishes and looked down at my right calf. Sure enough, buried between the dark of my leg hair, there it was. The spot.

It burned my retinas with its obnoxious red, just as it did when I first noticed it last Monday. If I touched it, the raw skin would sting, offending all of my nerves with its presence. It was an annoying, frustrating wound.

"Yeah, it's still there," I responded.

Beatrice walked towards me and stared at my leg. Her lips tightened.

"And you still don't remember how you got that thing?"


No matter how many times she asked my answer wouldn't change. I really was telling the truth, as improbable as it seemed. I remembered absolutely nothing.

"It looks infected," Beatrice said and finally looked away.

"I know, kitten," I nodded. "I'll get it checked out if it doesn't get better, I promise."

She nodded with a little too much enthusiasm for me to believe her.

Snippet 3 - March

"What's next?" Said the last line of the email. Jenna sighed and closed her laptop, letting her face fall into her hands. It was a simple, innocent line, she told herself, feeling the world descent into a thick fog with every breath.

They were just asking. But the question rang in her ears as if whispered with the callousness of a Disney villain after their triumphant song.

Jenna got up, her limbs moving with the haste of a creaky 70s tractor, and walked over to the kitchen. She turned on the kettle, pressing the yellowed-out button on once pure plastic. Then, she reached into the cabinet and got out the bag of coffee. The bag was mostly empty, the off-brand packaging crumpled up to preserve the integrity of those suspiciously cheap beans that chose to remain.

Jenna twisted open the lid on the coffee grinder and began pouring in the beans, but they missed and scattered over the counter.

"Shit," she mumbled, picking up the beans with her hands, ignoring the layer of dust and bread crumbs that went into the grinder along for the ride.

She pressed "ON" and stared at the machine as it whirled and shook, watching the beans disintegrate into indistinguishable powder.

The French press was still dirty from the night before, when Jenna filled it for the fourth time around 2 am. She rinsed it with cold water, not bothering to reach for the sponge, and filled it with the freshly made grinds.

The kettle was still heating up, so Jenna reached for her phone and instinctually opened the email app, before realizing that there was nothing for her to look at. She slid the phone back into the pocket of her pajama pants and watched the water come to a boil, bubbling up from the dark metal depths of her appliance.

She knew she was talented. She remembered the report cards landing on her parents' kitchen table twice a year, always filled with straight columns of As. Her mother would quickly skim through the list, barely taking in the words, because she knew what to expect. Then she would put the paper down and open the fridge, getting out the celebratory cake. It was Jenna's favorite, the tiramisu cake made by the small Italian bakery down the block.

Now Jenna stood alone in a dark kitchen, pouring the hot water into her discounted French press, and setting the timer on the too expensive watch she wished she could return.

She liked school. She liked working hard, because if she made sure to follow the instructions on every assignment and rubric, the result would always be the same. Every hour invested into studying would have a tangible consequence. Classes were like a video game, with levels of increasing difficulty but limited and thus manageable controls that Jenna could figure out if only she put in enough effort.

Arithmetic turned into algebra, and then calculus. When she went to college, it transitioned into vector calculus, linear algebra, differential equations. The same friends, but slightly different faces. She would sit in her dorm room, bent over problem sets, writing out equations until they made sense.

She wasn't sure when effort turned from a reliable tool to a torture device. Problem sets continued getting harder, but she began losing her grip on their demands, slipping up with new theorems and abstract applications.

When Jenna came home after junior year, her mom did not get a cake out of the fridge. She sat across from Jenna, looking at her cold tea, as Jenna studied the bruises on her arms.

The timer vibrated into her wrist, and, after slowly pressing it down, Jenna poured the coffee into one of the mugs she got at a corporate event.