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Comedy Stories

Tetherball

Much like deciding to work as a summer camp counselor, playing tetherball with nine-year-old boys is exhausting, pointless, and stupid. After my easy serve, one of the bucktoothed brats miraculously hits the ball back. The ball is actually an old volleyball, hung like a church thief on a dirty rope affixed to the top of…

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Stories Tragedy

Ace of Pentacles

It’s easier with the drunk girls—especially the loud-mouthed ones who travel in packs. Dressed in sparkly tops, short skirts, and wobbly heels, they wear “Bride To Be” paper tiaras or “Nifty-to-Be-Fifty” ballcaps. On weekends, I expect them after the bars close. They burst through my door, tittering, eyeing the darkened reading room with glassy cows…

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Comedy Stories

The Good Soil

“I’m going—I’m going,” she mutters, pushing her three-wheeled shopping cart out of the alley. As the proprietor glares at her, hands on his hips. She stops to inventory her possessions, often rifled through by miscreants in the middle of the night. “I warned you about coming back here,” the man says, menace in his voice.…

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Stories Tragedy

War Crimes

Andriy watched his father move an anti-tank mine out of the roadway using his bare hands, all the while smoking a Chinese cigarette, the tobacco loose and pungent. “Your name, Andriy, means manly and strong,” his father explained through clenched teeth, delicately carrying the explosive. “I named you for days like these. You will be a…

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Stories Tragedy

Featherless Biped

The morning traffic jam at the high school peaked at 7:47 a.m., short tempered fathers slowing down to jettison their surly sons, mothers asking their daughters if they wanted to take an umbrella just in case, seniors cutting off all other cars to drive diagonally through the parking lot. Mister Carlton angrily tapped the steering…

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Stories Tragedy

Yellow Leaf

“Because you cannot take care of her properly,” I finally say after arguing for almost an hour. “Now, I’ve brought some brochures—” “I take care of her just fine,” my father replies evenly, those coal black eyes of his boring a hole through me. “I always have. And you know what you can do with…

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Stories Tragedy

Angels Among Grief

❤️ Before—everything mattered. Now? Nothing does. 🜋 🜋 🜋 “It seems excessive—” the new angel says, eyes brimming with tears. “Grief descends on them so quickly.” He looks down again, keenly feeling each pang of despair, pooling in black waves around them like a treacherous sea. “It does,” the old archangel agrees. “But in their…

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Stories Tragedy

A Fellow of Infinite Jest

Dusk comes early to the blue-black Virginian woods in November. I know these paths well, but I still stumble on scraggly branches and twigs which poke angrily through a pristine icy blanket of snow. It crunches under our heavy boots as we make our way to the old oak. It seems the perfect time of…

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Comedy Stories

The Gods in the Stars

Seems like drowning oneself is harder than it looks. Embarrassing, really, as worried Bahamians attempt to haul me out of the Caribbean Sea into their rusty tugboat in response to the cruise ship’s clarion call. I feel my earlobes and note one of my diamond earrings is missing, lost to the depths. A treasure for…

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Stories Tragedy

As Ice Glazes Rocks

🏅 Alana’s mother had warned her about the rocks covered in ice near the edge of the lake. The Johnson boy had slipped and tumbled headlong into murk. In 40 degree water, he quickly sank in his heavy winter coat, started to hyperventilate, and drowned before anyone knew he was gone. “He’d only have lasted…

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Comedy Stories

The Ties That Bind

“The family wants us to sort this out—” “Stop speaking in the collective. You want to sort this out,” she spat. “Of course I do,” he said sharply. He took a breath and exhaled dramatically, looking at his younger sister. Her jaw set. Eyes ablaze. This was never going to be easy. “Look, it’s not…

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Stories Tragedy

The Coldness of Sand

3.1688739 x 10^-10 Millenia In ten seconds you will break my heart. In a thousand years, I will never recover from the words that will come out of your mouth, from this serious conversation you want so desperately to have, from your dead shark eyes that fail to hold my gaze. I will get up…

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Comedy Stories

The First Thing We Do

T.S. Eliot was right, Harrison thought. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. Although his English bachelors degree had been useful in law school, now Harrison James Pellingham, III needed it for a job. Yes, he knew that 100,000 new lawyers graduated every year from varying degrees…

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Comedy Stories

Bulldozer & Pushover

I just don’t understand what went wrong. This is his second apartment, not including his freshman college dorm. Remember when I told you how the college demanded he vacate the dorm’s premises in 24 hours? It was only his second month of college! You would think they would understand 19-year-old boys better. It’s ridiculous. Oh,…

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Stories Tragedy

Uneven Hearts

“You don’t hate me,” my older brother smiled slyly. “You admire me.” With that, he slapped down the queen of spades on top of the pile of cards, adding another 13 points to my score. It was the third hand in a row he’d gleefully beaten me. Roy was only half right. I admired him;…

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Popular Stories Tragedy

Your Poor Rick

🏆 ❤️ “We saw your poor Rick,” they say in the grocery store aisle. I smile, unconvincingly, and compare jars of spaghetti sauce that I don’t even want. “We heard about your poor Rick,” they say, half turned on the pew in front of me at church. I sit alone and nod at their thoughtful…

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Stories Tragedy

Marshmallow Wrapped in Barbed Wire

🏅 ❤️ Twenty five years in, she found herself a ghost. She stood unseen in the living room, stupidly holding a large bowl of homemade caramel corn. The noise from the widescreen television washed over her, the whistles and calls, the screaming of the fans, the roar of the crowd. The men in the room,…

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Stories Tragedy

Behind the Wainscoting

When I’m gone, finally gone, our children will find this. Behind the wainscoting. I remember you’d insisted on this—this tacky beaded white wall paneling, always insisting on what you thought you knew was best. Did it matter if I wanted the interior of our home decorated in rough sawn oak or weathered pine to create…

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Comedy Stories

Missy’s Midlife Misdirection

Of course Missy was making a scene at the registration table. Thirty five years had not blunted Missy’s expectations that her very presence should cause red carpets to unroll and doves to be uncaged. Over her carefully coiffed blonde head read a welcome banner: “Class of ‘85 – Still Alive.” Black and gold balloons attempted…

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Stories Tragedy

Ollie & Evie – Walmart’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

❤️ It was Evie who wanted the kids, Orville remembers. Orville would have been content drinking coffee with his Evie in the mornings, looking out the window, watching the birds at the bird feeder, quietly listening to her go on about this and that. “When does the school bus come, Ollie?” Evie asks. “About 3:30,”…

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Stories Tragedy

Dance With The One Who Brought You

❤️ Read by Russell Norman “Your wife’s confusion is partly due to salicylate poisoning,” the young doctor explains. Orville waits patiently for him to continue, holding his wife’s sweater while she dresses in the examination room. The doctor’s office is too cold, as Texans like their air conditioning glacial. It hurts his knees. “Essentially she…

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Comedy Stories

No One Really Explains

❤️ No one really explains to you that only after your cervix dilates to 10 centimeters that the true horror show begins. The mounds of maternity pamphlets, handouts, and books you dutifully study and the endless streams of websites, blogs, and postings you devour will all allude to bearing down, but they don’t really convey…

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Stories Tragedy

The Bloodline Gamble

❤️ There in the cold hospital waiting room, we gathered together to watch my oldest sister die. As usual, I sat alone and apart. The only person I even liked in this motley group was currently in another room, heavily sedated on a ventilator. If my oldest sister had been sitting next to me, we…

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Comedy Stories

Riddle of the Sphinx

A thing there is whose voice is one; / Whose feet are four and two and three. 🜋 🜋 🜋 Four feet. A baby crawls over to his father reading a newspaper at the breakfast table. He pulls at his father’s pants leg. The father picks him up, while folding the newspaper open to the…

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Stories Tragedy

Parent Conference

“Thank you for coming in today, Mrs. Sampson,” the principal said, smiling thinly and motioning for the anxious mother to sit in the chair directly across from the principal’s desk. The bookcases behind Mrs. Sampson’s seat were filled to capacity, mostly with well-thumbed history textbooks and supplemental Advanced Placement materials that the principal had kept…

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Stories Tragedy

The Come Down

As usual, my father stalked into the room, quickly scanning assorted relatives for the most suitable person with whom to trouble himself. Taking inventory of the stock and trade in the claustrophobic meeting room at Winston’s Funeral Home & Crematory, I felt his slate eyes gloss over me, registering nothing on his end but vague…