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Three Micros

by Grant Faulkner

 

Skins
If only we could go out back, like when we were kids, and smoke and fool around. Our parents at parties, ashtrays filling up with butts, rumblings of laughter. There was always the question why they wanted us to grow up to be like them. They didn’t imagine we’d mingle with evil. They didn’t anticipate inclinations toward torpor. We thought the husbands loved the wives and vice versa, boxer shorts and JC Penney bras. But we knew better, mosquitoes biting our tender skin. We knew it’s best to stay out of the way, even if there is no way back.
 

Vapors
Barbituate thoughts traipsed through his head like an ancient centipede picking up one leg at a time. Sunlight fringed the door, a taunt. All the air held an annoying menthol crispness, as if he’d fallen into a container of Vick’s VapoRub. Tara scrubbed the kitchen counter, using three different kinds of disinfectant just to be sure.

“I read some germs are good for you,” he said. “Imagine that. A world with good germs.”

She cried when the elastic of her underwear stretched out. She cursed the wind for bending trees. She scratched a pimple on her cheek until it bled.
 

The Scar
The good thing about having a scar on your face is you’ve always got a story to tell, Henry said. Brianna planted tiny bourbon kisses around the scar as if her lips could heal. Mathilde traced it with her finger, an archaeologist of hurt. Tavi just stared at it. Henry liked to say he got the scar when he was a pirate, a bank robber, a boxer. It was just an ordinary summer day, though, his parents arguing like hopped-up mosquitoes. A razor blade, time to kill. None of us are born to tie knots, but most of us do.

 

Grant Faulkner is the Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and the co-founder of 100 Word Story. He has published two books on writing, Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo, and Brave the Page, a teen writing guide. He’s also published a collection of 100-word stories, Fissures, and Nothing Short of 100: Selected Tales from 100 Word Story.
 

His stories have appeared in dozens of literary magazines, including Tin House, The Southwest Review, and The Gettysburg Review, and he has been anthologized in collections such as Norton’s New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction and Best Small Fictions. His essays on creativity have been published in The New York Times, Poets & Writers, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer. He’s also co-host of the podcast Write-minded.

 

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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of these three micros?

Each of these stories was written soon after I discovered the 100-word form. I became obsessed by 100-word stories, addicted to them. In all of the eras of my writing, this one stands out in a very particular and wonderful way. I saw the world in little snapshots that became stories. I found the 100-word form, in its strict precision and compression, a fascinating exercise that has informed all of my writing, long and short, fiction and nonfiction. Creativity sometimes needs constraints to flow. That’s the paradox I learned.

News

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