Ninety-five percent of my anxieties are unfounded

Ninety-five percent of my anxieties are unfounded. She tells me at our weekly breakfast. To focus on the genuine five percent. The following week I do so, spending ninety-five percent of my time on it. When we meet again, I know ninety-five percent of my anxieties are founded. Focus on the new five percent, she says. And so it goes on, worrying about worrying, and how to tell her I no longer enjoy our breakfasts.

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This 75-word story first appeared on Paragraph Planet

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Younger than records will show

It will be our secret, deep at the bottom of the reservoir. We will meet the others, the boys from town. Buy alcohol with fake identification, from a shopkeeper who has already seen the end of days. Cider sweet and nostalgic, as we go to the water park, where dusk will paint us with mosquitoes and laughter. And many years from now they will find us, when the reservoir is dry. They will find us and our fake identities, and finally treat our bodies as adults.

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A version of this story recently appeared on Paragraph Planet

Obscured Under a Low Sun

The sun is low, obscuring figures on the pedestrian crossing.

You look up from your phone as they come into focus, slam the brakes hard.

Bam.

You open your eyes at the wheel. A sensation of waking up.

Is this a dream?

Your phone bleeps, answering your question. You approach the same crossing. Everything replays. You slam the brakes hard.

Bam.

Towards the crossing once more, into the low sun.

To wake is to escape this loop, but in the safety of the dream car, no one gets hurt, and everyone gets to keep their limbs.

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This 100 word story first appeared on the The Drabble

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We all have the best of intentions

We all have the best of intentions. Like these teenagers in the park, holding a silver balloon. On it, the words RIP Dad. You can’t release that here, someone says, it’s not biodegradable. It is a middle aged man, dressed in running gear. They argue as he tries to take it from them. In the struggle the balloon bursts, ashes exploding into their eyes and mouths, scattering up into the air and across the city.

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This 75-word story first appeared on Paragraph Planet

A list of things I cannot hear

A list of things I cannot hear. All because of the tinnitus, the high frequency noise that whistles in my ears. I am oblivious to crickets in the wildflower. The hiss of our central heating. Dripping taps in other rooms. The hum of anything electrical. Chinese whispers passed on by children. Interference on the radio. The early signs of a storm. And late at night, consumed by these lists, I can barely hear myself think.

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This 75-word story first appeared on Paragraph Planet

A sad face appears at the window

A sad face appears at the window. On the first day of spring, sunlight highlighting the
dirty glass, revealing a face in the dust. Thumbprints for eyes, a grin drawn with a smear, the unmistakable work of a child. He examines the face, his nose almost touching. His past self would yell, and tidy up behind them, but today he leaves the window filthy, as he did last year, and the many summers before it.

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This 75-word story first appeared on Paragraph Planet

Things to delete before I die

Things to delete before I die. Everywhere. My laptop and tablet. An old PC  in the attic. My phones with their obsolete connections. And now the cloud, and social media. My blueprint on data warehouses. Years of work all going to waste. Nothing illegal or shameful. Embarrassing perhaps. Private insights, internal things, the things we all keep secret. So much stuff and so little time. And this paragraph. You must remember to delete this paragraph.

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This 75-word story first appeared on Paragraph Planet

Buying a suit for a funeral

Buying a suit for a funeral. Not sure whether to go traditional or for something more fashionable. Ideally I want to get some repeat use out of it. The sombre option feels poor value in comparison, but is the fashionable option seen as disrespectful? With my time left, I don’t want to limit my options. Maybe I worry too much. And besides, once I’m in the ground, none of my guests will see it anyway.

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This 75-word story first appeared on Paragraph Planet.

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Somewhere there is a memorial bench with my name on it

Somewhere there is a memorial bench with my name on it. Has to be with a common name like mine. My research finds several, and so I pick the nearest, where I sit and pretend to be a ghost. I wait all day for people to come and ask, waiting to surprise them with my big reveal. But no-one asks, no-one comes to the stranger on the bench, who may as well be dead already.

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This 75-word story first appeared on Paragraph Planet.

Monsters in the Closet

We spend our days playing in the closet.

In our imagination it is a spaceship, a doorway to other worlds, a portal that can travel through time. In the darkness we act out our fantasies, constructing the characters of our narrative. We play with the treasures that surround us – costumes in boxes, paperwork on shelves, trinkets that remind us of our parents.

We play all day in the closet, waiting for the door to be unlocked once more.