writer* fiction* editor* smtomic@gmail.com

of sorts

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Face the blank page with courage
To always tell the truth,
Especially in fiction.

Dig to find the heart of the matter
That beats deep beneath the breast
Of each and every character.

Paint the walls of every room with vivid color.
Leave no important detail overlooked.

Describe the six senses with synesthestic delight.
Smell sounds and see thoughts,
Some of which taste peculiar.

Follow the arc the muse leaves in her wake.
Explore the myriad paths glittered with gold dust.

Continue the journey
On the days when she rests
Or disappears for days. …

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Roz and Ben were both band geeks. Roz was a senior and played the clarinet. She sat in first chair, the row ahead of Ben, all the way on the right. He played the trumpet but preferred goofing-off. Even so, he was good enough to be third chair despite being only a sophomore. That allowed him to sneak looks at her during band practice. Her cheeks reminded him of Red Delicious apples when she played.

The band director, Mr. Reeves, considered Roz his star pupil. She served as one of the drum majors in the marching band and guest-conducted the symphonic band on occasion. Everyone thought she would get a scholarship to attend a university that had a prestigious music program. But then she met Michael at a church camp, which complicated things. …

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I was on my way to heaven when the drawstring of my hospital gown got caught in the escalator. Those things are so unreliable. You don’t realize it half the time because you’re lying there in a coma and the drawstring isn’t really on your mind when you’re on your deathbed. So, anyway, I felt a slight breeze on my butt cheeks and looked down to see it stuck between the teeth of the escalator.

Shit, I thought. That’s not good.

Then I remembered where I was heading.

Shit, I thought again.

I kept trying to free the drawstring to no avail. If anything, it only made the situation worse. When I got to the top, the escalator sucked the mint green gown right off me. I could only watch as the escalator slowly swallowed it. Then, the whole thing started to smoke and ground to a halt. …

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I know it’s wrong
that I still want you
to read all of my words.

To regard you in patient silence
as your eyes graze what I wrote,
searching for their familiar warmth and glow.

I remember when you used to read me,
how your face formed
the most perfect expression.

And I sighed, knowing
the effect couldn’t last.
You moved on,
found another book,
turned another’s page.

I once felt sick to my stomach
while waiting for your reply.
Now what remains is the hole
gouged into my heart
as I remember our goodbye.

There are times when you reappear
hazy in the distance,
and I wonder if the idea of us
was always a mirage. …

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Brian has a case of the hiccups so bad they haven’t stopped in years.

“Maybe this will be the last one,” he used to think. That was 22,075,200 hiccups ago, give or take a few.

Not like Brian was keeping count. Well, there was this one time he gave it the old college try. He made it all the way to 50,107 before he quit in exasperated rage.

The hiccups occur at a rate of every five seconds.

Five seconds is enough time for him to say, “Hi, my name is Brian. How are you today?” hiccup.

It’s awful.

The hiccups are exhausting and relentless. Brian has to wait after chewing, just in order to swallow. Otherwise, he’ll puke and keep hiccuping. He hiccups while drinking or brushing his teeth. He hiccups during moments of silence. He even hiccups at night, tossing and turning as the rest of the world sleeps. …

By Stephen M. Tomic

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Let’s imagine Tim. When I picture him in my mind I see a guy about to turn forty-seven. He goes running in the winter wearing Spandex long johns but carries a bit of a paunch. He’s freshly divorced and trying to be philosophical about it all. This is the chance for a new beginning, he tells himself in the mirror while brushing his teeth and tracing the historical markers of his hairline’s slow and steady retreat. The kids stay with Lauren, who lives five minutes away in another suburb. They’re both teenagers and could give a crap about their parents’ problems. Tim yearns to connect with them since he only sees them every other weekend. He tries to be the cool dad by sending them silly emojis and recording TikTok videos. …


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Once upon a time in an alternate universe there was a popular musician named Charlie. He could swivel his hips like it was nobody’s business and croon his way to the moon. Everybody called him The King. Later in life, with longer hair, a paunchier mid-section, and wearing robes more fit for a Jedi than rock n’ roll royalty, he went one day to the White House to visit The President.

“It would be a honor, sir,” Charlie said with humble dignity, shaking the President’s hand, “if I could wash your feet.”

Around the same time, there was this guy, a real snake charmer named Elvis. Girls thought he was handsome, and he could sing and play the guitar. …

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