Eight Micros
Scott Garson

(22 words)

What I want to know is if I can decode what you said when you did what you did to me, baby.

* * *

If I Had Green Lantern’s Power Ring
(89 words)

I’d worry about what my mind might do to summon its greeny force. I’d avoid the elevator, lest I come up with the idea of sawblades whizzing through. I’d stay out of the street, whose vapid stillness might somehow provoke me, so falling speedboat engines would punch my skull down through my ribs, or sonic chips of meteorite would liquidate me in their scour. I’d feel this happening. That easily, it would be mine. And welcome—as long as I could be sure that you would be there to see.

* * *

D.C. in the Nineties
(66 words)

If on the first of the month you borrowed my ’79 Buick LeSabre from the abandoned lot off the Newton Street alley on Brown, thank you for bringing it back, and I don’t care about the dent in the fender, and if you would like, you can get your sunglasses back by dialing the number that follows (I see they’re prescription, which costs money, I know).

* * *

Glass Horse
(190 words)

The guy she was seeing, John, had given Sonya a glass horse, and she showed it to Kara and me one night when it was just us three. She was laughing, fake-flustered. What did it mean? she wanted to know, and while Kara gave her a positive read, I ran my thumb over the glazed brown ceramic and fingered the hole in the underside of the hollow belly and finally closed my hand down on the body, so the brown-and-white legs stuck out. I felt certain that a hoof would break off before long. I felt certain that Sonya could only date girls, and that she was very right to be skeptical about John, whom I imagined as impotent, lost. It’s sweet, Kara told her. For someone to give something so delicate. For someone to take a chance in that way, show you his sense of beauty. Sonya laughed, shook her head. Then, since we were out in the porch light, parting, she blinked and looked up at us—Kara and me. I watched as her eyes filled with warmth, admiration. She was beaming. I waited. Okay, I said finally.

* * *

L.A. Gymnopédie
(88 words)

One good thing she did was to get a tattoo. By her ankle. Vine of stars. She didn’t know the girl whose convertible it was. The girl liked her because of her friend. In the large back seat she kept herself small. Her knee caps touched. Her hair flew around and got stuck in the gloss of her lips. “Hey, hey, you, you,” everybody was singing. In the bends and waves of the golden glass panels of a building on Wilshire Boulevard she saw her own sunglasses frames.

* * *

Chapter Fourteen
(142 words )

In the fourteenth chapter all the leaves fall and the tree in the second of three long windows is shown to have bone-white bark. I don?t know why I say the fourteenth chapter. But the window is long and the tree even longer, meaning that the trunk, where the vine must attach, is not visible, nor is the top. Meaning that we start in the middle of this tree, its body, ripped and scabbed in some places, and in others smooth, bone-white—these places towards the top, which draws the stiff line of the tree into movement when the wind blows. A tree ends, you could say, in its eventual youth, its offering of naked tips. What yaw there must be in a wind like this, a wind that flattens itself to the roof and pulls music from the lips of the pipes.

* * *

Wichita Gymnopédie
(95 words)

How kind of you to visit me in my loneliness. If I had anything you’d care to eat, I’d offer it, you can be sure. I’ve been waiting. I watched as the crown of your fair head moved beneath pole and line and power box. I have stories. You’d hear them, you can be sure, if either one of our two hearts could bear the recitation. Come here, girl. Flowers. Well. Do you know their names? Here is a thing I can do for you then. Aster. Freesia. Anthurium. Give me your hand. Hyacinth. Lily.

* * *

Albuquerque Gymnopédie
(90 words)

I offered my coins to the beat of the cup on the knee of the man with the aquiline nose and eyeballs cased in wrinkled lids in the warmth of the evening sun. I lifted a strand of beads from a wooden table near the station and paid with a five and stuffed the turquoise away before it could speak of its dreams. I found a restroom. I slapped to my temples and eyes a trickle of eggy water. Back at the motel, my girlfriend’s daughter had lost a tooth, and I smoothed the folds from an ancient ten beneath her pillow.

Thoughts about Microfiction

I used to not think I was writing stories when I wrote stories under 200 words. I knew I was writing, but I didn’t think of myself as writing. Maybe I saw myself as playing. That seems close.

Like this one time, I went camping with two other writers. They were both poets, and I knew they were going to bring poems. So I brought along a sheaf of my super-short stories, which, up to that point, no one had seen. At night by the fire I read them. The poets liked them. Basic fun.

Another time—this was in grad school—I had to get some “out-of-genre” credits, so I signed up for a visiting poet’s seminar and took in a few of my micros. They weren’t poetry. I wasn’t pretending they were poetry. But I felt better about taking them to the poet’s seminar than I would have about taking them to fiction class. To fiction class I brought “work”…

Does it sound like I’m saying that writing stories under 200 words is easy? They’re not easy. They are fun.

Does it sound like I’m saying that micros are something like poems? It does. They are. Poets are crazy emotionalites. Who knows what they see in line breaks. But poets have the jump on us: they’re used to working the tensions of narratives freed from the arc.

Something I like about writing super-short stories: the not knowing. I never know what I’ve got when I start one. It’s like rubbing the gray stuff off of a lottery ticket. What do you got?

In the most extreme case, a one-sentence story, the not-knowing is almost grammatical. The first one of this set, “Chorus,” is a one-sentence story. I wrote the first part, the noun clause, when I was in the shower. I was like, How does it end?

Relative to “Chorus,” a story like “Glass Horse”—at the upper end of the 200-word range—can seem fuller. You’ve got incident, multiple characters. But the drafting is pretty much the same. I draft micros in a single sitting, even if it takes a couple hours. On paper the stories end up taking the form of the experience I’ve had.

If there is a main “character”—again, like “Glass Horse”—my sense of that person is different from what it might be in the case of longer work. For sure there's no mental generalizing about characters’ tendencies, drives, needs. What there is: the slip of a particular consciousness.

I see that, I think, in others’ work too. It’s part of what makes some micros seem so massive during the reading.

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