100 Word Project: issue one

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Contributors Amy Shantil Carney Angela Acosta Anna Sanderson Anne McEnroe Asha Rajan Ben Dillon Calvin Eidt Cass Rowles Chris Perry Daniel Addercouth

Elton D'Souza Michele Nugent Garrett C. Owen Miriam Fisher Glena Cimino Nikki Williams Greg Wah Sarah Batley Karen Sullivan Skyler McCann Katie Avagliano Lauren Theresa Leonard James Jay Chesters Liberty Price Marie Victoria Robertson


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Thank you to our Ko-fi supporters Asha Rajan Ben Dillon Cass Rowles Daniel Addercouth Elton D'Souza Glenda Cimino

Greg Wah Jonny Barrett Lauren Theresa Michele Nugent Miriam Fisher Skyler Autumn

Donate to the project at https://ko-fi.com/100wp

... and everyone who chose to remain anonymous!

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By Cass Rowles

CLEAN UP YOUR ACT The kitchen smells like a compulsory visit to your least favourite Nan’s house. Bananas had turned black, carrots had gone soggy. Don’t even talk to me about the pile of mush formerly known as an avocado. Cleaning before you go on holiday should be automatic. Now I’m stuck waiting for you. I remember when you used to take good care of me, with fresh veggies every week and regular cleans. I looked forward to your jokes, like “Let there be light” as you looked at me. You’d probably take better care of me if you knew your refrigerator could think.

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By Liberty Price TW: @LibertyPrice15

It was, frankly, the ugliest cat I’d ever seen. Mostly furless, except for patches of dirty white fur on and around its front legs – the vet said it was a miracle, since it must have been almost freezing to death. Looking at its disgruntled face, I suspected the cat was alive through sheer spite alone. I had found it outside and managed to trap it with great difficulty. It – or he, as I had just been informed – fought the vet tooth and nail at every step of his inspection. I liked his attitude: we went home together.

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By Asha Rajan

HAUNTED HOUSE Our marriage ended somewhere between “it’s your turn to change the baby” and “will you be home for dinner, or do you have another work function?” It was a silent death. Unheralded by raucous arguments or bitter accusations, it slipped quietly by; another forgotten milestone to join the graveyard of missed birthdays and unmarked anniversaries. We rattle around the decaying carcass of it, haunted by memories of what was, tortured by apparitions of what could have been. When will it occur to us, do you think, that we have become the ghosts, rattling our chains, unable to influence the living?

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By Michele Nugent TW: @m1shf1sh1

32 AND MOSTLY SUNNY 32 and mostly sunny. The measure of a perfect day. A 100 out of 100. A perfect score. 100 per cent. Sun with scudding clouds. Blue sky, lilting sea breeze. Not an overachieving 100 in the shade, but an eclipsing high distinction. How the sun beat on our heads, the breeze plucked at our goose pimples as you began 100 years of solitude in that clammy grave, with 100 strange silent neighbours. We have 100 fresh new regrets daily. For you it will eternally be 32, mostly sunny, less the 100 things that became too oppressive, despite the perfect forecast.

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By Marie Victoria Robertson TW: @marievrobertson

THE USUAL? “The usual?” I was new to the city. Never been in here before. Too shy to correct her, I nodded. She scooped the maple pecan ice cream into a cone, handed me a folded napkin, blushing as she suddenly realized her mistake. “Oh sorry! You looked like one of our regulars.” I smiled. “She sounds nice.” She smiled back, bashfully. “You’re much cuter. Well… I hope you do become a regular.” I walked out, floating. My sister was waiting outside. “You got maple pecan? I thought you hated it.” I tucked into my treat with a goofy smile. “Not anymore.”

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By Amy Shantil Carney IG: @amyheronsings

THE THIN BLUE LINE 1985 age 14 I'm sitting in my usual spot; on the carpet in the hallway next to the telephone table. Normally my legs would be stretched out, so mum and dad would have to step over me to get out of the living room. Today, my knees are drawn up to my chest. The spiralled phone cord is wrapped so tightly around my hand that my fingers throb and the tips look white and strange. ‘Meet me at 10 pm at the end of your street’ says the policeman on the telephone, ‘or I’ll tell your parents what you did.'

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By Skyler McCann

YOU’LL BE THE DEATH OF ME After a lifetime of studying the paranormal, he knew there was only one solution when she got the restraining order against him. That night he threw himself in front of a moving bus. He's been able to watch her undisturbed ever since. Recently she’s been getting anxious about losing small things; coins, glasses, earrings, keys, and even her favourite blue ceramic mug. He was actually quite proud of that last one. Unseen, he slowly approaches her, reaches his hand towards her neck, and squeezes tight. Nothing. He's not strong enough, but he will be soon.

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By Anna Sanderson

GOING PLACES My brother Jed saves up all his pocket money to buy bus tickets online. He leaves them in our father’s leather briefcase and on his desk, and sometimes, beside his work boots. Anywhere Jed’s sure they won’t be missed. ‘Why do you keep doing it?’ I ask. ‘He’ll only get angry again!’ Though I try to keep the fear out of my voice, my words seem to tremble, like shaking hands beneath the bed covers, waiting for him to come home. ‘You once told me Daddy’s like lightning,’ Jed says. ‘That means he can’t hurt you if he’s far away.’

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By Lauren Theresa TW: ImLaurenTheresa

DECOCTION She may not be their cup of tea, that’s because she is a decoction; an extraction of life and breath, indwelling symbol on ceramic as blue lotus leaves, as soaken matter stretching longer than what could possibly fit into silver cages, emerging igneous from open-watered alchemy, ensouling senses as the heat stings their hands and slimy matter burrows into lips, permeating pink membranes, and steeping deeper and deeper into their cells – not a fleeting high, but a medicinal bitter tonic, an offering – an antidote – for all that ails us: the nourishing serum of truth… the elixir of life itself.

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By Daniel Addercouth TW: @RuralUnease

A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS Anne sighed as she lit the candle on the Christmas wreath. It was the first Christmas without her mother. She missed her so much. It wasn't the same having Christmas by yourself. "Mum, if you can hear me, give me a sign." She was taking the mini Christmas pudding out of the saucepan when the candle flame bent to one side and went out. She relit the candle and started whipping the cream. The candle went out again. There must be a draught; she had probably left the bathroom window open. But when she went to check, it was closed.

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By Anne McEnroe

ALUMINIUMDITTY To Aluminium, the winding path from Alchemy did lead. Its proliferation not a worry did scientists concede. But from 1885, properties toxic become recorded; More gathering, as uses become much more assorted. The bio-availability of this ubiquitous element Now affects we human beings, in ways not Heaven-sent. To Al’s credit – recycling becomes a credible solution To a major part of its environmental pollution. Scientific advancements now allow closer look At the Alzheimer puzzle (Al’s almost off the hook!) But the major item that we still can’t decide – Is spelling the Aussie Alumin-i-um? Or the Yank version one- i-ed?

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Christopher Perry

DISHEVELED DEBUTANTE For Kaitlan, the relationship with the 6 AM hot yoga class in Midtown was complicated. “It’s like hot yoga exists literally just to restrict you from finding love,” she told her friend Rachel as she walked to the chalkboard wall to sign her name and pose for a sweaty selfie. “That’s why God invented bars and White Claw,” said Rachel. “And Tinder.” “Well, there’s a reason people don’t go to bars looking like this.” The booming sound startled Kaitlan. Confused, she found Jaxon holding the celebratory air horn. “100 Class Club,” he announced, grinning in her direction. Kaitlan smiled, blushing.

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By Greg Wah TW: @TheWah

YOU'RE GOING TO DIE ALONE “You’re going to die alone’, she whispered before leaving our house for the last time. I don’t really remember which ‘she’. There have been so many – Shes, Hes, Them, Multi-Sleeves, Gestalts, Uplifts, Conceptual Arrays - a billion years erodes all things, even human memory. “You’re going to die alone” - but I am the one that goes on. Nobody knows why. I just… persist. “You’re going to die alone”. Lying here, desiccated on the cinder of the world, the Sun a red-giant looming in the sky, pregnant with the apocalypse, I wonder - Is it here? Is it now?

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By Katie Avagliano

RESCUES The dog is a flight risk but we can't deny him the delights of being off-leash. To watch an animal run free: paws thundering across hot sand, snapping at the waves, spinning with dizzy excitement as he bays at the seabirds swooping over the autumnempty beaches. She calls the name we decided on when we picked him out of a crate of puppies at a mega-adoption event, a name that is as new to him as salttinted air, and he looks over his shoulder. Lips pull back. Smiling at the prospect of being loved enough to be called back home.

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By Leonard James

FB: @leonardjames.poet

RAVEN SHINING Outside is a crow thieving itself enough peacock feathers and all miscellaneous trinkets blue to puff its chest unruffle its wing into raven shining. Inside is a budgerigar bleating that its freedom is death but it's madness in a box cage is music for the home. So easy to confuse a cornerstone for touchstone in a square nest, any mind for design might be so foreign as to be goldfinched by the vultures crying eagle, roosting tall on their accusation know an opportunist is profiteer not prophet. Oh... forget what I said about birds, they do not play on repeat.

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By Elton D'Souza IG: @elton_d_souza_art

10,000 YEARS SINCE THE INTERNET WAS INVENTED It’s 10,000 years since the internet was invented. People are born; they live in the house they inherited, along with all their ancestors’ previous belongings. There are so much movies, music & art available at the touch of their fingertips. Their bedrooms look like Howl’s from “Howl’s Moving Castle” but larger & self-cleaning. It feels magically overwhelming at times. There are many things that they have yet to try out & use but they are content with their happiness. People love to adventure & wonder. It’s safe. Animals finally have rights whilst they made living on the planet sustainable. Utopia?!

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By Jonny Barrett

ALWAYS I'm old. My life has been long. I'm tired. My body has persistently felt weary. My skin and bones aren't what they used to be, they aren't supple and strong any more. My heart struggles these days to keep the flow of life coursing through my withered veins. My brain forgets things. A lot. I don't remember what I wish I could. I have forgotten so much - many memories, the good and bad, just don't exist up there any more. My childhood has gone. My successes and failures have gone. But I will always, always remember you, my love. Always.

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By Miriam Fisher

TW: @MiriamFisherLit

THE CAT WHO LEARNED TO FLY Leonine eyes glitter a kaleidoscope of jaundiced yellows and browns in the moonlight. They rock back on their muscular haunches and heave their leaden bodies against gravity again and again, claws extended to barb her legs. Blood drips from her torn feet into indignant jaws, piquing their hunger. They are insatiable. Still she ascends, her beatific face turned upwards. She holds the silvery thread gently between soft pads, her own claws retracted lest they sever her line to the moon. Their faces dissolve in the jungle melee until they are just blurred memories, sinking into the fissures of the landscape.

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By Sarah Batley

HARVEST - A TALE OF INVOLUNTARY EXTRACTIONS Police sirens wail in the distance. In the ambulance, the driver looks towards the back at the elderly woman. “She’s 83 years old,” he says, “maybe we let this one go?” The doctor looks up. “No,” he says, “the liver is good.” “But –” says the driver. “But nothing,” interjects the doctor. “She’s a defector; the transplant recipient is already in transit. Now, drive before the police reach us.” Below him, the woman stirs. “Please – don’t,” she whispers, before dipping out of consciousness. Now, the sirens are deafening. The driver speeds up as the doctor reaches for his scalpel.

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By Angela Acosta IG: @aaperiquito

HALLOWEEN While in Ohio, I used to hang a modest door decoration in my apartment for Halloween and settled for eating my own candy. At home during the pandemic, the whole neighborhood bought every conceivable decoration imaginable. We had spiderwebs, a huge inflatable dragon, and pumpkins galore. It doesn’t even feel like fall in hot and humid Florida, but we still got caught up in the excitement of the spooky season. On October 31, candy bars slid down PVP pipes from front porches so kids could still go trick or treating. The black cats prowling the neighborhood, however, are year-round residents.

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By Calvin Eidt

PERFECT INTENSITY That time between hitting start and hearing those finishing beeps was always intense. Could he pick exactly the right time and level to get perfectly warmed food? He made a vow to himself that this would be the time, but would it really? 10, 9, 8, 7… No bubbles or pops to be heard yet. Could it be hot enough? … 3, 2, 1, bee* the door clicked open. The bowl was steaming. The first bite was so good. It was warm. Perfectly warm! Could this really be!? The second bite was taken from the middle. Cold. Stone cold. Damn.

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By Garrett C. Owen

IG: @garebear6458 TW: @GarrettCritten2

“Is my brother okay? Yo, he okay?” An officer tried to move him aside. The stretcher had to get through the mass of people, of which he was a part. “Is he dead?” the young man cried. “He’s in good hands, he’s in good hands,” the officer assured him. “Yo, is he dead? He ain’t dead, is he?” The officer knew the chances: slim to none. His little brother would be pronounced dead twenty minutes later in a crowded trauma suite. The bullets had torn through his chest and head. He had dressed as though it was any other day.

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By Nikki Williams TW: @ohsashalee

TWO BIRDS, ONE ROSE Vikki frowned at her ankles, then pressed the Space Wagon accelerator to the floor. Her jaw clamped tighter. Fierce green fields whipped past en route to the Estate. Was the woman expecting her? Was she asleep as Billy had been when they found him? His laughter flashed into memory, and her body froze in the moonlight, then remembered. Minutes to midnight, the low window at her back, her feet found comfort crossing carpet. The rifle collection rested along roughly masoned walls. Among them, one Winchester. Eyes and mouth gaped as body bloomed bloody red, last words lodged in ink-black shadows.

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By Karen Sullivan

TAKE YE HEED Whenever I read an essay by a writer I like about their childhood, I grow alert for a punch in the gut. The better the writing, the harder the punch. You might think that means I must be a masochist, but I'm not. It's not actually the stories about childhood I guard against, it’s the stories about mothers, and not all mothers, either. Just the good ones. The ones who make us miss them, the ones who tucked us in and baked us cookies, but also the ones who abandoned us, even the suicides who left us on Mother's Day.

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By Ben Dillon

I’m trying to find the starting line of normal. That’s what my life feels like. I’ve always felt broken, left out, excluded and weird. I’ve always felt like I was never in the race, I was just an observer watching the smart, fast and hot people showing their stuff. And I would sit on the side-lines watching and waiting. I’ve realised now though, that the starting line of normal doesn’t exist. I need to define the starting line of who I am. I can forge my own path, and I do that when, over comfort and comparison, I choose courage.

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By Glenda Cimino

TWO GRAVES The world might call it trespassing. She called it revenge. He who seeks revenge must dig two graves, someone once said. But this night she came prepared: lights disabled, office key and petrol can in hand. She would take the laptop she had slaved on. He owed her much more - months of back pay. He had ridiculed her when she came for her money. She was just pouring petrol over his files when she noticed his car keys were still on the desk. She heard the office door opening. Their eyes met. Before she could speak, he lit a match.

FROM THE EDITOR Jay Chesters The 100 Word Project was produced on the stolen lands of the Whadjuk people of the Noongar nation, and we pay our respects to Aboriginal elders, past and present. We are guests on this land and we acknowledge the continuing culture and the contribution that the Whadjuk people make to the life of this region, recognising that sovereignty was never ceded. Thank you to everyone who shared their micro-fiction with me to make this first edition of the 100 Word Project happen. Thank you for your kindness, your words, and your patience. There were times when it seemed like this project wouldn't happen, but your faith and your stories kept it going. Here's to issue 2. The contributors whose fine stories make up issue one of the 100 Word Project are: Amy Shantil Carney Daniel Addercouth Michele Nugent Angela Acosta Elton D'Souza Miriam Fisher Anna Sanderson Garrett C. Owen Nikki Williams Anne McEnroe Glenda Cimino Sarah Batley Asha Rajan Greg Wah Karen Sullivan Ben Dillon Skyler McCann Lauren Theresa Calvin Eidt Leonard James Cass Rowles Liberty Price Chris Perry Marie Victoria Robertson

The 100 Word Project was conceived, edited, designed and distributed by Jay Chesters. The 100 Word Project is free to read, but if you'd like to buy us coffee, click here. Support me as an author and pre-order my book 'Year of the Bear' here. Thanks for the 100 Word Project to so many people too numerous to name, but we genuinely and sincerely appreciate you all.

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