On the street, strangers quickly glance away. At the mirror, the ravaged face smiles, because the mass of angry red splotches says the chemo attack, the destroyer, is working. Hurt vanity—and it is hurt, no question—has lost its hallowed standing to the incomparable treasure of a longer life.
Marilyn McFarlane is on hold from travel writing and takes pleasure in writing and reading the gems in fifty-word stories. She’s the author of Sacred Stories: Wisdom From World Religions, for children, and The Healthy Seniors Cookbook, for any age.
The word hung in the air like a noxious gas, choking me.
Its consonants clattered and hissed, drowning out the rest of the doctor’s words. It cast a veil of freezing fog around me.
It hoisted me onto the ceiling, above my body. Just the word and me, floating.
Natalie is a Clinical Psychologist and aspiring writer in Wales, UK.
______to see whether the cancer
has also leapt to his brain,
my husband drives wintery roads,
bringing one of our daughters
to a birthday party. The dog
wags at the door, eager
for his walk, and the plow
leaves another ridge of icy snow
at the end of our driveway.
Jennifer L Freed mostly writes poems, which have appeared in various journals and anthologies. See more at her website, jfreed.weebly.com.
You say they’re a beautiful sky blue—
that may slow your tumors.
You take the sky
into your body
with your morning tea.
I imagine you
in today’s snow, making angels
as we did when small—
____ice-crusted fringe of tree-tops,
____glint of winter sun, the dazzling
Jennifer L. Freed mostly writes poems, which have appeared in various journals and anthologies. The above was originally published in The Worcester Review (at 57 words), but someone inspired her to see if she could trim it and send it here. The above-mentioned pills worked for about ten months. See more at jfreed.weebly.com.
Festive streamers and balloons decorated the kitchen.
“Mommy, can I?!”
Janet handed Katie five bright pink candles to place on the cake. She lit them, as her daughter beamed excitedly.
Friends gathered round. Closing her eyes… making a wish… Janet extinguished the candles, tearfully smiling.
Five years breast cancer free.
Lisa Chambers is a Texas girl who believes 50-word stories can speak volumes.
She was scheduled for bilateral mastectomies.
I lifted her gown to listen to her chest, and was startled to read the words she had carefully inked across her breasts:
On the right: The Lord giveth.
On the left: The Lord taketh away.
And across her abdomen: Blessed be the Lord.
Margie Nairn is a retired nurse and emerging writer in Corvallis, Oregon, where she writes memoir, poetry, and silly limericks for her daughter.
Ellen’s cat got out. He finally figured out how to open the screen door. His name is Whiskers. He’s friendly for a cat. Always rubbing against people’s ankles. He’ll answer to his name. I haven’t told Ellen yet. We live on Longview. The traffic’s heavier since they widened the road.
Bob Thurber is the author of “Paperboy: A Dysfunctional Novel” and two collections of stories. A celebrated master of Flash and Micro Fiction, his work has appeared in 60 anthologies, received dozens of awards, and been used in schools and colleges throughout the world. He resides in Massachusetts where, despite severe vision loss, he continues to write every day. Visit his website at BobThurber.net.
My life depends on the drugs, the research, the doctors. There are no miracles, only love of family. The IV drip is like the beat of a second heart pulsing its cancer-burning flames through my body. It keeps this fire raging in my eyes that both consumes and saves me.
Jim Doss lives in Sykesville, Maryland, and earns his living as a software engineer. He has previously published two books of poems: Learning to Talk Again and What Remains. In partnership with Werner Schmitt, he also published a book of German translations entitled The Last Gold of Expired Stars: The Complete Poems of Georg Trakl 1908 – 1914. In his spare time, he is an editor for the Loch Raven Review.
Things I’ve done for money: collected cans for cash, sold chocolate, shoveled sidewalks after a snowstorm. Once I built an amusement park in the backyard and sold tickets. That was the summer Mom quit chemo.
I told jokes for a penny. She bought a hundred, and listened from her bed.
Jane Hertenstein wrote this story.
She appreciated, more than ever, the smell of her coffee and the sunlight reflecting off her back porch. The weather was unfairly perfect. Soon enough, the kids would know. But, for now, she let her smile hide the hopeless, sinking feeling welling up in her gut.
The cancer was back.
Myron Tetreault is a Calgary-based businessman, athlete and author.