Monday, May 27, 2013

Story #2


Dear Readers,

Thank you for tuning in to the second installment of Very short stories r us. We are posting a very short story a week for twelve weeks. If you like this one, please pass it on to someone you think might also like it. If you feel so moved, send us a dollar by clicking on the donate button below. (By the way we’re working on changing the word on the button to something other than donate because we are not a nonprofit entity; we do though promise to use any dollars we receive in the best way we can think of or, failing that, the second best way.)

Yours sincerely,
Matthew Sharpe

p.s.: David Ulin of the LA Times wrote a nice piece about Very short stories r us last week.


Story #2

A man came to the high school and gave a speech about kids and guns but Sophie didn’t feel like hearing it. She went outside and lay in the middle of the football field in the light autumn drizzle. She watched the clouds go by. Three football players approached. “Hey, get off our fucking field,” one of them said—his name was Tom, he was the quarterback. “Shut up, that’s my girlfriend,” another said—that was Rick. Since Sophie’s father had died a month ago she’d been pretty numbed out and hadn’t been able to give Rick the attention he wanted, but he hung in there. “Oh, Sophie, Sophie, I love you, Sophie, I love your black makeup and black fingernails and black underpants,” Tom sang. “Shut up,” Rick said. Sophie moved to the bleachers and watched them throw the ball around and tackle each other in the mud. Rick was the smallest, worst thrower, slowest runner, most frequently tackled. She could see that each hit hurt him but he didn’t show it. Even before her dad, a police officer, had been shot and killed by a meth dealer, she knew she didn’t want a man like him for her own—one super-strong alpha male in her life was enough. Tom threw a long, beautiful pass and blew Sophie a kiss. When the rain came down hard he and the other boy ran inside. Sophie stood under the bleachers where it was dry. Rick came toward her with that sad look. She liked him and she couldn’t deal with him breaking up with her but she also didn’t know how to talk to him or anyone so she reached in and gave him a quick handjob, and watched his delicate, mudspattered mouth while she did, and took comfort in it. If he kept having that mouth, and if he quit football and took up the violin again, she thought she might be able to open her heart to him. She knew that was dumb though. You don’t love a guy if he does something. Sophie was so unready to be a woman that she wished high school would go on forever.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Story #1

Dear reader,

Below is the beginning of a little experiment in self-publishing.

Today and once a week for the next twelve weeks, I’ll be posting a very short story to this site. If you have a few moments, please read it. If you like it, feel free to pass on the address of this humble blog to others you think would be interested. And if you are so moved, please click on the donate button below to contribute a dollar toward the purchase of more Porcupine Puffs™, which the author eats each morning before composing his stories. There is, of course, no obligation to do any of the above. Family members, friends, and the author’s students are encouraged not to send payment.

Yours sincerely,
Matthew Sharpe


Story #1
I noticed him on the first day of school. He sat in the back wearing a black sweatshirt with the hood up. I couldn’t see his face. I was too scared to ask him to take off the hood. I love history and I’m good at getting high school kids to feel that they are a part of it, but sometimes all the other stuff, the stuff that teaching is really mostly about—the suffering of children, their crippled desires, their confusion and rage—is beyond me, and I come home and have a glass of white wine and a second one and a third, and I believe I have no business being a teacher. This kid wore the hood every day—his other teachers I guess were also too scared to ask him to take it off, or they didn’t care. Midway through the second week of school, I stayed in my classroom until after nightfall to grade papers and prepare for the next day’s lessons. I was driving home to several of my favorite glasses of wine when I saw two dots of light hovering in the middle of the road. I thought they were fireflies and only about a second before I hit them I slammed on my brakes because it was him standing there. The fireflies turned out to be his eyes, which were surrounded by his black hood, which was indistinguishable from the black night. I got out of my car and felt I was being pulled toward him. He had not moved from the middle of the road. “It’s okay, Mrs. Townsend,” he said in a gentle voice, “I won’t hurt you.” Then I was driving through the night with him in my passenger seat, seeing a sliver of mocha skin beneath his hood whenever we passed under a street light. “Teachers are undervalued in this country,” he said. “Politicians and captains of finance say they care about education but they don’t respect teachers and no one is willing to figure out how to pay you in proportion to the importance of your work. And here you are working so hard you don’t even have time for love. But that doesn’t mean it’s good for you to drink so much white wine at night.” We reached a ridge in the road, beneath which was a valley so dark I could barely see it. “Well, this is me,” he said. “Let me drive you to your house,” I said. “That won’t be necessary.” He got out of the car and so did I. “You want me to take off my hood?” I nodded. He peeled it back. I got close to him so I could see him in the dark. He had smooth skin, an angular face, and lustrous black hair, an astonishing beauty, as I had often imagined my boy would have been had I not aborted him seventeen years ago, when I myself was in high school. He kissed me, on the lips, not an erotic kiss, exactly. Next thing I knew I was standing at the front of my classroom, midway through a lesson on westward expansion in the 19th century. I pointed to a large U.S. map on the wall, circling with my finger the big, dark swath in the middle of the country that used to belong to France. And I was laughing, because there he was, in his usual chair at the back, dressed in a white powdered wig, red waistcoat, and red leather breeches, which is to say, he was Thomas Jefferson signing the Louisiana Purchase.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A letter to the reader


Dear reader,

I am going to try a little self-publishing experiment here soon.  I’ll be posting one very short story a week for twelve weeks in a row. If you have a few moments, please read it. If you like it, feel free to pass on the address of this humble blog to others you think would be interested. And if you are so moved, please donate a dollar toward more typewriter ink for the author, I’d welcome it. 

More soon,
Matthew Sharpe