Two Hundred Words

by John Riley

These are two of the 100-word stories I've been writing lately.


When the doctor returns with the news the man remembers how his wet hair turned to ice the night he jumped from his bath and ran across the unfurrowed field, water dripping from his hairless crotch, his feet pounding the potato dirt. He thinks of years later, of the old tobacco farmer, drunk each day from dark to dawn, of how the tractor tilted when it crushed his shoulder. He thinks of the old man's scream snapping across the half-plowed field. He wants to tell the doctor about the man's question. He wants again to hear the boy whisper “alive?”
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I Never Knew

“Tilt back your nose,” my uncle said. Blood ran in two streams across my upper lip and down the sides of my mouth. “You're always staring at the ground. That's probably why the punk popped you.” His lips were squeezed shut. He had been in two wars and one prison. When he died his friend Alejandro knelt by the casket. His tears fell to the floor. My mother stared at him. Her lips pressed so tightly together they made a single line. Then she looked at me and said, “It's good he's dead. His life left us all confused.”