can't just sit around

Short fictions & the like by Matthew Cook

The Painful Agitations of Dunby F Lee

This is an odd thing I started a long while ago. I thought it might get longer but it didn’t:

Dunby was not a child in the traditional sense of the word.

For a start he never had a mother, in the traditional sense of the word. The woman who gave birth to him was a chain-smoking teenager named Heather Hoover. She was the youngest daughter in a wealthy Scottish family of free-thinkers who were famous locally for doing little that was not stylish, reckless or extraordinary, and usually all three at once. When Dunby was just 3 months old it was decided unanimously that her sister Elouise was a far more suitable mother, and certainly looked better doing it, more elegant and maternal than the awkward and bad-tempered Heather. After two days of transitional breast-feeding to see that Dunby took to the new arrangement, they switched. And that was that.
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Sex Goddess

This is a piece of flash fiction published a few years ago at Small Doggies Magazine in the US of A:

When she discovered the affair, she started with his clothes.

She wanted to create nightmares he would stumble upon, just as he had done for her. His favorite shirt, the only thing he’d ever found to flatter his potato torso, went first. He didn’t make much noise when he found what she had written on it, but it was enough. Later she knelt on the back of his guitar until she heard the wood complain then buckle. And so it went on.
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Notes on my family #1

My father always had holes in his pockets and nobody knew why except me. My mother used to think it was down to the cheap trousers he bought from the market. She scolded him like a child, but always darned them anyway. She was wrong as it turned out.

I first noticed something was up when I was 6. Giving him a surprise leg hug, I felt a sharpness press into my cheek. I was offended, and slipped my hand into his pocket to see what it was, but he caught my wrist and slid it skillfully out again. Then he tipped me upside down, and blew a raspberry of punishment on my bare stomach. He said I was trying to pickpocket his coins. But there were no coins in there, I would have felt them.
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Boy meets Girl

They met in a restaurant at the nicer end of town, though it wasn’t all that nice. He was already smiling when she caught his eye and went to join him at the small, round table.

“Lovely to see you, Marcy” he said with a wink that seemed in slow motion.
“Charmed” she said, sliding her chair under in several awkward jerks. She had never said charmed before as a greeting in her life. He ran his palms across the white tablecloth. She saw the backs of his hands were brown and hairy. Big and brown and hairy. She noticed the tablecloth was smooth around him, to a point – between there and her it became increasingly less happy. Her cutlery lurched on a frozen, cotton sea. He chuckled.
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what your furniture is saying when it talks to you at night, Michaela

At night, when you lay in bed, awake and alone, listening to your furniture creak, wondering the answer to all kinds of strange questions, such as ‘why does my furniture creak?’ remember these words, Michaela.
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A Fictional Story Inspired by a Photograph of the 1978 Microsoft Research Team

More old flash fiction circa 2009:

For me, it’s only when you take a photograph, step back outside of things, outside of time, to try and catch it, that you see things as they really are. And so it was on that day, as I prepared the camera and the backdrop, something I did every year, called them all in and arranged them as I wanted on the various chairs (plastic and peeling, on loan from the canteen). My family. I always kept them there far longer than necessary, often with an ad libbed excuse based on technical malfunction or changing light levels. The truth was that I needed to see them there, in position. Only through the viewfinder, through several layers of polished lenses could I truly see them as they were.
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If I know my wife

Another old flash fiction:

Today I began having an affair. I possess neither the inclination, nor the financial resources, for authentic infidelity, but my fake affair is posing a rather pleasant distraction. It has allowed me to assert myself for the first time in some years, and I like having a project on the go. I deposit occasional subtle clues for my suspicious wife to discover, a breadcrumb trail of brassieres and obliquely written love-notes; poorly hidden, leading nowhere. It is a necessary counter-measure to her constant snooping, which – proving fruitless – was distressing us both.
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Cry for Help

This is an old piece of flash fiction from a long while ago:

Our poster of the Eiffel Tower committed suicide today. While the comedians among the office have attributed it to the bad atmosphere left after a spate of recent redundancies, the realists correctly point out that, with the amount of stress it was under, it was inevitable really.
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