Tag Archives: short stories

The climb

Red leaves fluttered downward, carried by the wind toward the asphalt of Cherry Street. The newly risen sun barely peeked over the mountains surrounding Appleton, its rays not yet strong enough to break up the morning fog that hung like heavy curtains over the ground.

Mrs. Anderson opened her heavy front door slowly, its hinges creaking with effort. Frigid air streamed through the crack between the door and the jamb, making her bones ache from its icy touch. Quickly, she wrapped her flannel robe tightly around her sagging breasts, refusing entrance to the cold gust.

She clutched her cup of coffee with both hands like a talisman as she made the long descent down her driveway toward her mailbox. One step at a time, she told herself. Cold as it was, it wouldn’t do to fall a quarter of the way to the mailbox. None of her lively yuppie neighbors would be awake at this hour, leaving her utterly without help if she should fall.

coffee cup in old hands
Photo By: Danielle Johnson. Photo of: Kristinia Contreras

Pausing for a moment, Mrs. Anderson took a sip from her mug. The currently lukewarm coffee slid down her throat, offering no reprieve from the temperature. She disappointedly poured the last sip, chock full of coffee grounds, onto the grass that bordered her driveway. The break over, she secured her empty mug within a deep pocket of her robe. She continued on her trek, side stepping down the last section of pavement.

The ground beneath her was finally flat. Mrs. Anderson breathed a sigh of white, steamy relief at arriving safely at her mailbox. Her cheeks wrinkled with her smile as she opened the mailbox to retrieve her news.

She opened the newspaper to listen to the headlines before summoning the effort to climb back to the warmth of her living room.

“ARREST MADE IN RAMPTON JEWELRY THIEVERY,” one newscaster screamed from the paper. “A break was made in the case last week when Detect-,” the newscaster was cut off when Mrs. Anderson flipped to the Lifestyle section, uninterested.

“The Top 5 Pie Recipes You Need This Fall,” the perky voice of a female reporter drew Mrs. Anderson’s interest.

Seeing the picture of the spiced pumpkin pie featured, Mrs. Anderson’s wrinkled smiled returned, her eyes growing wet. The recipe was one of her mother’s, from the early 2000s. She felt the heat emanating from the wooden fireplace of her childhood, so different from the false, gentle warmth brought by her current fireplace screen.

Deeply ensconced in another time, Mrs. Anderson didn’t care one bit that her feet were growing numb, toe after toe.

Tips for writing short stories (we want yours!)

Hey Radford! So this year the good folks at Whim want to start publishing YOUR short stories in the Arts & Entertainment section. Not only is being published in an online magazine a great way to get your work out there, but writing for Whim is a terrific thing to put on future resumes. Do you want to write a short story, but you’re not sure how to get started? Here are some tips to get your minds on a roll:

1) Pick a subject that isn’t extensive

Short stories are mostly hard to write because people pick novel ideas and try to condense them into a short story. Trust me, I’m very guilty of having done this. To combat this common problem, simply pick one moment, one scene, or one idea to write about. Make sure your idea has plenty of action right off the bat, since you don’t have the time as you would in a novel to build up to climaxes.

2) Use your own memories

Of course, you could always write a personal essay based on one pivotal moment in your life, or you could lend that memory to a character. This is a great way to get writing because you’ve lived through the experience so you can already describe the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings. Turning reality into fiction opens the door for you to doctor that memory to be anything you want it to be and then apply it to your fictional character’s life. Once you have that one great idea, the rest will come naturally.

pen and paper
Photo by: Danielle Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Work in a quiet space.

If you live in the dorms, I’d suggest going to Young Hall in the evening. Young Hall gets really quiet as the day wears on and it has everything you could possibly need- cozy nooks and chairs, numerous charging outlets, a computer lab with a printer, and vending machines. Young Hall is the whole package for those who want to get work done. Young Hall works well, but if you need a change of scenery the river is also a great place to go to be alone with your thoughts and characters. If you live in Greenhill especially, you should take advantage of the river.

4) Use a pen and paper.

If you’re drawing a blank while watching the cursor blink on Microsoft Word, shut down your computer and whip out your trusty notebook and pen. Sometimes just jotting down your thoughts instead of typing them makes all the difference in the world.

5) Write in the first person.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people like writing in the third person. While there’s nothing wrong with that, sometimes it’s easier to get into your character by writing in the first person. If you’re really set on having your story take place in the third person, but you’re not able to get anything down on paper, write scenes in first person from each character’s perspective. This simple exercise will really get you into your characters’ shoes and will definitely make writing your story easier.

If you’re interested in submitting a story, shoot me an e-mail (mgibbons3@radford.edu). I’m also more than willing to read your work and offer suggestions before you formally submit your work, if you’re unsure of anything.

Outside of Greentown: Chapter 2

The midnight train whistled shrilly as it began to take off towards the West, slowly lurching forward on the moonlit tracks. The hard wheels squealed in the cool summer evening. Men rubbing sleep from their eyes bustled about in the dark, securing and checking the cars. The engineer fed the steel beast’s red-hot belly with shovel after shovel of coal to quicken their forward movement. The frowning whistle screamed once more as they chugged steadily out of the station. A man sat on a bench outside the station in the dark, quietly smoking, watching the train pull out. Continue reading Outside of Greentown: Chapter 2

Bad Date Brad: Part two

“So,” he said with a smirk, “What do you want to know about me?” I was completely taken aback. How do you answer a question like that? I wanted to say, “Nothing, thanks for the coffee, bye.”

I realized my mouth had been hanging open for nearly a minute. I had to think of something to say before he took my stunned silence as flattery.

Graphic by Katie Gibson.
Graphic by Katie Gibson.

“Oh,uh, I don’t know. Tell me something interesting about yourself,” I said.

He took a large breath as if he were about to recite a speech and replied, Continue reading Bad Date Brad: Part two