As an experiment, I’ve written the start of a few short story ideas. If you’re a writer, doing this really helps the creative juices flow for the projects that you’re working on.

I hope you enjoy them!


The Musician: Carla, the cleaning lady on Clermont Street, has a son who is engaged to a white singer. Whenever one of her clients asks about her son, Carla claps her hands in delight and swears he will be a musician someday. Sure, all he has ever known are the crescendos of Spanish and the staccato grip of a dustpan, but soon he will strum a guitar with his moreno fingertips. Just you wait.

Five years later, her son’s wife is singing in Carnegie Hall. When she leaves the stage, roars of applause cling to her clothes, the spotlights dim, and the curtains close. Carla’s son strolls onto the stage. He slides a dustpan along the floor, pretends he is strumming Cancion de Mariachi with a broom, and happily sweeps up rose petals into a pile.

Carla frowns in her living room.


Escape: The first time she saw her reflection, she gasped. The ripples in the water distorted her features, but she could still make out the tangled knot of hair, the scars on her nose, the mud on her neck, the bloodshot eyes. Her orange jumpsuit clung to her shoulders.

The Most Nutritious Meal of the Day
: Breakfast here meant fried worms, frog intestines, and eel skin. Thomas plopped into the dining room chair and licked his lips.


: Horrified, Victoria opened her mouth wide. Black tar oozed from under her tongue, from under her gums. She screamed and gurgled ebony liquid.

An hour later, her mother opened the bathroom door and found her daughter unconscious on the floor; her fingernails were smothered in black, her pupils were completely dilated, and her hair was the color of ink. Her mother gasped. She covered her left hand over her mouth, backing away and shutting the door with her right.


: Emily dragged her comforter down the stairs: thump, thump, thump. She had to squint in the dark (only candlelight prevented her from missing a step), and she slid one hand down the railing for support. She could make out the faint glow of a flashlight wiggling underneath a tent of blankets in the sitting room. As she padded across the carpet, she could hear the excited whispers of little girls, her friends, beside the fireplace. They had started without her.


Washing Machine
 Her dress is a feast fit for kings: pink tulle skipping down the middle; seems popping in unseemly places; careless cotton; rainbow juice stains.

Her mother grabs the tattered dress and marches to the garbage can. “Mommy will get you a new one, honey.”

The little girl, wearing just her underwear, clings onto her mother’s skirt, clawing at her legs. “Feed it to the wash,” she pleads. “The wash will make it better. You always feed it to the wash.”

Her mother glances down before walking toward the kitchen. Heels glaring, she stuffs the dress down the trash can’s throat.


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