In the Moment


Public speaking was never Jack’s forté. He was a bean counter. A number cruncher. Jack enjoyed the thrill of unpacking raw data. The thought of speaking at a colleague’s retirement party was akin to asking him to performing brain surgery while blindfolded.

All week long he fussed and bothered over what he would say. He watched hours of videos of famous speeches for inspiration. Nothing helped.

Encouragement from coworkers only intensified his anxiety.

“We know you’ll come up with something amazing,” they said.

“Say what’s on your heart,” they said.

Nothing ever came up and his heart was never his best asset.

The evening of the speech came far too soon. Sweat beaded across his brow all through the dinner. Soon after the program started, the Master of Ceremonies called his name. Jack made his way to the podium. He could hear his heart pound in his chest.

The murmur of the crowd silenced. All eyes fixed on Jack. He pulled out cards containing his notes, but in the moment, they resembled a foreign language. He swallowed hard.

After a few tense seconds, he summoned the words, “May you never have to speak to anyone stranger than you.”

The crowd erupted with laughter. The man of the hour stood in applause. He approached Jack and embraced him in a hug.

“Jack,” he whispered, “you always know the right thing to say.”

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A World Cup Dream


Betsy’s first conscious thought came at the moment she was aerosolized from the can of magic spray at the World Cup. She landed on the knee of a Belgian player who’d been fouled hard by an English defender.

The roar of the crowd were intense. She realized this was her moment. Her team, England, needed her help, and she was going to deliver. Instead of soothing the injured player, she inflamed his nerves.

The Belgian screamed. Betsy giggled.

Very quickly, two men in orange vests threw the player onto a stretcher and carried him off the field. He would be one less obstacle to English World Cup supremacy.

A sudden noise jolted Betsy awake. She was alone in her living room, with only the glow of the TV for company. She shook off potato chip crumbs as she struggled to her feet. Stumbling through the dark house to her bedroom, Peter heard the noise and stirred.

“Are you coming to bed?” he asked.

“Yeah. Did we win?” asked Betsy.

“It was weird. One of the Belgian players got hurt and had some sort of reaction to the treatment. It was their best player, too,” mumbled Peter.

“Did we win?” asked Betsy.

“Absolutely. After he went down, we took over the game.”

In the moonlit room a wicked smile spread across Betsy’s face. “Excellent.”

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First Drafts


Zack scrolled through his phone, shaking his head as he read.

“What are you looking at?” asked Melanie.


“What’s wrong?” asked Melanie.

“I just had an epiphany,” said Zack.

“I don’t think they have those on Facebook.”

“No kidding. Let me ask you a question,” said Zack.

“Okay,” said Melanie, hesitantly.

“When you were in school, did you write papers?”

Melanie tilted her head. “All the time.”

“Did you ever hand in the first draft, or did you have to edit them?”

“There was no way I could do that. I had to edit them.”

“Right, because first drafts are crap,” said Jack.

“What’s this have to do with Facebook?”

“Social media is a scourge. It’s societal first draft syndrome. Everything written on it is crap,” said Jack.

“I never thought of it that way.”

“Nothing written here should ever be presented for public consumption,” said Jack.

Melanie smirked. “You know, that makes a lot of sense.”

“It’s a mental disease. Why do people do it?”

“I suppose they believe every thought they have is valuable,” concluded Melanie.

“People are so wrong. Very, very wrong,” said Jack.

Melanie laughed. “Like you said. First drafts are crap.”

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Whale Songs


The symphony hall was nearly full when Brayden arrived. Dressed in his best suit, he got a warm feeling from surrounding elegance of the hall. He selected his seat in centre of the thousands of music connoisseurs. It meant he would need to graciously slide through a row of music patrons without stepping on toes. After settling in his seat, he breathed a deep sigh of expectation.

The conductor entered the stage to a warm round of applause. He bowed in appreciation, then turned to face the orchestra. He raised his baton, and music resonated through the hall.

It was at this point Brayden’s stomach decided to show off it’s ability to mimic whale songs.

Brayden’s face flushed. He remained still but his eyes darted from one side to the other to see if anyone else heard the gastrointestinal symphony competing with the music. The gurgles and blurps intensified as the symphony progressed. To his horror, people in his immediate vicinity started looking around. Brayden pressed on his stomach, hoping to damped the sound, but to to avail.

The man sitting beside leaned over. “Are you alright?” he asked. His angry expression was clearly not one of concern.

“Sorry,” mumbled Brayden.

Meanwhile, the musical movement built to a resounding crescendo. The conductor waved his baton like he was performing a magic spell. The orchestra crashed to a dramatic conclusion. The conductor held on to the moment with a dramatic pose.

Brayden’s stomach released a resounding BLOOP.

The irritated conductor turned to the audience. “I’m sorry, but I don’t any competition with the audience.”

Laughter was mixed with ugly stares directed at Brayden. As quickly as he could, he shuffled down the row, stepping on toes and apologizing as he went.

The last thing he heard as he left the hall, was the voice of an elderly man. “I thought that man’s stomach was far more impressive than the symphony.”

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The Illusion of Normal


When Bret reached the door of the bank, Tiffany watched as he push the bottom of the door open with his foot.

“Why did you do that?” she asked.

“Do what?”

“You kicked the door.”

“No I didn’t,” said Bret.

“I just saw you.”

“I didn’t kick it, I pushed it. There’s a difference.”

Tiffany rolled her eyes. “Whatever. Why did you do that?”

“I needed to get inside. The door seemed like the best way,” quipped Bret.

“You’re an idiot.”

“Oh, very nice.”

There was a cool silence between them until it was time to leave. Tiffany was anxious to see what Bret would do when he reached the door.

“Aha!” shouted Tiffany after Bret bumped the automatic door opener with his hip. “You’re a germaphobe!”

Everyone in the bank stopped and stared. Bret blushed as he glared at Tiffany.

“I don’t think the people in the parking lot heard you,” grumbled Bret.

Tiffany covered her mouth in shame. “Sorry,” she whispered.

“Sure, now you get a sense of propriety.”

“I just never noticed that about you before,” confessed Tiffany.

“It’s not my fault you don’t pay attention,” accused Bret.

“You seem so normal, that’s all,” said Tiffany.

“Sorry to crush the illusion.”

Tiffany smiled wide. “That’s okay. I like knowing you’re as freaky as the rest of us.”

Bret glared back at her. “I’m not sure that’s comforting.”

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Mike and Darcy spent an hour weaving through the crowd at the grocery store to pick a few items. When they grabbed the final thing on their list, they made a b-line for the cashiers.

“Hey, they have self-checkout,” exclaimed Mike. He started scanning items and placing them in bags.

“What are you doing? We don’t use those,” said Darcy.

“We don’t?”

“They pay cashiers for that,” said Darcy.

“This is easier.”

“We’re not employees. When we use self-checkout it’s like we’re being one for free.”

“So?” asked Mike.

“We’re taking away jobs from hardworking people.”

Mike’s face contorted into a skeptical expression. “How hard working are they if it’s this easy for us to do the same thing?”

“You know what I mean.”

“I really don’t,” said Mike, pointing to the computer screen in front of him. “I mean, this is about technology and advancement. Menial tasks should be done by computers.”

“What about the human cost? What about the lives of people who depend on these jobs?” demanded Darcy.

“That comes with the territory. There are lots of jobs that existed a hundred years ago that we don’t even think about now. In another hundred years, people will look back on cashiers and wonder how we ever did that,” said Mike.

Darcy scowled. “You’re cold.”

“Hardly. I’m embracing the future.”

“A future with fewer people.”

Mike smiled. “When computers take over the world, I hope they remember that I sided with them.”

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Something You Never Want to Hear Your Doctor Say


John fidgeted in his seat staring at the phoroptor hanging overhead.

Dr. Goulet entered the room and smiled. “How are we doing today?” he asked.

“Fine,” said John.

Dr. Goulet flipped through a chart John assumed was his. “We need to determine your ocular pressure.”

John’s eyes grew wide. “How do we do that?”

“It’s called appellation tonometry. I use a tonometer to press against your eyeball. The resistance to the meter gives us your ocular pressure.”

A bead of sweat formed on John’s brow. “Will it hurt.”

A smile spread across Dr. Goulet’s face. “Not at all. We use a drop to numb the eye, so all you feel is pressure.”

Dr. Goulet wheeled a machine and positioned it in front his patient. He pulled a small bottle from his pocket. “Please lean back.”

John tilted his head for Dr. Goulet to work. He felt a drop fall in each eye. Immediately he felt a tingle.

“That feels weird.”

“That means it’s working,” said Dr. Goulet. “Now place your chin on the rest.”

Another bead of sweat dripped down the side of his face. “If you’re sure.”

“It’ll be fine,” assured Dr. Goulet. “Just stay focused on the light.”

John took a deep breath. Dr. Goulet sat on the other side of the tonometer and fiddled with the controls. In the next few nerve-wracking seconds, John felt his mouth turn to cotton.

A shriek pierced the sanctuary of the optometrist’s office. John’s body convulsed as he was ejected from his chair. His head hit the phoroptor, knocking it to the ceiling and sending John to the floor is a crumpled heap.

Dr. Goulet watched with solemn curiosity, then pulled the bottle from his pocket.

“Huh,” he said, examining the label, “Wrong drops.”


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