Photo by Yan Krukau on

I’ve spent so much of my life daydreaming, I can’t distinguish fact from my infinite imagination…

I know he is a lover I conjured in my loneliness, but I can feel his breath inflate my lungs, his full body weight compress my chest.

I am awake, but I’m suspended above me, watching myself lie lifeless in the sand while the man I’ve loved only in dreams attempts to revive me.

I can’t help but question, is any of this real?

When next I open my eyes, I am in a hospital bed. Tubes of free-flowing oxygen invade my nostrils. He is slumped over in the chair next to me, and I reach out a trembling hand to touch his face. He jolts.

“Oh,” he breathes. “Thank God. I thought you were dead.” He leans forward and kisses me. His lips feel like a feather.

“I think I am,” I croak.

© 2023 Nortina Simmons

Bloganuary Day 9

The Best Gift Ever: A Nano-Story

Photo by Gustavo Fring on

“Christmas was two weeks ago,” I say to the glittery red gift bag he holds out to me.

“It’s Orthodox Christmas,” he says teasingly.

I assume he’s lying until he shows me the calendar in his phone.

“Open it.”

“Will I like it?” I ask, skeptical. He’s never been good at gift-giving. I could tell him exactly what I want, where to buy it, and how much it costs, and he would still get me the opposite.

“I think you’ll love it. Really love it.” The left corner of his mouth curls up into a half-grin.

My heart flutters in my chest, and I tear through layers of tissue paper to get to the bottom of the bag, where I find the small velvet box. Could it be? Is he about to ask me what I think he is? The question I’ve been aching to hear with each passing year as our relationship stagnates? Is he finally ready to make that life-long commitment? To death do us part?

He should be! It’s been seven years!

I snatch off the lid, expecting him to drop to one knee as the light reflecting off the two-carat diamond inside temporarily impairs my vision.

Instead, I find a pair of dull stud earrings.

“Do you like it?” he asks slyly.

“The best gift ever,” I say through clenched teeth.

© 2023 Nortina Simmons

Bloganuary Day 2

How Are You Brave? A Short-Short Story

photo of person using treadmill
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

The gym is packed, as it is every first of the year.

But I’m not one of those New Year’s resolutioners. I’ve been here as long as he has.

The man in the orange shorts.

He comes every morning at 5AM sharp and always picks the treadmill furthest from the door.

I’ve been working up the courage to talk to him, and the elliptical next to him has just opened up.

He’s already deep into mile two of his run. The rhythmic thud of his feet hitting the conveyer belt is intoxicating. I let it set the pace for my workout, but he’s much faster than I am. My arms and legs swing uncontrollably, pulled by an invisible force. My hair clings to the sweat on my forehead.

I’m gasping for air when he eventually slows, and I curse myself for futilely trying to keep up. This is not going how I envisioned. My arms feel like noodles and my legs have gone limp. I gingerly climb off the elliptical, hoping to sneak away quietly so he won’t notice how much I’ve just made a fool of myself, but something inside me compels me to look up, and he’s staring at me intensely.

“Hello, workout body.”

“Oh, no,” I breathe. “I could never keep up with you.”

“You’re better than half the people here.”

So he has noticed me. Now my heart is racing for a different reason, and my cheeks burn with embarrassment. He jumps off the treadmill right in front of me, his pecs jiggling under his shirt, and I nearly choke on my tongue.

“Well, see you tomorrow then?” he says after squirting half his water bottle into the back of his mouth.

I nod, suddenly having lost my voice, and watch his cheeks swish in his shorts as he walks to the locker room.

© 2023 Nortina Simmons

#1MinFiction: Make love by the campfire

#1MinFiction photo prompt from Cyranny’s Cove

I don’t doubt that he will set the forest on fire, so I send him to gather firewood while I fan the flames.

When he returns, he suggests I take all my clothes off.

“Hot innit?”

I’m not amused, but he has a way of loosening me up, especially when he changes into his gray sweatpants.

© Nortina Simmons 


The thought of it makes me laugh—

It’s really not funny. But laughing keeps me from doing something far more terrifying. So I fold my lips into an expressionless grin that’s reminiscent of a time before animated emojis—

Colon. Closed parenthesis

while he hacks away at the shoulder with a meat cleaver, and blood splatters my face.

#1MinFiction: Reminders

I’ve ignored his calls for two weeks. But he’s persistent.

“I don’t want to lead him on.”

“But he’s such a nice guy.”

I don’t know what it is, but he reminds me of my ex, who was emotionally abusive, manipulative, who stalked me during and after the relationship, called me again and again, said I’d be stupid to end things with him, because he’s such a nice guy…

I turn off my phone.


Monday’s One-Minute Fiction challenges you to write a story in one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided. Last Monday’s prompt was a bit repetitive… again and again


#1MinFiction: Thanksgiving Calories Don’t Count

Grandma hobbles around the kitchen, fixing everyone’s plate.

She’s deep fried the cornbread, and the turkey. The yams are mostly sugar. So is everything else on the table.

“A salad?” she says, hand on her hip. “Girl, don’t you know Thanksgiving calories don’t count?”

“Thanks, but no thanks, Grandma.”

I’d rather have both my feet than diabetes.


Do you follow the #ThanksgivingClapBack memes on social media? I imagine that last line could easily be one of them, though I wouldn’t dare say it to my Grandma. By the way, she has both her feet. 😉

Monday’s One-Minute Fiction challenges you to write a story in one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided. All November, I’m giving you Thanksgiving-themed prompts. Today’s prompt is thanks, but no thanks

#1MinFiction: Acquired Taste

“Pass the dutch, young blood.”

Uncle Ted takes a drag, holds it in, eases into the lawn chair next to me.

“Your mama burned the turkey. And you know Betty can’t cook no damn mac and cheese.” He inhales again, passes it to me. “This might make it taste better.”

I shake my head. “You forget, old man. I’ve lived with her my whole life, been smoking half of it.” I puff, breath, puff again.

“It doesn’t.”


Monday’s One-Minute Fiction challenges you to write a story in one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided. All November, I’m giving you Thanksgiving-themed prompts. Today’s prompt is pass the…

1MinFiction: Suicide Forest

Part 1

“Have you considered your options?”

He speaks as if I’m changing careers, or switching insurance providers, not choosing to end my own life.

But then, I guess it’s a therapist’s job to remain calm. And he has been patient, followed me all the way to Japan, to Aokigahara, where the hopeless living disappear to join the forest’s ghosts . . .

Part 2

Look! There’s the back of one’s head, though her body is turned to me.

I tighten the noose around my neck. It’s so quiet, I can hear Dr. Bowman swallow.

I hesitate to jump right away, but a sudden gust of wind blows the figure’s hair forward, snatches the chair from under me, and the rope squeezes the scream from my throat when I see she has no face.


I tried, I really tried to squeeze all of this into one minute. Alas, my fingers don’t move that fast. But the story just wasn’t complete without a part two, so today I’m giving you two stories written in two minutes. Feel free to bend the rules this week for the sake of some scary good micro-fiction!

#1MinFiction: Poltergeist

“Do you hear that?”

“No,” I lie. Has he been awake as long as I? Up an hour listening to the knocking on the roof, trying to write it off as insomniac squirrels, acorns falling from the oak tree in our backyard.

“Do you see that!”

He doesn’t answer, pretends to be asleep, but I can’t shut my eyes to the mist approaching from the foot of our bed.

© Nortina Simmons

Monday’s One-Minute Fiction challenges you to write a story in one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided. October will be full of terrifying Halloween-themed prompts. Today’s prompt is: poltergeist.