"This is a Short Story" - Michael Becker

“Have you tried writing since the accident?” the psychiatrist asked, setting his notepad in his lap as he looked up.

“No,” Owen replied, thinking back to that tragic day almost one year ago. “I can’t seem to find the willpower. Not since…”

Owen let his sentence trail off as he tried to hold back the tears. He missed her so much.

“I think you should try to write something,” the psychiatrist encouraged. “It doesn’t have to be long, just a short story.”

Owen thought about it for a while then shook his head.

“I can’t do it,” he said, the tears finally breaking through and pouring down his round, pale face. “I can’t do anything anymore.”

“I honestly believe it will help you,” the psychiatrist insisted. “Just one. One short story.”

Owen sighed. He knew he should, but he didn’t think he could.

“I’ll do my best,” he said, checking his watch and standing up from his chair.

“Good. I’ll see you tomorrow, then?” the psychiatrist double-checked.

“Yeah, see you tomorrow.”

When Owen got home, he booted up his laptop and sat there, thinking about what he could write. The blank document taunted him, blinking its omniscient cursor at him. Finally, he placed his fingers on the keys. Taking a deep breath, Owen began:

“This is a short story. It’s not that it couldn’t be longer. It’s just that it shouldn’t be. Some stories are long; they take up pages and pages and become long novels with almost too much depth and detail. Some stories are shorter, composing thinner, easier reads, but lacking in some substance and deeper meaning. Others, however, are short, and that’s just how they should be.

“When it begins, the story just stands there, looking back at you as you read. Soon it starts walking slowly toward you. You think maybe it’ll come and say hi. Maybe it’ll shake your hand and ask you how you are today. Maybe it’ll be nice.

“When it reaches you, it pauses. You’re not sure what to expect as it stares you in the eyes. Suddenly, without any warning at all, it slaps you in the face, turns, and runs away before you can seek explanation. That is how some stories need to be: shorter than desired.”

He paused, looking over what he wrote, and for the first time in about a year, Owen smiled.

Owen opened up his internet browser, emailed his story to the psychiatrist, and then shut down his laptop. Standing up from his chair, Owen walked to the window. He looked out over the vast cityscape and down at the people walking along the street like tiny bugs crawling around in their seemingly meaningful existence.

Suddenly, without any warning at all, Owen opened the window and jumped.

Michael Becker is an aspiring author and avid cinephile from Madison, WI. He is a freshman at UW-Madison pursuing a degree in English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing. In his free time, Michael enjoys cooking and playing Ultimate. This is his first time being published with UW Flash Fiction.