100-Word Stories by Heather Bourbeau

Editor Sarah Orizaga, Fiction, October 29th, 2018

" Somewhere near the shallow end, she saw his Band-Aid float to the bottom."


Flash fiction by Heather Bourbeau

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Somewhere near the shallow end, she saw his Band-Aid float to the bottom. She knew then that he was endemic, hiding. Above his exposed right elbow there was no mark of the colonies. No beaver, wombat, or lemur—only a mole, beautiful in its imperfection.


She swam to stop his exit. Silently, smiling, she grabbed his elbow, searched his eyes, and embraced him. “My towel is nearby,” she whispered as she took in his chlorine-soaked skin that had recently seemed so much like her own. Now with his trust won, she could, without suspicion, report him and buy her freedom.


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He knit carefully the wool and linen, blending textures for the man who did not yet know the knitter’s plans to quietly leave, taking the salty heat of his body. The knitter hummed French lullabies and Russian shipyard songs while he purled. These were the songs of his parents, and their powers to soothe and inspire body-testing labor were gathered into each deftly wrought row, creating a legacy of luxurious longing. The knitter knew that, in time, with this blanket, the once-young man would see the knitter’s leaving with the first snow as the serendipitous raveling of their life together.


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His room was a shit-filled oasis. Coops were strewn in a maze that he navigated silent, aware of the birds’ individual breaths and flutters—his treasures from another life doing life. He would tuck treats of sweet grass and dry twigs when he wandered the city late, when the moon nearly peaked and he could savor the freedom of open sky alone as his former cellmates lay six feet under or asleep encaged. He had first asked for an extension of his sentence, unwilling to leave these birds that, unlike most always-free men, did not demand to be understood.


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Header image courtesy of Justin Hopkins. To see his Artist Feature, go here.

Heather Bourbeau’s fiction and poetry have been published in Alaska Quarterly ReviewCleaverEleven Eleven, Francis Ford Coppola Winery’s Chalkboard, The Stockholm Review of Literature, and the anthologies Nothing Short Of 100: Selected Tales from 100 Word Story and America, We Call Your Name: Poems of Resistance and Resilience (Sixteen Rivers Press). She is finishing a collection of 100 100-word stories called “Tart Juice.”


Sarah Orizaga

Sarah is a fiction writer living in Portland, OR with her wife and cat. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University and a BA in International Development from Portland State University. Sarah is new to the NAILED team and is excited to read fiction that serves the soul through a unique view of the everyday. She is constantly on the lookout for new and emerging voices that explore culture and identity in fresh, positive ways. When she's not reading, writing, or editing you can find her watching true crime series and anything narrated by David Attenborough.