Image from http://www.smithsonianmag.com
Image from http://www.smithsonianmag.com


  • Clowns
  • The dentist
  • The basement
  • The dark
  • Getting lost
  • Getting lost in a dark basement full of dentists dressed like clowns
  • Escalators
  • The principal
  • Being a disappointment to my parents
  • Drowning
  • Caves
  • Mean girls
  • The Shining—never, ever read Stephen King books in grade school
  • Being tickled until I wet my pants
  • Juvie


  • Jury duty
  • The mortgage
  • The Internal Revenue Service
  • Airport security
  • Serious illness
  • Insomnia
  • Mammograms
  • Hand guns
  • College tuition for my kids
  • Ignorance
  • Colonoscopies
  • Being a disappointment to myself
  • Termites
  • Alzheimer’s
  • The basement
  • The dentist
  • Clowns

Somehow stuck at 90 words today, but this note makes it 100.


I realize that was a total copout, but a) I’m human, and b) tomorrow’s Thanksgiving. I need to spend a little more time cooking, cleaning, and being grateful instead of tearing my hair out over ten words.


Citizen Tony

From http://www.peoples.ru
Al Pacino in Scarface, from http://www.peoples.ru. Looks like he could use a little smiling practice.


My friend Tony—né René–watched Scarface the night before his citizenship test. When asked, “What is your name?” he answered, “To-ny. Tony Montana,” spoken like Al Pacino. “She didn’t laugh,” he told me. “She wrote it down.”

Tony was famous for swabbing the Principal’s weepy back sores in a bathroom stall–just so he could recount the story later; for weaseling a trip to Disneyland from the school district; and for rehearsing his photo face in the closet at work.

“It’s hard to get the smile right,” he explained. “You have to practice or your school portraits look stupid.”


©2011 Beret Olsen
©2011 Beret Olsen–Not Piranha. I couldn’t make myself photograph a frozen fish.


Yesterday I found one of our goldfish in the freezer, nestled between the breakfast sausages and a pint of mocha ice cream. She lay awaiting proper burial: a tiny coffin, a moment of silence, a cozy hole in the yard.

But Piranha has been stuck in purgatory for two or three weeks now, while her surviving compatriot circles the tank and gives me the stink eye.

I briefly consider her stiff corpse–recalling her five-year sentence of dry fish flakes and fake plants–before tossing her regretfully into the compost bin. Here’s hoping she doesn’t haunt me for too long.

Through the Window

Photo credit: S. Carter
Photo credit: S. Carter. So yeah, this isn’t the window. It’s not open, and might not open at all. It doesn’t make sense with the text, but I figured the wrong image was better than no image at all.


I waited until everyone filed to the backyard for the party before locking the door and pulling it closed behind me. Suppressing a bubble of laughter, I picked at my potato salad, waiting for someone to need a fork, a drink, the bathroom.

Instead of a laugh, I got a teetering, terrified trip up an extension ladder to the roof, where I climbed through my sister’s bedroom window–the only one ajar.

Descending the stairs as squeamishly as I had mounted the ladder, I unlocked the door for my mother and a spanking–stinging more for its publicity than pain.

The Day it Didn’t Happen

Photo credit: Wired_gr
Photo credit: wired_gr


When their limbs brushed in the jostle near their lockers, neither made eye contact or apologized, though each craved another such jolt of raw electricity. Would it be possible to lean an inch closer without seeming to do so?

Meredith opened and closed every zippered pocket of her backpack, hardly glancing inside. I could ask Jeremy for a pencil, she thought.

Catching his eye, she struggled to move her lips. What had she been about to say?

“Hey, Merde,” she heard from across the hall. “How’s it going?”

Meredith turned to wave and–spell broken–Jeremy disappeared into the crowd.


This brief foray into fiction brought to you by a friendly dare from my long lost friend Sean. I write quite a bit of fiction, but never in 100 words. Anyone else up for the challenge?

100 Words on Teaching

©2008 Beret Olsen
©2008 Beret Olsen

I had vowed never to teach: unending hours, little pay, no glory, plus—most damning for someone in their early twenties—both my parents had done so.

Yet somehow I could not stop myself when the time came to choose a path.

Over drinks, I would hear about my friends’ glamorous lives. I would moon over their law degrees, paychecks, publications, and wonder what I’d been thinking.

Later I would reach into my bag for my wallet, coming across a crumpled note that read, “I love you Miss Olsen.”

It reminded me what I had instead…and why I would stay.

A Slice from High School

from www.pratie.blogspot.com.
from http://www.pratie.blogspot.com.

Marnie and I hung out at Burger King, downing free refills of Diet Coke and baring our souls. We tried to buy beer; when that failed, we bought Wonder Bread, tucking slices under strangers’ wipers in the parking lot.

We wrote deranged poems and dialed random numbers to recite them. We laughed endlessly, helplessly.

She’s how I survived high school.

When we met again after freshman year of college, I was wearing a t-shirt bearing Ronald Reagan’s face with a line through it.

Marnie studied my shirt for a long moment before asking, “You’re a Democrat?”

“Oh, shit,” I said.