Stories by Mail, Day 37 – A maidly roar



The waterfall raged and sputtered, a cascade of beautiful destruction, gallon after gallon crashing into the sharp rocks below. A nearby tourist boat tittered excitedly from a few hundred feet away. And behind the falls, The Maid of the Mist sighed as a sneeze rocketed through her chamber.

She’d been ill before, most recently in the mid 1700s. The boats that crossed her front parlor then carried men in uniform, their accents sharp and rolling. She remembered the explosions, so deafening they’d often drowned out her own voice.

She concentrated as the boat approached, closed her watery eyes, and roared with all her strength. It proved only about half the fury she could normally harness, but the passengers applauded and cheered, their phones aimed straight into her doorway.

The Maid grinned. She adored her job.

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Stories by Mail, Day 34 –Interpretations



“I do not wish to appear ungrateful,” Serena said hesitantly, her tone confirming that she was, in fact, harboring ingratitude. “It is obvious that he applied his talents to their full extent. You swear  he is genuine of character, so I do not doubt that he labored over every stroke. But examine her cheeks,” she said to her husband, pointing towards the portrait he’d commissioned. “Never have I presented with an overabundance of rouge such as she boasts! And those errant curls, her choice of dress–” She cleared her throat loudly. “It is a fair effort, my dear husband, but I cannot persuade myself to be content with merely ‘fair.’ I simply do not agree she is of my likeness.”

Their discussion turned to other topics, but in the corner, the painted Serena glowered. The transfer had already begun, initiated when the two Sereans locked eyes. Within weeks, she would assume the identity of Mistress of the House, and her ill-tempered doppelganger would know only canvas.

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Stories by Mail, Day 23 – Clarity from a stone



The Thinker refocused, but the befuddlement brewing in his mind only thickened.

The act of thinking had awarded him international fame and kept him perpetually occupied, but after so much practice, he’d become rather adept at reaching conclusions–at least when the questions centered around himself. He knew, for instance, that a chisel and a block of stone comprised his entire ancestry. He’d deduced his name. He was aware that other, nearly-identical Thinkers were scattered throughout the globe.

What the Thinker failed to solve, though, was the question of how the girl currently hoisting herself into his base could hear his every thought. She lifted her eyes to meet his, her tiny features awash with confusion and wonder.

UPDATE: @UnmagicalMe points out that “The Thinker” is a bronze casting, not stone. Someone will be receiving an alternative facts postcard.

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Stories by Mail, Day 22 – And the house without walls will carry you home



His midnight loafers sunk gently into the rusty sand. Most humans wouldn’t have noticed such a tiny cycle–slipping an inch below where he intended to travel, rising triumphantly, and then plummeting downward again. But the architect considered every step; he specialized in tending to details others overlooked.

He plodded unhurriedly towards the grand entrance, his blueprints and pickaxe snuggled in the crook of his arm. Outlines of alabaster pillars and a spiral staircase began to form, hazy light rippling from the corners. Stained glass with intricate patterns appeared at the doorway’s crown.

The architect studied his creation, listening to the seagulls squawking and the waves negotiating with the nearby cliffs. As he approached the door, it shimmered, waiting to be born.

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Stories by Mail, Day 21 – Thank you for shopping with us today



They captured Jared’s attention on their third trip through the snack aisle. In most cities, he would have been a relatively perceptive Assistant Manager, but living in Vegas had reconditioned the part of his brain that measured eccentricity. He squinted as the tallest among them–about four feet–grasped for a can of Pringles, its turquoise-tinged hand straining to reach the shelf. All five wore white sequined jackets with holes perfectly sized for their additional set of arms.

“Folks, I can assist you down here,” he called out when they approached the checkout line. They gathered near his register and regarded him suspiciously. “Where is game?”, one asked in an accent Jared had never heard before. He thought perhaps it was Portuguese.

“Game? Well, uh, there’s plenty of games outside,” Jared replied, pointing in all directions. “This is a CVS.”

The tourists simply blinked.

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Stories by Mail, Day 18 – Side by side in orbit



She stirred. A hint of golden light skimmed across the watery roof above, signaling that the sun had retreated hours prior. The creature lifted her colossal fins and swam upward, shaking off sleep. The dark hours were in bloom, and that meant fewer people and less activity. Safety.

An oversized eye popped above the water and swept from side to side, surveying the area. Her moat appeared pristine, uninfected…but at its boundary, she could spot the glow seeping out of the US Capitol Building. Her gaze wandered from window to window, watching the staffers hunched over documents, toiling late into night.

She wondered if the glowing rectangles were calf suns.

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Stories by Mail, Day 11 – The barrel seals the spirit


Well, something like this was perhaps inevitable. Given the size of the postcard, I figured I’d aim for about 70 words. It ended up being over 200, so then I tried entering at the halfway mark…but THEN I misspelled “inconspicuous,” and my attempts to use correction fluid made the section so unreadable that I skipped over that area and moved on. Everything was fine for about 45 seconds, until I realized that even though I’d cut half the story out, the ending wasn’t going to fit either. Needless to say, I won’t be mailing this one!!



“…and typically, you’d be meeting with my Master Taster, but I haven’t seen a prospective order this large in years,” the owner said cheerfully. “I asked Jeff if he’d mind me stealing his thunder. One of the perks of being in charge.” Forte thought the man might’ve grinned; the lower half of his face was almost entirely concealed by ferocious facial hair. “So, what are your plans for 100 barrels of whisky, if you’re open to–Mr. Forte? Everything all right?”

Edward Forte sewed crumpled lines in and out of his brow. He’d been gaping at a small, strangely inconspicuous portrait of the distillery’s founder, which was resting on the wall directly in his sight line. “Uh. Yes, of course. Sorry. It’s just…that portrait. He’s your spitting image.”

The owner chuckled lightly. He turned a glass over in his hand, watching the whisky slip in and out of the ice cubes. “So I’ve been told. He was born in the 19th century. I should hope to look so good at 169!” Forte relaxed and made pish-toshing noises, warming to his proposal.

It wasn’t until several hours later, alone in his apartment, that he realized the owner never actually denied being the man in the portrait.

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Stories by Mail, Day 10 – Statuesque



“Going to do one final sweep through the rotunda. You’ll lock up here, Ellis?” the guard asked. His keys jingled in his pocket as he shuffled through the corridor.

Queen Liliʻuokalani heard Ellis’s faint response from the next room. The guards never spoke to her, never paid her the proper respect. None of the strangers who lined up like cattle every day to gaze upon her swore their fealty. Her confusion grew ever thicker.

Darkness swallowed the Hawaiian monarch, as it did each night at 10 PM. A thin sliver of light from the hallway shone on her Order of Kalākaua cross, the word KEOLA barely legible.

Eternal life.

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Stories by Mail, Day 5 – Practice




The calls, tweets, and emails were flooding the lines so violently that the entire telecommunications network was teetering on the edge of a massive crash. Darryl Moreno, newly-promoted mayoral aide, nervously scarfed his lemon poppyseed muffin and stared at the latest report. This morning, the word “fabulous” had appeared on the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign in a wisp of cursive blue. Seconds later, it vanished–only to resurface again, as if some elementary-school-level specter was practicing its handwriting. No one knew how to proceed.

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Stories by Mail, Day 1 – The Toll



On every birthday, Seth McIntyre dreams of the bridge. “Longest in the world,” his father had proudly proclaimed during a 1994 family vacation to New Orleans, as if he’d personally fastened the lugnuts. They’d taken the elevator to their hotel’s highest floor, the boy glued to the oversized windows, ocularly chasing down the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway until he could see no longer.

But in the dreams, Seth glimpses what lives on the eight-mile section of the bridge where land is not visible, what brushes against the cars so quickly it’s never noticed at all by the waking eye.

He will never fly within 500 miles of New Orleans.

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