online magazine for short, good writing

Category: Brief Encounters

Brief Encounter: Refrigerator Magnets

by a contributor

Donna Vorreyer

All alphabet and apostle,
baby, I believe best.

I bite back, black and blue,
my body a brick. I dance

the dark day different.
Eight elements of geometry

and gender – get it, girl.
High, hot and hungry,

I invite inside a just king:
kiss me, lichen – I mean,

liebschen – your luscious
limbs looking magic.

I miss the mountains,
the music, my name. Napkin,

newspaper next to me at night:
no notebook. Once I raced

the rain. I remember,
I said. I saw, I say. I see

seven summers. I take.
I tell that your truths are

under used. I want what
water will – wind, windows,

and wings. I wish. You yell.
Yes, yesterday. You.

Donna Vorreyer is the author of A House of Many Windows (Sundress Publications, 2013). Her work has appeared in many journals including Rhino, Linebreak, Cider Press Review, Stirring, Sweet, wicked alice, and Weave. Her fifth chapbook, We Build Houses of Our Bodies was released in late 2013 by Dancing Girl Press, and her second poetry collection is forthcoming from Sundress Publications in 2016.

See Donna’s list of “5 Reasons You Should Read Billy Bud, Sailor by Herman Melville” in our ongoing contributors’ series.

Brief Encounter: Refrigerator Magnets

by Treehouse Editors

 CALL | FOR | SUBMISSIONS | SEND | US | YOUR | BEST | REFRIGERATOR | INSPIRED | POETRY | FICTION | NON-FICTION | GENRE-BENDER | <400 words | .doc file | deadline AUGUST 1 | treehouse[dot]editors[at]gmail[dot]com

45 | 50 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | & | ? | a | | a | about | above | airplane
all | alphabet | am | and | and | and | animal |apostle| answer | anyone | 
anything | amphibian | adamant | are | are | asparagus | astronomy | at
aunt | autumn | baby | bad | ball | ballerina | balloon | barn | base 
basket | bathroom | because | begin | believe | best | big | bike | bird
birthday | bite | bite | black | blue | body | book | bored | born | 
bottom | box | box | boy | breakfast | bring | bricks | Bronx |
brother | brown | beam | bug | but | butterfly | by | candy | can’t
car | castle | cat | cat | chair | child | chocolate | close | cloud | 
Dad | dance | dark | day | day | did | different | dinner | dream | do 
do | does | dog | don’t | door | down | draw | disappear | dug | dull | 
ear | easy | eat | ed | eight | elements | elephant | er | exercise | ed
fall | family | far | fast | fat | favorite | favorite | fed | feet | for
fight | fish | flow | five | flower | fly | fly | for | four | France| 
friend | from | full | funny | gentle | geometry | gown | gender |grant|go
get | girl | give | glow | good | graffiti | gasp | greed | green | 
her | here | hid | hide | high | him | hit | hold | home | homework | hot 
hug | hungry | I | I | I | invite | if | imagine | important | in | ing 
ing | inside | is | is | Japan | jump | junior  | just| kind | king | kiss
lichen | laugh | leave | luscious | light | like | like | little | listen
live | limb | look | looking | loud | love | lunch | ly | astronaut | mad
magic | man | many | me | midnight | miss | Mom | monkey | monkey |
monster | more | morning | mountain | moss | mud | music | my | name | 
napkin | near | nest | never | New York | newspaper | next | next | night 
nine | no | noon | nose | not | notebook | of | once | once | one | one | 
or | or | over | over | paint | peace | peanut butter | photograph | pink 
pumpkin | purple | queen | Queens | quiet | race | rain | raft | ran | 
read | real | remember | ride | ring | room round | round | rude | s | s | 
solid | said | sail | saw | say | school | see | seven | share | she |safe
spring | square | start | stop | storm | story | strawberry | swaying | 
summer | swim | take | teacher | telephone | television | tell | that |
that | their | them | there | think | three | tiger | time | to | to | 
told | too | tool | top | town | truth | tree | TV | US | utter | under | 
used | vacation | very | video | want | warm | was | what | withdraw|water
whatever | when | where | who | why | whisper | white | wild | will | will 
wind | window | wing | winter | wish | with | with | woman | won’t | world 
you | yell | yellow | yes | yesterday | you | you | young | your | zebra

Up North

by a contributor

a brief encounter by Richard N. Bentley

He’d come to Northern Michigan, and the lake gulls were shrieking at him. He’d been on vacation only two days, but he sat around the cabin, springing up now and then to go to the window and back. It was too chilly to go out onto the beach. The sky looked like rumpled tinfoil and the wind was strong and cold. Lake Superior came rolling up to the beach with thundering splashes.

He would go to the door, then return and slump by the fire. I also heard him last night, walking around upstairs in the night, mumbling swear words in the darkness.

This morning he fidgeted around the cabin for an hour, not eating anything.

“Demon,” he said. “No, that’s not it.”

Lucy, my sister, had wrapped a blanket around herself. She shivered and looked out the window. “Demeanor,” our father said. He laughed quickly and without humor. “No, that’s not the word.”

“Don’t worry about it, Dad,” I said. “The word isn’t important.”

Lucy said, “Dad, I can tell you the word.”

“No, no,” our father said. He held up his hand. “I’ve almost got it.”

“Demeanor,” he said. He shook his head.

We first noticed it last year when we drove up here. We stopped at a gas station. He put his wallet on the roof of the car while he filled the tank. Later, he said, “It was the credit card.” The words on the gas pump flustered him—remove card rapidly.

We drove off with the wallet still on the roof and didn’t discover the loss until we arrived here three hours later.

“Debilitate,” he says. “Dyslexia.”

“Dad, cut it out,” Lucy says, “you’re making us crazy.”

“Crazy,” he says.

The waves sweep along the shore.

“Dementia!” he says suddenly. “That’s it! Dementia. That’s the word the doctor used. Comes just before Alzheimer’s. Remember? Do you remember?”

“Dad,” I say, “don’t worry. The doctor said it could be a long way off. It doesn’t happen right away.”

“A long way off,” he says.

Our father straightens himself before the window, watching the waves.

He says, “Please keep helping me to remember. Help me to keep remembering, the word.”

Brief Encounter: Lost Things

by Treehouse Editors

Supposedly the average person spends at least 16 minutes a day looking for lost items. This could end up being almost a year of your lifetime looking for all those mismatched socks, keys, phones, debit cards, or glasses (good luck with that one). What were you looking for in that year?

As always, Brief Encounters should be no longer than 400 words. BE’s should be labeled as such in a Word .doc to distinguish from general submissions. Feel free to send more than one. Deadline is October 10th.

Brief Encounter: Advertisement for a Nuclear Family

by Treehouse Editors

The next Brief Encounter theme is “Advertisement for a Nuclear Family.” As always, Brief Encounters should be no longer than 400 words. BE’s should be labeled as such in a Word .doc to distinguish from general submissions. Feel free to send more than one in the same document. Deadline has been extended to August 22.


by Treehouse Editors

a brief encounter by Maria Flores

“How much longer? Are we almost to Heaven?” Javier gazed up at the tiled ceiling of the crystal box, the speed of their ascent rising with each new articulation of Isabel’s pattering heart. The next measure: staccato. She took her brother’s hand. Prestissimo. His dough-soft palm was surprisingly dry and warm against her fingers. She inhaled deeply.


Her throat throbbed, the meat of her heart snug against her tonsils as each fleshy beat pulsed in her mouth. Almost. Almost there. Javier’s curls bounced as the gleaming elevator shook with the effort of bearing them skyward. Isabel shut her eyes, but the insides of her eyelids, rather than presenting her with red-dappled relief from the cold glow of the rattling cage she shared with her brother, were painted with her final visions. A tableau of swirling sand and pale gray froth, strascicante: her vision blurred, her eardrums beat with the pressure of the sea. Javier? Where was Javier? Bodiless, senseless, buffeted through uncharted space, she opened her mouth to scream–

At the piano bench, her mother had demonstrated acciaccato: Isabel saw each note tossed against the next like dominos tack-tacking one another with increasing, frightening speed as the whole design slowly collapses. Silence falls with the last domino, the last note clinging to the air like a breath of salt breeze. The elevator shuddered to a stop. Isabel opened her eyes, but saw nothing. Too breathless to scream, she gripped Javier’s plump hand tighter as she felt her heart burst with fright. A door opened where there had not been one before.

“We made it.”

Haphazardly homeschooled for about a decade, Maria Flores was raised on Egyptian mythology, Aztec ghost stories, and Tolkien in a house of cultish Catholicism. She has been writing fiction since she discovered how at age 11.

Brief Encounter: Longest Elevator Ride

by Treehouse Editors

The next Brief Encounter theme is “The Longest Elevator Ride.” As always, Brief Encounters should be no longer than 400 words. BE’s should be labeled as such in a Word .doc to distinguish from general submissions. Feel free to send more than one in the same document. Deadline is June 20th.