Olivia Folmar Ard

Short Stories & Poetry

January 13, 2016 was important for me. On that day, I, for the first time in my life, began taking a creative writing workshop class. Several of my friends, family members, and readers were surprised to learn this. Many of them said, “But you’ve already written two books! Don’t you already know how to write creatively?” 

Well, yes and no. Yes, I am now quite comfortable with my abilities as a full-length fiction writer, but I would not (and probably will never) call myself an expert. There is always something new to learn, and I am an eager lifelong student.  

The course I took focused mostly on short fiction and poetry, two forms that legitimately terrified me. While I’ve always enjoyed reading short stories and poems, I have not been inspired to write either in several years. I was skeptical about what I would be able to produce for the class, but nevertheless I soldiered on.  

The results of our various writing exercises, discussions, and assignments comprise most of what you will find in this short, sweet read. Despite my initial misgivings, I was pleasantly surprised with the work I produced over those four short months, and after a few more rounds of editing, I have decided to share them with you.  

I must warn you, these are nothing like the work I’ve shared before. If you’re looking for a companion piece to my novels, you will not find it here. But if you’re interested in traveling with me as we take short, compelling glimpses into the lives of those on the margins, you will enjoy reading this quick foray as much as I did writing it.

 

Pretty Lies

The vapor from the new boy’s electronic cigarette flies toward me, moves through me, like a cotton candy ghost.  

But it isn’t really cotton candy. It isn’t really a ghost. That was just a simile. Similes are just pretty lies. No, it’s really just the product of a chemical reaction—propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, fake cotton candy smell.  

Electronic cigarettes appeared on the market in 2004. They are NOT REALLY cigarettes. They are VAPORIZERS. That’s why I said vapor, not smoke, because it ISN’T smoke. You CAN’T smoke an electronic cigarette. But some people still stay that’s what they’re doing.  

Those people are liars. 

The new boy’s name is Brandeis. I ask if he’s named after Louis Dembitz Brandeis, and he asks, who the hell is he? 

Louis Dembitz Brandeis served on the Supreme Court from June 1, 1916 until February 13, 1939, when he retired even though he didn’t have to. Supreme Court justices can work until they die, if they want. 

Brandeis—the new boy, not the dead justice—asks me are you a flipping weirdo or something? 

I am NOT a flipping weirdo. It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to be a flipping weirdo. I’m not flipping anything right now, so I’m just a regular weirdo, if I’m a weirdo at all. Weirdo is a subjective term, so it’s impossible to make a definitive statement one way or another.  

Brandeis says I didn’t come here to listen to random BS facts, shoves his earbuds in, walks away. 

I want to tell him facts can’t be BS, because facts CAN’T LIE, that’s what makes them FACTS, so get a DICTIONARY already, but he is already gone before I can.  

Now it’s just me and this cotton candy ghost.  

But it isn’t really cotton candy. It isn’t really a ghost.  

That’s just my favorite pretty lie.