Backhand Stories is a creative writing blog that publishes new short stories, flash fiction, non-fiction and essays by new and unpublished writers. Submit your own short story!

Avocation Calling by Peggy Duffy

A few years ago, when I taught English Composition at a community college, one of the first essays I’d assign students was “The Transaction” by William Zinsser. In the essay, Zinsser writes about a doctor who has recently begun to write and has experienced some publishing successes. He compares his way of working with the way the doctor works. Zinsser points out that to him, a professional writer, writing is a vocation, while to the doctor, it is an avocation. The assignment of the term “avocation” implies the doctor will never be taken seriously as a writer. At least that’s the impression I always came away with each time I re-read the essay in preparation for discussing it with a… Continue >>

The Man-Playing Guitar and the Guitar-Playing Man by Simon Thalmann

A guitar who had learned to play the man decided he wanted to form a band. He gathered up his courage and called a guitar-playing man and asked him if he would be interested in joining him. — Hmm, said the guitar-playing man. So you’re a man playing guitar? — No, said the man-playing guitar. A man-playing guitar. It’s hyphenated. — Oh I see, said the guitar-playing man. So you’re a guitar then? — Yes, said the man-playing guitar. — If you don’t mind my asking, said the guitar-playing man, what brand of guitar are you? — To be honest, I’m not entirely sure, answered the man-playing guitar. — Hmm, said the guitar-playing man. Why don’t you look at your… Continue >>

A Land of Make-Believe by Avis Hickman-Gibb

The sun was hot. That summer was a scorcher. I remember the sweat trickling down the sides of my face. I was always sticky and grubby – I spent most of my time outdoors playing with my new friend. We went to the park, played in my back garden, and roamed the local vacant land – a very mysterious and lonely place when you’re nine years old. The little plot was quiet and still – like a forgotten, empty writing book left over from school. It was close to home – I could see the roof of my house – and yet it was so different. There was a wild tangle all over it’s surface – a strange mix of… Continue >>

Silent Companions by Jennifer Walmsley

I sit in my small, one bed roomed flat above Sebastian’s Nightclub. Below, music throbs. Outside, drunks shout and brawl. Nightly, police sirens wail, disturbing my sleep, disturbing my peace. Daily, shoppers and office workers dash to and fro unaware of the constant disturbance that occurs well after the stores have closed. On a sofa, in front of the window, two dummies sit erect. One dummy, a male, wears a fair wig. The other, a female, has brown hair, fibrous to touch. Outside, down in the puke stained street, if someone cares to look up, they will see two dummies heads through flimsy curtains and, hopefully, presume I have company. Though my companions are mute, I can tell my their… Continue >>

Sewickley by John Bruce

He couldn’t recollect her name. What he remembered was the place she told him she came from. “I’m from a wonderful town called Sewickley.” She pronounced it carefully and distinctly, as if he were a slow second-grader. Perhaps if she’d said “My name is Suuusan,” he would have remembered her name, but the town was what stuck. “It’s near Pittsburgh. It may sound like it has a funny name, but it’s a wonderful town. A wonderful town.” It was like a little lecture. What was so special about Sewickley? She wasn’t explaining. Lots of trees, he guessed, lots of single-family homes, good schools. The sort of place everyone came from. Up to then, he’d spent his life moving with his… Continue >>

What? by Lee A Sykes

”Mr Terrance Trent…” ”D’ARBY!” He added loudly. Found it hilarious, thought he was original. Despite having done it once a fortnight for almost a year. Jokes wear thin but this one had eroded. Well for me it had, however not for the newer hordes of strugglers who sniggered at this wit, those who’d heard of the musician at least. Blue shiny tracksuit pants and a zipped top in the middle of summer. Scuffed black dress shoes inappropriately completed the ensemble. Craggy features, stained teeth and sunken jowls from a lifetime of cheap cider and tobacco aged him beyond his years. Perched on the edge of the waiting area couch in the Job centre, his perch, which he’d occupied since the… Continue >>

Spiders by Anna Potts

The spiders died that night. I saw them in my dreams – a tangle of black spreading across the hills, punctuated by jointed legs, flexing slowly in the heat. I found them in the bath tub, legs given way under the weight of their bodies. I moved to turn the tap on, rid myself of this nightmare, but as my hand touched the metal a spasm of pain shot through my arm. They seemed to disintegrate in front of me, a child’s scribble done in reverse as layer after layer of the messy black lines were removed. My eyes flickered open to the alarm clock shining 04:48 in angular red numerals. I moved quietly across the hallway and touched open… Continue >>

Let Me Be There By Amber Wey

Watching you grow, and going through the changes in your life. That’s how I know; I always wanna be there. Whenever you feel you need a friend to lean on, here I am Whenever you call, you know I’ll be there Olivia Newton John ‘Let Me Be There’ I was in a deep comfortable sleep when I woke up to loud pounding coming from upstairs. My heart pounded in perfect symmetry with each step coming closer and closer to my room. The last few steps stomping down the stairs where like an eternity, time became still, my thoughts became numb, and everything was in slow motion. As my mother turned the door knob to my room, I slowly glanced at… Continue >>

The Thing About Naps by Cassander L. Smith

What I always forget about long naps is that when I wake up, I feel disoriented, heavy, impatient, groggy, mean, and sick. I yawn, stretch my arms into a Village People “Y,” and I feel tired, except I just slept three hours. When I’m like that, the photo of me on the T.V. stand, the one where I’m wearing the oversized Florida sweatshirt, makes me look like an elephant. Or I hang up the phone on Jay because he’s singing into the receiver. I am impatient and heavy and groggy, mean, sick. Today, I hate that I napped at all like I hate having taken that photograph of me swallowed up in faded blue and orange cotton. I should have… Continue >>

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