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Author Spotlight – “Third Shift” by Anon

Reading Time: 5 minutes

One of my favorite quotes from the Doctor Who series is, “We’re all stories in the end… just make it a good one, eh?” I’ve never agreed with anything more. The closest any of us can come to immortality is to have our stories told to future generations. 

Storytelling is woven into human DNA. It’s how we’ve passed on ideas, traditions, religion. But the human brain is so amazing in that it not only retains stories of what was, it is able to invent stories of what could be.  

All of us have storytelling in us… and if you think you’re not a story-teller, think about the last time you were anxious about something that hadn’t yet happened. What stories did you tell yourself that led you down a path of worry? 

And am I the only person who has imaginary arguments in the shower? That’s some MAJOR storytelling my friends. 

Granted, some people are more gifted at world-building and character development than others. It’s why we celebrate authors like Octavia E. Butler, J.R.R. Tolkien, George Orwell, and J.K Rowling. 

In my opinion, what makes those authors really great is that they actually told their stories. I know for a fact that there are many great authors around today masquerading as accountants, phlebotomists, clerics, and cashiers. 

These seemingly normal citizens have entire universes bubbling, evolving, gasping and dying within their heads. They know people intimately who have never walked the earth. They have seen futures we have not imagined. And yet they remain silent!

Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 

For that reason I’d like to start an Author Spotlight series for all my writers who have held their stories in for too long. I am creating a “challenge” of sorts – simply write as complete a story as you can in 1,000 words or less. That’s it. Any genre, any topic, any style. I just want you to get your story out of your head and into the world. Yes, you

I’ll feature a story every weekend, hopefully, so anyone who stumbles across my blog can enjoy some light reading and become exposed to your work. I’ll happily link to your blog, podcast, website, storefront, or chosen realm so it’s easy for readers to connect with you. 

I presented this idea to a very close friend of mine, and his (very expected) reaction was to throw out a dozen excuses as to why he hasn’t written in years, he’s not “really” a writer, his ideas are too vague, and if he did write something it would be about a cow with a migraine.. I said, “’Okay, I’d read that.’”

He said, “Nah… too much pressure to actually do a thing.” 

A few hours later he texted me to say, “So I wrote a super short flash story. Just 400 words. I haven’t edited it or anything, I just decided to bang one out… It’s my first in like a decade, and I banged it out in minutes. Be gentle.” 

I was SO so so so happy when he sent me that text! It proved my theory that there are people out there bursting with stories, waiting for a little push. 

I helped him do some light editing, and he has agreed to let me post his story under the condition of anonymity. His story is published below my signature. 

If YOU would like to join in the challenge, please get in touch with me through the comments section, the website, or instagram (@Paper_Diem). I can’t wait to hear what’s in your head! 

Have fun!

Third Shift, by Anon

“It’s just like Papi always said, ‘Only thing less trustworthy than a politician, is a politician on election night.’”

The old man spat and immediately swiped his mop over the phlegm in measured strokes as if hypnotized. His arms were bone and sinew, his hands knotted. His yellowed fingernails sat at odd lengths in calloused nail beds, thick and dirty, signalling to the world that he was a working class man. He knew labor intimately and was proud of it.  

“So you don’t think the economy’s being choked back purpose-like so as the rich get richer?” his younger companion asked absentmindedly. 

“Course it’s true! And Senator Fancy Pants paradin’ round these parts like he’s against them, but they’re eating from the same bowl, I’ll tell you that much. He says he’s with the people, but he sure has a lot of learned friends and ain’t had him a real job his whole life.” 

He spat again, mopped, and made an annoyed clicking sound out of the side of his mouth. 

“All I’m saying is yup, sometimes you just gotta hold your nose and vote for these sumbitches. But never trust ‘em! Never trust a man ain’t never had his hand in cow shit… speakin’ metaphorically, I mean.”  

They continued their work in silence. Near silence. The slosh of mop water was amplified in the cavernous room, and the squish-squeak of rubber boots on freshly cleaned floors would have been disconcerting to anyone not used to the work. 

“I ain’t never voted, if I’m being honest,” the younger man mumbled after a few minutes of work. 

There was no response, and their work continued. 

“Cheryl wants a baby. We gon’ start tryin’. Not that we ain’t been trying since the day I met her,” he chuckled. 

Again, there was no response except the neverending slosh, squish-squeak. 

“I’ve always wanted a little girl. I reckon Cheryl’ll do her hair up in little pigtails…”

The old man lost his rhythm and made another annoyed click with this tongue. “Now Richie, why would you go ‘n’ wish for something like that, huh? Daughters ain’t nothing but heartache for they daddies. You want you a boy you can teach to be a man. A working man! I ain’t had nothing but girls, and ain’t nothing I wouldn’t give to be anyone but me! Speaking metaphorically, you know.” 

He paused for a moment. Spat. Smiled a little as he mopped over his mess once more. 

“I love those girls though. My wife too, don’t you know. I thank God every damn day I got ‘em. But don’t you wish it on yourself Richie. They’ll break your heart. Always do.” 

Slosh, squish-squeak. There was still more than half of the great room left to clean. 

“Oh!” Richie exclaimed. “Been meaning to ask… Whycome that cow collapsed before the slaughter yesterday? Never seen a thing like it.” 

The old man straightened, held his broom far to the right of his body and squinted. “Well,” he said at last, drawing the word out as if it explained everything. “T’weren’t nothin’. You know them hippies what don’t eat meat that’s always asking questions down at the farm? They reckon the old cow had a migraine.”

Richie whistled a long, non-committal whistle. “I didn’t know they do that.”

The old man shrugged. Slosh, squish-squeak. 


Hi, I'm Chioma Ikoku, a spirited explorer and a peace-loving homebody. I founded Casa Diem Life to help you combine the excitement of travel with the comfort of home, because I believe that adventure begins at home.

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