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A Different Kind of December

This is not your usual holiday issue.

There are no jolly elves or mistletoe garlands. No perfectly decorated trees full of fairy lights or any other toothsomely sweet tableaus appear in our stories this December.

But this is a holiday issue.

In Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami writes:

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

If you’ve been through the storm, you understand. We share this strange communion. If you’re in the storm, and you can’t see your way to the next step, that’s okay. Just know that the storm will be over one day. When it is, those of us who have weathered the storm will be here waiting for you. And for those of you who haven’t yet walked through your storm, maybe you’ll remember this or maybe it will pass you by, but when your storm does come, I hope you remember that you’re not alone.

I promised that this was a holiday issue. And it is.

This year, December is a celebratory issuebecause the storm can be weathered. Life can be hard and cruel with its unexpected twists. But it’s only because we love that we hurt. It’s only because we hope that we can be disappointed. And as long as we continue to love and hope, even in the face of pain, we win.

Our stories this month are about persistence, hope, and ultimately, love—even when it hurts.

Returning to Flash Fiction Online, Charity Tahmaseb brings us “Steadfast,” a beautiful yet modern retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier.”

Jennifer Haupt’s “The Girl Waits” is an encapsulated moment in one girl’s life. Yet it has an enormous dynamism not often found in such small, quiet stories, and that’s the underlying tension of hope.

John Wiswell returns to Flash Fiction Online, and no, it’s not April (his usual month for FFO appearances). Read “The First Stop Is Always the Last.” Grief, self-doubt, and hope play out in second chances, all set on a city bus.

And finally, to round out the issue is Stewart C Baker’s “Excerpt from the Diagnostic and Necromantic Manual, 5th edition Regarding the Departed” (previously published in The Sockdolager).

To sum up this issue, I’ll leave you with an excerpt from Stewart’s story.

“(The practitioner) must be willing to accept that pain is universal, and that beauty can, like a sudden surge of snow, be deadly.”

Anna Yeatts

Anna Yeatts is the Publisher of Flash Fiction Online. Since Flash Fiction Online is a free magazine, she spends a great deal of time over at Patreon, trying to drum up enough money to keep a free magazine in business. But she appreciates all the readers and supporters (including the world’s most amazing staff of editors and slush readers) who make FFO a reality every month. 

Anna writes in that nebulous overlap between genre and literary works where offbeat, surreal stories are born. Her short stories appear in Cicada, Daily Science Fiction, Mslexia, Drabblecast, PodCastle, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Penumbra among other publications.

When not writing, Anna wrangles two wonderful children, two matching cats, and a German Shepherd who doesn’t believe in weekends. Follow her at or on YouTube.

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