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Love is Strange

This story collection is an exemplar for Short-short Sighted #26, “Again Again Again: Repetition”.

Todd and I were having a beer at the Folsom Grill, and I said, “You know, I saw Angela again today.”

“Yeah?” he said. “Where?”

“At a department store. She was there with some guy named Jim. Scruffy beard. Kind of unkempt. I wanted to wish him better luck than I had with her, but I didn’t. I really should have, though.” I unwrapped a cigar.

Todd nodded and said, “You still carry a torch for that woman, don’t you?”

I smirked. “Not exactly a torch. A cigarette lighter, maybe.” I took a cigarette lighter from my pocket and showed him the flame. It flickered a little. Then I lit the cigar and started to puff.

“Last time we talked, she was pretty important,” he said.

Thin, blue smoke drifted from the end of my cigar. Somewhere behind the bar, bottles clinked together.

“Yeah, well, last time we talked, I was out of my mind. I mean, things were okay with her. She’s cute, kind of interesting, and the sex wasn’t bad. But since then, I’ve decided not to let women get under my skin. There was nothing she and I had that would justify any special effort to get her back.” I blew a smoke ring.

“Love is strange,” Todd said.

“You got that right,” I said as I put out the cigar.

Todd and I were having a beer at the Folsom Grill, and I said, “You know, I saw Angela again today.”

“Yeah?” he said. “Where?”

“At a department store. She was there with some guy named Jim. Scruffy beard. Kind of unkempt. I wanted to find a large rock and break his head open with it, but I didn’t. I really should have, though.” I unwrapped a cigar.

Todd nodded and said, “You still carry a torch for that woman, don’t you?”

I smirked. “Not exactly a torch. A flame thrower, maybe.” I took a flame thrower from under the table and showed him the pilot flame. It flickered a little. Then I ignited the far end of the bar. I took a bite from the cigar and started to chew.

“Last time we talked, she was pretty important,” he said.

Black, oily smoke filled the room. Somewhere behind the bar, bottles exploded.

“Yeah, well, last time we talked, I understated everything. Life with her was paradise. We loved the same books, the same movies, the same music. She was a brilliant conversationalist, and in bed she moved like a cat. Since then, I’ve been unable to touch another woman. Compared to Angela, other women are about as erotic as lumps of clay. There was nothing she and I had that I wouldn’t die to have for five minutes again.” I swallowed the tobacco and took another bite from the cigar.

“Love is strange,” Todd said.

“You got that right,” I said as we were overcome with smoke.


Bruce Holland Rogers has a home base in Eugene, Oregon, the tie-dye capital of the world. He writes all types of fiction: SF, fantasy, literary, mysteries, experimental, and work that’s hard to label.

For six years, Bruce wrote a column about the spiritual and psychological challenges of full-time fiction writing for Speculations magazine. Many of those columns have been collected in a book, Word Work: Surviving and Thriving as a Writer (an alternate selection of the Writers Digest Book Club). He is a motivational speaker and trains workers and managers in creativity and practical problem solving.

He has taught creative writing at the University of Colorado and the University of Illinois. Bruce has also taught non-credit courses for the University of Colorado, Carroll College, the University of Wisconsin, and the private Flatiron Fiction Workshop. He is a member of the permanent faculty at the Whidbey Writers Workshop MFA program, a low-residency program that stands alone and is not affiliated with a college or university. It is the first and so far only program of its kind. Currently he is teaching creative writing and literature at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, on a Fulbright grant.


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