Seeing Only Difference, by Don Tassone

Ducks of all types — Mallards, Blue-winged Teals and Gadwalls — flocked to the lake. They swam there, dove for small fish there, hatched their eggs in nests they fashioned in the soft grasses above the banks and raised their young there.

From the start, though, they squabbled and fought. Sometimes they even killed one another. There was plenty to eat and plenty of space for all to live in peace. But among themselves, ducks see only differences, which they consider a threat.

After two years of clashing, the ducks had had enough. Each species left and found its own lake.

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Unspeakable, by Charles Boorman

The manager stood in front of his colleagues – so many had accepted the invitation to his anniversary. The gathering fell silent as he stepped forward to speak, glancing down at the carpet and shuffling a few sheets of paper in his hands. For once, he was lost for words.

He had received a letter from the C.E.O. who expressed “deepest gratitude for 25 years of dedicated service” and enclosed a cheap tie-pin in “sincere appreciation.”

His ruthless boss said “make way for the younger generation,” cut his salary, and gave him a job with a seat at the window instead.

Red Beret, by F.C. Malby

He had seen her the day before, drinking late and typing on her laptop in a quiet corner of the cafe. She had worn a red beret and a black, high-necked top over blue jeans. Her legs had been crossed, her head turned away from the crowds. Today she looked sad, her typing, faster. He could see the words of an article, for a paper or a journal? Tomorrow she may be here again, maybe not. He walked over to her, sat down and read his paper next to her. Tomorrow she may not be here.

For Whom the Freedom Rings, by Sankar Chatterjee

The country has emerged as a regional super-power with its successful nuclear and space programs, while building its own technology hub. Powerful government officials in the capital had been busy in planning a spectacular self-congratulatory celebration for the upcoming seventieth anniversary of independence from its past colonial occupier.

But, a few hundred kilometers away, in a government-run hospital, thirty children laid dead from acute respiratory failures due to lack of needed oxygen. The vendor stopped supplying for nonpayment of past bills by dysfunctional bureaucratic staff.

India ponders whether to celebrate the Independence Day on August 15, flying its flag half-mast!

When a Bot Hires a Human, by Amy Friedman

(Originally posted to LinkedIn)

“Good morning! How are you? Would you like some coffee?”
I peered around the room. I couldn’t see anyone, but the voice appeared to be coming from the desk.
“Are you on a speakerphone?” I asked.
“In a manner of speaking,” the voice replied. “I am your interviewer. Have a seat.”
A bot. I looked around again. A lone chair sat before the empty desk.
“Would you be more comfortable if I created a projection?” the voice said.
The first test. I had to pass it.
“No,” I said.
“Excellent,” said the bot. “Let us talk, shall we?”

Planned Death, by Ann-Louise Truschel

(Originally posted to LinkedIn)

“You wanted to see me, Eileen?”

“Yes, I want to talk.”

“The divorce is almost final. We have nothing to discuss.”

“Please, Harold. I got bad news today. It’s stage 4 cancer, and it’s very painful. I’m going to take my life.”

“What do you want me to do? I won’t try to stop you.”

“I’ve typed a note and left it there on the desk. Please read it. It explains everything.”

Harold picks up the note. A gunshot rings out.

“Harold was despondent over the divorce, Officer. He had this suicide note in his hand when I found him.”

 

Once More, With Fumbling, by Jane Reid

It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I spent many years on a copy desk, many of them as copy desk chief. Discussions of finer (often trivial) points of grammar. These were mostly unproductive wastes of time, I.M.O. – but some people just can’t accept that English grammar does not yield to logical examinations. Often the only possible answer is that of all Mommies – “Because that‘s the way it is.” I got really fed up with petty quibbling.

So when I retired, I made one resolution. I will never be drawn into any discussion of the Oxford comma.