At the Bird Feeder

The hummingbird jousts for complete ownership.


By: Jennifer Nardine

Little General Colibri

“Mine, mine, mine!” he yelled from his guard post. He watches his treasure and all possible routes a thief could enter from to raid the cache.

He could see one hiding in the shadows of a nearby tree, evaluating the risk versus the reward of making a dash toward the hoard. “I see you.” His eyes narrowed and his neck extended, thinking a focused glare would do the trick.

The thief was either bold or desperate; she dashed forward towards her goal.

He pulled himself to his full height, puffing out his chest, and swooped down with a battle cry.


By: Jennifer Nardine

Pantera Vestibulis

Emerging at twilight, she sits and lifts her nose to sniff all the sniffs on the evening air. Her eyes narrow in concentration, reflecting ambient light and gleaming like two small, green spotlights. She pushes her claws against the stone ledge to rise slowly and begin her evening exploration of her domain. Although no longer young, she prowls forward gracefully, tail sweeping the space behind her while she scans ahead. Reaching one edge, she walks back the other way, weaving in and out of obstacles in her path. Her imperious “meow” asks the cat butler to re-open the porch door.


By: Jennifer Nardine

Cor Equi

The jagged bronze bit rends the inside of his mouth. Across his flanks falls the driver’s whip, each crack agonizing as an asp’s bite.

Once, he tottered through open pastures,
delighting in the taste of grass.

The meta approaches. Can he make the turn? Yes, but so sharply that he nearly topples. The driver is merciless.

Once, his mother’s tongue nuzzled the back of his neck,
and warmth flowed through his small body.

He crosses the line in a blind panic, deaf to the cries that fill his exultant driver’s ears: “Ave, Tiro! Tiro victor est!”

     Once, he was free.


By: Thomas R. Keith


You’re so graceful in the water, gliding effortlessly. I can see the power in your strokes, the muscles in your back as you dip in and out of the surface. Who knew you were a mermaid in disguise? It should have been a tip-off, I suppose, you stumbling over nothing, speaking little and humming constantly, looking past the here. I remember you standing out in a downpour, face uplifted to the clouds, laughing despite the cold. You’re a being of wild beauty in your natural habitat. When you pull yourself from the pool, I ease your wheelchair closer.


By: Jennifer Nardine

McCartney Starts

Don’t think, don’t think, don’t think, Paul. Just do it. They’re all watching. It’s not as if they’re strangers; they’re your friends. Besides, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

Oh yeah. You could f@ck up and drop it and they’d all laugh and you’d never get this chance again. And that. Would. Suck.

So okay, let’s do this. Take a deep breath, shake out your fingers, do that athlete’s thing where you visualize your actions and success before you start.

Dude, stop standing there. Do you really want to be that guy, the one who froze and then ran?


By: Jennifer Nardine

Betty and James

Breaking Up

Betty and James were high-school sweethearts.

When Betty left for college a year before James, they promised to continue long-distance.

It went as expected. Two months of phone tag, jealous fights, and sleepless nights was enough to push them past their limit.

They broke up over the phone, at 2:00 a.m, Betty sitting in the stairwell of her dorm, James lying on his parents’ roof. A small fight started by two tired and frustrated teens escalated quickly, leaving Betty walking around campus despondently and James crying on the cold metal housetop.

Neither went to school the next day.

Growing Up

Betty and James were grown-up adults.

Now Betty was starting her senior year in college; James had just finished trade-school. It was going well. Four years of hard work, new friends, and selfish nights was enough to push them past their heartsickness.

They grew up over the years.

At 21, Betty was about to graduate college, and James had gained real-world experiences. Neither thought of the past anymore.

But, one night, Betty stumbled across an old picture. She was surprised to feel no regret, only nostalgia for the youth of 17.

And James? James had just met his future wife.


By: Ann Marie Dong

Betty and James, Continued

Betty and James have lived cross country from one another since she finished college and he opened his plumbing business in their home town. Now in midlife, each had children and was recently divorced.

Lonely and longing for simpler times, Betty reads through old journals; James looks through his high school yearbook. On a whim, Betty searches James’ name on Facebook, surprised to find him there along with a picture of his kids. She clicks “Messenger” and types a note. He responds back “Happy to hear from you!” and attaches a picture of them on prom night. It begins again.


By: Joan Bihun

From O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi

They gifted each other with items physically useless, infinitely loving. Christmas Eve was incidental to the joy they found in front of their tiny hearth.


By: Jennifer Nardine

Love or Hate

. . .

We wander the blackrock shores of Lake Superior. We test the chill of the crystalline water with our tippy toes, our skinny legs, our eager, aching bodies. Our laughter carries out on the wings of gulls and echoes back from offshore islets — the gift of grace returning like a dove.

But you — you are inconsolable in your rage.

. . .


By: Grant McMillan


It had been raining for days, raining so heavily that it had soaked into his bones, turned them soft and thin as eggshells, so that — rising slowly from his bed at some ungodly hour, the neon signs outside flashing across his face, staining it red – he thought he might break apart. Where was she now? He didn’t know. But staring into the drops that streaked the window, he could just manage to reconstruct the memory of her face before it disappeared once more into a confusion of moisture and darkness.


By: Thomas R. Keith

Motorcycle Cycle

His motorcycle was Dwayne’s most treasured possession. Not in a “buff and polish it every day” way. In a “we are one and finally free” way. He piloted that well-used machine, and he looked like a modern knight covered from neck to ankle in Kevlar armor, his eyes sparkling behind his faceshield.

Emma, once content to ride pillion, grew tired of looking at the back of his helmet. She signed up for a rider safety course and bought her own steed, red and fast, with a low, purring voice.

She chose pillion again after her crash, feeling safe behind him.


By: Jennifer Nardine

Pool on the Rooftop

“He’ll never do it,” I chuckled loudly to attract the attention of the other party-goers. Ben quickly turned away from the rail where he had been standing, gazing at the ground 30 stories below. Red-faced with chest heaving, he stared at the people splashing in the pool to avoid my eyes.

As I reached out to him, he spun away. In his rush, he tripped on the chaise lounge, knocking it into the water. He shoved the chair in his path harder than necessary. Action in the pool froze as metal frame screeched against metal frame.

He didn’t hit anyone.


By: Brandon Morgan


She smelled the flames before she saw the smoke. Lightning had zig-zagged across the desert mesa, igniting an abandoned house. Smoke seeped into her home through her cooler vents. There were no fire hydrants in the village. Volunteer firefighters trotted their trucks up the hill past her house, one-by-one. They emptied their reservoirs, then turned around one-by-one to circle down the hill for refilling. She sat on her front porch, watching smoke descend over her home. The kingdom of heaven is like that, unto treasure hid in a field. The sky cracked open, and rain poured from the sky.

Engulfed: 6 words

Lightning ignites as sky cracks, heaven.

Engulfed: 25 words

Lightning strikes an abandoned house. Neighbors wearing bathrobes and spandex gape at fire trucks. They are secretly thankful for being spared. Rain gushes from heaven.

Engulfed: 50 words

Lightning bolts strike mesa dirt, igniting an abandoned home. Firefighters hamper the flames, one-by-one refilling their water trucks at the bottom of the hill. Smoke seeps into our home. You watch the sky for signs of rain and pray for mercy. Heaven is like this, treasure hidden in a field.


By: Jennifer Jordán Schaller


Someone abandoned a trailer home on the side of the ditch bank. Not sure where it came from, but the neighbors started decorating it with signs: Loma-Mar-a-Lago, Open House, For Rent, Roommates Wanted. When the volunteer firefighters started demolishing the home, they started with the home’s roof and walls. Wall studs like whale ribs jutted out from the steel frame.

Inside, you could see empty cans, old clothes crumpled on the floor like a lost and found box, cat litter scattered like confetti — remnants of the family that once lived there.


By: Jennifer Jordán Schaller


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Tiny Tales from the Digital Pedagogy Lab 2021 Copyright © 2021 by Laura Gibbs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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