Tag: Superfluous

SUPERFLUOUS: The Need for Superfluous Treasures B.A. Sarvey

Word: Superfluous
Word Count: 500

The Need for Superfluous Treasures
B.A. Sarvey

It was two days before anyone thought to look for her. Two hours more before Evelyn found her,
buried beneath a lifetime of memories and useless objects, her hand curled around her latest
acquisition like it held a tomb-raider’s treasure. Trash, to anyone else’s eye.
Nearly everything here was superfluous: Stacks of books and papers, teacups, some sans handle
or saucer, tins—of crumbling cookies, or old buttons—contents unknown until opened. Empty
tissue boxes, and boxes jumbled with sterling silver pickle forks, servers for cucumbers, oysters,
asparagus, tomato slices—every conceivable piece from an era when each tidbit of food had its
own peculiar utensil. How many figured in her collection? Eighty-seven? Ninety-seven? Who
knew, scattered as they were, no longer displayed. Buckets of seashells. Empty egg cartons and
totes, shopping bags, antique tin toys, and plastic bowls, heaped precariously on Tiffany,
Lalique, Fenton. Baskets with bird nests, yarn balls, and rusty buckles; mystery prizes wrapped
in brittle, yellowing newspaper; mounds of someone else’s memorabilia. Where did she sleep?
Clocks and coffee urns once holding pride of place in someone’s humble abode—things anybody
else owned one of, not twenty-one—now holding up teetering towers, like the one that had
toppled, pinning her beneath as she tried to position the prize.
Possession is nine-tenths of the law. The hunt is the other tenth, she often, flippantly, told
Evelyn. Being a small part of the whole, the hunt is never enough in itself, but possession
without the hunt is empty. If someone gave this item to her, her need would be unmet. A nice
gesture, but unfulfilling. Yet the hunt without procurement of the item just whets the appetite.
With the logical portion of her mind, she knew she should stay away from places that brought
forth this longing. Obsession, if you will. She could control this impulse if she just stayed home.
Evelyn knew she still roamed the shops, less frequently, perhaps, although not with as much
discrimination as she once had, in her search for a particular complement to her collections.
Evelyn could picture her: setting this bauble down, walking away, that covetous longing she
described insinuating itself. A hundred steps later, turning around, wending her way back to the
piece, as though it was a waif insistently whimpering for mama. Its brash assertion repelled
people like Evelyn, but she said she found it comforting. Until that moment, hadn’t known she
needed it. Now, couldn’t live without it. Never considered it excessive. She would give it a good
home. It would be excellent with her others.
Each time she shared purchases, she explained the need, and Evelyn had nodded, but until now,
this very moment, seeing her clutching the shattered, doll-sized teapot in her very cold hand,
Evelyn had not understood the addiction for what it was. Until now, she hadn’t thought to call
for help.
Weaving her way to the front door, Evelyn breathed in the fresh air, pulled out her cell phone,
and pressed 9-1-1.

SUPERFLUOUS: Encounter in Honfluer By Sally Madison

Word: Superfluous
Words: 500

Encounter in Honfluer
By Sally Madison

Hiding her face beneath her long dark hooded cloak, in the misty rain, Elizabeth held the small lantern
high to light the path up the hill on the wet cobblestone of Honfluer, to the Church of St. Catherine.

A stranger had seen a glimpse of her face from a short distance, as he was quickly leaving the tavern,
dressed in only his blouse and pantaloons. The darkness hid his presence, until he was as near as her
shadow. “Why is such a beautiful woman venturing on such an ill night?” he spoke in a low voice, as
she turned to enter the church.

She could smell the rum on the pirate’s breath; he was so close to her. The sound of a man, that near, sent
chills to her spine, but she fought the fear in her stomach with the gall of a soldier. She retorted, “If I
stayed enclosed until the sun shone in Honfluer, I should be a very old woman, before I smelled fresh

“There are only two kinds of sinners who would attend St. Catherine at this late hour,” he whispered,
“Those who have recently sinned, and those who intend to sin.”

“Perhaps, I am here to meet a lover,” deflecting her vulnerability.

“And perhaps you just have,” he spoke, low and seductively.

Hearing the raging voice of the tavern owner coming to accost the pirate, Elizabeth’s fear subsided,
knowing that his pursuer provided her safety. The stranger’s presence was so close, she could smell sea
salt on his clothes, and his musky manly scent caught her unexpectedly, arousing an erotic response. ‘To
be with such a man, at another time and place, might be exciting,’ she mused.

His tone changed in their tête-à-tête, as he explained: “The tavern owner has accused me of being with
his daughter; I must leave you for now, but not for ever.”

“There are only two kinds of sinners,” she mocked. “Those who have recently sinned, and those who
intend to sin, and you were willing to come to me, so soon, after such an encounter?”

“For such a woman as you, my passion would raise each hour,” he teased. “But, I am innocent” he
replied, “I have not been with his daughter.” Withdrawing into the night, he bowed a farewell. “It was
his wife!” as he disappeared into the night.

Hiding the lantern under her cloak, she receded into St. Catherine’s, as the pursuer followed the cheeky

Later, Elizabeth emerged from the church, shaking her lowered head side to side in disbelief, thinking, ‘I
swear, I heard a voice saying, I need to amend my superfluous ways? …What ways? My dresses? My
parties? My money? … Deep in thought, she was unaware of her surroundings, until a rag was forced
over her mouth, as she was grabbed from behind, muffling her screams. She fought to break free, when
she heard a deep voice, “Screaming will do you no good, Mademoiselle Elizabeth.” You are in MY
control now.”

SUPERFLUOUS: For the Love of Pets By Peg Scarano

Word Count: 499

For the Love of Pets
By Peg Scarano

My family has nurtured over 30 pets: one dog, twelve cats, two birds, one rabbit and thirteen
fish. Some were loved more than others, but the reality is, we all do crazy things for and with
our pets. This family may just be worthy of the Guinness Book of Records.
Jenny, the veterinarian, has a specific voice for her cat and dog. Prior to Henry’s birth, Finny
and/or Marcel used to call me regularly and I rarely spoke to Jenny. Finny (the dog) has had his
teeth cleaned 5 times costing her $700-$1200 a pop including the professional discount. The dog
and cat each have their own beds, but sleep in her bed. She doesn’t even let her son sleep in her
bed. Marcel, the cat, wears soft paws (fake feline fingernails). Finny has a lifejacket for the boat
and a seatbelt for the car. He has never used the seatbelt. She buys two prescription foods for
the cat and actually had an autopsy performed on her Beta fish, Dana.
Julie, the chiropractor, is the official family pet-sitter for long-term vacationers, so she doesn’t
have her own “real” pet yet. I don’t consider fish “real” pets. However, she loves animals. She
saved her birth control pill cases to use as coffins whenever a Beta fish died. She stayed up all
night when my cat, Tails, was living at her house and did not come home until daylight. She also
stayed up all night petting our egg-bound parakeet until she took her last breath. When Jenny’s
condo association rescinded outdoor activities for cats, Julie unsuccessfully tried to teach Marcel
how to walk on a leash. And then there was the winter her husband carried 25-pound Finny over
a half mile because he would not walk on the salt.
Emily, the youngest with a professional job that involves significant air travel, made her
boyfriend FaceTime her every day so she could see her cat, Crispy. However, then they
purchased two cameras. Now she can stalk her cat anytime she needs a pet-fix. They have a
broken chair they plan on moving to New York because Crispy loves to sleep on it despite the
fact she has two expensive kitty-cots in the windows. Her name is adhered to the wall over her
dishes. Emily starts and ends her day by giving Crispy three treats.
And here’s the pièce de résistance. They have created a FaceBook page called COTM with
seven other friends – Cat of the Month. Each month a favorite photo of each cat is submitted for
a vote by friends and family with just one rule – you cannot vote for your own fab feline. Jenny
and Emily have a deal that if one of their cats wins, the loser must send the winner a package
containing a couple of themed presents for the owner along with two tempting toys for the top
cat from the Cat Lady website.
I believe our love for our pets may be just a bit superfluous.

SUPERFLUOUS: Natural Gas By Nan Ressue

Word Count 434

Natural Gas
By Nan Ressue

My daughter Jeanne married a man from Arkansas and lived there for ten years. During those
southern days, she was indoctrinated with the idea that a normal diet contains beans on a regular
basis. Consequently, this led to the problem of natural gas production and how to successfully
deal with it in various situations.
My son- in-law, who is no longer a family member, was observed adding baking soda to a pot of
boiling beans, claiming that this solved the problem and I could enjoy the southern diet with no
qualms. Unfortunately for them, this was not the case. He also claimed having a fastidious
friend who pricked each bean as it was cooking which had the same effect as the soda in his
opinion. We didn’t get around to trying this. Superfluous servings became moderate as the
modus operandi.
My ex, who also is no longer with us to verify the following information, claimed that as teenage
boys living in a small rural community, they had limited entertainment options. On one
particularly slow night, they each consumed a dictated amount of beans, played cards until
digestion was accomplished and then lit the results with a zippo lighter as it exited the body.
Blue flames and laughter were both important parts of this memorable evening.
Compulsive bean eaters who show no constraint have been known to both Yankees and southern
types. These are the individuals who are groaning with agony, arms wrapped around their middle
parts, and usually bent over double. These are the bean addicts who need an immediate, expert
remedy for an acute situation. Fortunately, there are many of us who have studied first aid
techniques who are prepared to jump to their feet and apply a comfort restoring procedure. It’s
called the Heimlich technique and has been universally praised. Although originally designed for
dislodging blocks in the trachea, it has been proven to be effective for natural gas relief.
Before you assume this stress relieving position, let me remind you that this is a Tag Team sport
where two people are required for proper execution. Who shall we choose to stand behind the
agonized victim and squeeze his belly with clenched fists? Your worst enemy? Your best friend
who you will probably lose? Your least favorite in-law?
Another required preliminary would be to o btain the services of medical personnel. The
Heimlich technician will most assuredly pass out and will need immediate assistance.
Now who do we have who is willing to provide this valuable service? Step right up…Don’t be

SUPERFLUOUS: Perfect Harmony: The First Big Fight By Josh McMullen

Words: 494

Perfect Harmony: The First Big Fight

By Josh McMullen

Leo sat on the bench in front of the school, the wind blowing the Syracuse snow around in light
puffs. He wished it would just bury him, like it buried the city every single year. After about two
years together, he had finally had his first big fight with Elodie. It was something totally
superfluous, but the stresses of the day had just become too much. There was a lot of shouting,
so much so that a teacher had stuck their head out of the room and silenced them temporarily
with a threatening look.
“Look, it's been a really rough day,” Leo said in a severe whisper, just barely audible to
everyone. “I just want to go home. Why is this so important to you?”
“Because I actually value your opinion,” Elodie said. “I've only been practicing this for months,
and it needs to be perfect for the competition next week. Can you just come to the auditorium
and listen, please?”
“I'm really tired, and I just want to go home. We've got another captain's practice tomorrow. It's
just the all-school competition. You're going to win the whole thing anyway.” Leo said, not
realizing what he was saying. “What's the big deal?”
Elodie took a step backward, a look of utter shock on her face. It only lasted for a second before
being replaced by sheer anger. She turned away from him with a dismissive wave. “Just forget it.
You obviously don't care. I don't care either.”
Leo fully realized his mistake, and opened his mouth to apologize, but he knew he messed up.
Without another word, he turned on his heel and walked out the double doors. His car was right
near there, but he couldn't drive away. He found a bench, brushed off the six inches of snow and
sat down, staring at the snow coming down in silent, slow progression.
Elodie came out a few minutes later and sat down next to him. The snow stuck in her hair as if
someone sprinkled stardust in it. She looked absolutely beautiful, Leo thought, but he couldn't
look up at her, not after what he had just done.
“You know, you're going to freeze out here,” she said. “Why don't you just get in your car?'
“I couldn't leave,” Leo said dejectedly. “Not the way we left things. I said some things I
shouldn't have. I was just tired and…”
“No, look, I knew you had a rough day,” Elodie said quietly shaking her head and sitting down
next to her. “My piece could have waited until tomorrow.” She leaned in to him, finding him
unusually warm.
They stared out at the snow drifting across the parking lot silently. At that moment, everything
seemed superfluous; the argument, the captain's practice and the competition just melted away to
nothingness. It was just them and the snow, falling in a cold white blanket over the school.
Neither of them would have it any other way.

SUPERFLUOUS: Mercy Now By Terry Rainey

Word Count 500

Mercy Now
By Terry Rainey

I had some time to think about you on the ride home from my final treatment today. I
recall now things I wish I'd never said. How hard would it have been to say some kinder words
instead, I wonder, as the sun sinks like a stone. The house is dark as it can be, and all is silent, as
empty as I am, the dread I live with almost more than living will allow.
I take out a piece of paper, its blank whiteness like an empty canvas. I rest my pen,
contemplate what I’m about to put down. I hope that you are never compelled to write such a
note as this.
I remember when I took your tiny finger and put it in my wedding band. Your first step.
Your first bicycle ride, into the side of a car. I remember you shaving your eyebrows. Your first
rollercoaster, you so terrified that I wanted to wrap you up in my protective arms. Our nightly
Wheel of Fortune competition and your Vanna White wedding plans. The mismatched shoes
you wore in seventh grade.
I’d like to call it all back, and write a different ending, but this is the way of life, our
precarious balance between hell and hallowed ground. Perhaps the less I say about it the better.
Maybe I just made it up as I went along. It seemed like I lost my sense of place. Home is where
I wanted to be but maybe I was already there. Perhaps this is the place. I drift in and out of
It is all I can do to keep from weeping, to feel that life was just manageable
happenstance, that I wasn’t simply superfluous, that nothing was wrong, and that I have plenty of
time to make good. That soon I won’t be merely a face in a picture, a memory of what was and,
maybe, what could have been.
Sometimes I reassure myself that it's all still here, but mostly I just sink deep into my
mind. It seems at times that we shared the same space for only a moment or two. Maybe family
love gives air but not substance, only noticeable in its ruthless absence rather than in its blessed
Even with as little time as you have spent with me through the years, you have seen that I
have had a fine life. There were sacrifices, to be sure, even the love of one’s own children. I
wonder how you felt observing the man that I became while you were becoming the man that
you are.
It’s singular that an old man must tell a young man this, that we can only hope for mercy
as we end, when what we need is courage. I could use some mercy now. I don't know if I
deserve it but I need it, so that at the moment when death opens my door, I will put away my
wandering thoughts and step out.

SUPERFLUOUS: Sometimes God Smiles By Mike Cecconi

Word Count 500

Sometimes God Smiles
By Mike Cecconi

I spend ten dollars on the lotto each week. Two-dollar Powerball twice-weekly, two-dollar Mega
Millions twice-weekly, the one-dollar standard twice-weekly as well. One pick per life-changing
longshot. Odds aren’t that much better with one than one-hundred, of course, so just one for each
drawing. I just want my chance.
I tell the cashiers I play “as my Dad always said, in case God wants to smile” which is… almost
true. He’d never say that, he was borderline-atheist, it was the title on one of his King Crimson
CDs, though, so it almost counts. I also don’t recall whether his father told me “there’s no such
thing as unlucky pennies, any free money’s good luck” or if I just liked the phrase and convinced
myself my Grandpa coined it to give it meaning. They’re both close enough, though, to add some
mystery to an exchange at a gas-station.
Some laugh when I admit playing. It’s not like I go to Stewarts and drop fifty while starving kids
cling to my leg, as are eighty-three percent of all lotto purchases, just one a draw. Five-hundred-
or-so flushed all at once would hurt badly but frittered away semi-weekly, it’s like a flu shot, you
barely feel it. Just a pinch.
They tell me the lottery’s really a tax on a lack of math skills but, in my case, they’re wrong. I
know my odds are in the millions each time, that’s why I know putting more than two dollars
down would be superfluous. I’m aware I could buy six tickets a week until the sun goes out and
never win more than the five-dollar fourth-prize. I know I can’t win but if I keep playing, I still
get to believe that I might.
I play despite the math because it’s how I rent hope with my almost-worthless liberal-art skillset,
here at the end of an empire. You can’t buy hope these days if you’re not already born-rich, but
you can still rent. If I’ve unchecked lotto in my pocket, I can still pretend the hope train’s coming
to replace all my problems with different problems, that the bailout for my college loans and my
brother’s doctor bills are all just over the western horizon. This isn’t tax on my math, it’s a lease
on my almosts. Every few months I go to the Stewarts at midnight when there’s no one to laugh,
I go check my pocketful of rented hopes and I always lose but that’s not the point.
Every book, every page, every screen in every language, we could fill with the almosts of human
history and we would still have almosts to spare. Some say we are a species of the word "I" but
no, we're an animal of "almost". We’re almosts, all the way down. I keep all my almosts in my
wallet and some days they’re the only hope I have to dream on.
It’s two dollars to dream these days, of course, but inflation managed to ruin that too.

SUPERFLUOUS: Atlantis Lost – Chapter 6 By Sharon Collins

Word Count 499

Atlantis Lost – Chapter 6
By Sharon Collins

When I speak of my Brother-Priest who protects my sleeping daughter, my Moonstone, I indeed
mean he is my brother as well as a priest. Twins we are, born into this incarnation through the
Lion’s Gate, that powerful alignment of stars occurring just as the time of high harvest begins.
Children of Prophecy, we are embodiments of Harmony and Balance. Dedicated to the Night,
my brother sings the song of Dusk. My dedication is to the Day; I sing the song of Dawn. In the
Temple of Poseidon, I sang the crystals awake. He sang them asleep. Light and Dark, we were,
but no longer are. To know Light one must acknowledge Dark. Without one, the other ceases to
exist. Before the Messenger’s glad tidings that I am needed, no longer superfluous, I had felt
myself ceasing, my light fading more and more of late. I had begun to welcome the ripening
fields and the approaching anniversary of my birth as my last.
Here in the blue mountains of the Cymru coast, the tribes celebrate the start of high harvest with
a festival known as Lughnasadh. It is a pretty time of feasting, hand-fasting, and feats of great
athleticism. The joy abounding has stretched the deeply graven lines on my face into lines of
laughter. I see the transformation in my scrying bowl and I feel young again. When the festival
celebrations draw to a close, I will journey east to reunite with my brother and assist in the
building of his henge of stone.
To that end I will offer him the Song of Awakening within my voice. I will end Moonstone’s
slumber, most gifted and powerful of my daughters and hope just one of eleven will suffice.
With her sisters, to echo and magnify her melody, she could move mountains. However, I fear
my brother knows not seven voices have perished and my three surviving daughters no longer
travel with me. I wonder have the Druids told him their never-ceasing voices now sing distant
duets. Will he be pleased Emerald’s song sustains the lush greens of the Isle of Mists; that
Amethyst’s fills the empty purple gloaming of the Highlands, and now Sapphire’s echoes amid
the deep blue shadows of the Preseli mountains. Dare I hope…
After hearing the messenger’s request of blue stones, I can guess my brother’s plan. It is his
goal, his great endeavor, to recreate on strange soil, a replica of The Oracle, the library of all-
knowing which lay at the heart of our drowned home. Our capital, often described as
constructed in a series of concentric rings, was in reality a labyrinth, wide avenues of glowing
turquoise water and graceful coral arches carved in the shape of leaping dolphins connected the
neighborhoods. Each filled with pale marble villas veined in gold and surrounded by gardens of
delight. Eleven circuits wound into and out of the central plaza paved with precious larimar, over
which presided The Oracle, a mighty ring of standing stones.

SUPERFLUOUS: Fragility By Sam McManus

Word Count 500

By Sam McManus

She is awkward without being awkward, that perfect combination of teenage angst when it meets
middle age and realizes it has to adjust to survive. I know all about; I was her ten years ago,
before it was fashionable to be awkward, back when a unique personality was superfluous, when
all the extras in the world couldn’t make up for being a social pariah. But she is popular in a way
I never was, a dragonfly among butterflies. She stands just so, in stark contrast to how I stood
there ten years ago, and I want to strangle her she’s so beautiful.
I try to put her out of my mind, even though I see her every day, even though I long for her in
ways that would make a schoolboy blush, if I placed those words down, pen to paper. I would
never use pencil; she’s far too permanent for that. Instead of her curling brunette tresses, I focus
on the space between us, both the physical and the chronological, both the material and the
immaterial. I make my lists, I check them thrice, and I see no way we could ever be together,
even in this age of appropriation, when we take what we want because we want it. But I could
never be like that. She has a sweet fragility that cannot be duplicated, and I don’t want to ruin
So I pine in secret. I sit at my desk, in my cubicle, and I watch her from afar. I cross my legs at
the ankles, demure as I’ve been taught to be, and I sigh into my coffee cup, because there is no
use, because I can’t admit to myself that I’m in love with the thought of her. In her I see so many
bits and pieces of myself I thought were lost forever, but there is a special spark too, a beautiful
danger I never had. Could she see that, too, if I stood before her, my soul nakedly bare, my heart
beating soundly in my hands?
The water fountain is so far from my desk, but I need to drink, to sate my tremendous thirst, to
do something else with my hands besides this nervous wringing. When I’m around her I am
young again in ways I never was when I was young, in ways that drive me to the brink of a
wanton desire I didn’t think I possessed. I stand up, my hands damp with sweat, my mind racing
with… thoughts.
“I never thought you could move so fast,” she says. I look up, and she is there, perfect in her
imperfections, a smile kissing her lips.
“I can when I’m motivated,” I reply, my throat suddenly so much more parched than it was
before. I can’t take my eyes off her.
“Then maybe you should be motivated more often,” she says, and continues on her way to the
copy room. Which is, of course, the only motivation I need.

SUPERFLUOUS: My Place in the Desert By Marea Needle

Word: Superfluous
Word count: 191

My Place in the Desert
By Marea Needle

In the heart of Las Vegas, people are energized at full tilt,
stretched to their limit, blinded by light;
a palace oozing with extravagance and pawnshops.
It takes a strong kind to endure that clamorous appetite,
one who’s seen it all:
the jaded, the innocent, the garish, the delicate.
The coin chatter and silence,
the superfluous.
On the outskirts, sand sparkles in the moonlight.
Many have passed through overcome by sad loss.
Their need to return to rural lanes,
freshly mowed lawns,
with a rhythm and meaning to their days.
I, on the other hand, can stand upheaval,
I’m used to it:
the hot, the cold, the loud and soft, the neon hours.
Tempo: sempre crescendo
The ones who stay understand my ebb and flow.
They are just as world-weary.
I have embraced this arid life despite the jewels around my neck
and paper-thin riches in my pocket.
The smell of new grass,
someone who waits for me patient and steadfast
looms in my periphery….
It would be lovely, but not very likely.
That is not superfluous!