Fiction First Friday: “Nightmare” by Colin Winnette

Every first Friday of the month, we publish a new piece of fiction we have solicited from an author we love. This month’s author is Colin Winnette.


Holes were appearing in my shirts so we must have had moths. My teeth were falling out so the dentist must have been lying and scamming.

I put an empty jar back in the refrigerator and I rattled a pan around on the burner.

“We don’t have any food,” I said.

You nodded.

“We don’t have gas or electricity or love in our lives!”

You said if it felt that way then we should fix it.

We filed for divorce and I lost a boatload of money.

My hip wore out and I fell on the bus in front of a hundred million people. Some doctors put in a new one but they put it in on the wrong side, which causes me all kinds of trouble.

There was an old dead dog gathered up against the door to our apartment building and I couldn’t get over it.

I took a bunch of ketamine to stop thinking about the way the dog looked and I imagined I was in a furnace in the basement of my mother’s old Kentucky home.

I hate drugs. I hate the sores on my feet. I hate ghosts and all the tricks they’re so obsessed with. Nothing lasts. Nothing’s really all that funny.

I was leaning against a tree in the park that was all covered with ants and spiders and gum.

I saw you on the bus and I went up to you and said,

“Nothing lasts.”

You were reading some ancient book by someone I could give two shits about.

“I know,” you said.

“I’m so angry!” I told you.

“I know,” you said.

I got a pizza that was supposed to have chicken on it and it didn’t have chicken on it at all. I bought a six-pack of Coke from the corner store and opened the first one in the bed and made a goddamn mess when the can exploded onto my lap, shirt, and pillow and then I was just suspicious and distant with the remaining five cans of Coke.

The phone was ringing but every time I answered it I only heard the sound of my own teeth falling out. I started putting them in a jar by the bed because that’s where it mostly happened because that’s where I mostly was.

I kept listening to sad music but the chords were all cheesy and it didn’t sound anything like real sadness.

“I’m full of so much real sadness,” I told the corner store guy. “And I don’t know how to express it and that’s frustrating.”

He nodded. He asked how you were and I told him you were gone.

“Is that why you’re sad?” he said.

“Sometimes, yeah,” I said. “But there’s all this other stuff too.”

I was buying coconut water but then I read on the internet that it’s not as hydrating as the marketing would leave you to believe. I drank some silty tap water instead and then some orange juice and then some chocolate milk.

I bought a cat that’s always hungry.

I bought some little plants that won’t stop dying.

I went up on the roof and they were having a barbecue there but they had overcooked the chicken and all the beer was weird.

“You don’t know how good you have it,” I told them. “You don’t have to care about anything.”

“I care about stuff,” said one, and he listed some things he cared about that seemed legitimate.

“I have a very difficult life,” said another, “and I’ve overcome a lot to get where I am.”

“I don’t have to care about anything,” said yet another, “but I still do. Very much. Embarrassingly so. And to a degree that only hurts me socially, but that people forgive because it’s an admirable enough trait.”

So I was wrong and I had to admit it right there in front of everyone, which is just always the way with everything.

I stole a sweater and I got caught and I was banned from the vintage store on 24th that I like quite a bit.

I read six books in a row and had absolutely nothing to say about any of them.

I was watching TV and then the power went out and then the building caught fire. I live above an animal shelter, and my windows were open and the floors are pretty thin so I heard everything.

I was invited to a murder mystery party and someone lost his or her mind and killed everyone at the party except for me, so I had to give my statement over and over again to a bunch of suspicious cops.

I saw you at a party and tried to tell you how busy I’ve been but I sounded anxious and some of it sounded a little bit like lies. You were incredibly supportive and affectionate in a very controlled way.

I had a kid with someone I didn’t know very well. We didn’t stay in a relationship but we still keep in touch.

I was on an airplane that didn’t crash and the Wi-Fi was useless.

You were enjoying Bob Dylan at a work event but I had trouble getting into it.

I got a hotel room for the hell of it and did a bunch of sit-ups and got some kind of rash on my back from the carpet or the sheets, I don’t know which.

I misfiled my taxes and wound up owing a bunch of money, so then I started overpaying just to be safe, but that wasn’t a satisfactory solution to the problem.

I assured the guy at the corner store that it wasn’t a comb-over; I’m just repositioning my bangs so my hair looks uniformly thick and organized.

I bought a Ben & Jerry’s Cores.

I bought a pumpkin It’s-It.

I bent an iPhone 6.

I watched all of Game of Thrones and thought, “Yeah, that’s it, exactly.”

I went to a normal café on a normal street and told everyone about all the normal things I was doing.

I kept flipping this coin and getting tails, tails, tails, tails, tails, tails, tails.

The Blue Angels were in town but I kept missing their fly-bys.

I sent a bunch of texts to all the kids I went to high school with and they are all doing fine.

I was in a field in the country with one hundred people and everyone kept talking about all the shooting stars they were seeing just out of the corner of their eye.

I got a better job and some security and I’m pretty attentive to all the paperwork that comes my way.

I got another cat and she sleeps on my chest, stomach, or groin sometimes but mostly she likes to lick my wrist over and over and over and over.

I bought a Ouija board and talked to every ghost I could think of to talk to. One of them told me that the hardest part of living is getting all of it done, which is a smug thing for a sulky ghost to say.

I started taking these pills that give you a little energy but make you shit like a tire deflating.

I went around apologizing to everyone I knew and they were all very understanding and receptive.

I saw some vampires.

I saw a ghoul.

I got laid off in a really, really polite way.

I got sober but missed a few meetings and lost control of myself.

My air mattress deflated.

I saw you with a muffin and a baby at the park and I asked if you remembered my name and you nodded and patiently explained,

“Of course I remember your name, man, we used to be really close.”

Colin Winnette’s website is His most recent book, Coyote, is available from Les Figues Press. His next work, HAINTS STAY, is coming soon from Two Dollar Radio.


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