Funny stories in under 500 words.

Life of the Party

It’s the day of the race, and eighteen-year-old John Jenkins Irving is on his last two miles. His feet are pounding against the pavement, but he’s doubting himself. He knows that the crowd will return in one mile. His friends, parents, hell, even his mangy dog Rumps (who hates him) will be there to cheer him on for that last stretch to victory. Despite this, John’s feet are heavy. They slap against the pavement, sending shockwaves up to his hips. If he just stopped here, no one would ever know…

No, he refuses stop. All he wanted was to keep moving so he could say he ran without stopping for his first marathon before beginning college. Even though he’ll abstain from drinking at those wild parties, he’d win so many over with the story of this triumph. His heart flutters with the thoughts of college men and women asking to see his well-defined legs in places not meant for elaboration. In his head, he can see it.

He visualizes the finish line, as he’s done the last three months. His belabored breathing fogs the image, and it fades as quickly as it appeared. In its place, a single thought remains: don’t people die running these things?

Sure, he flew by that dad with the stroller and eventually passed the fit old guy in his grand poptimus prime. That meant nothing, however. Behind him, somewhere, they were already past their walls. Right now, he was slamming ass first into his. Soon, he’d be left in the dust. Running backwards, losing time and advancing nowhere.

A few onlookers sit on the curb and clap for him. It snaps John out of it momentarily. Yes, it’s debatable if he can do this, but no one around him should know that.

He wipes his forehead. There’s only salt. It’s then that he realizes the depths of his exhaustion – obviously careening toward dehydration and delirium. Instead of a finish, he visualizes orange peels. He pictures a new finish line, this time with scantily clothed studs and hotties all squirting orange juice for him. He reaches forward, and calls out, in that exasperated sigh that’s become his singing voice during moments of this variety. “Yes, give it to me. I love it.”

A guy on the side of the road in a tutu hands him a long shot glass. “Enjoy, buddy,” is all he catches. Relieved for any drink, he takes it. Behind him he hears a man say, “Watch out, daddy’s strolling under the influence of speed.”

Light-headed, and under the influence of something else, John feels his throat burn.

He stumbles, and is mowed down by a father with his two-year-old chanting, “Move it or lose it.”

When he gets to his college months later, he’ll still show all the guys and gals his legs. See that, he’ll say, it’s a battle scar from my marathon. It’s college, so it works a few times.

This story was written by Calvary Ryan, an emerging writer of short fiction currently living in the American Midwest. He was born and raised in the South. As a writer, he aims to develop his craft and create characters that invite you into their world to grow and learn as so many stories in his youth did for him.


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