Monday, February 22, 2010

Side Effects

Last week, A.M. Harte submitted a stunning story based on the ABC Challenge. The rules are this: write a story that is 26 sentences long. This first sentence must start with the letter ‘A’, and every following sentence begins with the subsequent letter of the alphabet, ending with ‘Z’. Here for your reading pleasure (or revulsion) is my version written for a short story class last summer. One addition: we had to incorporate one sentence that exceeded 20 words. Guess which one it is.

Audrey worshiped pharmaceuticals. “Benadryl saved my life when I had anaphylaxis. Cymbalta takes away that blue feeling. Duloxetine does its part in lifting my spirits. Excedrin mutes my migraines. Fosamax cements my porous bones.”

Grabbing a beer from the fridge, Zach shook his head. “Hold on, now, mama. I believe that there’s more to feeling good than popping a pill.”

“Jitters can only be calmed by a good dose of valium,” Audrey continued. “Klonapin keeps my nerves in a restful state, too. Let me tell you that I couldn’t live without my Midol.”

“Mama, some subjects are off-limits!”

“Now you’re a grown man.”

“Oh, say, can we change subjects…?”

“Prednisone takes care of my incessant itching."

"Quaaludes got you through the 80s, ain’t that what you said?”

“Richard Zachariah, don’t bring up my youthful indiscretions!”

“Sorry, mama, I didn’t mean…”

“Two pills a day tame that restless leg syndrome.”

“Unless you are me, and I don’t need any of these, since I jog and I swim and I eat three reasonable meals a day and visit the chiropractor, and practice meditation and sing in the choir and take all my vitamins and occasionally go to Jazz-and-tone classes and work out at the gym and floss my teeth and make sure I get my five fruits and vegetables every day and limit my intake of carbohydrates and fried foods and stopped smoking and chewing and switched from Coors to red wine and make sure to stretch and don’t forget my weight-bearing exercises, so what more do I need?” Zach asked.


“We are stopping this conversation right now.”

“Xanax keeps me from panicking when my son wants to cut off all communication.”

“You got me there.” Zach held out his hand and said, “Give me a couple of those Excedrin cause you win.”

If you would like to cleanse your pallet with a better story, please select one from the panel on the right.


  1. Cleverly done, Kim. Do you have a background as a pharmacist?

  2. Great way to meet the ABC challenge!

  3. It's not a bad story, it's a very funny and clever one!

  4. This was actually quite funny. I can only imagine how hard it was to do, but you pushed the envelope and crafted a clever story. Well done.

  5. Well that was a short course in Pharmaceuticals!
    You've got me thinking of my own favourite drug (nicotine) now. Oh, how I miss it.

    Very cleverly done, I don;t think I'd have the discipline to complete a task like this!

  6. David, although I work in the medical field they prohibit me from putting my hands on the "products." I've also been discouraged from diagnosing and treating patients. Thanks for the kind words; this was a "palate-cleanser" between my last story and the next. Did you know the ABC challenge came from a reading done by Susan Sontag?

  7. I liked the alliteration you slipped in at certain points, like vowel-n combinations and m-sounds complimenting each other in: "Excedrin mutes my migraines." That's a good usage of language in a story that could have just been about the alphabetical gimmick.

  8. Wow, there had to be tough moments writing this one. It came off pretty good. Thanks.

  9. Well played, well played indeed :D

  10. Yeah this is a grea flash - amusing - well done :)

  11. Ha! Excellent - smart thinking too - using pharmaceuticals (every goofy name under the sun).

  12. Wow, I'm impressed. Well done!