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Archive for April, 2006

The Valet

Posted by Flood on April 30, 2006

Daily Prompt Entry

He parks the blue car next to the green one at the end of the row and counts the cars quietly to himself. Out of the corner of his eye, he is aware that his mother is watching him. He counts outloud again, and then decides to show off his Polish:


He looks to his mother and she smiles at him. She asks him if he would like to go for a walk, but he doesn't answer. He is parking cars again, in a different manner this time; end to end, rather than side by side.

"A train?" his mother asks. He nods and holds up a red car in her direction. She stands up and, taking the car, joins him on the floor. "Choo-choo," she says. Choo-choo, he repeats and giggles.

They both hear the garage door open, and look in the same direction. He drops to his belly.

"Tell Daddy I am a snake," he says and hisses. The boy's mother stands up and tickles him with her toes. He holds his breath because snakes do not laugh. She chuckles softly and puts the cars away, so Daddy won't step on them.


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Thoughts from an Uneducated Blogger and Updates

Posted by Flood on April 29, 2006


Poetic Justice has extended the contest again, to May 5th. Your choice of theme, 100-1000 words. Judging criteria can be found here.

Congratulations to Jamie Ford, winner of the "Two Lights" contest from The Clarity of Night. Thanks again to Jason Evans for hosting and sponsoring a great contest, with an interesting theme that saw wonderful interpretations. Jason promises more contests in the months to come.

My Blogging week in Review:

I have been lurking in the Absolute Writer's Forum for a few weeks and found out yesterday that the board is owned by Jenna Glatzer, whose book I read last week.
I found out a lot of blogs dedicate an enormous amount of time to publishing do's, don'ts and wishes.
I found out that everyone already knows who JA Konrath and Jennifer Crusie are.
I found out about writing carnivals and contests and Tobias Wolff and that everyone has better ideas than I do.

I feel like a little kid.

I did make some contacts with new people, and I commented on blogs, even though I was afraid of sounding stupid. (I also found out that I should double check my typing 15 times before submitting.)

There is this whole little ant colony of people blogging with less than six degrees of separation. It's really incredible. It's also overwhelming for a new user to get ahead of system. Ideas and articles spread so fast, I am the last to find out about them. When I do find out, I want to share it with someone else, but all the someones already know.

All in all, it's exciting to make my way through the community, and catch little treasures that can be mine too, so I can be named among 'everyone'.

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“They Is…..”

Posted by Flood on April 28, 2006

I just found the short film adaptation of Tobias Wolff's "Bullet in the Brain". Great short story, and to me, great short film. If you like writing well or reading well-written prose, you will love so many things about this story in either medium.

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Posted by Flood on April 28, 2006

The blog is not even a week old and I can see some changes need to be made. I don't know how often people change their blogs until they find the perfect fit, but I imagine it takes a few weeks for it to work out. It's like writing a story that goes off in a direction you never expected.

I am thinking about getting rid of my Prompt page, making comments available on the Home page, and renaming the Fiction page, which is not being used for it's original purpose. I am also thinking about making this a true online journal-type effort, to just focus on my writing, rather than doing anything to try to get hits. I know traffic is the benchmark for a successful blog, and I admit to being in awe that some people do so well, but I have to stick with the basics for now.

Hopefully, everyone who needs to, has read this by now. Jennifer Crusie discusses how to make it in publishing and thoughts on why 'reality is not your friend.' It's amusing, it's inspirational, it's been bookmarked, and read three times.

Thanks to Courtney, who linked Jenny's essay earlier this week.

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Dialogue Work

Posted by Flood on April 27, 2006

I didn't use a prompt today. Instead I worked on dialogue, because I find most of my work in that area to be false. Keep in mind this is just a kind of free-flow writing, and I am not worried about grammar or plot or anything, I'm just practicing giving characters voice.

"Hi, I'm Amy," The girl said as Mel opened the door."I was wondering if I could use your phone? Mine got cut off." Mel detected no shame in this admission.

"Sure, come in. Local call, right?"

"I have to call a cab," Amy answered, "I got my check today and I need groceries." Mel pointed Amy to the phone on the wall just outside of the kitchen.

"Thanks," Amy said softly and walked to the phone and dialled.

Mel went down the hall of her apartment to give Amy some privacy and stood outside of her son's bedroom. She listened to see if Amy's knock had disturbed him, but she heard nothing.

"Okay," called Amy, "all done, thanks."

Mel went back to the living room and found Amy near the door. Her eyes wandered around the apartment.

"Looks good in here. You decorated nicely."

"Thanks," smiled Mel.

"I see you around with your little boy outside sometimes."

"Yeah, I see you too, with yours, he's cute." Mel's nose thought it smelled stale marijuana smoke.

"I think they are about the same age? Anyway, yeah I have to do groceries with him today. And the blizzard is gonna make it take forever, " she sighed. She placed her right hand on the door knob and let her small frame balance on her left foot. She explained that she couldn't afford the cab, but she really needed to do it. Mel was overcome with compassion suddenly, for what her intuition told her was a single mom who used sheets as curtains in the apartment below hers.

"I could watch your boy for you," Mel offered. "Would make the trip a bit easier."

"Really? Great!" Amy spoke responded too quickly. Mel had thought she would have to convince Amy that she was not a child predator or something.

"I'll go get him, he's downstairs. Thanks a lot. I won't be gone long." She slammed the door behind her and Mel heard her heels pound down the hall. Mel looked to the ceiling and wondered why it was so easy to get the boy. She would have appreciated the offer, herself, but politely turned it down. Tommy would scream his head off if she left him with a stranger, and she would be worried the ehwole time she was away.

She went to the window and saw that the blizzard had picked up. She would have put the shopping off for a day, but maybe Amy was in dire need of food. Mel had to use the foodbank twice in her life and knew all about panicking.

She went to the kitchen, put the kettle on for tea, and heard Tommy moving around in his room. She found him in there trying to put on his slippers. She heard a knock on the door as she helped him and called out for Amy to come in.

"Hello? It's me and Kyle?"

"I'll be right there, I just have to change the baby."

"Well the cab's waiting so I am gonna go. Diapers and formula in the bag."

"One sec, Amy, hang on." She heard the door slam. Picking up a half her half naked boy, she charged into the living room. Kyle sat in a snow suit on the couch. He looked at her and then Tommy and screamed 'car-car!'

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Mere Words Contest

Posted by Flood on April 27, 2006

This is my entry to the Mere Words contest :

[No Title]
No word from Yousuf. Hagar paces and wrings her hands. She prays softly, insh'Allah, insh'Allah, and finds no respite in taking care of her other children. Shells falling in Shija'iya make her stomach drop. Finally the knock comes, and she is relieved. She can now pray in gratitude or in mourning, but no more wondering. Any reality is better than worry. Nobly, she lets the news into her home.

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Easy To Be Brave From A Distance

Posted by Flood on April 25, 2006

The little boy was in a field adjacent to some land owned by a chicken farmer. Most of the chickens ran free, but a hen house near the fence gave refuge to mother hens and their chicks. The boy liked chickens but he did not let himself get distracted by the task at hand.He tossed up his baseball and quickly swung as it fell. Strike. He tried again and hit a home run. He kept practicing and was into a good groove when he ran out of balls and had to walk to the other end of the field to start again. On his way, he thought about the kids in the neighborhood who wouldn't let him play. He wasn't sad about it, but kept hope that they would come to the field to play tag or something and see what a master he was of the bat. His mouth moved as he talked to himself about how he would modestly accept their approval.He found all but one of his balls and began again, hitting to the opposite direction. His stomach told him he should soon go home for lunch, but the addiction of the toss-swing, toss-swing, swayed his brain to ignore the rumble.

On his sixth ball out, the wind changed or his bat was not true or some God somewhere thought he might like some excitement and the ball sailed into the air, too far to the right. Way too far to the right. It bounced off the chicken coop's tin roof, and landed in front of the birds' entrance. The plonk of the impact startled the chickens and they ran in disorganized panic. The boy dropped his bat and walked almost half way to the fence and stopped when he noticed the dent in the roof.

He looked around for any human witness. He was partially sure that he was alone and he wondered what to do next. Should he go get his bat, what balls he had left and go home? Maybe the dent was already there and it wasn't his fault. Maybe no one heard the chickens cluck for help. Maybe the farmer wouldn't notice or wouldn't care about some dent in the roof of his hen house.

He sat down where he was, and pulled at blades of grass. He began to think about the Big Picture his brother told him about. "You never see the Big Picture, stupid. You gotta learn to see the point in everything." Today, the Big Picture must look like this: No one would play with him. He decided to play alone. He was careful, but a ball went where it should not have gone. No chickens or people were hurt, no windows were broken and the damage that was done, was small. Small in the Big Picture. So the point was no harm, one foul.

In spite of the Big Picture, the boy had a bad feeling. He felt as though he had done something wrong, even if it was an accident, but couldn't say exactly what it was. Would he be expected to tell the farmer what he had done? Would he feel better if the farmer yelled at him or forgave him? His mind raced and he thought in circles until he was worked up into such a frenzy he could think no more. Now, his chief concern was the fear he felt. He couldn't understand why something so small had grown so large in his mind. He could see the Big Picture but couldn't accept it in his tummy. He wondered if maybe he was going crazy. He stood up and walked toward his bat. He was angry at himself and angry at his fear. He kicked at the ground. He thought he may as well leave.

He heard a storm door slam and footsteps on dirt behind him. He turned to see the farmer looking at the chickens and then look in the boy's direction.

'You hear anything out here, son?' called the farmer.

'Up yours!' screamed the boy.

And he charged home.

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The Two Lights Contest

Posted by Flood on April 24, 2006

My first entry to Clarity of Night's contest, was too long at 446 words:

The Widower's Light

We did all we can do. I am sorry to tell you your wife has died.

He feels like a fool in the alcove under the stairs of the funeral parlour.

He is crouched awkwardly and cannot breathe well enough for an old man with old lungs.

She had a good life. She was happy.

He hears the director bid good evening to her staff. He listens as she makes her way through the building, turning off lights and closing doors. As he prays that she does not also lock each door, the already dim lights of the corridor in which he made his hideout are turn off altogether. The only source of light now are twin lamps, set on a table opposite his alcove.

Two lights in the darkness.

I cannot leave Frances in here alone.

He hears steps falling into the corridor and toward him. He can only assume that the director will now leave through the back door at the end. Adjusting himself as softly as he can, he tries to inhale deeply to hold his breath as she walks past. His lungs betray him, yet again. He tries furiously to catch his breath and finds himself caught instead.

'Hello? Who's there?' The startled director turns his way, blocking what little light is shed by the two lamps. He waves his hand in dismissal and tries to speak that it is all right, just an old man, no harm done really. Nothing comprehensible escapes his coughing fit.

Frances has never been alone at night since we were married.

"Are you all right? Mr. Dobson! What are you doing here? Are you all right?" Mr. Dobson nods as he lurches into the corridor. Stumbling, he knocks over one of the lamps. It crashes to the floor and flickers out.

She would have lived if I didn't panic.

Struggling to gain balance he reaches out for the funeral director's shoulder. She backs away, not understanding the gesture. Mr Dobson continues to fight for large gulps of air. Panicked, he tries for the table, only to knock over the second light. As it drops to his feet, he flails to avoid it. The funeral director thinks, I should call 9-1-1. She tries to pass him to get back to her office, he trips over her and collapses onto the light.

Darkness. Sudden stillness envelopes the corridor once again. The funeral director calls his name.

'Mr. Dobson?'

You have to find a way to live without her now, Dad.

The funeral director falls to her knees to blindly feel for vital signs. Finding none, she goes back to her office to use the phone.

Editing it down to 250 words proved difficult:

The Widower's Light

I am sorry to tell you your wife has died.

In a funeral home, under some stairs, Dobson is crouched in an alcove.

She had a good life.

The funeral director is closing up. He listens as she makes her way through the building, turning off lights and closing doors. The ceiling lights of the corridor in which he hides go out. The only source of light are twin lamps, set on a table opposite his alcove.

I cannot leave Frances alone in here.

Footsteps approach. He tries to hold his breath as she walks past. His lungs betray him. He tries to catch his breath but he is caught instead.

'Hello? Who's there?' The startled director turns his way, blocking light shed by the lamps. He waves his hand dismissively. Only an old man…but nothing escapes his coughing fit.

Frances has never been alone at night since we were married.

‘Mr. Dobson! Are you-?’ Dobson lurches into the corridor. Stumbling, he knocks over one lamp. It flickers out, in shards.

She would have lived if I didn't panic.

Unstable, he reaches for the director. She backs away, confused. Dobson, still fighting for air, is panicked. Reaching for the table, the second light falls. The director tries to pass him to get to a phone. They collide; he collapses.


'Mr. Dobson?'

Find a way to live without her now, Dad.

The director blindly feels for vital signs. Finding none, she goes back to her office to use the phone.

I like the first much better than the second, but in either case I find this line: "Find a way to live without her now, Dad." to be trite and doesn't quite convey what I was going for.

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