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Archive for the ‘Flash Fiction’ Category

Friday Round-Up

Posted by Flood on June 27, 2006

Busy with life, busy perusing entries in the Midnight Road Contest, busy with interviews. Thanks again to Scott, who gave us more than a good interview, but a motto with which to achieve my writing goals.

On Monday, we visit with Forrest Landry of For the Trees. He has some interesting points to make about Print-On-Demand publishing and why he uses it. I am hoping for some lively discussion based on his thoughts. I’ve been having a lot of fun interviewing “gonna-be’s,” as Bernita has referred to them. I want a turn too, so I am collecting your questions for me here. If I get enough interest, I’ll be able to have a freebie entry someday when I can’t think of anything to write.

If you have been a fan of the wildly popular Wandering Scribe, (whose book is due out in early 2007,) you may be interested in this article, about other homeless bloggers. (Scroll down)

This series of photos on Flickr, depicting a library giving up and lying down cracked me up.

Wetpaint helps you create “free click-and-type websites you can share with like-minded people.”

That’s why we created Wetpaint. Yes, blogs make online publishing easy — but blogs are monologues. And forums are great for question and answers, but they’re too hard to search. And wikis allow the reader to become the writer, editor and fact-checker, but they’re just too darn hard to use for the average person. Wetpaint is different. With Wetpaint, anyone with a passion can create an entirely new website and invite others to help them build it. And it’s easy — adding to a Wetpaint site is as simple as click and type. No, Wetpaint won’t cure cancer. But it will most certainly make it easier for anyone to share ideas, trade stories, and find people who are passionate about the same things you are. So try it, have fun, and let us know what you think.

If you have a passion for a certain subject, this might be a great tool for you.

Fringes continues her reviews of the latest SmokeLong Quarterly. If you are considering starting your own series of related posts, Lorelle has some technical tips for you.

If you haven’t yet, check out the new lit ezine Picolata Review. Jamie Ford and Jeff Neale, among others, have fantastic stories in the inaugural issue.

Horror writers, don’t forget about the 3rd Tastes of Darkness Carnival. Submissions due June 28. 1 and 2 are available to read now. Thanks to Melly for the reminder.

That’s it! Have a great weekend.

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Posted in Blogging, Contests, Flash Fiction, Interviews, Writing | Leave a Comment »

Jane Stafford’s Flag

Posted by Flood on June 10, 2006

The phone rings early. He says, "Sorry I woke you, but I wanted to talk." She yields to listen. Again.

"Last night. When I tried to hit you…I didn't mean it. We were drunk, it was only a joke."

That night he comes over, on top, beneath and when he's done, she lies there, wondering. What's the point? His liquored musk hangs an aura around her. He tells her it was good, then stands, stumbling to find the remote.

In the flickering light, she says quietly, "You've never understood that when the white flag is flying, it doesn't mean anyone actually won."

He moves closer to the bed and asks her to turn down the television so he can hear her. She doesn't move. He screams at her to move her lazy ass to the television and turn it down. As his hand pulls back to slap her, she smiles. Changing his mind, he traces her body's silhouette with his finger. He climbs on top of her again, like a irritable child, wanting mommy to make him feel better.

"It's not like I don't have a choice," he whispers into her neck. "I know it's wrong and I do it anyway." He lifts her hair to his face. "I'm glad you let me in tonight. I know I don't deserve it." She remains still as she tells him that the checkered flag is down.

"You win." Her limp body concedes.

"Turn off the fucking television then," he shrieks, without getting off of her. She makes no move, no tightening of muscles, only the soft flesh of a low woman with no choices. He calls her vile names but her brain bearly registers his words. She focuses on letting fear go and senses her weight becoming lighter. I am more than a gash. Her mind floats.

He puts his hands around her neck and she reaches her arms around his torso. The warmth of her body meets his tight chest. Head back; her eyes are closed. She clings fiercely to him for death. He mistakes this for weakness and rages at her fragility. His grip stiffens at her throat until she comes.

Then goes.

Posted in Flash Fiction | 2 Comments »

Gee, A Curveball

Posted by Flood on May 24, 2006

I am trying to stick to posting only once a day but a couple of interesting things are happening.

First, The Curveball Conspiracy. Very exciting new project that brings together photography and flash fiction. (This should be right up Jason Evans' alley.) Writers are given photos to inspire a short piece. Have interesting pictures? Want to deviate from loving your major project to a brief kiss of fiction? This might be for you. Be sure to read manifesto thoroughly.

Second, from Fringes, via Schprock, I have the letter 'G' so I am celebrating my one month anniversary as a blogger with my first meme. Yay.

Gloria – I love the melisma in "Angels We Have Heard on High" I sing my little heart out.
Gatorade – Gross
God – He has a sense of Humour
Gravity – Of a situation, or as a matter of physics, gravity is not to be trifled with. Respect, yo.
Gravy – I make the best gravy after I have had a few drinks. I'm less stressed about it.
Ginger – My favourite castaway on Gilligan's island. She is the reason I first tried false eyelashes. It was not a success.
Gambling – Casinos are scary 'cause all the people are like zombies in there. Romero should do a film at one.
Gnostic Gospels – There is an gentle story in one of the gnostic gospels about Jesus, as a child, molding a bird out of clay and it comes to life. Beautiful.
Guitar – Mister cinched his pursuit of me with one.
Ghosts – We have some in our grandfather clock. The lady who owned it originally went mad, but I am not sure it was the ghosts' fault.

Want to play the game? Golly, I can give you a great letter.

Posted in Flash Fiction, Personal Thoughts | Leave a Comment »

An Author’s Reality

Posted by Flood on May 10, 2006

My husband died two weeks ago. He was coming back from visiting an old friend who was in town for just one night. It's funny because while he was out, I was very content by the silence in the house. All the kids sleeping, no one asking me how my writing was coming while I was struggling to find the right word for a sentence that was already awkward. No TV, no music, no "listen to this political news article that is so very interesting." It was pure peace.

The peace left in increments. At about 11 pm he had been gone for almost four hours. I thought briefly that he was gone a long time for someone who complained about the meeting before he left.

"I don't really want to go. Dave said someone else was coming, too. I don't think it's anyone I know, so I don't see how much fun that could be."

By 12:30 I was mildly concerned, mostly because he had to be up early. I had also promised the kids he would kiss them when he came home. It would be too late in the night for that.

At one in the morning, I made more tea.

At 1:30 I called his cell phone and heard it ring from the microwave on the counter. I wondered who else I could call so late, but came up empty.

At 1:45 I was sure he was seeing another woman, and I was determined to stay awake so I could smell him when he got home.

At 2:00 I was enraged. I paced through the kitchen, to the front door and back again what felt like a hundred times. I went outside to listen for cars coming down the street. I wanted to slam a door or break something to release some anger and panic, but again, waking up the kids would not help the situation.

At 3:23 I went to my room and prayed. I asked God to please bring him home safely and I would live a righteous life forever. I told God that it would not be a funny joke for me to be a young widow at 33 with four children. I told Him that I could not afford the house alone, life insurance notwithstanding. I told God I could never love anyone else as much, ever again.

At 4:17 I woke to a knock at the door. I wanted to ignore it but the dog's barking made it impossible. Groggy, confused, remnants of anger hovering my body, I went downstairs to answer.

At 4:22 The police told me that my husband had died in a fatal collision on the freeway at 2:11 am

At 4:27 I awoke again to the officers faces over me. They told the paramedics were coming and wanted to know who they should call to come help me in this difficult time. Neighbours? Family? My brain was blank. I heard the words individually but I couldn't connect them to make sense of their message.

By 5:00 am, I collected some reason, but I felt lost. I had a fear in my heart that is worse than when I was a child, laying in bed at night thinking "Someday I will not be here. I will be dead and the world will go on." The feeling was thick and coursed through my blood. My mother somehow came to be sitting at the kitchen table, begging me to go lie down, that she would take care of the kids, but I knew that was my responsibility. Everything would be my responsibility now.

[work on ending tomorrow]
______________________________________________________________________________

Interview during book launch:

Q: We were sorry to hear about your grief last year. Our condolences on the loss of your husband.
A: Thank you.
Q: Can you talk about it, yet? Can you tell us about that night?
A: The police came to the door as I was writing a story about a woman's husband being killed in a car accident…

[No actual husbands were hurt in the creation of this story -Flood]

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Jeremiah

Posted by Flood on May 5, 2006


Entry for Poetic Justice Contest

"They say the doctors could tell she was alive when she was dumped in that field because she had fistfuls of grass in both hands." Jeremiah lets his face absorb the sun.

"Whaddya mean?" I know I shouldn't ask, but my mouth just goes right ahead and does it anyway.

"Think about it, stupid. If she was dead when she was left there, would her hands be holding the grass?"

"No…"

"Right. She was still alive when she was ditched there."

"How come you're telling me this stuff?"

"'Cause you are just a dumb kid and I don't like you. Go home."

I walk my bike home because my legs feel too rubbery to ride. I keep looking behind me in case Jeremiah is following me, but I don't see him. I would have punched him in the head for talking about her like that, but he's bigger than me. I am going to have to find another route to and from the lake this summer.

Katlyn was just a kid too, but she wasn't dumb. She'd come frogging with us or play soccer-baseball. I found out she knew how to play Atari as well as any boy. She beat me at Space Invaders three in a row, one time, and I had to give up because the jerks were laughing at me. I thought it was pretty decent, though, that a girl would be able to do something like that.

Four days ago, she was supposed to meet me at the gas station and never showed up. We were going to try to fix my motor scooter. She had watched her brother fix his and thought maybe it was a bearing problem. I never told anyone I was supposed to meet her. For a while there I was worried that it was my fault that she got killed. I think that's normal.

Now that I am thinking about it, maybe just being a girl is what got her killed. It's sad, yeah, but it's totally freaky that someone I was that close to isn't here anymore. It makes my stomach kind of flip around. I don't think I will go to Katlyn's funeral. If I am gonna cry, okay then, but I don't need a bunch of jackasses reminding me about it for the rest of my life.

When I get home, I find my mom in the kitchen frying up hamburger. She sees me and smiles hello.

"Sloppy Joes?"

"Awesome," I say and lean against the counter. "Mom? Did you hear anything about Katlyn being alive when whoever killed her dumped her body?" She stops stirring the meat around and looks at me.

"Don't say 'dumped.'" She says, testily.

"I know it's sad but she was dumped." I explain.

"There is no reason to think she was left there. Maybe the killer found her there. Look, it's nearly supper, so perhaps you could choose another to discuss this, okay? I want to talk to you about it, really." She angles her head forward to convince me.

"But I just want to know what you heard. Was she alive in the field for a while before she died?" My throat hurts and I hope my mom answers me quick, because I don't want to have to say anything else. I blink fast, hoping nothing comes out of my eyes. Mom comes over puts her arm around me.

I start bawling.

"Oh honey, honey," she whispers. She hugs me tight. I feel awful because Katlyn's mom can't hug her kid. I feel bad that I didn't feel worse when I heard the news. I feel bad because I wanted to keep playing Space Invaders with her.

I sob for so long my brain feels like it's swelled in my head. When I finally get a hold on myself, my mom gives me a glass of water and sends me to lie down.

When I wake up, maybe 4 or 5 hours later, I hear someone at my bedroom door.

"Honey? It's Mom." She peeks around the door frame. "You better now, sweetie?" I think I am so I tell her yes. She asks me if I want anything to eat. I say maybe later. She tells me she'll be back soon to check on me.

When she closes the door, I decide that I need some fresh air. I climb quietly out of my bedroom window and lie on the cool, damp grass. I feel completely empty, but not in a bad way. I just watch the stars, but I don't really see them.

What I do see, after about three seconds of looking at it, is Jeremiah's face hanging over me. My entire body gives up a tremor.

"Hi," he grins, "I forgot that Katlyn wanted you to have these."

He drops some wheel bearings on my head.

Posted in Flash Fiction | Leave a Comment »

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:

jaden,
dwa,
trzy!

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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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!'

Posted in Flash Fiction, Writing | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted in Flash Fiction | 4 Comments »

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.

Darkness.

'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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