Posts Tagged ‘flash fiction’

Hurrah!  It’s good to be back with Friday Fictioneers. I’ve missed you and your fine stories.  I’m enjoying my new part-time job at the tea shop, although I still have a lot to learn.  If any of you ever make it to the Chicago area, we can have a Fictioneers meeting there (on a day when I’m not working.)  But enough with the compliments.  On to the story…and then work.

(For anyone new to Friday Fictioneers, a photo provides the prompt for the week and each person responds by writing a 100 word story.  To access all the stories written, please click on the blue link creature at the end of my story.  Enjoy.)

 Wetting the Bed

They wouldn’t carry the bed upstairs. “Sorry. We’re only paid to deliver inside the door, ma’am” and off they’d gone, leaving everything in the lobby. I bribed some neighbors with cookies and coffee to help me to carry it to the fourth floor apartment: mattress, box springs, heavy, wooden, custom-made frame. I assembled it all myself and made it with my new sheets.

I sat, watching the rain-blurred colors of the changing street and car lights, wetting my new bed with tears shed for the the man I’d hoped to curl up with all the rainy days of my life.

The weekly gathering of the Fictioneers has commenced. Bring out the halt, the lame, the blind, the murderers and aliens, vampires and vamps. Look carefully and you might see a human or two. Take them all, stir thoroughly, add a dollop of disbelief, a soupçon of silliness. Dip a spoon into the resulting slumgullion: each 100-word recipe meticulously prepared, marvelously rendered, tasty to the tongue. Your personal recipe is solicited or feel free to simply feast and go away replete; perhaps not always uplifted, but with your brain stimulated.

table

copyright Jan Wayne Fields

(To avoid any more confusion, please ignore the fact that the person in the photo is male and just read the story.  Thanks.)

Holidays

Holidays were the hardest.

“Daddy, can we go along?”
“OK, you come with me. We’ll let Mom stay home and relax for a bit.”

One drunk driver was all it took…a driver who walked away.

The doorbell rang. Marty, spiraling slowly into dementia, and his daughter (his caretaker), would fill John’s and Emily’s places. On their heels came Annalisa, her ninety-five year old body still obeying her indomitable will, sitting where Gregory’s high chair used to be. Deshuan and his IED-bequeathed artificial legs sat in Jenny’s chair. George’s Down Syndrome face beamed from “Daddy’s” spot.

I sat.

Holidays.
Holy days.

One hundred words aren’t many to tell a story.  Yet every week, a large group of authors gather to try to do just that, then share their stories with other authors and readers.  We call ourselves Friday Fictioneers, as the photo prompt used to be posted on Friday.  Now it’s posted early Wednesday morning (at least in the US) and the stories come fast and furious, continuing throughout the week.  If you’d like to read more stories, click on the blue critter at the end of my story.  If you want to participate, go to the site of Rochelle, our hostess, read the “rules”, write and post your story.

Hollywood crowdcopyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Black Friday

“Fran, let’s go to the fitting room.”

No answer.

I turned around. No little blonde-headed girl. Trying not to panic, I scanned the store.

“Francesca?”

Nothing.

Mouth dry, I hurried to the front of the store, perusing the crowds clogging the street. No chance of spotting one five-year-old. Frantic, I pulled out my cell, started punching 9-1-1.

“Mommy.”

I whirled.
Nothing.

“Fran?”

“Mommy, can you find me?”
“No, honey. Where are you?”

Her blonde head popped out from under the circular clothes rack. “You couldn’t find me!”
“No, honey, I couldn’t.”

Torn between relief and anger, I simply hugged her.

Bill suggested re-posting this poem which was my first entry for Friday Fictioneers, where each week authors post a 100-word story based on a photo prompt.  This prompt showed a ruined house in the middle of nowhere.  This was what I wrote over two years ago.

 Perspective

He looks out…
sees space,
sees opportunity;
feels freedom.

She looks out…
sees space,
sees emptiness;
feels loneliness.

He looks down…
sees crops,
sees growth;
feels anticipation.

She looks down…
sees dryness,
sees obstacles;
feels discouragement.

He looks inward…
sees challenge,
sees work;
feels tall.

She looks inward…
sees questions,
sees work;
feels uncertain.

He looks toward her…
sees beauty
sees courage;
feels tenderness.

She looks toward him…
sees caring,
sees fortitude;
feels  resolution.

They look outward…
see opportunity,
see hardship;
feel purpose.

They look together…
see the sunrise,
see each other;
feel love.

 

 


Vacation hiatus over, it’s time to get back to Friday Fictioneers, writing for small people.  Whoops!  I mean small writing for people.  🙂  Tight, with well-chosen words to get the most bang for the buck (or the hundred or so words);  based on a photo, at least to some degree, often only in the mind of the author. Designed to, what?  Comfort? Surprise? Horrify? Amuse?  Shock?  Create recognition? All depends on what the author decide and what the reader brings to the story…and takes away from it.

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
~Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

 

In the Early Morning Rain

A chilly winter morning; cold, grey light reflecting from the lake. He stood motionless on the shore, staring into the distance. She wanted to call to him, speak his name, have him turn, see his face light up when he saw her; run to him, then sit quietly by his side.  Of course, she couldn’t. It was no longer her right or privilege.

It began to rain, the freezing drops like diamond tears cried for the lost. He sprinkled the ashes on the water. She touched him then, the lightest touch of warm breeze, then moved on through the morning.

.

(From the days when songs were the focus, not the show.)

As writers, we’re often told “show, don’t tell” and “Use as few adverbs as possible.” If parts of speech weren’t your thing in school, adverbs are those words that modify or describe the verb (action word) and tend to end in “ly.” In the sentence, “He walked slowly/angrily/quickly/quietly”, the adverbs are all those “ly” words telling how he walked. I’m partial to a good adverb myself, but I’m going to share how you can cut out many of them in your writing.

If you write flash fiction, where every word counts, it’s important to choose only the ones with the most impact and bang for the counting buck. Even if your word count isn’t limited, the right word is a sure way to ensure both that your readers get the idea and to not bore them with too much “telling.”

Enter the thesaurus. A thesaurus contains both synonyms, words similar to the one you’re thinking about using, and antonyms, words that mean the opposite. A printed thesaurus may be a dinosaur, but the digital age makes it inexcusable to not enjoy the hunt for the perfect word. All you have to do is search for “(whatever word you want), synonym (or antonym)” and off you go to the land of more concise writing.

The art of nuance reigns supreme in the search for the perfect word. Let’s look at the simple word, “walk.” Not all walks are created equal and not all synonyms mean quite the same thing.  When I search for synonyms for “walk”, the first entry lists these possibilities (and there are more):

stroll, saunter, amble, trudge, plod, dawdle, hike, tramp, tromp, slog, stomp, trek, march stride, sashay, glide, troop, patrol, wander, ramble, tread, prowl, promenade, roam, traipse

 A child on the way to somewhere she doesn’t want to go, doesn’t glide. She may trudge, plod or dawdle. A soldier probably marches, strides or patrols, but hopefully doesn’t sashay. If you go for a walk in the forest, to relax and enjoy the scenery, you might stroll or, if it’s wet, you may end up tramping or slogging. Aren’t those all more interesting than plain “walk?” And they “show” much more, too.

All these words mean walk, but each means a different sort of walk. By choosing the correct one (and you can find the definition by clicking on the word), you’ll give the reader a more in-depth feel for what’s going on with your character. You don’t have to say, “Joe didn’t want to go to school, so he walked slowly, trying to make the walk last as long as possible.” You can say, “Joe plodded towards school” or “Joe dawdled on his way to school” and your readers will know immediately that he wasn’t looking forward to going there or at least wasn’t in a hurry to arrive.

Using my first example, rather than say, “He walked slowly”, say “He ambled.” But if he walks slowly and unhappily: “He plodded/trudged.” Instead of walking “angrily”, your character could “stomp.”   A person walking quickly could “stride” or if moving quietly, “creep” or “pad.”

Consider using an online thesaurus often and you’ll see your writing improve. Readers will enjoy the richness of your language and who knows? You may even discover the joy of words and the art of nuance.  Improvement is only a short walk of your fingers away.

 

How much of a story can be told in 100 words?  You’ll surprised if you tune in each Wednesday for the photo prompt for Friday Fictioneers and read the stories that emerge!  To access the list, click on the link critter at the bottom of the page.  Stories are added daily (at least until the next prompt is out), so come back to read more.  This group has some very talented and imaginative writers, so you’re sure to find something you love. And if you’d like to participate, there’s always room for another story.

Bottles-Marie Gail Stratfordcopyright Marie Gail Stratford

Truth and Consequences

In vino veritas.”

Kate and her friends had joked about that phrase during high school Latin. This morning, she dimly remembered sharing way too much veritas last night while being too much in vino. Groaning, she swallowed acetaminophen, wishing it could also take away the pain of reliving how she’d comprehensively trashed Joanna’s taste in men, particularly her fiancé. Even more unfortunate, if not cataclysmic, she also recalled lurching around to see said fiancé behind her. After that, things were mostly fuzzy, but truth be told, she thought the chances high she’d find herself defriended and not just on Facebook.

 

A second 100-word story came to mind, almost as-is and pushing to be born, so I post it here today as a companion piece to yesterday’s story...or to stand on its own. I’ll re-post Dawn’s lovely photo so you can see where the inspiration originated.

©Tales_From_the_Motherland©Tales_From_the_Motherland

She’s come undone.
All the carefully packed
    sections of her life worked loose,
    edges unraveling
    as if pulled by a malicious hand,
    spilling out their contents
    into random heaps,
    top layers caught by winds of chance
    and blown away
Nothing can put them back
    and she thinks perhaps
    she shouldn’t try,
    should simply lie down
    beneath them all and
    inhale deeply.
Too simple; the coward’s way
    and so she dashes uselessly
    here and there
    attempting to gather the pieces of her life,
    
not seeing the beautiful pattern that they make,

    sitting in despair 
    in the rubble
    (as she deems it.)

Fictioneer: n. 1. A person who participates in a weekly challenge to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt.

2. A person who tells stories that may or may not be based in reality.

3. A person addicted to writing once a week, 100-word stories. No cure is known.

I’m back on the traveling road today through the weekend, but I couldn’t pass up Dawn’s beautiful photo, even though I may do something less than beautiful with it.  Forgive me if I don’t get to your story and thanks for reading and commenting on mine.  Yes, it’s fiction.  🙂  A second story insisted on being written as well, but I’ll post that tomorrow, so if you’re interested, feel free to drop in and let me know which you prefer.

©Tales_From_the_Motherland©Tales_From_the_Motherland

 Compartments

I’m

.

.

falling

.

.

a p a r t.

 

Too much to do, too little time to do it.
Things I don’t know how to do, things I don’t want to do.

Sometimes I’m on the outside looking in, hitting the glass, trying to get people to see me. They’re making fun of me, talking about me.

I feel worthless.
I feel great.
Work’s great.
Work’s screwed up.

I’m screwed up.

Everything should be in its own compartment but it won’t stay there! It bleeds into other parts of my life, makes a mess, makes me a mess.

What do I do now?

Someone help.

 

Please?

Friday Fictioneers Haiku

Eyes observe photo
Tumbling thoughts settle into
One hundred word story

ffcopyright janet m. webb

Reflections

I remember a falling star mirrored in your eyes as we lay, laughing, in the damp grass.

I remember diamonds mirrored in your eyes as you said, “Yes, yes, oh, yes.”

I remember candlelight mirrored in your eyes as we raised our glasses high.

I remember passion mirrored in your eyes as we loved.

I remember tears mirrored in your eyes as you held our daughter in the hospital.

I remember myself mirrored in your unseeing eyes as I gently removed the pillow from your face.

I remember the emptiness of my eyes mirrored in those of your dead lover.

******

 This week it’s my photo, which can sometimes make writing difficult as I have associations with the photo, memories, the back story.  Hopefully you’ll realize as you read that I strayed more than a bit from my own reality while crafting this week’s story and perhaps also from what you expect from me.  Must be that 30-year anniversary coming up on Monday that inspired the story.  🙂

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