“Do you have your passport?” He approached Jenna at the Starbuck’s.
“My passport?” She looked up from her book.
“Yes, your passport to love.” He emphasized the last word and sat down in the chair opposite hers. “Because I could take a girl like you on a trip around the world,” his eyes ran the length of her body.
“Seriously, does that ever work?” Jenna asked. “Do any of you think a woman will ever say that she wants to talk to you, much less have sex with you?”
“Um,” he stammered.
“The reason I ask, is that I’m doing a survey.” She removed a notebook from her bag along with her police detective’s badge and placed both on the table. “So, would you like to answer my questions here or at the station?”
(Oh, I had a blast writing this one. Something similar has happened to me a few times, and I’ve responded with what Jenna says. And I’ve been bummed I didn’t have something like a police badge to reinforce my words.
It’s a strange thing, isn’t it? So many of us don’t know how to communicate. And what’s worse is we tend to try and get into other people’s personal space uninvited. It does bring to mind, though, how do we learn how to interact? What do you think? Was Jenna’s reaction appropriate? Was the man’s original action even close to appropriate? What is the justification (other than total social awkwardness and lack of knowledge of propriety and personal space and the right to privacy) for his initial statement?)
“You know what I’ve always believed?” Shannon folded the last towel in the laundry. “I’ve thought that lint and dustballs are their own ever-expanding universes. Hmm,” she picked some lint off the towel and scrutinized it.
“Yeah, right,” Jonathan smiled as he stacked his folded shirts. “And as they roll around and get bigger, that’s just the universe expanding.”
He moved to dryer and emptied the lint chamber.
“So what happens when I remove the dryer lint? Have I just destroyed this universe? Wait!” He brandished the lint ball. “Am I this universe’s God?”
“You could be, but that’s not the thing that creeps me out,” Shannon replied.
“What creeps you out?”
“Well, it’s not so much that there are universes in our dustballs.” She lifted her eyes to the ceiling. “It’s more whether or not our universe is someone else’s lint ball.”
(This one was super fun to write. I’ve personally held the facetious belief that our entire universe might just be the lint ball in someone’s else’s dryer so it was great to explore that in one of these stories. And who knows? We just might be.)
The soldiers lay scattered in various forms of stupor on the stifling hot day. General Thomas of the Twelfth Brigade surveyed them and shook his head in disgust.
“Get up! Onward!! Move it, soldiers!” Thomas yelled at his troops. They remained motionless.
The door to the Mess Hall swung open.
“Tommy, lunchtime,” the General’s mother called. “And it’s too hot out there so bring the dogs in with you.”
(I’m enjoying writing these kinds of stories with kids using their imaginations. It reminds me a little of reading [and loving] when Calvin [Calvin and Hobbes] was Spaceman Spiff.
Again, I didn’t want the reveal to come too quickly. What did you think? Did I keep it hidden long enough or was it obvious from the get-go?
I hope you enjoyed it. See you tomorrow.)
“To what degree are we talking here? Is Stevenson just a little guilty or a lot guilty?” Jonas collapsed at his desk at the law offices of Mackenzie and Jonas.
“You think too much,” Mackenzie pulled a cigar from his jacket pocket, propped his feet up, and prepped his smoke.
“But what if it was premeditated and not an accident at all? How often do knives fall off counters and imbed themselves up in people’s throats?”
“Listen, Murdock’s dead and that means women everywhere will sleep easier. I wouldn’t give a crap if that knife ‘flew into him’ sixteen times, from all directions. That pervert got what he deserved. Hell, I want to go give Stevenson a bottle of Scotch.”
(I think I would like Jonas and Mackenzie. I think they might end up being characters in one of my books. I feel like this is some sort of a screenplay. I can already envision the slightly ramshackle office. Jonas is younger and earnest. Mackenzie is older, wiser, and more grim.
The only challenge in writing this one was the exact nature of the crime. It got me a little confused, but I think I acquitted myself well. [see what I did there? 🙂 ] What do you think? Does the story make sense? Can you envision it as a movie?)
“You’re such a rebel,” Genevieve reclined against the chair in the teacher’s lounge. “I could never do it.”
“You couldn’t do what?” Ruth smiled.
“Stand up to the administration. I’d be too afraid it would all end in my dismissal.”
“And it probably will for me,” Ruth poured herself another cup of stale coffee. “But I didn’t do anything all that rebellious. All I did was to put ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ in my syllabus.”
“But it’s on the prohibited list,” Genevieve’s eyes grew saucer big. “All those books have been deemed too radical. They are afraid the books will give students ideas.”
“Exactly!” Ruth lifted her coffee in a toast. “And what do you think comprises my syllabus for the year?”
(I loved writing this one. I could see the tone and plot from the beginning. Honestly, the hardest part was figuring out which book to choose as the example, and exactly how to refer to the “List,” the syllabus, etc. Those kinds of tricky language edits can affect readers’ perceptions. If you don’t write a conversation the way a reader’s ear expects to hear spoken language, it can make the entire story feel stilted.
How about you? What is a favorite book that you might have used as the example? How might we show the importance of books in this sort of scenario?)
They stopped at the mouth of the cave and stared in awe at Gorgol the Fat. His long red tail tip swished this way and that as he licked one of his curving claws.
“We need to pass by him all casual-like,” Mauricio whispered to the younger ones.
“But he’s gigantic, and look at those claws,” Tyrell’s eyes were huge.
“He is, but he is also old, slow, and mostly blind,” Mauricio replied. He glanced at each one of his recruits in turn. “Are you ready?”
At their hesitant nods, the small party set out.
Gorgol lifted his snout in their direction.
“Retreat, retreat!” Mauricio herded them back to the safety of the cave. “We will have to try again after nightfall. Larkin,” Mauricio pointed to one of the older recruits. “Keep watch.”
“Sir,” Larkin heel-stepped to the mouth of the cave while the rest settled in to wait.
“Sir, something’s happening. He’s moving,” Larkin rushed back a minute later. They ran to the edge and watched Gorgol lumber to standing. He loomed above them.
“Men, this is our chance. Let’s go!” Mauricio cried.
“Come on, Gorgol, dinnertime,” the Great Goddess’ voice boomed above them, and the cat meandered towards his dish while the mice scurried across the room.
(This one took longer than a minute, [I’d say perhaps four]. I wanted to keep the reveal hidden until the last second. I hope I succeeded. I was also trying to see what it would look like to write a children’s story in one of these challenges. What do you think? Did you get the reveal right away or did the cat information surprise you at all? Regardless, I hope you enjoyed it.)
Monica stepped back from her canvas and viewed it with a critical eye.
“I can’t quite get the perspective right on this one,” she shook her head.
“Let me see,” Marcello maneuvered around her in the tight space. He studied the canvas of deep blues, dark purples, and inky black that seemed to shift in front of his eyes. “Actually, I think you’re doing great,” he gazed out the ship’s window at her subject. “After all, it is a wormhole you’re painting.”
(I had such fun writing this one. I knew the “perspective” would be of something unusual as soon as I read the prompt. For an instant, perspective meant someone’s point-of-view in a conversation, and then it shifted straight into the arts [where I like to live anyway]. The challenge of this was to not give away where they were until almost at the end. I hope I succeeded. What do you think?)
“I’ll have to call you back with that answer. I’ve got a ten o’clock at the White House,” Michelle rushed out of the Starbuck’s with her Skinny Vanilla Latte, phone, and laptop fighting for balance.
The latte lost the battle, toppled over, and drenched her coat.
“Crap!” She stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and pawed at her cashmere.
“Is that soy or milk in that latte?” One of the homeless women who populated that block of the city asked.
“Soy.” Michelle answered.
“Mix baking soda, seltzer, and add a little vinegar at the end, and it will come right out. Coffee and all.”
“Thanks. How do you know that?” Michelle walked to her.
“I used to be a personal assistant.”
“If you don’t mind my asking, what happened?”
“My boss and her husband went to jail on racketeering charges, and no one would hire me after that,” The woman scooted over and made room on her bench.
“And you ended up here?” Michelle joined her.
“Taylor,” she replied.
“So, Taylor, you wouldn’t want to come and fix this for me, would you?”
“I could,” Taylor shifted on the bench and gazed at her with curious eyes.
“Great! And after that, do you want a job?” Michelle pointed to the mess of laptop, bag, phone, and latte in her lap. “Because, obviously, I need the help.”
(I and friends do a Feed the Homeless action periodically where we get together, make about 200 bagged lunches and go out on the streets of DC to feed people who might be hungry.
I’ve had many wonderful interactions with these folks. Their lives are varied and fascinating. Many times I’ve wished I had the resources to hire them to work. So many want to but so few have the opportunity. And that is one of the reasons I started helping homeless people and people living in shelters write their resumes. With one, they can apply for work, if they want to do that. It is super helpful. The sort of interaction in this story might happen, but honestly, I believe the best is when we give as many as possible more even odds to succeed.
This story ended up being mostly dialogue, but I hope that it still captured the essence of a bustling DC street. Flash fiction tends to be more about plot, action, and dialogue than it does about exposition and description. It lends itself to snippets of life tales better than many other fiction genres.
I hope you enjoyed it.)
“You must safeguard the Stone of Alram on your quest. “It is our only hope,” Jonah the Brave announced. He placed the satchel around Asford’s neck.
“You have a long journey ahead of you. I pray you will not fail.” Jonah stuck out his hand, and the two shook.
“Jonah, come in for lunch,” The Great Mother called from beyond the castle gate.
“Coming, Mom!” Jonah scrambled toward the castle.
“And don’t you let that dog in this house with muddy paws.”
“But Mom, Asford needs to eat, too. He has a long journey ahead.”
(This one was fun to write. The challenge in not giving away that Asford was the family dog until close to the end. I hope the wee story kept you in the dark until the reveal.
I love playing with words and perceptions in writing. I am really feeling the power of structure and word usage in setting tone, pacing, and perception. How amazing to know that the world you, as a writer, create is the entire world the reader envisions and imagines. They can speculate on things existing in that world but unless you put it down in black and white, they will never know for sure. Now, that’s powerful.
“Don’t you think it’s about time to cut the apron strings, Doreen. He can swim by himself.” Miles swam in a lazy circle around his wife and son.
“I know he can,” Doreen fussed. She ducked under and propped Mitchell up to be sure he could inhale a deep enough breath.
“Yes, Momma. I’ll be fine.” Mitchell wriggled away from his mother and breached with a loud whistle.
“See, I told you. Don’t be so overprotective.” Miles’ admonition ended in a gurgle as Doreen swam on top of him and dragged him under.
“That’s what you said about Sheila,” Doreen said at the bottom of the pond. “And she ran off with a Deep Sea Diving team, and now we never see her. Oh, and honey?” Doreen kicked up toward the surface to take another breath. “We’re dolphins. We don’t have aprons.”
(Ooh, this one was fun but confusing to write. I enjoyed the bait and switch, but it was hard to figure out how to write it. It took me a good five minutes to get it to where I both liked it and thought it made sense. I’m now officially in the second month of this challenge. Last time, it revolutionized how I write. I hope similar results occur this time.