Flash Fiction Friday: Speak

Jaz craned her neck over the endless line in front of her. It had been going for nearly thirty hours, with families taking turns to sleep and use the bathroom. Jaz had no family with her, but neither did the boy in front of her. The first hour they locked eyes, nodded, and both were able to leave when they needed to. Jaz clutched her papers tightly. Her mouth was dry. Her mouth was always dry, as if it lacked the water necessary to speak. No, her mother had said gently, you have no need to speak, Jaz, you have a heart that will speak for you.

It seemed like she might not get that chance. She didn’t know how she was going to tell her story since she didn’t know the language of this world. She clutched her immigration papers tighter.

“Next!” The boy in front of her went. Jaz knew this word, it meant, “come up to this booth.”

“Next.” Jaz was already stumbling forward.

“Name?” This word was said much more quietly. Jaz hadn’t heard it before. She started to sign, hoping they might understand.

“Damn,” said someone beside the man, and Jaz didn’t know what that meant either.

They looked at each other, and one left. The other kept his eyes down, cleared his throat. Jaz looked around for some paper, pointed. The man gave it to her and she began drawing feverishly. The man kept one eye on her while he went through her documents. She wasn’t good at drawing. The man was a stick figure, but she drew a big knife and herself as well she could. Would he understand? She wrote the word BAD in her language, but the man wouldn’t know.

“There’s a problem with this document, Miss,” the man was saying, and Jaz nodded, thrusting the paper forward, pointing at the man and herself, trying to indicate danger.

“Right, but there’s this problem. We can’t let you through-”

“Wait!” The word in her own tongue made Jaz spin around, and then the whole room seemed to spin. As if she had conjured him with her drawing, there was Thoris pushing through the line.

Jaz could only shrink in horror as he came forward, gabbling to the men in their own language. They were nodding, smiling. No…

“I am here to tell your story,” Thoris said.

Jaz was still shaking. After all he had done to their family…he was the reason she had had to flee their world, her family’s name in ruins. All because of Jaz. Because she taught the little ones things they weren’t supposed to know. Freedom, responsibility, even the word “no.” She had been teaching when they’d dragged her away.

“I know what I did,” Thoris was saying, and she saw the redness of his face was from crying, not anger. “I made a mistake. I will tell your story here, and mine. Show me.”

Jaz began to sign, and Thoris began to speak.

-a.e

Flash Fiction Friday: The Fix

Jose floated above the desks, scowling at his replacement. Mr. Lagheri was definitely a better teacher. He never yelled at his students or shamed them publicly, but he hadn’t attended Jose’s funeral either. Shaking his invisible head, he floated towards Duncan, in the corner as usual. Duncan slouched more now. He had more piercings. If he went on like that, he’d end up like his peers, in jail for drugs or dead on the streets. If only Jose had given him a chance. If only he hadn’t yelled at him that one time. Those…many times. If only he hadn’t fudged the assessment records. Well, he could fix it now in death. He could make it up to this one student.

Jose had practiced with small objects for days, moving them, making them hover. It had made him exhausted, however that was possible. He’d never worked so hard in his life. Now he moved to Duncan and nudged his pencil. Just a slight motion. He didn’t want to startle him.

Duncan saw the motion and jumped, then looked around to see if anyone had noticed. He shifted and tried to look out the window again, but Jose knew his attention had been grabbed. He slowly spun the pencil, then picked it up so the tip was still on the desk.

Duncan was blinking hard as he looked at it, sweat beginning to form on his forehead. Jose knew he had never been the most imaginative student, and something like floating pencils was beyond his grasp of reality. Jose picked the pencil up fully, to write his apology, but Duncan snatched the pencil and his bag and ran out of the room, eyes wide.

Mr. Lagheri called after him. “Duncan, not again! You’ll be suspended!”

But Duncan ignored him and sped on, out the double doors and towards his home.

Jose sped after him, raising small rocks as he could, yelling silently for Duncan to stop. Duncan turned once to see the floating stone and gave a sound like a frightened bull as he ran straight into the street.

Jose was focus on holding up corporeal matter. Duncan was focused on the magical stone following him.

Neither noticed the horns of the bus until it was too late.

**

“So you just concentrate really hard,” Jose told him, watching as Duncan strained to shift a tack on the table. “Try to put all your you-ness into your hand. That’s it. You’ll get it!”

The tack shifted, just enough to get it rolling.

Duncan looked around at him, his face shining. “Thanks for helping, Mr. Ramirez. This ghosting stuff is harder than it looks on TV.”

Jose nodded and smiled. He had gotten a second chance, and this time he would be a good teacher. This time, he’d do it right.

-a.e

Flash Fiction Friday: Action!

Verity didn’t like the new role. It was dirty, smelly, and uncomfortable. The director was giving her weird directions too; you can’t go to the bathroom yet, Verity, we need to finish this scene. Your arm is dislocated for a good reason, Verity. That blood running in your eye will look amazing, Verity! Your fame is guaranteed! Nothing is threatening to fall on your head!

Verity waited for the next direction. All she had to do was wait. It was a really easy role. Sit very still, not moving against any of the rubble, not looking in that direction, not worrying about the bathroom. She had to be afraid, but cool. She was the Scared Girl Holding it Together. Easy. Only big stars could be really afraid. The sound guys in the back were doing a good job too. Pillars groaning, shouts far away, and big machinery moving. They must be testing out the foleys.

The bathroom thing was a problem. She would have to go soon. And he’d been silent for a while, staring at the ceiling, taking a nap. Well, she would just sneak out.
She crawled forwards, past the sleeping man, looking for the way to the bathroom. There had been a light— She heard a grinding of stone, as a pillar slammed down behind her, bringing up a cloud of dust. She sneezed, the sounds carrying around her small stage but not echoing. Looking around, she saw the pillar had fallen right behind her, and anyway the bathroom thing was okay now. She would just have to check in with wardrobing.

But where was her co-actor, Lawrence? He had been next to her, waiting, but he was gone now. She couldn’t let him fade away. Lawrence Olivier would be famous. She looked around, moving rubble and stones with her aching hands. There was his shoe. She yanked on it, but he was hiding behind a pillar. She yanked harder and he came free. Well, no, not Lawrence. A dummy leg popped out, one of the ones with fake blood that spurts and stains to look real. She looked at Lawrence’s shoe at the bottom and sighed. He must have gone to the bathroom after all and missed his scene.

Verity could hear shouts closer now. The director was probably angry about Lawrence. She saw the light again, larger. She moved towards it and remembered something important. Sometimes you had to make the role your own instead of waiting for directions. Verity decided to become the Girl Who Rescues Herself and moved up.

It took time, and the stagehands were amazed when she crawled through the gap holding Lawrence’s shoe. Everything was very bright, it felt like she had been acting for days. Someone gave her a blanket and took the dummy leg from her. The producer came forwards, crying. She must have been really good.

Then it was on to her next role after that. Interviews over, she was ready for the Mental Ward Patient.

-a.e

Flash Fiction Friday: Give Me Time

The son sat on the park bench, watching his father. He was wearing corduroys. No one did that anymore. The father soon returned with his hand behind his back and sat down next to him.

“I wanted to give you something,” he said. “Something I remembered you always liked.”

His son stared at the smudge of coal dust on his father’s neck as his father brought his hand around. It was a cold day in Pennsylvania, too cold for the ice cream his father offered. It was one of those cones with a band of chocolate and peanuts sprinkled on top.

The son stared at it for a long time, trying to decide. His father kept giving him things. He didn’t want things. The father hadn’t understood about aerospace engineering, how it made his heart sing. He did understand about a sweet tooth.

“Thanks Dad,” the son said, staring at the ice cream. It had begun to melt just a bit from his father’s hand. If he drew it out any longer he might as well throw it in his father’s face. He took a bite, right from the top, felt the peanuts like hard kernels, tried to cover them with the cream and swallow them together. Maybe his body wouldn’t notice he’d just poisoned it.

He ate the rest of the ice cream fast, wanting to let his body soak up something other than the peanuts, but he could feel the itchiness beginning, the unease, the nasty feeling of revulsion begin to kick in.

His father sat back and stared up at the sky smiling.

“It’s nice we can talk like this-”

“Dad,” the son choked.

 

He awoke in the hospital, staring up at the coal smudge on his father’s neck. It didn’t surprise him. He’d seen all the way to the other end of his father’s gesture. This, or refuse his dad. What was worse? His father sat looking at him, eyes red-rimmed.

It wasn’t just an allergic reaction, the doctor told him later. He said a lot of things about GFRs and hemodialysis vs peritoneal dialysis. It all meant he had kidney failure. He needed dialysis until he could get a transplant.

“I’m not a match, son,” his father whispered. “I tried. I wanted to give you one of mine. I wanted to give you…I’m sorry.”

His son shrugged.

His first dialysis was painful. He threw up, but his father was with him. He had to be with him to drive him home, but he stayed through the four hours too. He came back the next time. And the next.

While the machines whirred and did whatever mysterious thing it did to keep him alive, the men began to talk.

The son talked about engineering and the future of the world, and the father talked about the mines and the men. And the son smiled one day at his father. He’d never wanted things. He’d wanted time. And now they had time.

-a.e

Flash Fiction Course: Overview

Well, friends and readers and sundry (who are you, sundry? WHO?), I am embarking on a new mission in my journey to becoming a Published Author.

A while ago I ran across Holly Lisle’s writing courses. I have no idea where I came across it (deeply trawling the internets will send you to some crazy, but this time, amazing places). However I ended up there, it was a blessing. Holly has some amazing courses, and I fully intend to invest in some of the heftier ones later on. To start with though, I signed up for the How to Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck class. Yes, the name is amazing.

I signed up for two reasons; 1) it was free, and 2), I’ve never written a short story, let alone a flash piece.

To clarify, flash fiction is a story generally under 2,000 words. In Holly’s class, we’re aiming for stories of around 500. That’s SO LITTLE. I mean, it’s hard, really hard, to write short fiction. Everything must be tighter. You can’t meander around the plot or the purpose. Characters are short and punchy and TO THE POINT. That might be one reason why I’ve never tried to write short fiction. I didn’t have the courage.

This class, being free, inspired me to try. In three weeks, write 10-11 short pieces for publication. I liked the sound of it.

So I signed up.

Friends, and readers, and sundry, and my knobbly yellow muse…I am writing short fiction.

Soon you will read it here. Soon you will see my first full story on the internet.

I’ll post each story after it’s been written and edited. The writing part, while hard, is lemon cake next to the editing. Either way, expect the first piece within a week, and yell at me in loud capitals if I fail to follow up after that.

Thank you.

Signature