Following my celebration of Bright Tuesday’s first blogiversary, I spent some time evaluating my writing skills, progress, and goals. After careful deliberation (an afternoon lost to daydreaming in avoidance of the day’s chores), I have decided that my fiction writing skills need a little boost.
Okay, maybe a BIG boost.
To that end, I have decided to try something new around here: a weekly feature called “Flash Fiction Friday.” This will be a great addition to the blog for three reasons:
- It will force me to write at least one fiction story a week.
- In turn, it will guarantee you, the reader, one blog post a week.
- And last of all, it employs the obvious use of alliteration, which, as everyone knows, is a must have ingredient for a weekly blog feature. (It’s pretty much a guarantee that if you can think of a weekly feature that uses alliteration (Throwback Thursday, Wayback Wednesday, etc.) it will become an unqualified success — right? Right.)
Here’s how it will work:
Every Friday morning, I will post a flash fiction story of 750 words or less. As always, you are invited to offer your opinions on my writing in the comment section. However, I need to request one more thing from you. Could you please take a moment to submit a suggestion for the first line of the next week’s flash fiction story? On Saturday I will review all of the suggested first lines and choose one to begin my next story. (If only one person makes a suggestion, I will use that line. If several people leave a line, I will choose one at random — close my eyes and point at the screen, assign them a number and draw from hat, stuff like that. No obscenities, please.)
Thanks for your help. One last thought — it would be great if other bloggers want to use the same first line to write a story of their own. If you do that, please link your post back to Bright Tuesday. I would love to share stories!
This week’s flash fiction is a piece that I wrote for a contest. (I lost, but that’s okay — one more for my rejection pile! Woot! Woot!) So without further fanfare, here is the first installment of FLASH FICTION FRIDAY:
RED OR BLACK?
“If you can guess what I have in my pocket, you can have it.”
My four year old brain churned madly, trying to decide what Papa was hiding in the dark recesses of his coat pocket. I knew he never went anywhere without a bit of candy to indulge his sweet tooth. I offered a vague answer, though I knew it wouldn’t satisfy him.
“Treat?” I said, with my grubby hand outstretched.
He snorted at my obvious ploy, and planted his hands on his hips.
“You call that a guess?”
He wrapped his fingers around the iron bars of the park merry-go-round I was standing on.
“You know the rules – hang on!”
He pushed the metal disk with a great shove of his bandy arms, arms that were still strong from a lifetime of physical labor. The merry-go-round spun like a giant top.
“Lollipops,” I gasped as I whirled past him, his face a blur.
Another mighty heave sent me spinning faster yet. The trees were a kaleidoscope of green, amber, and red as I flew around, exhilarated, but also starting to feel queasy.
Papa leapt onto the spinning wheel, spry as a younger man, and I knew then I had guessed correctly. We sat down together in the middle, waiting for the rotating disc to wind down. When the ride ended, my stomach continued to lurch. It didn’t matter. I still wanted the candy.
“Black or red?” Papa asked, drawing both colors from a small white paper bag. The shoelace-like strands were wound in a coil.
“Greedy girl,” he said, but he smiled as he passed a strand of each to me.
“Don’t tell your Grammy,” he cautioned. “She’ll be madder than a wet cat if I ruin your dinner.”
I took alternating bites of each color, savoring the swirl of flavors in my mouth. We sat there for what seemed a long time, munching on candy while the wheel continued to turn slowly on its base. I imagined a ghostly hand spinning us around, even though I knew the motion was caused by the movement of our shifting positions on the cold steel. I shivered a little, and Papa pulled me closer, lifting the hood of my sweatshirt as he did so. I immediately dismissed any paranormal concerns. I knew nothing could harm me while I was secure in his sheltering arms.
A muffled cough broke my reverie, and drew my thoughts into the present. I leaned forward in my chair, peering at Papa’s face. His eyes opened then, and he smiled when he saw me.
“Who let you in?” he teased. His voice was raspy, with a faint wheeze hidden behind his words. “I told that aide to keep the riff raff out.”
“I suppose I’m a bad penny. I keep showing up.” I reached for his hand, taking care to hold it loosely. The knuckles were swollen from arthritis. It looked painful, but I never heard him complain. “Guess what I brought?”
“Winning lottery ticket?” I shook my head, and waited for him to finish our well-rehearsed banter.
“Suitcase of cash? Dancing girls?”
“No, no, and no.” I pulled a small bag from my purse. “Sorry to disappoint, but all I have is licorice.”
“Red or black?”
“Both, of course.”
“Better shut the door,” he advised me in a conspiratorial whisper. “Those aides keep track of every little morsel I consume. If they see this, I won’t get any dessert tonight.”
Papa was allowed to eat candy, but I closed the door anyway. It was part of the ritual.
I propped him up with a stack of pillows, and then tore off a length of each flavor for both of us.
“Remember when I used to take you to that park down Hickory Road?” Papa asked me between bites of candy. “You loved that old merry-go-around.”
“You sure knew how to send it spinning,” I reminded him with a laugh.
Outside, a March rainstorm pelted the glass panes of the window, but my memories painted the walls with the bright blue sky of an autumn day. An aide cracked the door open and poked her head into the room, but she quickly retreated when she saw me sitting there. Papa and I settled into companionably silence. Within an hour the storm was over, and he was asleep again. I stood then, and kissed his forehead, leaving the rest of the licorice on his dresser top as I left.
Thanks for reading. I can’t wait to see the selection of first lines you will write for me!