The Life and Love of a Fleet-footed Fuchsia Fairy

blooming fuchsia

blooming fuchsia

The life of a Fleet-footed Fuchsia Fairy was never easy, Herman reflected as he shook out his stamen wand and moved on to the next blossom.

You had to have patience, and an eye for detail. You had to be quick and stay out of sight of Unbelievers.

It was thankless too. For you had to open each and every flower in turn, even the blossoms that no eye would ever look upon. And he did too—for the hummingbirds. Well, for one particular hummingbird.

“Hi Mazie,” he said, blinking, for the light was behind her. Even so, she was every iridescent shade of forest and ocean and sky. She hovered for an instant and nodded appreciatively at the blossom he’d coaxed open just that morning.

“I thought you’d like that one,” he said. He realized he was blushing, so he flapped down to a lower branch, which had some new buds that needed tending. From there he could watch her.

She was so beautiful.

This has been an edition of the Sunday Photo Fiction Prompt, hosted by Al Forbes. To read more or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button:

 

Katrina and the Ann Street Players’ Last Gig

shopping cart in a parking lot lake

PHOTO PROMPT © Janet Webb

 

Last time I saw JT he was heading south on Dorgenois, with a case of beer on one shoulder.

“Where you headed?” I asked him.

“Me and some guys gonna ride it out down on Ann Street.”

“At Big Chief’s?”

He nodded. I could picture it: JT, Albert, Shorty…Big Chief on bass. All them guys, jamming louder than any hurricane. “You oughtta join us,” he said.

But Gran Marnier was all alone up in Goodbee, so’s I was headed up to board her windows and hit the grocery.

Never saw any a them again. Sometimes, I wish I’d stayed.

This has been an edition of Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s photo courtesy Janet Webb.

To read more takes on the prompt, or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button:

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Nothing never started gets better.

Or, what flash fiction can do for your writing life.

Nothing never started gets better.

Look, you should see some of the crap I’ve written, including the above.

As a writer who has all too often marks progress with decreasing word counts, as one who has a black belt in self-sabotage, and as one who will snag on a single word choice and spin myself silly, I have managed to learn something, in spite of myself.

Nothing never started gets better.

(You would think by now I would have found a better way to say that.)

What I’m trying to say is here’s what writing’s like:

Most of the time, finished work is a hard-won collage of brief inspirations, grueling transitions, struggling metaphors and delicate passages that shine upon the polishing. At least once every eon, I’ll write something that I love. I grab a pen, scribble something down, then sit back and read it and think: Yeah. Then, I’ll read it again and probably twelve-dozen times, and then aloud at whisper-level, and then to a chair, and then to the cat, and then to my spouse, and still manage to think: Yeah. And if I’m really, really lucky, I can even read it myself again a couple years later and think: You know, that was all right.

This almost never happens.

Okay, it maybe happened once.

Most of the time, finished work is a hard-won collage of brief inspirations, grueling transitions, struggling metaphors and delicate passages that shine upon the polishing. And the things is, if you are writing novel-length works, this takes a vast amount of time (or, if it doesn’t, I hate you). This is time spent alone, in a far land, with no destination in sight. Which is why I’ve learned to love flash fiction.

Flash fiction is creative crack

Flash fiction is creative crack, a palette cleanser, a weekend getaway crammed in a morning. Instant gratification. A quickie in the shower. And in spite of all the fun of that, it’s also a refresher course on writing you can fit into any given morning.

I write scads of them. In spite of the radio silence on the blog these days, I’ve been filling up my personal cloud with the stuff. Generally I’ll write at least one a day. Just because. Because I am a slow and recalcitrant learner in need of constant reminder how this works—how to feed and nurture this writing beast.

Here’s a secret: Ninety percent of the time when I look at the photo prompts on Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers or Al Forbes Sunday Photo Fiction, I blank. I can’t think of anything.

The sacred act of taking an intangible thought from the space between your ears and committing it to a page does something. It’s a promise, it’s a vow, and once it’s out there, stuff happens.But still, I push myself and think no one’s watchingjust do a sentence, and so I do. And it’s almost never any good and doesn’t wind up in the final piece. But still, that act is magic. The sacred act of taking an intangible thought from the space between your ears and committing it to a page does something. It’s a promise, it’s a vow, and once it’s out there, stuff happens.

Because once it’s out there, it makes me think of something else, and maybe it’s completely unrelated but it’s enough to make me scrawl down a few more sentences.

This is the point where I usually decide it’s hopeless. I go take a shower or walk the dog. And that’s when it gets amazing. Because while I’m doing the other shit, the real story happens. All of a sudden the whole thing pops into my head: how to fix what I’ve already written or an even better concept that never even thought of. And while I’m standing there dripping, I scribble down notes on that notebook that I keep just outside the shower for such emergencies. And by the time I’ve done four or five rounds of revisions I actually like it: find some merit or something to be proud of and presto—another edition of Friday Fictioneers.

Most of the stuff I write is pure crap. Clumsy, trite, awkward, stupid, half-formed, grammatically incorrect and painful to read. You probably noticed. But the thing is, I have managed to learn something, even in spite of my attempts to do otherwise:

Nothing Anything you never started gets any better.

Like thinking you’ll win the lottery without ever buying a ticketI used to think ‘I’ll write’ when it’s all fully formed in my head and good enough to commit to the page. Because god forbid I write crap, that it’s wrong, that I have to change it, because well, I thought that’s how it worked. Like thinking I’d win the lottery without ever buying a ticket.

So my writing friends, lost in the wilds of your novels (and you know who you are), if you’re not on flash fiction yet, give it a try.

Whatever it is you need to learn, it’s in there. Flash fiction is the crash course on the thing that’s missing in your work, that thing you need to learn. And if it’s not, it’s at least entertaining. Sprint-training for the creative heart. So come on, you—yes you. Give me twenty words, or a hundred or two or three and see where you wind up.

You can’t improve what you don’t write.

Happy writing.

Father’s a Drunkard

Copyright -John Nixon

Copyright -John Nixon

 

We didn’t get many strangers in White Oak them days—not since the mine closed.

“What can you do?” Chet asked, and his whiskey tipped in the glass as he leaned back in his chair.

The man had a derby hat and a fine collared shirt as white as January, with a garter on each sleeve. “I can play piano,” the man said.

And he played it right pretty too—sat down and played Clementine and Father’s a Drunkard, and one so pretty, sad and sweet I’d a given a week’s wage just to hear it again.

I don’t know why Chet did what he did.

This has been an edition of Friday Fictioneers, hosted by the amazing Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s photo courtesy JohnNixon. To read more or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button:

 

A Man, a Deer, and a Hairpin Turn in the Road

159-06-june-5th-2016

It’s not every day we have a chance to reinvent ourselves.

He jumped, as if the words had been spoken aloud, but there was no one. And nothing—nothing except the sharp curl of road, the overturned convertible and smoke belching out from the undercarriage in larger and larger clouds. How had he survived? He checked himself once more: a gash on his knee and a cut on his ear from when he’d flown free from the car. But aside from that, he was fine.

He studied the vast empty valley in all directions and realized no one would be by for hours. And damn, his car. No insurance, three payments behind. And then there was the matter of the forty-minute daily drive to the only job in three counties that would hire him. He was so fired.

And Sheila. What was that always she said? If you ever drink a drop and lay a hand on that wheel, don’t bother ever coming home.

The gas tank made an ominous thunk. He thought of the struggle of holding this wreckage of a life together. He could do so much better.

He should.

He turned, and started walking–off the road, and into the wild unknown.

This has been an edition of Sunday Photo Fiction, hosted by Al Forbes. To read more or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button:

Here be Treasure

Thanks to Piya Singh for this week’s photo prompt.

Thanks to Piya Singh for this week’s photo prompt.

 

Dwarves. I not be talking the human-born sort that find their way to a hearth and home from time to time. No, I speak of the legendary kind, with antlers and dew claws. The kind they haven’t had in these parts since the Daisy Age.

But the earthen cups, the wooden platters, the bubbling grobpot over the fire told a different story. I lifted a cup, still warm from morning break, tipped it to my face and breathed. Tamsen and jiminy-root. These were Gilded Dwarves. “Men,” I say to the ones inside. “Out to the woods. Find cover and wait.”

This has been an edition of the fabulous Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, this week’s photo courtesy Piya Singh. To read more flash fiction or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button:

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Game of Drones

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Tomorrow I sail. For I am Khaleesi of Customer Experience, Bluetoothed, Champion of Usability and The Bug-free.

Once in the land they call Corporatica, I shall scale that labyrinth of low-walled cubes, joust the posturing leagues of middle management and endure the spiritual famine they call the lunch meeting, I shall not fear. Yea, though the futile machinations of ambition do cause the moneyhands to wrench the profit from the margin, I shall slay Monday. And Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. And on that Friday I will claim my prize and dwell in the land of the positive bank balance (for at least a few days).

This has been an edition of Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff Fields. This week’s photo courtesy Rochelle. To read more flash fiction or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button:

(this means you, Sharon & Peter)

Note: This week’s photo was especially inspiriting and I found myself writing not one, but four pieces. And of course I picked the one that had the least literal interpretation and might cause you to wonder about my grip on reality. Ah well, you should see the sort of things I write in my self evaluations  and the emails I send to senior management.

 

Last Night was the Last

Sunday Photo Fiction

Sunday Photo Fiction

The wretched pounding in his head had gone on for what seemed like hours before he realized it was outside his parlor as well as in. What time was it, anyway? He opened a bleary eye to see last night’s Cateau Mouton inexplicably aslant in the glass on his bedside table.

“Mr. Alderschoff. Mr. Alderschoff, are you in there?”

Mr. Alderschoff closed his eyes and reassembled the evening in his mind.  What had started as manhattans in the Smoking Lounge had turned into a dozen or more bottles of wine. And then, champagne.

He’d made it to dinner, but midway through the roast squab, he’d had to excuse himself. With an ungainly hiccup, he’d plucked his wineglass by the stem. “If you ladies please…” He broke off. He’d intend to suggest he was off to the smoking parlor for a fine cigar, but the velocity of the spinning dining room was threatening to bring up the first three courses of the ten-course meal.  Then, the blur of falling on the grand staircase and staggering into Mrs. Brown in the hall outside his state room.

Enough with the liquor and nonsense, he decided. Last night was the last time he’d do that.

His eyes shot open at the shout that accompanied the next knock: “Mr. Alderschoff, we’ve hit an iceberg!”

This has been an edition of Sunday Photo Fiction prompt, hosted by Al Forbes. To read more flash fiction based on the prompt, or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button:

 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Mary Poppins, her two charges and Dick Van Dyke get into a sky gondola when suddenly: Werewolves of London.

(Translation: stop prompting me with the bloody London pics, Al😉 )

Sunday Photo Fiction prompt courtesy Alistair Forbes

Sunday Photo Fiction prompt courtesy Alistair Forbes

“Did you get a look at him? When he got on?”

The conductor gave a slow nod and stared up the laundry line of gondolas, each car a pinata of frantic passengers bouncing on in the wind. Except for the one, of course.

“Well then? Tell me. What did you see?” Constable Plod shifted impatiently as the conductor tried to gather his thoughts over the shout of approaching sirens.

What had he seen? More than he ever wanted to see.

“They were just ordinary folks I guess. Woman and two kids.”

“But the man.”

“Ordinary fellow. When he got on, that is. But then he—” The conductor clenched his jaw, remembering. Just a man, in a simple flat cap, with a smudge of soot on his face, until—

He shuddered.

What the fellow had turned in to was neither man nor beast. A creature so terrifying it had yet to be wrought by pen or film. And what happened next—before the CCTV went black–before the nanny and her charges vanished behind a film of blood and gore was too horrible to put into words.

“Are you ready to bring it down?” the constable asked.

The conductor swallowed. He would never be ready. He reached for the lever and pulled.

I daresay my limited American vocabulary for things British may be spent. But just in case you don’t want to risk more clumsy tales like this from across the pond, I demand one round-trip ticket to Heathrow.

This has been an edition of the Sunday Photo Fiction Prompt, hosted by Alistair Forbes. To read more or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button:

 

Sometimes They Come Back

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

 

They say nothing ever happens in Epic, at least nothing good, and maybe that’s why she left. People ask, “Do you remember her?” People are idiots. I was only six weeks old, how would I remember her? Except that—there’s this statue I saw on the news—a ‘reconstruction’. ‘Jane Doe’ they called her, and they found her bones in River Park—with a dent in the skull the size of a dead blow hammer.

“Do you think she’ll come back?” I used to ask my daddy. And he would smile this smile I used to think was sad and study the grease under his nails.

“You just never know,” he’d say.

You just never know.

This has been an edition of the fabulous Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wiscoff Fields. This week’s photo courtesy Roger Bultot.

To read, more or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button:

PS This week I am on the naughty list–at 16 words over the 100-word limit. My apologies. Thanks for reading.