Another Flash Fiction!

Cleaning out my files, I stumbled upon another of my flash fiction pieces.  I wanted to share it with you because I had so much fun with Trapped! And this one made me smile as well.  And if you haven’t read Trapped, check out my old posts, it’s not hard to find. You’ll enjoy it!

The writing prompt for this one was something like pink donkeys and a Cadillac.

 

I stayed up later than usual the night of Daylight Savings. I wanted to see if what the man had told me was true.

“When the clocks turn back, for an instant, you are simultaneously in today and yesterday. Or today and tomorrow. I’m not entirely sure which it is. I always get confused, that’s why I steer clear of time travel all together.”

So eager was I to experience this phenomena, which for my whole life had passed whilst I slept soundly in my bed, that I kept all the lights on, my shoes tightly laced, my back stiff from the uncomfortable posture I had adopted to keep myself awake. It had been years since I’d stayed up past nine o’clock. The magic of late nights had diminished with age, replaced by the sweet siren call of unconsciousness.

“Just a little…longer,” I murmured to myself through bleary eyes. Another sip of coffee passed my lips, strong and bitter, the caffeine seeming to evaporate before it hit my tongue. It did not make a difference. The clock read 11:36.

“What are you doing?” demanded a disgruntled voice from the top of the stairs. I had not heard anyone stirring, and the voice sent a rush of adrenaline racing through me, my drooping eyelids snapping open.

“Thank you!” I called gratefully into the night.

“I’ll thank you to turn off some of those lights and go to sleep! Some of us have to work in the morning!”

There was a shuffling of stockinged feet across the carpeted hallway, a few quiet moments, and then the flush of the toilet and the running of the sink.

“Almost,” I repeated to myself, comfortingly.

11:39.

I stood to walk around, the movement forcing blood back into my limbs as I pondered life’s mysteries. How old was I? How could it be that the dizzying talons of sleep deprivation could so affect me with such speed and precision? Surely I had more stamina than this!

Images swam at the forefront of my mind, crashing into one another, convalescing into strange, tantalizing creations that eluded my more lucid self. I saw a swarm of insects reciting haikus as they hovered above a giant glass of peach nectar. I imagined a pink donkey, much more believable than haiku-reciting insects. It seemed almost reasonable. Why shouldn’t there be pink donkeys out there in the wild somewhere, as yet undiscovered? I imagined a whole herd of them, galloping gleefully in the last rays of sunlight after a long day in the…did donkeys gallop?

11:46.

And if they did, where were they galloping? Where did donkeys live in the wild? It occurred to me that I had no idea. I considered this for a long moment before taking out my phone. My fingers were clumsy as I tried to punch my query into the search engine. Frustrated at my failed attempt, which read “wear do dark nees live?” I held down the home button and practically shouted at my phone. “Where do donkeys live in the wild?” I asked angrily, my voice echoing through the bright, empty living room.

“I don’t know, but there’s an ass in the living room!” came the cry of the disembodied upstairs voice.

“Here are some results from the web,” replied my phone, and I struggled to read the tiny words. The Horn of Africa. I wondered how many pink donkeys were prancing around the Horn of Africa, right now, right this very moment…at 11:52. The Horn of Africa. Horns. Donkeys don’t have horns. Cars do, though, I reasoned. Some are loud. Even with the lightest of taps to signal the driver in front of me that the light had turned green a full minute ago, my horn always sounded angry. Yet more than once I had heard the horns of others which had a much more polite, almost apologetic tone. As if to say, “I’m so sorry to disturb you, but would you mind terribly not cutting me off? Thanks ever so much.”

11:58.

I wonder what type of cars donkeys would be attracted to. If I were trying to capture a pink donkey, to be the first to reveal this beautiful enigma to the world, what vehicle would most likely act as bait?

11:59.

This was it. Mere seconds from now, it was going to happen. It had to. I had invested hours of my life that I could never get back, all culminating in the bittersweet moment that was about to arrive.

The clock now read 12:00. For fifty-nine seconds I held my breath, every muscle tensed in anticipation. And then it happened.

It was 12:01 for one fleeting, nearly imperceptible instant, and then, suddenly, it was 11:01.

“I’ve done it!” I cried with a victorious whoop. “I went to the future, and I came back!”

“What about a Cadillac?”

“Yes,” I agreed, feeling sobered by this life-altering experience. “I think they would prefer Cadillacs.”

Feeling much wiser than I had before, I headed up the stairs, already planning my trip for next year as I closed my eyes.

Let Me Tell You A Story.

A story is a lot like a room.

You start with nothing. An empty space.

Maybe it’s nice when you start. A clean slate. Or maybe it’s messy. Ideas can be messy. Most of mine are.

Then your idea begins to form into something more solid. A foundation, a framework.

But your story is only just beginning.

You begin to flesh it out. Give it walls, boundaries. Fashion a world with defined endings…but infinite possibilities.

It starts out a little rough. The future seems uncertain.

And sometimes it might seem like the story is heading in the wrong direction.

You make hard choices. Do you trust your first instinct? Do you change directions? Let a character fade out of existence or power through to see how they develop?

Fitting together different aspects, completely disjointed, might seem like a daunting task.

But it all works out in the end.

And as you add in the tiny details that make the story come alive, it will become something awesome. Something worth sharing.

This little space might not seem like much, but it’s mine. A cozy nook to go and write stories, create worlds, and talk to imaginary characters. I so look forward to adding the details to it as time goes on. But for now, it’s time to write!

When Something is Lost

Sometimes, as a writer, you find yourself pouring yourself into a paragraph, a scene—even a chapter.  And you reach a point at which you get stuck, and you read it over, and you discover that it just won’t work.

This is an inescapable and necessary part of the writing process.  Re-writes, edits, and scrapping whole ideas are integral to crafting something that is the very best it can be.  But do you ever wonder about the chapters and scenes your favorite author might have written before their final draft was published?  Probably not.  It’s a strange phenomena, from the other side.  When characters take on a life of their own, the quick, simple act of deleting whole pieces of their existence can be a sad thing.  As if you are stealing a memory from them, snatching away a part of who they are.

Does that sound melodramatic?  Sure!  But it’s true, nonetheless.  And let’s face it.  All writers get a little melodramatic, sometimes.  It’s the nature of the work!

Sometimes you write something you’re really pleased with that just won’t fit into the vision.  And it’s okay to let it go.  But I think it’s also okay to spend a little time, however brief, mourning the loss.  For an instant in time, that part of your work existed in the world, and now it doesn’t.  Gone, like a wisp of smoke, never to be shared.  How many imaginary worlds have been created and destroyed, crumpled into a wad in the trashcan or deleted with a single keystroke? An interesting thought.  And even… a little sad, perhaps?

 

Behind the Scenes

Hello, my friends!

I haven’t found much time for blogging this week. The truth is that I’ve been immersed in the world of Calamity, and stopping my writing to do pretty much anything else is an almost painful experience. The current word count stands at seventy thousand and growing, and I’ve tried hard to make certain that not a single one of those words is a boring experience for future readers. Although it’s a long way from a final draft, it’s shaping up brilliantly. I’m so excited to share it with you! In the meantime, please drop me a line and let me know if you’re reading/have read Sanctuary, and what you think! Your input is so valuable, as I’m not writing stories to hide them under the mattress. I want to craft worlds and tales that people will truly enjoy. And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like getting email that’s not an advertisement or a solicitation from a Nigerian prince? So feel free to write! I’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Trapped: A Flash Fiction Adventure

I recently became part of a very active and fun writing community online, and have discovered the joy that is flash fiction.  What fun, just to let it all out for a set amount of time in response to some seemingly random prompt.  What prompted the flash fiction that follows?  A real life event! Let’s see what we can do with twenty minutes and a little imagination 🙂

I never thought I would die in a toilet.

Perhaps I would be swept up one day, whilst scratching for particularly juicy worms.  Simply picked off by a hawk or an owl.  Or perhaps, while I slept soundly upon my favorite perch, I would be set upon by a hungry fox.  Perhaps I would succumb to the bittersweet night that greets us in old age.  Instead, I, the most majestic of fowl, a chicken of exceeding grace and charm, an integral part of my flock’s pecking order, am reduced to such a crappy end as this.

It began as an average day in June.  My pea-sized brain wandered from butterflies to a glinting dewdrop as I deftly dodged the longing hands of the small humans who sought to capture me.  I noticed a great deal of noise from the humans’ coop, and expressed vague interest by making a cautious approach.  They must have been mucking it out, because chunks of the interior kept flying out an open window into an ever-growing heap on the ground.

After a time, the door swung wide, and the two larger humans emerged, carrying between them a shining white object.  It looked heavy, and they struggled down the steps toward the shed where they kept all of the things they wished to forget.  When they had placed it neatly in an already crowded corner and retreated, I approached.  It gleamed white, with smoothly curving sides and an intriguing basin.  I wished to get a closer look.

If only I had known that this porcelain throne would soon become my tomb.

Fluttering, ever-so-daintily, I came to rest a foot above the basin and stared down into its depths.  My talons gripped the thin perch as it began to waver beneath me.  My wings flapped, attempting to keep me balanced, but alas—I toppled forward into the gaping maw, the perch on which I had been sitting slamming behind me, casting me into darkness.

I heard the humans several times that day, somewhere near by.  “Where did she go?” they asked, voices muffled by my solid prison walls.  I clucked and chirped hopefully.  “One of the hens is missing!” one of the small humans called.  They searched.  They did not find me.

I slept fitfully that night, and woke in the morning with a renewed hope.  I pushed against the roof of the basin, but my feet scrambled vainly against the curved bottom of the basin, and I could not extend my wings.

I heard the humans several more times that day, but they did not hear me.

For two days, I slipped in and out of unconsciousness, hope slowly slipping from me and down into the s-bend below.  I was standing in a pile of my own making, now, and the stench was awful.  I was hungry, and thirsty, and cramped.  I chirruped sadly into the darkness.

“Did you hear something?”

I rustled my feathers and let out a weak squawk.

“I think there’s a chicken in the shed.”

I tried to make more noise, but I was so tired, so thirsty.

“I don’t see anything.  Definitely no chickens in here.”

The humans left.  I remained, undiscovered.

I had nearly given up hope at the dawning of day four of my imprisonment.  I was prepared for death.  I made mournful noises as I contemplated my slow demise.

“There it is again! I’m sure there’s a chicken in there!”

There was a shuffling of heavy feet.  “You don’t think—couldn’t be, could it?”

My salvation appeared as a tiny ray of light which grew swiftly as the lid was pulled back, and a giant, beautiful human face stared down at me with wide, disbelieving eyes.

“How did you get in there?” he asked, amazed.

I did not respond.  I stretched my wings up into the fresh air and lifted myself, as dignified as I could, out into the sunlight.  I peered up at my savior and gave a little chirp of thanks.

What was that?  A butterfly!  I hoped down from the toilet and chased after it, happy to be alive.

 

The Little Things

Have you ever had a really bad headache or migraine, and realized that you had taken all your headache-free days for granted?

Sometimes it seems that I am only thankful when faced with adversity.  Appreciative of the days that nothing’s gone wrong when the day seems headed in a downward spiral.  I find myself reminiscing about the little things—all the days when my nose wasn’t stuffy, or the dashboard of my car wasn’t lit up like a Christmas tree.  It’s easy to be thankful then, isn’t it?  Because I remember that those tiny things were really amazing, weren’t they?

I would challenge you, friends, in this season and all those to follow, to try and be thankful in the moment, for the small things that add up to our lives.  Don’t wait for adversity to strike before taking a moment to enjoy the tiny blessings in your life.  Enjoy them now, to their fullest!

Throwback Thursday—The Great American Eclipse

Did you get to experience the Great American Eclipse in August?  My family and I took a road trip to Tennessee and camped out to view it in all its Glory.  It ended up being one of the most awesome two minutes of my life, and something I am so thankful we got the opportunity to do.  Neither words nor pictures can describe the way those few moments of totality made me feel, but here is my weak attempt at describing the day, as written directly afterward.

The temperature dipped markedly, and the cicadas’ songs quieted, replaced by the excited chatter of a hundred families, all eagerly awaiting the big moment. Rows of cars lined the parking lot, dotted with license plates showing just how many people were brought together for this event. People passed us, stealing glances of the shrinking sun from behind protective glasses. Children let out gasps of delight as they searched the sky until the crescent appeared through their lenses. For many, this would be a once in a lifetime event.

An hour and a half after the first sliver of sun disappeared behind the moon, the park reached a fever pitch. Voices rose as families gathered their children from the playground, calling them together, passing out their glasses. We tried to find a good spot for a picture, but instead settled for a park bench at the last moment.

There was a moment of awed silence as the world was suddenly plunged into darkness. People took off their glasses to stare at the surreal spectacle above. Then people began crying out in astonishment. Gasps and whoops and clapping filled the park. For two and a half minutes, a ring of delicate rays of light were all the evidence there was that the sun was indeed still in the sky.

And then, as suddenly as it had begun, it was over.

If you, too, experienced this amazing event, I would love to hear your thoughts on it as well!

A(nother) Pravacordian Nursery Rhyme

How long did it lay, in the ice tucked away,

That silent traveler from space.

Alone, without sound, it hid in the ground,

Content in the snow’s cold embrace.

 

Till upon it they stumbled, so awed and so humbled,

So eager its secrets to find.

If they only had known, they’d have left it alone,

But their greed, it had made them all blind.

 

That which slumbered, now woken, with wonders unspoken,

Took root and continued to thrive.

How could they have guessed, they’d have left it to rest,

If they’d known what they had was alive.

 

It confused and confounded, intrigued and astounded,

And still they continued to pry.

How they’d fret, what regret, when they realized that,

It was death.  It was death from the sky.

And the Beat Goes On

It’s true, isn’t it?

 

I woke up this morning feeling wretched.  My eyes were crusty, and it felt like someone had poured glue in my mouth while I slept.  I was sore all over, and cold despite a heap of blankets.  And yet, as they say, the beat goes on.  Life continued happening around me even though all I wanted to do was curl up in a corner and hide.  Children still were dressed and fed, work still got done, and, of course—coffee still got poured.  Okay, not gonna lie.  That happened first.

A story is no different.  Characters face difficult, even crippling, situations, and yet their reality still continues, steadily marching the plot along and pulling them, kicking and screaming, perhaps, with it.

This is one of the things I particularly enjoy in a story.  Putting yourself in your character’s shoes, imagining how you would feel if it were you dealing with a loss, or an injury, or a terrible choice.  Time will keep moving, regardless of what’s happened.  How do your characters cope?  Denial?  Reckless behavior?  A new sense of purpose? A change of heart?

But sometimes, imagining what you yourself would feel (or hope to feel) is not the answer.  You are not your character, after all.  Are your personalities similar?  If every character in your story resembles yourself, you may want to go back and try again.  There are infinite types of personalities out there, and if everyone were the same it would most likely make for rather a dull read.  Not only is it an important decision figuring out how you would have them proceed, but it’s equally important that it’s fitting given everything your reader knows about this character.  In order for their reaction to this cataclysmic event to be believable, you must have a strong base that would suggest that this is, indeed, a plausible response.  As you write, explore the options and be open minded.  You don’t want to end up defending a weak response later on.

On Halfsies.

As you may already be aware, Felix is a fictional character from Antiquity’s Gate.  He is a major player, and someone with whom, should you read the book, you will become closely acquainted.  He is a fun-loving, joke-cracking, fiercely loyal Halfsie.

Hold up.  What’s a Halfsie?

In the world of Antiquity’s Gate, a Halfsie is the result of interbreeding between Humans and Elves.  Despite this slang term for this small but important group of people, these are not necessarily Half-Human, Half-Elven persons.  The name has extended in use through the generations to include any non-pure blood people, including those with a Halfsie and a Human parent, an Elven and a Halfsie parent, or two Halfsie parents…you get the idea.

Generally shunned as second-class citizens, Halfsies are surprisingly resilient.  Felix, in particular, has seen more than his share of hard times, but has managed to become who he is in spite of, and perhaps also because of, how he has been treated.

Sanctuary, with a population ten thousand strong, has a relatively small Halfsie population of a few hundred or so.  Yet they should not be ignored, or underestimated.  Sure, there is strength in numbers.  But that is not the only source of strength…is it?