What is Flash Fiction?
Flash Fiction is a type of writing that I have only recently begun to try. I am not sure how long it has been around, but there certainly seems to be an epidemic of it – competitions, flash fiction websites, festivals, articles about how to write the best, what it truly involves etc etc – so that if you write it is hard to escape the feeling that you should really be having a go …
And, of course, to state the absolute obvious, it doesn’t take up a huge amount of time to try.
So if the main work in progress is stuck in a seemingly insurmountable pit of problems yet the urge to write is strong, the guilt when not writing haunts, a quick bit of flash fiction could be the answer.
Here is some of mine, and you can read more at http://www.fridayflashfiction.com/
My Flash Fiction
She sits in the parlour, hands neatly clasped, noises outside remote. Like echoes from a distant place.
The door opens.
“Coming? The whole street’s out there. Celebrating.”
She shakes her head. Tries to smile.
He hesitates, steps towards his mother. She waves him away.
“I’d prefer to stay here. With my thoughts. With the other two.”
He nods, wants to kiss her cheek, but is afraid he might cry. A grown man crying. After what he has seen. Survived.
Outside, jubilant cheers grow.
“Arthur,” she murmurs. “And Gordon. My sons. My lost boys.”
“Their duty,” he says mechanically, “they did …”
But the word implodes, like an unexploded shell.
“Wasted lives,” she says. “The futility of it.”
They speak every Sunday night, 200 miles between them.
“So-so. You know. You?”
“Not bad. Jenny visited.”
“Nice. And the grandchildren?”
“No. All grown now. Too busy.”
“Of course. Understandable. Like we were.”
A pause, memories provoked, echoes of distant lives.
“Busy week ahead?”
“Me neither. Still …”
“We’re here. For each other.”
“Of course. A comfort. Always.”
And it is, every week, the consoling tedium of their conversation.
The phone rings across a cold kitchen.
Futilely, she goes on listening.
Knowing this to be the last call, the line snapped, broken.
He opens the door.
She looks down, shuffles her feet among Autumn leaves, an onslaught from the storm. All night she stayed awake, listening to its ravages, a wild, untamed thing trailing destruction in its path. Now it is spent, at peace.
She looks up at him, cautious, hesitant. Foolishly shy.
“You don’t mind?”
He stands back and the warmth of the place embraces her, its familiarity consoles, tends wounds. He says something, but sound is swallowed, heads burrowing animal-like, skin against skin.
Later, he asks,
“Did you hear the storm?”
“Yes,” she says, “but it’s over now.”
A bevy of small girls in smart dresses, petticoats taut under skirts of pale pink.
“Look at my party shoes, they sparkle!” Birthday girl says to the newcomer who clutches her mother’s hand, unequal to the task of letting go, leaving that familiar smell of face powder and perfume and lipstick.
“Look at the cake!” Birthday girl says. “Five candles. Count them!”
And she does, still holding fast to that hand. But enchanted by sugar flowers, iced rosettes.
Her first party. First friend.
She lets go, little knowing that the bond of friendship thus flickered will flourish, endure.
Broad, brazen smiles for the photographer – there you are in your borrowed bridal dress, your enormous bouquet, on a day of late September sunlight, a gift from mid-summer.
And on your arm, in a smart suit that swallowed months of clothes coupons, your groom, handsome, protective, his hand cautiously covering yours.
Your youth, the two of you, shocks. So vulnerable, so unprepared, innocence loosed on a damaged world, weeping for its sins.
But you survive; you prosper.
And it is love that reaches out from the well-thumbed photo, your legacy bestowed on the next generation.
And the next …