Fabulous Fiction Friday Round-up

You might have been expecting this kind of round-up.

Yeeehaw! Okay, it’s not that kind of round-up. There are no cows or bulls, no ropes and no manure (although that might be a matter of opinion). What I thought I’d do is re-introduce you to some of the Fabulous Fiction Peeps I’ve had the honor to host on this blog.

First, you may have heard of this guy. He’s the best-selling author of The Warded Man and The Desert Spear, along with The Great Bazaar and Other Stories and Brayan’s Gold. His name is Peter V. Brett, and you can find my interview with him from 2009 here. I find his comments about publishing especially interesting.

Next up is an interview with Jeremy C. Shipp. I think he had the best answer I’ve ever heard about the future of publishing. Although I haven’t done a review of “Cursed” yet, it is on my list. Which is about as long as my left leg, right now. *sigh*

My next victim…uh, I mean my next GUEST…was a badass chick by the name of Susan Helene Gottfried, author of Trevor’s Song, Shapeshifter: The Demo Tapes – Year 1 and ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes – Year 2. She inhabits the world of rock and roll, kicking asses and taking names.

Of course, I have a soft spot for editors, and I have two I’ve interviewed here. First is the “Goddess of Flash”, Esther Schrader, the Editor-in-Chief for Flashshot. Second is the Mad Aussie, aka Matthew Glenn Ward. In addition to his editor duties (although Skive has been regretfully retired) he found time to compose his novel, John F. Kennedy Lives in the Future! and is one of my favorite people.

Podcasting is a fast-growing portion of the fiction market, and to that end I wanted a word or two with Kate Sherrod who also composes some brilliant sonnets in her spare time. Besides the podcast point of view, Kate is A Very Interesting Person, and you can read the fascinating interview here.

MeiLin Miranda is probably one of the most innovative and hard-working indie authors I know. She’s recently won the Preditors and Editors Best Erotic Novel for 2010 as voted by the readers. You can find “Lovers and Beloveds” in a wide variety of formats, and you can find my interview with her here.

Last, but far from least, if you haven’t met him, now’s your chance. Yes, it’s Joseph Paul Haines, author of Ten With a Flag and Other Playthings. He’s got a lot to say, and pay attention. He knows what he’s talking about.

Quite a stellar line-up, if I do say so myself. Every one of these artists are hardworking, dedicated, twisted, demented and brilliantly talented. The have all inspired me in different ways to become better at my chosen career, they have offered hope that it can be done and lead by example. These guys don’t just talk the talk, people, they walk the walk. Every one has marched to their own beat and represents a different aspect of the writing journey. I hope you enjoy the interviews as much as I did conducting them.

Find your own drum. This one's mine.

Share

Fabulous Fiction Friday – The Last One Standing

I am neck deep in non-fic work, plus a tutoring gig teaching conversational English. It has been a long and very busy week. This is Good For Me, because it seems the busier I am the more productive. I have edited up to Chapter 10 of “Athena’s Promise” (working title) and I’m happy about that. However, the hard part of plot tweaking is about to come up. Wish me luck.

Anyway, I was poking around in my 3 Words file, and found this story. To refresh your memory, this story is a result of a group of writers who thought it would be fun to write 100 words a day around three prompt words. We all took turns posting the words, and this is one of the results. Here it is raw and unedited, written one day at a time, and I’m actually pleased with how it turned out — I think by this time, I was getting the hang of it. I don’t have a listing of the prompt words, so you’ll have to guess. Enjoy :)

The Last One Standing

Her pearls are in my jewelry box.

They lay in their velvet prison, reminding me of other days, better days. Lost days.

I’ll light a candle, I’ll open the box, taking the cool pearls and running them through my hands. They’ll warm from my own body heat. They feel like tears.

Comfort? There’s none. She’s moved on and left me behind, waiting and wondering.

#

Her name is Sunny. I loved her from the moment I saw her.

#

It’s like something from an old movie. I was in a video store, looking for something to watch on a lonely Friday night. It’s a small video store, a faded dream in the age of corporate owned places, but very customer service oriented. I like that they call me by name, recognize me.

I said hi to Ray, walking over to the rack featuring movies from the forties and fifties. Not looking at what I was doing, I bumped into this girl.

“Whoops!” she exclaimed, as she dropped a load of video cases on the floor.

A flash of deja-vu swept over me as I stammered my apology. I bent to help her gather up the videos.

I never knew what hit me.

“Oh, it’s okay,” she said, “My fault, really.” I rose and so did she, and we got our first good look at each other.

I can’t tell you what she saw, but I can tell what I did. Short, with long brown hair in a braid. Hazel eyes, cat’s eyes, my mother would’ve said. It wasn’t that she’s beautiful in a conventional sense; it’s something about the configuration of her features that make her seem beautiful.

She literally took my breath away.

The red sweater she wore against the snow of this morning hugged her in all the right places, and although she would tell me later of her battle with her weight, she seemed perfect to me.

“My name’s Sunny,” she smiled, and the world pulsed with her song.

“I’m Jake,” and I offered my hand. I felt my spirits and heartbeat rise when I felt her small hand nestle inside of mine as if it belonged there, as if it had always belonged there. From the widening of her eyes, I was certain she felt it too.

Was I mistaken? Even today, I don’t know the definitive answer to that question.

Her pearls are in my jewelry box.

I had no idea what to say next, so I helped her gather up the videos, too upset with myself to even think straight. I’d spend the next two days arguing with myself, but that was for later. For now, I was tongue-tied and feeling nothing but stupid.

“This is really sweet of you, Jake.”

“Uh, s’ok. My fault.”

“Don’t be silly. It was an accident. Anyway, it was nice to meet you.” She flashed me a funny grin saying, “I’ll see you around, right?”

“I’m in here all the time – I’m sure we’ll bump into each other.”

She giggled.

Even I had to grin at that one. After a final good-bye, she went to check out and I resumed perusing the videos, my mind in a maelstrom. What just happened to me? I felt as breathless as if I had climbed a stairway all the way to heaven. I watched her out of the corner of my eye, not wanting to seem needy or desperate. I stood behind the comedy section (normally I wouldn’t be caught dead in the comedy section, but it gave great cover) and watched her economical movements, her gentle banter with Ray, her graceful exit.

I’m a fool. I can admit to that much.

Once she had gone, I waited a while, moving on to the mystery section. I was trying to be cool, but I wasn’t even fooling myself. I certainly wasn’t fooling Ray. Anyone who thinks they’re going to catch Ray sleeping on the job has a big surprise coming.

I picked a movie at random and headed to the check-out counter where Ray was waiting.

“Dude, you can get picked up for stalking, then you’d be stuck with Bubba as a cellmate.”

I didn’t even pretend to not know what he meant.

“You’re a funny guy, Ray. You should take that act on the road.” I wondered how cooperative he would be if I got the nerve to ask….

As if he could read my mind, he shook his head, long hair flying. “No, buddy, you know I can’t do it.” Ray might look like a dumb, hairy monkey but he’s a sharp guy. He guarded his member’s privacy as if it were his own.

I sighed. “Yeah, I know.”

“Hakunamatata, dude.”

I hated that expression. He considered this phrase the wellspring of wisdom — all it did was piss me off.

Ray grinned. “Don’t look so glum, man. I can tell you she’s applied for a job here.”

My heart jumped like a kite on the breeze. Although I tried to keep my expression neutral, I knew Ray saw right through the façade. It’s like he can feel the same tingle I feel. I think the word is “empathetic.” He’s like that. Can’t hide a damned thing from the guy.

He’s peculiar, but in a good way. At least, most of the time. I don’t think I’d ever want to get on his bad side – but, I’m getting ahead of myself.

“You going to hire her?” Nonchalance was thrown to the wind. What the fuck, I thought.

Ray scooped up a pile of DVD cases from the counter and stacked them on a cart. “Well,” he said, “I do need somebody dependable, and the winter season is fairly busy.” He pulled “Lost Horizon” and “The Green Mile” from the stack. “You ever see either of these movies?”

I watched his reflection in the bank of windows behind him. That’s Ray. He bounces from one subject to another and sometimes it’s hard to keep track of where he’s going. I still try.

“I’ve seen ‘The Green Mile,’” I replied.

He handed me “Lost Horizon.”

“Give me that drivel you have in your hand.” I didn’t even know what movie I had picked up. I was surprised to see “Bring It On,” with a picture of vapid cheerleaders gracing the cover in my hand. Yuck.

“You need to relax, dude. Take it slow. Watch this movie, think about it. Then, if you’re still inclined, when you run into her again, ask her out for a cup of coffee. Take it from there.” Ray bagged up the movie for me, no charge. “Let me know what you think, grasshopper.” He snickered.

I just nodded, took the bag and wandered home. Sure, I’d been hurt before and there was no sense trying to hide it, at least not from Ray. He sees everything, and he’d call me out on it if he thought it was getting out of hand. He’s a strange guy, I think I mentioned that. Hanging with him for any length of time is like standing in the shade for a bit, then stepping out into the sun. It’s a lot to take all at once; somehow, you feel blinded and disoriented until the world settles back to normal.

That’s how I felt, walking back to my place with my free movie and head filled with the sound of Sunny’s voice, her cool scent, the image of the red sweater baked into my memory. What the hell just happened to me?

The cold November breeze picked up and I shivered. It was a good day to stay inside, pop in the movie and chill out. Of course, I didn’t know at the time it would be the last day of peace I would have for quite a while.

Life is funny that way. One day you’re good – the next….

Again, ahead of myself.

I let myself into my dank, basement apartment. It was a mess, but I had a better idea of how to spend my day off than cleaning it. I work six days a week at a major home improvement store, and I have no interest in improving anything on my day off.

Since it was past lunch time and I was starving, I cut a slice of stale cherry pie for my noon meal, and sat down to watch Ray’s pick.

First of all, it was mis-labeled. The movie was actually titled, “Shangri-La,” not “Lost Horizon.”

The reason this struck me is because Ray is quite anal about labeling his movies. He never makes a mistake, at least not in my experience, so this had to be deliberate. He knows how much I hate seeing dead people in a movie, I thought, so I wonder what this is all about. There’s a message here, I knew it. I also knew if I tried to pin Ray down the next time I saw him, I’d have better luck holding a cup of water in my bare hands. I’d have to figure it out all on my own.

#

It was a typical old Hollywood type of movie, meaning I loved the atmosphere. No special effects, you know, all that hype stuff that’s in movies these days. They take all the imagination out of it. Still, the title thing kept bugging me, until I heard the wails and screams from my neighbors. The slamming door finally drove me over the edge.

I pounded on the thin wall – “Hey! What the fuck over there!”

I heard nothing but muffled sobs. So ended my hard-earned peace. Did I have to go over there? Yes and no. My mama raised me right.

I sighed and walked out my door and knocked on the next one. This was not a new drama, but I wouldn’t feel right if I ignored what was going on over there. I knew someday I would see that asshole Brian’s mug shot on the wall at the post office.

The door opened and Danielle stuck her head out, mascara running from red-rimmed eyes.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

She sniffled, and opened the door a little wider. “Yes. Wanna come in?”

“Sure.” Not sure this was a good idea, I took her cold hand in my warm one.

Danielle looked old and tired to me, and she was only six months older. Exotic dancing can do that to a girl, I’ve seen. She’s told me she feels like she’s dancing for vampires; all they want is to suck the blood out of her. It showed in her face today.

As she ushered me inside, darting nervous looks out to the hallway, I noticed she’d dropped weight, and she never had it to lose. Her blond hair seemed brittle, her face gaunt. She had the most marvelous ass, but it was lost in the baggy sweats she was wearing.

She seemed lost all over.

She plucked some Kleenex from the box on the coffee table, blowing her nose. The cupboards in her kitchen were standing ajar; the end table from beside the recliner in the living room — knocked over. Danielle stood wiping her wet eyes as I surveyed the wreckage.

“You don’t have to say it. I won’t make excuses. We weren’t playing tag, and it wasn’t an artist’s tantrum. He’s an asshole. I know it.”

I sighed. What’s the point? It’s a rough life, we’re both aware. I don’t judge. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t pissed as hell.

What I wanted to do was grab Brian by the head, punch him until he screamed like a little girl, then crumple him up, tossing him out with the trash. What I did do was straighten the end table, close the cabinets and kept my mouth shut. I’ve seen Danielle go through guys like this before. There used to be a core of strength inside her, but I see it diminish a little bit with each Brian.

“You gonna be okay?”

“Sure,” she sniffled. “He’ll be back, and he’ll behave. If he doesn’t, there’s plenty more where he came from.”

I grinned at that. It’s such quintessential Danielle at her best.

She brushed her hair back from her face, and asked, “How about a cup of tea?” Not waiting for my response, she went into her tiny kitchen, putting the kettle on. “Thanks for … well, you know.”

I sat on the worn sofa. All her furniture looked blurred around the edges. “Yeah, that’s what neighbors are for.”

“You need a good girl, Jake. You deserve a good girl. Not someone like me, someone with class.” She reached for the kettle and gave a little yelp at the hot handle. “What a day,” she sighed. “When it rains, it pours.”

I just nodded. My head was still in the video store. Sunny’s voice was still in my ears, and it was keeping the regular darkness at bay.

Danielle brought two tea cups and a bowl of sugar cubes over to the coffee table. She picked up her cup, and blowing gently across the hot liquid she studied my face. She smiled as I put two lumps in my cup, stirred, and raised the impossibly fragile and feminine piece of china to my lips. She knew right away something was up.

“Something’s happened to you, Jake,” she said. “You look like you just won first prize in a contest.”

I said nothing. I just sipped my tea.

“All right, I won’t push.” Danielle settled back into her chair. “I guess it’s putting the cart in front of the horse, anyway. You wanna know what I’m gonna to do about this Brian thing.”

I shrugged, my mind a million miles away. What was Sunny doing right now? Could she be thinking about me? Would she say yes, if I were to ask her out? Did I have the balls to do it?

I missed what Danielle said next, until she attracted my attention by punching me in the arm, a typical Danielle move when she felt neglected.

“Ouch! Are you insane? That HURT.”

“Pay attention, then. If you won’t tell me what you’re all in knots about, the least you can do is pretend you’re interested in what I’m saying.”

I blew her a kiss for an apology. “I’m not telling anything. There’s nothing to tell.”

“You’re gunning for a black eye, my friend,” she sniffed. “Fuck’re you doin’ here, anyway, if you’re not gonna listen to me?”

I had to laugh. The woman’s a nut case, this is true, but we’d been neighbors for over a year, and we looked out for each other.

“Okay. Sorry. What were you saying?”

“I said I’m sick of working, paying all the bills just so Brian can go out and play, having a good time.”

“And?”

“And what?” she retorted. She shifted in her chair and crossed her magnificent legs. Although she was my friend, I could still appreciate a good set of gams.

“What are you going to do about it?” I picked up the teacup and took another sip of tepid tea. Gah, I hated the stuff. The things you do for friendship.

“You know, Jake, when we first started seeing each other, sparks flew. He didn’t mind me dancing for a living, and I didn’t mind he seemed to be the comforter for other girls. But now, well, it’s different.” She nibbled on her forefinger, a nervous habit she’d had ever since I’d known her. “It’s like real life slaps you right upside the head, and you never know what hit you.”

Is that how it would be with Sunny? I thought. Fine at first, then a slow decline? What’s worse? Living through the death of something fine, or being alone with your dreams?

“Look,” I said, “I can’t make a decision for you. Here it is, straight up — either you’re going to put up with this fruit loop or you’re not. I think you’re better than this, but if you don’t, I’m just wasting my breath.”

Some balm for the soul I am, but I confess I was getting irritated.

Danielle blinked her great blue eyes, becoming all teary again. “You do? Think I’m better?”

“It doesn’t matter what I think. What do you think?” I sighed and stood. “Dani, I love you, but you need to get your head out of your ass and face your gorgons. Small things turn into big things, and next thing you know your heart’s turned to stone.” I knew she had no idea what I was talking about, but I could feel a sense of purpose forming. I reached out, stroked her creamy skin, and she smiled. She’d be all right.

“There’s a girl, isn’t there?”

“Not yet, but I think…I think it’s a possibility.”

“I’m glad. She’s a lucky girl.” Danielle stood and took my hand, walking me to the door.

#

I walked back to my apartment, thinking about Danielle and Sunny. Thinking about how life sometimes kicks you in the balls. About how sometimes when you meet someone special, you can almost hear an audible “pop’ and your heart feels as warm as a southern breeze. Thinking how sometimes it seems only the stars in the sky understand how you feel.

When I walked in the door, the phone was ringing. Its shrill peal sent goosebumps up my spine. The last thing I wanted to do was pick it up. It refused to stop, so I picked up the receiver.

“Hello?”

“Jake?”

“Yes.” I knew it was Ray immediately, even though he had never called me before. The skin on my skull suddenly felt too tight.

“I thought you’d want to hear it from me, dude. Sunny came in just after you left. She wanted your phone number, but you know me.”

Yeah, I know Ray.

“Still, I gave it to her. I don’t know why I did, I normally don’t do that, you know.” His voice was shaking, and I knew I didn’t want to hear what was coming next. My legs felt heavy and there was a metallic taste in my mouth.

“She was acting a little funny, like she knew something was going to happen.”

“What happened, Ray? Stop fucking around and tell me.” I had to sit down, my legs wouldn’t support me any more.

“I’m trying to, man,” and I realized with some horror Ray was crying. He was crying.

“She took your number and left a box for you. She called them her ‘precious memories’ and said you would understand. Then she…she…left to catch the bus. You know the stop is right across the street.” Ray was practically blubbering by now, and I could see her as if she were standing right across from me, curls escaping the tight braid and that smile. My heart clenched and I was sure it was going to stop beating.

“Go on, Ray. Just spill it,” I said, my voice unwavering.

“It…it was a truck, Jake. A young kid, just got his CDL. I’m so sorry, man.”

I hung up the phone. What else was there to say, after that?

#

After I picked up the package Sunny had left for me, I didn’t go to Ray’s much. Actually, I’ve not been back. It’s not Ray’s fault, but it is hard for me to take.

Inside Sunny’s package were her pearls. I hold them in my hands, feel them warm against my skin and sometimes I can feel her close. Time ticks by and I’m left behind, wondering what could have been, what should have been, and what will never be.

It’s hard to be the last one standing.

Share

Once Upon A Time…Fabulous Flash Fiction Friday

…there was a group of writerly friends — you know the type. Friends who had aspirations to literary greatness. One of these friends had the brilliant idea of posting three words as a prompt every day, and those participating would write 100 words of an ongoing story incorporating those three words. The friends thought that was a marvelous idea, and all took turns posting three words. At the end of a month, each friend ended up with an unusual and entertaining 3k word story.

Although sometimes time was tight and inspiration lacking, most of the participants did indeed finish their stories. Some couldn’t tie everything up in one month (not mentioning any names, ahem) and continued their story for several months. Others were much better about it and finished a story every month. A good time was had by all. The brilliant originator still carries on now and then to this day, and even put together some PDFs of all the original work. Some funny, funny shiz-niz and hilarity has ensued.

Special thanks to Dave Burton, for shepherding us and keeping us motivated and on track.

For your entertainment, I present you with the first story I wrote for 3Words, complete and unedited. I could have bolded the three words given every day, but I think you can tell anyway. Heh. Instead, I’ve included the listing after the story.

Here it is naked. It was a blast to write, and I hope it’s as much fun to read.

Transmigration

By Nayskya

Marissa put the fish in his sock and sunk it down the well like the witch had told her. The full moon shone brightly in her liquid eyes, pulling out tears like strings of pearls.

She swayed to an unearthly lullaby, stretching her slim arms over her head towards the unbelievable moonlight. Her small feet moved in an intricate dance over the fragrant petals of gardenias, tissue-soft against her soles.

Marissa danced in mystery against the infection in her head. She danced in supplication, for mercy, until her feet throbbed with weariness. She bent, scooped up a handful of colourless sand and clenched it tightly.
She released the sand into the cool night air, watching it shimmer and fall to earth. “Thee art my ticket,” she whispered, while her heart railed against the black bitch-witch working the intricate, delicate spell.

Moving to the beach, Marissa retrieved a cushion of sea teeth she had fashioned from a worn pair of her beloved’s work pants. She held it close and inhaled, his masculine scent filling her nostrils.

From her hiding place beneath the banana-shaped rock, she pulled out her velvet spell bag. She knew it was a race to finish in time. He was depending on her; she couldn’t let him down.

Rummaging in her velvet bag, her trembling fingers closed upon the potion bottle wedged sideways between his picture, framed in tiny bones, and the spell book. Waves pounded a musical rhythm against the sandy beach.

She drank down the secret potion and chanted the words of power, the cumbersome syllables falling like stones from her dry lips. She drew the ancient symbols of protection and invocation with her pointed dagger.
The spell completed, seawater swelled until it exploded, drenching Marissa in salty tears cried over millennia.

To her credit she continued her chanting, never stopping even as she ducked the worst of the deluge.
Out of the heaving waves appeared the face of a man, framed by sea-foam, with dark hair and large, expressive eyes. His mouth was a rictus of agony as he fell back into the water.

“From the grip of she that holds you, I command thee!” shouted Marissa over the scream of the waves. “From the ash of a seared heart, as cheese from the wheel, I do claim thee!”

The man’s face reappeared, scarred with pain, his arms flailing. “Your friend needs thee – the grave plot closed to thee – return to those that love thee most!” Marissa’s voice was hoarse with salt and heartache.
Pulling out her jewelled dagger, she drew it down the inside of her left arm, a long line of heart’s blood dripping to the damp sand that shifted beneath her feet. The demon wind howled.

As soon as her blood hit the sand, the wind hushed to a murmur. Marissa’s body went stiff, locked to the earth. The angry sea disgorged its prisoner; a single tear snuck down Marissa’s cheek.

Unable to move, Marissa watched as a luminous ball of blue light danced over the still water and over the prone figure of the man. She saw him breathing as the light winked over him.

The clear blue light brushed over his hair and down the length of his body, illuminating the bleached pieces of driftwood strewn about. A mild breeze caressed Marissa’s skin; dried the tears upon her cheeks.

Marissa tried to move but the solid earth held her fast and all she could do was watch and wait. Months of preparation and sacrifice had sucked tears of blood from her. Her world trembled.

The light emitted a bright ray that struck Marissa resulting in her silhouette appearing as a shadow on the sand, bookmarking her place in one reality when another beckoned, seduced and demanded payment in full.

She heard the man pull in a tearing breath, saw him raise his head and blink furiously against the light. Her heart pumping double time, she became aware of an unexpected and heart-stopping call.

A crystal horn sounded as the man gained his feet. The blue light caressed him still, as if loathe to give up according to plan. He leaned his head back and voiced a thrilling answer.

A loud moan escaped him as the blue light fondled him. A red floor of tiny sea creatures formed under the man and flowed over his legs, up on to his torso. The light pulsed.

The sea creatures covered the man completely. Marissa was torn between loss and hope, watching this transformation. The selfish side of her dreaded this drastic resolution, knowing deep down inside there was no other way.

As the man changed, creatures swarmed, creating a new schnizzle. He sneezed several times, shaking the creatures but not dislodging them. “Gesundheit,” Marissa whispered, wishing she had become a wino before getting to this point.

The man continued to writhe, and Marissa knew she would remember how the red sea creatures fluttered against his flesh for the rest of her life. Oops – that probably wasn’t going to be for long.

She had not lost all – he’d survive. This was her purpose, why she’d paid the price demanded of her. The wind freshened and feeling returned to her numb body. She lunged toward where he lay.

Marissa screamed at the searing pain in her legs, as she bumped her toe against a half-buried rock in the wet sand. Her heart wanted to fly to his side, but her body betrayed her.

As bad as she wanted to reach his side, a giant ladybug trundled onto the beach and barred her way. Marissa fell to the sand as her reality started to fray at the seams.

She became blind to any and everything around her as colors merged and textures faded. The only thing that was left was love… she clung desperately to that in her journey to the next awaiting reality.

~ * ~

BIO: Nayskya is a four hundred year-old Russian mermaid who has given up her career of inseminating oysters to produce pearls in order to pursue a caree in fiction. She has no legs but has been known to knock out ten men at one blow of her powerful tail. She enjoys listening to the song of the whales and her hobbies include seduction, swimming with the dolphins and diving wrecks. She prefers swimming in cold waters, is studying English as her seventy-seventh language, and her greatest wish is for world peace.

~*~

Sock, fish, sunk
Unbelievable, tissue, lullaby
Mystery, head, infect
Bitch, ticket, shimmer
Cushion, teeth, pants
Banana, bag, race
Sideways, bottle, frame
Point, cumbersome, secret
Explode, duck, credit
Out, fall, boys
Cheese, grip, ash
Plot, friend, scar
Shift, damp, long
Lock, snuck, hush
Dancing, wink, balls
Brush, mild, bleach
Suck, wait, try
Result, bookmark, silhouette
Pump, blink, tear
Plan, horn, lean
Fondle, moan, floor
Torn, side, cover
Wino, gesundheit, schnizzle
Remember, oops, flutter
Lunge, wind, lost
Bump, fly, scream
Bar, bug, bad
Blind, love, any

Share

Friday's Flash Fiction

Instead of a prompt, this week I figured I’d give you a piece of flash that was published in the fifth edition of Fictitious Force. A fine publication; on hiatus now, but hopefully it will return soon.

The prompt for this little story came when I was a member of Critical Ms — one of the best workshops in which I’ve participated. Quite a stellar group of writers, and at first I felt over my head. One of the guys threw out the prompt — “garbanzo beans” and this little story resulted. It’s actually one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it.

(Yes, I’m aware it needs another edit — I’m never “done” with a piece, but sometimes ya just gotta let them go.)

Learning The Hard Way


“Roberto, get that out of your nose right now!”

Miguel jumped at the sound of his mother’s voice, and looked over at his brother. Grinning sheepishly, Roberto folded the garbanzo bean in his napkin. Miguel giggled and gazed at his eleven year-old brother with respect. He never would have thought to put a garbanzo up his nose.

He looked over the stained tablecloth at Noni into her sad, dark eyes.

“No, Miguel. Just because Roberto tried it doesn’t mean you have to.”

Miguel blushed and hung his head. How did his Noni always know what he was thinking?

“Hush, Mama,” said the boy’s mother. “Miguel knows better.”

Roberto snorted, knowing Miguel certainly did not.

Noni sighed. It was a big sigh for her tiny, frail body. Miguel always wondered how someone so strong could be so small.

“Roberto should know better too, Rosa. Miguel will try anything Roberto does.” Noni turned her gaze on her grandsons. “I think I need to tell you two niño traviesos a story tonight.” Miguel sat up straighter in his chair and exchanged an excited look with his brother. They loved Noni’s stories.

“Mama, not that story. You’ll scare them.”

Noni turned her patient and sad gaze on her daughter.  “Rosa, I am their grandmamma. I will tell them what they need to hear.”

Rosa gave up. She had heard the story as a little girl and it had scared her ever since. Some things are tradition.

#

Noni tucked the boys into the bed they shared. They were both wriggling in excitement, giggling and getting comfortable under the well worn quilt that Noni had made with her own two hands. They loved their grandmamma’s stories. She didn’t tell them every night, so it was exciting and special when she did.

Her grandsons were her joy. Their beautiful liquid eyes; their chubby little boy toes; their sleek dark hair. Noni made herself comfortable in her special rocker beside their bed and folded wrinkled hands in her lap.

“Tonight I’m going to tell you a story about what happens when little children don’t listen to their mama.”

Both boys shivered in anticipation. Oh, this was going to be a good one. All the good ones started this way.

#

Once upon a time, there were two little girls who were sisters. Their names were Maria and Lucita, and they loved each other very much.

Maria was the elder of the two girls, and every thing that she did, Lucite wanted to do.

(Noni looked gravely at the two boys, and Roberto blushed.)

It wasn’t always a bad thing, such as when Maria helped her mama cook dinner and Lucita helped.  Maria assisted with the laundry because that is what Mama did to earn money, and Lucita would help too. But when it came to naughty things, or bad things, Lucita would follow right along with her sister and end up in as much or more trouble than Maria.

One night at the dinner table, Maria started to put a garbanzo bean up her nose.

(Miguel started to giggle, and Noni quelled him with a glance. “Do you want me to stop, bambino?”

“No, Noni, por favor.”

Silencio, then.”)

Mama caught Maria right away, (like your mama caught you, Roberto.) But Mama didn’t see Lucita putting the bean up her nose, like Maria tried to do. Maria was banished from the table, and Lucita wanted to finish her enchiladas, so she didn’t tell.

At first it didn’t bother her, this bean. But it liked it so much in Lucita’s nose it swelled and grew bigger and bigger. You couldn’t tell from the outside. It grew inside, towards her brain and her heart.

Days passed and the bean grew and grew. It started to change Lucita.

One day, Mama said to Maria, “Maria, take this basket outside and hang up the clothes for me. Take Lucita with you to help.”

“I don’t know where she is, Mama. I haven’t seen her all morning.”

“That child is going to get a beating.” Mama sighed. “Get those clothes on the line before it rains, hija.”

Maria lugged the big basket of clothes to the yard, mumbling under her breath because Lucita always helped her carry the basket.

(“I get mad at Miguel when he doesn’t help,” said Roberto.

“I always help!” was the retort.

Noni rocked in her rocking chair until the boys fell silent. “Do you want the rest of the story?” Both boys nodded solemnly.)

Maria set about pinning up Mr. Lopez’s we, heavy work pants. As she turned and bent to get the next pair of pants, she caught a glimpse of her sister standing in the garden.

“Lucita, Lucita!” she called.

Either Lucita didn’t hear her of didn’t want to hear her, and Maria started to get angry.  She marched over to the garden and grabbed Lucita by the arm.

“Lucita! I called you and called you…” Lucita’s head swiveled around and Maria screamed. Lucita’s beautiful, brown eyes were now green and empty. It was like she didn’t recognize Maria at all. The loamy aroma of the soil was rich and fragrant in Maria’s nostrils.

“Lucita, what’s wrong with you?” Maria looked down and saw Lucita’s feet buried in the moist soil of the garden. “What are you doing? You need to help me; you need to come out of there. Pronto!”

“No, Maria. I need to be out here. When I go in the house I’m so … hungry.”

“Hungry? Are you loco? Mama’s been looking for you, and I have too. I thought you would help me with the clothes.”

Lucita started to cry. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, Maria. I feel so strange. I don’t like it in the house, I don’t like it in the dark, and I hear whispers in my head.”

“Whispers? What kind of whispers?”

“I don’t know what they’re saying. Not yet. I feel like I could understand them, but I don’t. I hear them all the time.” The tears continued to fall. “I can’t sleep, the only time I feel better is when I come out here and put my feet in the dirt.”

Maria lost patience. “You need to stop this daydreaming and help me with the clothes. Come on, or I’ll tell Mama you’re not helping any more.” Seeing her sister cry harder made Maria feel sad, so she wiped Lucita’s tears with her apron and said, “Come with me hermanita, help me with these clothes and then we’ll get something to eat. Don’t cry, you’re probably just tired.”

“Don’t tell Mama, promise me,” Lucita sobbed.

“I promise,” said Maria.

The two sisters went to hang the clothes, and it wasn’t until later that night Maria noticed the green smudges on her apron. At first she couldn’t figure out what they were, and then remembered how she had wiped Lucita’s tears.

Two weeks passed, and every time Mama couldn’t find Lucita, Maria would go and pull her from the garden, never telling Mama because she had promised. But Maria was very troubled and didn’t know what to do.

They shared a bed (like you two,) and one night Maria felt her sister shaking with sobs in the darkness.

“Lucita, what’s the matter?” Maria put her arms around her sister and held her as she cried harder. When the worst of the sobs had passed, Lucita whispered, “Maria, I have to tell you something.”

“What is it?”

“Something is happening to me. And I think I know what it is and why.”

“Does it explain why you’re barefoot in the garden all the time?”

Si, and I’m scared. Remember that night you put the garbanzo up your nose?”

Si.”

“I put a bean up my nose when you did, only I didn’t tell and I never got it out.”

“Oh, my God.” Maria peered at her sister in the dark. “In your nose?”

Si.”

“Are you sure you didn’t get it out? I can’t see it.”

“I’m sure. I think it’s growing … inside me.”

“What?”

“Inside me. The only time I don’t feel hungry is when I’m outside in the dirt, with my face turned up to the rain and sun. The only time I feel at peace is outside. I think the bean is changing me into something.”

“Oh, you are crazy, loco!”

“I knew you would say that.” Lucita started to cry again.

“No, no, don’t cry anymore. We have to tell Mama.”

“No! We can’t! She would be so mad and what can she do? It’s in there now, so deep it’s not coming out! It’s never coming out, I know its not and I just had to tell you. I love you Maria, I want you to remember that.”

“I love you too, niña, but what do you mean? It’s never coming out? That’s it, I’m telling Mama tomorrow, we’ll get it out.” Maria hugged her little sister closer. “I’m telling Mama tomorrow.”

“It’s already too late.” The finality in Lucita’s tone chilled Maria’s heart.

(Miguel shivered and moved closer to Roberto.)

The next morning, Maria woke up in an empty bed. Her heart beating frantically, she ran through the little house looking for Lucita. She was nowhere to be found, and Maria ran to her Mama’s room and woke her up. She told Mama what she and Lucita had talked about the night before. Mama heard her out in silence and with tears in her eyes said,” Why don’t children ever listen? Do they think we know nothing?” Mama started sobbing.

“Oh my Lucita, we’ve lost you!”

“I think I know where she is, Mama,” and Maria started to cry.

Holding hands, Mama and Maria went to the garden where Maria had found Lucita day after day. In the middle, in Lucita’s favorite spot, was a beautiful bush with green, shiny leaves and fragile pink flowers just the shade of Lucita’s favorite hair ribbons.

The leaves rustled and Maria thought she heard them whisper, “Mama.”

#

The boys were silent.

“Is that a true story, Noni?” Roberto asked.

“You know I never lie, mi hito.” Noni pushed herself out of the rocking chair and bent over her grandsons to kiss them each goodnight. Miguel was unusually quiet, and he hugged his gandmamma tightly.

“Off to sleep with you. Remember, your Mama knows what’s best for you.”

“Yes, Noni, ” the boys chorused.

#

Noni made her way out of the bedroom, down the hallway and into the living room where Rosa was busy with her crocheting. Noni sat in her comfortable chair.

“All done with the story?”

Si.

“Did they believe it?”

Si. I expect Miguel will come to you tonight.”

Rosa sighed.

“At least they didn’t learn the hard way.”

Noni sighed.

“You still miss her, don’t you?”

“Every day.”

Share

Flash Fiction Friday V

Flash Fiction Friday
Flash Fiction Friday

Ah, another Friday already. It’s amazing to me, and rather scary, how fast time can slip by. Last thing I knew, I was 19 and I still feel that way in my head. I just wish the rest of my body felt that way. Heh.

I hope you decide to try today’s prompt, even if you don’t post it anywhere. The original rules are here.

This week’s prompt is:

You have just taken in a roommate. Tell us about the first day, how you met, or why you had to take a roommate. Think outside the box!

Have fun!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Share

Flash Fiction Friday IV

Flash Fiction Friday
Flash Fiction Friday

Another Friday already? It’s already inching toward the end of September — has it gone quickly for anyone else out there? Soon it will be full fall, then on to the winter. With that in mind, try this for a prompt this week:

“All he needs now is a pair of ski goggles and a goosedown jacket.”

Use it in dialogue, as a thought, or in a punchline. Who said this, and why? Where were they when they said it? What were they doing?

For further guidelines and “rules”, see the original Flash Fiction Friday post here.

Show me what you got, but most of all, HAVE FUN!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Share

FFF III Results — Deer Grandotter

Deer grandotter,

Yew doan know me yet, but Ah’m yer granmutha. Ah jess wanna tell ya a couple thangs before yew git here, in case Ah cain’t tell ya later. Fambly squabbles, ya know, it happens in all famblies, doan let no one kid ya. Yer momma might not let me see ya, mostly cuz of that no-good scum-suckin’ pig she merried, and Ah ain’t kissin’ his ass. It’s ain’t laik Ah doan love yew, but a body can only take so much. Yew’ll find owt soon enough, but yore daddy is trubble. He laiks them drugs and wild wimmen, and he drives yore momma crazy. Cain’t hole a job fer nuthin’, and he spends more time in the county jail than not. Ah doan see what yore momma sees in him, Ah surely do not. Mebbe he’ll straighten up when yew git here – we’ll see.

Read more

Share

Flash Fiction Friday I

Flash Fiction Friday

Yep, it’s Friday, and it’s a Flash Fiction Friday.

The Rules:

1.  500 words or less.

2. Inspiration in the form of a quote, phrase, word, or photo can be found here every week. You can incorporate the prompt in your piece, or not. It’s meant more as a jumping off place than anything else. Suggestions for future prompts/inspiration are always welcome via email or comment.

3. Post your story on your site, and leave a link in the comments here.  If you wish, grab a copy of the badge (designed by the oh-so-fabulous Lala — you should really hire her for your graphic design, the woman is a goddess) and display it on your post. I will visit and read each and every one.

4. Check back in Monday to see my recommended submission sites.

At some point, we may offer contests, prizes, and glory. Until then, we’ll offer fun, information, and support — so let’s play!

Fridays’ Prompt:

Two Southern girls are sitting on the front porch in the sultry summer afternoon, sipping on lemonade. What are they talking about? Are they friends, sisters, lovers? What do they see?

Now go, write! But most of all….HAVE FUN.[ad#fffww-badge]

Share

Are You A Naked Blogger? Flash Me.

20px|Windows Live Logo Windows Live WriterImage via Wikipedia

Not literally — that would fall under “Too Much Information,” and I just met you… I mean, what is your purpose in blogging?

I started off some five years ago, brand new to blogging. I followed two fellow writers to a private forum, hidden from the search engines, and was hooked through the bag by the second entry. I have blogged daily, for the most part, for the better portion of those five years.

That’s a lot of words.

Read more

Share