fiction, on writing

Flash Fiction I Pulled From an Old Freewrite When I Wasn’t Feeling It

[Who says freewriting’s worthless? I had nothing today. Zero. I was forced to do constructive domestic things like grocery shop and organize because the etymological muse refused to show. Hearty applause from my husband and children… milk is IN the house.]

Novel update: 22K words. I just signed up for a July NaNoWriMo cabin with a goal of 30K words in July. That is slightly terrifying to me because of all the no’s I imagine I’ll have to say in order to get anywhere near that mark.


The Email

She checked her email like always, a quick swipe to see if there was anything good. Checking email was like playing scratch off lottery cards: 99 times out of a hundred, she got worthless promotions and spam, but every so often she’d hear a poem was accepted in some journal or another and it would electrify her soul. Truth was, the English 161 adjunct teacher of Lakeland Community College was a social media junky on par with most of her students. So it was no surprise, ten minutes before class, she swiped on her phone.

Some students were already at their seats, heads in books or phones. The front-row types. Glasses. Carrying around mini libraries. Pencils grafted to their hands, gripped and poised an inch above the paper, awaiting academic revelation. How she loved the sound of pens and pencils, wrestling up and down the paper like Pinocchio’s lie detector. When they scribbled she could believe they hung on her words, gorging themselves on Dickenson. When the lead whispers became faint, this will be on the test would get them hissing again.

Faint scuffs and coughs were the only sounds now. Most students would wander in five or ten minutes late. Miss Tesler made it a point not to look into the high rows until at least ten minutes after starting time. She’d lecture of course, her focus on podium notes or the Powerpoint or on the front row types whose eyes trailed her every move. Love you front row types.

An email caught her eye.

The sender’s name was familiar. Neurologicalzombie. Ridiculous and infantile, but memorable. The hair stood up on the back of her neck immediately. Then the first words: You call yourself a teacher, Tesler? Opening it would not be a good idea, she knew, because she had to focus on her lecture, and with a first sentence like that, it wasn’t going to be a song of praise.

How she wished she’d left it. She figured it would be the usual expletive-laced, mono-syllabic, grammar-challenged complaints she received on a regular basis, but this one– if letters had flavors like ice cream cones, this was a triple scoop of insane.

Scanning the vicious, child-like, mixed up phrases filled her with horror. She wanted to run off to the restroom where she could study the words and not worry about holding her expression steady. She wanted to read until the email became something else, some misunderstanding. She searched for lol or jk to stay her unspooling guts.

She had no choice but to close the laptop and start class. Running home, bolting the door, buying another dog– a Doberman, and a gun, and requesting 911 send a personal contingent to surround her house 24-7 was not an option. Feeling safe, not an option. Feeling safe would never again be an option for Miss Tesler.

She yanked out her attendance sheet with a flair her students mistook for down-to-business, tore out the roster and held a quivering pen over the empty boxes.

“Adams, Marilyn.”



3 thoughts on “Flash Fiction I Pulled From an Old Freewrite When I Wasn’t Feeling It”

  1. Nicely done. You evoke emotion I’d rather not feel -as a good writer often does. I’m excited to hear your doing NaNoWriMo – I loved it last year. And so excited to see how many words you get written!

      1. No…not bad. Good. Your pin point accuracy in nailing the experience of pure terror in the midst of normal life was beautiful.

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