Fiction for Microcosmsfic.com

 

Washed Away

“At it again?” Ella asked, standing over the hunched form of her husband. Darrin’s once-white robe was covered with a dusting of sand and browned on the butt. Ella handed him a steaming cup of coffee. A sand-encrusted hand trembled but received it gratefully. A ring of untanned skin was all that remained of his marriage. Half submerged in a foamy moat and gouging out fistfuls of muck, his other hand was invisible.

“I think I got it right this time,” Darrin muttered.

“How long?” Ella asked, her sweet voice hollow and feathery against the boisterous surf.

“Since two.”

“Why?”

“I wanted to finish before the tide came up. Recognize it?”

“Our honeymoon, Barcaldine Castle. But you got the top wrong. There weren’t any battlements on Barcaldine.”

“I added those… to keep you safe.” Darrin continued to scrape and mold the sand. The hands that played Brahms flawlessly, that delivered love letters, bills, and junk mail. The sure hands smoothed and teased the castle domes as if they were lace-decked breasts or a fragile neck. He drew his fingertips along the parapets as if they were her lips. One last time.

As the structure neared completion, Darrin’s eyes became glassy, but not a drop would fall. Plenty of salt water all around. The Ella hallucination faded as the sun edged over the horizon. At his feet lay the coffee cup full of brown water and sand. No wonder the coffee was bad.

Waves, inexorable and implacable, crept closer and closer. Darrin took the wedding rings out of his pocket: his thick one and her diamond-studded strand he’d discreetly removed before they shut the coffin. He clutched them to his chest. His other hand rooted around his robe pocket until he felt the smooth barrel, the finger hole.

The end.

Flash fiction is uniquely challenging. You get only a handful of words to communicate plot, brush in some character, some descriptions. No waste allowed! I think it appeals to me because I like poetry. But what often happens when I write flash is that most of the tale stays hidden inside my head, never to meet the page. I suppose I got it right with this one, or right enough because it won last week’s microcosmsfic flash fiction contest. The prize for winning? The honor of judging this week. Judging teaches me more about writing than almost any other exercise I do, so I’m grateful for the opportunity. Judging also allows me to do what I love second to writing: encourage fellow writers.

Metamorphosis. Fiction for Microcosmsfic

The little boy. I never considered him a target until the day of the falcon. That’s what I called it anyway: the day of the falcon. See, I pass this kid every day on my way to school, but on this day a peregrine falcon had landed on his head. I expected the bird to flee, but both just stood there like time was a DVD, paused.

I’d gladly trade my acne for those majestic black and white striped feathers and steel-blue crest. My life for the falcon’s, stuck fast as I was between desk and chair and subjected to what was essentially a manufacturing line. We were tubes. They bent us, punctured us, riveted their ideas into us, never gingerly, never tried to coax anything in. No. Teachers slammed their convictions into us with a press brake and slid us on to the next grade. My life was not my own.

A peregrine falcon soared above. Or sat upon a toddler’s wayward tresses. Whichever. Still, he sat.

Like he owned the boy. No one bothered to shew him off. The boy, of course, could do nothing. I thought, if that bird could get away with it, so could I, right? Yes, the more I considered it, the more certain I became.

I began to see myself anew. Above. The. Law.

The boy. Three years old. I could take him. I could get away with it. Just like the peregrine falcon with a mouse.

The boy never blinked. He never spoke. No one would hear.

I felt the serrated blade of my hacksaw. With my mind I felt it.

His days were numbered, this brazen pissing boy of bronze. If a peregrine could abuse him as a perch, he wasn’t beyond my reach.

Manneken Pis, Dutch for “little man pee” Brussels

Disturbed teenager/Brussels/Memoir – those were my prompts for this flash fiction piece. This time I had to do some major amputation on my word count. When I got to the “end” of my original story, I had 387 words. I could only keep 300. Talk about killing your darlings…

I love memoirs. I love disturbed teenagers.

Brussels was the only part of the trilogy I didn’t have down, so I did a little research. Writers have to do research. I’m not against work. It’s just that writing on a subject I don’t know is frightening. Even after researching, I could get something embarrassingly wrong… an author must be willing to fail. I am willing.

Rather quickly I found a delightful statue called the Manneken Pis. Sounds like mannequin piss, doesn’t it? Uhem, well, the shoe fits. Of course my next vision was of a disturbed teenager wreaking a little havoc with said statue. And bam! Inspired. I thought I’d chronicle my process. Sometimes I get a prompt that does nothing for me. The original elements of this contest were: driver/race course/tragedy. I tried to find a story in those three. It was me, mentally groping in a black cave, never finding any light. After a time of trying and not succeeding to plot a story, I gave up and spun the handy spinner they provide at Microcosmsfic and hallelujah!

I hoped the boy would seem like a living boy at first. This famous statue is often dressed in outfits that communicate a message or a celebration, sort of like dressing one’s yard geese. He seems to be the rivet between culture and its fleeting colors. What struck me was how bold the little boy is, and how audacious it would be to defame such a work of art. What kind of mind would do it? How would a person get there mentally? These are the thoughts that inspired me.