All posts filed under: Flash Fiction

Fated Reality

The darkened sky descended early upon the misty autumn trees. Icy pellets held fast to the shrinking maple leaves. Avery Livingston glanced about the deserted array of sweeping trees speckling the thick, overgrown forest. With a damp chill in the frosty air, the calls of the summer birds had long been forgotten among the rolling hills. Where was she? How did she get to this strange and desolate place? It had to be a mistake! Frozen in time—in this forsaken place. Silence easing its way in until it finally reached her deceptive ears. She was alone. All alone. Far away from the world she once knew—warm, friendly, filled with love and happiness. But now it was all gone—gone to the point of no return. Could this possibly be the end? Avery’s memory swam in circles. Heaviness weighed on her mind. What had happened? She closed her blurry eyes. Her labored breathing had slowed. Almost to a halt. A single tear made its way down, past the sticky blood clinging to the enormous gash on her …

Origins: A Family Story In Flashes

1. My private cosmology—it seems my parents had sex when I wasn’t looking and so created me. From then on, I saw all that I know. I know exactly when Bill and I created James. I logged it on a paper chart. James and Jordan had Noa when they weren’t supposed to be getting pregnant (wildly dangerous). Then our juicy piece of fruit, Noa, defying all, arrived through Covid, being underweight, other perils. Now there’s a maybe baby in a surrogate woman in Wisconsin. So my world, my private universe began and continues. Thus goes Joanna’s cosmos. 2. MY MOTHER The sheets are snapping in the wind on my mother’s clothesline, from the patio to the end of the lawn. The pulley’s screeching when we pull the wash in. A heaping, the rumple fills willow basket. Some days our wash smells like the first breath of air—so wide with clean—I want to walk around in it. In winter the winds freeze our wash. My father’s gray work shirts, pants, our nightgowns, our dresses all stiff …

Gretchen

Hers is the kind of name that belongs exclusively to grandmothers, and Gretchen Morris didn’t grow into it until her mid-seventies. Before that, she wore her name like an oversized hand-me-down, warm and snug, but not quite flattering. She watched herself float through life, a specter who was there but only ever partly. She went to all twelve years of school and four years of college, officially moved out of her parents’ house, applied to her first job and a succession of other jobs, met a guy, broke up, met another guy, had the relationship fizzle out and die, broke up, met yet another guy, got married, and bore two kids. The cycle repeated as they too went through school, college, and alas, heartbreaks. And it wasn’t that she hated the cycle. It was fine. The cycle gave her summer holidays and shared laughter with colleagues; it gave her two wonderful men she was proud to call her sons, and a husband whom she later outlived, but otherwise loved. She wasn’t miserable either, or at …

Hyacinth

I stand in the circle and my back faces the direction of my throw. My feet are squared. My weight shifts from leg to leg. I never look back at the wedge of green stretched far behind me. Still, I see it spread out behind my eyelids. I begin to pass the discus back and forth with each shift of my weight. Left. Right. Left. Right. I open my eyes. I swing my right arm and search for my rhythm. I see my teammates in front of me. Some joke around. Some others are lost in thought. And a few have their eyes fixed on me. They know my wind up will soon begin. They hold their water bottles but do not drink. I sense their emotions. Nervous. Hopeful. Doubtful. Waiting. In a way, not so different from how they look at every teammate when they throw. How I look at them. But it feels different to me. Coach. His eyes narrowed in a squint. I can’t tell what he’s thinking. If she wants to …

Big Familia

There were shrieking, curdling, gulping, bleating cries combined with hurried shouts and panting. And clucks. The patchy green property flowed down a hill into a white fence leading to an elk preserve at the foot of Wyoming’s Teton mountain range. My brother-in-law got drunk multiple times on the trip and hopped the white fence hoping for some headspace in elk and bear territory. My brother David was rounding first base during our wiffleball game, the eighth of the trip, as I jogged home from third – getting pegged with a plastic wiffleball by one of my pre-teen nephews was a more favorable outcome than outright sprinting and dissolving any sense of athleticism I still held with them. Seven goats roamed the property with fifteen chickens, twelve ducks, five turkeys, a few hissing geese, two ranch hands, and thirty members of my immediate family – my four siblings and I plus our spouses, parents, and their eighteen grandkids. I avoided a fluffy tangerine-colored rooster and almost slipped in its droppings as David rounded second, a train …

Your Secret

You know I know your secret. What you don’t know is that I’ve known it for some time. You thought I only found out that night, when you were indiscreet after one too many glasses of wine. When you looked at him, over the top of your glass, and then looked away. And then you reached out as he was leaving, and with a casual, yet tender brush of your fingers, you removed some stray cat hair from his jacket. It was the ultimate giveaway. You see, I know he doesn’t have a cat and you do. Then you caught my eye. Caught me watching you. You smiled back at me. I had been watching you a lot that evening. Do you remember? I had seen the way you flirted. You think because you do it to everyone nobody will notice when you hone in on him. Do you remember the way you were flirting with me? You also touched me, on the knee, on the arm, but it was never intimate, I never had …

A Study in Paisley

Ever look at a drop of water through a microscope? —In biology class, like everybody else. Why do you ask? Because I’m convinced it can’t be a coincidence. —What? The resemblance between the ciliated unicellular organisms you see frolicking in moisture under magnification and the figures on paisley shirts. Remember paisley shirts? —Vaguely. They were big when we were in high school. As a matter of fact, I happened to be wearing one the night I attracted the notice of a man with no lips. —You exaggerate. Not a bit. In place of a mouth, he had only the hint of a slit, so that I didn’t take it as a compliment when I caught him staring at me in the subway. —I don’t suppose you were dumb enough to encourage him by sustaining eye contact? Even as a kid, I knew better than that. On the reasonable assumption he was a lunatic, I looked straight back down at Madame Bovary. —That’s not a book anybody of my acquaintance would have been reading in high …

Just A Crack

The bedroom door was open again. Just a crack, a hair, as his mom used to say. Dim light from the hallway shone through, momentarily distracting him from the fact that it was open. Hadn’t he closed it earlier, though? Not all the way, just slightly over the frame. Sighing, he got out of bed to close it over again, shutting if fully this time. An undetermined amount of time passed. He woke up to the sound of the door opening. Again, not by him. But not all the way, just a crack. Now he was afraid. But it was just the door, and his own hallway beyond. Matthew Spence was born in Cleveland, Ohio. His work has most recently appeared at Bluepepper.com.

Raising Again

Both Eva and Girl, who was the human’s small, amber-coated mix of a best friend, howled atop the roof of the only place they’d ever known as home. For the man who’d placed them there before the waves had taken him away. For the rains that had broken for the first time in a week to come back and take them, too. But it was already done. The man was long gone, and the water was receding. As they looked to the sky, the moon performed a miracle. It returned. It seemed braver upon its arrival. Bolder. Somehow more alive than before. So alive that it didn’t stop when it filled to its brim with its splendid light. Soon, it spilled into the rest of the timid sky. Glowing. Burning. Like the sun. There was such an abundance of brightness that Girl hid her eyes in the creases of Eva’s soaked jeans. When she peeked again, she saw that the light wasn’t only of the moon. The stars, which had been among the first to …

Can You Blame Me for Holding On?

It was the first of November. We sat in the drizzling rain on the hood of your broken-down Malibu. Parked outside the Taco Bell at the intersection of Secor and Central, I’d just overdrafted my bank account to buy you dinner for the last time. You ordered a Crunchwrap Supreme and cinnamon twists; I ate from the dollar menu. You wanted to share a drink, I wanted to share the past. The temperature set to drop any day, it was no secret what the end of autumn would bring: broken records and cell phone screens. The sharp chill didn’t stop you wearing a green dress, denim jacket. You wanted the night—the season finale of our failed history—to be cordial. The sun began its retreat behind the silhouette of the revival theater. Above us, a small patch of light in the clouds. A dry moment. An onset of violet and raw sienna. Fresh nails, Jack-O’-Lantern pattern, you sifted through the packets of hot sauce and read aloud their messages with the reverence of a fortune cookie …

Why read flash? Why write it?

We’re not here to convince you to write flash fiction, nor to read it. But you should. Upon first learning about flash fiction, it seems full of possibility for being annoying, fun, thought-provoking, and just maybe satisfying, for both readers and writers. At the very least, it can be a daily reading or writing ritual without requiring a major time commitment. For a writer, flash might seem like an easy way to get published. But it’s not. Flash pieces must grab, arc, involve, connect, and conclude in an uber short story. It is a tall order. At the same time, writing flash can be very productive, regardless of whether you intend to publish the works. It presents the opportunity to express the stories (or even just phrases) gnawing at the back of your mind without forcing a long-term time-suck. For those who dislike writing traditional short stories, flash offers an appealing way to tell a story and inspire new perspectives. Plus, it provides the chance to explore different styles or craft techniques without messing up …