Flash fiction is an amazing way to study the craft of writing. Not only does it give me a quick creative break from working on my novel, but it allows me to explore different emotions, settings, and points of view. It only takes a moment to enjoy a quick tale of love, fear, loss, joy, regret, humor, or revenge.
Give me a moment and I’ll give you a story.
(stories are posted when inspiration strikes)
Please visit me at DanielleLaPaglia.com
knots in my stomach when the car door shuts
I drop my dishes in the sink and scurry to my room
before his mood makes an appearance
knots jerked free
with endless strokes through hair
tousled from another sleepless night
knot after knot slipped slowly down threads
of green and black and burgundy and grey
friendships tied together on a wrist
a knot of guilt in my chest
sulking in the back pew
praying to God his eyes don’t land on me
double knots pulled tight in worn Keds
before running after the boys
always after; never with
a satin knot in the bow at my back
cinching my Sunday dress
like a noose
knots of anger in my every fiber
so much destroyed for so little return
so many decisions that dismantled our home
before it was ever complete
He willed her to look his way.
And for the span of a breath she did.
The air in the room stopped moving, the static charge building until her blink popped like a rocket in his head, and the moment was gone.
Her eyes slid past his and landed on another. On Him. The Him whose shadow swung far and wide, rendering everyone nearby invisible.
She looked right through him, just like she had for the past three years, and his heart shriveled just a little more.
His hope tightened to a grain of sand.
The faith of a mustard seed could move mountains, but the faith of the universe couldn’t make her see.
I sit on the counter and watch my mother scurry from fridge to cupboard to pantry, gathering the ingredients of life in her bony hands and depositing them on the faded yellow Formica beside me. She measures each item carefully, smiling and singing, pouring and stirring. A cloud billows as she adds the flour. The particles hang in the air, floating in the golden spotlight streaming through the window at my back. I breathe the stale dust deep into my lungs; harboring a piece of my mother’s work inside me forever.
The sound of sifting sugar and a scraping spoon brings me back to her hands. Slender fingers swiftly working the spatula around the curved edge of the bowl. Next she gathers the eggs from their soft home, cradling them in a towel before spilling their life with a quick hand. Vanilla is splashed beside them—a stain spreading through the snowy slush. The scent lingers on the back of my tongue. Its sweet warmth closes my eyes and lifts my spirit.
The heat of the oven surrounds us. My ears are full of her songs, my heart full of her love. I watch in wonder as she creates something from nothing. The same way she made me.
With a smile in her eyes and a song on her lips, breaking the bread of life for her family, that is how I remember my mother.
* * * * *
To this day, baking takes me back to those days on the counter watching my mother work. Happy Mother’s Day, Momma. I love you!
Ripples float across the glassy lake. Moonlight shivers in their wake. She watches the circles grow farther and wider; the flickering fireflies the only witnesses to the growing target beneath her.
She hadn’t been out here in almost a decade. It was so much more peaceful all alone. No stench of whiskey, no groping hands, no muffled protests. She leans her head back, smiles at the stars and breathes for the first time in years. Her eyelids flutter closed as the mossy air fills her lungs; the only sound, the hum of cicadas in the trees.
She sways along with the boat to the rhythm of the waning ripples. In another minute the lake will stretch out in glassy silence, the target absorbed by the shores, and no one will know she’s buried him here beneath the boat where he’d first buried himself in her.
There’ll be no final words, no returning to ashes or to dust. His whiskey filled pores will bloat and his swollen flesh will become a feast for the bottom dwellers. He’s among friends now. And she is free. Free to live. Free to breathe. Free of him.
I attended a writing workshop last weekend and we were given the following quote as a prompt.
“Every day something has tried to kill me and has failed.” – Lucille Clifton
The red hot poker
of your rage
stabbing through my joy
stabbing through my heart
searing every memory
with your fire
your need to destroy
singeing my soul
flaking away my hope
scattering it to the winds
of your rage
singed and scarred
burning and scared
you have failed
and still I stand
You can read Lucille Clifton’s poem in its entirety here: Won’t You Celebrate With Me
This started from a prompt at oneword.com. The word of the day was Politician.
Your lies—thin as a whisper, slick as oil—slip into our minds with the slightest twist of your tongue. They settle in the cracks and crannies of our thoughts and ferment, gaining weight with each pass of the speech, each confirmation of so-called facts, each rally for mob-mentality action. The words fester, devouring logic, corroding reason until nothing is left but the hive-mind buzz of your lies thrumming to the pulse of your will.
The poisonous radicals immune to your infectious sleight of tongue are hunted by your zombies and strung up for public consumption. The liars, the cheats, the unpatriotic wolves stalking your imagined innocence are shot down with twisted truths, bound and gagged by those with false entitlements and illusions of power, until no one is left but the Judases you bought and the drones who serve.
Freedom and equality are replaced with capitalism and classes, the gap ever-widening between those who have and those who will never receive, a trench dug by the very hands of those who will fill this grave while your slick lies continue to pour down our throats and choke out our souls.
(Last year’s elections (the pre-election bullshit, not the outcome) left a pretty bad taste in my mouth)
So you won’t be seeing any new flash fiction from me for awhile as I have chosen to dive into the insanity that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, 50,000 words in 30 days, hell yeah baby). I participated in 2009 and won in 25 days. It was awesome. I had so much fun and got so burned out. This year I’ve spent a lot more time plotting and planning and hope to make more steady progress (more 1,500 word days, less 7,000 word days) and end up with a more cohesive first draft than I did the last time around (especially since the ’09 “novel” is still sitting unedited on my hard drive).
Win or lose, any words are better than no words. I’ll keep this post updated with my progress as I go along (see the pretty widget!).
If you’d like to add me as a buddy, you can find me here: Dannigrrl
And, if you’d like to know what I’m writing, here’s the synopsis:
Fallon Cade doesn’t just dream of getting out of her small town, she busts her ass to be the top softball player this season, ensuring the offer of a scholarship–her one-way ticket out. Her plan is shot to hell when her dad, a teacher at her high school, is busted sleeping with one of Fallon’s classmates. When the student is expelled and Fallon’s dad is fired and moves one hundred miles away, Fallon is stranded in an angry town with nowhere else to vent their rage than at the girl who’s left behind. Her mom demands a transfer to a new district, but Fallon would have to give up her sports eligibility. No softball, no scholarship, no freedom. Now she must face the consequences her father ran away from or abandon the only dream she’s ever had.