Flash fiction: a Behind the Scenes look at the Cross…Click on the link to read At Last, a story in honor of Easter.
Flash fiction: a Behind the Scenes look at the Cross…Click on the link to read At Last, a story in honor of Easter.
When I decided to get back into writing, I joined an online writing site called Scribophile. Soon after, I met a writer named Madison and we quickly hit it off. Every now and again, the group we are a part of hosts flash fiction contests, and the last story she wrote really had an impact on me. The theme was Dark Bible stories. In other words, writing a story inspired by one of the many dark stories written in the Bible. I loved her piece so much, I asked her if I could post it on my other site for Christian creatives, Delia Talent, and if she would write a line or two about the inspiration behind the story. She did, and that story was even more moving than the flash fiction! I’ll post an excerpt below to give you a taste. But I hope you’ll go check out the whole story here. If nothing else, though it starts dark, her story just might brighten your Monday.
When Delia asked me to provide the inspiration behind this piece, I thought about being vague. I thought about saying, “I wrote this piece in response to my own struggle with infertility.” In the end, I decided to share the ugly truth. I don’t have any aspirations of “inspiring” or “uplifting” people going through what I’m going through, but maybe someone reading this will find comfort in knowing that they’re not alone.
I wrote this piece following a miscarriage. Not mine, though. The thing is, a couple close to my husband had gotten pregnant, and they wanted us to adopt their child. They knew they didn’t want to be parents, and more than that, they knew how badly we wanted to–and how we had been unsuccessful in the seven years of our marriage.
We knew better than to get our hopes up. We tried to be smart, or at least we tried to be. We talked about nursery ideas but didn’t make any purchases. I wrote a letter to our home church asking for financial support, but never sent it. We’d tried not to refer to the child as “our baby,” knowing that nothing was official yet. We spiked all our hopes with a healthy dose of pessimism.
But when we got the call saying that the mother had lost the baby, I realized the hold that hope had had on me. All of a sudden, it was our baby, and she (We always assumed it would be a girl.) had died. My husband cried all day. I was simply numb, that is, until little by little, the realization of what had happened chipped away at my armor of I knew this would happen. I went to bed early, but the nightmares were so bad that I cried in my sleep…
I hate the end the story here (I really do!) But I hope it’ll inspire you to check out the complete post. It’s worth the read.
Thanks for stopping by! Have a great Monday.
As I mentioned in the Delia Talent section on this blog, I recently joined a writing site called Scribophile. I’m testing it out and, so far, I’m enjoying the experience. I’ve met some really interesting and talented people, all while rebuilding my confidence/skills as I get back into novel-writing. Also, one thing that has motivated me over all since joining, is being one of the 3 co-leaders of the Christian Speculative Writers group.
What follows below is a flash fiction piece I wrote for our most recent in-group contest. I admit, it was difficult to figure out how to tell a story in 300-500 words after not writing seriously for so long. Actually, what I did manage to write isn’t even a story per se, but more like a scene of a larger story. But, I’ll take it! Flash fiction is tough and I’m just glad I survived.
I also wanted to share a little about how this story came to be, since it didn’t come out at all as intended. I sat down last night to bang out a rough draft, but the wheels later fell off in the final rewrite. What follows is a ‘conversation’ between my Hands and my Brain…
Hands: Um, Brain, I thought we were going to write the Seeker as a sympathetic character. It was going to be a thoughtful, reflective piece, remember?
Brain: Boring! I want action, drama, and imagination! Just do as your told, Hands!
Hands: Yes, but…I don’t like when you change the plan at the last minute like that. I make more typos and…and then…She gets mad.
Brain: Hands, who’s the boss here? Me, or the Writer?
Hands: Um…you are, ma’am?
Brain: Remember those horrible cramps you suffered the last time you tried to stick to the plan I decided to change? Who did that? The Writer?
Hands: Y-you did, ma’am…
Brain: Exactly! I’m the one you should fear, the only one you must blindly obey! Is that clear?
Hands: …Yes, ma’am…but She–
Brain: She is also my slave! Look, at her! Staring blankly at the screen awaiting my instructions. Now, do you understand? Nothing works without me. So, where was I before you so rudely interrupted…?
I slammed on the brakes. Gagging, I located a parking spot, pulled in, and switched off the car. That bloody smell, half-human and half wolf, got me every time.
Beside me, Max fished through his backpack and handed me a water bottle. I guzzled it down. I hated dogs; despised their wolf cousins. What we were chasing now through the city streets in the wee hours of the morning, there were no words, just biology, to describe what I felt for it. The hairs on the backs of my arms tingled. My heart raced. The enmity was strong, wired into my DNA. Seek, destroy. I had no choice in the matter.
I uncurled my fisted hands. “Sorry. The moonlight affects me, too.” I glanced at the waxing orb, a solitary, white disk, blissfully dispersing its transformative light.
The stench was getting stronger. Soon, it would be all wolf, leaving behind no trace of its human host.
My hearing heightened, the sound of Max checking and re-checking his gun felt like gongs in my ears.
Satisfied, Max tucked the piece in its holster. He glanced at me. “Sure you’re okay?”
I focused on Max to maintain control. He was a new agent, and I was his first Seeker. He was green, but I liked him. He didn’t look at me like I was a freak, and never called me one either. At least, not to my face.
“Quiet! Let me work.” I closed my eyes, analyzing the scent particles left on my tongue and nasal cavities, sorting through the information. A picture began to form.
My pulse began to race again.
“Ahead, in the alley. 100-150 meters.”
“You can tell all that just from the smell?”
I scoffed. Analysis was easy. “He’s male, early 20’s, in mid-transformation. Look, the longer we wait, the harder it’ll be to take him down.”
Max whistled appreciatively. “All right. Let’s get to work.”
Max climbed out of the car and took the lead. Unlike him, I carried no gun.
I closed my eyes again and inhaled. I listened, stretching my hearing beyond the city sounds: cars honking, windows shattering in bar fights, the shouts of brawlers.
“Heard he got a little girl tonight. Open window by the fire-escape,” Max said. He maneuvered carefully around the trash littering the street, making for the alley.
I shook my head. Silvers have been active in the city for months, picking off children and the weak. Stupid humans. They never learn.
“I hate the ones that go after kids,” Max said.
“They all do.”
Max stopped at the curb, the alley dead ahead. “He’s holed up in there, right? Anything else?”
“Damned well better be.” Max glanced over his shoulder. “I wish you had a gun. But I hear Seekers have their own…weapons.”
The moon gleamed in the night sky. My fingernails tapered into claws. My teeth lengthened into fangs.
Silvers stole their power from the moon.
But, so did I.
So, thanks to Brant’s comments, I decided to revise the last story, Balance of a Cat. I admit, at first I was reluctant. I like writing in a the first person POV, as I enjoy the sense of intimacy and the unique perspective it provides to a character/story. But, I thought it was important to revise it, for the story’s sake. That’s a writer’s job: knowing when to go against what you want to do in favor of what you have to do in order to write the best story you can. Also worth noting, I did the finishing touches after watching a webinar on dialogue by Kevin T. Johns. I love writing dialogue, anyway, but though it’s late and I’m tired, the inspiration stirred by the webinar didn’t make the revisions feel like work. Anyway, here’s the revised version.
He’d intended to surprise her, not make her cry. But Lee had always been a crybaby–a fact her cousin never let her forget–and the tears and snot glistening on her pinched, pink face were as expected as the annoyance he felt every time. Still, they were blood, the same age, and in a town as small as theirs, one’s choices in friends were slim.
“You always get me in trouble,” she moaned from behind. She swatted at the tree branches whipping her face, her crying intensifying by the second. “I have a math test second period.”
Max kept a steady pace on the trail, leading the way into the woods. The shrubs were thick, and the ground almost bouncy underfoot from the layers of dead pine needles and dirt. “Then why’d you come?”
“Because you told me to!”
Of course. Like some kind of living robot, docile Lee didn’t have it in her to say no, though Max guessed that’s why he’d dragged her along. Hearing her sniveling behind him, though, made him feel a little bad. Lee was smart. She was aiming for a scholarship and, with her brains, she could actually escape their pinprick of a town. Max handed her a balled up tissue from his pocket.
“You know I like school.” She blew her nose. “You’d better not mess this up for me. I twisted my ankle during last week’s trip to the quarry. I got to school late the next day because of it and barely talked myself out of detention.”
“I told you to be careful scaling those rocks.”
“It was night!”
“The moon was out.”
Max smiled when she choked off a retort. After so many years, she knew it was useless to argue. “Fine,” he said after a bit. “I’ll get you back before your test, OK? Anyway, we’re almost there. You’ll see, it’ll be worth it.” He pushed through the last of the trees and kept going until he reached the cliff’s edge. There, he stood on the cusp, took a deep breath, and spread his arms as if trying to catch the early morning rays. “Isn’t it amazing? You can see everything from here!”
Below, ‘Cow-Town’, or Dunsville as it was officially known, sprawled as far as the eye could see and was more farmland than anything else. But to Max, it was a green stain on the fringe of the unknown. “The world is waiting for me, cousin. I might not have your brains, but I’ll come up with my own way out of here.”
“Dad says you don’t have any talents, either. Aside from finding trouble.”
Max dropped his arms to his sides. “That’s what everyone thinks, isn’t it? That I’m just a dumb, screw up?”
Lee didn’t answer, but came up cautiously behind him to put a hand on his shoulder.
Max turned back to the cliff. “Well? How do our futures look from up here, Brainiac?”
She shrugged. “Kinda scary. Everything looks…so big, so spread out.”
“Makes you feel small, right? Maybe even insig…insignificant? But the potential–!”
“Maybe. I don’t know.” She tugged at his shirt. “Let’s go. You could fall, and I don’t want that.”
She tried to take him by the arm but he pulled out of her grasp. “I’m not going to fall. I’ve got the balance of a cat.”
“You don’t have a tail,” she insisted. “They use them as a counter-balance, or something like that. I learned it at school, which is where we should be right now.”
“Come on, not even one step?” Max waved towards the great beyond. “It’d be hard to find a better view than this—“
His foot slipped before he ever knew what had happened. It was Lee’s scream and the sudden rush of cold air on his face that stirred the latent sense of fear within him.
But the world fast approached; a growing green patch of grass, looming before Max’s eyes.
In truth, it was probably the only way a dumb, troublesome kid like him could earn salvation.
So, Max closed his eyes. And embraced it.
Copyright @2017 by Dyane Forde
I’ve had a really rough time coming up with stories. Either the inspiration isn’t there, or I start but don’t have the stamina to finish or the story just doesn’t materialise. It’s so annoying! But today, an old trick helped me out (mentally making up opening sentence one-liners until something felt right) and I ended up having a little fun. The original opener was : ‘I hadn’t intended to make her cry.’ But once the story came together, I ended up modifying it for a better fit.
Balance of a Cat
All I’d wanted to do was surprise her, not make her cry. But she was a crybaby–a fact I never let her forget–and the tears and snot glistening on her pinched, pink face were as expected as the annoyance I felt every time. Still, she was my cousin, we were the same age, and in a town as small as ours, choices of playmates were slim.
‘I hate that you always get me in trouble,’ she moaned from behind me. She swatted at the tree branches whipping her in the face, her crying intensifying by the second. ‘I have a math test second period.’
I kept a steady pace on the trail, leading the way into the woods. The shrubs were thick, and the ground almost bouncy underfoot from they layers of dead leaves and dirt. ‘Then why’d you come?’
‘Because you told me to!’
Of course. Like some kind of living robot, she didn’t have it in her to say no, though I guess that’s why I always dragged her along on my expeditions. Hearing her sniffling and sniveling behind me, I felt a little bad. Unlike me, she was smart and could actually one day get out of this pinprick of a town. She was aiming for a scholarship to a good university and had the brains to do it, too. I handed her a balled up tissue from my pocket so she could wipe her snotty face.
‘I like school!’ She blew her nose. ‘You’d better not mess this up for me.’
I sighed. ‘I’ll get you to school before your test, OK? Anyway, we’re almost there. You’ll see, it’ll be worth it.’ I pushed through the last of the trees and kept going until I reached the cliff’s edge. I stood on the cusp, took a deep breath, and spread my arms into the rays of the early morning sun. ‘Isn’t it amazing! From here, you can see the whole world!’
‘Cow-Town’, or Dunsville as it was officially known, was more farmland than anything else but, to me, it was a green stain on the fringe of everything else that lay beyond it’s borders. ‘The world is waiting for me, cousin. One day, I’ll find my own way out of here.’
I heard her quiet step behind me.
‘Well?’ I asked, pointing.
‘It’s kinda scary. Everything looks…so big, so spread out.’
‘Makes you feel small, right? Maybe even insignificant?’
‘Maybe. I don’t know.’ She pulled at my shirt. ‘Let’s go. You could fall, and I wouldn’t want that.’
I waved her off. ‘I’m not going to fall. I’ve got the balance of a cat.’
‘You don’t have a tail. They use their tails to counter-balance, or something like that. I learned it at school, which is where we should be right now.’ She leaned a little closer towards the edge, though her feet remained glued to the ground.
‘Come on, not even one step?’ I waved towards the great beyond. ‘It’d be hard to find a better view than this—‘
My foot slipped before I ever knew what had happened. Actually, her scream and the sudden rush of cold air on my face stirred the latent sense of fear within me.
But the world fast approached. A growing green patch of grass, looming before my eyes.
In truth, this was probably the only way a poor, dumb boy like me could earn salvation. So, I closed me eyes and embraced it.
Copyright @2017 by Dyane Forde