Friday, May 23, 2014
It is a bittersweet moment for us here at the FFF because today we are announcing the end of this blog. While we have enjoyed challenging ourselves monthly to produce new flash fiction, as we all move along on our writing journeys we are finding that this site is starting to take a back seat to other, more pressing projects.
And so last week's story was our last.
We will be leaving the site and most of our work up indefinitely, but a few stories will be taken down by those of us who wish to develop those pieces further. Also, if you were a contributor to this site, please contact us if you would like your work taken down and we will take care of it ASAP.
Thanks to all of you who stopped by to read our work and sent us kind words of support. Thanks to those who shared their work with us and allowed us to be a platform for your own fiction. And big thanks to the photographers who've been so kind to let us post their amazing photos as inspiration each month. We truly appreciate it. Have a wonderful summer and if you are a fellow writer, may your words flow swiftly and your ideas come often!
Friday, May 16, 2014
There were no clouds and so the sky felt limitless. It made her want to crouch low to the earth to keep from falling upwards into it. This would be impossible, she knew that, but her stomach still lurched with a strange sort of vertigo anyway.
"It might be around those three over there," she said to him as they walked through the maze of rocks and sand. "I remember the way that one crooked to the left."
Of course as soon as she said this she noticed two other rocks nearby that did the same thing, each looking just as familiar as the one they were headed towards.
"Look, we've been out here for an hour already. Train's leaving in fifteen minutes. We miss this one and we're stuck here overnight again," he said.
He hadn't even wanted to come here. "It's a bunch of sticking up rocks. Look at the tourist photo and you got the gist. Why do we need to spend a day traveling to see 'em?"
In the end they had come because she begged and he tended to give her her way. To her the rock field was other worldly--like standing on the edge of the moon or something--it was so foreign to any landscape she was used to, but there was something exciting about that. He didn't want to stare at a sea of rocks, but she was tired of staring at a sea of grass, stretched out across a farm that seemed vast when you first looked at it, but eventually your eyes adjusted and all you noticed were the fences, hemming you in. So she asked for this trip and once he realized how desperately she needed it, he agreed.
"Why would you take your bracelet off out here anyway? And then to set it down...it's like you were determined to lose it or something," he grumbled as he kicked at the sand.
"My wrist was sweaty and it kept rubbing my skin. I was just trying to get some relief."
"What you need to do is learn to live with it," he said. "You can't be taking it off whenever you feel like it or this won't be the only time you'll lose it. It was my mother's. It's precious. You gotta treat it that way. Besides you know I can't get you a ring yet. That bracelet says you're mine until I can. Don't you want everyone to know that? Aren't you proud?"
She walked a little ways away from him so that she could look near the other two crooked rocks, make sure it wasn't by one of them. Plus it was easier to think when there was space between them. She let her hand skim the top of a huddled rock to her right. It looked curled in on itself. "Like me" she thought.
He folded his arms and looked up at the sun, now almost directly overhead. "Think, Lacey. Think hard. Where. Did. You. Leave. It?"
She studied him for a moment, the deep cleft in his chin that made him seem so manly when she first met him, the broad set of his shoulders, the flash of green in his hazel eyes that showed up only when he was angry. He was handsome. She still felt that in her chest and stomach, the little burst of nerves that made her heart go faster when she saw him, but it was milder than it used to be. Fading.
A glint of gold caught her attention, on the ground, just to her left. The bracelet was there, half covered in sand, just below the last crooked rock. She almost stooped to grab it, almost slid it onto her wrist and headed back to where he stood.
"We have to go," he said. "Five more minutes and it's lost for good." His lips pressed tight together and he squinted his eyes as he looked at her. "Come on, tell me you can remember where you left it. I can't get you another. That'll be that."
She pushed a bit of sand over the bracelet without thinking too hard about what she was doing. The bracelet was completely covered now. If she walked away, in a few minutes she would forget which rock it was by again. There were so many after all. And then they would never recover it. She could really feel it now, the falling feeling the sky engendered, but it didn't scare her like it had only a few minutes before. She straightened up, opening herself even more to it, her head buzzing as if it was full of bees. Maybe she really would fall up into the sky, now that she didn't have that bracelet weighing down her wrist. Maybe that would be okay. There weren't any fences up there, just uninterrupted blue and somehow, that seemed better. Falling might be just what she needed.
Story by: Amy Christine Parker
Picture from Bigphoto.com.
Friday, May 9, 2014
Hey all. This is going to be a change of pace for me since life is a bit crazed, so I'm not able to post a new story. Since Fiction Femme Fatale is shorts based figured I'd share some of my favorite short stories that have inspired me. (This list originally posted on my blog on Mar. 7, 2014.)
- “Brokeback Mountain” by Annie Proulx – If you compare the story to the movie (or vice versa) you’ll feel like you’ve gotten a full glimpse of the life of Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist. Proulx’s story is a bit long at 30 or more pages (typeset) but it spans a whole romance/lifetime. In as much as a paragraph Proulx manages to capture the physical details, emotions, the entirety of a meeting with Ennis and Jack so that you as reader feel as though you’ve watched a drawn out scene. To me, this story is one of the pinnacle showcases of a beginning, middle, and end. It encapsulates both men’s struggles. Proulx succinctly describes people and actions with details like “indian burn” to a moment of strife and that’s all you need. Silence is a powerful component as is brutality and “Brokeback Mountain” explains so much without being overdrawn. In the acknowledgments of her collection Wyoming Stories, Proulx notes that short fiction is hard for her, yet looking at this story in particular it seems as though she’s a master of the form barely breaking a sweat.
- “Cry, Cry, Cry” by Sherman Alexie – This story is hilarious with heart. The narrator reflects on his drug addicted cousin, watching the steady decline of a family member, and how he may have betrayed him. Alexie is great with brevity as well, providing snapshots as unique as “Shit, we got fake Bloods fake-fighting fake Crips. But they aren’t brave or crazy enough to shoot at one another with real guns. No, they mostly yell out car windows. Fuckers are drive-by cursing.” Mixed with the wit and wavering of a man not knowing what to do because he’s expected to stand by his family out of obligation even when he knows it’s bad for him and his soul. There’s a connection to the voice and to the cousin from the first line and the pacing is perfect speedy yet languorous in the way you move through this world.
- “Hurt People” by Cote Smith (One Story Magazine) – This was one of the stories that stuck out to me when I subscribed to One Story and I still have it to this day. Surprisingly this was Cote’s first publication. To me this was a perfect story, a dark story, and a well-told story of two young boys left to their own devices. The title itself elicits not-so-good thoughts and from the first lines of seeing the dank living circumstances of these boys and what type of person their mother is has you clinging to the hope that they’ll be okay. Smith makes you care for these characters from the start which is immediately effective and masterful for an emerging writer. I’d urge you to look up this story and read it because it’s a testament of how you can find your voice.
- “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien – Whether you’re an English major or not you’ve more than likely read this story or the entire collection by award-winning writer Tim O’Brien. The reason for this is because of the tie-in. The description of each character by what they take with them in a time of battle, what represents them and what doesn’t. What keeps each character going and how it can weigh each man down in various ways of what they may lose, have lost, or are scared of losing. The clipped illustrations are the most powerful part of the anthology by O’Brien, being in the muck and crap of these men and knowing that some won’t make it. It’s a story that has so many brilliant pieces you can’t just choose one. To me, “The Things They Carried” is like a crash course in short story writing. Each line necessary, each one providing so much weight and promise. It’s freaking brilliant.
- “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor – O’Connor is considered one of the best writers of short stories. And it’s understandable why. Her stories tend to be bleak, but real. Her characters are always alive and what I love most is her first lines, especially in this story of noting how a character had two methods of operation “forward and reverse.” The briefest of descriptions that gives a reader everything they need to know about a person straight off the bat. I’d encourage you to read all of O’Connor’s fiction because her stories rarely go where you expect them to, and while characters may surprise you it’s never out of context of the world she’s built.
- “The Pura Principle” by Junot Diaz – It’s things like “The Four Horsefaces of the Apocalypse” that stick with you in a story like this one. Looking at the last months of his older brother’s life the narrator notes a relationship of his brother and a woman who is downright toxic while also doing a balancing act of the brothers relationship and the mother/son relationship as people disappoint, just downright hurt one another, and deal with forgiveness knowing that time is short. Diaz’s voice is distinct and confident and clear in all his prose and to me he just gets better and better.
- “You Never Knew How the Waters Ran So Cruel So Deep” by Roxane Gay – I noted that Gay’s debut was one of my fave reads of last year. And one of the stories I pinpoint is this one, that is a list. With 3 columns titled Date, Item(s), and Price, Gay reflects on the lengths a man will go to find freedom and take his wife there and how much he loses. It starts off hopeful and as the reader sees the price and items the list keeper tracks it becomes more and more realistic of how hard this voyage for freedom will be and whether the relationships that seemed tight initial will hold by the time you reach the last row.
- “Great Rock and Roll Pauses” by Jennifer Egan – Another visual story that breaks the mold of story telling is short and really relies on a brevity of text and the graphics of a PowerPoint presentation to fully convey the relationships in a family that is troubled but not in trouble. The PPT is created by the teenage daughter who is witnessing it all and providing a journalistic play-by-play of her autistic brother, overworked father, and doting mother as they navigate how to get through a cruel world and the narrator sees how much weighs on her parents, her father specifically as a medical professional.
- “Speaking in Tongues” by ZZ Packer – “Brownies” is the Packer story often found on BEST lists but I think this one is a standout from her debut Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. It’s one of the longer stories in the collection and to me the most roundabout. In it a teen girl named Tia in search of her mother believing the grass is greener on the other side. Of course some stuff ensues and she gets entrusted with prostitutes and older men and her own sexuality (and ignorance of it) before realizing that she was better off in a world dictated for her than the one she thought she could navigate. This is a story with a journey that the character goes on that is rough at times and realistic and would also have some tsk at Tia’s actions yet understand them all the same. This piece feels utterly complete.
Friday, May 2, 2014
We see you, but you only see part of us. An elbow. An ear. A motionless piece of our existence. The only bit that bleeds through from our dimension to yours.
We watch you, occupying the planet as if you are the sole reason it exists. You use the word eternity with careless abandon. We know what the word really means. It is an eternity to sit here and wait.
For what? you ask.
For our turn, we say.
You may wonder how we can be so patient.
The answer to that is simple. We are not patient. We are restless.
But there are rules, and we must follow them.
1. Observe. You humans flounce about from day to day, oblivious to the race that shares your planet, just one short dimension away. We watch you for the required amount of time.
2. Remember. The plan is flawless, but we must remember it. It is written into a song we have known our entire lives. We sing it every hour of every day. On stormy nights, you should almost be able to hear our voices carried on the wind. You won't understand the words, and you'll convince yourself you heard a frog or an owl. But in the black hollow of the night, you'll know you were wrong.
3. Evaluate. Once we are free from our dimension, we will swarm the planet. Before that can happen, we must calculate how many of you there are and how long it will take to complete our mission. If we act too soon, we could lose.
We will not lose.
4. Consume. It mean what you think it means. Many of you wander out to our waiting place. Many of you do not return.
Don't be so shocked. We require nourishment just as you do.
5. Escape. When we are strong enough, we will break free of our dimension. To you, it will seem as if the sky is shattering, busting into fragments and ruining your brief stab at eternity. In reality, the sky is an illusion, an idea invented by humans because you can't comprehend that you are seeing into other dimensions. You won't understand us either. You will pretend we are a tree or a hill. You will not look into our faces. You will ignore us while you try to figure out why the sky is broken. You will focus on the wrong thing.
You won't know what happened.
And then you will be gone.
It's a simple plan really, but it requires much time. For us to succeed, we must exist among you for generations. It must appear as if we have always been here. We must be so ingrained into your minds as one thing that you will not notice us becoming another.
Yes, we are restless. We long to stretch and run and feel the sun warm our bodies.
But we know the plan. If we don't follow the plan, we will lose.
We will not lose.
So we wait.
Story by: Krystalyn
Picture from Bigphoto.com.
Story by: Krystalyn
Picture from Bigphoto.com.