Posts Tagged ‘flash fiction’

Festival of Love
by KM Zafari

I dream of you sometimes. We are back in Mumbai, and I am getting a shave at a roadside stand.

“There’s something I never told you,” I say. “A secret.”

“After 30 years?” you ask.

“Yes,” I say and begin my confession. “The truth is, we didn’t meet at the Holi festival by chance. The first time I saw you, I was sitting in this very spot. I caught your reflection in the mirror as you passed by. You were impossible to miss – tall, sandy blond hair, looking more like you should be shooting surfers in Sydney than at a Hindu celebration.”

I tell you that I knew I was too plain to capture your attention and how I assumed you were there to photograph the festivities, so I searched for you in the crowds, hoping that the color, the magic of Holi would bring you to me. I tell you how happy I was that I was right and that I would marry you all over again.

You look a little teary, so I lament about how much my reflection has changed, and how you’ve aged so much better than I.

You stroke what’s left of my hair gently and tell me that I still look good to you, because you really are the same, sweet boy I fell in love with in Bombay.

We talk about how much has happened over the years and how gratifying it has been to live life to the fullest, to love one another with abandon.

Then, we return to the Holi festival of our youth, and, amidst the fountains of colorful gulal blooming around us, I mark you with red kumkum powder, signifying you are mine.

I wake up wiping away tears, still wishing that, all those years ago, I’d had the courage to say hello.

Happy Saturday, writers! Welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 134. This weekend, Jaime Burchardt is your judge, and he has issued a special challenge: writers are encouraged (but not required) to submit stories composed entirely of dialogue.

Before we get started, here’s a brief reminder of the rules.

Deadline: Sunday at 6:00pm MST. You all have 36 hours to create your best work of up to 360 words (exclusive of title) and post it into the comments below. Please include your word count (required) and Twitter handle if applicable. For complete rules, click here. 

The winning author and their story will be featured as Wednesday’s Hump-Day Quickie and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

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photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

Man Toes

by Rebekah Postupak

“You have man toes!” he said.

I don’t think he’d meant it to come out quite like that; his words tumbled to the ground between us with vaguely disappointed surprise, like the face of someone who’s just been shot.

“So do you,” I said.

“But—”

“Also, yours smell bad,” I said, “while mine currently smell like rose petals.”

He didn’t say anything, just kept staring at my toes, which I’d been wriggling enthusiastically in the Jamaican sand. Thirty-five dollars I’d spent on them, my first pedicure, and I fully intended to get my selfie money’s worth. My toes alone in sand, my toes in the sand with Caribbean waves lapping nearby, my toes and his toes wriggling in sand together framed by a “We’re Not Missing You At All” meme.

After a minute or two, though, he got up and wandered off in the direction of the bar, leaving me alone with my toes and Hercule Poirot, who was just launching into a speech about the underappreciated state of fine mustaches and who, were he here, would have made heavily accented disapproving noises in my new husband’s direction and ordered me another pina colada.

In honor of Poirot, I’d drunk three pina coladas and finished an entire Tropical Appetizer Platter for Two before my husband finally wandered back.

He said, “Dinner’s in an hour. You going?” even though we’d made our reservations for the Honeymoon Table (including the optional violin serenade) only that morning.

“We’ve got the Honeymoon Table! I wouldn’t miss it.”

“Oh.” He stood there for a while not looking at anything in particular. And then: “It’s probably going to be crowded.”

“No doubt,” I said, “which is why we reserved the Honeymoon Table.”

“I don’t know what to wear.”

“It’s black tie. You should wear a black tie, I’d guess.”

He fidgeted. “What are you going to wear?”

“My slinky red dress.”

“I mean, what shoes?”

“The matching red sandals.”

“Oh,” he said, turning to face the sea. The setting sun stretched his shadow long and dark across me, across my toes, across one day down, and thousands, so many thousands to go.

Happy Tuesday, writers! Thanks to everyone who wrote and submitted stories last weekend. I hope everyone enjoyed the free for all. Thanks also to David Shakes for judging the submissions. You’ll find his comments and top picks below.

Return of the Monster

“What’s on Your Coffee Table” would really make a genuinely decent show! Pitch it, Stephen, pitch it! The characters’ names hint at details unwritten and the playfully bizarre tone really appealed.

Man Toes

My first question would be – how did Rebekah come across this picture to begin with? A brilliantly woven tale, a slow reveal and expert writing as usual.

The Devil’s New Job

How cool of Carol to write a sequel to her fantastic THE INFERNAL CLOCK story and afford me the opportunity of plugging our new anthology! You don’t need to know the characters to enjoy this story – but it helps! Suitably creepy – loved the boxing up idea!

Overlooking The River

I remember writing a few years back that Patrick would be a writer to watch. This was wonderful in its imagery and the building tension, just to have the rug pulled. I so wish I could see that prompt. Nice one Patrick.

The Poet Goes to the Shops

Dirty carrots?! The poet’s lines, in isolation, contain some lovely phrases and ideas but in the context of the overall tale just add to the beautiful absurdity. A sketch waiting to be filmed I feel. Hilarious.

Big Richard

Where did those character names come from?! Great narrative voice and another (subtle) nod to our new anthology, THE INFERNAL CLOCK which is now available as a Kindle edition and a paperback. I really love this story – what more can I say? A great mix of genres, a strong narrative voice.

Dreams

Is it wrong that I can follow Steph’s line of thought from brick house, to little pigs to evil child? Maybe we’ve worked to closely on THE INFERNAL CLOCK (have I mentioned our anthology?!) I loved where this went. Dark as ever, Steph, very dark indeed.

Confessions of a Portal Guardian

I do like this Voima! The narrative is so good and the last paragraph’s moment of suspense is a brilliant way to end. We both like a portal don’t we? Recurring theme for you and I. Deft storytelling and most satisfying.

Painting Your Troubles Away

I hope that Angelique’s paintballing experience was the only real-life inspiration here! I loved the line:

Revenge would not be sweet, but salty, like her sweat and his tears.’

I may have to steal that at some point! Great twist with the punchbag and the tough (but not life-threatening) paintball plan. Well done Angelique.

 I AM A GOD

Oh unreliable narrator, what to make of you? Brian – you’ve written a good one here. The tone is perfect. I am still undecided – deluded nutter or fallen god? That’s what makes this a cracking tale. I know that Brian’s a marvel fan and this felt like Marvel movie humour – he knows that’s a compliment.

Wasn’t My Fault

I like the idea that Len from next door is the keeper of the lexicon for this salt of the earth narrator. The date of this little round did not escape Stella here and she used it to great comic effect. Obviously, this lot are from Coventry though – that sort of malarkey would never happen in Solihull darling!

Whenever I judge these things, commonalities begin to assert themselves. Great narrators and protagonists seemed to be a strong theme this week. Comedy in all its forms too. A great set of tales and impossible to judge on merit alone. I’ve gone from the gut:

2nd Runner Up:  Overlooking The River by Patrick Stahl for its imagery and poignant ending.

1st Runner Up: The Poet Goes to the Shops by Ewan Smith for the rhythm and juxtaposition in this one.

And our ROUND 133 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Rebekah Postupak

with

Man Toes

Rebekah is back with a show don’t tell tour de force!

Congratulations, Rebekah! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Thanks again to everyone who wrote and to Shakes for judging. Next weekend, Jaime Burchard returns to judge round 134. Hope to see you all there.

Happy Saturday, writers! It’s the first day of April, practical jokers abound, and for once I count myself among them. Best of luck to David Shakes who will be judging this weekend’s collection of rogue tales.

Before we get started, here’s a brief reminder of the rules.

Deadline: Sunday at 6:00pm MST. You all have 36 hours to create your best work of up to 360 words (exclusive of title) and post it into the comments below. Please include your word count (required) and Twitter handle if applicable. For complete rules, click here. 

The winning author and their story will be featured as Wednesday’s Hump-Day Quickie and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

THIS WEEKEND THERE IS NO PHOTO PROMPT! I WANT YOU TO WRITE YOUR BEST 360 WORD PIECE OF FLASH USING ANY INSPIRATION YOU FIND THIS WEEKEND! IT MAY BE OLD PHOTOS FROM THIS SITE, FROM ANOTHER FLASH COMPETITION, LYRICS FROM A SONG, A SCENE IN A MOVIE – ANYTHING GOES! EXTRA POINTS IF YOU POST YOUR OWN IMAGE ALONG WITH YOUR STORY. Have fun!!!

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BETRAYED!

Kawaii

by Angelique Pacheco

It was hot and humid that day. Being a Saturday, the train was full as it chugged past the rice paddies toward Eiga Mura, the movie town in Kyoto. I haven’t gotten used to how homogeneous the Japanese are. There are so few tourists that you couldn’t hide out if you tried. I have been here for two weeks already. The summer heat is unimaginable. I thought Africa was bad until I realized that I can’t live without the air conditioner here. We step off the train and walk along a dusty road the rest of the way.

The town itself is beautiful. The buildings are varied as most of the movies are filmed here. There is even a monster in a pond that pops his head out every now and then. It looks like “Hello Kitty” has thrown up all over the curio shop. I walk around; fascinated as I observe Geisha-type actresses walking around and my heart almost stops when I spy a ninja on a rooftop. They like to position their mannequins in odd ways here.

Children are the same all over the world. They are full of curiosity and excitement provided they don’t see a foreigner. I feel like a celebrity most days. When children see me their mouths drop open in horrified fascination. The question,”what is it?” is emblazoned in their eyes as their mothers shoo them away from me.

I decide to walk into the theater and I sit on a hard bench at the back, trying not to draw attention to myself. Child actors peer from behind the stage curtain and stare at me wide-eyed. I stare back at them and smile. I get no response. I bring my fingers up to my cheek and yell “Kawaii!” The children giggle. The grownups turn and see me still showing the symbol for the word “cute” and they smile. I am escorted to the front of the theater as people around me jabber away at me in a friendly manner. I got to sit right up front to see an unforgettable performance of which I understood nothing. That, after all, is the Japanese way.

Hello, writers! What happens when your hostess is post-call? She forgets to schedule the winners and humpday quickie posts! Never fear – I have results and a story for your Wednesday enjoyment. As always, thank you to everyone who submitted stories this past weekend, and thanks also to Voima Oy for judging. You’ll find her comments and top picks below.

I’m happy to be here to judge Round 132 of Hourglass. Thank you Rebecca for having me as judge, and Ashwin Rao for providing this intriguing image. Thanks to everyone who wrote stories this week. The variety of stories here are all examples of excellent writing and the possibilities of the flash form. So much can be said in 360 words or less. Well done, everyone!

Here are my comments—

Now Sing–This story is set behind the curtain, in the moments backstage before a performance. There is a feeling of reluctance, then resolve. The details here are wonderfully observed, and the countdown is very effective. I especially enjoyed the ritual of the shoes before going onstage. The ending is perfect.

Santa Played the Sax–what a great title! The idea of a snowman costume made of industrial glue and white rice is so funny and surreal. The dialogue is superb–“Just hope this sh..pardon me boys, this stuff comes off cos did I mention I’ve got a job interview tomorrow?” Great characters and a story that begs for more stories.

JoySmile–I think this story makes very good use of the black-and-white photo. This is a story of a dazzling smile and a lifetime in show biz, from the early TV days of Ed Sullivan to an appearance on The Ellen Show.
I really liked this line, too–“Unless, of course, the unexpected happened which, of course, it did.”

Kawaii–The setting is Japan, Eiga Mura, movie town in Kyoto. This is a place of appearances–geishas and ninjas and Hello Kitty. The narrator is a traveller, an outsider, a stranger. The word “Kawaii” is the common connection. People seem friendly, but the experience is elusive, the meaning just out of reach.

Dad had a Fan in His Office–Here the setting is a movie theatre, years ago. It is as if the curtain is pulled aside to reveal the horrible events. The details here are so vivid–the velvet seats, the sound of the gunshot, the red everywhere. That ending–wow!

The Stain of Laughter–Here is a story with a history–There are the two adopted Vietnamese brothers. There is Grandfather, and his memories of the Burma war. The “Incident” seems to be an ominous foreshadowing, but the game of hide-and-seek behind the curtains turns out to be quite funny. The “yellow peril” ending is wonderful!

As Close as it Gets–The narrative voice carries this story of distance and photographs. The writing here is beautiful–“Why didn’t you ever say? Why didn’t you show your face?” Holding the photos is the closest they will came to touching. This realization is all that’s left, now. A sad and beautiful story.

These are all excellent examples of the flash form–possibilities as varied as the writer’s imagination. Thank you all for your stories. Here are my choices–

Special Mention–

Now Sing by Margaret Lonsdale–marvelous details

JoySmile  by Frank Key –Surprise ending? Yes!

Honorable Mention–

As Close as it Gets by Sian Brighal — Strong narrative voice, beautiful writing

Santa Played the Sax by Stephen Lodge — Great characters, and an open-ended story

2nd Runner Up

The Stain of Laughter by Geoff LePard –Vivid characters, a story within a story, and a very funny ending.

1st Runner Up

Dad had a Fan in his office by C.R. Smith –The details, the horror, the ending, wow!

And our Round 132 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Angelique Pacheco

with Kawaii

–worlds within worlds, mysterious and elusive, this story lingers.

Congratulations, Angelique! Your story will be featured as the HumpDay Quickie! This weekend, April Foolery will be judged by David Shakes. Hope to see you all there.