Has anybody who reads Just Effing ever tried writing flash fiction? I was sent a piece by a wonderful student who attends my every class in Chicago and wanted to share it because it not only clocks in at under 500 words, it manages to contain thematic call backs and a character arc as well.
Flash fiction is a great way to get your writing muscles into shape. If you think it’s tough, just imagine telling a story at a dinner party, of something that happened. You’ll find the same elements of any story: set up, complication and payoff. Poetry, lyrics, heck, commercials all tell stories very succinctly. Could you tell a story in 1,000 words or less? How about 492 words, as Noreen as done here? I bet you can. But until then, for your enjoyment and admiration here is:
IT’S ABOUT TIME. IT’S ABOUT SPACE
I awaken, curled like a walnut, in front of the flashing TV. It’s three in the morning.
A late-night Anchor metronomes his way through a report on “the time-space continuum” and as I strain to listen, I’m blasted through a dusty wormhole of memory and emerge curled up next to my Dad in our silver-blue Oldsmobile. I am three years old.
We play “TV Theme Songs” as my Dad navigates ribbons of unfamiliar country roads, peppered with lonesome clapboard houses and boundless fields of corn.
“It’s about time. It’s about space,” he sings as we swing down a barely discernible road. The sun sparkles like sequins through lush canopies of trees that touch fingertips across the road.
Pebbles ping and pop against the car. A majestic English Manor house, larger than anything I’ve ever seen, looms ahead. Cheetah spot shadows chase across the front of the house.
My Dad stops the car and clasps my hand. “Let’s go, honey.” I’m blinded by the blaze of beauty before me. My Dad rings the doorbell which I am sure will be answered by a stately King or Queen. Instead, a mousey, sullen man as old and stooped as Moses, admits us into a drawing room that smells of must and mothballs.
The man wheels in a bald, steely-eyed man wrapped in a plaid woolen blanket, who looks like he just caught a whiff of bad cheese.
Beauty did not live in this house.
The blanketed heap of misery regards my Dad with a vile sniff. “What have you got to say for yourself?”
My Dad steadies his expression. “I need a little more time. We’re a bit short this month.”
The man slaps the arm of his wheelchair. “I’ve given time enough. No extensions!”
“Please, my Family. I promise I’ll–“
“I’m calling in the loan. You have it in my hands Monday morning or I’ll have the Sheriff at your door.”
All light and color seep from my Dad’s face. He takes my hand. “Come on, Baby.”
I stare at that rank fossil and want to tell him that my Dad will never need him or anyone remotely like him, ever again.
I am three years old and I know that my Dad will be okay.
We depart like two silent Monks. My Dad’s eyes tear up as he drives us straight into the sun. I pat his hand and sing, “It’s about time. It’s about space.” Dad smiles and chimes in.
I’m back in my chair with the flashing TV; tears cascade down my cheeks. “Dad,” I whisper.
That beautiful, gentle man went on to amass fortunes undreamed of by that greedy miser and he gave it away faster than he could spend it.
I aim and click the remote and as the velvety darkness wraps its arms around me, I smile and sing, “It’s about time. It’s about space.”
To learn more about flash fiction, check out Flash Fiction Online or simply Google flash fiction and be amazed at how many sites come up for your perusal. If anybody feels moved to try writing some flash fiction, please do and submit it HERE. If your story is effing entertaining as Noreen’s, I’ll put your story on the site!