Tag Archives: flash fiction

2014 So Far

Since I completed (and won :D) NaNo 2013, some interesting things have happened that I figure deserved a post of some kind.

My God, look at all that red.

My God, look at all that red.

I let myself have December off, and made myself start editing my NaNo novel in January. I’ve edited things before, of course, whether it be for school or on my own; it’s an essential part of the writing process (unfortunately). But never have I edited something like this before. It’s not even the volume that’s the problem, though it is a bit overwhelming, especially knowing I still have more to write. No, the real problem is what exactly is on the page: most of it is incoherent, repetitive, rambling, crap. And thus I have discovered the one downfall of NaNoWriMo – you’re so concerned with reaching your word count everyday that you pay less attention to the actual words. Sure, they say “you’ll worry about it in the editing phase, just get those words on paper!” I’m sure I even said that in my last post. Well, I’m in that editing phase now, and I am in complete and utter hell.

I’m about half-way through what I like to call the “Extreme Rough Draft” phase. Then comes the “Fill in Missing Plot Holes” phase, followed by “Delete Entire Sections of Horrible Dialogue,” “Remove Flashbacks Because They’re Stupid,” and probably ending with “Jump Off a Cliff Before I Read Another Word of this Shitty Story.” So if you’re editing your novel like I am at the moment, then I wish you luck, and pray you had the sense to keep your novel all in one tense back in November (unlike myself).

On a more positive note, I’m excited to share that I’ve won (and almost won), some literary competitions over at Writerstype.com. I took first place for my flash fiction piece “True Love,” first mentioned here, for December 2013. Not only that, but I received first-runner up in the annual competition. I may not have won, but second place out of twenty-four is pretty good, nonetheless.

So close, and yet....so far....

One place away from $225 to Amazon..my heart hurts.

As far as reading goes, the most notable thing I’ve read so far this year is the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, which I have mixed feelings about. The first book is a pretty good read: the world building is excellent, as is seeing the main character, Tris, grow from being a meek, “selfless” mouse to an independent, strong, risk-taker. Plus, the love interest sounds super hot, (that’s always a plus). Sadly, that’s pretty much the end of the positives. But nevertheless, I finished it quickly and was anxious to pick up the next one.

The second book in the series, Insurgent, was hard to get through, and in my opinion, a little superfluous. Sure, some important things happened in terms of plot, but I was at the point of not caring. In my opinion, the plot was not exciting, overly dramatic, and I really just wanted to get it over with. As far as characterization goes, it was pretty stagnant. Also, I’m tired of every hero/protagonist subscribing to some noble idea that sacrificing themselves is their duty. All it does is make them sound pretentious and annoying, which is sadly what Tris ultimately became.

The third installment, Allegiant, other than having a rather stupid title, is a little controversial, the ending in particular. I’m not going to spoil anything here, but I happened to like it. I will say it was at least different from other books I’ve read, and that uniqueness is hard to come by. Whether it made the book better, I don’t know, but it at least did something original for the genre.

Divergent-series-by-Veronica-Roth

She certainly makes a lot of choices.

Would I recommend this series? Honestly, I’m on the fence. I would say if you’re a fan of young adult fiction, then you should at least read the first one to test the waters. Just don’t think it’s going to be another Hunger Games.

Just read it. Plus, Christian Bale is in the movie. Enough said.

Just read it. Plus, Christian Bale is in the movie. Enough said.

Actually, on that note, if you’re into YA Fiction, (something I never thought I’d enjoy reading, let alone write about, guess now I’m being pretentious), then forget all these books, Hunger Games included, and read Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s much better than all of those previously mentioned, has interesting and dynamic characters, absolutely fantastic and smart dialogue, not to mention a setting and plot that is more evocative than the world of Harry Potter. The movie, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, is just as good as the book, which is rare to do. In fact, I can’t think of any examples of where the movie is as good as it’s companion novel. This is it.

So for the rest of 2014, I’ll attempt to finish editing that damn novel, (hopefully before November omg),  try to write something to get ahead of the guy who beat me for first place, (he won last year, too, damnit), and read a book that doesn’t make me angry. Here’s hoping.

True Love: Flash Fiction

This story was inspired by the prompt: “You’re a serial killer. What’s on your DVR?” I hope it’s sufficiently creepy.

 

True Love

It’s dark in the small room. The walls are bare, just boards of flat wood painted a deep, dark hue. One lamp stands in the center, next to the make-shift couch comprised of two recliners. There’s a kitchen along one wall and a Murphy bed along the other. I don’t need much.

I wipe my hand across my mouth, chip particles floating downward to rest upon the plaid fabric of the arm chair. Some float farther still, nestling in-between the fringe of the brown carpet. My other hand grips the remote, the knuckles tense and white as my fingers play over the buttons.

“What do you think, Bev? You wanna watch Animal Planet?”

Bev doesn’t respond. Her eyes are glued to the screen.

“Fine, I know you never liked that shit anyway. Too boring, right?” I sigh and press more buttons, my eyes squinting in concentration. Bev always was picky. “Oh, this is perfect. I got Fight Club recorded. You’ll love it. Just give it a chance.” I glance at Bev. Her lips are set in a firm line. I place my hand over hers as she sits in the chair next to mine, and her lips seem to soften in response. She loves doing what I want.

The glow from the television spreads a light over her, turning her mousy brown hair into something glorious, almost projecting a halo. It shines into her eyes, turning their ordinary brown color into a golden, coppery shade that twinkles as the scenes change.

This is where she’s meant to be, with me. It was hard to catch her; a girl like Bev has men after her like fly’s on shit. But I knew she’d end up with me in the end. It just took her some time to realize it.

“You smell, Bev. You gotta take better care of yourself.” She doesn’t answer. She probably doesn’t like me pointing out the obvious. Bev is a woman who takes stock in her appearance. I’ve never met a woman with more lipstick and powders in her purse, but I guess it’s worth it. She’s beautiful, and she knows it. But I can tell her make-up is smudged, and her clothes are definitely disheveled, not the pristine and pressed that she likes. Maybe she’s just gotten comfortable with me? She’s letting me see her as she truly is. I smile at the thought, and my heart swells.

The movie ends, and I need a drink. Rubbing her hand in parting, I get up from my chair, stretching my back. I don’t like sitting for too long, it messes with my back. I realize I miss exercising, but I don’t want to leave Bev here alone. I can go on a run later.

I duck in the fridge and pull out a silver can. I didn’t pay attention to the label when I bought it, but it’s cold, and that’s all that matters. I savor the sound of the top opening, the hiss of the crisp carbonation. I take a swig. The liquid is cold as it dribbles down my chin onto the tile floor. I’d clean it up, but I don’t want to be away from Bev for too long. She needs the company.

I sit down on my recliner, letting all my weight come down hard. It jostles Bev’s seat a bit, and a lock of hair falls into her eyes. I don’t hesitate to brush it away, letting my palm brush against her cool cheek, just for a second.

“You thirsty, Bev? Nah, you never did like the stuff anyway.” I take another swig and she doesn’t seem to mind. I know she was a crazy party-girl in college. She wants to put those days behind her, I better not tempt her.

My hand snatches up the remote from where I left it on the armrest. I put on Seinfeld, certain the Bev will think it’s funny. Once the opening credits end, I laugh along with the laugh track, and glance over at Bev. She’s not laughing.

“Aw, c’mon, Bev! That was hilarious. Weren’t you watching?” Her eyes tell me she wasn’t. They’re glazed over, like her thoughts have taken her somewhere else.  She wasn’t even paying attention. I feel heat rise in my chest. Who does she think she is? Does she think she’s too good for this shit? I reach across and slap her across the face, the sound echoing against the empty walls.

Her head is turned a little toward me, and her eyes bore into mine. They glisten with hurt and regret. I can tell she’s sorry.

“Bev…aw, you know I didn’t mean it.” I rub the spot where my palm hit seconds before. I shouldn’t have gotten mad. Bev is too precious to waste time with. “How about we just watch something else, okay? Something you like, huh?” I smile, and her eyes shine in response. I place my hand back over hers and reclaim the remote.

Hours later, we’ve watched about as many Lifetime movies as I can stand. But I’d do anything for Bev. I glance at the glowing red number next to the TV. It’s late.

“Bev, it’s time for bed. I don’t know about you, but I’m beat.” Her head has lolled to the side even more, telling me it’s time.

“We just need to do one more thing, Bev. Then it’ll be time to sleep.” I walk across the room to the counter next to the fridge. Man, I really need to clean my knives after I use them. The blood has caked on the edges, and it really is a bitch to get off once it’s dried. I don’t worry about it now. There will be time after Bev.

I gather them up and head back to the TV. I just stand in front of the glow, peering down at her. I always get a little sad at this part; saying good-bye isn’t easy. But I can tell it’s time just by looking at her, not to mention the smell.

When I’m done, I gather up the bags that are now Bev and walk over to the fridge. When I open the freezer door, I’m a little annoyed to see how little room there is. I grunt in exasperation as I put her on the floor. I shift Carry and Emma to the right, but I have a hard time getting Sarah to fit on the left. “So fucking fat,” I murmur. Eventually I make room down the center, and Bev fits perfectly. I would expect nothing less from her. My hand rests on her for a few seconds more, savoring the feel of her one last time. It’s so hard to say good-bye to someone you love. But I remind myself as I have before, it’s not really good-bye. She’ll always be there for me when I need her, and true love lasts forever.

With that thought whispering in my head, I close the freezer door. My place is a mess, and I don’t want to make a bad first impression for the next one.

Contentment: Flash Fiction

This is one of the first things I ever wrote, and I still think it’s awesome. It began as a “show vs. tell” exercise, so it’s filled with similes, metaphors, senses, all that descriptive-y junk. Sometimes that stuff can get convoluted, but I tried to evoke a different sense with each description so as not to overwhelm. Either way, it being pretty much the first thing I wrote is a little sentimental, so I could just be biased. One day I might attempt to rework it.

 

Contentment

The rush of air slapped him in the face as Stan exited the complex. Gravel crunched under his tattered brown boots as he stepped forward, his eyes wide, his arms encircling himself in comfort. Men in uniform marched in front and behind, chins pointed upward. Their expressions were hidden by wide-rimmed tinted sunglasses, and with the sun’s glare at full strength, Stan wouldn’t have been able to see their faces anyway. He slowly tilted his head at an attempt to peer around the front guard, and he managed to view the bus. So this was the vehicle that would transport him into his new life? Even after fifteen years he wasn’t sure he was ready. The vehicle itself didn’t seem up to the task of introducing him back to society. Its pale paint was having trouble remaining in place, giving way to spots of rust, and the widows had all but disappeared under a myriad of dirt and grime. Flies speckled the windshield like a child’s prize finger-painting. The shrill squeak from the door opening was audible even to him, sixty yards in the distance. Clearly, the bus had seen better days. It reminded him much of himself. We’re kindred spirits you and I, Stan thought, and a small smile tugged at his mouth.

The interior of the bus mirrored the outside, and the effect was enhanced with the perfume of mold protruding from the fraying seat cushions. When he slowly eased into one at the front, Stan’s nostrils flared as the scent floated upwards, encasing him in its putrid embrace. The portly driver didn’t seem to even notice the smell, probably because his own odor rivals this one, he thought dryly. With a now familiar whine, the driver pulled the lever that shut the door, and they lurched forward. Stan laid his head back against the seat, folded his hands graciously in his lap, closed his eyes, and became lost in an antiquated world.

 

“Stanley darling, would you make sure there’s enough Champagne out there? I would hate to read in the newspaper how our party could have been smashing if only there had been more Champagne! That’s just what happened to the Jones’, remember? Now no one calls on them! A fate worsethan death if you ask me!”

“Yes of course, I’ll uncork another bottle right now, dear.”

“Oh thank you. Now I really must get back. That silly Morgan von Hyde is out there parading her new ring around. I just can’t stand it! And it’s just terrible looking, but of course no one says anything about it but me! You think it’s just hideous too, don’t you darling?”

“Yes, dear.”

“Well then, don’t forget the Champagne!” And with that Catherine rushed off in a swirl of gossamer fabric. Stan had trouble understanding why Miss von Hyde’s ring was of such great importance, but then again, he was used to not understanding his wife. Henry theorized he had trouble understanding all women, and maybe his best friend and business partner was right. Take this party for instance; Catherine had felt the need to throw a lavish party the second after hearing the gossip going around town about the speculative engagement. Women will do anything to upstage each other, Stan supposed as he struggled to uncork the coveted bottle of Champagne. With a pop, the cork was free and the sweet drink bubbled in thanks as Stan poured it into the stylish glass flutes Catherine had just had to have for the event. He always did have trouble saying no to her.

When the glasses were safely on a table in the main room, Stan had to admit, his wife had outdone herself this time. His usually modestly decorated living room had been transformed into a poet’s wet dream. Candles adorned nearly every surface, the orange glow of their flames basking the walls in pale luminescence. The scent of vanilla and lavender radiated out of the candles, giving the impression of being in a distant memory of a picturesque spring afternoon. Where there weren’t candles, there were vases of every design filled to the brim with flowers straight from a Monet painting. Soft jazz rose from his surround-sound speakers and showered Stan in kisses as he moseyed around the room.  As silly as he knew the party was, he couldn’t imagine a time in his life where he had been more content as he was at the second.

As if on cue, fate hurled a rock at the precious mirror that was Stan’s life. He didn’t even notice the absence of music until  hands were seizing his arms and roughly wrenching them behind his back. Cold, hard steel dug into his writs like a desperate lover. He heard words like “silent” and “court,” but it meant nothing to him. He was lost in a whirlwind of confusion. The last thing he saw until his head was pressed against a foreign car’s leather seat was Catherine’s unsurprised eyes as her lithe lips slowly formed a familiar smirk.

 

Stan was jerked awake by the screech of the bus door, and still a little groggy from his repressed memories, he gazed out the window. A dilapidated old building stood on the corner of an unkempt street, and he soon realized that this was his new home. This was where he would spend his time making new memories. He couldn’t say he was altogether thrilled with the idea, but anywhere was better than where he had been, right? He had better make the best of it, as he had done before, as he always did. He waved farewell to the indifferent driver, and moved into his future.

After a few weeks, Stan had neatly settled into his new life. He had made friends with his elderly neighbors, and had recently been given the honor of attending their weekly Bridge game. He had even procured a job at a local convenience store working the dreaded graveyard shift. He didn’t mind; he had trouble sleeping. When his shift was over, he usually would meander over to the small park across from his building. He would sit on his usual corroding bench, and if he was lucky, he would catch the first rays of the sun. He lived to see the violet and crimson hues that painted the sky, casting the ramshackle park in a new light. The brown dying grass became alive with freshness, the drab blossoms bloomed anew with promise, and the air imbued Stan with the memory of his perfect spring afternoon, with vanilla and lavender anything but an afterthought. The soft calling of birds awakening and the delicate laughter of children as they made their way to school would drown out all thoughts of doubt. He would smile then, his eyes closed in bliss. This is life, he would think.

He was at last content once more.