A flash fiction story to finish

by | Nov 28, 2012 | Fiction, Flash fiction | 16 comments

How would you shape this story?

I want to try something different this week. I’m going to post the beginning of a story and ask you to finish it in 500 words or less in whatever way your imagination takes you. Then, when you’re ready, post your stories in the comments section. Ready? Here’s the beginning:

She knew right away the stamps were no good—no good for mailing anyway.

(The stamps I see in my mind’s eye aren’t like the ones in the picture, and if yours aren’t either, that’s OK.)

I do hope you participate and that we all comment thoughtfully on what folks post. Please pass on the word about this.

Photo by Chris Waits.

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16 Comments

  1. Richard Sutton

    She knew right away the stamps were no good—no good for mailing anyway.The adhesive had gone all grey and spotty on the back, and the edges of the sheet had curled and faded. She laid them down with the rest of the contents of the top desk drawer, into the trash tub. It was almost full and so heavy she’d have to drag it to the door.

    Near the front door, sat other big plastic tubs of memories, all kinds of Tsotchkes she new she didn’t really need anymore. Still, as she braced her back with one hand and stood upon her still shaky legs, she didn’t feel unburdened at all. Clearing out the soggy remnants of her adult life was turning out to be painful. She’d tried to go the resignation route. At least it deadened some of her immediate discomfort, but yesterday, seeing what the dirty water had done, the fragile facade just crashed around her.

    Out side, she could hear Jim talking to the insurance agent. It had been almost two weeks before they’d even been able to go home, and now, Jim was asking for details about why their policy wasn’t going to cover the damage. She was glad she was in here. She knew Jim was a wise, careful man. Two attributes that she’d always had in short supply. She considered if the momentary joy of bashing the insurance man over the head with a shovel would be worth the the jail time she’d get.

    “Honey? Can you come to the door?” Jim called her, quietly, from the yard.

    When she looked down the steps into the front yard, saw the long-handled shovel in Jim’s hand, and the inert form of the insurance man in his suit, crumpled up between the piles of sodden sheetrock and the ruins of her furniture, she just had to smile. What else could she do?

  2. admin

    I love this, Richard. You took the story to a place I wouldn’t have thought to take it, but it fits so very well. And the surprise ending is most satisfying.

  3. marie

    She knew right away the stamps were no good – no good for mailing anyway. Cara hated kittens, and if Jeanne packed the kitten stamps and pink stamp pad (Cara hated pink) in the summer camp care package, then it would only worsen the rift between Cara and her father.

    Joel had always provided for the family. He never yelled at the kids, never cheated, as far as Jeanne could tell, never embarrassed her at parties. She wasn’t sorry she’d married him, but still, kittens?

    It was Cadence who loved kittens, and whether Joel thought Cara did too because the girls were twins or because everybody knows girls love kittens, he had missed the mark again. Jeanne remembered birthdays past. Nail polish when she wanted Creepy Crawlers, gift certificate to Madeline’s House Of Tea when she wanted a guitar, a kitten when she wanted…anything but a kitten.

    Alone in the kitchen, Jeanne put cookies in Cadence’s box, cookies in Cara’s. Notebook and pen in Cadence’s, notebook and pen in Cara’s. Madlibs, Madlibs. Sunscreen, sunscreen. Kitten stamps…

    “At least he thought to buy something,” Jeanne told herself, dangling the second plastic box of stamps over Cara’s box. “Most care packages were probably bought entirely by moms.”

    She laughed out loud. “Oh, Joel.”

    She couldn’t mail the stamps, but they’d make a great addition to the church’s angel gift collection. Thankful that Joel wouldn’t be home for at least an hour, Jeanne ran out to her car and hid the pink offenders in the glove compartment.

    “Cadence can’t get more, though,” Jeanne thought. She brought the stepladder in to her closet and found her stash of birthday presents for the girls. She rummaged through and found the perfect thing.

    When Cadence’s box was closed and taped, Jeanne folded the tee shirt so that the first thing Cara would see when she opened her package was, “Tell Me I Throw Like A Girl.”

  4. admin

    Thanks for this story, Marie! It is so true to life. I could see this really happening. I could also see a parenting ezine publishing this because it entertains while it teaches, making the lesson easier to learn.

  5. JazzBumpa

    UNCLE ALBERT’S DESK

    She knew right away the stamps were no good — no good for mailing anyway. They were, if anything, Marci thought, even stranger than the other weird artifacts in the oversized roll-top desk that crazy old great-uncle Albert had bequeathed to her. He had disposed of most of the detritus of his picaresque life before his final illness laid him low. But either he never got around to the contents of this desk, or they were things he simply couldn’t bear to part with.

    There was the quill he used as a writing pen, that he claimed was a hippogriff feather, and a vicious-looking, foot-long bony spike he said was a manticore’s sting. Marci unrolled the tattered scrap of what looked like starched silk, but felt like a rubbery membrane. Uncle Albert claimed it was a torn remnant of a fairie’s wing. The only time Marci had ever seen him break down in tears was when he told her that story.

    With a sigh, she rerolled what was left of the wing and returned to the strip of stamps. Each was the size of a playing card, and as she touched each one, its picture seemed to come to life for a brief instant. The sad-eyed fairy fluttered her wings and hid her face in her hands. The threatening-looking unicorn aggressively stomped a fore-hoof. The lascivious faun, strutting in full tumescence, winked and thrust himself at her.

    Suddenly aroused, Marci shuddered and, blushing, put the stamps away and closed the desk. Here in uncle Albert’s study was not the place to explore those kinds of ideas. Before Rob moved off to Lansing, she’d have him and his friends move the desk to her apartment.

    There she could explore the many oddities of this old desk, and ponder the things she found there at her leisure. Most specially those stamps. Maybe that shy fairy had a sad tale to share. Maybe the faun could teach her about pleasure in ways she hadn’t yet imagined. And maybe that unicorn could transport her to adventures in a strange new world.

  6. admin

    Thanks for this great story JazzBumpa. I’m on the road now and will share a couple of thoughts on it when I get home.

  7. Robin Leigh Morgan

    HURRICANE SANDY

    She knew right away the stamps were no good—no good for mailing anyway; they’d been completely soaked with water, destroying the adhesive on the back. Finding these stamps in this condition really cause Jennifer to become distraught, after all with Hurricane Sandy barreling through the day before she had lost her last chance of communicating to her parents that she’s okay.

    Jennifer had lived in the same home for twenty years with her husband Michael and they’ve coped with many storms before, each of which they decided to ride it out on their own. However this time, with her husband deployed in the Mid-East, she had no one with her; and the cards she held became unlucky. First the power went. Then the batteries in the lantern and flashlights she had all seemed to die at the same moment, with no new batteries available anywhere in her home. With no power, Jennifer had no way of recharging her cell phone.

    In previous years, where once she had a few neighbors who had always ridden out the storms with her and her husband, today she had none. And as each neighbor left, they’d plead with her to leave as well, but she continuously refused any sort of assistance. Jennifer had a reason for staying, an important reason as far as she was concern; with her husband deploy she became of rescuer of cats, and had ten cats living with her at the time Sandy hit. And being as rescuer, she knew they had no of surviving the storm without any food or a dry place to stay, and she had no way of knowing how long she’d be away once she’s left with someone, and therefore no knowledge of how much food and fresh water she should leave behind.

    As the hours came and went, Jennifer saw no sign of the storm diminishing in its strength. The transistor radio, which no additional batteries, she used very sparingly eventually succumbed to the lack of power. The river a few blocks which never came anywhere near to the steps of her home, she now saw lapping her at front door and coming inside. As the hours crept by the water in her living room and den rose to more than three feet; causing her to flee to the upper floors of her home.

    Exhaustion finally took its’ toll, and she finally drift off into the arms of Morpheus. When she woke and got dressed, she found some undamaged stationery, envelopes, a pen and some glue. She quickly penned a letter to her husband and parents, dried out the previously useless stamps and used the glue to adhere them to the envelopes. The moment she did, she heard rescuers in the street, and gave them these letters to be mailed, since she didn’t know when she’d be abled. The now reclaimed stamps would serve as her first communication to the outside world. There’s always hope even when things seem to be their darkest.

  8. admin

    What a fine story, JazzBumpa — so imaginative and well executed. Now I want to have a look at the things Uncle Albert left behind, too.

  9. admin

    Wow, Robin Leigh! It’s as though you brought a real snippet of the Hurricane Sandy story right to my living room. Jennifer’s situation stirred my emotions, and the way you came back to the stamps at the end and used them as a symbol of hope seems exactly right to me.

  10. Robin Leigh Morgan

    Laura,

    THANKS for the feedback, it means a lot to me as it shows I’ve truly honed my writing ability. It also gives me some hope my debut novel [YA Paranormal/Time Travel/First Kiss Romance], “I Kissed a Ghost” can become a best seller which will give me the impetus to truly pursue a writing as a second career for my retirement. Hoping to see it released with 15-20 days — but I wouldn’t mind if it could be sooner.

    So, let those little grey cells do their work to get those words flowing from my fingertips unto the keyboard to produce works for people of all ages and in different genres. [If there’s one thing I don’t want to become–it’s being a “type casted” author.]

  11. admin

    I’m glad you’re encouraged on this writing journey. I don’t know what it takes to become a best-selling author, but I do wish you luck and a lot of fun and satisfaction wherever your writing takes you, Robin Leigh.

  12. admin

    Hi again Robin Leigh. I was thinking your story could benefit from some tightening up. My ideas on how to do this will never be as good as yours, but here’s what I might do with the first paragraph:

    She knew right away the stamps were no good—no good for mailing anyway; they’d been soaked with water; no trace of adhesive remained. Jennifer grew distraught, for when Hurricane Sandy had barreled through the day before, she’d lost her last chance to let her parents know she was okay.

    I was also thinking that rather than say she was distraught you might briefly describe something going on with her physically that would convey that, but at the moment, the ideas that come to my mind are cliched.

  13. Robin Leigh Morgan

    Laura,

    THANKS AGAIN for your feedback. I know what I’d written needs to go through some tightening, but then again, I wrote this is a “flash” and just wanted to get the words written.

    In regards to have briefly described something going on with her physically instead of using the word distraught, I thought about doing it. However, I didn’t want to “force” my ideas of what she felt onto my readers. The word distraught, when looked at with everything else I wrote, I felt would allow my readers to imagine for themselves what else must have been going on with her.

  14. admin

    Everything you said makes perfect sense, Robin Leigh, and I understand what you posted is a draft (as are most of the stories I post). I know you work with editors when getting your books ready for prime time, so I think you’re doing everything just right.

  15. Micki Peluso

    I enjoyed the stories on this post, particularly the one by Robin Leigh. I lived through that killer suoperstorm and he got the situations written down so clearly and exactly as they happened. We lost children, adults and yes, so many animals.

  16. admin

    Thanks for your comment, Micki. Sorry it took so long for me to approve it; my website has been undergoing a revamp. I’m so sorry for the losses folks on the East Coast endured during the storm, and I hope 2013 will be a placid, peaceful year, both in terms of weather and in terms of how we all treat one another.

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