Archive for the flash fiction Category

Beth, Clary, and Ben (a scene)

Posted in creative writing, dialogue, fiction, flash fiction, short stories, short story, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , on December 14, 2017 by Robert Crisp

After a long bout of freewriting (which included trees exploding into instant bloom, a computer coducting a therapy session with a teenager, and all manner of peculiarities), this scene emerged. I don’t think there will be a second part, but who knows?

“Hey, you remember when we all had phones?” Clary asked.

Ben popped his head up from behind the sofa. God only knew what he was doing back there. Looking for change? Scraps of food? His dignity? “You mean landlines?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Clary said. “Those were good days.”

“How?” I asked. I didn’t want Ben in this, or any, conversation. In fact, it would have been nice if Ben had found a discarded piece of pizza crust, popped it in his mouth, and then choked on it. Such are my fantasies.

“Because you had to answer the phone if it rang,” Clary said. “You couldn’t just ignore it.”

“Well, there were answering machines,” I pointed out.

“Okay, Beth, before answering machines. Those were the days.”

“I think I’m stuck,” Ben muttered from behind the sofa.

Clary and I ignored him. “The good old days were never actually good,” I said. “At least, not as good as we remember.”

Clary shrugged. “I think they were objectively better than now,” she said. “People were more connected. We weren’t all stuck on our phones and Facebook and Instagram and all that shit.”

“A little help here?” Ben said, a little more loudly.

“Yeah,” I went on, “but we still had problems. People may have been more connected, but as long as we’re all big, walking bundles of neuroses, there are issues. I think things are better now. We can segment our craziness and choose to not inflict it on others. That’s why I don’t have any friends. Present company excluded, of course.”

“You’re such a cynic.”

“I’m literally stuck behind the couch!” Ben wailed. “Will one of you get off your asses and move it so I can get out?”

“Fine,” I sighed. Clary hopped off the sofa and she and I moved it forward a few inches. Ben, sweat dripping into his excuse of a beard, crawled free. “Jesus, that was awful,” he panted.

“You’re such an idiot,” I said, shaking my head.

“Hey!” Ben protested. “Why are you being so mean tonight?”

“It’s my talent,” I said and walked toward the door. My people meter was full, and it was time to make myself scarce.

The Whale-Shaped Man (fiction? poetry? both? neither?!?!)

Posted in character development, characters, creative writing, daily writing, flash fiction, poem, Poetry, short stories, short story, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , on November 30, 2017 by Robert Crisp

The Whale-Shaped Man

Is he in his office? asked the whale-shaped man.
Is who is his office? the woman in sparkly pants replied.
You know.
I don’t.
Him.
That doesn’t clear it up.
The whale-shaped man grimaced. I’m talking about your father.
Oh. Why do you want to see him?
To ask for your hand in marriage.
That’s stupid, the woman laughed.
What?
Why would I marry you? You’re shaped like a whale.
But I love you.
That doesn’t change anything.

So the whale-shaped man left. Inside his office, the woman’s father sighed in relief.

The Severed Finger (flash fiction)

Posted in characters, creative writing, fiction, flash fiction, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , on November 29, 2017 by Robert Crisp

This scenario ran through my head as I drove to work. 

fingers

Image courtesy of Flickr and the Creative Commons license

They both stared at the severed finger on the kitchen table.

“Well,” Daniel said, “that’s not what I was expecting.”

“I can’t imagine any scenario in which a severed finger is what you’d expect,” Heather replied.

“You lack imagination.”

The two were silent were a few moments. The finger didn’t speak or move, but Daniel pretended it did. He couldn’t quite make out what it said.

“Look,” Heather said, “we just need to decide what to do. I vote we put it on ice.”

Daniel stepped closer to the table and inspected the finger. It looked to be an index finger, rather tanned, not terribly wrinkled. A youngish finger. “It depends on who it belongs to,” he said.

“Why does that matter? If someone lost a finger, we should save it for him, right?”

“Or her. Unless she’s a horrible person. Then we might be doing the world a favor by depriving her of the finger. Maybe she couldn’t get up to as much evil if she was a cripple.”

“Missing a finger doesn’t make you a cripple,” Heather said. “Besides, that’s not a nice term.”

“Cripple?”

“Yes.”

“I guess so.” Daniel scratched his chin. He was grateful to be in possession of all his digits. “Do you know,” he asked, “what a polydactyl is?”

Heather thought and then said, “Someone with an extra digit.”

“If the person that lost this digit is a polydactyl, then he doesn’t need this finger.”

“Or she doesn’t need it, as you pointed out. I find it funny that you’re concerned about the gender of this person but you’re quite cavalier about using the term ‘cripple.’”

Daniel smiled. “I’m a mystery wrapped in an enigma.”

“Something like that.”

The two continued staring at the finger, no close to deciding what to do than when they first entered the room.

Leaves for a Pillow (short fiction)

Posted in character development, characters, creative writing, dialogue, fiction, flash fiction, short stories, short story, story telling, surreal, Uncategorized, writing, writing craft with tags , , , , on November 27, 2017 by Robert Crisp

I remember writing this creepy little story while at my son’s taekwando practice…and then, as I do with so much of my writing, completely forgot about it. I did a little tweaking here and there and am mostly satisfied with it. Why you would gather leaves for a pillow is beyond me, but that’s what the character insisted on doing, both during the first draft and this morning. So be it.

Now that my health is back under control, I’m writing again but not as frequently. I have zero interest in submitting poetry, so I’m taking a break from that. Instead, I’m combing through stories and poems written during the last year and seeing what can be salvaged.

Here’s the story. As always, thanks for reading.

 

leaves.jpg

Image courtesy of Flickr and the Creative Commons license

 

“You’re very kind,” the girl said, kneeling on the ground and gathering leaves.

The boy watched. He wasn’t kind, but the girl didn’t need to know that yet.

When she had enough leaves, the girl walked back toward the farmhouse. Not enough for a pillow, but a good start. The boy followed but stopped on the porch while the girl opened the door and went in.

“Do you want to visit for a while?” the girl asked. “Mama won’tt mind. She’ll be in the kitchen, fixing supper. Daddy’s gone to town for the day.”

The boy studied the girl. He liked her bone structure, her fine ankles, the tilt of her head and the slow blink of her eyes. She dazzled in a bar of sunlight. He nodded.

“You don’t say much,” the girl remarked, turning and facing the boy. “Or anything, really. Can you talk?”

The boy nodded.

“But you don’t have anything to say right now?”

The boy nodded again.

“Well, then,” the girl said, “I need to get these leaves in a pillow case and gather more. I’ll introduce you to Mama first. Come on.”

The boy followed the girl into the kitchen, where a tall woman stood over a sink snapping beans. She turned and regarded the girl and boy.. “And who’s this?” she asked.

“I don’t know his name,” the girl said. “I found him in the woods. He’s very kind.”

The boy studied the girl’s mother. He didn’t like her bone structure. The girl didn’t favor her at all, lacked the woman’s long face and protruding brow.

“We don’t take in strays,” the woman said. “We don’t have an extra plate, if it’s food you’re after, and we don’t need help on the farm.”

The boy didn’t move. The girl said, “He doesn’t talk.”

“I can see that,” the woman said. “Is he deaf?”

“No,” the girl answered.

“This is my house, you understand?” the woman said, tossing the beans into the metal colander and closing in on the boy. “You’re not welcome here, no matter what my daughter says. Go back to where you came from.”

The boy still didn’t move. The girl said, “Can he help me put leaves in my pillow.”

“No, he can get himself out of here.”

The boy flicked his right hand and the woman disappeared. The girl gasped. “Where’d she go?” she demanded.

The boy shrugged.

The girl thought for a while. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad with her mother gone. She could be quite cruel, and the boy was very kind. Her father might be a bit put out. Maybe the boy could make him disappear, too.

“Would you like to help me now?” the girl asked.

The boy nodded and followed the girl upstairs to her room.

Three Mothers (flash fiction)

Posted in creative writing, flash fiction, freewriting, short stories, surreal, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 31, 2017 by Robert Crisp

It’s Halloween, and I’m sitting in my oldest son’s taekwando practice. Close to me, three mothers discuss various things. I let their conversation drift in and out of my head as I wrote this spooky little piece. Please forgive any typos; it came out in a rush.

Three Mothers

“I just want them to play, but the little one starts digging,” says one mother. Her name is Jessica. She holds her pink-encased, glittery phone in her left hand as she scratches a lesion on her face with her right hand. She’s not an advanced case, so they let her out and mingle with the other mothers, all of whom are in various stages of the disease, but none so bad that Death has quit being polite and just barges the hell in, here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?

“Well,” says another mother–this one a small, blonde woman named Kathy who had fine features but now looks like the victim of an acid attack–“maybe you shouldn’t let them play in the graveyard.”

Jessica makes a disgusted face. “Let’s not call it that, please.”

“What the hell would you prefer?” asks Octavia crossly. She is the third mother (women aren’t allowed to gather in groups larger than three). Her red hair has started to fall out, but she’s styled it such a way as to minimize the damage. She looks almost normal from the right angle in the right light.

“The Resting Ground, as we’ve been taught,” Jessica replies and begins swiping on her phone. “No one likes my posts anymore. Dammit.”

“Because you’ve lost a kid,” Kathy says. “It brings people down.”

“But I have three more,” Jessica protests.

The other two women shrug. They know how it is, and Jessica does, too, even if she denies it.

“My youngest is the cutest thing,” Jessica goes on, loudly, as if others are listening. It’s just the three of them on a deserted street, but they’re never truly alone.

“The one who was digging in the graveyard?” Kathy says.

“The Resting Ground,” Jessica replies between her teeth.

Kathy and Octavia share a look. “The Resting Ground,” Kathy corrects herself.

“Yes, Baby Kenneth.” Jessica’s fingers fly on her phone as she searches for a picture of her child. “He’s very curious and very healthy!” she practically shouts as she holds her phone out for the other women to see.

“Adorable,” Octavia mutters, and Kathy just nods. Satisfied, Jessica closes the picture and goes back to her homepage. She scratches the lesion harder.

“How much longer do they say you have?” Octavia asks Jessica, not unkindly.

Jessica blinks several times before she answers. “I told them I didn’t want to know.”

“But Donald knows.”

Donald, Jessica’s beefy husband who nabbed a coveted job in the slaughter house last month, most certainly knows. Jessica has promised him not to tell her, and Donald is playing along so far. Unbeknownst to Jessica, he’ll wake up her up in the middle of the night three days from now and reveal her expiration date.

Jessica will visit each of her children and kiss their brows. She will linger the longest over Baby Kenneth, tasting his name in her mouth, tracing his eyebrows until touching him no longer feels real.

 

Minister Hot Tea Denies a Bird a Proper Burial (surreal fiction)

Posted in creative writing, fiction, flash fiction, freewriting, story telling, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , on October 31, 2017 by Robert Crisp

This oddness poured out a few days ago. Enjoy?

Minister Hot Tea Denies a Bird a Proper Burial

“I give not a fig for how the bird died,” said Minister Hot Tea, “nor do I wish him to be buried on this sacred ground. A pauper’s grave for the bird, now see to it.”

Minister Hot Tea’s wife was an unwilling accomplice, but she had run grown weary of playing Go Fish with ghosts, so she gathered the bird’s broken body and transported it to the burial ground just outside of Gehenna.

She said a hot, hasty prayer that got tangled in the clouds and lingered in the air long enough for the bird to reincarnate, leave the nest, and glide through an immaculate sunset, his heart beating in time with his strong, blessed wings.

Mr. Loper Refuses to Sell Hysterectomy Sandwiches (flash fiction?)

Posted in creative writing, fiction, flash fiction, short story, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , on October 10, 2017 by Robert Crisp

I guess this is flash fiction. It’s really just stream-of-consciousness prose, but that’s an awkward phrase. Whatever, it’s not poetry, but it has the earmarks of one of my poems. That is, it’s weird.

“I’ll have the hysterectomy sandwich, please,” Donald said and passed his gloves to the matronly woman to his left who was busily and nastily gnawing on an old chicken bone. Dog-like she was in her ways, but not dog-like enough to catch anyone’s attention for more than a second or two.

The deli manager, Mr. Loper, forced his way through the kitchen’s double doors and barked, “Sonny, we don’t serve hysterectomy sandwiches. This ain’t 1958!”

“I beg to differ,” Donald replied smoothly. “It may not be 1958, but your menu clearly states that you sell hysterectomy sandwiches, and your Facebook page proclaims it, as well. Therefore, you are—dare I say?—honor bound to accommodate my request.”

“Pea squash!” Mr. Loper shrieked at an incredibly high volume and intensity, enough to make the doggish woman howl in response and the other patrons (a salt shaker, two wizened biscuits, and a pony from Teddy Roosevelt’s time) shudder.

“You’re telling me you won’t make my hysterectomy sandwich?” demanded Donald. He was in quite a tizzy, red-faced and red-assed, ready to make war with Mr. Loper. He had brass knuckles. He could handle himself, by God.

“That’s what I’m telling you!” Mr. Loper answered and shot his fist into the sky. “Vive la difference!”

“I’ll never dine here again,” Donald said, kicking a chair out of his way as he strode toward the mammoth door.

“Hallelieghluuah,” said the Dog Lady. She never learned to spell the word, but it was close enough.