Two years ago I wrote a piece of flash fiction called The Fence (click here to read the original). It was one of my favorite stories, but there was something wrong with it. I couldn’t figure it out, but I knew it didn’t flow as well as it could. Eventually, I asked some other writer’s what they thought the problem was and almost all of them said the change in viewpoint was what threw them off.
I jotted down a few ideas to fix it and put it away. Today I picked it up and made the changes and the following is the result. Any thoughts about it are welcome!
“Momma, why is the fence so high?” Taryn’s piping voice sounded, interrupting her mother’s thoughts.
“Because it has to be,” Laurel answered as she continued pinning clothes on the line. It was the third time in a week Taryn asked the question.
“But why? You never tell me anything.”
Damn right, I never tell you. “It keeps the bad things out.”
Taryn crossed her arms over her tiny chest, pouting. “I don’t believe you. I want to go out.”
Out? Fear gripped Laurel. “We don’t go out. You know everyone stays behind the fence.”
“That’s a stupid rule.” The girl turned her back and stomped to the fence.
The older woman watched her child for a moment. Taryn’s blonde curls, so like her own once was, had escaped the braids so patiently done that morning. It stood out at all angles, emphasizing the girl’s anger.
“Will we ever go out?”
“No Taryn, it’s not safe. Just because you haven’t seen the bad things, doesn’t mean they aren’t there.” Laurel heard a strange sound on the other side of the fence near where her daughter stood. It was almost birdlike, but she knew no bird had ever made that noise.
Her daughter’s head jerked up, and she sniffed the air. “Momma, I’m hungry.”
Knowing full well what that meant, Laurel moved quickly. She grabbed Taryn and ran to the cellar door, throwing it open. She pushed the child in and pulled the door closed. The girl fell down the last few steps, but Laurel was too busy with the lock to help her. She struggled with the bolt until it slid into place.
Laurel carefully descended the stairs, stepping over the last lock of her hair she hadn’t felt fall. Taryn sat on the floor crying. She was poking at something in front of her. Oh hell.
“Sorry Momma, I lost another finger.”
She sighed. Hopefully, they wouldn’t lose any other parts today. She was startled when the door rattled, but the lock held. She rushed back up the steps and pressed her remaining ear to the door to listen as the intruders passed by.
“We shouldn’t have crossed the boundary, John. This is dangerous,” she heard one of them say.
“I know they were here Tommy. I heard them growling and carrying on at each other.”
“I don’t know, I’ve never heard of a zombie doing laundry. Let’s get out of here.”
As the men started moving away, Laurel glanced at Taryn’s sad face. Only one thing would make her feel better. With a sigh, she pulled the bolt and prepared to get her daughter a snack.
*Second draft 433 words.