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Flash Fiction – The Day Darlene Went To Heaven

Darlene was right, always. She had known it since she was small. Now she was grown and had a mission. Everyone else needed to know how right she was. Sharing her knowledge and superior opinion became her life’s mission.

Political debate on Facebook? She was there.  An argument on Twitter about tolerance? Oh yeah, her favorite. Religion? Darlene’s was the one true way, so she never missed one of those. Is the dress white or blue? Ha! She would drown the ones who guessed wrong in comments.

Of course, she wasn’t a troll. Only someone who was wrong could be a troll in her opinion, and everyone knew her views were correct. At least they would. She wouldn’t stop until they did.

Wasn’t that was life was all about? Making sure everyone followed the correct path and thought in the right way. These were the things she said to herself often.

She was congratulating herself on a successful online rant the day she stepped in front of a bus. Her disappointment was profound. Darlene couldn’t believe it was her time. There were still so many people she needed to put in their place.

Alas, he couldn’t stop as her spirit floated up to heaven. She landed on a fluffy cloud in front of Saint Peter. She glanced around and saw that the pearly gates looked exactly the way they should. Peter, however, did not. She told him so, and for his benefit, she went into detail of how he was supposed to look.

When she finished, she found a bench, crossed her arms, and waited for him to put things right.

Peter sighed and stared at his lists for a time. Finally, an idea struck him. He made her a special place, full of only people like her. It only took an hour for her to come to him saying she set all the others right and she begged to go to the other place to fix it as well.

It only took thirty minutes for the ruler of the other place to implore Peter to take her back. It took Peter only a moment to decide it wasn’t her time. He put her back on earth early in the morning of the day she was supposed to die. He started a Twitter fight about celebrities in politics to keep her home.

As far as Peter is concerned, Darlene will live forever.

 

Rough draft 400 words


This story isn’t from a prompt. I wrote the bones of it a few weeks ago and today I decided to do some minor revision and post it. There was something I didn’t quite like about it but I didn’t know what.

I finally realized there were a lot of repeated words and punctuation issues (thanks, Grammarly). Once these were fixed I noticed a few problems with the way it flowed so I revised them. I’m still calling it a rough draft because it’s not ‘perfect.’

Flash Fiction – It’s Over!

“I trusted you!” Craig yelled. “How could you do this to me? You always wait until I forget how horrible you are before pulling the same shit again.” He was in full voice now, frustration clouding embarrassment he might feel at screaming for all the neighbors to hear.

“I’ve given you everything. My love, my time, and God knows you’ve taken all my money. And for what? Just to shit on me over and over. Well I’ve had enough. We’re through!” He walked away but soon turned back. He couldn’t leave her there on the street, couldn’t bear the sight of her. After fifteen years it would be hard but he would do what he had to.

Craig called a tow truck to come get the piece of crap, broke down car he’d loved for so long. He felt a sharp pang of regret watching it being pulled away until his neighbor came over and offered to take him to the dealership. He knew he would never find another like her but he figured that was exactly the point.


So this is what happens when I’m having car troubles — flash fiction! At least something good has come of all the knocks life is throwing at me this month.

Story A Day Challenge – Day 28 – What Is That Noise?

Today’s Story a Day prompt was interesting. It challenged us to write down five things we see, five we hear and three to five we smell, then follow the prompt below. I have to go to physical therapy in a few minutes so I picked one of the senses–sound–and imagined what was happening. Enjoy.


The Prompt:

Write a story with a character who has a difficult decision to make. Put this character in the setting you observed and use your sensory detail in the story.


What Is That Noise?

Jen sat at her desk tapping away at the keyboard. This story idea is a bestseller, I know it, she thought. The words flowed from her brain to her fingertips effortlessly. She wasn’t sure when she became aware of the sound but once she focused on it she stopped writing.

What was that horrid noise? She concentrated for a moment but it was gone. Turning her attention back to her novel, she picked up where she left off. Moments later the sound interrupted her again and it didn’t go away. It seemed to be coming from inside her walls, making the hairs on her arms and back of her neck stand up. It was so loud she could barely tune it out but she kept typing because her story was more important than the sound.

After a time she adjusted to the constant cadence until a sniffle broke her out of writing mode. Her concentration completely broken she turned her chair and glared at her husband sitting a few feet away on the couch. “You’re doing that thing again.”

Her husband looked up from his paper confused. “What thing?”

“You know, breathing, in and out, in and out, over and over again.”

“If only you were as funny as you think you are.”

She grinned and went back to writing. Maybe she wasn’t very amusing but it must have done the trick because she couldn’t hear the loud breaths again for the rest of the evening.


I decided to go with having trouble doing something rather than making a difficult decision. Since yesterday’s story was a bit heavy I went for a light approach today.

As for the five things I hear, see and smell, well I’m sitting at my desk so I’m surrounded by everything familiar. It’s no surprise that a story about writing a story was the first thing to pop in my head.

Lucky for me my husband doesn’t breath loud!

Rough draft 246 words.

Story A Day Challenge – Day 17 – Visibly Invisible

I watch her every morning as she walks to the coffee shop, careful not to let her see me. I think she might be the one. I hide in the alley until she comes out then walk towards her. Occasionally we make eye contact and she smiles before quickly looking away, but she doesn’t see me today. I don’t understand it. Why doesn’t she notice me every time? Do I make her uncomfortable? I only want to make her happy.

Maybe today will be the day I show her I’m perfect for her. I normally go to the park at the end of the street after our daily encounter but today I turn around and follow her. She walks several blocks before stopping at a store. She’s staring into the window smiling. Curious, I edge closer to see what’s made her so happy.

When I see what it is I growl low in my throat startling her. She backs away, telling me I’m a good dog. I let her go. Clearly she’s not the one for me if she’s smiling at kittens. Damn cat people!

“Hey boy, are you lost?” I hear from behind me. I turn and see the most beautiful, kindest eyes. I feel my tail moving of its own accord. He sits on his knees and pets my head. Maybe he’s the one. Hopefully he doesn’t like cats.


Prompt: Visibly Invisible

Today’s prompt is about the inner self of your character trying to break out, to be seen, to be heard, to simply be acknowledged.

Think along the lines of being present in a group, yet you’re being discussed as if you were not there.  Now multiply those feelings by 100 for your character who, for reasons you will develop, cannot (at the moment) speak up for themselves.

Tips

  • Why is your character ‘invisible’?
  • You may want to go down the path of personal knowledge, for instance someone with a severe disability which restricts their line of communication.  Yet they are ‘in there’ and fully aware of what is going on around them.  How do they feel?  What can they do to get attention, and help?
  • Perhaps you want to go the fantasy route and your character has had a spell put on them.  What or who will break it?  How does the ‘invisible’ one deal with the situation they are in and what do they do to help themselves?
  • Your story should conclude with your character achieving ‘visibility’.

Not too many tips this week – let your imagination, and your emotions run free with this one.


Whoa! She said: Not. Too. Many. Tips.

I don’t normally post the prompt and the tips but in this case I felt I had to. In all fairness her last prompt had a whopping nine tips so I can see where she thinks this one doesn’t have many. I apologize in advance to the person who made this prompt but WTF woman? My first thought after reading the prompt and tips was ‘is there anything else you’d like to tie me down with?’  So my rebellious/stubborn streak kicked in and I wrote what I wanted. My character is noticed by the woman but not in the way he wants. That is as close to the prompt as I got.

I don’t know about the rest of the writers out there who take these kinds of challenges or use prompts but for me, if someone tells me I should do it a certain way or offers story ideas, you can bet I will NOT go that way. I truly don’t think I’m being rebellious. I simply don’t want to write someone else’s story.

Also, I don’t normally write in present tense so there are many flaws here but I’m glad I challenged myself.

Rough draft 231 words

Story A Day Challenge – Day 5 – The Assignment

For today’s prompt, which can be found here, I decided to once again not go too literal, but more literal than yesterday. My mind is on my middle grade fairy story lately so I reworked a scene from it. Tommie the fairy’s assignment is to cheer up a depressed troll (with Levi’s help). When trolls get upset, things often get destroyed. Hope you enjoy. Nox is my favorite character of all time.


The Assignment

Tommie and Levi followed the trail of blackened and destroyed trees looking for the fairy’s assignment. They heard her before they saw her. The troll made the most horrid sound. It was a loud, piercing screech. Tommie felt like her ears were going to burst as she got nearer. She stopped and translocated ear plugs for them both.

“Stay hidden until I get her to stop.” Levi crouched down behind a bush as Tommie walked up behind the troll. She sent a spurt of magic into the most recently burned tree and repaired it. “Hey, troll, why are you harming the forest?”

The troll spun around, startled. “Who are you?”

Tommie gasped. The troll was beautiful. Since trolls were always ugly, she was shocked. “Wow, you’re really pretty,” she blurted. “I’ve never seen a pretty troll before.”

The troll’s face went from surprised to sad and she started screeching again.

“Stop that!” Tommie yelled. “Your cry is absolutely awful, you’re going to pop my eardrums.”

The troll stopped crying and sniffled. “Do you really think so?”

“Yes it’s the worst I’ve ever heard.”

The other girl smiled. “Thank you.”

Tommie signaled for Levi to come out.

The troll watched him approach with narrowed eyes. “Do you think I’m pretty boy?”

Levi nodded. “But your breath is truly horrid. Please don’t face me when you talk.”

The troll blushed with evident pleasure.

“So why you’re destroying trees and scaring the wildlife away?” Tommie asked.

“Wait, I scared the animals?” At Tommie’s nod the troll pumped her fist in the air. “I didn’t mean to scare them but it helps that I did. I don’t really want to hurt the forest but I’m so sad.”

“Why?”

“It’s how you reacted when you saw me. The only thing you noticed was my beauty. You weren’t even scared.”

“Why is that be a problem?”

“Because I’m a troll. Trolls aren’t pretty, we are scary, mean, and evil tempered. Everything and everyone flees from us. Except, not from me. I don’t scare most people. The others of my kind think I’m hideous and I’m tired of not being a good troll.”

“Not a good troll? Nonsense. I’ve never heard a troll with a worse cry!” Tommie exclaimed.

Levi shook his head. “And if someone is trapped by your beauty, then they can’t escape your breath. You’re the perfect troll. You’re like a stealth troll, a ninja.”

The troll’s mouth dropped open. “I’ve never thought of it like that before. One time I tried to scare some water nymphs. No one ever told me they can’t resist beauty. I couldn’t get them to leave me alone until I ran away from the river. It never occurred to me to lure them over to scare them. I’ll have to think more about this.” She grabbed Levi’s hand and shook it. “I’m Nox.”

Tommie and Levi introduced themselves.

“Why are you here anyway?”

As Tommie explained her assignment she went back to fixing the trees. She knew it could get her in trouble but she couldn’t bear to see them in such a sorry state. When she finished the job she sat down next to the troll. Levi was describing how he and Tommie had met.

“I asked the council to let me be a fairy godmother but they turned me down. I got them to agree to let me help Tommie though,” the boy explained.

“Why won’t they let you be a fairy godmother? What right to they have to tell you what you can and can’t do?” The troll’s expression was indignant. “I’ve decided we’re all friends now. There is someone you need to meet who can help us figure this out.” She stood and walked away.

Levi turned to Tommie. “Um?”

“Just follow her, she’s claimed us as friends and you never want to tell a troll no. Let’s go.”

Tommie was very curious. If Nox could help Levi become a godmother it was worth trying.


The Prompt

Your character is alone in the woods and finds blighted trees, drooping plants…rot and slime everywhere. It once was beautiful but overnight is turning into a swamp–its not natural. Your character must get to the bottom of this and stop it before something they love very much is threatened also.


It’s funny but every day I read the prompt and think I’ll never come up with anything. Then after a few minutes of overthinking I calm down and ideas pop in my head. I’ve even managed to write two extra flash fiction pieces in the last few days. If you are a writer and not already doing this challenge I strongly advise you to give it a try. It’s worth it!

Below is a colored pencil sketch my daughter did of Nox.


Rough draft 662 words.

Nox

Story A Day Challenge – Day 4 – Betrayed

The prompt for day four was good but I had trouble coming up with an idea. Finally this story popped in my head. If you want to join the challenge click here.


Betrayal

Bailey woke up feeling groggy and disoriented. What happened, where was he? He tried to scrutinize his surroundings but something semi-blocked his view. Finally his eyes focused. Bars! Oh no, what did he do last night?

He remembered his family treating him to his favorite meal and a lot of celebrating. The rest was a blur. Had someone put something in his drink? Had he made a fool of himself in public? He must have since he was now locked up.

As he became more alert he realized something felt off. There was a strange ache in his nether region. He turned his head to look but was stopped by something large and plastic. Panic surged. They didn’t! They couldn’t!

He turned the other way then looked up – more plastic. Cone of shame! No wonder his family made last night so special. They knew they were going to take the best part away from him forever. Were they really so angry about a few litters around the neighborhood? It couldn’t be more than four or five!

Bailey tried to put his head on his paws and whimpered when the cone got in his way.


The Prompt

A person wakes up, not quite remembering what happened the night before, and is surprised and upset by what they see outside the window.


I decided to veer a little to the left with this one. Poor Bailey!

Rough draft 195 words

“I Like Turtles.”

“I like turtles.” Never have three words been used to annoy two young girls as much as they have this summer. This is a really old video but somehow I came across it again recently. It probably randomly popped up in my Facebook feed. Since then I’ve used it so many ways I should be almost be ashamed of myself, or at least my daughters feel that way.

It started with me waking them up one morning. To get my youngest daughter out of bed I have to either sound angry, annoyed or annoying. During the summer I normally opt for the latter. For example, I once opened the door to their shared bedroom and loudly said “boop.” That’s all, nothing else. Both sat up, gave me the death look and did the teenager sigh (I live for that sigh). I’ve tried singing – badly, weird voices – mostly quoting movies and occasionally videos on Youtube (yaaassss), asking bizarre questions, etc. I tend to be pretty repetitive too so they get the joys of double annoyances.

A week or so before I went out of town I walked in their room and said “I like turtles.” I like to think I said it exactly the way the zombie kid did. One daughter sat straight up startled and the other said “what did you say?” I repeated it and they both looked confused but wide awake. Little did they know it was the beginning of one of the most irritating times of their lives!

I woke them up a few more times with it, including playing it on my phone on max volume. I sent many texts and memes. Some they laughed at, others rated only an: “OMG Mom!”  I searched for their favorite things/people and the word turtle to find stuff to send them, namely Homestuck and Anna Kendrick (I succeeded too). I took pictures of everything turtle related I came across including a metal turtle on my in-laws’ porch, glass turtles found in every single truck stop we visited and this beauty:

TurtleCrossing

I couldn’t have possibly aggravated them more. By the time I quit, it had degenerated down to only eyerolls. Once the sighs stop I’m done. I’m a mom, I always reserve the right to be super irritating, repetitive, and funny (at least to myself). When you were(/are) a teenager wouldn’t you rather have been woken up by silliness than grumpiness? Doesn’t sending stupid turtle pictures seem like a better way to check in with family when you’re far away rather than constantly asking if they are behaving and getting their chores done? Besides, with me having an emergency situation come up while out of town the kids were scared. The best thing I could do to reassure them was to be my normal ridiculous self.

The only bad thing to come out of the weeks of turtleness is now I have to come up with something newly annoying, but since I always do I’m not worried! Maybe I’ll go back to the ‘yaaassss’ cat or the ‘how now?’ thing. Any ideas you want to share will be appreciated and utilized. I would hate to have to resort to learning the words to whatever song is popular right now…

Sidenote: In case you were wondering, I don’t particularly like turtles.

The Making Of An Introvert

When I was young I was a show-off. I was almost a class clown but not quite. Being the baby of the family, I couldn’t really help myself. I loved attention and would go to ridiculous lengths to get it.

I have many examples. When I decided I was going to learn to play the trumpet I practiced all the time, in my driveway. My neighbors were probably extremely grateful when I finally got good at it. Once I dragged a milk crate full of very heavy petrified wood to school for show and tell because no one else even knew what it was. Talk about a terrible decision! My classmates were suitably impressed but I was exhausted by the time I got to school and even more worn out by the time I got home.

If I could have been any superhero ever, it would have been Storm. I spent many hours running up and down the block pretending to fly. Somehow I managed to do this loudly. Of course when my best friends and I decided to lip sync and dance for the talent show we practiced in the front yard for weeks to music that I now think is awful.

Eventually I stopped wanting all eyes on me, especially after the last time I consciously tried to show off. I was riding my semi-new bike practicing the no hands method of steering. I was actually really good at it. I noticed all the neighborhood kids were outside and since I was the best at the trick I decided to subtly educate everyone else. Finishing up, I had almost reached my house when several kids and their parents started yelling at me. I was confused because I was already looking at them. I would have asked what they were screaming about but at that moment I connected with the side mirror of my next door neighbor’s extremely large truck, with my face.

You know, the kind that are about a foot tall and stick out really far from the vehicle. I was knocked back really far and my bike kept going, straight as could be past at least three houses. Man that was painful! It even hurt my pride. Imagine the scene, most of my neighbors crowding around me while I lay in the street dazed and embarrassed. I let someone help me up and I staggered to my house and shut the door. Someone put my bike on the porch and everyone left me alone. I was pretty beat up and it sucked to have to tell my two older brothers what happened. And for the curious, yes they bring it up every few years at family gatherings.

I’m pretty sure I started down the road to becoming an introvert that day. I also kept my hands firmly on the handles when riding my back forever after.

It didn’t take me long to start withdrawing into myself. I quit band and track and basketball within a year. I became reserved and bordered on shy for a while. I got over the shy and stayed reserved. I avoided anything and everything that would put me in the spotlight. Anything to keep from getting embarrassed. I don’t know why one dumb move as child affected me so profoundly but it did.

Deep down inside I was an attention whore for years. How else can I possibly explain all the black clothes and weird hair I sported in high school? I call it my passive aggressive showing off years. Yes, I was one of those kids. The weird ones who dress up to get your attention but get mad when they catch you staring.

I eventually outgrew all that. I’m still reserved, until I get to know someone. Now I see myself as somewhere between an extrovert and introvert.

The biggest issue I’ve carried over from that time in my life is the fear of being embarrassed by my own actions. The fear of trying something new and failing can be incapacitating. It almost stopped me from becoming a writer, but I’ll cover that issue in another post.

I will say when I write something and share it with anyone I am anticipating an oversized side mirror knocking me off my bike.

On the plus side, I’m really good at doing scenes where my characters make fools of themselves. Show-offs are easy to write and creating protagonists and antagonists who suffer due to their arrogance is a breeze.

So was I born an introvert? No way. Am I one now? Yes, although I’m a social introvert. Would I have become one if I hadn’t shown off that day? I’ll never know. Many other things contributed to this but that day all those years ago was the beginning.

Guilty Pleasures

There is one thing I despise above all others: crying. Yet I found myself watching “surprise” videos on YouTube this morning, bawling like a baby each time the surprised person/people cried. I do this on a semi-regular basis. It’s one of my weird guilty pleasures. While emptying my full trashcan of Kleenex I started thinking about other guilty pleasures, and since I need to write, I made a list. I don’t actually feel guilty about most of these, but some I think are strange and some I don’t do around anyone else.

  1. Obviously the surprise videos. It can be anything from announcements to proposals, to military homecomings. If someone is going to cry happy tears, I’m there.
  2. Reality competition shows. Not all of them, but I will watch any singing contest (minus America’s Got Talent) and I love So You Think You Can Dance. I do not watch Dancing With The Stars. I do like Project Runway (because I can’t do that stuff), some seasons of Survivor and Faceoff is a new love. I’ll confess to watching America’s Next Top Model occasionally but the super doses of drama always drive me away at some point. I was really into Hell’s Kitchen but not so much anymore, but Masterchef is required watching. Top Chef can go either way for me. I do not watch the Bachelor or Bachelorette. The Biggest Loser makes me cry so it’s on the list. I do not watch lifestyle reality shows or whatever you would call the Kardashian nonsense. I have been known to temporarily get addicted to American Pickers and whatever the gold rush thing in Alaska is called in August when we visit my husband’s parents in New Jersey every year, since his dad watching that stuff.
  3. I have a new appreciation for Canadian sci-fi shows. Luckily I have Netflix to feed this emerging addiction. If you haven’t seen Continuum you’re missing out.
  4. Easy Cheese. I know, but I can’t help myself. Also Oscar Meyer Ham & Cheese loaf lunch meat.
  5. 80’s music. Not all of it, and not very often but I love to sing along (when no one is around) and I already know all the words to every song from that decade anyway, so I might as well enjoy it.
  6. I like weird cute socks.
  7. Candy. Specifically Pixy Stix, Smarties, Lemon Drops, Lemonheads and cherry Twizzlers.
  8. Old X-men, Thundercats, Danny Phantom and Sailor Moon cartoons.
  9. The Fifth Element. I watch this a couple of times a year.
  10. Starship Troopers. I have no explanation for this. Also Dirty Dancing, even though it’s not an action movie.
  11. Catchy songs that will remain unnamed. I DO have a reputation to maintain! Lucky for me I have teenage daughters who I occasionally give control of the radio to. It’s not really my fault if I accidentally learn the words to the stuff they listen to over and over.
  12. Chips. I’m seriously trying to get over this one but I don’t want to! I gave up smoking, giving up chips is ten times harder! Plus chicken strips. This will be the last unhealthy food I give up.
  13. Snyder of Hanover’s Salted Caramel pretzel pieces, and English Breakfast hot tea.
  14. Mints, most flavors. This probably stems from the quitting smoking thing.
  15. Cracked.com. No one can read/watch just one. Same with Buzzfeed.com.
  16. Lootcrate.
  17. Online games, specifically World of Warcraft.
  18. Buying office supplies. I can never have too many pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Especially pens!
  19. I will admit to marathoning Buffy, Charmed, Smallville (surprised me too), Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica, All the Stargate shows, Doctor Who, Torchwood, The Arrow, Chuck, Continuum, Highlander, Alias, Firefly, Grimm, John Doe (so before it’s time!), All Star Treks, and occasionally Hercules and Xena. If you consider that I’m a fantasy writer, this is all research! I can neither confirm nor deny owning most of these.
  20. My last and best guilty pleasure is rereading certain Fantasy series every year. In no way do I feel guilty about this though. Certain books are meant to be cherished and enjoyed forever. Nothing heavy allowed on my reread list. I don’t do Lord of the Rings, but I do read Harry Potter every year. No literary fiction but Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey and Brandon Sanderson make the cut, plus many more. I read fast so the list is necessarily long.

What about you? Any guilty pleasure you want to share? I’m sure I’ve left some off the list.