Summer’s heat has dissipated. Windows are wide open and a soft breeze flutters at the screens as gently as a silent butterfly. Logging trucks and late summer campers whir past the house like a rushing stream over rocks. Northbound trains clank to a halt to let the southbound ones trundle by on steel wheels. The windows are usually closed during the heat of the day, so these usually distant noises seem amplified.
Then nothing. Silence. A chickadee calls bright and clear. It sounds like he’s whistling, “Here, kitty…here, kitty.” In between highway traffic and trains natural sounds carry. In the distance I can hear horses stomping as they mow grass and a crow caws from a tall pine. Occasionally geese honk overhead.
This morning, I saw the first flock of geese headed south. Change is coming.
We get into these rhythms and somehow we think the dance of life is always the same two-step. Change is hard for people. I remember what a huge deal it was to introduce changes in the workplace. Some employees would panic; some customers would grumble; everyone groaned in one way or another just because we changed a process that would make improvements. People liked the improvements. They didn’t like having to go through the change.
Life has taught me that change is required to get to the next step of the journey. I think of pioneers and how they had to overcome that fear of change in order to take the journey that led to new places, adventures, opportunities and even hardships. Some learned that the vibrancy of life existed on the cusp of change and sought to journey more than most.
Those would be your Wild Bill Hickoks of the world. The one I’m studying left home early to drive mules; drove freight wagons across the frontier; scouted for the Union Army; led wagon trains and cavalry. Rarely did Hickok stay long in one place. And maybe that’s what draws us to such people–we are fascinated that they can go through such changes that would send most of us to hide under the bed just so we could stay home.
In my own life I’ve felt like a trailblazer, willing to journey. In some ways it paid off like finding a gold nugget and in other ways it led to disaster like losing a crop to locust. But that’s life and like it or not, the changes come and find us even if we don’t seek them out.
You can hear change coming. A harbinger–a messenger announcing the change like a honking Canada goose winging south in the evening sky. Even the open windows right now have me tingling for changes to come–I need to gather wood and prepare for the shortening of days. It’s time to pick huckleberries and put up the last of the summer peaches. Deep within I’m both excited and unsettled for the change.
Sound is often overlooked in writing. We can create images from any and all senses, but of course, we find visual images most natural when writing. This week we are going to explore sound in our flash fiction. Specifically, the sound of a harbinger; something that announces what is to come. It could be expected–the pounding of horse hooves upon hard sod announces the arrival of the next Pony Express rider. Or it could be unexpected–a strange hooting that is heard before a band of Pawnee arrive at the cabin door.
My examples are western, but you can write any ol’ genre you wish. I took a dive into this “idea” of Wild Bill Hickok, Cob McCandless and Sarah Shull. While exploring for stories through flash fiction, they hog-tied me, threw over the back of a horse and now I have to write my way out of this adventure. I’ve decided to accept the challenge. Writing weekly flash has become an interesting way for me to digest the research I’m doing. In October I’m visiting the Hub’s sister (she’s more like my sister) and she only lives a few hours away from Rock Creek.
It’s as if that chickadee is calling to me. A new adventure is just beyond the horizon if I dare step out to meet it. Hickok, Cob and Sarah–I will meet you at Rock Creek this autumn!
August 27, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use sound to announce some sort of change. It could be at the beginning of the story–a lonely bar keep on a quiet road hears the rumble of motorcycles and anticipates customers. That could be good news or bad…Or you could tell a story that unfolds as expected until a character hears something–like a bride getting ready upstairs at the church who hears a shattering below followed by the shouts of her groom, “I’m outta here!” Sound can trumpet, clang or whisper. It can foreshadow or be the twist.
Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, September 2 to be included in the compilation.
Flight From North Carolina by Charli Mills
Coins clinked in Cob’s burly hand as he jingled the liberty dollars Dryer paid for the two horses. Sarah couldn’t see how many. What mattered was boarding the Johnson City train before any Wataugans tracked their midnight ride. Waiting in line at the busy depot, Cob leaned against the wall watching folks like he was at a Sunday picnic.
“You keep fussing your bonnet, Rosebud, everyone on this platform’s going to think you’re fugitive.”
Sarah put her hands down and glared at the black locomotive. The whistle screeched and Sarah grabbed Cob’s arm. “We’ve gotta get on that train.”
Rules of Play:
- New Flash Fiction challenge issued at Carrot Ranch each Wednesday by noon (PST).
- Response is to be 99 words. Exactly. No more. No less.
- Response is to include the challenge prompt of the week.
- Post your response on your blog before the following Tuesday by noon (PST) and share your link in the comments section of the challenge that you are responding to.
- If you don’t have a blog or you don’t want to post your flash fiction response on your blog, you may post your response in the comments of the current challenge post.
- Keep it is business-rated if you do post it here, meaning don’t post anything directly on my blog that you wouldn’t want your boss to read.
- Create community among writers: read and comment as your time permits, keeping it fun-spirited.
- Each Tuesday I will post a compilation of the responses for readers.
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