Juxtapositions create intersections, connections and stories emerge from the space in between. From steel birds to cherry trees planted in a crime scene, the natural world has much to reflect on our ordinary, or perhaps, extraordinary lives.
Children take wing on the winds of imagination and writers seek that same sense of freedom on the page.
The following stories are based on the March 25, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include a juxtaposition between the ordinary and natural worlds.
Flash Fiction by Irene Waters
The blonde headed children laughed as the pig’s head was stoved in by the man’s club. The dogs licked at the blood oozing from the beasts nostrils as, unconscious, it took its last breath.
“I can’t take this anymore” I said as I saw a bullock being brought in to suffer the same fate. I left the celebrating crowd to find a place where I no longer had to watch the slaughtering. I covered my ears.
A snarling dog approached and stared, uncertain whether to attack without its pack mates. I screamed. “For heavens sake, eat this dog next.”
Flash Fiction by Marigold Deidre Dicer
When he pulled up the data, I was gobsmacked. Sure, I’d been there. I’d seen what was left of civilsation. But I’d had no idea of the scale of it all.
“It’s like an iceberg.”
He cocked his eyebrow at me.
“We’ve only been able to see, what, ten percent of the actual remains? This new technology changes everything.”
I budged him out the way to marvel at the new discoveries. Markets and homes, all made from easily rotted thatch that had now disappeared, retaken by the jungle. Only the indentations in the land mark the once sprawling empire.
Life Cycle by Sacha Black
We knew it was coming, dad had been sick for a long time. He sat in the corner, breathing laboured as I cramped and cried through my own labour.
I pushed again, and again.
“One last heave.”
With a final groan my baby was born.
“It’s a girl,” the midwife said.
I looked at my parents. Mum had tears rolling down her cheeks.
Dads breathing was shallow and intermittent. His eyes glossed, and mouth fell slack.
“You have a granddaughter poppa.”
Dad died with a soft smile painted on his lips.
Mums sobs were interspersed with new born screams.
Suspicious Minds by Sherri Metthews
A counsellor? I tell that no-good doctor that Ken wants to do me in and he sends me where? As for nose strips, well, I know where he can put those…
“Home so soon dearest?” called Ken as Muriel barged in through the front door. “Guess what, I’ve booked a boating holiday!”
Muriel winced. All he ever wanted to do was watch crap daytime TV. Until she had reminded him that she couldn’t swim.
“I thought we could watch a film together later,” grinned Ken as he appeared in the hall. “You choose: ‘The Wedding Planner’ or ‘Jaws’.”
Making Friends by Charli Mills
Jenny’s back ached after a night of boiling moose meat, potatoes and rutabagas. She used lard to make rich gravy and flaky crust like her mam did for the copper miners back in Michigan.
Mona Gigliotti stopped by her cabin, pointing at linen-wrapped stacks. “Cosa!”
Her parents’ native Cornish faded in memory, but Jenny now recognized Italian. “Pasties.”
She stepped outside and watched an agile king bird fetch an insect midair and share it with others perched on budding dogwood. Like this bird, she would feed new friends in the Idaho wilderness where her Italian husband planted steel rails.
Another Nature by Pete Fanning
The cityscape glistened under a pulsing blue horizon. Telly shuffled forward, closer to learning of his new job at his new planet.
“At Earth 2.0, the unknown is known. Global Tech, in part with corporate sponsorship, has created a planet devoid of hatred or crime. Hunger is obsolete…”
Telly arrived from the Apple sync station reeling, having left his ravaged planet just as another continent was mutilated.
“… To ensure such safety, Facebook has developed a chip that…”
An undercurrent of authority lurked just beneath the pleasant instructions. Telly stepped into the chamber.
“…thoughts must undergo a sterilization process…”
Flash Fiction by Anne Goodwin
I was glad to make my home in the mountains, with a cooling breeze moderating the heat of the Mediterranean sun. On feast days, we’d dance and drink with the neighbours, the violins muffling the drone of the mine. No-one complained about the dust that clung to every surface, that wormed its way into our lungs. In our eyes, the village was beautiful, clothed in white the whole year round.
Now I lie in the hospital, a mask strapped to my face. People cringe on learning what put food in our bellies back then. Asbestos. Natural isn’t always best.
The Promotion by Sarah Brentyn
Carin pressed her manicured finger on the speaker button, placed the receiver in its cradle, and rubbed her neck. “You know I’ve applied for that. There’s a position in HR you’re more than qualified for.”
Ellen’s voice filled the office, “I’m already meeting with Greene about the job tomorrow.”
Carin rolled her eyes, swiveling her chair around before catching sight of two chipmunks on a limb of the oak outside her office window. They dashed toward each other then scurried away, darting back, scrambling for the one acorn that rested on the branch their furry feet danced on.
Day-Sky Moon by Pat Cummings
Sometimes it’s hard being me. I wake from nightmares of making mistakes that doom thousands of lives, and remember that I have an exam today in the very subject I dreamed.
Other days, everything falls into place. I can engineer anything, even words. Under a daytime moon, I assemble doggerel poetry to express it:
All my shirts got buttons,
All my toast got jam,
Woke no fears this morning
Of being who I am.
Got things ticking smoothly,
Got things going right.
Got a moon in the morning sky
For a little extra light.
Sometimes it’s easy being me.
Spring Break by Larry LaForge
Thomas and his college pal Brian had similar objectives for spring break. They both wanted a memorable time in a warm climate with plenty of girls around.
They parted ways Saturday, vowing to touch base midweek to compare notes.
On Wednesday Brian called. “Dude, it’s rocking here in South Beach. Chicks are everywhere.” Loud music blared in the background.
“Same here!” Thomas shouted, making himself heard over the loud banging noise from his end.
Thomas hung up and received more shingles from his cute coed team member as they continued repairing roofs damaged by a severe tornado in Galveston.
The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.
Flash Fiction by Ruth
Skin darkened, dry and cracked; fingers calloused and crooked; hand trembled as it reached slowly and hesitantly towards its prize.
The first bloom of the season, delicate pure white, glistened with the lustre of a pearl, still touched with dew in the early morning soft rays.
The gnarled hand gently and lovingly brushed aside the small beetle that threatened to damage the perfectly formed petals. The slight touch to perfection released a burst of sweet perfume.
The rays warmed the air; the bloom reached maturity; accepting of the hum within which would ensure a new generation of precious delight.
Shapeshifter by Ula Humienik
Now that you’re really gone, I can finally breathe my own breaths, be my own person. For you I would have become anything. I was a shapeshifter becoming whatever you’d wanted. One day I was a tree – rooted and stable. Another day, I was a flighty black crow, sometimes a timid doe, or even a wild but loyal wolf. It never seemed enough.
Now that you are gone, I can finally be me, not the me trying to please, but the me that I want to be, the true me, the me that I was when you weren’t around.
Juxtaposition by Norah Colvin
She paused her dusting, as often she did, scanning the fading faces. Her gaze lingered, as always, on one. She gave it an extra rub as if to wipe away a tear, erase the pain.
She lifted the postcard wedged into the frame to read the words she knew so well but wished had more to tell: “Thank you, Miss. Remember me.”
“Where are you? How are you doing?” she’d never stopped wondering, hoping.
She fingered the smoothness of the turquoise stone, its partner given long ago . . .
A quiet knock on the door interrupted her thoughts.
Out Like a Lion by Georgia Bell
My head hurts. The pressure has been building for two days in advance of the storm that’s moving our way. I want to lie down. I want to get in the car and drive away. I want to forget the way he left this morning. What he said. What I didn’t.
Instead, as the dark rumbles grow louder, I move out to the porch to feel the wind. To watch it whip up leaves and the dirt in ever expanding dervishes. To watch the chaos of rain and light that’s working its way through me and into the sky.
For the Love of Fish by Roger Shipp
“Dad!” I yelled as he was removing the last rope anchoring The Serenity II.
“Sweetie, I had no idea you were home.”
“For two weeks and then back out.”
“Off to the southern Pacific Rim. Whaling ships.”
“Hop on. They say the marlins are a-jumpin’ just off the key.”
We climb aboard.
“Oh, Sorry. Dad, Jack. Jack, this is my father. Dad’s the one that first spurred on my interest in oceanographer. Professor Keller, then got me interested in Save the Whales.
“Nice to meet ya, Jack. Bait up, guys. Can’t keep Mother’s supper waiting.”
Birds by Luccia Gray
The giant bird pierced the profuse clouds with its pewter beak. Long, steel wings spread stiffly across the soft air, while probing passengers looked through the proportioned glass eyes. In the cockpit, commanding hands swerve the airborne intruder back down to earth. Leonardo knew it would happen. Wells imagined it too.
The eaglets chirped in search of food, while the eagle watched warily as the mechanical invader swept past. For now there was room for both species, but in the future, her offspring would fight a tough battle for subsistence.
One predator will be wiped out, but which one?
Free as a Child by Rebecca Patajac
Wings spread, songs of flight ring out from her heart as she runs round and round through a forest of legs and chairs. She glides to a halt by the place from where food comes and smiles up at Mumma bird.
Savouring the sharp crunch and sweet juices of a well-earned grape, she takes off.
With a heavy breath, Mumma walks off, arms heavy with a cold, plastic washing basket. Mumma pulls a tiny jumper down over baby bird’s head mid-flight, “it’s freezing.”
Wings bound, baby bird collapses in a heap, tears welling up, “but I have feathers Mumma…”
Digging in by Geoff Le Pard
‘I’m sorry Madam. We have to dig up every part. There may be more bodies. ‘
Mary shuddered. Not just the idea of more deaths but also the destruction of her parents pride and joy. The policeman was still talking. ‘When was the cherry planted?’
Mary hesitated. She knew exactly. On the fifth anniversary of her mother’s death. When they’d decided to use her ashes as the first foodstuff. She explained.
Even the policeman looked pained. ‘I’ll see if we can re-pot it for you.’
Mary couldn’t stop the tears. So much death yet losing this tree mattered most? Why?
Be sure to catch the latest Roundup generously curated by Rough Writer, Larry LaForge, and posted on his 100 Words blog: Carrot Ranch Roundup #6.
Welcome home Charli, hope you mangage to get that space in between and catch your breath a little…but can’t wait to hear your news 😀
Thanks, Sherri! Can’t wait to download it!
Welcome back! 🙂 Looking forward to reading all the new flash.
Terrific flash once again!
I always enjoy reading these. I have such respect for folks who can write great fiction. That’s one thing I definitely have not been able to get my head around. Thanks to all who share. Great stuff. 🙂
Thanks, Stephanie, for reading! This is like a jam session for fiction so jump in anytime you want to try! 😀
Such great stories! I loved them all.
I agree! 🙂
Wow! Loved all of them.
Always easy to see a compiled list. Sorry could not contribute.
It’s good to read them all in one place. No worries! We all get busy. The challenge is meant to enhance your creativity, not bog it down. 🙂
Some great juxtapositions here Charli. All were great to read and again so many different angles. Looking forward to hearing all the angles you may have picked up at the conference. Welcome home.
Thank you! I’ve been outlining my notes and I have material for lots of blog posts! I’m breaking it down into practical bites so it won’t be a big overwhelming smorgasbord.
Lovely, as always Charli to see them all together in one spot. Great that Larry has linked to them from his site too. The writers and readers are growing in number – soon we’ll reach critical mass. (Actually, on a different topic, I reached that some time ago! :))
My intention all along was to build a community and what a vibrant community it is! I have ideas for maintaining the community at a manageable size while focusing on growing audience that benefits the community. While our community numbers have been stable and steady, our audience numbers have tripled and even quadrupled on some social media forums (the FB page for example — two months ago we were getting regular views between 15-30 and now we are getting views on some stories that top 100)! This is one area I’m going to tackle, talking about platform and how to differentiate between community and audience. Your post on the topic is timely to what I’ve been considering and what I also learned in LA. And yes, critical mass of community is a much lesser number than of audience. And that’s because we engage at a community level and there is only so many waking hours to do so!
Thanks Charli. I look forward to benefiting vicariously from your gleaned and accumulated wisdom. The audience definitely needs to be larger than the community so finding those who want to read but not engage or participate is important. I guess that what I was for lots of the blogs I was following – audience, not community. Hmm. Something else for me to think about. Another way of interpreting. Maybe i should be happy with being audience. We’ll see. Suggestions for viewing blogs in the reader rather than receiving email notifications have been received. Maybe reading without liking or commenting is another way of building audience for others, if not for self. Thanks for scratching this itch. 🙂
Audience is the tricky component. Without branding (who you are, what you do), community and credibility we can’t build audience. We needn’t build audience for others unless we truly want to read — like many of the experts you’ve read and shared on your blog. That’s who you are audience to. I’m working on some analogies to help explain the differences between community and audience and where we put our building efforts. Our brand can attract audience; our community can introduce us to new audiences; and the bigger our credibility, the bigger our audience numbers. It’s all interconnected, and we can be effective while also enjoying our communities without feeling overwhelmed.