It’s complicated, but I made this one for the December 19th Flash Fiction Challenge
The backstage lady said I’d go on right after Marvin Joplin. She told me to wait on the stairs, and when I heard them intro Marvin; be ready to go on.
When they announced him, I moved into the wings. He performed a Johnny Cash number I’d heard on the radio hundreds of times. I found the backstage lady and complained.
“You said we were to perform an original song.”
“I heard Johnny Cash play this song.”
“Yeah,” she smiled.
I asked her if I could go on later, not right now, not right after Marvin Joplin.
The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features an open mic night. Take a character backstage, on stage or into the deep woods. Go where the prompt leads!
I dusted off some old words and reworked them – pared them down for the November 21st Flash Fiction Challenge
Kid Kevin rode into town ‘bout high noon. He tied Ole Paint to the rail at the bank, drew his pearl-handled revolvers, and kicked open the door. The new schoolmarm, Hermione Perkins, was inside.
“Oh Kevin,” she swooned, “Thank God you’re here, Grizzly Hank just emptied the vault.” She gathered her skirts and ran to the door. “He went thataway,” she pointed. “If you hurry you can most likely still catch him.”
Thinking quickly Kevin decided not to become an outlaw today. He mounted up and took off in hot pursuit of the robber.
Miss Perkins might be grateful.
The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a romance. Focus on the relationship between two people. Build tension and end on a happy(ish) note. Go where the prompt leads!
I wrote this for the November 7th Flash Fiction Challenge
Just up country from the old church, a redbud tree stood alone on a rock strewn hillock, a vigilant sentinel minding the landscape, watching. At least thrice a week Miriam would walk there with a yoke and two large buckets filled with sweet water drawn from the creek. She’d sing and offer water to the tree.
When the lluvias monzónicas came and swept away Miriam’s adobe she went to plead with the redbud tree. She went to ask for shelter. Redbud shuddered with the storm and cooed, “Of course niña. Come close, take refuge, and sleep beneath my branches.”
The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes Water Walkers. It does not have to be in the Anishinaabe tradition; in fact, it would be more interesting to see interpretations from across all nations and walks. It can be a title or used as a phrase. Go where the prompt leads!
I wrote this for the October 31st Flash Fiction Challenge
It was dark as I clutched the hand of mi Abuelita and we picked our way over the lichen covered grave markers in the cementerio viejo, where our ancestors lay buried. Abuelita was fearless.
“Stand with your own dead,” she told me, “look death in the eye when it comes for you. Be strong and be brave. Celebrate life. It is the only way to defeat death. We all die anyway, but it is not the end. It is just something different.”
My grandmother had passed when I was ten. We had taken this walk together every year since.
The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the Day of the Dead. It can be the Mexican holiday, a modern adaptation of it, a similar remembrance, or something entirely new. Go where the prompt leads!
I wrote this for the September 26th Flash Fiction Challenge
Yvette accepted the post-coital Cohiba offered by the bearded writer from La Plaza Vieja. He was writing his memoir. She tucked the bed linens around her waist, leaned back against the worn headboard, and told him about France, her life before la Habana. Before coming to Cuba.
He listened carefully as she smoked and wove her tale, “… But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.”
The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about someone unremembered. Is it a momentary lapse or a loss in time? Play with the tone — make it funny, moving, or eerie. Go where the prompt leads you!
I wrote this for the September 19th Flash Fiction Challenge
It was early morning when Enrique crept home. Treading softly and turning his key slow; he eased the door inward. He started when a heavy glass ashtray bounced off the wall and shattered. Mesmerized, he watched as pieces of glass scampered across the dark blue tile floor. It brought to mind ‘la galassia via lattea’ it was beautiful. So was the dark-haired fury who came in quick and attacked.
“Ma il mio amore, eravamo in pausa.” Enrique shouted as he tried in vain to dodge her blows.
Marida continued to pummel him. Her fierce countenance set and forbidding.
The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an interlude. It can be a pause between two key moments, the pause between acts in a play, an intermission, or a temporary amusement Go where the prompt leads you!
I wrote this for the September 12th Flash Fiction Challenge
She was sixty-three years old that year, but age didn’t deter from her excitement about the gaily wrapped gifts staged beneath the tree. There was one though, that stood out. The wrapping was heavy brown paper. Once wrinkled, but now rubbed smooth, it was an old shopping bag from The Seventh Street Market. A store that had closed almost forty years ago. She’d saved this gift for last and cradled it in her hands turning it over and over. It was rather diminutive, not large.
Neatly lettered in the corner she could read: “Happy Christmas, Clarissa – With Love, Hayley.”
The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the greatest gift. Answer it as if it were a question, or show what it could be. Go where the prompt leads you!
I wrote this for the September 5th Flash Fiction Challenge
Gunnery Sergeant Michael Paxton kept his head down as he worked his way forward. The fighting had died down somewhat, but the enemy knew he was still there. There was constant gunfire directed toward him, but they mustn’t have known exactly where he was. The rounds weren’t hitting all that close.
That ‘boot,’ Bim was the last man in, but when Paxton found him, it was too late. Undeterred he hefted Pvt. Bim over his shoulder and carried him back to the LZ. Where the quick and the dead waited together, waited for the Hueys; no one left behind.
The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that shows true grit. You can use the phrase or embody the theme. Who or what has true grit? Go where the prompt leads you!
I wrote this for the August 29th Flash Fiction Challenge
Marni left school about 4:00 and headed for the teacher’s parking when out of nowhere she was flanked by two burly men with sunglasses and dark suits.
“You guys Special Agents?” she looked back and forth.
The left guy flashed a badge case, she caught a glimpse of tin. The right tendered a card, they were indeed Feds.
“We need to speak with your father, Miss Gilroy.”
“Last I heard he was still in jail,” she answered.
First agent, “We think he might’ve been in Seattle last night.”
“You haven’t seen him, then?” the second agent asked.
The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the safebreaker’s daughter. Who is she, what did she do, and where? Go where the prompt leads you!
I wrote this for the August 22nd Flash Fiction Challenge
In the village of Marlow, Buckinghamshire, the visitor will find an agreeable climate, a magnificent bridge, delightful restaurants, and river walks. At the top of the High Street sits Albion House, where Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary lived. In this house, Mary Shelley finished her Gothic novel.
It’s a lovely old home; painted white. It features floors of hardwood and terracotta tiles. French doors open to a small garden off the ground floor, and the entire structure glows with the patina brought by old age and meticulous care. A simple, small brass plaque marks its literary significance.
The prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about old world charm. It can be nostalgic or irreverent. You can invent an “old world,” return to migrant roots or recall ancient times. Go where the prompt leads you!