Flash Fiction: Live From Kanab!

Hello Readers, Writers, and Friends,

I am coming to you live-ish from the Kanab Writer’s Conference. As a part of my class on writing exercises and the best ways to use them we did our own flash fiction. You can read it below. Better yet you can participate with me as always.

In keeping with the novel environ (alternately sun and rain drenched and 100% gorgeous) I am trying something new. Affirmations as prompts. I’m going to do a post on this topic exclusively later on, but you can read my fiction and see how I incorporated today’s affirmation. Ready to give it a go? Come on!

Today’s Prompts: Person who is always late, where is everyone?, Today I choose to nourish my body by making healthy choices, Seagull

Photo by Liz Lauren on Pexels.com

Norman didn’t think anything about the empty beach as he landed. The early morning hours were always the quietest and he preferred to watch the sun rise on his own before the day’s feeding frenzy began. The ocean breeze was just as salty and raw as always. It tickled his feathers. There were no stray calls from other birds, trying to start the day before it properly got underway. He would linger with his feet in the sand, leaving their tell-tale prints as he walked along, the surf softly brushing them away as it washed over his spindly little legs.

He was self conscious of those legs, skinny even by gull standards. One more reason he walked alone each morning, hoping to build them up through daily exercise. His sure steps interrupted, with his eyes on the horizon, by some lumpy bit of sea trash. He fluttered into a short hop, and turned to assess the offending object.

It wasn’t trash.

It was Dave. Dave who always stole the choices mussels right out of his beak. Dave to had three different nest mates and who knew how many descendants. But Dave wasn’t floating or flying or looking to start a fight like usual.

Dave was dead.

His feathers were still sleek, but his wings spread out in a useless glide that would take him nowhere.

Norman looked up and down the beach only to find that the salt in the air had hidden the rank truth. His friends. His cousins. The flock that had pecked and flapped and fed with him since he had hatched beneath his mother, lay scattered across their home.

The cry that left him was nothing like the victory of finding food or calling to a friend or begging Dave to stop kicking him. This cry could be heard for miles up and down the shore, all the more piercing for the silence that surrounded him.

What could have done this?

What could have stolen all he had known from him in less than a night?

Where would he go now?

Norman took to the skies, still screeching, unable to stop, hoping to get the right view of the world from up on the wing.

Up above the bodies became specks. Little spots and dots like stars in the sky, but they didn’t twinkle. They didn’t move at all.

Norman flew for barely a mile before he found a great green nest. A depression in a rock of some kind. It was filled with fish.

He landed on the edge and could smell the fishy deliciousness. And something else.

Something that made him hop down from the nest. He circled it.

Great red marks, like this: Caution! Toxic! stood out from the side of this strange rock bowl.

He was hungry.

But he was also used to being hungry while Dave and his friends stole his food and made fun of his legs. He was used to waiting until the sun was fully up and the other gulls had had their fill for the morning. He was used to being last.

Now he was the only.

Norman flew inland. Farther than he ever had before. He found a tide pool that smelled too clean and not like salt at all. But he could smell the food here too. It wasn’t all heaped together too perfect and so wrong all at once.

“Mommy, look it’s a seagull.”

Before mommy could stop him the tiny creature threw a bit of his food at norman. He sniffed, but he was too hungry now to ignore it.

He gobbled it. Gulped it. Meaty like a muscle but saltier and sturdier. It didn’t slide down the throat like a mussel, but it filled his stomach just as well.

He hopped out of the water, sat next to the tiny creature who made squealing noises of its own. Not sad, lost sounds. High-pitched happy sounds. It touched his feathers and retreated, chirping. It brought him not a piece of its odd meaty meal, but a whole one.

Norman nibbled. Then Norman nabbed. He fell asleep.

He awoke to more creatures. Bigger ones. His wings were bound, he couldn’t get out, but then the tiny one came and stroked his head.

“It’s okay.” it said. Norman didn’t know what that meant, but the tiny fingers on his feathers felt like his mother’s beak ruffling his head when he was small and safe.

“He must have escaped that dumping. Smart little guy to get away from the water.” The bigger creature picked him up and put him a cave just big enough to hold him.

“What’s going to happen to him?” the tiny one cried.

“We’ll take good care of him. We’ll tag him and release him somewhere safe.”

The cave swung back and forth. Norman didn’t know what was happening, the rocking felt like being on the waves, the water. It might not have been home, but it was better than being in that constellation of unblinking stars he’d left behind.

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Updates: I’m teaching, and we are in mourning for a car

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Flash Fiction Friday: Screaming Into the Void

Hello Readers, Writers, and Friends,

I broke my toe.

The breaking of a toe functions as a physiological insult. My gait, my balance, my activity level: all these things and more are in total disarray because of a bone less than an inch long and its unfortunate contact with a large glass jar of green chilies. The jar was unharmed. And this whole affair is the more to be lamented because there is so little one can do for a broken toe besides ice it, stay off it, tape it to a neighboring toe for stability, and hope for the best as the weeks needed for healing go by.

The whole situation is excessively stupid.

That is not why I didn’t post last week. That had to do with school ending and child related craziness. Similar amounts of craziness have ensued this week due to the toe situation. But despite the ever present throbbing, I am here with you to write a little something.

This week’s prompts are: astronaut, bounced check

We hiked into the desert to watch the lunar eclipse on the 15th. My camera wasn’t quite up tot he task, but it was glorious to witness.

It takes a real sense of calm and discipline to become an astronaut. It takes all kinds of other things too, but if you are going to resent out into the black void, then ensuring you maintain the machinery of your mind and body are crucial. They screen way more vigorously for the right mental attributes than for physical strength or academic prowess.

So when a micro comet knocked out the outbound communications equipment, and the backup was patchy at best, we didn’t panic. We knew we were due to switch out with the next team in the coming month. They would bring new equipment with them when mission control realized they weren’t getting good responses from us beyond acknowledging we had gotten their messages. No big deal.

We went about our daily tasks: training in the zero gravity to keep our muscle density up, checking the various experiments and recording the relevant data, we even got our normal messages from home.

Three days in, that’s when it happened.

I opened the blinking light of my notifications to find a message from the bank. And a message from the company that owned my mortgage.

My check had bounced.

“What?!”

My exclamation was so loud in the relative confines of the station that it drew half the crew.

They all just stared at me, waiting.

“The check bounced,” was all I could say.

It didn’t make sense. It was set to automatic withdrawal. My wife would have been sure to put enough money in the right account. This had to be a mistake.

“You fix when you land,” assured my hefty Russian colleague. “They won’t take astronaut’s house.”

My Russian friend was clearly unaware that in America the banks didn’t care who you were if you didn’t pay your mortgage.

But more than the stupid check and the status of my loan I couldn’t stop thinking about Patty. What had happened to my wife that our affairs were in such a state of disarray? Here I was eating food that had to be slurped out of a pouch, doing hours of physical labor just to maintain enough muscle mass not to be crushed by earth’s gravity on return to earth, doing important science that might change the future of humanity and what was she doing?

Not keeping track of the bills, that was for dang sure.

I could almost imagine that I saw our house imploding through the window as I stared down on entirely the wrong continent.

“I have to talk to her!” I said.

Everyone just shook their heads. The broadcast time was too unpredictable, too unstable. It had to be used only for necessary comms with mission control.

“So your wife ran away, big deal.” My Russian friend was trying to console me again. “I have lost three wives already. It is what you do when you are in space all the time.”

But he didn’t know Patty and me. We were in love. We were true partners. How could she do this? Was she ok? Maybe she was in the hospital. Maybe she was in an accident of some kind. Maybe she was in tahiti with that personal trainer from down the block that she was always talking to on Facebook.

“I have to talk to Patty!” I made a lunge for the hallway that led to the comm capsule. But it was four against one. They velcroed me into a sleeping bag and then to the wall.

I’m told I screamed for the better part of two days before I lost my voice, but I don’t really remember.

They transferred me into the return shuttle like that, all trussed up.

It turns out Patty fine and it was a bank error. And as it turns out I have a real sense of calm and discipline as long as I can talk to my wife. That’s why I work from home now.

A quick confession. As I was italicizing the text I added a line. I know that’s kind of a no-no, but I couldn’t resist. Which is why you don’t go back and reread things that are meant to be one-off pieces. No review, no corrections, so no point in rereading it. But I thought I should tell you that fell prey to the temptation and cheated, a tiny bit. I hope I am forgiven, and I’m wondering if you can tell which line came after the fact.

~Anika

Flash Fiction Friday: A Dear Little Friend

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