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    Flash: Fiction

    We Reader Bloggers really do need a break from the angst of how and where to regroup, whether during a hiatus, or permanently, depending.
    Tomorrow is a holiday -- you'll be busy tomorrow afternoon or evening, but not both, and probably not in the morning.

    So. Join me over the next 24 hours in a community-building exercise -- similar to that which we enjoyed writing entries for "Dark and Stormy Night" -- by creating our respective takes on Flash Fiction. Which is defined, loosely by Wiki as:

    "Flash fiction has roots going back to Aesop's Fables, and practitioners have included Bolesław PrusAnton ChekhovO. HenryFranz KafkaH.P. LovecraftErnest HemingwayArthur C. ClarkeRay BradburyKurt Vonnegut, Jr.Fredric Brown and Lydia Davis. New life has been brought to flash fiction by the Internet, with its demand for short, concise works. Ezines and hypertext literary spaces such as in a (paragraph)[3] offer writers a ready market for flash-fiction works. However, flash fiction is also published by many print magazines. Markets specializing in flash fiction include SmokeLong Quarterly[4]Flash Fiction Online[5], and Vestal Review[6]. The 365 Tomorrows project has published a new piece of science fiction flash fiction daily since 2005. The Micro Award, created in 2007, is the first award dedicated solely for flash fiction.[7]

    One type of flash fiction is the short story with an exact word count. Examples include 55 Fiction, the Drabble and the 69er. Nanofictions are complete stories, with at least one character and a discernible plot, exactly 55 words long. ADrabble is a story of exactly 100 words, excluding titles, and a 69er is a story of exactly 69 words, again excluding the title. The 69er was a regular feature of the Canadian literary magazine NFG, which featured a section of such stories in each issue. Short story writer Bruce Holland Rogers has written "369" stories which consist of an overall title, then three thematically related 69ers, each with its own title.[8] Writer Mark Budman has written a novel-in-flashes.[9]

    Aesop's Fables can retrospectively be regarded as an early example of flash fiction


    Flash fiction differs from a vignette in that the flash-fiction might contain the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike the case with a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to remain unwritten, that is, hinted at or implied in the written storyline. This principle, taken to the extreme, is illustrated in a possibly apocryphal story about a six-word flash reportedly penned by Ernest Hemingway

    'For sale: baby shoes, never worn.'

    I was planning on doing this Wednesday, but -- Missy turned up today and Mh2o posted a blog about reading Ray Bradbury, a noted Flash Fiction writer,  so......have at it, Dear Friends.

    AND THANK YOU -- ALL OF YOU -- for so enriching my life.


    I'll start:

    ""For Sale: TPM Cafe Reader Blogs. Priceless inventory of QUALITY writers' work and potential work. All offers considered; serious buyers only; offers should be tendered to: [email protected]'lltakeit!.com. Note: A commission of 6.66% will be due and payable to: [email protected].

    How many words?

    You decide: A minimum of six, a maximum of 300.
    Really looking forward to your entry.

    Maybe limit it to 100 -- greater challenge for writer plus -- better rhythm for thread.

    100 WORDS (plus a line)

    The five had embarked on a great episodic journey all the way to Superior, Wisconsin.

    The four hundred miles had been grueling.

    "But Dad, you must listen to me, I…"

    "Mary Ellen, you must not speak unless spoken to when we take an important trip such as this," Mom responded.

    "But!!! But!!!"


    Dad always had the last word. There were no ifs, ands or your butt would be sore for sure.

    Mom leaned over to Dad and said something that made Dad laugh.

    Seventy five miles later…

    Mary Ellen knew it was risky but suddenly exclaimed:

    "We left Kevin at the last gas stop."

    HA! Good work, DD! I knew yours would be swift and sure. "We left Kevin at the last gas stop..." Thank you.

    Walking back to his home, inebriated, but not dead drunk. Turning a corner he saw movement in shadows. As he approached a teenage girl emerged, said “John Huff?”.


    “I’m Maria, your daughter.”

    Staggering slightly, jaw dropping, he replied, “What?”.

    “That night you went to see my mom, your first wife, the night before you signed the divorce papers…”.

    “We made love…”.

    “And me”.

    She reached into her coat pocket, and pulled out a gun. He fell back. Fumbling for the 22 caliber pistol he always carried. His daughter fell to the ground with a cigarette pack in her hand.

    100 words exactly

    WOW, Mh20. Brings a whole new level of meaning to "Deadbeat Dad."
    Great entry. Another?

    A bride, a groom -- plus mothers/fathers and a stepmother-of-the-bride ..... who turned up in Spandex: white see-thru, micro length Spandex that clearly revealed nipples affected by air-conditioning and an ice blue thong.

    Was this a bold, in-your-face, competitive bridal allusion to "something old/something new/something borrowed/something blue"? 56

    Bridal white: check. Something new? A stepmother half the age of her predecessor? Check. Something blue: check.

    But what about something "old" and "borrowed"?

    Ahhh, yes ..... The father-of-the-bride = a two/fer as something old AND at least arguably borrowed.....

    Traditions die hard. Apparently.

    (100 words, exactly.)

    Jabba looked his most magnificent, out in the speeder.

    The way his scarf waved in the breeze... the way it swept his saliva invisibly back and away... the way he laughed at the girls, the other girls, running alongside... in their chains.

    He was magnificent.

    But I was special. His favourite. His pet.

    His Leia.

    Too long I think, but anyway:

    The fishbowl’s glass was now so clouded, one could barely see through it. Fitz put it in the box along with the rest of the apartment’s flotsam.

    No one could remember when Nagy had moved into the corner apartment. The room had an ample window but couldn’t be seen from the street. Fitz knew Nagy about as well as anyone in the building, which was not at all. So he had been surprised at the request.

    “Professor Fitzgerald …,” Nagy coughed. Nagy knew Fitz taught at the Art Institute.

    “… I’ve disposed of most of my things. After …please gather what is left, and burn it. It won’t be too long now.”

    “Of course,” Fitz had managed.

    “But please don’t take anything for yourself.”

    Fitz resented that a bit. He was reliable.

    The apartment was almost empty now. The last items fell into the box.

    A certificate of completion: US Navy Surface Rescue Swimmer School, Jacksonville, Florida. A photo clipped to the certificate. It might have been Nagy.

    A greeting card with the mark, “Les Jumeaux, Paris.” Illustrations on the card from Watteau that Fitz recognized: Gathering beside the Fountain of Neptune; The Timid Lover; The Embarkation for Cythera. Something written inside, but Fitz didn’t read it.

    “He was good to his dog,” the landlady said.

    Fitz had heard the dog barking sometimes, but had never seen it. He had also heard Nagy’s dreadful emphysematous coughing and gasping. He wondered what that must be like to suffocate.

    Done. The landlady locked the door, and Fitz drove to the incinerator.

    He put the box inside the incinerator and closed the door. Last one. Fitz lingered for a moment as he heard the rise of muffled pops and sizzles. They quickly subsided and were drowned in the low, even roar.

    Fitz remembered himself and went out to the car. He was usually reliable, but late to pick up the twins at the pool. Leaning over the steering wheel, he glanced up through the windshield. Rain probably this evening. He turned the key, and drove away under the opaque sea of sky.

    Lately, his friends had taken to calling him “Twitch.” Pacing the landing in the old brownstone, he was twitching more than ever now. Hearing the door downstairs, he stopped dead- finally, relief- but, no, it‘s just someone downstairs. More pacing, twitching, sweating, panting like a sick dog. He turns, and- Freddy’s standing right there!

    “Did you get it? Did you?”

    “Yeah, man. Jesus, chill!”

    Excruciatingly slow, Freddy digs into his pockets, one by one. He eventually pulls out his leather pouch. Patiently unzipping it, he retrieves the small packet.

    “Twitch,” eyes wide, examining the ring, “I’m gonna ask her tonight.”

    Okay, kind of dumb, but I wrote it straight through (no forethought), and obviously I'm not a writer. I only had to cut eight words though. All of the mini-stories above are great.

    The excitement had been building for weeks. This was an adventure for sure. How did a small town girl (well, not so much a girl, anymore)end up on a plane, flying across the country to meet someone she only knew in cyber space until this day? It had happened quickly. A casual offer to act as tour guide in the Big Apple, snatched up and run with. Her husband and children pretty much agreed she was nuts. Who was this person? What if all the stories about the crazies out there were true? She was about to find out.

    100 words, exactly!

    that is the fun of it don. Streams of consciousness. ha

    I'm gonna ask her, I'm gonna lay it all out on the line RIGHT NOW!!!

    I'M ALL IN!!!

    "Once upon a time there was a man"
    He was born, lived for a while.
    Then he died.
    The End"


    Yessiree. There's something about having limits or boundries to push, too. After reading yours above, I was just hoping that you didn't have kids named Mary Ellen and Kevin!

    Me neither!!!!!!

    Darla had enough. Benny hadn’t worked in years. He’d started chasing around nights with Jenny, the stripper down at the Nite Owl. Said he watched the games with Ollie but Darla saw them at the King’s Rest Hotel last month. She’d given up on romance and just wanted Benny gone. Tonight she’d tell him to pack his bags.

    Benny walked in at 11:45, beer in hand. Darla came downstairs to confront him as the kitchen screen door imploded and Jenny Sparkles burst in, doused him with gasoline, flicked a match, and left shouting “Nobody flames me asswipe! I flame them!”.

    100 words.

    Ha! Quinn! Flash fiction at its finest: all the elements in only fifty five words .... AND elements of ambiguity....
    For example, when you say: "The way his scarf waved in the breeze... the way it swept his saliva invisibly back and away...." then one really must ask: was "it" the breeze? or was "it" Jabba's scarf ? that "swept his saliva invisibly back and away"? -;)

    Strong imagery, either way. Excellent. Thanks.

    Elegant, Dan K. Worth way too much as a cleanly crafted story of dignity and poignancy to count the words.

    But -- just for the sake of it -- what could you cut?

    I loved the framing of the cloudy fish bowl at the beginning and the opacity of the lowering sky at the end ... but do you need those paragraphs to tell the tale in flash form? Of course without the fishbowl, the pops and sizzles at the incinerator might be puzzling.

    You're good, Dan -- really good. A challenge, then: cut it to 69 or 55 words.

    Or better yet, give us a second one...

    Great ambiguity, Don Key -- I thought he was waiting for drugs. Lovely suspense and surprise. More please.

    Excellent, C -- now: what can you cut? -;)

    On all four she crawls to him. Her face between his legs she breaths in his musk. Licking his hand she climbs into his lap, her voice begging. He know what she wants.

    To run through the woods. Swim in the stream. Chase the squirrels and rabbits. And if her Man doesn't notice maybe find some half rotten dead thing to roll in.

    He goes to get his bike.

    69 words

    Powerful impact in 100 words, Mh2o --you may have found a new metier. (There's an accent aigu on that first "e" in metier; you just can't see it because I can't remember the key command.)

    Your story of 69 words: short and oh so sweet. Lucky dog to have you, Oceankat.

    30 words.

    Such a troubled disconcerted planet, this place called Earth. My visit was short, but it left me wondering, if peace ever broke its silence, would humans even recognize its voice?

    Ding, ding, ding, ding...

    Head of Mega-Church Busted in Sting

    Earlier tonight the Reverend Wendy Davis, who has been pole dancing under the pseudonym Lily Von Schtupp at the Flamingo, was arrested by Vegas undercover police.

    Davis, who has close ties to Family Research Council head Tony Perkins, was photographed in her dressing room snorting cocaine off the bums of underage priests dressed in scanty metal and black leather costumes.

    As Davis was led away in cuffs, she could be heard screaming, “Get your f*cking hands off me, you Fascist pigs!”

    Local blog sites charge that Davis has had business dealings with Joshua Micah Marshall of talkingpointsmemo.com.

    (Three over; So sue Me!) LOL!

    Glenna was afraid of her new neighbor. He was pale but muscular, and never made eye contact. Secretive and keeping odd hours, this guy set off every alarm in her head.
    His suitcase was the final giveaway - leather, continental-looking, and with Russian markings. She heard Russian sounding words coming through the thin walls that separated them. She was now convinced that he was a KGB informant in the witness protection program.

    More important, she was convinced he knew she had figured out his secret. She hurried through the darkness to get to her apartment door. As she raced up the stairs, she saw him, waiting for her with a menacing look on his face.

    She was too close to turn around and run, but she was still considering it when he said, in a very strong southern drawl, "Pardon me ma'am, do you have a phillips-head screwdriver I could borrow? I just got some luggage from a thrift shop and one of the clasps needs to be tightened.

    Probably too long, but anyhoo

    Loved it as it but if you're gonna cut something start with the cliched 'Once upon a time.' And if you get really serious about cuuting it reads: Born, lived, died.

    Brilliant, Reverend!

    What a perfect example of Flash genre: you've given us a character we know a lot about by allusion; you've produced a storyline with requisite conflict and resolution AND you've got serious humor (is that an oxymoron?) going on.

    Are the three words that put you over the limit "so sue me"? Ha!

    What an editor you would be, AJM -- your version as succinct as it is possible to be. But the minimum number of words is six. So, as many editors have done in the past ... you've gone too far. -;)

    Now. How about an entry from you, Sir?


    So glad you saw this and joined in, C'Ville! I considered putting out an APB for you and Flowerchild, Rowan and Stratofrog last night, remembering how wonderful your entries were on D&SN.

    Your paced, suspenseful story has all the elements and the bonus offered of the MISPERCEPTIONS your female protagonist made for reasons we can readily imagine. Only TPMGary had added that element so far -- well done!

    You are 70 words over. How can you cut it and maintain all the elements you had in play? Or, split it in two, cut 21 words from each to go for the double gold at 69 words per?

    Too much work?

    Write another one, please!

    I agree with Jon below; yours is a real contender. About the unreality of the "real world" as we know it. It's difficult enough to move people, or cause them to think in one hundred words. You've done it in thirty.
    As Jon said: "Ding, Ding, Ding." Thank you.

    PS -- thanks for not being offended that I cited The Reverend in my example without asking the Reverend's permission, first. I feel better about my faux pas now that I see I couldn't have reached you anyway; the Reverend was a bit tied up at the time, eh?

    70? Really? Well, I'll try:

    She was afraid of him. Her neighbor was pale but muscular; secretive, with eyes cast downwards and never speaking. Last night she saw him with a suitcase. It was leather, and had Russian-looking markings on it. She heard low, gutteral sounds through the thin wall between them.

    He was a KGB agent in the Witness Protection Program, she felt certain. She was also sure that he knew that SHE knew. She raced through the darkness to her apartment door. But at the top of the stairs, his dark, bulky figure waited.

    Should she run? Just as she turned, she heard a thick southern drawl, "Ma'am, do you have a screwdriver I could use? This luggage from the Thrift Shop needs a little repair."

    I may not have gotten rid of all 70, but it is better!

    What I would really like at one point is to have a group-written story. "Naked Came the Manatee," is a book written by several American authors, a chapter at a time. "Yeats is Dead" is one written by several English authors the same way. I am sure there are others. If we Get Our Blog Back (way to dis the teabagger's silly theme) it should be on the agenda. Thanks for this Wendy. I might chime in again if I ever get my ceiling sanded and painted.

    For me, this is a REAL Labor Day!

    Did I really say that his eyes never spoke?? Oh, I should have done more proofreading! Sorry to all of those who care about things -- of which I am one!

    The chicken waddled around the empty farmyard, scratching and kicking up dust, as was her wont.

    She wondered where all the critters had got to. The empty barnyard had a sad, disused feel to it.

    Turning clockwise 3 times, she closed her eyes and wished as hard as she could. A cloud passed over the sun.

    The farmer came in from the field, noted with satisfaction the ducks paddling in the pond, the pig dozing in the sun, the cats and dogs warily circling the barn. He gently picked up the sleeping chicken and put her back in the coop.

    Perfect editing, C'Ville. That's a real skill of its own, especially when you did it so well, so quickly.

    If you or anyone else is interested in doing more fiction writing as collaborative effort, I have a Posterous site blog we could use to di it, and I would be delighted to open it up for shared use.

    Or, because I can't change the registered name of it, we could start a new one, with a name we select by majority opinion (that's a joint effort in and of itself, eh?) on which anyone who wants to register and post can do so?

    What say you all?

    Ahh, so fine as a story, Bwak. In structure, word count and, best of all, in comforting message. Thank you, very much.

    Title: Alzheimer's Saga

    "Those who can't, critique? I should know."

    Thank you for the format. It's interesting. Makes one cut out what isn't necessary, although the warm voices and smells coming from the farmhouse are there, as well. (That would be you non-barnyard critters)


    Virtually manacled, she was! LOL!

    (Thanks for the set-up to my flash-fiction; it saved me a few words!)

    And forgive me for inventing the notion of 'under-age priests'; I just had to use it... ;-)

    I like! I'll be in touch!

    Peter Rabbit is this stupid book
    About this stupid rabbit who steals
    Vegetables from other peoples' gardens
    [Hmm. 83 to go.]
    The other people's name was Macgregor
    The name of the Rabbit was Peter
    35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40.
    There were vegetables
    In the garden

    Such as carrots and spinach
    And onions and lettuce
    And turnips and parsley
    And okra and cabbage
    And string beans and parsnips
    Tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus
    Cauliflower, rhubarb and chives.



    And they were very, very, very, very, very, very
    Happy to be home.

    ...94, 95. The very, very, very end.

    Happily plagiarized from my favorite flash writer:


    Hope you'll come write with us at tpmaholics.


    needless to say, I'm more Linus than Lucy. :-)

    Thanks, AMike. for the perfect form/word count story and the link.

    I registered at tpmaholics yesterday, under a new, less identifiable ID as I feel uneasy about all this linking of accounts.

    Will you be happy to have fiction submissions there? That seems to be my current interest.

    If you don't object to playing editor, how would you edit the following (236 words) to 100?

    The adolescent alligator eyed Tess. Tess eyed the alligator. Fifteen feet apart. He, three feet long, weight unknown; she, though an uber intelligent tabby cat, dainty, weighing only 5 3/4 pounds.

    Tess's human felt a Munch scream of despair coming on which increased when Hermione (sweet but no so smart gray tabby) and Harry (huge but slow ginger) came into view, slinking through the grass from either side as if entering stage left and right.

    Tess, immobile, continued to mesmerize the alligator's attention. Hermione and Harry made eye contact and moved into flanking positions. (93)

    Jesus, their human thought, the cats' own primal hunting instinct was so strong they were about to tag team an alligator.

    Harry crouched and growled. Hermione crouched and growled. Tess stood her ground. The alligator, suddenly presented with three possibilities for lunch, apparently felt uncertain about which entree to select.

    A hapless squirrel suddenly scampered between them. The cats instinctively tensed, ready to pounce on easier, known prey. The alligator, drawing the same conclusion, attacked with lightning speed, snapped the squirrel into his jaws, flipped around, and slipped quickly into the lagoon.

    The cats sauntered back to the porch for naps. Their human scooped them up, one by one, and put them back inside. No more cat outings until hibernation season, she explained. The cats complained vigorously.

    The ripples in the lagoon stilled. A pair of dragonflies and a butterfly danced over it.

    The inventor of the modern hypodermic needle got the idea after examining the skull of a rattlesnake. The lethal venom came through a hole just north of the fangs. Alexander Wood's design permitted a small, sharp instrument to penetrate the skin with less pain, and better delivery.

    Penny was sure that nature would help solve her task: She had discovered a reagent that would shield the body from all known bio-weapons, but it had to be uniform over the skin. Rubbing it in gave too high a dose and caused immune deficiency. It had to be microparticles and they had to get everywhere on a person.

    Skarlett, her dog was whining to get in the house; Penny distractedly opened the door, at first repulsed but then ecstatic. Skarlett stank all over -- she had been sprayed by a skunk!

    Love it! I'm sure each kitty took complete credit.

    Really beautiful.

    This is kinda gruesome, but here goes...
    (100 words)

    To kill a pigeon

    I spotted her from a distance, wandering around the park. People avoided her. But she was too pretty to be mad. I waited.

    As she walked up I saw the bird. She was cradling it in her hands. A car had hit it, and it looked miserable. Dying dovey desperation.

    She wanted someone to kill it. “Er, uhm, I’m not sure”. Aren’t there people for this? Filthy fucking dying bird. But she was pretty and pleading.

    I grabbed its head. Gently. And twisted. It fluttered again.

    Die, damn dying fuck.

    I gripped hard. And ripped.


    Sorry old bird.

    A four-legged DEATH PANEL! Somebody tell Sara!

    I know... Crap. Bwak is NOT going to be pleased...

    Thanks, Wendy. That was the point, but I shouldn't have cut "He had "the itch," too." (+ they all get "the itch" eventually). Thanks for the post and links. I know some don't think this is the place for non-political stuff, but who's it hurting? I'd seen the Hemingway quote as the shortest story but didn't know all of this communal writing was going on. Supposedly the shortest poem is this by Ogden Nash:

    Adam had 'em"

    Rubbing neck.



    You would think, but no -- tiny Tess is the Alpha cat, mistress and director of all she surveys. The other two her minions: Harry has the nightshift, serving as the night watchman -- a duty he takes very seriously -- and Hermione is the housekeeper, designated to remind the human that feeding bowls need to be filled, water dishes replenished and clean linens provided on beds for luxuriant napping.

    Seven words, AJM -- which one can you drop? Thanks for playing.

    Well (blushes) thanks, Gary. Not sure it's beautiful, but as it happens, it is true.

    Good, if sad story, Obey. In it, chivalry certainly takes a new "twisted" turn -- a whole different league from the admittedly sexist requirement for the man to be the spider stamper.
    Glad, though, that you were empathetic enough toward the dove to find the violence within required for a mercy killing.
    None of our business, of course, but are you and the pretty woman now dating? -;)

    Wonderful, C'Ville. Finally, a beneficial use for skunk spray. Has Penny patented it yet?

    My friend Caitlin, a pretty, auburn-haired Episcopal priest from Maine, met the tall, lanky Don, whose past included building cabinets for boats and teaching curved-bow archery.

    They fell in love, or so they thought; they decided to marry.

    One evening they were romancing, lying on the sofa; her five dogs lounged on the floor nearby. One, or some, began to noisily and nastily break wind.

    “Get those goddam dogs out of the house!” yelled Don.
    “No!” she yelled back.
    He bristled; “It’s them or me!” He threw down the gauntlet.

    It was the first-ever Pre-marriage Divorce Due to Dog Farts.

    Jerry knew something was up when Kim came in--the way she came in. Her face was ashen in places, and her cheeks positively glowed a fierce red. Her walk was pointed straight towards Jerry and his pals.

    "What's your order, cutie pie?" he said.

    "I can't believe what you've told people--I didn't do any of that!!"

    "Now, now." He glanced at his backup. "I haven't told anyone everything."

    "Oh, really?" Her tone wasn't what he expected. "Why don't you tell your buddies what happened Tuesday after what your mom said. Weren't there tears?"

    He was instantly storming towards her--which was exactly what she wanted. She, who used to be the neighborhood “quarterback sneak”. She who played soccer now. She, who had just been told. In one swift move he was in the air, landing on a table of sophomores, lunches skittering to the floor.

    PS, Dan K -- I know you to be a superb thinker and writer so please do not take my comments as anything but the attempt at teasing they are. Thank you for playing.

    LOL, Wendy. A droll "tail of Pre-nup pups" ...

    Excellentttt, Matyra -- A tale of wrong assumptions with gender equality results. Very satisfying. Thanks.

    Thanks for the encouraging comments, Wendy. This is an interesting exercise in distilling the essence of a story, and I think I half-missed. You managed to find it nonetheless: it was indeed about that inner violence. I suppose context would have helped - I can't kill even spiders ordinarily. It has something to do with my mother's buddhism. So the pigeon thing was pretty horrendous.

    And no, I have no memory of the girl after that. I think she was as horrified as I was...

    The glow of millions of pixels reflected from his skin. He pondered the future with a bemused smile.

    Who will be there to challenge the collected “wisdom”?

    It didn’t matter. Time was short and there was that old saying about pearls and swine. Or “piggies” in the local vernacular.

    I wonder what type of communication would have taken place if they had known?

    He tapped a few more keys, his ebony hands reflecting the monitor’s light.

    And chuckled. If they only knew.

    Six word version:
    Gentle soul kills as tender mercy.

    Don't lose touch, Obey. See you at Posterous?

    Paul wiped the back of his spade against his denim trousers. Sweat gleamed with noonlight on the back of his neck. Lisa peeked through the screen and waved at him with her fingers curled. Paul smiled and gestured at her to step outside.

    Lisa stepped out holding two yellow dandelions wrapped in blue twine and a Popsicle stick. She laid the flowers on an oval of disturbed soil. Then she set the stick upright, so that the name MINNOW could be seen.

    Lisa stood up, dusted off her skirt, and took her dad's hand. They bowed their heads in silence.

    Minnow had been a good parakeet.

    Thanks for accepting the challenge, CT. You're welcome. (And "your welcome.")

    Gold stars for:
    Strong character description derived allusively by voice.
    Suspense built through tantalizing allusion to future events.
    Paired structural framing and an elegance in phrasing at beginning and end with "the glow of millions of pixels reflected from his skin" teamed with "his ebony hands reflecting the monitor's light."

    But -- your word count is off. For a 69-word entry, you are 13 over the limit; for a 55 word entry, you're over by 27.
    You are man who likes precision. I have faith in your ability to cut to fit the format. Which will it be? And therefore what words will you cut?

    She and the skunk are in negotiations.

    Actually, this is the pretext of my (not) famous short story:

    Ants Don't Sleep

    I didn't save on a flash drive and I can't find a copy. I was going to put it on the Posterous website. I might find it yet. It is a favorite of mine.

    Yet again he snapped his fingers. Yet again she followed him, but this time, with a pitchfork.

    Zip: I'm so glad you're here. I feel real respect for you.

    Two admiring thoughts:
    1)There is power and poetry in the phrases "wiped the back of his spade against his denim trousers" and "Lisa stepped out holding two yellow dandelions wrapped in blue twine and a popsicle stick."

    2)Yours is a classic father/daughter story, beautifully told, with a wry twist at the end in the species identity of Minnow.

    However, if I counted correctly, you're five words over. It's worth cutting; you're a contender.

    Your story would have been wonderful paired with Obey's in placement. So it's too bad the threads can't be re-arranged.

    Sidenote: Where will we be able to read you, during the hiatus?

    PS -- I couldn't help thinking, when you wrote: "Minnow had been a good parakeet..." that an addition to that sentence might be "until the cat discovered that the cage door was open" ... or "until it drowned in the fishbowl it sought as its 'natural' environment."

    Awh now -- don't disappoint me, CT. You've got some fiction talent; don't make this about one-ups-man-ship, eh?

    Looking forward to reading it, asap.

    She paused as she sent the needle through the pink satin yet again. She had turned up the hem just the right amount, and by god, she was going to make it right! She didn't want another tangle that would force her to cut it yet again and start anew, when there was so little left on the spool.

    She just didn't want this thread to run out.

    I found the phone at the bottom of the dumpster. It was neatly recessed into the middle of a quiche. The pie was whole and seemed perfectly good. Who throws away good quiche?

    When I broke the surface of the garbage, I checked for missed calls. Damn, 19 missed calls and 4 voice mails. Tossing the phone out the window before the Sheriff busted through the door to evict me from my blog seemed smart yesterday.

    I slip to the pavement quietly to avoid awakening any trolls. As I cross the street, a van comes screaming around the corner.

    Kirkman is smiling behind the wheel.

    It's not. It's about following the rules.

    At very least, you could have acknowledged I did subscribe to your rules as laid out, my southern belle.

    As far as the "contest", just like the Olympics, it wouldn't be fair to have a pro compete with the amateurs (and I used those words in the strictest literal sense).

    This was awesome, moat.

    Yes, I hear the "Ding, ding, ding" I anticipated.

    But -- your standards are as high as they are fair, and you are a superb editor.... So. What 12 words can you add to hit the 55 model? Or what 26 words can you add for the Drabble Award?

    Or -- to make it really challenging, because I know you can do it, effortlessly or almost, what 37 words can you delete and say the same thing?


    Thank you.
    I see we are wearing the same pajamas this afternoon.

    I missed this earlier today, Don Key. Thank you. "Fleas: Adam had 'em."
    How I will miss this collaborative sensibility. Where can you be read, during the hiatus?

    If I knew how to post a picture, I would put in the one of me in my crossword puzzle PJ's.

    Jon: hours have gone by. Do you think I did not notice that you have not submitted a Flash of your own? I know you can do it.
    Just do it. 'K?

    Yes, except I'm carrying the white pitchfork Bwakfat made for me.

    So. You are a black (ebon in the literary sense) professional (as compared to the amateur sense) writer of ....? whom we would recognize, instantly, "if only we knew." And that person has a long history, despite being young, of dealing professionally with movers and shakers in the military/industrial/political world.
    You are too young to be Colin Powell -- he would not be so condescending, I suspect -- so, I'll bite -- you the hell are you? No one of this description comes to mind.

    I think you are channeling Kate Chopin, C'Ville. Remind me to tell you a story about graduate courses in 19th century American Lit at, of all places, The Citadel. I had a pipsqueak sexist/Freudian literary criticism instructor who, in analyzing each book on the syllabus, was at pains to point out that "sewing is a metaphor for emasculation."
    So glad to hear sewing discussed as a constructive, hold-things-together metaphor. Thank you.

    Only six minutes left and therefore not enough time to carefully consider this entry, Moat, which I know to be a metaphor of real meaning about our circumstance. I see the allusions but need to read and think more carefully about what you have written.

    I have admired you since the day you wrote your blog about "fear of the other." That blog was a "one of" that I will remember, always.

    Thank you for being here. Where may you be read, hereafter?

    To all my treasured friends at the Cafe: I meant it at the beginning of this blog when I said you have enriched my life, beyond measure. THANK YOU. ALL OF YOU. I shall hope to see you here, or there, or wherever.

    Thank you, Josh Marshall, for affecting the lives of so many by providing a venue in which people could be themselves, without censure, building confidence and camaraderie. Best wishes for the future of TPM.

    Is this the Titanic, or the Phoenix? Only time will tell.

    It's a one pixel pitchfork.

    We have had good conversations and I think you know I have lurked without commenting at many of your soirées.

    I am not sure about future writing but I will definitely be reading dagblog, amike's and other diaspora.

    Inside the "new" tpm, I, (and whoever else has been able to sign in there) have a profile that is accessible by right clicking on the avatar and opening in a new window or tab. If I find a place to rest my bones, I will link to it in my profile.

    In the meantime, I will just have to keep my eye peeled for your dramatic entrance in other places.

    Truly yours,


    Ahhhhhhhhhhh dreaming Birds!!

    I'm cheating with the title. Started playing with the punctuation and saw I could give it a twist. My initial intent was simply to use two cliches (I happen to love once upon a time) and dare any one to remove the cliches from the piece I thought the 6 words was a minimum not a restriction but here goes:

    Title: An Alzheimer's Saga

    "Those who can't critique. Who knew?"

    Hey, I was going to let it stand as a work of fiction! You outed yourself! Hahaha!

    Yes, if you can believe it, we will be getting together in Oct. Flight booked and I'm literally counting the days! We are going to paint the Big Apple bright red!

    WW, thanks for noticing. I'm not in a creative mood at present; perhaps next time.

    Is replying equivalent to harassing? It is fun to call someone stupid who disagrees with you, but it doesn't make you smart, or even smarter than they are.

    Continue on your bitter journey, D

    Yessiree. There's something about having limits or boundries to push, too. After reading yours above, I was just hoping that you didn't have kids named Mary Ellen and Kevin!

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