As I’ve posted before, I enjoy flash fiction.
Other names for it include short-short stories, sudden, postcard,
minute, furious, fast, quick, skinny, and micro fiction. In France such works are called nouvelles. In China this type of writing has several interesting names: little short story, pocket-size story, minute-long story, palm-sized story, and my personal favorite, the smoke-long story (just long enough to read while smoking a cigarette). What’s in a name? That which we call flash fiction, by any other name would read as bright.
Aside from naming this fiction, there is disagreement about the length of the story. Some believe it should be no longer than 500, 700 or 1000 words and some even stretch the limit to 1500 words.
I’m going to present a couple more flash stories for your enjoyment ~ don’t hesitate to bring other stories to my attention. I might use them in another post about the power of the flash fiction short!
The Silver Shadow
I see you. You’re right there in front of me. But the closer I look the harder it is to recognize you, my silver shadow.
When I think of me, you’re not it. My mouth doesn’t frown like that. There aren’t dark circles under my eyes. When I think of me I see that picture from 1970. Me watching my friends playing the guitar, smiling, laughing, eyes crinkled against the sun.
How did that girl become you? I don’t remember seeing it happen. It must have been slow, the transformation insidious. Maybe during all those years I gave myself over to parties and adventures. I wouldn’t have seen them then.
I only recall looking at you once during those years, when a two-week drunk was winding down. My bones ached; even my skin hurt. In the ladies room, leaning on a sink and trying to decide whether or not to become sick, I looked up and there you were. For a brief moment I didn’t recognize you at all. That was the moment I thought I’d be better off without either of us.
I didn’t notice you during the career years. I was too busy proving myself worthy of promotion above the level everyone wanted to relegate me to. Even in the bathroom, I didn’t have time to do more than glance at you on my way out the door.
Now, you’re the one that everyone else sees, what they use to judge me. But you’re not me. You’re just that silver shadow.
—Debbie Orton 2001
And flash is at it’s best when there’s a real twist to the story ~
One Night Stand
At first Dan Chandler thought there was a thunderstorm crashing overhead, but a moment later he realized the sound came from inside his throbbing head. He pushed himself out of bed and tried to stand up. The spinning universe didn’t cooperate, so he sat back down. His surroundings were a blur, so he rubbed his eyes until everything came back into focus.
Where the aitch-eee-double-hockey sticks was he, he wondered. He certainly wasn’t home in his clean and comfortable bedroom. The dingy room was small and sparsely furnished. Most of the interior was taken up by the king-sized bed.
It suddenly dawned on Dan just where he was. Memories from his bachelor days came rushing back. He was in a cheap no-tell motel.
This wasn’t good, he decided. He wasn’t a bachelor anymore. He hadn’t been for years.
He had to concentrate. Last night. He was out with the boys on another harmless excursion with his wife’s full knowledge and consent. He remembered going to the bar, and he remembered drinking, and . . .
Nothing. The rest of the evening was a total blank. Anything could have happened after that. He took a deep breath and exhaled. Panic wouldn’t help. How bad could it be? It just wasn’t in his nature to do anything stupid.
That was when he felt movement behind him. Twisting his head around, he finally noticed the lump beneath the sheet.
This wasn’t his apartment. Ergo, the shape under the sheet probably wasn’t his wife.
It didn’t take Einstein to figure out he had done something really stupid.
In horror, he jumped off the bed. That was the worst thing he could have done. The sudden movement woke up the sleeper. She (Please, dear God, let it be she, he found himself praying) shifted around and muttered something Dan couldn’t quite make out. Then she seemingly went back to sleep.
Standing at the foot of the bed, Dan noticed for the first time that he was completely naked. Springing into action, he frantically searched the room for his clothes. There weren’t many places to look, but his quest turned up nothing.
Now, he realized, was the perfect time to panic.
The smart idea seemed to be to get dressed quickly and then to slink away without ever confronting his terrible mistake. It was a good plan—one with few holes. Unfortunately, now he would have to wake her up to find out if she knew what had happened to his clothes.
He leaned down and shook her. He got no response. He tried again, only this time less politely. Still nothing. All of Dan’s anger at himself and at the situation boiled over. He grabbed the sheet and ripped it away.
For the first time, he got a look at his partner. He stared at the long blonde hair, at the ruby red lips. He ran his eyes down every inch of her body, noting the full breasts and the shaved privates and the long, long legs.
His body went cold. This was just not possible.
Suddenly, she opened her blue eyes. She smiled with white even teeth.
“Good morning, lover,” she said warmly. She reached out her arms invitingly. Her arms ended in fingers, not unlike his own.
Dan couldn’t help himself. He screamed and screamed and screamed . . .
Dan woke up screaming. The first thing he saw was the familiar ceiling. He was in his own bed, covered with sweat. Through the open door he could hear the sound of the shower running.
It had to be his wife. It was all a dream, thank God. He bounced out of bed and rushed to the bathroom.
“Honey, I just had the craziest nightmare,” he said. He sat on the toilet and recapped his dream. He didn’t leave out the slightest detail.
“It was just awful,” he said in conclusion.
“Poor baby,” his wife said sympathetically. “Why don’t you come in here and let me make you feel all better.”
Needing no further invitation, Dan grinned and opened up the shower door. KLiillllop wrapped her cold green tentacles around him and pulled him close.
“Are you certain you weren’t the least bit turned on by the Earthgirl?” she teased. “After all. She is your kind.”
“I never regretted crashing here,” he said solemnly. “You’re the only girl in the universe for me.”
Coating him with her loving slime, she quickly made all the bad things go away.
—by Charles Richard Laing ©2007