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The Long Road to Flash Fiction

I’ll admit, this post title sounds like it’s introducing an in-depth montage about writing flash fiction. I mean, I could get into all the details, but who wants to hear me monologue and bellyache, am I right?

Yeah?

So I won’t. I’ll keep this short and sweet – like the style of flash fiction.

I began the class sometime in May, wanting to learn this new skill. It was supposed to take three weeks, ending around the end of May. It is now the middle of June and I am still not all the way done with all my stories.

Why?

Well, procrastination would have to be the brutally honest answer. It took a lot of hard thought for me, and sometimes, at the end of a day filled with lots of other thinking, you just don’t want to do that anymore. You want to read a book or veg in front of the TV and watch a few America’s Test Kitchen episodes. Is that so wrong?

Anyway, the lesson was pretty thorough, but I will say that I wish I had read through all three week’s worth before diving in. Holly says at the end to use hindsight to figure out your key and meaning. I used it to come to the conclusion that, ‘had I known back then what I know right now’ . . . I wouldn’t be rewriting everything basically from scratch. It’s amazing how stories develop and grow from start to finish, but had I been mulling over certain things and aware of what all I was supposed to draw out and put in, it might have been different.

But that’s water under the bridge. This course has pulled from the corners of my brain a few treasures (I think, anyway!) And I worked hard yesterday afternoon to finish and polish one of them to the best of my amateur ability for your reading pleasure. You are the first people to read this, so please, enjoy!


The Cry

The sound of my footsteps echoes off the stone corridor. I am breathless from running so hard.

Down the stairs. Turn right.

I don’t know where I’m going, but there’s this urge in my gut driving me on. Down. Deeper.

Take the third left.

I reach the end of the corridor and throw open the last door. Flames jump out at me, scorching my robes. I fling myself back against the wall, gasping.

All I did was try the spell Master gave me. He said it would be fine.

It’s definitely not fine. The Library of Elemental Wizardry is burning, and it’s all my fault.

The spell was supposed to determine my natural element. Master told me I had potential, that someday I could be among the greatest mages in history, maybe even with an elemental spirit as my familiar. He warned me it wouldn’t be easy, that the spell would draw on my fears while awakening my power.

Still, I didn’t expect the entire library would burst into flames.

I bolted like a rabbit, and now I’m lost and surrounded by fire in a dead-end corridor with nowhere to go because I’ve been following this stupid tugging in my gut that’s probably more panic than anything else. Even now it’s telling me to go through the doorway.

I stare past the smoking blaze, my back pressed against the wall and my heart drumming so hard I can feel it in my throat. I can see very little inside, but my eyes lock onto a vent near the ceiling. A way out.

But I have to get through the fire first. But I can’t. Ever since I was three and my house burned down, fire has all but paralyzed me.

“Please, somebody help!” My voice rasps. “Help!”

My body suddenly seizes, screaming at me to get to the other side of the doorway. Before thinking, I squeeze my eyes shut, suck in a breath, and push off the wall. I somersault through, and the flames lick at me, but only for a moment. When I come to a stop I find I haven’t caught fire.

Nevertheless, my insides feel like pudding. I scramble to my feet, and then a terrible sound shrieks over the roaring conflagration. The floor splits. I lunge for the vent, but I’m too far away, and I fall through the collapsing floor.

***

I wake up and open my eyes to a hazy gloom. I stand. My back and feet are soaked with the water covering the ground. I can hear the fire raging strong far overhead. I look up─

And come face-to-face with a glowing, white dragon.

I heard you crying for help, so I came.

The dragon’s voice resounds throughout my mind and body. It’s oddly soothing.

I am Poseidon, Lord of the Waters, and I choose you, little great one. Use me well.

Drawn to this mighty spirit, I reach out my arm toward his inclined head.

The fire no longer frightens me.


And there we have it! What do you think? I honestly have no idea how or why it came out as a first-person-present point of view, but it did, and it’s been interesting. Only once before have I written this way, ages and ages ago for a botany course in school. Odd, I know, right? I loved it.

How to Write Flash Fiction that Doesn’t SUCK! is a good class, regardless of my complaining, and I do want to thank Holly for providing it. If you have the desire to write, but don’t think you can (pish-posh!) or don’t want to commit to a whole whopping novel – this is for you! In 500 words or less you can have a complete story, something started and finished, to share with your friends, your family, or your secret hiding place in a dark corner where no living soul can find it.

Happy reading – and writing!

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