My wife thinks I should write.
In this way, I am extraordinarily fortunate. I know many writers don't have the support of those close to them.
In order to help me get back into the swing of things, she suggested I try warming up with quick little flash fiction prompts, which she has been kind enough to generate.
Here is one of my more successful attempts from earlier this week.
Middle of Nowhere, snowy
An alcoholic beverage
— — — — — — —
"They'll be here soon."
Sharon does not look up at Rick when he speaks. She isn't upset anymore. Too tired.
Instead she trails her eyes around the cab of the truck, unfamiliar, uncomfortable, but it is the reason she's still alive.
Rick clicks on the truck's wipers, pushing aside a sheet of white.
The sight of Sharon's car is once again a shock. Bloo -- the car's namesake cleverly gleaned from its shiny blue paint and interior -- is pressed up against and around the front of Rick's truck and buried in a mound of snow.
"You okay?" Rick asks.
Sharon looks down. "Yeah."
The snowflakes, fat and gluttonous, plunk onto the windshield in her peripheral vision.
"They'll be here soon," Rick assures her.
He had been saying that for hours, ever since his attempt to disconnect her mangled car from his truck had failed.
It hadn't been anyone's fault, Sharon decides again. The snow had obscured her vision, gave a hazardous slick to the back country road. Rick had no chance to swerve back into his own lane, the weight of the truck bed pushing his vehicle into hers.
He had called for help, but still they waited.
No one else is foolish enough to risk these backroads, Sharon knows.
No one but Rick and his stupid truck.
"Hey, uh, Miss Sharon?"
Sharon's eyes dart to him.
"Are you cold?" Rick's bushy eyebrows pinch together. "You're shaking an awful lot. Let me get you another blanket." He reaches behind her seat.
"No, that's okay," Sharon stutters, holding up her hand. She *is* shaky. Sensation drains from her fingers, a tingling gel oozing away.
Just how long had they been here?
The sun had already set, but it was dipping before Sharon had left her mother's house. A glance at the clock radio reveals the time, one zero nine. That can't be right.
"Do you have anything to eat?" Sharon asks, strain in her voice evident even to her tired mind.
"Uh..." Rick rustles around in the cab, reaches behind her seat and finally seizes upon a crinkling cellophane bag. Funyons. Glancing inside, he grimaces. "Nothin' but crumbs, sorry. But they'll be here soon."
"Hypoglycemic," Sharon mutters conversationally.
"Whassat?" Rick leans in closer as if to hear her better.
"I need to eat. Blood sugar is low."
"Oh. Uh." Rick slides a hand into his hair. Resumes his search about the cab.
Her mother. Sharon's mother is the reason she got into this wreck. She's to blame. She had insisted Sharon come have dinner with the man who would technically be her stepfather someday soon. Sharon is too old to have a stepfather.
That was hours ago, but...
Sharon remembers what happened just before leaving. Her mother pressed a plastic dish into her hands. "For the road," she had said, with her signature wink-and-smirk.
"I have dinner, I think," Sharon confides in Rick.
"In my car. Leftovers."
Rick mulls that over, glances outside, then nods.
"I'll go get it," he decides out loud.
"Thanks," Sharon says, faintest wisp of a smile crossing her lips. "It was in the front seat, but..." But Rick's truck had rearranged much of poor little Bloo.
"Okay, here I go," Rick says, then pulls the door handle. It doesn't budge, so he puts his shoulder into it. A loud crack and the door swings wide, and a blast of arctic chilly air hurtles into the cab.
Rick slams the door shut again and Sharon sees him brace against the cold. He's much more equipped for this weather, she thinks, what with his shaggy hair and beard, muscular build with the comfortable weight of age sitting around it.
Through the half-covered windshield, she watches Rick, illuminated by the trucks headlights, trudge toward Bloo and dig one of its doors out of its snowy grave.
A chill wracks Sharon at the sight.
The cab is still cold from him opening the door. Sharon decides maybe she will take another blanket. She roots around behind her seat, looking for the warmest blanket of the bunch.
Her fingers slide across cool glass.
She can't help but grip it, pull it out to investigate.
It's a bottle of rum. Some brand she's never heard of.
Sharon looks at the half-empty bottle, then out at Rick, splayed across the front seat and reaching into the back.
He didn't... he wasn't... was he?
No, Sharon is sure she would have smelled it on him if he were drinking.
This is just a simple accident.
Even if it were not, Sharon isn't in the position to do anything about it.
Almost on their own accord, her fingers wind around the metal cap and twist it off. The sharp odor of alcohol tickles her nose and before she knows it, she's tipping the bottle back.
A mouthful of rum slides its way down her throat, burning and tingling, warming her insides.
Sharon is not much of a drinker, but when she does, it always feels good.
This, however, feels amazing.
She takes one last pull from the bottle and screws the lid back on. The windshield is completely covered now, but she can see Rick's silhouette moving back toward the truck. The bottle goes back beneath the pile of blankets.
Another cruelly cold wind whips its way into the truck as he climbs in, triumphantly presenting a green plastic dish.
"You've got a funny idea about what constitutes dinner," Rick says, smiling. "But I'm sure it's mighty tasty."
Inside the dish is a gooey, sticky fruitcake. Sharon should have seen it coming. Her mother's silly holiday tradition is to play Hot Potato with a fruitcake to see who gets stuck with it.
It seems Sharon is going to lose this year.
Rick proffers a set of plastic utensils and cuts off a piece of fruitcake. They share in the bounty together, consuming it in minutes as the cab grows dimmer, less and less light passing through the snow-covered windshield.
The fruitcake sits solid in Sharon's stomach as she collapses down into her mountain of blankets. The alcohol soothes her and the bench seat actually feels comfortable for once.
As she slips into a doze, Rick puts another blanket atop her, patting it as if she were a small child being put to bed.
"They'll be here soon," he tells her.
— — — — — — —
I had a bit of trouble dragging a full story out of the prompt, but I tried to incorporate all of the requisite pieces into some sort of conflict.
How would you have approached this prompt?
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
|A few years ago, the new year meant |
+Wil Wheaton was on a boat.
Guess what? It's almost the new year!
Guess what that means?
Before you huff off to another blog with a happier year end message, let me clarify my position on the matter.
The new year is an arbitrary date. Nothing in particular separates it from any other day, except for bringing the trouble of writing the wrong year on our checks for weeks on end.
However, this doesn't make it worthless.
The human condition revolves so much around symbolism that the concept of a totally symbolic existence has been promoted by various psychologists I am too lazy to look up and cite. Essentially, your interaction with the world is based upon symbols you have assigned to every single thing you see, hear, touch, et cetera.
The new year can represent something to us, a chance for a fresh start, for new opportunities.
I am a diehard pessimist. I don't mean to be. It takes no real effort on my part to point out everything that is wrong and speculate on how it will get worse. My wife has helped me realize the root of this (beyond the scope of this particular post) but seeing the cause doesn't make it go away. My condition is so severe that half the time I hear anything positive, I scoff and deny it.
It's stupid. I know.
Therefore, the concept of using the new year to springboard personal growth chafes. Every time I hear about a new year's resolution, I want to strangle the person and tell them they're doomed to fail.
I guess that means it's time to make a quasi-resolution. (No guarantees this won't lead to auto-asphyxiation.)
My dear wife has argued that we can just use January 1 as a day to reinvigorate the changes we wish to make. The most important thing in my life (beyond the essentials, such as family, food, and general continued respiration) is writing. Therefore, we are starting a campaign to enforce good habits, because otherwise I won't accomplish a damn thing.
I am in the process of developing a list of habits I need to build up.
I urge you, dear reader, to not use January 1, 2013, to make fluffy resolutions, but rather to re-evaluate your goals and determine how you will reach them. Be realistic, but don't underestimate your abilities, either.
Join me in my quest to ever-so-slightly better yourself, starting today.
Sidenote: the venerable +Chuck Wendig recently posted a list of 25 resolutions for writers. Well worth a look.