Today, Ksenia Anske wrote about flash fiction on her blog. She explained how flash fiction came into her life and how it can help anyone who writes. I like to think of them as writing sprints. It takes about 45 minutes to write and edit around 500 words. You set your timer and...go!She's getting ready to host this amazing flash fiction event on her blog. Here's the concept: she got 20 writers (she may have promised us cookies?) who will all write around 500 words a piece, building a story together one chapter at a time. This flash fiction's theme? The Easter Bunny Apocalypse. I mean, come on. What's not to love? (Follow our journey on Twitter at #bunnyapocalypse.) I'm very excited to be a part of this experiment. I'll be writing the 15th chapter.
In the mean time, she practically double-dog-dared us to go ahead and just do any old flash fiction piece...right now! She actually shooed us along. How could I resist that challenge? I 'll preface this by saying, it's actually non-fiction, not fiction. But stop your whining. It's what inspired me tonight. And, please, be gentle. The whole point is to write fast. Write 500 words that just come to you. But just write. So, here's my piece. I hope you enjoy it.
And, please, help us spread the word about the Easter Bunny Apocalypse flash fiction group writing project starting on Ksenia's blog on 3/12. One chapter a day; a different author writing each chapter. You will not want to miss this, um, hare raisingly fun (and likely, bloody) good time! On a more gentle note, here's tonight's flash fiction short, Pieces.
A short story by CM Albert, written 03/09/13
The lamp tilts lazily to the right; its pale, cream shade just a tad too large for its thin, crystal base. The wiring's age is apparent when it sizzles to life at its switch. Still, I risk blowing a fuse or getting zapped to see it shine. It's my grandmother's lamp, you see. It sits on her mahogany writing desk, which sat in her dining room for over fifty years, but now rests comfortably in my bedroom. I'd give anything to have it back in her house, a place for her to pay her bills or write me letters.
We'd been pen-pals, swapping good old-fashioned letters once a week—back and forth from the snowy north to the sunny south. "I'm shelling peas from my garden," she'd write. "We started Ev in swim lessons today!" I'd pen back.
Nothing critical was ever written. Just the insides of our hearts—little glimpses of each other's daily lives to keep us connected despite the distance.
I miss getting those letters. I never realized the vacancy they would leave when they stopped coming. For months after her death, when something new happened in our lives, I'd run right over the coffee table where I kept my stationery before remembering that there was no one there to write to. Who would care that we got a new kitten or that Evan was going to be a big brother? Who could I tell about my mundane daily routine, who would actually care in return?
Because I didn't just lose my grandmother when she passed. I lost my best friend. My security, my life-line, my sense of self. The one person I told everything to, other than my husband. The one person who actually gave a shit.
When we cleaned out her home, I found a box of all the letters I had written to her over the years. From my earliest poem to our wedding plans—it was filled with my life. Pictures of the kids. Funny stories from when I was a teenager and never dreamed I'd be able to pay my rent, much less become a successful business woman. In those letters, I saw myself grow. I changed and blossomed under the shade of her love.
Of course, I have my own box of letters; ones that came from her. Even three years after her death, I still can't bring myself to look at the familiar cursive handwriting. I can't bear to open them up and peer inside her heart again—or to fully open mine and let her back in. I'm afraid that if I do, I'll crack. Splinter into the thousand of pieces that left me sleeping with her sweater for a month after she died, until not a solitary thread of fabric continued to hold her lingering scent.
Someday, when my heart has healed more, I'll go back to her letters. I'll file them with my own chronologically, to see our lives intertwined again. Then, I'll snuggle up in bed, turn on her little, tilting desk lamp, sip a cup of warm, vanilla coffee, and replay our lives all over again.
"I went to the mailbox today," she'll say. "Then, I drove Becky to the grocery store." I'll remember the smooth wrinkles in her hands, and the way she looked holding her pen. I'll see her sitting at her kitchen table, a cup of black coffee and the paper's crossword puzzle her other companions.
"I bowled a 230 tonight!" she'd share. I'd silently cheer for her again. No lamp, no desk, no pain can take away the lifetime of sharing we did, written with care on the hundreds of pieces of stationery we sent back and forth.
Today, I'll walk to the mailbox with my kids. I'll never stop hoping to see a letter with her handwriting on its face. But I'll think of her. I'll look up to the sky and say, "I went to the mailbox today, Gram." And I'll know, that no matter where she is, she'll be smiling down at me.
And she'll still give a shit.