“Your past is a skeleton walking one step behind you, and your future is a a skeleton walking one step in front of you. Maybe you don’t wear a watch, but your skeletons do, and they always know what time it is.” ― Sherman Alexie (Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven)
We’ve got our second entry to the Noteworthy Literature flash fiction challenge. It’s an emotionally-engaging story from Jay Prew, He’s an emerging young writer from London. I hope you all enjoy. Feel free to comment, like and share. Oh, and submit your own Flash Fiction stories and we’ll post them right here on Noteworthy Literature.
Why Pretend – by Jay Prew @PrewJay
Brian’s eyes opened and all he could see were blankets of rain on the outside street. He didn’t realize that he had dozed off or ever truly believed in heaven on earth. He reached out to the fold-out table at the end of his chair and plucked out a Marlboro from its box. He notched the cigarette in the corner of his mouth and lit it with greedy puffs. He took a deep breath and reclined back deeper into the bottom of his chair. He watched and waited. He waited for the next wave of cars to pass or the rain to stop, but it never did. He breathed deeply, taking another drag from the cigarette. He filled his chest up with equal parts smoke and despair. He smoked with the fervor of an addict, but lacked the passion of someone on the back of a magazine. It was the satisfaction of having something thick and dangerous lingering near the back of his throat that kept Brian Archer in love with the Marlboro man. At least that’s what he told himself. Truth be told, it made him feel more grown up, simple as that.
Brian looked at his watch and it read ten past eleven. His shift at work started forty-five minutes ago. He sighed dramatically, as if those forty-five minutes were forty-five more than he needed. Finally, Brian gathered his skinny body beneath him and rose from his seat. He went back inside and decided he’d give living one more try. Somewhere between him putting on his khaki work pants and cotton polo work shirt, Brian remembered that today was his father’s birthday. He didn’t want to care and a part of him did wish that this special day was his father’s last. Although he couldn’t help but wonder how many new grey hairs he had or if his dad would truly miss a card from him this year. Brian remembered that his father would always pretend to forget his own birthday. He’d put on that stupid grin and bug out his eyes as if he’d been caught with his pants down. Of course, his sister Shana and his mother would go along with it like good family members should. They humored him mostly, even though they knew it was never much of a big deal to him anyway. The whole gag was for their benefit and they all knew it, only Brian never wanted to play the game.
As Brian pushed through the front door, he plucked away the cigarette. He aimed for a puddle near his porch but it ricocheted off one of the porch posts instead. The moist spring air hit Brian like a wet kiss in the face and even he had to admit it was rather pleasant. He knew that this was part of the reason Florida was so captivating. It was mystic, even when it rained. The downpour was gentle, even in a torrent and the sun lay heavily here. It was powerful and magnificent all at the same time. The sky seemed to overlap the ocean in places and perfectly compliment it in others. Noonday sky was just as beautiful as dawn or dusk and when the breeze stirred the clouds, they floated like so many bales of cotton. They would absolutely glow in the sunlight and children played straight into the night like beasts. Truly, there were no mountains for majesty but the earth overflowed with green glory. The ocean grazed the shore and God’s breath was always there in the sky. Even beneath the folds of darkness, the indigenous energy pulsed with hidden vitality, like bubbling secrets waiting to be told. Brian walked out into the wonderment, heedless to the pouring rain. He owned both a rain slicker and an umbrella, but didn’t ever use them. Everyone got a little wet anyway. Why pretend it didn’t feel good?
We’ve got our first entry to the Noteworthy Literature flash fiction challenge. It’s a funny little story sent in from Yasmine Ara. I hope you all enjoy. Feel free to comment, like and share. Oh, and submit your own Flash Fiction stories and we’ll post them right here on Noteworthy Literature. Enjoy!
Rocket Scientist – by Yasmine Ara
There’s a poor fella who fell in love with a dark horse. Well, actually I’m a rocket scientist, but that’s not important to the story. This poor guy thought it would be a piece of cake to win me over. He must have been dreaming. I noticed him out of the corner of my eye when I would buy a cup of tea at the local shop, but I never gave him the time of day. So he approached my little sister first. That was his first mistake. She’s a total couch potato and thinks all boys are a pain in the neck. She’s overprotective of me, and if she keeps it up I’ll miss the boat every time. She comforts me by saying, “When the right time comes, Mr. Right will definitely come along.” She would always end with, “Take it or leave it.” As if I had a choice. What if he didn’t come along? “Nevermind,” she would say. “He will come along, but I won’t let it happen just like that.” That’s usually when I remind her that she’s the younger sister, and that guy was kind of cute.
When that poor romantic fellow approached her, thank God my little sister didn’t spill the beans because she thought he seemed like that two-timing sort of man, who lies with a straight face. She knows I hate that with all my heart. Yet, I’m not getting any younger so he was still a safe bet though.
Then, he tried to make friends with my elder sister. She always had a thing for tall men even though her husband is quite short. In her imagination, she probably envisions her husband is tall and dashing, but she’s the only one who sees him that way. He’s only five foot and a couple of inches tall and that’s in his best pair of shoes. Mind you, they are head-over-heels in love with each other. One day I hope to have the same.
She’s a critical sort of girl and this poor fellow didn’t get very far with impressing her either. So, his second plan didn’t do the trick, even though he is taller than her husband. Yet, he didn’t give up right there and then. His next advance was to befriend my brother. I didn’t understand that move because my brother is drop-dead gorgeous, at least most girls think so, and this new stranger was nowhere near his league. I didn’t see what he possibly had to gain by comparison. My brother was a handsome fellow, but quite stingy with the ladies. He claimed that girls weren’t all sugar and spice and fresh air all the time. Besides, my brother hated when girls treated him like someone larger than life. That’s what he said, but I never believed him though. His weakness was feeling guilty at the prospect of rejecting anyone’s genuine offer. I guess that’s why he accepted this total stranger’s offer for brunch at a five star hotel. He even went so far as to invite two of my brother’s friends. They were both men about town and didn’t feel any qualms about the brunch being on the poor fellow’s dime.
Well, I had to admit that he was rising in favour with me. After all, that was a nice gesture, but my sisters were still on the fence. On the very day of the brunch, my brother and his friends ordered the most expensive foods on the menu. They never had foie gras or caviar, but felt like this was a once in a blue moon occasion. They didn’t like duck liver and fish eggs that much, but it was a remarkable acknowledgment though. Ironically, the poor fellow’s credit card didn’t go through and my greedy brother was stuck with the bill. His credit was always in the black, for God’s sake.
Needless to say, this would-be suitor was upset. Alright, poor fellow, please don’t try to take it out on anyone else. It was you who spent all your precious time for nothing, and don’t try to comfort yourself by saying, “I don’t know what got into me.” That’s a poor excuse. I could have taken you for granted and led you on forever, but I know you’re not a rich guy. They say money makes the world go round, but I’m not that type of girl. The truth is I could never have a soft spot in my heart for you, so thank you kindly, and oh yeah, don’t hold your breath. I’m a dark horse. Well, actually, I’m a rocket scientist, but that’s not important to the story.
I recently got into a bit of a row with a fellow blogger over Flash Fiction, the literary genre that is usually between 500 and 1000 words. Is a thousand words really too long or is our attention span getting much shorter? Can we squeeze a good story into the space of a tweet, or do we want a chunky tome to set us back a good week or two?
There’s got to be a middle ground.
I remember 10 years ago when a friend told me that a 5,000 word story was too long. Then, 5 years ago that same friend said my award-winning 2,500 word story – A Fight for Life was too long.
I get it: we’re all hopped up on energy drinks and scrolling through social media so fast that we couldn’t bare to sit still for 15 minutes and just read. Crazy, right?!
So, here’s a challenge: I’m giving away FREE short stories to celebrate the release of my Flash Fiction collection, appropriately titled IN A FLASH. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the stories themselves and the genre of Flash Fiction, as well. To get your FREE stories, just visit my publisher’s website – CLICK HERE.
You can also buy the book if you like; it costs less than a latte.