On Flash

by Dana Jerman

It’s official! It has a day.

Flash Fiction has its own day. And everybody knows, if a thing has its very own celebratory day, then it might be worth paying attention to, if only for a brief (or extremely brief) time.

It has been a few years since The Guardian online highlighted May 16th as a day for celebrating the art of micro-fiction, and in the world of hyperactively-dwindling-attention spans and ultra-acronymned-hyphenated-hashtaggery, this genre of writing styles has found room to keep on growing.

“Typically a piece of fiction comprised of a hundred words or less” by way of basic Google definition, Wikipedia emphasizes the occasional extreme brevity of the form, which breaks up by word count: “…the Six-Word Story, 140-character stories, also known as twitterature, the dribble (50 words), the drabble (100 words), and sudden fiction (750 words).” 

One of the most famous examples of the six-word story being Vladimir Nabokov’s alleged “saddest story in the world”:

“He is here. She is there.”

The reader is called upon to fill in the gaps where the tale is at its most laconic...

        Numbers, Then Letters-

At the bar, something was devastatingly familiar about her.

She was on about pop musicians and here he kept feeling her, in his mind, say things like "Fifty-first street." and "Forty-Five Hundred West Talcut Avenue." or "Please yield your seat to the handicapped."

He hadn’t caught her name, but he went for it:

“Excuse me you, ah.. You're not a ah, voiceover artist per chance... are you?"

She sat stunned for a moment, then smiled slowly:

"Twenty-Second Avenue. Route Seven-A."

As she tipped her wine and turned back to her date, he was seized with the notion that she'd probably be the closest he'd ever get to meeting a celebrity.

-

In my humble estimation, the genre is often best bulwarked by poetry. 

A story not so much a story but a glimpse of a moment that often leaves the reader desirous of more...

        Apocalypse in Paris-

The early dawn downpour washed the little stack of brass coins off the low shelf on Oscar Wilde’s gravestone. They floated like drunken boats down the jaggedly paved way and smeared into the granite palm of Edith Piaf’s marker. She took them, swallowed them, and was reborn as a clocktower, which rung out into the ears of hidden birds who were craving a new song and didn’t mind too if it kept time…

That’s when I woke up. Ghosts in my head made me get out of bed and drift into the day.

I was on the Square de I’lle de-France when it happened. Sky a dustier grey and park empty. By then the hour approached noon.

There was a queer grumble. A thud with a groan attached.

No dark birds flew off in a flock. No chaos and high voices. Just silence. I lit a cigarette and pulled up on my jacket hood.

Within 10 minutes there were sirens. A long wave of them in an echo-scream tumbling slow out of the many corners of the city and toward each other. Louder and louder, calling attention, attention.

It didn’t occur to me to be concerned, until I saw the helicopters. Within a very short time, the sky was littered with them. It’s hard to remember your breath when so much air is churning.

If I could tell you about the rest of the day I would. But I wasn’t there. I was gone.

The date was the first day of spring. Of course the bomb would come to the most romantic place, at the most romantic time.

-

Flash fiction is an incredible way for a writer to thumbnail an idea, flirt with using a new voice and tone, or invest in an element of minutiae and in the process surprise themselves!

        At Cody Pomeray’s House-

Before he came in from the rain, it was desperately hot in his room.

I was early. I sat, listening. Why exactly I wouldn't take off my coat because I wasn't wearing a bra, I don't know. That's stupid.

Whatever God looks out for women who go braless under black sweaters made sure Cody did not keep a cat. I couldn't take that. The combined heat and allergy may have decimated my wafer thin will to keep every shred of soaked clothing on.

This is all way before I became his wife.

We were about to meet. We were blind then, and he could have been anyone.

Then, I was just a lover at rest in an apartment like a still life, with the downpour scouring the windows. It did nothing for the heat.

Moons later, on that third floor at Cody’s, the sounds of Saturday after midnight would be delicious. From the window I could here people begin to lose their minds with drink and smoke and formless conversation peppered liberally with swearing. These were the modern adventures on the island of misfit toys. Each toy its own island. Each street named after a random guess.

That island would look differently if I was in charge. Responsible for spires upon spires of invisible real estate. Trafficking in the connecting spaces. I’d become the patron saint of hallways. Corridor queen haunting for good. I would not, however, elect this.

I wanted to play but wanted to watch more. Swatched in blue light and old music and a pilled blanket that wasn't mine.

Cody Pomeray’s house on its block weaved thru with the sound patterns of so many faraway car alarms. Meanwhile him all grown and snoring softly out. That ancient weightless speech of a half-drunk dreamer. Those sorts of dreams kept me up after a spell. They only put him down deeper and deeper.

To watch him and his place above the street, I had eyes open almost to the hour of the wolf. I was a witch who heard secrets bleed from the walls and puddle into black sweaters which glimmered like rain that would always be still.

-

For further reading, maybe it’s harder to know where to start if you can start anywhere!

Here are few great websites for flash fiction:

pankmagazine.com - PANK

Smokelong.com - Smokelong Quarterly

nanofiction.org - NANO Fiction

monkeybicycle.net - Monkeybicycle

vestalreview.org - Vestal Review

And MORE at: thejohnfox.com/flash-fiction-submissions/