Short Story Of the Day (flash fiction), It by Bill Chance

“Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.”
William Butler Yeats, The Land of Heart’s Desire

Nambe Lake, New Mexico

 

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#31). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.

 


It

 

He had paid in full for the trip before it happened. The trip was not cheap and he had saved up for several years. Nothing, of course, was refundable. After it happened, he didn’t want to go.

But at the funeral everyone said, “You need to go, it will be good for you.”

This was inevitably followed by, “It is what they would have wanted you to do.”

So he went.

The first day he had planned on a hike to a high isolated mountain lake perched in a rocky cirque below three sides of vast cliff faces. It was listed in all the guidebooks as a top ten dayhike in the entire state.

He parked his rented car, slung his tiny daypack and set out. The first section of trail was fairly level through a thick forest. He felt as if his boots were floating above the ground as he moved, the forest was filled with an invisible fog, and his mind was somewhere far away.

Then the trail turned into the wide canyon that led up to the lake and he began to climb. It was very steep and rocky. His legs quickly began to tire and his breath came in difficult gulps. The pain galvanized him and he welcomed it. The ache reminded him he was alive and helped to get his physical self – his muscles, bones, and lungs in line with how he felt in his head.

The trail twisted up and around beside the tumbling stream coming down from the lake above. The cold mountain meltwater had a subtle unique ozone-like odor, bracing and pleasant. He noted this, along with the tinkling splash of the falling water and the cold air pouring down from above, hitting him in the face, refreshing while the sun rose burning overhead. He sensed all this, but his heart was hard and it didn’t reach him like he hoped it would.

On he climbed, getting tired and thirsty as his water bottle ran out. The canyon kept turning in a rising spiral. He expected to find his destination after every curve, but was only presented with more steep rock.

“Where is that damn lake?” he cursed under his breath.

And then, around a last bend, there it was. A smooth oval of that almost milky turquoise mountain water, tinted with fine glacial rock dust. It was high up, almost to treeline and the evergreens surrounding the lake were twisted – stunted with the winter struggles against snow and wind, but dark green and thick, holding the water in a cup between their trunks. All around rose vertical walls of rock, a vast enveloping escarpment of mixed grays, punctuated with patches of brilliant snow trailing strings of melt water falls. High above, like looking up from the bottom of a wide well, was the sky – a deep purple from the altitude and spattered with thin, high clouds.

The beauty of the scene assaulted him with power and grace. But he was still immune. The lifeless numbness that enveloped him since it happened shielded him from the gorgeous allure of the lake no matter how hard he had worked to enjoy it.

After a few minutes he turned around and started back.

“It will be easier now, going back down,” he said to himself and he was right.

“Well,” he thought, “that was one wasted hike.”

But he knew that sometime in the future there would be another one that wasn’t wasted. At any rate, there were nine more in his guidebook. And more states after that.

Time was what he needed. It was all he needed.

 

____________________________________

This is another sketch using a writing prompt from the book by Brian Kiteley, The 3 A.M. Epiphany. It… and its companion, The 4 A.M. Breakthrough, are unusually useful collections of  writing exercises (rather than simple prompts). I thumbed around until I found a prompt I liked… it was the second one I looked at.

Writing Prompt #110

Sweet and Sour

Describe briefly a lake or a backcountry mountain trail (in other words, a beautiful natural setting) as seen by a person who has just lost a parent in a sudden, unexpected death. The last time this narrator saw the parent, they argued violently. In your narrative do not mention the death, the parent, or the argument. Do not tell a story. Simply show us what the lake or forest or street looks like to someone under these circumstances. 500 words

 

 

Short Story Of the Day (flash fiction), Scars by Bill Chance

That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please

—-MASH Theme Song

 

 

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#30). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.

 


Scars

 

He saw the scars on her arms.

“Those cuts aren’t very deep,” he said.

“I know. This wasn’t a suicide attempt – I don’t want to die.”

“Yeah, a lot of suicide attempts are just to gain attention.”

“Nope, that wasn’t it. Once you get to know me better you’ll learn I don’t give a rat’s ass about stuff like that.”

“Really?”

“Really. I don’t care what other people think. I don’t care what you think.”

“Then why?”

“For one thing… for the pain. But most of all… I just wanted the scars.”

Open Your Veins, and Bleed

“You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”
—-Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith (and many others)

Our kitchen cabinets are filled with pint beer glasses emblazoned with local breweries – souvenirs of the visits to many brewery tours and keep-the-glass sampling events.

Deep Ellum Brewing Company – Dallas Blonde

One of these was a little too close to the edge of the kitchen counter when my son’s Lab was looking up there scouring for leftovers and knocked one off – breaking it on the floor – shattering the vessel into a thousand slivery shards. The first nine hundred and ninety are easy to sweep up. The last ten are invisible, sharp and hard, hard to find.

Last night as I walked barefoot through the kitchen to my room, intending to sit down and write for my hour… I found one.

There is an interesting pain profile as a sliver of glass pushes through the thick callus on the bottom of a foot into the tender, live flesh, muscle, and sinew beneath. I doesn’t hurt much… until it does. I hopped on one foot to a countertop and leaned while I searched for the glass. It’s transparent, crystalline and invisible, of course, so I had to feel for it, then pull it out. I glanced at the splinter before throwing it in the trash. It was longer than usual and was red-tipped – but I didn’t think much about it.

I suffer from a form of graphomania and, while most people complain of writer’s block, if I don’t get a solid hour of writing in each day it’s hard for me to go to sleep (writing something good… now, that’s another question – one for another day).

I sat down at my desk and lost myself, writing for an hour or so. I saved my work, and decided it was time to walk back and go to bed. But as I tried to stand up, I realized that my foot was stuck firmly to the floor. That was confusing and unsettling, why couldn’t I lift my foot up from the painted concrete – I was floored. Looking down into the murk under my desk I saw that my foot was centered in a dark-colored disk of some glue-like material that was intent on keeping it there. I had already forgotten what had happened only an hour before – so I guessed I had spilled some fruit drink or something and it had dried into a sticky trap.

So I redoubled my efforts and with a viscous pop my foot came up. It wasn’t until a few minutes later I remembered the glass sliver and realized my foot had been stuck to the floor by a pool of drying blood. I hadn’t moved my foot for over an hour, plenty of time to bleed, coagulate, and adhere.

Not much I could do, so I went to sleep. Today, I found dark crimson crescents of blood scattered throughout the house – I didn’t realize how much I walked around last night.

Time to get out the mop.

Glass from Wine Walk
Deep Ellum
Dallas, Texas

Lakewood Brewing Company, French Quarter Temptress, Special Glass, Brewed, Fort Worth, Texas

A Conversation

Damian Priour, Austin Temple (detail) 2000 fossil limestone, glass, steel In Memory of Buddy Langston 1947-2004 Frisco, Texas

Damian Priour, Austin
Temple (detail)
2000 fossil limestone, glass, steel
In Memory of Buddy Langston 1947-2004
Frisco, Texas

Life consists of making the decision of what you are going to do in the next split second. Nothing else exists other than the process of making that decision and executing it. Everything else is an illusion.

What if I make the wrong choice? What if I choose something that limits my future choices? What if I paint myself into a corner?

I didn’t say it was easy. I didn’t say it was a good thing. All I said is that that is all there is.

I thought that life was pain! I thought that life was suffering!

It is. Pain is choice. It is. Choice is suffering.

But if choice is all there is… and I can choose whatever I want – then I am totally free.

Choice is freedom. Total choice is total freedom. Freedom is all there is.

So I am totally free.

Yes – but if life is pain and suffering and choice is also freedom – then life is freedom.
But freedom is pain and suffering.

Freedom is suffering?

Yes.

I get it.

Yes, you do.