Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Into the Wind by Bill Chance

“Canoes, too, are unobtrusive; they don’t storm the natural world or ride over it, but drift in upon it as a part of its own silence. As you either care about what the land is or not, so do you like or dislike quiet things–sailboats, or rainy green mornings in foreign places, or a grazing herd, or the ruins of old monasteries in the mountains. . . . Chances for being quiet nowadays are limited.”

― John Graves, Goodbye to a River

Into the Wind

There’s this thing about a canoe on a lake in the wind. When you are going into the wind you’re going very slowly and working very hard to push against the resistance. But since the waves are going the other way, opposite you, it seems like you’re flying, rushing along. It’s only when you look over to the shore that you see the glacial progress you’re making.

On the other hand, when you turn around, and go with the wind at your back you will move right along with the waves and appear, when you look at the water, to almost be standing still. It takes some proper point of reference, some object on the shore, to gauge your true rapid speed.

Sam and his two sons rented a canoe. He intended to paddle from one end of Cedar Lake to the other.

They walked to the little park store, which has rentals. They had to wait because the operator who lived by himself in a recreational vehicle beside the store had closed up for an hour and gone into town. He had left a note on the door to the store. When he came back he rented them the boat. He made Sam fill out several pages of paperwork, apologizing, “Please fill this out in case the State audits me.”

Samy asked, “Well, have they ever audited you?”

He said, “Yes, once. They came out a couple years ago but I told them that my wife had passed away that week and I couldn’t deal with it so they went away and haven’t come back.”

They rented the little aluminum canoe for an hour, six dollars an hour. The rental place was in a cove down at one end of the lake and due to the drought the lake levels were way down. It was difficult to get out of the cove because the water was so shallow. The boys peered over the gunwale at the thick water plants rubbing against the canoe while their father used the paddle to pole their way along

Sam wanted to go the length of the lake, all the way to the dam but as they moved out into the center he wasn’t sure they would make it. The stout wind would catch the front of the canoe, where Frank, the older son, sat ineffectually flailing at the water with one paddle, and spin it around so Sam would have to paddle hard and carefully to keep it pointed at the dam. Two other families had rented canoes right after them and they were unable to get out of the cove due to the wind.

After being spun twice Sam decided to move over to the west coastline, as close as possible, and pay close attention to steering the canoe – they were able to make progress that way. It was hard work, pushing against the wind, taking all the strength Sam had in his shoulders.

For Sam it felt good to be paddling a canoe again. He was good at it. When he was a child in Florida he had a canoe of his own. He would haul it down to the canal next to their house and paddle around after school.

Frank and Sam’s youngest son, Luke had never been in a canoe before. Luke was surprised to find out it was made of metal, he thought they were all made of wood. They both said the canoe was more stable than they thought it would be, they thought it would be harder to keep it from tipping over. Sam told them a lot of that was because he was working pretty hard at keeping it straight while they flailed around. Especially Frank at the front trying to paddle.

They made it all the way to the dam. No huge feat, but the kids enjoyed it. It felt like a great victory. They circled the concrete drainage structure, a tall cylinder sticking out of the water with a wrought iron valve wheel on top. The kids asked questions about it, which Sam couldn’t answer. Then they turned and headed back.

Sam was worried they would be late, he had only paid for an hour. He wished that he had shelled out another six bucks so they could relax. But the wind and waves bore them along at a rapid speed on the return. It took them forty minutes to reach the dam and only ten to get back. Poor Luke knelt on his knees in the center of the canoe during the whole trip and could barely stand when they pushed up onto shore. His young legs regained their flexibility quickly enough.

Sam’s shoulders didn’t recover quite so fast. For a week the soreness reminded him of the struggle across the lake in the canoe with his two sons. He would shrug his shoulders against the pain and smile.

Short Story of the Day, House for Sale by Colm Tóibín

“..Some of our loves and attachments are elemental and beyond our choosing, and for that very reason they come spiced with pain and regret and need and hollowness and a feeling as close to anger as I will ever be able to imagine. ”
― Colm Tóibín

House Being Remodeled, The Cedars, Dallas, Texas

In perusing the interwebs I came across a nice list of ten online long(er)-form short stories. So I’ll test the patience and attention span of everyone in this best of all possible worlds and slide away from flash fiction for a while.

House for Sale by Colm Tóibín

from The Dublin Review

Short Story of the Day, The Strange Story of the World by Chigozie Obioma

Papa did not surrender. He fought his slide into poverty as if he were fighting something supernatural, a demon.

― Chigozie Obioma, The Strange Story of the World

Rodeo Goat, Dallas, Texas

The Strange Story of the World by Chigozie Obioma

from Granta

Short Story of the Day, Standard Loneliness Package by Charles Yu

We draw closer for a moment.

Why won’t you just love me, I ask her.

She says it’s not possible to make someone feel something.

Even yourself, she says.

Even if you want to feel it.

― Charles Yu, Standard Loneliness Package

Transcendence, on the first night.

In perusing the interwebs I came across a nice list of ten online long(er)-form short stories. So I’ll test the patience and attention span of everyone in this best of all possible worlds and slide away from flash fiction for a while.

It’s hard to believe that it was almost eight years ago that I read How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu and wrote a blog entry about it.

Standard Loneliness Package by Charles Yu

from Lightspeed Magazine

Short Story of the Day, The Faery Handbag by Kelly Link

“We had this theory that things have life cycles, the way that people do. The life cycle of wedding dresses and feather boas and t-shirts and shoes and handbags involves the Garment District. If clothes are good, or even if they’re bad in an interesting way, the Garment District is where they go when they die. You can tell that they’re dead, because of the way that they smell. When you buy them, and wash them, and start wearing them again, and they start to smell like you, that’s when they reincarnate..”

― Kelly Link, The Faery Handbag

Main Street Park Dallas, Texas

In perusing the interwebs I came across a nice list of ten online long(er)-form short stories. So I’ll test the patience and attention span of everyone in this best of all possible worlds and slide away from flash fiction for a while.

I’ve been a huge fan of Kelly Link for a long time and have written about her stories before. She writes these weird adult fairy tales – stories of a world with one foot in our own and another foot, plus two hands and a head, in a fantastic and sometimes scary alternate dimension. These should be read to kids, to insure they grown up nice and insane.

Today’s story The Faery Handbag, won the 2005 Hugo Award for Best Novelette, the 2006 Nebula Award for Best Novelette, and the 2005 Locus Award for Best Novelette. It was also nominated for the 2005 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. And the author has posted it on her website just so you can read it and enjoy it free of charge. This is truly the best of all possible worlds.

The Faery Handbag by Kelly Link

from Small Beer Press

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Cinders by D. J. Moore

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

― Neil Gaiman, Coraline

Sightings: Mai-Thu Perret Nasher Sculpture Center Dallas, Texas

Cinders by D. J. Moore

from Every Day Fiction

Short Story of the Day, Flash Non-Fiction, The Boy Who Drew Cats by Jesse Lee Kercheval

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

Six Persimmons by Muqi Fachang

The Boy Who Drew Cats by Jesse Lee Kercheval

from Brevity

Short Story of the Day, (very, very, short) Flash Fiction, The Best A Man Can Get by Steven Arcieri

“Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”
― James Joyce, Ulysses

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

I hate when this happens:

The Best A Man Can Get by Steven Arcieri

from Hobart

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Disclaimer by Jackson Arn

“This world . . . belongs to the strong, my friend! The ritual of our existence is based on the strong getting stronger by devouring the weak. We must face up to this. No more than right that it should be this way. We must learn to accept it as a law of the natural world. The rabbits accept their role in the ritual and recognize the wolf is the strong. In defense, the rabbit becomes sly and frightened and elusive and he digs holes and hides when the wolf is about. And he endures, he goes on. He knows his place. He most certainly doesn’t challenge the wolf to combat. Now, would that be wise? Would it?”
― Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Recycled Books Records CDs Denton, Texas (click to enlarge)

Disclaimer by Jackson Arn

from 3AM Magazine

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Floating by Benjamin Selesnick

“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Wrecked Car waiting for the decision – scrap or repair

Floating by Benjamin Selesnick

from Lunch Ticket