Flash Fiction, Shorts

Forsaken Wishes

A billowing cloud of sand and dust rises in the east, sliding across the horizon in front of the poking head of the sun. The air is dry, and the clay roof the boy sits on crumbles a bit as he shifts, watching the sun rise across the vast desert. It is quite welcome to the boy after the long night. The sun means a new day. A new beginning. He looks down at the rusty oil lamp in his hands and runs a finger along the bumpy contour.

Nothing.

One more rub, however, and he knows what will happen. He has read the stories. Nothing could make him happier than to have his wildest dreams suddenly come to life before his eyes. That temptation for a quick grab at happiness has rooted itself deep down in his person, stretching branches out to his limbs in an effort to control his actions. No one else would hesitate as he has. the boy knows this.

But that was what the night had been for. The silent, contemplative night spent alone, with the natural world as his only companion. He had breathed in the cool desert air and watched the moon rise and fall, basking in its silvery glow as he weighed his choices.

Now, weary and faint from lack of sleep, the boy stands up and clambers down the roof of one of the many clay buildings clustered together. He jogs to the middle of town, rushing before his nerves leave him, and stops at the well. Grabbing a loose brick from the structure he straps it to the rusty lamp and lets it fall into the clear water with an echoing glump! 

The boy takes a deep breath. Now it doesn’t matter what his dreams are. And maybe he’ll  never reach them now. But he doesn’t mind much. Not really.

The important thing is that he still has them.

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On Writing, Ramblings

What Do Your Readers Care About? What do Mine?

A simple question that every blogger should ask him or herself, and one that is forgotten about far too often.

There are a number of bloggers out there completely entranced by each of their inch-worm successes. These are the type obsessed with page views and number of likes per post. And I get it. The quantitative measure of progress can be motivational. But its important to not let ourselves get caught up in all that.

I’ll admit that I’ve been there as well, and I think that everyone is when they first start a blog. But one thing that we must all remember is this:

The readers.

That’s why we do this in the first place isn’t it? To connect with others and share what we are passionate about. That’s the whole point of blogging. Not a desperate grasp at financial independence or a reclaiming of a popularity status you never achieved in high school. These perks can be nice, and I am by no means damning anyone seeking these things.

But blogging should be about the reader.

So, what do your readers care about? You determine your reading group by having them in mind every time you write a new post. What do you want your readers to care about?

As for myself, I’d like my readers to care about my fiction. I want them to enjoy reading my stories and get them in engaging discussions if I can.

In an effort to do this, I invite everyone reading this (if you’ve read this far) to take a look at my site and stories. What would you like to see more or less of? Is there a direction I could take that you would be particularly interested in?

Things I’m considering: book reviews, writing on writing, guest prompts, interactive storytelling, serials, interviews with other writers.

What sounds interesting to you, dear Reader?

I invite all you bloggers to ask yourself this question, if you haven’t already.

Flash Fiction, Shorts

What?

The punch took Charlie by surprise. It came out of nowhere and slammed straight into his left cheek. He flailed his arms as he fell back out of his chair and hit the ground hard, banging his shoulder on the beer-splattered floor. Charlie moaned and cradled his jaw. He had felt teeth crack, and knew that he was spitting out more than just blood as he looked up at his aggressor.

He was a smaller man than he should have been for starting off a fight like that; a full head shorter than Charlie, and younger too. But he was wiry and lean, and there was a hidden strength under those whipcord limbs. Charlie rubbed his jaw again, knowing that if he hadn’t clenched his teeth in surprise he could have saved himself what was sure to be a pricey dental visit. He put one hand to his knee as he raised himself to his feet. He hated the dentist.

“What do you want, kid?”

The young man hesitated, as if surprised Charlie was even still conscious, and his face went blank a moment.

“Well,” he said, scratching the sparse line of stubble on his chin, “I guess I hadn’t really thought of that. Sorry to trouble you.” And just like that, he walked straight out of the bar without another word.

Charlie watched him leave, speechless. He stood there in the middle of the bar, faces staring, and wondered whether or not he had imagined the whole thing. He touched his jaw again, wincing at the pain. It felt almost like someone had lightly tapped him on the face with a sledgehammer. No, it had happened alright.

Charlie sat back down in a state of shock and sipped his beer. Fortunately none had spilled during the brief brawl. He was too confused, and frankly embarrassed to track down his hit-and-run attacker. He knew that those feelings should be replaced by a white-hot anger from being so mistreated, but he just wasn’t. Maybe it was that the kid had said he was sorry. He shrugged and took another sip.

Sometimes people just did crazy, stupid things, he supposed.

Flash Fiction, Shorts

A Pleasant Night

The city was silent and warm at night. The lingering heat from the summer day had faded to a pleasantly comfortable temperature. The green leaves on the trees now were shadowed in a purplish glow, illuminated from above by the perfect white orb hanging in the night sky. A ring of white light—an angelic halo—encircled it, giving the impression that it was far larger than its bright yellow counterpart. If you looked up at the sky you could see the curvature of the earth as the clouds made their slow, listing journey to wherever they would inevitably dump themselves back down to the ground.

Glowing orange orbs mimicked the silver dollar in the sky as best they could, sitting on faded green lampposts; casting their own little rings of light onto the deserted cement sidewalks and pavement streets. The air bristled with unseen life; a thriving natural metropolis hiding in plain sight. Crickets chirruped and rustled, hidden behind dense tangles of branches and bushes. A night owl gave a lonely hoot. A stray cat prowled outside an apartment complex with wood paneling, illuminated by a single light that cast eerie streaks onto the pavement.

The door to the apartment with the light on was ajar. Inside, there was broken glass on the floor of the kitchen, and a mark on the wall where Budweiser dribbled down to the floor. There was no one sleeping in the bed in the other room, but a man sat on the floor there beside it with his head in his hands. The overhead light flickered every now and then, and the fan above him was broken. Every ten seconds the fire alarm would beep, reminding the man on the floor that the battery needed to be changed. The sound was like the dull beating of the man’s heart. A rubber tourniquet still caused the veins of his arm to bulge, but he couldn’t think to untie it. His head rocked to the side and his mouth lolled.

The cat meowed outside the lit window and sniffed at the glass. It soon grew bored and moved on past the apartment complex with the wood paneling, and continued its nightly hunt. Up above the moon was still bright; the night air still pleasant and calm. And the cats and the owls and the crickets continued their nightly routine as the moon made its gradual descent toward the waiting horizon.