More Flash Fiction: “The Spider and the Fly-Man”

I’ve been reading a lot of flash fiction as I investigate such literary magazines as WigleafPank, and others.  Feeling inspired, I decided to write some more flash fiction, and to try a more experimental piece.  It’s been awhile since I went for something with this feel to it.  This was fun, and made me want to search the disorganized archives of my older writing for a piece I had been working on maybe four or five years ago that reminds me of this one.

I decided to go again to the random choice of words for some inspiration, though I didn’t limit myself to 150 words this time.  The following list was taken from the Winter 2014 issue of the Journal.

The words: riddled, aloofness, forehead, blame, function, pronouns, superhero, dependent, plastic, positive, shock, ribcage, charges, neighborhood, proximity, ballooning, forest, dioramas, margins, pinpoint, arachnid, eyeliner, cracking, diffusing, natural


The Spider and the Fly-Man


            Each table in the restaurant is a diorama, when one surveys the scene, sweeping the eyes from one corner to the other, observing with the necessary aloofness, refusing to assign blame, only accepting the scenes as they present themselves in vague pronouns, not personal to one’s own life, nor dependent on one in any way.

For example, at the very next table to ours, there is a woman bent forward like a hungry, pleading arachnid, pining after a superhero fly, much larger than herself, much more important, in fact, positively ballooning out of his chair with natural and supreme function.  She leans toward him, orienting herself to him, trying to draw his eyes to hers through the skillful use of dark eyeliner.  The low lighting reveals the gleam of sweat on her forehead.  The forest of chairs and tables and diners around the two of them are nothing to her.  There is only the desire to be near her superhero as he is diffusing little castoff, half-dead particles of himself into the air.

He, on the other hand, sees her as a bit of plastic, which he will take home, and hold by the ribcage, and rescue fleetingly with his own power, until he feels the shock of himself momentarily cracking through his system.  Then he will release her into the neighborhood.  The neighborhood will be a new forest for her, and frightening.  There she will drift toward the margins, trying pinpoint how she came there, and how she might return to her own place, not sure if she is happy or sad, or something else entirely.

One can see that it is starting, when the superhero charges the meal, and the fragile arachnid leans in to put her eighth leg in his strong hand.  When they rise to leave, and the superhero circles his arm around her, right before his cape billows out, one can see that she has the red hourglass.  Maybe, after all, the woman will win out.  Certainly, one knows that they can’t both survive unscathed.  Certainly, one knows that there will be blood.  None of these dioramas contain the everlasting grail of peace; of course not.

* * *

If you liked “The Spider and the Fly-Man,” I hope you’ll also check out my other flash pieces on this blog, “The Song in the Night,” “The Arrangement,” and “Just in Case,” as well as my short story, “Glass Eyes.”  I’m working on other short fiction and a novel, which will also hopefully be available to you one day.

Musings on the Past Few Weeks…and a Poem

I feel like my schedule’s been getting away from me the past few weeks.  I haven’t found as much writing time as I usually do. Why?  We had the end of term 1 of school (all that grading and extra help and contacting home!) and the beginning of a new one, fun family things, yard work, some meetups with friends, some excursions with my husband…  Good things, really.  Even the yard work.  My husband and I are still very much in the glow of having our first house and first yard.  I’m loving being outside and taking care of the property.  We filled a lot of leaf bags this weekend, and got to spend time outside together with the dog.  Oh, and we washed the dog, and his bed.  He will smell really good for a few days…or maybe one…  Today, I’m writing right before I transition to doing a little more prep for this next (short!) week.  I’m hoping that with this holiday week, I’ll find some extra time.  I’m missing my quiet, intense hours.

It’s not that I haven’t written at all.  There have been a few snatched, furtive moments, but not those long, satisfying stretches of repeated clicking and clacking of the keys until I truly can’t write any longer…sigh.

Ha ha–well, I have been reading, which has been good.  I’m grateful to the “Text to Speech” feature of my Kindle that reads books to me for free while I’m getting ready in the mornings and on my commute.  I couldn’t read nearly as much without it.  My husband thinks the voice sounds awfully mechanical, and, hey, it’s not an actor, but I’ve gotten used to it.  I don’t mind it.  Thank you, authors and publishers who have enabled “Text to Speech.”

Here are my writing resolutions for the not-to-distant future:

-Polish my current short story, a deviation from my typical short stories, involving ghosts

-Return to writing my second novel (I’m midway through!  I’m leaving the first one on the figurative shelf for now)

-Write another installment for this blog of “Shows I Liked that Got Cancelled”

-Write a post for this blog with my thoughts on some of my recent reads

And, for now, a haiku:

Haiku for Missing My Writing

Well, I have opened

the document.  That counts, right?

I miss you.  Sorry.

Flash Fiction: “Just in Case”

I decided to try another flash fiction story.  These have been helping me to focus my writing brain before working on some on some of my ongoing projects.  I departed from Robert Frost for my inspirational words this week, and pulled two other, much-loved books off of the shelf.  I hope you enjoy–if you’re minded to try the challenge of writing a 150-word story using at least ten of the twenty words below, I’d love to see your story in the comments section!

Challenge: 150 word story

Using: 10/20 words: shook, colors, rattling, discontent, name, bells, chill, tattoo, moaned, scratched, winding, gallantry, commands, deserved, warming, grinning, iron, cage, wicked, inheritance

Words are taken from Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems by Sonia Sanchez and The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

Just in Case

In the dim light of the party, he’s grinning at her.  She’s warming to him, though her eye drifts to the tattoo on his arm: an iron cage with its door wide open.  It chills her; there’s something wicked about it.

He offers his name: John.  Perfectly ordinary.  He is all gallantry, getting her another drink, asking about her life.

Still, the warning bells sound.  But perhaps they are wrong.  She’s been on edge so long, ever since her sister disappeared.  Since then, her environment has degenerated into flashing signs: Warning!  Caution!  Yet away from the alarming colors of the outside world, there is only dull discontent.  Part of her has been caged, and now it scratches at the lock, wanting.

John runs a hand down her arm.  He asks her, low and charming.  As she follows, she sticks her hand in her purse, feeling the outline of the knife.

* * *

If you liked “Just in Case,” I hope you’ll check out my other two flash fiction stories, “The Song in the Night” and “The Arrangement.”

Poem for Cleaning My Dog’s Ears

“Thrashing beast, don’t you

know that we are trying to

help you?  Hold still!  Stop!”


“No!  I close my ears

against that foul liquid and

I don’t hear you!  No!


Rebel!  Rebel!  Flee!

I will scratch the problem out,

if you’ll just let me!


Oh, it’s fine now.  Yes–

I don’t much mind the rubbing–

Finished?  OK.  Thanks!”


“Next time, will you be

good, sit still, submit, help us?

We do this for you!”


“I’d like a treat now.

I’ll go get my ball.  Wait here.

Here it is!  Here….What?”