Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring Flash Fiction Carnival


Ah, Spring! When a writer’s thoughts turn to…Flash Fiction!

Okay, so it’s not Spring yet in everyone’s corner of the world, but if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s definitely around the corner, and here are a few new stories to get you in the mood:

Redemption by Eaton Bennett

Approach of Spring by Susan Helene Gottfried

Easter Eggs by Susan Helene Gottfried

Saying Goodbye by Heather Heinzer

First Sign of Spring by ~Liz~

Illuminated by Gwen Mitchell

Spring by Catherine Noon

Easter Eve by Kathleen Oxley

Paid in Full by Ann Pino

This is a short list, so do try to leave comments as you go visiting! And if you have a story that didn't make today's 10 pm cutoff, don't worry! I'll post stragglers throughout the weekend, as time permits.

Happy Springtime Wishes to All!

Friday, March 14, 2008

March FFC: Letters and/or Numbers

When I chose the theme Letters and/or Numbers, I wasn't sure if I'd get much response. I couldn't have been more wrong. We ended up with a baker's dozen and at least a third of those I credit to Gwen Mitchell's influence. So THANKS, GWEN! You helped make this month's FFC a success.

Four stories are being hosted here at the FFC 2008 blog. Comments are open, so please share your thoughts. The authors of the remaining pieces have opted to host their works at their respective blogs. Please visit as many as you can and respond to those with open comments. Please be constructive not destructive, but do be honest.

Now then, Ladies and Gentlemen, in alphabetical order by title, I present the March Flash Fiction Carnival: Letters and/or Numbers --


Carve Me, Carve You by Virginia Lee

Conversation With a Friend Over Coffee, Part 2: Snuffed Out by DT Kelly

Flight 1580 by Kathleen Oxley

Keeping Score by Gwen Mitchell

The Knockoff by Richard Badalamente

Letter G (the early days) by Susan Helene Gottfried

Numbers and Letters by Benjamin Solah

Numerology by orion_mk3

Regret by Eaton Bennett

Sacrificing Her Child by Padma Narayanaswamy

Untitled by A. Catherine Noon

Untitled by ElizabethAnne

The Written Word by Ann Pino (aka: BunnyGirl)


March FFC: orion_mk3: Numerology

Numerology
by orion_mk3


The man was seated on the concrete lip of a planter, as he often was, paying no attention to the passing students and merrily belting out a tune with harmonica and washboard. The board at his feet often contained a message—Carrie could recall it saying "time well wasted" a few weeks ago, and the other day it had read "the devil always leaves the porch light on."

Today, though, there was nothing but a large inkjet-bright "2."

"I've been meaning to ask," Carrie said to her friend Amy as they neared the player. "Who's that?"

Amy shrugged. "One of the weirdoes big colleges invariably attract. Whenever the weather's good, he's out here banging and blowing like a trumpet in a trash compactor."

"Yeah, I've seen him a few times. But where's he from?" She noted his ill-fitting thrift store clothing. "Is he homeless?"

"I dunno."

"I'll ask him," Carrie said, veering toward the player.

"Carrie, don't!" Amy hissed. "He's probably crazy or diseased or both."

"Now, now, what's the first thing Dr. Himmel said in SCWK 102? Every encounter is an opportunity to help the invisible."

"Whatever you say," Amy sighed. "Just don't go getting yourself on 'America's Most Wanted' as the tragic victim." She kept walking.

Carrie politely waited until the one-man band had stopped playing, and sat down next to him.

"Hello," he said. "Lovely afternoon, isn't it?"

"It is!" Carrie said, beaming her best smile. "What brings you out here today, Mr…?"

"I'm just a humble instrumentalist," he replied. "And today I'm playing in honor of the number 2."

"Why 2?" Carrie asked. She thought she detected a fixation; maybe the man was schizophrenic.

"Because it's truly wonderful," the instrumantalist replied. "2's prime, so just about anything can be reduced to it that isn't prime itself. Go on, give me a number."

"88," Carrie answered, thinking of piano keys.

"2 times 44 is 88, 2 times 22 is 44, 2 times 11 is 22, and then you're down to primes! Just 2 and 11 left.”

"I see." Revising her initial estimate, Carrie settled on delusion with a hint of autism thrown in for flavor—that was the instrumentalist's problem, no question.

"2's the razor that separates every number in existence into evens and odds, even though it's a very odd prime number in and of itself!” he continued. “Every number in the world's got to be pounded against 2 to see which way it breaks!"

Delusions of grandeur, too; the inflating of everyday events to hyperbolic proportions. Carrie nodded, mentally refining her diagnosis.

"At the same time, 2 is the smallest base you can use to display a meaningful number. Binary—1's and 0's, you know—is base 2, but 2 isn't even present! In fact, it's the surest sign you're out of binary country, where there's no such thing as 2."

"Hm," Carrie murmured. Definitely some kind of delusion, compounded by strange and impossible claims. No such thing as 2? Maybe it had been stolen by the one world government or the black helicopters.

"And how's this for a trick? What's 2+2?"

"4." Maybe there was some sort of childhood trauma, a root cause.

"2 x 2?"

"4 again." Add obsessive compulsion to the mix.

"2-squared?"

"Still 4." Perhaps a trauma on a day with a prominent 2?

The instrumentalist laughed. "Only number in the world that's true for. But what's the square root of two?"

Carrie only remembered a smattering of roots from high school. "I don't know."

"Exactly! No one does for sure. The square root of two is an irrational number, a decimal that goes on forever without repeating."

The instrumentalist spread his hands, smiling; Carrie saw her chance. "So why do you know so much about 2? Did something bad happen when you were 2, or on the 2nd of some month? I'm here to talk if you need it."

"No, no, nothing of the sort," the instrumentalist laughed. "I did my thesis on the divisibility of irrational numbers by 2, especially Pythagorian and Erd├Ás-Borwein constants."

Carrie blinked. "Thesis?" It was more serious than she thought; the man was a former academic fallen to insanity, like Kaczynski but hopefully without explosives.

"Yes, I did it at this very university in 1977; they offered me a research position as a result."

"Ah," Carrie said, hoping to probe deeper into the man's psyche. "Why'd you leave?"

"I didn't," the instrumentalist grinned.

"Y-you mean…?"

The man handed Carrie a piece of paper; unfolded, she saw it was a mathematics PhD. "Doesn't do me much good on the wall, does it?" he said. "I like to keep it on my person."

"But…but why the harmonica, the washboard, and the signs?"

"Great conversation starters," the instrumentalist replied. "And before you know it, you've learned something. Just look at how much you now know about the number 2. Every meeting is an opportunity to enlighten the ignorant, after all."

He leaned in closer. "And, just between you and me, I enjoy messing with people's perceptions a little; you learn a lot about what people are really like. And I love to play before an audience, too, even though I'm not terribly good even with years of practice."

Carrie couldn't think of a response.

"Don't say much, do you young lady?"

"I…I have to go now. I have class," Carrie said, standing. Every now and then, of course, there were people that just couldn't be helped. Yes, that was it—the instrumentalist's psychoses were so deeply rooted that there was nothing she could do. Best to write him off as a lost cause and move on, of course. She'd tried, after all, and couldn't very well be expected to make much of a difference in ten minutes.

"Of course!" The instrumentalist waved. "Come back next week. I think the sign'll say 'time's an allusion' then, or maybe 'space is infinitely spaced.' You'll get a kick out of those, you bet!"


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In orion_mk3's own words: I'm a former student and teacher of literature who's driven by some inner madness to pen things at irregular intervals. I work it in between classes and during long stretches in the campus library.

March FFC: Richard Badalamente: The Knockoff

THE KNOCKOFF

by Richard Badalamente





Molly hung her purse over the ear on the back of her chair rail, making sure the Gucci logo was on the outside where everyone could see it.

Janice stared at the purse. Hmm, nine hundred bucks.

The bus boy came to the table with water. Molly kept talking while she checked him out. As he was walking away she turned to Janice and said in a stage whisper, “Nice butt.”

Janice raised a manicured eyebrow and smiled with just half her mouth.

Molly rose from her chair. “I have to pee so bad my crowns are rusting.”She took her purse from the back of the chair.

“I’ll watch your purse, if you’d like,” said Janice.

“Are you kidding? I’ve got my face in there,” Molly said, striking a dramatic pose, before turning and heading towards the Ladies.

Janice watched momentarily, then rose quickly and said to Molly’s retreating back, “I’ll go with you.”

Molly didn’t even turn around. Just raised her hand in acknowledgement. Janice made a show about checking her make up once in the Ladies, while Molly set her purse on the tile counter and headed for a stall.

As soon as Janice heard the tinkle of Molly’s stream, she grabbed Molly’s purse and holding the clasp so it wouldn’t make a snapping noise, she opened it. She checked the printing on the label, ran her thumb across it. She heard Molly’s stream stop and heard toilet paper being pulled from the roll. She hurriedly checked the label. The printing was clean. No misspellings as far as she could tell. She started to pull at it and that’s when the side pocket flipped open and she saw the gun.

The next sequence of events seemed to happen in slow motion for Janice. The purse fell from her fingers, hit the edge of the counter, turned over and spilled its contents to the floor; compact, lipstick, eye shadow pencil, wallet, and then the gun. Janice watched as the gun fell to the floor, hitting on its handle and going off with an ear shattering report that reverberated off the bathroom walls.

“Uh, oh,” was all Janice could manage.

She stared dumbstruck at the ugly, matte-black pistol lying on the tile floor next to a spinning lipstick -- Bubblegum pink. Then she heard a moan and a thud and looked at the door to the stall directly across from her. There was a neat, round hole in the door and beneath it Janice could see Molly’s elbow and the back of her head.

She picked up the purse. The label had pulled loose.

“Hah!” she said, “It is a knockoff!”







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Richard Badalamente writes fiction and non-fiction, sometimes confusing the two, especially when writing about politics. He completed a 120,000-word novel last year only to realize he’d have a better chance getting two 60,000-word novels published. He’s also written a novella, a novelette, numerous short stories, and many poems, some of which have actually been published. “The Knockoff” is his first foray into flash fiction. Per Richard, "It was fun."

March FFC: Padma Narayanaswamy: Sacrificing Her Child

Sacrificing Her Child

by Padma Narayanaswamy




Sita has no other alternative but to kill her son. The child who has suckled her breast drinking the very blood of her life has to be put away. She looked the last time at him.

He has taken after her, and looked pretty handsome for his age. He was just a toddler and looked at her with a confidence that a child has for his mother that she will protect him from evil and bad things in this cruel world. The child 's look at her, is what it hurt the most.

Her child was born to her after visiting so many temples and after so many prayers. He was the apple of her eye. He used to follow her holding the end of her sari, whenever she visited the nearby forest to pluck the leaves of the medicine trees, which grew there and watch her grind and give to the sickly poor persons who visited her in search of any cure for their ailments. She used to tell the future of some of her clients.

How happy she was with her husband? It looked just as if it was yesterday when her husband Ram brought to his village. He was quite handsome and hard working. They owned a small plot of land, not much just about three acres. He used to grow vegetables and wheat on their land. He also planted some of the herbal trees for her.

After two summers of marriage people began to talk her as barren. She than went with her husband and performed many pujas (rites performed by the Hindus ) .One of the elders suggested to her to tie a cradle on the banyan tree and circumvent the tree every Friday. To her joy she conceived and her joy knew no bounds.

However destiny started playing in her life. Her healthy husband suddenly took ill. She gave him her medicines. Finding that he became more ill, she took him to hospitals. There they diagnosed him with TB.

She became aware that he was finally dying. One night she dreamt that her husband was dragged away from her by Yama (a black figure riding a buffalo). She has to do something to save her sindoor. (Vermillion applied by Indian women in the parting of their hair to show their married status)

Being a widow is the most tragic part for any Indian woman. Being a witch she found that she could stop her husband dying if she could sacrifice the blood of a child to Goddess Kali (Indian Goddess). She has to somehow retain her sindoor as she cannot treat the sick, as she would lose the respect of the villagers and they would not come to her if she is a widow.

She than decided that she had no option, but to sacrifice her child to please the Goddess. She grinded some sleeping herbs and gave it to the child. She took the sleeping child to the Kali Temple at night. While it lay she cut the head and fell into a swoon.

The next day the villagers found a torso of a child, the head some distances away and a woman’s body near the temple and handed it over to the police.


***
From the author: I am Padma Narayanaswamy an Indian Freelance writer and Journalist. I am Passionate in all genres of writing and I have written a lot of short stories, poems, plays and a film script . I am a middle age lady with two grown up sons. My husband is working in a Bank. I aim to be a successful writer with the help of forums like (FFC 2008) and CC and I am sure I will succeed.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Spring Theme Carnival!

Is it Spring yet where you are? If not, it will be soon and what better time than now to start thinking about March holidays and the start of a bright new season?









Here are a few Spring Holiday Themes to get you thinking:

* Vernal (Spring) Equinox
* Spring Break
* St Patrick's Day
* Easter

Of course, you may have other holidays you're celebrating this month or the changing of the season might be inspiring you to write some other springtime tale. Any seasonally appropriate story is fine for this carnival. And don't forget it's also Women's History Month, so bring on your strong female characters!

Submit your flash fiction piece of 1,000 words or less no later than 10:00pm Friday, March 21 and it'll be posted sometime before the next morning. I'll post stragglers through the weekend of March 22-23 on an ad hoc basis.

If you are posting your story on your own website or blog, send the permalink via EMAIL. If you prefer your story be hosted here, send it as text in the body of an EMAIL and we'll get it posted. Do NOT post links to stories in the comments. If we do not have an email from your email address, we will not post a link to your story. This is a new rule necessitated by our need to confirm that we have full permission of the author to link to and/or post the author's work. This is non-negotiable. No link or story will be posted if the FFC admins cannot confirm its origin. No IP address, no participation. Thanks in advance for your cooperation and understanding.

Now get writing!