Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Muse Wars -- A writing challenge, oh my

So I have a couple of days off from work because I have the good fortune to work for an agency that recognizes Jewish holidays. While my colleagues are passing over (or being passed over) I'm sitting around lazily haunting my favorite blogs. I came across this little writing challenge over on Lori's blog – Muse Wars. A picture was chosen by Menopausal Mumma and the challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction (less than 500 words) based on the photo. Since I'm so terribly un-busy today, I decided to bite.

Warning: I haven't written fiction in way too long (or perhaps not long enough—you be the judge). I wrote in college, published one short story and that was it. A few years later I submitted a piece of flash fiction to a magazine. They accepted it. As I was busily buffing my nails, wondering what was all this whiny fuss about the harrows of getting published, the magazine came and went without my story. I contacted them to ask about this. They wrote back and said: “Oh we're sorry, we sent you that acceptance by mistake.”

I haven't submitted anything since.

I dedicate this story to that magazine.


The man stared at the silhouette of the boat disappearing over the horizon.

“Well shit Timmy. I could have sworn they said to meet us here at 8:00 sharp.”

The warm water washed in over their ankles and out again, pulling at them. Timmy could feel his heels sinking into the sand, feel the sensation of moving backwards while standing still.

Well, no, not here specifically. This cove was too shallow. The ship docked further west. And dinner was at 8:00 sharp. The boat left at 6:30, everyone was supposed to be aboard by 6:00. Timmy had told all this to his father, several times, who of course didn't listen, never listened, which was only one of the reasons he was glad he saw him so infrequently. And now this.

“Look” said the man, “let's find us something to eat. Didn't we see some fruit earlier.” He laughed. “We'll be like, uh, who was it? Robinson Crusoe.” He laughed again. His breathing was shallow. Of all the places, for fuck's sake. An island full of lizards and bug-eyed monkeys. And not a bloody drink in sight.

“They'll do a headcount,” said Timmy. “At dinner. Or in the morning, when they stop at the next island.” Why didn't his father spring for a real cruise, where they spoke English and counted heads?

The man turned and headed back towards the trees. “Come on. It's getting dark. I'm hungry.”

Timmy didn't move. “It's dark already. Shouldn't we go back to the other beach? What if they come back? They'll look for us there.”

“Oh, this is rich.” The man turned around and threw his pack to the ground. “Perhaps I should have just brought your mother. I could have had contrary and caustic. Two for one. Look, are you coming or not?”

Timmy didn't move. He thought it through. If he kept to the beach he could see by the moonlight, could see enough to make his way there. It would take maybe two hours because he would have to move slowly, pick his way in the dark. From this distance he could barely make out the shape of his father against the trees, a dark form blending into the chaos of the jungle behind him.

“Well then, come on.”

And though the man could see him plainly, standing there on the beach, Timmy knew that if he waited a moment longer, until the light faded from the horizon behind him, he wouldn't be able to see his father at all.

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  1. that was good...I was instantly worried about Tommy and disliking his father.

  2. Why didn't little Jimmy do what his Dad told him? Mouthy little upstart, gets it from his Mum by the sound of it.

  3. Brilliant! Loved it. Very twisted, my kinda thing.

    Who sends out freaking acceptance letters by mistake?!?

    Keep writing. Stuff that magazine. you are good.

    Happy PassOver (another one of those American things I really do not understand).

  4. Pull your socks up girl! Two days off, you're supposed to be in a good mood!

    Go Glen!

  5. Oh wow! Great job K. And WTF they turned you down?! Bastards!

  6. Thanks Lori! And, um, Passover. Pssst. Not American. It's a Jewish thing. They do it all over the world, even in *Israel*.

    John, I know, I know, I can't help it. Every time I write fiction it's always dark. Something about the core of my soul showing, probably.

  7. Okay your blog obviously ate my comment. Grumble grumble.

    I'm reposting it. Ony cuz you give a really good blog. What? Your words not mine. Heheh.

    "Oh wow! Great job, K. And WTF they turned you down?! Bastards!!"

  8. OMG that poor KID! what happens next??? (kinda hoping for a big panther to spring out and eat the dad but poor ol Timmy might be traumatised... or not)
    Stupid magazine. Their loss, I say.

  9. Um, what's happening? My blog keeps eating the comments people are leaving. I'm getting email notifications, but nothing is showing up. Bad blog.

  10. Shock Horror! While looking at this post again I saw the "You might also like" spot with your Ad Astra post. I don't remember the Kansas flag covering the important parts of the photo!

    Meaning the Oz flag Mr. xmas...

  11. I like it :) keep writing please! (I'd love to know if Timmy ends up ditching dad or he starts getting drunk on leaf sap :p ) . What a stupid magazine! Their lose! :)

  12. I liked it.... damn the mag for not accepting it. but that itself looks like a fiction ain't it??? But the story has come out good and it makes me think of more....

  13. Welcome to Muse Wars. Well written, the mag was nuts!

  14. Maybe I'm kind of sick, but I thought it was funny - 'Why didn't his father spring for a real cruise, where they spoke English and counted heads?'

    Hee. Well done!

  15. Awesome! Love it!
    I really felt for the boy, he is obviously 100 times smarter than his father. I also admired his calm practicality.
    Silly magazine, their mistake was in not publishing your work.

  16. I happen to work at a place that recognizes Jewish holidays too -- a synagogue! We also get next Monday off. Great work, btw!

  17. Warsaw Mommy, yes, I think I'm incapable of being completely serious.

    Thanks all for your kind words.

    And Brenda, look, your comments finally showed up. Hours later. Bizarre.

  18. Hey kbxmas - glad you could join us in the Muse Wars, the more the merrier. Love your take on the photo - Go Timmy, stand up to the man who should be a father and is obviously not. Hope you continue to join in the MW as I have really enjoyed this. Oh - that magazine was obviously run by morons. xxx

  19. You, my dear, have a bucket load of talent.

  20. Kristin, I've been having the exact same problem with comments. They just go to the pub for a few hours, me thinks (especially Brenda's).

    I am looking for your button to put on my blog. I know you have one. WHERE IS IT??!

  21. My button? You mean like the elusive bloggy G spot?

  22. That's the one. With the the blog name on it, and the bridge you PhotoShopped in. That links back to you. I'm sure I've seen it somewhere. Or was that in an alternate universe? I'm trying to promote you, cause you're like, one of my favorite blogs. No need to be bloody difficult, woman.

  23. Oh how I wish wish wish I could write fiction. Actually, I wish wish wish I could really write anything (well).
    I liked it very much!!

  24. sorry it's taken me so blooming long to comment. This post has been open on my computer pretty much since you posted it, waiting for me to have enough time to think up an intelligent comment.

    So, as that's never going to happen (do you know how long it would take me to come up with something intelligent) can I just say that I really like this and you should write some more. Please.

  25. I looked at the picture, innocently thinking, "Ah, how sweet, father and son." Then your writing took me in an entirely unexpected direction. And I enjoyed the ride!

  26. Beautiful!!!!!!!!! Complex. Interesting.

  27. I have loved finding your blog after you started following mine. To that end I have left you an award on my blog.



Mmmm, comments - nom, nom, nom, nom!


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