Flash Fiction: An Irish Tale

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 7.18.18 PM(FLASH FICTION)

I wondered where the coins came from, littering the garden grounds as if strewn with a high wind.  Shiny, each one of them, they were hard to miss even partially obscured by the fresh earth that was clumped from recent spring rains.

I bent over to pick one up, noticing the edges were crisp as if never before handled.

There was something unusual about it still…the weight of it, heavier than what I’d expected.  Studying the imprint closely, I was curious about the image it carried, unlike any presidential image I’d ever seen.  Peculiar, really…whose face was it?

Curious, I bent over to pick up another one, tucked below the thickening stems of my hollyhocks, which were in their winters rest.  It was identical to the first, so I deposited them both into the pocket of my spring sweater, buttoned loosely to protect me from the chill still lingering in the springtime air.

I walked along, eyes downward now as I bent to collect more of these unusual coins.  In all, more than two dozen of them, each in perfect condition, except for the bit of dirt still clinging as I lifted them from the garden soil.  They weighted my pockets so heavily that I worried a hole would evolve.  To avoid ruining my favorite sweater, I returned indoors to fetch a jar from my artist studio, then carefully counted as I dropped each individual coin inside.  29 coins filled the green glass mason jar, emanating the rich color of amber from within.

Setting the jar on the windowsill where I could continue to study it as I perched on my stool and sipped some freshly brewed hot tea, a sudden shadow caught my vision in the garden view beyond.  I glanced up immediately to see who it might be coming up the garden path so quietly that the dogs didn’t make a peep to greet them.

But I saw no one.  Standing now, I moved closer to the window so I could sweep the curtains aside and really take a thorough look.  No one was there.  So I sat back down on my stool, wondering if it had only been my imagination.  And an idea came to mind.  I moved over to my easel and flipped the sheets of art paper to one that was clean and fresh. Using a charcoal crayon, I began to sketch.  For over an hour, I worked carefully but confidently, knowing that the picture taking shape before me was taking on a life of its own.  When at last it was completed, I sat back quietly.  Mumbling to myself, which was often my habit, I wondered how this particular image could have possibly come to mind so quickly.

The light outside was fading now, so I placed a protective cotton sheet over my easel to keep prying eyes away.  My neighbor was notorious for intruding on my time, pressing to see my latest work.  He irritated the hell out of me…nosey, that’s what he was.  Showing up at all hours, unannounced, pushy.  Using pretense like “I was just out walking and thought you might like this bouquet of wild daisies I picked for you” or “The mailman placed some of your mail into my box by mistake” which I knew was a damn lie.  I’ve seen him snooping inside my mailbox only so he can pull something out and then claim it was in his box by mistake.  He was a nuisance, that one.

I glanced at the windowsill again wondering about those shiny coins.  Where had they come from?  No matter, they would be of conversational interest tomorrow when Irene stopped by for her usual weekly visit.  Nothing new ever went unnoticed by my daughter.

As I prepared my supper, a noise from outside got the dogs to barking.  It seemed something had fallen over out there…something that fell with a racket and a thud.

I opened the door to take a look.  On the steps before me was a heavy black cauldron, about the size of my stew pot.  Off to the side was a single black shoe, with a sharply pointed toe and a big gold buckle.  ‘What in the world?’ I wondered.

Just as I was about to lean over for a closer look, I was startled by a high-pitched cough coming from behind me.  I whirled around quickly and was stunned to see the exact same face I had just sketched out earlier in the day, standing just inches away from the top of my knee.

“Don’t touch that!  It belongs to me!” said the tiny little man, wearing a bizarrely green suit.  He couldn’t have been more than two feet tall, and I had no idea where he’d come from.  I was speechless, trying to get a grip on my senses.

“And where’s my gold?  I know you have it…because it fell right here…in your garden, so don’t try to play smart with me, missy!”

I gasped and took a step back.  My heart was racing as I tried to think clearly.  Was I having a dream?

“Snap out of it, will you?!  I want my gold!  And, if I don’t get it, I won’t grant you any wishes!”

Wishes?  What wishes?  What was going on here?  Where’d this little man come from?  Who WAS he? My silence only enraged him further.

“Oh for cryin’ out loud…It’s St. Patty’s Day, you dimwit!  Give me my gold and I’ll give you your wishes…and hurry up about it!  I’ve got places to go…people to meet!”

Completely freaked, I ran to the windowsill and grabbed the green mason jar.  I shoved the jar forward…to this odd little man who grabbed it so hard the coins rattled loudly as they threatened to spill over.

“Take it!” I hissed. “I don’t want your wishes.  Just go back to where ever it is you came from…and leave me alone!”

Choosing his words carefully, he said “The rainbow.  That’s where I came from…the other side of the rainbow.  Don’t you know anything?

And in an instant he was gone.  I couldn’t tell you how he was gone…only that he disappeared along with my mason jar and the 29 gold coins, leaving behind the odd looking shoe and the black cauldron.  I carefully picked those up and took them out to the trash.  As I dropped them inside the canister, I heard my neighbor.  “Nice evening, isn’t it?!  Hey…was that the shoe that matches the one I found earlier?  With a gold buckle and pointy toe?  Why, there was a shoe on my doorstep early this morning, and I wondered where it’d come from.  I had no idea your feet were so small!  Why, you’re just a real mystery now, aren’t you?!”

I’ve got to stop drinking that green beer… please, please let this be just another bad dream.

Holiday Yahoo: more flash fiction

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Write a story about a yahoo:  a hooligan, noisy loutish individual.


I could hear the revelry the moment I stepped out of my car.  The house seemed to be pulsating even from the road. I watched my step, being careful not to lose my footing on the ice underfoot.  The wind was so brisk I had to pull my wool scarf up closer around my neck as I found my way along the frozen sidewalk to the address I was looking for.  It struck me as silly to even be looking for the house number…just the pulsation alone was enough to tell me which house I was looking for.  Well, that and the holiday lights.  The front door had a massive wreath, likely hanging from an equally massive door-knocker that was obscured behind it.

The holiday lights hanging from the eves above glittered and strobed, changing colors faster than I could change breaths. I carefully climbed the three steps to the front door, slipping just a bit on the final step and looked around for a doorbell. Easy to find, since the entire place was bathed in a bright white spotlight emanating from a source behind me and carefully placed to hone in on that door wreath. Glancing back over my shoulder, it was blinding. The intensity surely was meant for the aide of flying saucers taking their first pass over this particular galaxy.

I’d had enough standing around already, so I simply let myself in.  Both the warmth and the noise were astounding from this side of the door.  Partiers were crammed together like sardines in a tin.  Clearly, I was behind schedule.  Squirming out of my coat as I worked my way through the crowd, beyond the living room and on into the kitchen, I realized there were hardly any familiar faces.

When at last I broke through to a pocket of air that was just large enough for me to gather my coat, scarf and gloves in a manner where I would no longer have to worry about losing them, I glanced around for the hostess.  I was certain she’d be in the kitchen.  All good hostesses are, no matter how well organized, how well mannered, how well put together they may seem.  It’s inevitable.  The hostess ends up in the kitchen…that’s just the way it IS.

“Hey! Look who’s here!” I spun around to see whose drunken voice that was screaming in my ear.

“Hi” I said.  I had no clue who this guy was.

“What took ya so long? You been holdin’ out on me?” he slurred.  Wide eyed, I just stared at him.  He was wobbling, and his cocktail was sloshing about which accounted for the saturated napkin that was pressed beneath it.

“Do I know you?” I asked.  Although why I even spoke is beyond me.  I already KNEW I didn’t know this guy…a total stranger.  And, by the looks of him, a total dork.  His pants were too short, his red Christmas vest looked like his uncle’s from several centuries ago, still retaining the old food stains that marinated in mothballs over the decades, and his tie was horrific.  Was that really a reindeer getting it on with…? Oh lordy, look AWAY!

“C’mon, Babe!  You remember me, don’t ya?  Sure, sure you do.  We met last year…at, let’s see, at…well, you remember, right?  C’mon, babe, let’s get you a drinkie…you’re waaaaaay behind now!”

As he leaned in, I backed away and did an about-face. I quickly immersed myself  into the crowd.  Still toting my coat, gloves and scarf, I headed out the same way I’d come in.  Pushing my way between conversations with “Excuse me.  Excuse me.  I’m sorry.  Excuse me.”  Finally, I broke through to the front door.  Just as I was getting my coat back on, I heard what sounded like a shrill scream.

“Let GO of me, you bastard! You’re DRUNK!”  I could see her…glaring at him as he stumbled along in his attempt to stay upright.  Quickly I pulled on my gloves, adjusted my scarf and yanked open the front door.

“Claire!  Where you going?! You just got here!”  It was the elusive hostess, slithering out from the mob.

“Oh, I’m sorry.  I’ve just gotten a call from work…I can’t stay, but it looks like a really fun time. Let’s grab coffee one day next week.”

“Work?  This time of night?” she asks suspiciously.

“Yes.  You know, patients are still sick, even after 5 p.m.”

“You’re a dermatologist!  You’re never on call,” she insists.

“Well, sometimes I am.  And tonight, Dr. Yahoo sent a clear message that I needed to leave here pronto.  Happy Holidays!”


Crisis theme: Flash Fiction (in-class assignment)

Picture 3Recently I’ve joined a small writing group (just 5 of us along with the instructor) that meets every two weeks or so.  It’s been really fun trying my hand with a different genre of writing (fiction) and I’ve already learned that I need to stop thinking so much and just go with it.  Of course, it certainly helps that the other participants are incredibly gifted writers, most of them published, and many of them with multiple books out there.   I think I’m the first ‘newbie’ to join this group in a long while, so I’m especially thankful they’ve allowed me to join them.  Maybe some of you might enjoy these exercises as well…it’s good to stretch the brain in different directions, don’t you think?

IN-CLASS  ASSIGNMENT:  Write a story with a developing crisis, with these sentences in order (2 to 3 minutes writing time between sentences):

I got back to the house just as…

The house seemed to…

I sat silently for…

I thought distractedly of a…


I got back to the house just as she was packing her bags.  “Where do you think you’re going to go?” I asked.

“Anywhere but here.  It’s too dangerous.  He’s everywhere, I can feel him watching me.”

“If you think he’s watching your every move, what makes you think he won’t just follow you to your next stop?”

“Because I’ve chartered a private plane. It’s going to fly me to another major airport across the country.  And from there I’m boarding a commercial flight, so he’ll have no idea where I’ve gone.”

I just stared at her.  Even though I’d sat down the minute she grabbed her empty suitcase, I wasn’t able to keep my right leg from jittering .  This whole situation was giving me the willies.

The house seemed to stop breathing.  She was folding shirts and pants, tossing them into her massive suitcase that would surely weigh well over the 50 pound limit.  But, then again, on a private charter, there’s probably no weight limit at all.   I could hear water gurgling through the baseboards, and was relieved to know that the chill in the room might be somewhat alleviated when the heat got ramped up.

 I sat silently for another few minutes…still watching her as she scrambled around through her closet, the drawers of her bureau, and then in and out of the bathroom.  I watched as headlights ran across the wall, likely our neighbor coming home from work.  Then, a car door slamming.

 “Oh my God!  Do you think that’s him?” she said.  She ran to her purse and pulled out her Sig Sauer.  She checked the chamber and attached the clip.  I thought distractedly of a newspaper headline that would read “Woman kills stalker dead as he breaks down the front door”.

“Oh for cryin’ out loud”, I said.  “Put that thing away.  It’s just the neighbor coming home from work”.  But she was already at the window, having pulled at the side of the drape just enough so she could see.

“He’s coming up the sidewalk!  It’s not the neighbor.  He’s coming up the sidewalk!” In a panic she ran into the hallway and took position at the top of the stairs…where she had a clear shot if he came through that door.

 “Calm down!” I hissed.  “That could be anyone…let me at least see who it is.”

“NO!” she screamed.  “It’s HIM …I know it is!”  We could hear the door handle creak.  We both stood absolutely still as we watched it turn.

GOLF! (Flash Fiction)

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT: Using dialogue, write a 5 minute (1 to 2 page) essay that begins with something true but quickly becomes fictional.


As we walked down the first fairway, I was pondering my tee shot.  Had I left all my skills on the driving range?  Was it pointless to practice beforehand? It seemed so.  As I lugged my clubs along, I was noticeably quiet, or at least my husband thought so.

“How’s your cold?” he asked.

“About the same, and not to blame for that lousy drive off the tee” I responded without glancing over at him.  His drive was straight down the middle of the fairway and hundreds of yards further out than my short and wonky shot.

My yellow neon ball was off in the knee-high weeds somewhere to our left, and as I approached the general vicinity, I veered off to take a look.  Figuring it was likely unfindable, I’d already put a spare ball in my pocket ready to drop and hit if need be.  I grabbed my 7 iron and used it to bat the growth out of my way, while leaning down towards ground level to get a better look.  It was not only tough to see below all this stuff, it was also very damp.  With each step I took, I could feel the moisture seeping around the soles of my golf shoes.  I took a few more steps in, carefully placing my feet so that I could avoid anything that looked obviously muddy.

“Let me help look” I heard him say.

“It’s a goner, I think.  I’ll just hit another one.”  But instead I continued to use my 7 iron to push weeds from side to side, looking for that wildly belligerent golf ball.  I hate losing golf balls more than recording a double digit on a hole.

As I worked my way along, I finally stepped back out onto the edge of the fairway.  I dug the spare out of my pocket.

“Found it!”  I looked around me to see where my husband was.  “Over here!” he yelled.

I looked back behind me and there in the middle of the weeds, he was bending over to retrieve my ball. But instead of coming up with it, he stood back up and looked at me.  “It’s hittable,” he said.

“Huh? Isn’t it out of bounds there?”

“Of course, but since you don’t keep score anyhow, it’s hittable.  These are the kinds of shots that are fun to practice…if you get yourself in trouble when you ARE keeping score, you’ll be more confident hitting the trickier shots if you’ve practiced on weird ones like this.”

I stared at him for a moment.  Okay, fine.  I pulled my pitching wedge, my 9 iron and my 8 iron from my bag, and I hung onto the 7 iron too.  Until I was literally standing over that ball, I wasn’t sure which club I’d want to use.

I picked my way over to where he was, noticing that my socks were now absorbing the mud that was already seeping over onto my shoes.  There was really no way to avoid it, no matter how carefully I placed my feet.

He backed off as I approached.  When I got to the ball, I studied it a moment.  He was right…it was hittable.  There was just enough space around it to get a club head in there…but it was also very muddy so I’d have to be careful not to drive it in further…or just pop it up and land it a few inches away, maybe to be lost forever.

“Hold these.” I said, as I gave him three of my clubs.  I kept the 7.

“The 7 isn’t steep enough to clear the weeds,” he said. “Use your pitch.  It has to pop out high”

“The pitch will pop it up, but it’s gonna leave it well short.  I’ll just bury it again in a new crappy spot”.  He gave me that expression…the one I know so well.  The one that says ‘I’ve played this game my entire life.  Don’t be stupid.’

I gave him my own look.  The one he knows so well. The one that says ‘I hear you, but I’m doing it my way.’

I carefully got into position, placing each foot so that the ball lay squarely in the middle of my stance.  I took hold of my 7 iron, and glanced at my husband.  “Heads up,” I said calmly.

I gently placed the club head into position.  Deciding I might need to blast it with a launch normally reserved for rocket ships, I bent my right knee ever so slightly to give me more leverage in my swing.  Without further ado, I worked that club as I’d never done before, driving the ball like a bullet out of the mud with a ceremonious spray for my cheering squad.

“JESUS!” I heard.

“Where’d it go?” I asked.   I couldn’t see it, but because it wasn’t still sitting where I’d last seen it, I assumed it’d gotten airborne. My husband ran to watch the landing, having first to clamber through the weeds to get out to the fairway. By the time I got back out there myself, my feet were soaked, my shoes ruined.  I squinted to see how far my ball had gone.  I couldn’t see it.  “Where’d it go?” I asked.

He was just shaking his head, with that other look I know so well.  The one that hates to admit that occasionally I can do things my way, and it all turns out okay.

Walking along side by side once again, I soon spotted my ball. It was not only out of the crap, it was well down the fairway, coming to rest in a sliver of sunshine…and just a few feet short of his own stellar drive off the tee.

“Where’s the scorecard?”  I asked.


That was a fun writing assignment.  And, yes…it was fictional (well, except for the golf and the hubby part. Good thing my hubby has a sense of humor!)  Writing fiction is a good challenge for me and forces me to use my imagination.  Even more challenging is to come up with a fictional story QUICKLY.   Now there’s a skill that remains elusive.  I’m participating in a new writing group that meets a few times each month…primary focus is fiction.  This has been a good thing for me, but beginning in January I will be pushing even harder on my memoir project with the goal to have it COMPLETED (and COMPLETELY completed) by June 2014.  I’m so excited to be working with Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers, who will be coaching me throughout the next six months.  Finally, the HOME STRETCH!  It may never see the light of day for publication, but quite honestly that’s never been my objective in the first place (for background, you’ll need to read my post titled ‘About being a writer‘).  Simply having my memoir completed will finally put the past back into the past, where I’d kept it emotionally locked up for decades. Until something unexpected happened that blew the lock wide open…