While poetry has been my main focus for a while now, lately I’ve been getting the itch to flex my prose muscles. Each form has its own distinct joys and there’s no better exercise than to tinker around with them all. Poetry involves a very meticulous, defined process, where each individual word must be evaluated for its contribution to the overall meaning of the poem, whereas with prose I think there’s more room for explanations, details, and emphasizing themes on a broader scale. Flash Fiction has captured my attention at the moment as a curious blending of certain elements of both poetry and prose, due to its short length requirement (even shorter than short stories) which prompts the writer to tell a story quickly, to pack a punch and get out of there without any extra fuss, much like poetry.
Nonetheless, a writer should be versatile and willing to experiment with all forms before committing to any one in particular. I have a lot of playing around to do still, but I thought perhaps my readers would enjoy a glimpse at my attempts beyond poetry. The following is a recently completed Flash Fiction story that I like, and perhaps you will, too 🙂
“She stuck her phone right in my hand,” I was saying to Grady, pissed off about some girl who’d been only too damn eager to share her weak poetry with me. He had his mouth full of pretzels, but it wasn’t like I needed his half-hearted mumbles of sympathy anyway.
“I mean seriously,” I continue, “I’m sitting there telling Mike I wasn’t gonna critique no more of his stuff, and she just puts her phone in my hand and makes me read her crap about how time goes by too fast, keeps saying ‘tick tock, tick tock’ over and over again. I’m tellin’ ya Grady, you should’ve been there. I about couldn’t keep myself from dying, I was so sad.”
Grady’s got about twelve seconds of air between each mouthful, and just now he uses it to try to give me some perspective.
“Least you got away, y’know? Ain’t like you hafta deal with Lana day in and day out.”
Lana’s his girlfriend. They don’t bang anymore, and they’re both pretty bitter about it. But seeing as they’ve been together for eons and I’ve already heard all the griping I can stand from both sides, I don’t see how it has to do with me and my story about this crazy girl.
“Yeah but get this, it gets even better. She tells me she’s gonna record it, like at an open mic or in a big hall with echoes and stuff, and she wants there to be a gunshot sound at the end of it.”
I’m looking at him now like I’m waiting for him to suddenly understand how outrageous this girl is, but he just smiles like I told him some little amusing tidbit like she picks the raisins out of her cereal. I let out a sigh and grin back.
“Ok, fine, I get it. Guess you had to be there. So what’s ol’ Lana been giving you trouble about lately, anything new?”
And he starts telling me but by now I know I don’t really have to listen, just nod and grunt every now and then. Anyways I’m still pretty fired up about that girl, and since I know Grady’s not going to be any help I’m just left to stew about it in my own head. I mean, some nerve, right? She had no idea, other than Mike showing me his dumb poem, that I was any kind of person worth sharing anything with. And she just hands it over, wanting some sort of approval or compliment or whatever, and goes on about the presentation. The presentation, I mean geez, she didn’t even know how awful her poem was, and to lay it on a stranger to tell it to her straight and ruin her gunshot dreams of glory… I just never can see how some people can function.
I stir out of my pondering a little, enough to notice that Grady’s looking real worried right about now, so I do a little conversation maintenance and quick piece together what he’s been telling me about. Lana’s been working extra-long hours lately and he suspects it’s because she doesn’t want to come home. He thinks she might not even be at work. I’m peeling him off the ceiling because I know what he needs to hear, but I can’t help slipping back into my reverie.
I just can’t get over that she didn’t know. Out of all the strangers in this world, all the people who haven’t been busting their asses to have some kind of integrity as a writer, all the people more able to put on a smile and tell a friendly fib for the sake of someone’s feelings, why did it have to be me? And even more concerning, how could someone be that wrapped up in themselves not to know that people have enough burdens not to be bothered with everyone else’s?
I figure I had better stop thinking by that look on Grady’s face again. I reassure him that it’s probably just his anxiety blowing things out of proportion.
“Y’know, the anxiety that makes you eat a whole bag of pretzels without stopping?” I smirk, watching in amusement as he stares down at the empty bag, one chubby hand still in it. He smacks his lips in salty discomfort.
“I could use a drink…”
I laugh. I could use one too, so I gesture over to St. Peter’s, where many a night we’ve spent drinking our thoughts away, where mine have never stopped but usually get a little more room to play. I’m sure that horrible poetry girl will stick with me at least for tonight.