10/18/19

For Your Enjoyment: Friday Flash Fiction #1 | 10-18-19


There are hundreds upon hundreds of journals out there publishing fantastic writing, and it's impossible to read everything. I'm not collecting every great piece, just some. Good reads. Good, quick reads. For this first issue I'm focusing on microfiction and the very shortest end of flash fiction, cutting off around 250 words. Enjoy the hint fiction, micro fiction, flash fiction, sudden fiction, whatever you want to call them, and maybe try your hand at some of the exercises.




Johnnys On The Half Shell
by Mark Pearson

Salty winds stung his scowling face as he reviewed the Dear John Snapchat, the shore pines resolute before the cliff. A dark blue seascape beckoned 20 fathoms below. Jump, said the purple starfish on the inter-tidal rocks, basking in the cool sun. Don’t you have enough smartphones? asked the seal. Not an iPhone X with a charged battery, said the echinoderm. Dibs on his eyes, said the crab, clinging to the barnacle covered basalt, seaweed hanging like long green Jheri curls. You Cancers are all the same, said the Octopus. The cephalopod flashed JUSTDOIT in red letters across his body.
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Originally published in the newest issue of Micro Fiction Monday Magazine (88).
There's much to admire about this piece. I like the surreal world of the sea life with the starfish collecting phones and a rivalry between octopus and crab. The new tech version of the same old goodbye it's over letter, and some good nature description sprinkled in with the humor. It also has that second layer dipping into the mindset of someone suicidal, in that moment, seeing signs to do it everywhere.

Micro Fiction Monday Magazine is a monthly magazine of micro fiction only (100 words or fewer). They are a very eclectic journal, barring extreme experimentation perhaps, but 100 words is a very short space, and their stories are very varied.

Potential exercise: Write a short piece in which a person in turmoil begins to see signs everywhere in nature (perhaps exploring the idea of signs themselves, and how perspective comes into play).


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Rehearsal
by Thomas Michael Duncan

Turns out there’s always work for a corpse. I’m talking movies, TV, emopunk music videos, texting-and-driving commercials, crime scene reenactments, all that jazz. If you’ve turned on your cable box in the last month, you’ve seen me dead. Most of my appearances are in the first two minutes of police dramas. Sometimes the script calls for me to be naked, washed up on a beach with seaweed in my hair. Sometimes I play a woman corpse; they position me facedown, shave my back, and put a red curly wig on my head. Open casket scenes are best because I wear a clean suit and coffins are lined with satin. More often I’m discovered in a dumpster, bloody with shackle bruises on my ankles and wrists, or bunched up and stuffed into a front loader at an abandoned laundromat. I get really into my parts. I can keep my eyes open for almost an hour without blinking. I can breathe for a whole day without expanding my chest cavity. When I’m dead, I think dead people thoughts, like what year is it? and where am I buried? and how many ounces in a pint? I block out my surroundings so well that I don’t always come back to life when the scene ends. If this happens, the production assistant dumps a glass of water over my head. That usually does the trick. Last fall I costarred with Dwayne Johnson. It was during his Dwayne Johnson phase. I played his dead brother. DJ cradled me in his gorilla arms and cried and shook like a paint can mixer at Home Depot. I acted dead. DJ didn’t stop crying until after lunch. My agent says I’m the most convincing corpse he’s ever seen, and he’s seen actual corpses. Auditions can be tough—the competition is stiff. Sorry. That’s an industry joke. But really, casting is uncomfortable. The directors shout at me, kick me, call me names, eat plates of linguine off my back. But I am dead as a dinosaur. They usually apologize after. My girlfriend decided we should try role playing, but she always wanted me to play the same part. We broke up. It was mutual. Now I have the apartment to myself so I can rehearse whenever I like. I play loud music and leave all the widows open and door unlocked and shower running in hopes that someone will discover me. That’s my one fantasy. It would be the absolute height of my career to be mistaken for a corpse by a pedestrian. I imagine being declared dead, fooling even the coroner. I would remain in character until the first shovel of dirt hit the mahogany.

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Originally published in Conium Review and was a finalist for their 2016 prize. This piece was featured on their online compendium. I was intrigued by the unusual occupation, which carries you through the piece with quirky, believable details. The confessional nature of the piece is also compelling, with the little fourth wall break for an admittedly cheesy joke. 

Conium Review is a quirky print journal with an online component that, in their words: "publishes innovative writing. We lean toward unconventional plots, bizarre settings, and experimental language. Get weird with it."

Potential exercise: Write a short piece which is a person telling the reader about their interesting job. Not what I'm suggesting, but the concept does remind me of the story "Orientation" by Daniel Orozco.

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#20 
by Brendan Connolly

at a bar in brooklyn late at night, a woman taps me on the shoulder and asks if she heard me correctly, that i/d seen hamilton twice? 

i had made a joke to jackie the woman overheard and apparently she took it very seriously

well, i say, only once really. the second time tom brought giselle and the kids, but they started crying and we had to leave early

excuse me, she says, tom and giselle?

yeah, i say sipping my beer casually, my cousin tom. you might know him, tom brady?

on the subway back to her apartment, jackie leans her head against my shoulder and i can see her reflection in the glass across the car

you know, she says closing her eyes, in the whole time i/ve lived here, i dont think i/ve ever seen someone so likely to be stabbed for a good reason



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Originally published in the first issue of Chestnut Review this micro fiction is the story of a good date told in two snippets. The first one shows a person being a smart ass, something very relatable to a lot of writers, or, at least this one, and of the couple riding the subway home, the 'she' resting her head on the narrator's shoulder and closing her eyes—a definitive gesture of closeness and comfort, I'd recommend that whole issue, it's short and filled with good stuff.

Chestnut Review is a promising young journal with just one short issue, and one issue hot off the digital presses so far, but it is very solid. I get a nice vibe from their aesthetic, many of the pieces falling under the wide umbrella of Ultra-Talk or Stand-Up Poetry, accessible, often somewhat personal, narrative-based with some wit. My kinda writing!

Potential exercise: Write a short piece which tells the story of the relationship between two people (romantic or otherwise) in two very short, very telling scenes which are at least 1/3 dialog, more like 1/2 being ideal.

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La Gorda
by Nick Mansito

Help me move this dresser to clean behind it.

Why? No one’s gonna see back there.

She looked at me like I had three heads.

No one’s gonna see your ass, but you still wash it, right?

I was seven. Her anger, a flashbang. I braced for the beating. Behind us, the TV reported another child abduction and murder in Hialeah.

If someone grabs you, you yell and scratch his face, dig your fingers into his eyes like nails.

She painfully got down on one knee. Eye-to-eye: And squeeze his nuts. She mimed the action, her hand holding the world.


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Originally published in 100 Word Story this micro fiction shows a glimpse into the complexity of parenting. Where the parent won't shy from dealing out a beating, the thought of someone else harming their child (and to be fair, murder is hardly comparable to a 'whooping' in terms of severity, but the violence exists in both) pushes the mom into momma grizzly mode. The nature of family and other, survival being the intention of the beatings after all.

100 Word Story is a fun journal where each story has to be exactly 100 words. In their words 
The 100-word format forces the writer to question each word, to reckon with Flaubert’s mot juste in a way that even most flash fiction doesn’t. At the same time the brevity of the form allows the writer “to keep a story free from explanation,” as Walter Benjamin wrote. For life doesn’t lend itself so easily to our elucidations. “Incoherence is preferable to a distorting order,” said Roland Barthes. None of us will ever know the whole story in other words. We can only collect a bag full of shards that each seem perfect.

Potential exercise: Write a short piece which tells the story of the relationship between two people (romantic or otherwise) in two very short, very telling scenes which are at least 1/3 dialog, more like 1/2 being ideal.

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