French kiss.

Below is a brief scene I wrote last year. I’m not sure if I planned on going somewhere with it or simply letting it stand alone as a snippet of a character’s personality, but I decided to post it as is.

 

“You know French?!” she exclaimed, eyes lighting up. He, who would have otherwise been out of her notice, had sparked her interest. She amused herself with the idea of a new conquest.

“Yeah,” he answered, “I took six years of it.”

“I’m so jealous. I’m only in my second semester of French. But,” she gave an alluring smile, “I am studying abroad in France this summer.”

“Wow, really? That’s amazing! I’d love to go to France.”

“You’ll have to come visit me while I’m there then.” She smirked.

* * * * *

“So,” she began pointedly, “say something to me in French. I’m sure yours is far superior to mine.”

“Um,” he paused to think. “Okay… Je voudrais dormir.”

“You want to go to bed?!” she scoffed and playfully slapped his arm with the back of her hand.

“It was the first thing that came to mind!” He laughed and pulled the blanket tighter around himself. “And, it is really late.”

“You’re so lame.” She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms in feigned offense. After an exaggerated sigh, she leaned in a little and ran a hand through her hair. “How about… tu veux m’embrasser instead?”

His eyebrows raised instinctively at this, and in an amused voice, he responded, “Peut-être.”

She smiled and held his gaze for a moment. “I’m going to go get us some more drinks,” she suddenly declared, pushing the blanket off herself and moving to stand.

 

 

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Winter, A Piece of Flash Fiction

I found this image online this evening and decided to write a bit of flash fiction using it as inspiration. Everything was going well when I realized something. I was writing something very closely related to another story I had started once but never finished. Realizing this, I went with it.

Fortunately, I happened to have this other story on my laptop (which I didn’t own at the time of its composition). Normally I don’t share my older writing, but I thought it was kind of interesting how a previous plot of mine had come creeping back into my brain. So I’ve decided to share both works.

The first link is the piece I wrote this evening; the second is the start of a story I began over two years ago and haven’t really touched since. I hadn’t even formally named it; I saved the document as simply ‘Winter.’ I imagine the newer work could be a scene that occurs as part of the same story as the first piece, just later on (and, of course, skipping a bunch of stuff).

Read them in whichever order you desire.

Flash Fiction 10.3.12

Winter

Whitman’s “Beginning My Studies”

While reading a PDF selection titled “How to Read a Poem” for my English 340 / Studies in Poetry course, I came across something that caused me to have an epiphany of sorts.

Walt Whitman’s poem “Beginning My Studies” was one of twenty-six he wrote to introduce his major work, a single book he had been working on his whole life.

The feeling he describes in this poem, the feeling of loving the idea of just starting out so much that he does not want to move forward, is exactly how I feel when I start working on a new story. Perhaps this is why I have difficulty completing what I hope would become novels. When inspiration strikes, I absolutely love sitting down with my laptop to begin typing out a new idea. It’s moving past that beginning I have trouble with, and this must be because I “linger with pleasure over the ecstatic beginning.”

Short Story: The Haze

Writing “The Haze”

“The Haze” is one of those stories that turned out completely different than I expected or had initially planned. When I first started writing this story, I was dealing with a potential plot far too large to rein in for the acceptable length of a short story. I had plenty of ideas; I just didn’t have enough time or space to utilize them. With that in mind, I’d like to think of the final product as almost a ‘Part One’ to the story. I left the ending almost open-ended intentionally; while the story does have a conclusion that can be left as is, I could very well see myself coming back to this world and these characters to continue telling about their journey.

This story changed a lot throughout the writing and editing process. I had multiple scenes in my mind that I planned on using, but as I wrote, the story went in another direction. I even came up with a subplot involving the narrator’s father, but short stories just aren’t long enough to have that much going on. As for the scenes that only ever played out in my head and never made it to the page: when I wrote, I didn’t always know what was going to happen next in my story; I sort of just let my characters do what they wanted and behave how I thought they would. Everything ended up coming together pretty well in the end, and I’m happy with how it turned out.

It’s crazy how much of a writer’s own life unintentionally seeps into her writing. As “The Haze” developed further, I realized a lot of it was quite similar to my life, especially the familial relationships. I certainly didn’t set out to do this intentionally other than using a female college student for a narrator. I specifically gave the narrator a younger brother instead of a sister to differentiate the story from my own life a little, but still, resemblances abound.

Of course, in my actual life, there isn’t a harmful new virus running rampant. Being a huge fan of science fiction, the supernatural, the magical, the “weird,” and anything post-apocalyptic, I wanted my short story to exist in a world different from the norm. Indeed, my characters could exist in a normal world – their own world starts out just like ours before the spread of the virus – and none of them have any supernatural abilities, but my story still includes an element similar to those of the previously mentioned genres. Around the time I started “The Haze,” I had just started watching AMC’s The Walking Dead, if that provides any insight to my creative state of mind. Though I was inspired by this show and other popular stories, I didn’t want to write something completely typical of the genre.

I really enjoyed developing my characters, Jenessa and Isaac especially, and had fun coming up with the plot overall. Writing puts me in the same state of mind as reading a really good book does – it’s not necessarily a “high,” but when I take a break, I experience the feeling of another life lingering in my mind, a little bit like waking up from a very vivid dream. Perhaps I will write a ‘Part Two’ to “The Haze” this summer.

And here is the finished product:
THE HAZE

Repurposed Art: The Gardener and the Pianist


For my repurposed art project, I chose to translate a piece of artwork I did in high school into a piece of flash fiction. This piece, which can also be seen on my artwork page, is made entirely of white charcoal pencil on black paper. So the process of creating this was completely opposite to that of a normal charcoal; instead of shading and adding pigment, I had to work by taking away darkness. In writing this short piece of fiction, I simply used the room from my drawing as inspiration for part of the setting and let my creativity run wild. It is meant to be a portion of the room Mirabelle – and eventually Elijah – occupies.
The actual content of the drawing doesn’t so much have to do with the story I’ve come up with, but it was my source of inspiration. Also, if this is of any interest to anyone, I listened to Evanescence while I wrote (i.e. the dark melodies of the piano).
My flash fiction piece, The Gardener and the Pianist, can be viewed on my repurposed art page. I hope you enjoy it! :)

Rachel.

A Response to Byers’ ‘Shipmates Down Under’

Okay, so I’m not sure if we were supposed to respond to this short story or not, but I thought I would take a second to talk about how much I liked Michael Byers’ Shipmates Down Under. I was hooked after less than the first page – I think the characters’ odd language (“bluh,” “mumph,” etc.) was part of the intrigue.

Byers gives the reader a look into an average family’s life, but in an interesting way. Part of the tension going on definitely has to do with their daughter, Nadia, being sick, but a lot of it already exists between the narrator and his wife. At first I got a sense that Alvin liked his son, Ted, more than his daughter and kind of resented both Nadia and his wife, Harriet. This alone was enough to make me keep reading; I wanted to know more about these characters’ relationships. Toward the end, however, the narrator seemed to care about both his children – it was just Harriet causing problems.

Obviously, a lot is left open in this story. We don’t know if Alvin and Harriet work things out. We never figure out what exactly caused Nadia to get so sick. We never discover – and I was particularly interested in this – why they say those made-up words. But none of this really matters. Byers has used his story to look at certain problems families may encounter, particularly between husband and wife. His characters are certainly believable, and I, as the reader, saw Alvin’s perspective and took his side – but Byers allows the readers to do this in such a way that they don’t necessarily see Harriet as the bad guy.

The characters themselves were all very interesting and not the norm or the expected. The entire family was a bit strange, but in a good way. Byers gains reader interest not by having a spectacular, earth-shattering plot, but by creating characters the reader is interested to know more about. I would definitely read another story about Alvin, Harriet, Ted, and Nadia… or perhaps just another story by Byers in general.