I am back from New York City (from the National Writing Project Annual Meeting) and I will share more about what I was doing there in NYC, and whom I met, later in the week as I pull together some files and thoughts. (I will definitely share a session I led called Writing in the Digital Age, with all of our resources).
But during my stay, I was engrossed during my few down times with a collection of Quickfiction or Flashfiction put out by McSweeney’s. This is a fiction-writing technique of capturing a story or character in a short amount of words. Now that my Poetry Project is over, I have been mulling over what to do next with my writing and this blog, and I think Quickfiction has taken hold in my brain.
On the train ride home yesterday, I started writing and came up with five Quickfiction stories. And hey, I might as well podcast them, too, right? One thought is to collect the best of a series and combine the words and voice with images for some sort of fictional movie project (I haven’t yet figured it out)
He didn’t think of himself as a killer, even though he stood there with the implements of death in his hand and hundreds of corpses laying around him in every direction. It was just an adventure but he knew his father would be angry with him. He knew this with certainty. He thought suddenly of Horton the elephant and how Horton kept reminding himself that a person was a person, no matter how small. What would Horton think? They were small, these little bodies that had been moving just minutes before but now seemed like exclamation points on the driveway. The magnifying glass felt heavy in his hand all of sudden. He gingerly used his feet to create a pile of bodies and then went into the garage to get a broom. His father would never know. And neither would Horton.
I barely conceal the remote and still be able to use it, so moving around the mega-store proves to be rather awkward. I imagine the eyes of all the blue-shirted employees watching me, scanning this hesitant figure marching through their midst. In reality, I’m invisible. Just another wallet wandering through with eyes on overload. The difference is that I have had enough. I use my thumb. Click. Click. Click. I’ve learned to move fast in this environment. I’m a clandestine operator. Click. Click. The noise drops. It’s as if a black hole suddenly opened up, with silence rushing right into the gap. Beautiful silence. I feel the most satisfied I have felt all day, even as I hear voices yelling behind me as I push my way through the revolving door and continue my path down Times Square.
Their heads are visible and nothing else. Their bodies are down below and their necks are barely just above the color line of the fading leaves. Their heads are there – just faces sticking up. One disappears. There is laughing and then a playful struggle. The second one disappears. I want to jump in and join them down there, below the leaves in a world of their own making. I resist. This is child’s play and I am only the observer here. They need an audience. I hold the rake tight. There’s another rustle of leaves and then, the heads pop up again. They look at me as if I am a scarecrow, tethered to a post and unable to move. I walk to another spot of the yard and begin the endless work on creating another pile of leaves for them to destroy.
The balloon dropped so suddenly, it was as if a fish had taken a bite of bait and dragged it down into the water. Like a bobber. You were just a kid then, remember? And balloons were this amazing mystery you couldn’t quite figure out. How was it that something could be lighter than air? Everywhere you went, you looked out for balloons. This one caught your attention as you sat in the back of your parents’ car that Autumn day. Perhaps you were on your way to the supermarket, or a movie, or maybe your grandparents’ house. It may have been a Sunday, coming out of service with your faith in the unknown still safely tucked inside of your pocket. You had long given up pointing the balloons out to your parents and so this view was all of your own. The balloon dropped and that’s when you noticed the basket under it, now swinging up above the oval – it was like a pendulum, it occurred to you — and then it was gone altogether, dropping below the tree line at an incredible speed. You blinked. You didn’t say a thing to your parents. Not a thing.
She was seven years old when the cat died. Eight, when the dog died. And ten, when grandmother died. She assumed that everything was going to die sooner rather than later and when her mom didn’t come home from that long weekend away when she was sixteen, there was no way for her to mourn the loss since she expected it anyway. The problem was that now she often looked to her father, wondering. When? The only time she tried not to think about it was in the mornings, after a long shower, when she was standing in front of the mirror. She didn’t think about it then but she knew. It was only a matter of time.
Peace (in quicktime),