Heat in the Kitchen

PHOTO PROMPT © Valerie J. Barrett

“Will you two knock it off?” protested Spoon. “Let me lie in peace.”

“Hey, I’m just doing my job,” deadpanned Iron. “Our neighbor’s the one dribbling like a nervous basketball player.”

“Then get off the stove, Flat-Face!” whistled Kettle.

“Settle down — ”

“You’re a tea pot, not a lawn sprinkler.”

“Go play Monopoly!”

The heat on the stove top was turned down, and Kettle cooled to a low simmer, as the water on Iron’s handle evaporated.

“Peace, at last,” sighed Spoon.

“Just hope spigot-breath gets turned towards the wall before I have to warm up again.”

“Go press a shirt!”

Sometimes I just wanna have a little fun with Friday Fictioneers.

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Prognathous

While one of the district’s most accomplished saber fencers, Hector Santiago would often lean his head forward while attacking, as if he were searching for an opening like a man searching for nocturnal slugs by flashlight. His opponents, at least the few in the region who weren’t intimidated by his aggression, learned to wait for this technical flaw, and would score points against his mask when he leaned in too far, using his prognathous tactics against him.

Starting a new tradition today. On weeks when I’m not inspired by Friday Fictioneers, I’m going to write a 100-word story based on a word I’ve discovered in my reading.

Artistic Vision

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Even at age six, Wylie’s talent was evident.

She began cartooning in preschool, and for her fourth birthday illustrated all 22 invitations. After completing her first comic book the following year, the 43-page space opera Beyond the Stars, Wylie discovered she was more interested in coloring than drawing.

Shen then began painting, but grew dissatisfied. Her lines were clean, the images vibrant — the colors, though, weren’t right. In frustration, one day she painted with eyes closed, and when finished, she opened her eyes, and smiled.

Wylie then began coloring blindfolded, with both crayons and paints. And an artist found her vision.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction contest. You’re limited to 100 words, but keeping your eyes open is entirely up to you.

Flags

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

“Flags,” Jamie said, pointing above the undulating water of the pool.

“Pennants, actually,” Clement replied. “On backstrokes, swimmers use them to know their location.”

“Huh. So there’s four different swimming events, right?” Clement nodded. “And those flags are only used for one of them — the slowest one.”

“I assume your observation is more than just an arrangement of words.”

“Doesn’t it strike you as odd, to let people know where they are when they’re moving backwards, and there’s a better way to get where you’re going?”

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction contest. It’s always fun to participate, even when you struggle for inspiration.

The Dare

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

One day eighteen winters ago, Jackie Shen dared me to crawl under a barbed wire fence, walk into an abandoned building, and return with evidence of the structure’s former life as a military laboratory.

When I refused, Jackie laughed at my trepidation. “Wait here,” he said, getting down on his belly. Clearing the fence, he stood and ran, disappearing into the derelict structure.

After waiting two hours, I ran home and told my parents. They called Jackie’s parents. Three days later, his body was found in a ditch ten miles away. No arrests were ever made.

I’ve never forgiven myself.

I usually don’t get this dark for Friday Fictioneersbut the photo prompt for this week called for a different approach to my 100 word story.

A Place to Belong

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Daniel shook snow off his pant leg as he crossed the street, not noticing until he had reached the sidewalk that Miriam was still standing outside their car, her face filled with anxiety.

“You OK?” Daniel squinted in the late afternoon sunlight.

“I… didn’t think it would be this hard.” She brushed away a lock of hair blown across her face. “Weddings, bar mitzvahs — ”

“B’nai mitzvah, dear.”

“Right. But a Shabbat service? Not since I was eight. I don’t feel like I belong here.”

Daniel held out his hand. “If you choose to be by my side, you belong anywhere I’ll go.”

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction contest which challenges you to write a complete story of up to 100 words based on a photo prompt. You know you want to participate, so what’s holding you up?

Relic

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

The bay had been a busy lumber port a century earlier, but had lost most of its traffic when cheaper timber material became available elsewhere; after the hydroelectric dam was built a mile upstream, the shoreline had receded too far for the bay to have any seafaring value. A single beam from a loading dock beam was the sole relic of that era. Suspended far the new shoreline, decades of fungal detritus dangled from its sides like icicles. On mornings after a long summer rain, its damp weathered features seemed ready for the arrival of ships from its forgotten past.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction contest which challenges you to write a complete story of up to 100 words based on a photo prompt. I cheated a little bit this time, as the bay in the photo looks to be on the ocean rather than a river, but what’s the fun in always playing by the rules?

Letting Go

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’re probably familiar with the fiction I’ve occassionally posted. You may also have noticed that, aside from entries for Friday Fictioneers and similar contests, I haven’t posted any new stories for a while.

I’m finally getting around to explaining why.

Some of the stories I’ve drafted here have some potential, I believe. All of them are rough, but if I may use a familiar metaphor that has lost none of its power from overuse, each contains the seed of a story which, with a properly nurturing revision strategy, could bloom into an arresting flower. I’ve chosen six, and a seventh that I drafted this past year entirely outside this blog. My goal for this year is to revise all seven, and by year’s end begin submitting them to literary journals, genre magazines, fiction contests, online collections — any place that will get my name out there, or at least send a rejection to add to my collection. Party at my place when I reach 100!

This ambition comes at a bit of price, however. Every writer I’ve heard speak, every editor I’ve spoken with, every submission guideline I’ve read, have been consistent in one message: no story will be published if it exists in a previous version available anywhere, including a rough draft on a blog. Those half-dozen stories I feel have promise? They’re no longer available on The Diligent Dilettante. And going forward, I’ll only be posting flash fiction, and stories I have no intention of publishing elsewhere.

While this action obviously needed to happen, I didn’t enjoy letting go of these stories. I’ve enjoyed sharing them with you, and have learned from your comments. Taking the stories down sounds similar to preparing a good dinner for my friends, and taking the food away before they can finish. Sure, I’m investing far too much significance to taking these stories down — but I’m gonna channel my inner Lesley Gore, and proclaim, it’s my blog space, and I’ll moan if I want to.

But here’s the good news: you’re going to see these stories again, as soon as I have the URL that points to its online publication location.

Bad Timing

“Then it’s final,” Trudy said. “You’re leaving.”

Malcolm’s head nodded slowly, like a pumpkin falling off a scarecrow. “The plane leaves tomorrow morning.”

Under a leafless tree, Trudy put her arms around Malcolm, who hugged her affectionately as he looked up. In the winter moonlight, the bare branches resembled a spider’s web.

Trudy broke their embrace, and stepped back just in time to avoid the maddened rush of a werewolf, who tore open Malcolm’s belly, casting his entrails onto the ground.

After gasping in horror, Trudy glared at the retreating lycanthrope. “You couldn’t wait until I fucking kissed him?”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been a semi-regular participant in Friday Fictioneers, a weekly flash fiction contest which challenges you to write a complete story of up to 100 words based on a photo prompt. I’ve enjoyed taking part, but have decided there weren’t enough werewolves in my stories.

Value

Mitzie pulled on Heyward’s sleeve, forcing him to stop and see her pointing at the object.

“What the hell’s that doing here?”

Heyward shrugged. “Waiting for someone to put it out of our misery.”

Mitzie leaned over the what had once been the keyboard. “This had value, once.”

Her boyfriend picked up one of the vines. “And these once bore fruit you could eat.”

Mitzie stood, and folded her arms across her chest. “You judge all things by their current value?”

He turned, and resumed walking. “There is no value in another person’s memories.”