Smart car 10 AUTOpsy

Fiction about cars fascinates me. When drafting my novel, many of the scenes I’ve enjoyed most have taken place within automobiles; some dynamic exists in those moments (the occupants can’t avoid each other, there’s a shared destination, a finite amout of time to kill, and limited options for distraction) that make them ripe for meaningful conversations. I’ve also used car ownership within the novel to reveal character — Coach Dan’s sedan (beat up and durable), Double-J’s coupe (flashy and loud), Jimmy’s van (creaky and utilitarian), the Hutchinson’s Cadillac (large and stately). Occurs to me that somebody needs a pick-up; maybe Butch’s family.
Thoughts such as these make me curious about other uses for cars in fiction, and that curiosity is in part what leads me today to Doug Hawley’s recent story on Nugget Tales. This isn’t a conversation within a car, but a conversation with a car, and an engaging parody of artificial intelligence and the “smart car” concept. I seriously doubt there will be communicative cars in my novel, but it’s an idea I may pursue in a short work such as this. 

Your Sweat Doesn’t Calm Me

Forwarding a neat little vignette from Deidra Alexander’s Blog, one that provides enough detail to comprehend the story while leaving enough room for the reader’s imagination. This is the type of flash fiction I’m hoping to pursue, between my longer short story and novel chapter drafts.

Waiting for the Sun

Today’s offering is inspired by Corngoblin, who recently used climate as a metaphor for displacement

 “It wasn’t the moving that bothered me.” She raised the white ceramic mug from the table, lifted it to her lips, drank. Her eyes fixed on me as she swallowed, set the mug down. “I’ve lost track at the number of times I’ve moved since college. And I’ve been all over, from east to west coasts, north and south. Good winters and rough winters, mountains and plains, rural and country. ”

“And you never had trouble sleeping before?” The waitress arrived with my berry-capped waffle, her omelet of many colors. She waits until the waitress leaves before continuing.

“It was geography, an aspect I hadn’t encountered before. We’re what, an hour east of the time zone boundary?”

Not blessed with heightened chronological instincts, I nod, hoping she’s right, before I start working on my waffle.

“Ever notice how, in the winter, the sun never comes up in the morning?”

She waits as I chew. Swallow. “Thought you said winter doesn’t bother you.”

“It didn’t, until I came here.” She points behind me, I’m not sure to where. “This is the first time I’ve ever lived on the western side of a time zone. All the places I’ve been before — Hartford, Chicago, Colorada, New Orleans, Vegas — every one of those places, the time zone may have been different but they were all on the eastern side of their time zone. Over thirty years, I got used to seeing the sun in the morning. But the further away you get from a time zone’s eastern border, the later the sun comes up.”

“Huh.” I was genuinely intrigued, pointed at her with a fork dripping butter and berry juice. “So that also means the sun stays out later in the day, right?”

For the first time that morning, I saw her eyes smile behind her big round glasses. “I’m just beginning to appreciate that, realize how I always hated driving from work in the winter. And I remember thinking last June, how cool it was to have sunset around 10 in the evening. I didn’t make the connection until the other day when I got up, started grumbling about it still being dark — and then it hit me.”

“Sounds like you’re OK with it.”

She shrugged. “Not much I can do about it. Except wait for the sun to arrive in winter.” And started cutting into her omelet.