Tag Archives: Rebekah Postupak

Warmup Wednesday

Image: Mary, Queen of Scots, Death Mask. CC2.0 photo by Dave McLear. Image sourced: https://flashfriday.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/warmup-wednesday-29/

Image: Mary, Queen of Scots, Death Mask. CC2.0 photo by Dave McLear.
Image sourced: https://flashfriday.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/warmup-wednesday-29/

Aschenputtel’s Axe

Good things come, right, Mama? Not to those who work, like you said, but to those who wait.

My step-sister. Cream of any crop. I knew she had to have a secret, and that I’d find it. Her beauty’s like an oil slick on water, covering an evil soul, and I watch through her keyhole as she lifts off her mask. That perfect face, not her own, in its locked glass case.

I heft my weapon.

I ran her bath; the herbs should make her sleep. I will have time. I’m nimble and quick, and I get the job done.

***

So, yup. My time for writing flash fiction has gone down the tubes lately; I’ve been busy, and life hasn’t afforded a lot of creative time. This story (while I’m happy to have written it) really demonstrates that writing flash is much like using a muscle; if you don’t keep it warm and limber, you gradually lose the power in it. So, it’s not a great story. It took me far too long. But, nevertheless, I’m happy that it’s here, in public, and not rattling around my head.

Have you checked out Warmup Wednesday! lately? This prompt image (along with the tight restrictions – 100 words, and include some sibling rivalry!) came from there. If you reckon you can do better (and, let’s be fair, you probably can), slide on over and let’s see what you’re made of. Happy writing, y’all.

Flash! Friday – ‘Unforeseen’

Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon, promotional still from 1936.  Public domain photo, sourced at flashfriday.wordpress.com

Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon, promotional still from 1936.
Public domain photo, sourced at flashfriday.wordpress.com

Unforeseen

It’s there, in my mind, like a weed. This was too easy.

She’s never left the cage unlocked before. Not even for her cigarette breaks, or to eat – though she doesn’t eat much, now. But this morning she rose from her desk, mid-sentence, a ribbon of smoke rising from her ashtray, and left the room.

My cage stood open.

I ran, of course. Who wouldn’t? It’s not that she mistreats me, but captivity is a torment. I’m a free spirit. I’m –

Oh, Zeus. She’s coming! It’s been so long since I was loose that I can’t remember where I am, or where to go. I must hide! But she keeps me in rags, barefoot, and anyway I may not leave this dwelling. Separated from her, I will die. Is that irony? I should know.

Every writer needs a Muse, and I am hers, soul-bound. She doesn’t need to cage me, but she can’t trust me to stay.

I reach a dead end. I turn, desperate, but she is behind me.

There you are,’ she croons. ‘Enjoy your run? Had to get your blood up, somehow. You’ve really been underperforming lately.’ Her smile is a sudden blade.

Ah, me. My fatal flaw? Plot twists have long been my undoing.

***

So – yay! This piece of flash fiction has taken me *hours* to complete, but hey. I finished it. It’s mine! I did it! It’s been so long since I entered any sort of flash fiction competition that I half-expected never to complete a piece again, so I’m glad I proved myself wrong. My old brain cells aren’t firing on full power, as is clear from the Titanic struggle this story caused within me, but heck. A challenge ain’t a challenge if it ain’t hard, right?

So. You’re going to head on over to Flash! Friday and throw your name in the ring, right? You’re not going to leave me hanging? Good friends don’t do that sort of thing. Go on. Go on. Go on, go on, go on, you will, you will, go on…

Form an Orderly Queue

Y’all will have to forgive me a little horn-tooting here, this morning. Not that I’m one to brag, normally, but when a long-time goal is achieved, I think it deserves a little mention, don’t you?

Oyez, Oyez! Photo Credit: Howard TJ via Compfight cc

Oyez, Oyez!
Photo Credit: Howard TJ via Compfight cc

So, on Monday, the winners of last week’s Flash! Friday were announced. You might remember, if you’ve been paying attention, that I actually managed to dredge a story out of my brain last Friday and submit it on time. It was one of those moments where the prompts struck off my inspiration like a tuning fork, and I thought: Hmm. Yes. I think I know what I’ll write about here.

Of course, I was convinced of two things: one, that the idea I had would be used to death by other people (and written about much more effectively) and two: that I would come nowhere near the winners’ podium, as it had never happened before. (Well, I’ve been Runner Up a few times, but that’s not the same).

Not that winning is the point, kids. It’s not. Taking part is the best bit, and creating a new story out of nothing is pretty fantastic, too, and that’s not to mention how great it is to get to share that story with so many other wonderful writers, all of whom are just trying to improve and have a bit of fun while they’re at it. That’s what’s important.

(But, come on. It would be nice to win, just once. Only human, and all that).

So, I took my twisty little idea and I crafted a short tale out of it, and I sat back and told myself it was actually pretty decent. Not the best piece of flash fiction ever written, but certainly one I could stand over and be proud to call mine. And so, I did the necessary, got it submitted, and went about the rest of my life.

And then, after a very long and very hard day on Monday, a whole pile of Twitter notifications started to pop in. So, intrigued, I checked.

And. I had been and gone and done and won the darn thing, for the first time, after two years of competing. Better late, I can tell you, than never. My story, Judge, Jury, Executioner was judged the best of the stories entered for last week’s competition, and I was really, truly delighted. I was delighted firstly to have been judged the best by my peers for that week, but I was even more delighted to have won the competition with a story I really liked, and one which meant something to me. It’s a feeling like no other when you get an idea, and you feel it transmuting in your mind as you think about it; a deep level of your consciousness knows what to do with it, and starts to form it into something else, something you didn’t expect, before your very eyes. Things you’ve read, or heard, or dreamt of, all come to bear on one tiny piece of fiction, and it pops out of your fingers like something which has always existed, and you just know this is a story. This is something which owes its roots to the culture in which you were formed, but which is new, and fresh, and which is adding a different thread to the tapestry. Judge, Jury, Executioner is, for me, a story like that.

It’s only 209 words in a very big internet. It’s a tiny artefact of culture which will fade and be lost before long, like everything we humans create. But, for now, it exists, and I’m proud of it.

But life goes on, as go it must, and I have many things to do today, so I’ll have to hurry you up. I’m only going to be signing autographs for the next hour or so, okay, so get in line and wait your turn, all right? Make sure to have your name written out clearly on a piece of paper so that I don’t actually have to ask you how to spell it, because we big-shot writers can’t be doing with anything like that, you understand, and I’ll get to you eventually.

*sigh*. It’s such a hard life…

.

Flash Friday – ‘Initiation’

Ye gods and little fishes be praised. It’s Friday, and I’ve actually managed to write a piece of flash fiction for the first time in weeks.

I might cry. Seriously.

Kenya Kittens. CC 2,0 photo by Kerri Lee Smith. Image sourced: flashfriday.wordpress.com

Kenya Kittens. CC 2,0 photo by Kerri Lee Smith. Image sourced: flashfriday.wordpress.com

I had almost given up hope that I’d ever manage to pull the cat (no pun intended) out of the bag ever again, truth be told. My brain’s been a bit out of kilter lately. But this week’s Flash! Friday prompt stirred up several ideas in my poor old skull, and I went with the one that floated to the top.

And so, without further ado, here it is.

***

Initiation

‘What you waiting for? Do it!’

The pellet gun’s heavy in my hands, and there’s sweat pooling around my fingers. I stretch them out and resettle them on the trigger, but it doesn’t help.

‘You too chicken, man?’ Allen laughs. I can see his crooked teeth.

‘Poor widdle baby too afwaid to shoot?’ Dean pulls a face, all big eyes and pouting lips. ‘Poor baby afwaid Mommy’s gonna spank him?’

‘Shut up, you guys,’ I mutter. It’s not a smart move. Allen smacks me hard on the arm and steps in close, his breath invading me. I feel the stinging outline of his hand tingling under my skin like a barb. Like I’m in a pit, sides all steep, and there’s a lion coming for my blood.

‘You wanted this,’ he whispers. His words leave a wet cloud on my face. ‘Don’t forget that. There’s guys’d kill to be where you’re standing.’

I blink away. The kitten’s still tied, wide-eyed, too scared to even mewl. Allen fixed the stake down, so it won’t move. The wire’s already cutting into its tiny leg. It knows. I know.

Now.

Time the shot with my heartbeat. I’ve only got one pellet.

I swing and take out Allen, and then I run.

***

The photo prompt was the teeny little kitten, above, and we had to include the character of a ‘gladiator’ – perhaps not literally, but described in terms strongly enough to be evocative of a gladiatorial battle. I was struck straight away by the fact that the image was of a kitten (a baby lion?) looking fearful, and how that was such a reversal of the typical gladiatorial scene, and then my story began to take shape.

So, it’s not the best piece of flash ever written. It’s not going to win any prizes. But, you know? I think it might be the first piece I’ve managed to write this year. That’s sort of scary. Friday the 13th is lucky for some, I guess! Let’s hope this means my mojo is well and truly back… and happy Friday to one and all. Hope to see you on the Flash! Friday podium this week!

Flash Friday – ‘Remains’

Wine Glass, CC2 image by BlakJakDavy. Image sourced: flashfriday.wordpress.com

Wine Glass, CC2 image by BlakJakDavy.
Image sourced: flashfriday.wordpress.com

Remains

I drove home, but I shouldn’t have. I’d only taken a mouthful or two, but that wasn’t the problem.

I’d remembered the gloves while I prepared his glass. No touching!

I’d been careful about disposing of the packaging. Not there!

I’d waited, carefully, while the powder dissolved. Please! Not yet!

I’d flung my undrunk wine down the sink and stowed my glass in my handbag. Hide it!

I’d been careful.

I’d touched nothing without good reason. I hadn’t used the bathroom. I’d kept my hair wound tightly – but even if one had escaped, I could explain that, couldn’t I? Transfer from his jacket, or something? I’d barely breathed. I’d disturbed nothing.

But I’d had to hand him his wine. Gloves off.

And I’d wiped the glass afterwards. Hadn’t I?

I pictured it, on the railing of the sun-filled balcony, his cooling body on the ground.

And all I could see was distortion, whorls and smudges, and what remained of me.

**

This week’s Flash Friday competition marks the beginning of its third year – can you believe it? – and my first one as a Dragon Captain, or one half of a judging team. This isn’t one of my judging weeks, though, so I’m assured I can take part! The dragon’s bidding element has been removed, so all the competitors have to go on is the image prompt, above, and the stipulation that the story fits neatly and perfectly into 160 words.

So, the effort above is what I came up with. I’m not sure it’s going to cut the mustard, but even if it doesn’t, I’m glad to have dragged my scattered brain into some sort of shape this morning and made a story out of what I found. Is this the week you’re finally going to give it a whirl? Go on! Tell ’em I sent ya.

Flash Friday – ‘Sunken Treasure’

Your Hand in Mine/Goodbye. CC2 photo by Tony.  Image sourced: https://flashfriday.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/flash-friday-vol-2-51/

Your Hand in Mine/Goodbye. CC2 photo by Tony.
Image sourced: https://flashfriday.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/flash-friday-vol-2-51/

Sunken Treasure

Every step sucks at my feet like I’m walking through wet sand. Invisible waves push me gently, side to side. Pressure builds like a fist closing. My knees feel weak. My breath.

I could almost be walking into the sea, even though we’ve always lived in the desert, Mama and me.

She came home drunk again, filling the trailer with her foul mouth, her eyes blazing with pain even as she screamed I hate you! Parasite! I know she loves me, somewhere, but it’s buried deep. Sunken treasure, maybe.

I’ve been saving for six years, now. Buried in a tin can in the backyard. Thank the angels she never found it. I stole some. I worked for more. Now I’ve got enough, and I’m leaving.

But I feel her with me, like a parasol over my head. My memory-Mama, who held my hand and told me I was her precious baby.

I let the memory sink, and keep on walking.

**

Phew! My dears, it’s been a busy morning. This post is extremely late, for which I can only blame the vagaries of fate.

In any case, this week’s Flash! Friday is based around the prompt image above and the concept of ‘Coming of Age’, which – I’ll admit – made me think for quite a while. What constitutes coming of age? It varies, of course, with culture and history; sometimes, it’s reaching a particular age or hitting a developmental milestone. It’s taking a spouse. Passing a test, Getting a job. But then I thought that common to all ‘coming of age’ stories is the decision to leave home, strike out on your own, and leave aside the structures set in place for your life by your parents, whether they’re for good or (as in the case of my character) for ill. And so, the story was born – after a bit of wrangling with another tale, which didn’t work in the way I expected or, indeed, at all.

So, it’s Friday once again, thank the saints and little fishes. Tomorrow’s book review will be on the sort of tome I don’t normally read (there’s love in it – yeuch!) but you might be surprised by what I have to say, so stay tuned. Until then, I hope this tiny tale tides you over, and my best wishes for a happy day and a restful weekend for all. Bon voyage!

Flash Friday – ‘The Curtain Call’

Caruso with phonograph, early 1900s. Baen photo owned by LOC; no known restrictions. (www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ggbain.29837/)

Caruso with phonograph, early 1900s. Baen photo owned by LOC; no known restrictions. (www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ggbain.29837/)

The Curtain Call

Gracefully remove the disc… blow off the dust… smile at the words Caruso: His Greatest Hits… place it reverently on the turntable… and – ah! – that jolt of pleasure as the stylus settles… and finally, the sound. The sound. The sound, and the memories…

‘Enrico!’ Careful! Don’t scratch it!

‘Dorothy?’

‘You’ve got that blessed phonograph going again!’

‘Yes, dear?’

‘What have I told you?’

Caruso rolled his eyes.

‘We must let the past be the past, I’m retired, blah-blah-blah.’

‘Blah-blah-blah?

‘Sorry, dear.’

‘Come on, now. Come through to the family room. Oh, The Talent We’ve Got! is just starting.’

‘What a treat.’

‘It sure is. Tonight they’ve got a woman who can sing underwater – underwater, Enrico! Can you imagine? – and a little dancing dog. He’s called Puppy, the Pride of Poughkeepsie.’

‘He’ll find that hard to fit on a calling card.’

‘What, dear?’

‘Nothing, sweetheart,’ Enrico sighed, sliding the record back into its sleeve. ‘Nothing at all.’

**

This week’s Flash Friday was one where the story unfolded itself in my mind as soon as I saw the prompt. I knew that, sadly, Enrico Caruso didn’t live to see fifty, so he never had a chance to retire or to see the advent of television (though, as this story makes clear, perhaps that was no bad thing), but this prompt image, plus the required element of ‘a puppy’, just made sense in my head.

I wonder, often, about stars and their lives once the spotlight has gone out. Some, like Caruso, don’t live to see an end to their fame but others, sadly, do. It must be difficult to watch yourself be forgotten and your legacy vanish, and to see the cultural world you lived in change to suit the tastes of a new generation. I wonder what Caruso would have made of ‘talkies’, or of TV talent shows, and maybe he’d have joined in with gusto.

Maybe.

Anyway, this is my offering on a cold, wet Friday. Enjoy! And see you tomorrow for a review of a most interesting, unusual, and mind-boggling book. Ciao!