New Micro Fiction: Padded Walls

Note: As some of you know, I often participate in a weekly writing contest called “Cracked Flash Fiction Competition.” The following piece won this week. I owe this weeks judge, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, a big thank you for catching my typos and still choosing my story in spite of the,.

Padded Walls

By Sara Codair

“When this is over, I want my sanity back,” said Elena as matter-of-factly as one could say anything when wearing a straightjacket in a padded room.

The padded walls spread their crusty purple lips, revealing row upon row of pointy yellow teeth and laughed.

“I mean it.” She waggled her pointer finger at the ceiling.

“Who says it will ever be over?” The wall’s lips cracked as it spoke.

“Who said I was talking to you,” retorted Elena, tearing her eyes away from the ceiling so she could glare at the wall.

Black blood dripped out of the wall’s cracked lip, trickling down to the floor. “No one leaves here alive.”

Elena laughed. The sound was harsher, more maniacal than it had been two weeks ago.

“You do not believe?” asked the wall.

“You’re the reason I’m here.” She crouched down, wriggling in the straightjacket that was not nearly as tight as the orderlies thought, thankful for all the months she’d trained prior to taking this assignment.

“You can’t do that,” said the wall.

Elena arched one eyebrow as she shrugged off the jacket and used it to wipe up the black blood.

The wall opened its mouth and screamed. Elena didn’t flinch. It inhaled, sucking in air so hard her hair blew towards its maw. She closed her eyes, cleared her mind of the all the drug-induced hallucinations she’d had during her stay Frommington Hospital, waiting for the wall to show its true face.

She whispered words of power in the ancient tongue. The blood soaked jacket caught fire. The wall screamed as it burned with the jacket. The door opened as orderlies rushed in to put out the fire. Elena charged through them and strolled out of the burning hospital like she owned the place.

Micro Fiction: Mr. Meowsker’s Bright Idea

Here is a little story, inspired by a prompt from Cracked Flash, to start your week:

Mr. Meowsker’s Bright Idea

By Sara Codair

“You’re my favorite monster,” said Annnaly, running her fingers over Gruffer’s fluffy face. Her black cat, Meowsker’s, was perched on here shoulder. He leaned forward licked the bridge of Gruffer’s nose.

Gruffer made a noise – a cross between a grunt and a huff. It was the only sound he ever made, but Annnaly imagined that if he was capable of human speech, he would be saying “Was?”

Nerves twined through her chest like poison ivy. She leaned her forehead against his, cupping his flat face in her hands. “The government says I can’t keep you. The made monster collections illegal. They…they want me to put you down.”

Tears streamed out of Annnaly’s eyes, dragging a river of black and blue cosmetic sludge from her face to Gruffer’s. She held his face, sobbing, not caring that Mr. Meowsker climbed off of her and onto Gruffer. She didn’t know what he did until she felt two enormous paws patting her back.

Looking up, she saw Mr. Meowsker proudly perched on Gruffer’s hear with his restrains dangling from his mouth. A smile cracked across her lips. “You brilliant feline.”

Mr. Meowsker purred like a motorcycle.

When the inspectors came to make sure Annnaly, the lady with the largest monster collection on the planet, had put down all her monsters, they were greeted by a hoard of hungry teeth and claws, not the taxidermied monster-corpses they expected.

Annaly wanted to taxidermy the inspectors and keep them as trophies, mementos from the first day of the coup, but there was literally nothing left by the time the monsters were done with them.

Micro Fiction: Solicitation

Here is another fun snippet of micro fiction that started with on of Cracked Flash’s prompts.  This story was a runner up in the Year 2, Week 30 competition.

Solicitation

By Sara Codair

“Like pain? Try wearing high heels,” she said slipping one nylon clad foot into a glittering stiletto. The way her long fingers danced the laces around her ankle up her calf made me think that my eyes were supposed to be following her hands up her leg, possible further, but I was more interested in the heels.

“What would you say if I told you I had worn heels, and loved them?” I risked eye contact just long enough to make her think I was interested in her body, then returned my gaze to the shoes.

“I’d say you were a kinky fellow.” She lifted her leg in the air, probably trying to get me to look up her skirt, but it was the perfect opportunity to see what size the shoes were.

An 8.5. Just one size too small. I sighed, reached into my pocket and fingered the bills there. “I’ll pay you for two hours if you tell me where you got those shoes.”

“I’ll show you,” she said and pulled me closer.

I backed away. “I’m serious. I have no interest in your services. Just your shoes. I’ll pay you, and you can spend the two hours doing whatever you like. I was going to buy your pair off of you, but they won’t fit.”

“For real?” she asked sitting up straight and folding her legs.

“For real,” I said taking a couple fifties out of my wallet.

“Stella’s boutique, on the corner of 6th and Rockland. Tell her Caty sent you. She’ll give you a deal.”

I handed her the money, left the hotel room and hailed cab, feeling like I was one step closer to finding the holy grail of high heels.

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© Sara Codair 2017

A win on Cracked Flash with “Survival 101”

Cracked Flash’s writing prompts have been part of my weekly writing routine on and off for about a year now. Over the summer, I had stopped writing for them because I was judging. They had a brief hiatus in the fall. When they started up, it took me a few weeks to work in back into the routine. The few pieces I wrote were political rants pretending to be stories. Last week, I wrote a real story, and it won.

Here is it:

Survival 101

By Sara Codair

“Try a different one.” Joe frowned as the wriggling worm fell into the bucket of dirt.

I arched my eyebrows. “A worm is a worm.”

“The fat ones are juicier and slower. Easier to hook, more likely to attract fish.”

I sighed. “I don’t even like fish.”

“Would you rather eat the worm?”

“I’d rather eat nuts berries.” I gazed at the sun glistening on deep blue, vibrant leaves with orange-tinted tips and wispy seeds forming atop grass.

“Those’ll be hard to come by next month.” Joe dug weathered fingers into the bucket, pulling out a short worm barely able to wriggle, and handed it to me. “You want to survive, don’t you?”

“I used to be vegan.” My stomach wriggled like the obese worm, half-heartedly threatening to eject raspberries.

Joe’s laughter shook the remains of his shrunken belly. “Just hook the damned worm.”

Despite its protest, my stomach knew food was hard to come by, and held the berries while I jabbed the rusty, barbed metal into the worm, scrunching it like I was forcing a new curtain onto an old rod.

“That’s the spirit. Plant your feet and cast like I showed you.”

I obeyed. My tortured worm plopped into the shimmery blue. I watched the ripples grow as they approached shore. “What now?”

“Now we wait.” Joe lowered his raisen-like body onto a silvery rock. “We wait and we pray.”

I nodded, but remained standing. Winged-insects flittered across the water close to shore. A water-strider fell victim to a frog blending his body with a rotten log. A dragon fly landed on my nose, its wings tickling a smile out of my face. The last scientist I met said the human population might never recover. Nature, though, was doing just fine.

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See the original post here: http://crackedflash.blogspot.com/2017/02/year-2-week-25-results.html#comment-form

Anthology Update: A Much Better Cover!

So the anthology I posted about yesterday just announced they were changing their cover and I’m glad. The new cover is much better, showcasing tiny drops making big ripples in liquid text, much like the way each tiny story contained in this volume can impact the reader.

Okay, the metaphor might be a little cliche, but the cover is pretty cool, and so is the story I’ve included, which features a shy girl who wears super hero costumes to school, and a boy who is rocking some epic Pickachu ears.

This link will take you to the pre-order page: bit.ly/100VoicesV1

This code will save you 10%: 100V86

They have a really interesting line up of authors. I’m curious to see what the other stories are like.

 

Micro Essay: Seasons

Seasons

By Sara Codair

The sky blooms with streaks of pink and purple, possibilities of endless nights sitting on the porch serenaded by peepers and crickets. The sky ignites my dreams of rowing and swimming under the blazing the sun. The sky promises romance and inspiration; ice cream and love. I hold his hand on the dock as the colors fade, yielding their territory to the stars.

The leaves change color and chills master the night. I’m planning a lesson while he scrambles to button up the house. He doesn’t want the pipes to freeze.

I’m back at work, teaching through the sunset, driving home in the dark.

 

© 2016 Sara Codair

Micro Fiction: Garden Wars

This piece of micro fiction has been hiding in various files on my hard drive, but I have finally wrangled it onto the internet were it can be seen by more than just lonly gigabytes.

Garden Wars

By  Sara Codair

The garden is city for faeries so small they’re invisible to the naked eye.

DSC_0683Scientist would be dumbfounded if they held their microscope here and saw the buzz of activity happening beneath the stems. There is a whole economy flourishing in the garden: The Allium Folk are trading pollen stock with the Peony People and warring with the Hydrangea Colony.

Last year, the Allium Folk lost a war the Lupine Ladies, but hope to gain some new territory from their inferior blue neighbors. The Hydrangea Colony may be wide, but its people are short and stunted. They have quite a few prisoners of war already, and might have conquered the whole bush, had it not been for the Fly Siege.

Thankfully, the Spider showed mercy and saved them from the dreaded flies. However, they must offer a sacrifice, or they will be his food tomorrow.

The blue prisoners will suit his needs just fine.

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©2016 Sara Codair

If I Could Trap Time in a Bubble

I wrote this piece for 100 Word Story’s monthly photo challenge. It didn’t win, but I still like it.

If I Could Trap Time in a Bubble

By Sara Codair

I never appreciated what I had then: A bed to sleep in. Green grass to cool my heels. Food in the pantry, a stove to cook it on and a table just big enough for two.

If I only I could have captured that moment, frozen it in time and saved it in a bubble; it passed all to quickly. We worked and studied and worked and studied. We moved to the city where pollution and concrete killed the grass. By the time we had enough to money to retire and just enjoy life, they had found a mass on your lung.

Now memories are blurred like gasoline breaking into rainbows on top of still water. I’m back in one of those apartments, with a tiny stove and a table just big enough for two. But there isn’t much to eat these days, and when I do eat, I miss you.

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If your curious about who did win, you can read that story here.

 

 

Framed by Flash:Eliminate Fluff and Teach Transfer

As the summer rolls on, it gets closer to time when us teachers need to start thinking about the start of the next semester. Here are some thoughts on how to use Flash Fiction and Flash CNF in your classroom.

Framed by Flash: Eliminate Fluff and Teach Transfer

By Sara Codair

Flash fiction and micro essays can teach students to write tight prose where every word carries meaning, they can eliminate the presence of “fluff” or “bullshit,” and they teach students to be ruthless editors.

Last year, one of my colleagues showed me an assignment for having her students write 100-word essays. Thinking it would be a great way to lessen the onslaught of questions like “is my paper long enough?” or “How many words should it be?” I followed the outlined steps myself, promptly adapting and expanding it to better suit my courses and teaching styles.

Now, I frame my first-year composition courses with flash fiction.

We start the semester by reading a selection of essays and stories from 100wordstory.org. The students analyze the pieces both for meaning and structure, noting how they were put together and how the smaller pieces contribute to the meaning.

Next, they write their own 100-word essay or story. At first, they complain about having to hit exactly 100 words.

“Can’t it be like, 102?” they ask.

“Exactly 100,” I say with a smirk.

“I can’t even go one over?”

I shake my head.

Then they do it, revising, editing and incorporating feedback until they have a polished piece that is exactly 100 words. They write a reflection about the skills they used and the value of concise language, and then they move onto to longer, more traditional college essays.

They remember the process and strategies they used in their flash, and through both discussion and trial and error, they learn to apply them to longer essays. The result? Their essays are tight, concise, and contain minimal fluff. They also practice the art of transferring skills from one task to another.

That it isn’t the end of flash in my classroom. After they finish their long research paper, we return to flash. By now, they’ve gotten a good handle on their writing process, so we focus on analysis and editing.

I’ll give students a 500-word story from the Mash Stories Shortlist, usually one that has a strong message, and have them analyze it. I’ve used my own piece, “Above the Influence” and a 2nd place winner, “Playback” by Conor Yunits.

Students examine the language, structure, plot and imagery and use that to make an argument about the meaning of the piece. Next, they write their own piece.

It reinforces the skills they started with earlier in the semester and practiced throughout, but since it’s a shorter piece, they can more or less zoom in and really focus on skills. And since they have used and adapted the same methods for different genres of writing, they have practiced transferring a skill from one genre to the next, and hopefully, they will be able to continue this act of transfer as they progress through their college careers.

 

 

Micro Fiction: The Lament of Mr. Whiskers

The Lament of Mr. Whiskers

 by Sara Codair

“I think I preferred your old hobby,” said Mr. Whiskers. With his sleek, black fur and yellow eyes, he looked like a mini-panther.

His human rubbed his head and scratched under his chin until he purred.

“You’re such a handsome boy,” said the human.

“I appreciate the massage and compliments, but I do not think you understood me. I said I think I preferred your old hobby.”

“You’re a talkative little guy today,” said the human, intensifying the rub.

Mr. Whiskers meowed in frustration. The human never understood him.

“What’s wrong?” cooed the human.

“You,” hissed Mr. Whiskers. He swatted the human, with his sharp claws out.

“Ouch!” The human jerked his hand away and sucked on his bleeding finger.

“Serves you right,” muttered Mr. Whiskers as he stalked away.

He hissed at the litter of fluffy kittens as he walked by, letting them know that if they dared swat his tale, he would scratch and bite them. They cowered behind the couch cushion.

Pleased with himself, Mr. Whiskers leapt on top of the mini bar and took a bath. Rescuing kittens was a noble hobby, but one that he would prefer not to happen in his own territory. He really wished the human had just stuck to knitting. Those balls of yarn had been so much fun to bat around the house.

©2016 Sara Codair

Originally written for Cracked Flash