Emily Livingstone is the winner of MB1.16 and MB1.19. Follow her on Twitter here and check out her blog here. If you enjoyed Emily’s winning stories, you’ll want to take a look at her short stories Glass Eyes and Not Safe.
I’m a high school English teacher in Massachusetts living with a fantastic husband and friendly German Shepherd. I love everything about New England (except maybe how long winter lasts) though I also love visiting new places.
100 words ain’t many. How do you fit a story into so few words? I love the challenge of flash fiction! I tend to write the stories a little longer and then chop them down. This type of editing is something I enjoy, and I think it’s made me a more concise, effective writer. I even like advising my students on how to winnow down those college essays…
Why do you like flash fiction? I’ve been impressed reading writers’ stories on this and other sites. It’s possible to tell a big story with real characters in a small space, and I think I’ve learned a lot from reading and writing in this genre!
Been writing long? Yes, since I was little and my mom wrote the words I couldn’t yet spell under my pictures. In the last few years, I’ve gotten “serious,” making more time to write and meeting with a wonderful writers’ group to keep me focused.
You write anything else? I’m working on two novels (one is mostly done), I write short stories, and I keep up with my blog, where I include fiction, reflections, and poetry (though I’m not as secure about my poetry!)
Any advice for other flash writers? Read lots of flash fiction and participate in these great weekly prompts. There are lots of opportunities to practice and get inspired.
Any interesting writerly projects in the pipeline? I’m working on my second novel, women’s fiction with paranormal elements, and writing short stories.
The Risk of Living
Spring came after months of huddling together with generators, fires, and blankets. They explored, invading the privacy of the dead, looking into houses and yards.
Leah believed they’d found treasure.
“But you know nothing about this.”
“Paul, it’s human tradition.”
They looked out the window at the empty streets. It had been two months since they’d seen another person.
“It’s risky, Leah. It could attract attention.”
“I miss people.” She donned the intricate lion head and danced toward Paul.
He removed it. “You don’t know what kind of people will come.”
Leah took a precious match and lit a stick of incense. “Tonight, fireworks. We need them—a festival.”
I’m not sure why my mind went right to apocalypse. I liked the idea of this Chinese tradition, and then thought about what would involve people who hadn’t grown up with this tradition–the fact that it’s a human tradition makes it accessible and interesting to anyone. Honoring and preserving humanity can bring disparate elements together. Stephen King teaches us that, too!
Weight comes in many forms. Mine is Griff.
When he disappeared two years ago, I floated above the world, waiting for his return, for the phone to ring, for him to reach across the mattress and hold me in my sleep. Over time, I sank closer to earth; I waited for them to find his body, his killer, his story.
Life went on.
Yesterday, a cashier said, “Where’s the smile, huh? It’s not so bad.”
Don’t get me wrong—I work, eat, go out. It’s just hard to lift the corners of my mouth.
Today, the police found his body, and a gun. The weight shifts, but still, it’s loss.
“Weight” paired with “loss” immediately made me think of the burden associated with losing someone. The gun, I had to think about for a bit. The fact that the gun looked as though it had been abandoned in the woods for some time made me think of a crime that had been committed in the past.