Rebekah Postupak, governess of the awesome Flash! Friday, is the winner of MB1.13, MB1.15, MB1.30 and MB1.43. If you like Rebekah’s winning stories, you have to check out her pieces in the brilliant Flashdogs Anthology and Flashdogs : Solstice : Light. If you don’t already follow Rebekah on Twitter, you can do so here and here. If you don’t already take part in Flash! Friday, why not?
I’ve had the extraordinary privilege of living in and visiting many places around the world, which has yielded a marvelously rich cultural fabric to weave stories from. At the moment I find myself most missing Thailand (aka Eden) and France (where they understand about chocolate for breakfast). But since I’m in the USA in Virginia at the moment, I find joy in nibbling on my two dragonlings instead.
100 words ain’t many. How do you fit a story into so few words? For me—unless it’s a silly tale written solely for the laugh—it’s all about misdirection and what isn’t being said. My favorite flash pieces are the layered ones, where words serve double duty by saying one thing and meaning something else entirely. Perhaps we’re given only 100 words; by the end, the most powerful flash pieces read like a complete novel.
Why do you like flash fiction? Flash writers are like street magicians: Look here—now here—shazam! Unlike longer works, the flash story experience is tightly controlled from start to finish, but in a way that leaves the reader awed and amazed.
Been writing long? Yes!
You write anything else? I’m trying my hand at short stories, but sheesh mareesh, what’s with all those extra words!?
Any advice for other flash writers? Reject that first idea—it’s what everyone else has already written about. Look at the edges of the prompt and beyond. Don’t be afraid to push boundaries.
Any interesting writerly projects in the pipeline? A YA novel that’s Sleeping Beauty meets Indiana Jones meets How to Train Your Dragon. With shades of Princess Bride, obv.
I just finished reading a book. Can you recommend another? I’m a huge fan of writing craft books and am just starting Rachel Aaron’s 2,000 to 10,000. Fiction-wise, I’m back on an Orson Scott Card kick, and am halfway through Shadows in Flight. Talk about character development! He’s a jaw-dropping master.
Plot (single): $2,000
Grave liner: $1,800 (seriously?)
Opening/closing of grave: $1,475 (note—Saturday surcharge because they can, the vultures)
Maintenance fee: $250
Headstone (includes installation): $3,200 (note: sappy text still needed for engraver)
Coffin (“solid cherry”?? as if. What a ripoff): $3,490
Flowers for funeral service & gravesite: donated by friends and family (awesome!!!!!!!! <– write thank you notes)
Funeral home fees (incl embalming & death certificate): $3,800 (Q: tip for (smarmy) director??)
Post-funeral dinner: covered by in-laws (TELL SOPHIA TO NOT LET M-I-L COOK!! BLECH!!!!!!!!!!)
Anticipated total: $16,015
Anticipated life insurance payout: $2,000,000
Whoops, hahaha! Almost forgot!
Dead body: kiss (disgusting! HELLO BREATHMINT) + $5 martini with a twist.
Downward, shadowed steps echoed of death (of course!); to me the steps themselves felt organized, sequential, list-like, which spawned the story’s structure. Then I knew I wanted the word twist to do double duty, with lemon serving as the story’s actual twist. The effort rather hurt my poor brain, but thankfully it seems to have worked out in the end.
Note to My Sister
First, I’ve brought your underthings, which are silk and smell of lavender. (That was a surprise!)
Second, your pantyhose, so nobody will guess how long it’s been since you’ve shaved. You crack me up! We don’t care, but I know you do, so.
Third, a new dress. It’s secondhand (sorry about that), but just LOOK at all those pearls!! It could be a queen’s gown, and the sea green matches your eyes.
Last is hair and makeup. I’m lending you my favorite lipstick. Just this once.
There, you wild angel, you star of my heart, you death-snatched sister, are you happy? You finally get your wish to be a lady.
Interview response: Eva Perón’s story is one of dreams and tragedy, so my story wasn’t much of a stretch (in fact, I stressed over that a bit! with an Evita prompt, I didn’t think my twist would be a surprise). But the image of a girl tenderly dressing her sister wouldn’t go away, so what could I do? Stinking disobliging muse.
Club to head caused death. Male, mature. RIP. –Marius Fossor, 285 AD.
Elderly male. Cause of death: violence to head. Blasphemous absence of icons. Reburied. –John, Vicar’s Son, 1248 AD.
Middle-aged second century male. Cause of death: head trauma. Bone stains probably mold. Curious addition of multiple 13th century religious artifacts. Reburied. –William Diggerson, 1682 AD.
32yo male, d 100CE. Cause of death: blunt force trauma to head. Significant traces of belladonna, hemlock, aconite, toad’s blood. No objects in coffin, though indentations suggest removal of such. X-rayed, photographed, reburied. –Dr. Ali Bissell, 1987 CE.
May the idiot never rest in peace. –Canidia, AD 65. Unrelated scroll fragment, depth 7th foot.
In prompt-based contests I love trying to think as far outside the box as possible. For this prompt, since I figured most people would go with foot as a body part, I started with the idea of a measurement. With the photo of a cemetery, of course I immediately thought of the depth of six feet, and I found myself wondering, What if there were something interesting found at the seventh foot? Outside of the (coffin) box, see…?? My mischievous poisoner Canidia (a real person, btw) followed shortly thereafter.
Horse and Carriage
Jack threw his hands up. “Uncle! I don’t get how you do it, Naima.”
She smiled. “Years of practice.”
“That’s stupid. Why would you spend years rhyming?”
“Gets my mind off things,” she said.
“What things?” A faint growl shadowed Jack’s voice. “You have fancy clothes. A nice car. And any number of attractive females would pay to be in your shoes, hitched to a guy like me.”
“Whatever. I gotta go to work. Utilities don’t fix themselves.”
“This city runs on muscle, baby.”
“I wish you’d get over this– this, whatever it is. I hate it. It’s …eerie.”
The rhyming pair “General/ephemeral” popped into my head almost immediately—after a few hours of trying to get it out of my head, I gave up and let the rhymes have their story.