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#fridayflash CODES

#fridayflash is a community on Twitter, Facebook and here. The idea is that you post a short fiction up to 1000 words each or any week on your blog and you link to it using the #fridayflash hashtag on Twitter as well as adding the link to the collector. Everyone who posts tries to read as many of each others’ stories as possible and post some constructive feedback. For general readers it’s a great way to discover brand new fiction and authors.

I’ve posted elsewhere about how flash fiction and fridayflash in particular has changed my writing life. It provides a regular deadline, allows you to get feedback on your work and to try new genres and formats as well as making you hone your writing for smaller wordcounts. You can even set yourself challenges for tiny wordcounts while still telling a great story.

The flash fiction I’m posting today is the result in many ways of my whole #fridayflash expenence. I’ve been working on a novel for a while so haven’t posted here. However, #fridayflash had led to me accumulating a body of work of interrelated flash fictions features a core set of characters and locations, life through a prism with stories told from different angles and with crossovers. I’m now working on consolidating what will be a flash fiction novella, called Unusual Flashes Of Light. (Some of my characters   believe they’ve seen UFOS). I’m delighted to be back posting #fridayflash. I’ve had such fun and success with the form that I’ll be shortly running a flash fiction workshop as part of my Head Above Water courses in Bray so keep an eye on the listings. After that ramble, here’s today’s story. (For related stories see Lethargy and The Solid Table Fallacy.)

Killiney Bay

Killiney Bay

CODES

Morrison Pentworthy had a motor car, an Aston Martin DB4 convertible that belonged to his Dad. They drove to Killiney with the top down. Sandra and Karen sat in the back.
‘What does DB stand for?’ Sandra wanted to know.
“David Brown,” Morrison shouted back against the wind.
‘Oh,’ replied Sandra and Karen together.

Morrison stopped at the garage for some mints.
‘If we drove away now we could be Thelma and Louise,’ said Karen.
Sandra laughed. They watched Morrison moving about in the shop, he seemed a bit lost between crisps and cold drinks. They looked at him, willing him on, wishing him the best.

Down the coast road, barely clinging on, Sandra wriggled herself forward to shout in Morrison’s ear.
‘I thought your Dad was into Doors.’
‘He’s into cars as well.’
‘Fancy.’
Morrison chucked something small and hard into their laps. It wasn’t mints. It was a packet of Love Hearts with inscribed messages of endearment. Be mine, I love you, lucky star, love bug.
‘What does your one say Morrison?’
‘Find me,’ he said, then crushed it between his teeth.
‘Smile’ read Sandra and held Karen’s hand.

Morrison pressed a button on the dashboard and they heard rain.
‘Can he do that?’ said Karen looking into the lately summer sky.
‘It’s Riders on the Storm’ Sandra said, tightening the scarf round her head.

Over the beach the grouchy cumulus hung. Karen admired Sandra’s newly painted toes. Morrison was scribbling. The water did that to him.
Some men ran down the beach, feet pounding, sand exploding between their toes
‘It’s like Chariots of Fire,’ remarked Sandra.
Except for the dog,’ Karen suggested, watching a yappy terrier having a go at their heels.
‘There should be horses…’ Sandra mused. She thought of how they would kick up the sand with their hooves and make the air seem fast around them. The riders would lift up from their seats and have their hair flying back and it would make anything seem possible.

Far away a woman and her two children were playing at the water’s edge. The children had a bucket, the woman had rolled up her skirt and was writing something in the wet sand as the sea rolled towards them. Morrison was taken by the scene, as if it stood for something. The woman and the girls, there was something familiar. Yes, he could hardly believe…She was here. Emily, Emily, Emily, wuthering, could not stop for death.

He heard a rustling, behind him, turned from the scene, found Karen and Sandra reading his notebooks.

“0100100100100000011011000110111101110110
0110010100100000011110010110111101110101” Sandra read out, very precisely.
Morrison put out his hand, digits starfish spread, his face all tenderness and fury.

Sandra threaded her fingers through the spaces of his. ‘Sorry,’
‘We just wanted to have a gander,’ added Karen.
Sandra kept on holding his hand, keeping the drowning man above water. ‘What are these?’
‘Codes,’ he said. ‘That one’s binary and that ones Morse.’ He pointed to another.

.. .-.. — …- . -.– — ..-

‘What do they mean?’
‘I can’t tell you that or I would have to kill you…’ Morrison turned back to the water. He was wearing Karen’s big dark sunglasses. His hair was blown back at the front like a New Romantic. His toes made holes in the sand.
‘I love you.’ said Sandra and Karen looked up. ‘I love you, That’s what the codes mean. I studied science in college.”
‘Surprising,’ Karen said, her eyes on Sandra.

Morrison didn’t hear. He was looking at the seashore with sunglasses. The youngest child had the mother’s face between her hands. She kissed her on the lips. ‘I love you mummy,’ the child was saying. That’s what the child must be saying, down at the shore, holding her mother’s face so precious.

Later Morrison bought 99s for Karen and Sandra from the ice-cream van. He was walking away from the ice-cream van when he stopped and went back for sprinkles and syrup, Karen and Sandra were sprinkles and syrup kind of people. They knew that Morrison was no longer mad at them for reading his notebooks.
After the ice-creams they lay down and looked at the deep blue of the sky.
‘Do you think this will go on forever?’ Karen asked, roasting her toes in the sun.
‘Probably,’ said Sandra from behind dark glasses, big ones like the celebrities wore.

The two children and their mother were coming closer, the smallest girl was running up the beach with a spade in her hand. She seemed very determined. It was the way her shoulders moved, the way her small legs carried her without hesitation.
“Isn’t that the woman from the bus,” remarked Sandra and they all sat up.
Morrison didn’t say anything, he stood and brushed the sand from his rolled up trousers.

The little girl flew past them up the slipway, her feet were dark with mud, her spade raised for action. The woman was rushing, holding too many bags, the handle of one fell down and the older girl rushed forward to hold it. They hurried by, each holding a handle of the bag. Morrison stood like an anatomical exhibit demonstrating forward motion. A few metres away the family disappeared up the slipway into the car park.

Sandra lay back down, adjusting her glasses. “I thought you were going to do something there for a minute, Morrison..”
“Ouch,” said Karen, wriggling on her beach towel, she reached under her, and revealed a rogue Love Heart.
Dream On she read out and then crunched it between her even white teeth.
Morrison sat back down. He kept looking in the direction of the shore but now the sun was in his eyes and he could no longer see.

31 Days: Inspiration and Daily Practice

This series of articles running through January will explore ways of keeping our head above water in physical, mental, emotional and creative areas. There will be creative challenges, competitions and giveaways. For the full background see here. To receive all the 31 posts, sign up for email notification on the sidebar. On twitter it’s at @31HAW or @alisonwells. Hashtag  #31haw and #headabovewater.

Not succeed but sustain

With these posts over 31 days I’m not looking at how we can magically ‘succeed’, I’m looking how we can get through our daily challenges in ways that are sustainable and can sustain us.

We all resolve to do things better, to be healthier, to organise ourselves, to be more productive but if you’re anything like me your good intentions will fade or get lost amidst the chaos that is life. I’ll look next week at goals and how both small goals and gigantic goals can work but let’s be realistic, life gets confusing and things happen so we n eed to build in flexibility so we don’t get discouraged and I’ll talk about that in next weeks post.

Daily practices I’ve undertaken this year

I’ve pledged to write 31 posts on wellbeing and resilience. It’s quite an undertaking and occasionally I wonder, what on earth I was thinking. But I want to make sure that it’s achieveable and if I need to make it easier on myself by taking shortcuts or getting help I can do that too.

I’ve undertaken to get up early to write each day but there’s a get out clause (only if I’m enjoying it and it doesn’t make me too tired to meet the challenges of family life.

I’m also walking regularly and working up to 20 mins each day on the kids trampoline in tiny increments (7 mins yesteday).

Many people follow the daily practice of the small stones, focused, mindful tiny stories or observances of nature or life and I’ve done that in previous January’s. Mindfullness is a fantastic way of calming our restless thoughts and anxieties and I’ll mention it again later in the month.

What I’m thinking is that the activities that we think of committing to at this time of year are those that will make us feel better either mentally, physically, emotionally, financially etc. They need to feed us, uplift us and be fun. If it’s a drudge, it’s not going to last.

So inspirational

I want to share with you today a link to the most inspirational talk that I listened to in 2012 – it’s a talk to young writers by author Ray Bradbury, one of my favourite authors who sadly passed away late last year. It’s about an hour long and well worth a listen and I post it on a Sunday because you might just have the time to sit and take it in.

In this recording he talks about how he got published, how he started out purely by writing the things he was interested in and wanted to write. They were stories when publishers generally wanted longer work but they worked together and the stories were collectively published as The Martian Chronicles. He talks about joy and enjoying writing, the energy as he discusses his own writing is evident.

Read a short story and an article of interest each day

In terms of daily practice Ray Bradbury gives the best advice out there. He tells writers to read a short story every day and to read an article of some kind that will feed their knowledge and curiosity. I love short stories and the complete satisfaction there is within one story, the (often) poetry and humanity. Reading articles on others lives, science, history, film, whatever immediate sends out sparks of interest, snippets that lie in your mind till later when they come out newly minted and dipped in the precious metal of your own interests.

Some of the sites I’ve found particularly inspiring in the past year have been Brainpickings (philosophy, history etc), IO9 (future science) and the site Letters of Note that finds fascinating letters of all kinds of human and world stories. I’ve been inspired so often by these sites and many story ideas have emerged from reading them.

Whatever you set out to do this year let it be something that is possible and that gives you energy and inspiration, not guilt and negativity.

You

What daily practices do you hope to follow this year? Can you link us to any sites that you find inspiring?

(UPDATE, this is an old post so competition no longer valid!)

Flash fiction Creative Comp

Don’t forget the 31/131 word creative challenge. Winners will be chosen later today. Please comment on your favourite entries. Thank you!