Short stories and flash fiction have always fascinated me. The ability to capture a brief moment in time and tell a story of emotion is something beautiful. Here are some of my favorite short pieces.
“A piece short enough to share in an image, while covering lifetimes of emotion. True flash fiction, I wrote this one over the course of a few minutes one winter afternoon.”
Reflections Under a Blue Sky
“My first real attempt at super short fiction, and still one of my favorites. “
As I lie in the sand, my senses are amplified as I take in the scenery. The sun’s warmth wraps around me like a hug from a loved one. Warm sand drifts softly between my fingers as I make small circles with my hands. The sky above is such a simple beauty that I have often taken for granted. Small loose clouds drift overhead in a beautiful dance, and I’m inspired. Gazing into the sea of blue above, my thoughts turn to the blue eyes that have illuminated my life.
When I met Sarah all those years ago, I couldn’t imagine that she would someday become my wife. Every day I wonder how I got so lucky. Her eyes speak to my soul in ways words cannot; her smile gives me joy, and her touch gives me life. I’ve said before that my life began when I met Sarah, but my life wasn’t complete until I met the other beautiful lady in my life.
The first time I held my daughter it changed everything. Her tiny hand wrapped around my finger as she looked up at me with wonder and amazement at the world around her. As years went on, I worried more and more that I wouldn’t be the dad she deserved. I worried that I couldn’t give her what she needed. I learned, however, that all she really needed was her loving parents. Her awkward footsteps racing to greet me at the door, and her excited screams of “daddy” when I would come home taught me about love.
Now at the age of six, she loves nothing more than to play on the beach, building sand castles, splashing in the water, running, jumping and enjoying the special magic of summer. I cannot describe the feeling of lying on the beach watching our daughter chase butterflies with innocent amazement in her beautiful blue eyes.
If only I were on the beach now. . .
For a moment I made myself believe that’s where I was. A dark haze obscures the blue sky and I’m thrust back into reality. The sand that drifted through my fingers now clumps in a wet mass; the smell of smoke and gunfire fills my nose, and I start to shake. As my life flashes, joy of the past is replaced by sorrow over the future. I tremble as dark visions stain my thoughts. Images of a knock on a door, a flag covered box, and a girl who doesn’t understand things like war and death haunt me as I gasp once more.
“A bit longer than the others, this one still follows the theme of telling a larger story in fewer words.”
Allen gazed in perplexity at the posters of bizarrely dressed rock stars and boy bands hanging on the wall. He surveyed the room taking in its emptiness. Having a daughter, a clean room was not something he was used to seeing. “All packed up and ready to go huh?” he said as he leaned against the door frame.
“Yeah Dad,” Alison replied in a soft voice. “You’re not going to get all emotional on me are you?”
“I’ll try not to.” He replied. “I know you are going to do great things. I know that you are going to do great in college but I just can’t believe that it’s time for you to go. I feel like I was just chasing you around the house and putting you to bed with your stuffed animals.”
“Dad, I know it’s hard, but remember you always told me that if you try to hold onto things just the way they are you’ll never see how amazing they could become?”
“I remember,” he replied. “Trust me. I don’t want to hold you back. I just…it’s just really hard to see you go.”
“Dad, You know that I love you and no matter where I am that won’t change.” She said as she walked over to her father and looked him in the eye. His skin seemed older than his years and he appeared to be in poor health. In contrast, Alison was youthful and vibrant with eyes that held a special warmth and kindness.
As he looked upon her, Allen was amazed that at the age of 18 her beautiful green eyes had not changed from those which looked lovingly up at him as a little girl. He smiled for a moment as he always had in response to that earnest look of love. Slowly sadness crept back in and a dull pain in his shoulder quickly stole his attention. He rubbed the muscle in his shoulder with no relief and shifted his position in the doorway.
“Are you going to get that checked out?” Alison asked with a note of concern.
“It’s just a sore shoulder. He replied dismissively.”
She sat on her bed and patted the mattress next to her. “Well, at least sit-down.”
Allen took the seat next to his daughter and dropped his head down as he spoke. “I know your ride is going to be here soon, but there are a couple of things I want to tell you before you leave if that’s okay.”
“Of course dad.”
“First of all–” he began “make sure your friend isn’t texting and driving on the way down there. And second…I uh…I don’t think I ever told you when you were younger but…” Allen struggled with his words because emotional honesty had been challenging for him for the last several years. “I just want you to know that I always wanted a daughter. When your mother was pregnant everyone asked me if I wanted a son and I always told them that I would be happy either way, and that was true, but the day you were born I couldn’t stop thinking about the tea parties you would force me to attend, the jewelry I would give you on your sweet 16 and the way you would always call me dad and kiss me on the cheek. I loved you from the beginning and never stopped.”
Alison’s eyes began to well up. “Dad.”
“You never stopped amazing me, Alison. Do you remember when you were in third grade and there was a girl in your class who was being bullied? You insisted on inviting her over for dinner. You said you wanted to show her that there were nice people in the world. That girl told me years later that you saved her life. She also said that you had been bullied just as much as her but you were always more worried about others.”
Allen shrugged off a sharp pain in his chest and a sense of foreboding as he interrupted her to continue his speech. He felt like he had to get it all out or he wouldn’t get the chance.
“When you were four-years-old you were stung by a wasp. I asked you what happened and you told me that it was drowning in the birdbath and you were trying to help it. To me, it was a nuisance bug that needed to be sprayed but to you, it was a life that needed saving. That is who you are. You are the person who sees value in others even if they don’t see it themselves. You are the first to help or to offer a kind word. Please, wherever you are don’t ever forget who you are.”
“You are making me cry,” Alison responded wiping away tears. Her Father’s head dropped down and his breathing became labored. “Dad!?!” she called out.
Through shallow breaths, he said “I read the note you wrote me. I know goodbyes are hard and I know you wanted me to read it after you left. But your words and the love you expressed hit me hard and I had to tell you how much I love you before you go.”
“Dad, you know I wrote that letter a long time ago.”
“No, no, no,” he said recoiling as he clenched his eyelids shut.
“Dad, you’re having one of your anxiety attacks. You can’t keep doing this to yourself. You need to come back. It’s time to let go.”
Allen opened his eyes and saw the bedroom decorated in Disney characters and unicorns. He looked at the clothes piled on the floor and the closet door he could not get out of his mind. That was where he found her. It had been six years since Alison had taken her young life and he still could not understand that she was not here with him…how such a caring person could feel so uncared for…how others could be so cruel as to extinguish such an exquisite light with hateful words. Coming back to reality, he knew that he had to let go of that other world that didn’t exist. Looking at the nightstand his eyes were drawn to a dust-covered picture frame Alison had kept next to her bed. In it a handwritten note he remembered slipping into her lunch bag years ago. It read “Alison, remember that no matter where you are, I will always love you. -Dad”