Friday, August 21, 2009

Flash Fiction Story--The Great Puzzle

I poured another glass of my favourite merlot and picked up the postcard again. It wasn’t really anything special; just a few seagulls flying across a mostly blue sky overtop sparkling blue water. Tampa, Florida scrawled across the top left corner.

Of course, I knew who it was from before I even turned it over. Wanda. The woman for whom my father had abandoned my mother and me almost 15 years ago. Wanda, the woman who’d made more of an effort over the years to reconnect the two of us than he’d ever made in his entire life. Wanda, the woman whose very name made my skin crawl.

I’d received dozens of such postcards over the years. They always seemed to have some kind of animal on them. Dolphins. Whales. Alligators. Puppies. Sickening really.

So when I picked up this one, I expected the typical message on the back: Hi Sweetest Girl! Your Dad and I are having such a fantabulous time here. You should come and visit! He misses you soooooo much!!! We know you’re busy, but please try to write us back sometime! Bundles of love with bows on top, Wanda and Dad.

Something along those lines.

I never thought I’d wish for another postcard like that. And, well, I guess I still wouldn’t. I just wasn’t expecting this. I suppose no one ever really does.

With another sip of wine, I turned the card over and re-read the message.

“Dearest Sammie, I’m sorry to have to tell you this...but your father no longer flies high in the sky of life with us. He passed peacefully on Aug 7th, with me and your step-brother at his side. I’m sure he would have wanted you to be there...there just wasn’t any time. He loved you sooooo much!!!! Please write back, come visit, the funeral is Monday. Bundles of love as always, Wanda."

Who tells someone their father’s dead on a bloody postcard? And who makes a stupid pun on said postcard? Seriously.

I drained the last of the wine in one giant swallow. Wishing the bottle wasn't already empty, I pushed the glass out of the way.

The Great Puzzle. Dad's little pet term for life. And, of course, he was obsessed with actual puzzles. It was the unrequested unwanted gift he'd always give me, year after year, without fail. Come to think of it, he and Wanda really did deserve each other.

The funny thing is I couldn't not complete the puzzles he gave me. I don't know why. Like I was compelled to do it by some higher, father-loving-despite-everything power. Until this year. The FLDE Powers That Be had finally given up too and so this year's puzzle was still carelessly wrapped in silver paper, unevenly folded, with tape peeling off.

I'd told myself I'd open it if--and only if--he ever convinced me that there was more to him, and to us, than this pointless gift. Enough's enough, you know? But I guess that’s one day that’ll never see light.And maybe this last puzzle could my good-bye to what was and what could never be.

I tore it open, and tossed the wrapping to the side. The puzzle was a shot of earth as seen from space and had a thousand pieces. Literally.I sat there for three and a half hours putting it together. I'm really good at puzzles. Lots of practice, I suppose.

The phone rang a few times, like an alarm clock valiantly trying to wake me from this strange dream. I ignored it.

I fingered the last puzzle piece. It was mostly white, with some red,and it fit exactly no where. Certainly not in the empty spot somewhere in Australia.

"Damn him," I muttered, "That's just like him, give me a puzzle that can't be solved. Way to give me closure, Dad. Very freaking thoughtful."

I tried to force it in anyway, even though it couldn't possibly fit. In frustration, I flung the piece onto the table. It bounced once and landed face down. That's when I saw it, printed in ridiculously tiny letters. I had to get out a magnifying glass just to read it. I have no clue how he managed to write so bloody small.

"I'm sorry I never quite fit in your life. I have the puzzle for this piece, and you have the piece to my puzzle. Try again? Love, Dad."

Tears flooded my vision as I dialled a number I had memorized long ago but never called. It rang only once. I wasn't ready. But I guess you never really can be.

"Hello, Wanda?" I said, "It's Sammie."

************************************************************************************ Read, Write, Join, Comment! New stories (1000 words or less) posted every Friday.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Flash Fiction Friday Story--Always Space for Jealousy

This week's story is in response to a prompt/challenge to include the following:

Main character: A jealous husband
Antagonist: mutant squids
Setting: outer space

Chrissy manoeuvred herself over to the window and stared out. Outside the spaceship was dark and starless; inside almost the same.

“What are you looking at?” John asked, floating towards her.

“The vast nothingness.”

“Don’t lie, you’re dreaming of him, aren’t you?” His frown was all-encompassing.

As his space-suited fingers found her arm and clamped down, Chrissy sighed.

“There is no ‘him’. ‘He’ was fixing our shields, that’s it. I promise.”

“Better be it. Or I’ll fix his shields,” John muttered.

Something caught her eye as she rolled them, something purple and large, with tentacles thick like elephant trunks, and eyes like wormholes.

“John!” Chrissy screamed, “Turn the boat! Turn the boat!”

“Holy freakish mutant squid!” John yelled as he clamoured to the wheel and turned it hard starboard.

The squid casually grabbed the ship with two of is tentacles, peered inside curiously for a moment, and then shoved the boat away.

As the boat somersaulted into relative safety, Chrissy and John sat in stunned silence for a moment.


“Yes, John?”

He looked down, wishing he could resist asking the question, but knowing he couldn’t. Managing not to tap her fingers, she waited.

“Tell me the truth, okay?” he said finally, “you know before when you were looking out of the window so dreamily? Were you....were you looking at the squid?”

********************************************************************************** Read, Write, Join, Comment! New stories (1000 words or less) posted every Friday.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Flash Fiction Friday Story--House in the Sky

The house was small, wooden, rickety, and floating in the vast red sky above me. Without really meaning to--half walking, half floating—I slowly made my way towards it. I don’t think there was any other direction I could move.

“Hello?” I whispered, “Is there—Is there anyone there?”

No one answered, but I felt invited in just the same. A door knob where there had been none before appeared the instant my hand grazed the door, and when I turned it, the door swung open easily.

“Hello?” I said again. Peering into the darkness, I could see nothing. I stepped in and the door to the outside world closed behind me.

“Been waiting for you,” said a deep voice, “Thank you for heeding our call.”

I swallowed nervously. “C-call? Heeding?”

I moved further into the darkness, letting it envelope me until I could almost believe I didn’t exist outside of it. Was that other life even my own? Had I imagined it? The darkness swallowed me, who I thought I was, who I wanted to be, and left something foreign in its place. I grasped at the abstract thought, but even that seemed to be devoured by the darkness around me. I was bereft of myself, clothed only in the absence of light.There was a rustling noise and then light suddenly flooded the small house. I winced and covered my eyes.

“Oh, sorry,” said a small man, “Didn’t mean to make you question your very existence.”


“Oh, don’t worry about it,” he said in that voice that seemed too large for him. “Happens all the time. Well, not all the time, precisely. But it is quite common in the dark. Especially this dark.”

He grinned knowingly at me, as my sense of self gradually returned.

“Why am I here?” I asked, lowering myself into the chair he gestured to.

He laughed. “Do you even know where ‘here’ is?”

I thought back. Before the floating house, the last thing I remembered was going to bed early (because it was a school night and I had a presentation the next day).

“This is a dream?”

“Ah, you’re a quick one,” said the man, “You’re close. ‘Here’ is in a dream, but it is not the dream itself. But it’s not important. The important thing, of course, is that you are here, no matter where‘here’ is."

I looked at him blankly, waiting for him to continue. He nodded encouragingly, waiting for me to say something. I gave in.


“So here’s everything you need. The box, the list, the checking-things-off marker. Off you go.”

He thrust a large box into my hands, and started to leave.

“Wait! What am I supposed to do with all this? I think you’ve got the wrong girl...” I jumped up and tried to return it to him. The man pushed it back towards me.He laughed, deep and boomingly.

“No, no, you heeded the call. You’ve been dreaming of this house for some time, yes?”

I tried to cross my arms but the box got in the way. Sighing, I shrugged instead.

“Lots of people have recurring dreams. I’m sure I’m not the only one.There’s that guy that had that theory and...”

“Oh, of course, we sent the call to a number of people, but you’re the only one who heeded it. As I mentioned.”

“So...what would I have to do?” I asked.

He smiled. “Make dreams come true. There’s an instruction manual somewhere in there. It passes from one person to another--it’s a floating job, see? In a floating house. I know, I know. Dreams are quite literal. It something we’re working on.”

“That sounds nice,” I admitted, “Making dreams come true..."

“Oh yes,” he said, nodding. He patted me on the shoulder and walked out of the house. I could see him waving through the closing space until the last moment when door clicked shut. A second later it swung open again.

“Almost forgot! You have to follow the instructions, to the letter.And never, ever speak of this to anyone. Or dreams will become undone.Even the ones already dreamt. Remember—to the letter! Okay, have fun, kid!”

And with that he left again. I put the box on the table, taking out all the items. I counted, and re-counted them. Something was definitely missing. Heart pounding, I ran to the door.

“Wait!” I yelled, “You forgot the instructions! Sir? Sir! I don’t know how to make dreams come true! There aren’t any instructions!”

********************************************************************************** Read, Write, Join, Comment! New stories (1000 words or less) posted every Friday.