Last week I received my shiny, colorfully bird-laden copy of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction. Books like this don’t usually show up at my house: I’m a poet, through and through. But I’ve also had this little fling with fiction on the side since attending the Midwest Writers’ Conference, where I practically skipped out of Lee Martin’s brief session with a piece of fiction in hand. With the arrival of this new book, the affair has now become downright torrid. I’ve committed to Flash Fiction Fridays, when I will compose a flash piece, hell or high water, based on a writing exercise from the Field Guide. Some of these may even sneak their way into Tweetspeak. The first? A he said/she said tale. After seeing–and hearing about–the aftermath of an odd incident on our street, I imagined how a fictional “he” and “she” might process the event themselves.
He said: She had to be drunk. She said: You don’t know that. He said: What other woman hits the accelerator in her own garage? She said: It could happen to anyone. He said: She drove through the wall and the backyard and landed in the woods. She said: Cars are powerful. He said: She was sloshed. She said: Maybe she got a cell call. He said: Nope. She said: She’d been working all day. He said: Don’t we all. She said: Her kids were yelling in the backseat. He said: They were at daycare. She said: You never get their voices out of your head. He said: Someone could have been killed. She said: A woman never gets a break. He said: My God. She said: There was laundry and curriculum night and a mother with Alzheimer’s. He said: You’ve gotta be– She said: And the boss’s mean emails and her back hurting and her breasts sagging to her waist. Husband spending more time with college football than his own kids. And– He said: The cops made her walk the line. She said: Why couldn’t she just be sober and overwhelmed? He said: They led her off in handcuffs. She said: Lucky bitch.
Photo by utkutavil, Creative Commons license via Flickr. Post by Tania Runyan, author of A Thousand Vessels.
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I. Love. This.
Maureen Doallas says
Tania Runyan says
Thank you, Denise and Maureen!
Vickie Greenway says
I enjoyed this! Keep writing more!
L.L. Barkat says
I loved “you never get their voices out of your head.”
And the way these two people keep agitating towards their own viewpoints, using each other’s words to get there.
It’s a wonderful mirror of what perhaps happened in the other woman’s garage and life. Brings it into a new space where we can think harder about it, maybe even in relation to our own situations.
Really love this, Tania.
Megan Willome says
Yes, there have been days–recent days–where jail might have been an improvement. Meet interesting people, lose weight because the food’s so bad, only responsible for my actions. She knows.
Jon Lewis says
The whole way through I wanted to know if the garage door was up or down.
Tania…. love it! (I found myself choosing up real sides in this! SO on HER side that I’m convinced she was more right than wrong, all these things really DID happen and that’s WHY the other she she was drunk… ;o) )
Tania Runyan says
Thanks for the encouragement, all! Glad you enjoyed it. And Jon, I’ll let you decide about the garage. . .
Diana Trautwein says
this made me laugh out loud – what a fun way to tell a whole lot without many words. thanks for it!
Tania Runyan says
Thanks, Diana! These flash stories are a true joy to write.