Free Short Story: “Tomorrow Can Be A Better Day”

I admit right now that this is not “flash” fiction. At 1727 words, it’s definitely a short story. Clarissa Ryan asked for one that included a lot of cute and happiness-inducing things, and when I’d finished drafting it, there was nothing I wanted to cut out. So, a short story it is, and I hope you enjoy it.

Tomorrow Can Be A Better Day

Jana stroked the kitten’s soft, calico fur as the elevator rose slowly. She left it cling to her shirt, held tight to her chest, as its tiny claws extended and retracted happily. The elevator stopped at the 7th floor, and Jana carefully reached down for her bags with her free hand.

“Time for you to go to your new home, honey,” Jana said to the kitten as she searched the recipient’s apartment. Spotting the right number on the door, she stopped, and set her bags down to one side. She pulled out square pink box large enough to hold the kitten, gently unhooked its little paws from her shirt, and placed it inside. “Now, shh,” she whispered. “You’re a surprise.” She grabbed a shiny bow from the bag, set it atop the box (careful not to cover up any of the air holes) and knocked on the door.

Just as Jana was about to knock again, the door finally opened a crack. An older woman, her graying hair up in a loose bun, clutched her bathrobe tightly with wrinkled pink hands. Her sandy blue eyes were red and her eyelids were puffy.

“Mrs. Margorie Hanta? Happiness Delivery Service,” Jana said in her bubbliest voice.

“I don’t want whatever it is,” Mrs. Hanta said softly. “Thanks anyway.” She started to close the door.

“Oh, but wait,” Jana said. “You’re the only one who can take this.” She held the box up.

The other woman sighed, but let the door stay open.

The kitten in the box mewed softly.

“No,” Mrs. Hanta said to the box, shaking her head. “I am not ready.” Continue reading

Art History Resources For Writers

I’ve occasionally talked about different aspects of art history here: semiotics, evolution of style, photo references, and so on. I don’t work as an art historian now, and I’m no longer pursuing a degree in that field (though I do have one and studied for another), so I’m always on the fence about how much time to devote to discussing it in this space. I think most people who read this blog are here for writing — my writing, or conversations about writing — and I’m not sure how much interest there ever was in me excitably sharing some obscure piece of history or culture that I read about this week.

But the truth is that I read non-fiction every week, in addition to fiction, and most of what I’m studying on my own is related to art history. I’ve always been a sociocultural art historian, which means I seek to understand art by  understanding the culture and context within which it was created, instead of trying to fit the art of another time and place into a framework I’m imposing. (I’m looking at you, Marxist aestheticists.) That’s part of why semiotics is an integral part of my art criticism; visual communication, including art, is an extension of linguistics, and like language, can’t be truly understood unless you know the context in which it’s spoken, and the culture of the people speaking it.

So, I think I’m going to incorporate more of that into this space. It’s a part of who I am, and that’s what you signed up for when you read my blog.

Before you go, check out these links to some previous posts that might interest you:

If you’d like me to talk about anything in particular, please leave me a comment below.

Today I’m Saving the World (A Little Bit)

 

When this posts, I’ll be lying on a Red Cross table, donating 2 units of red blood cells in a process they call “Power Red” automated donation. Basically, an apheresis machine will draw out twice as much blood as during a typical donation, separating the blood cells from the platelets and plasma. Then it returns those to me along with some saline; this keeps me from being too dehydrated afterward, and lets me give more blood cells than I could otherwise.

Donating blood is one of the most useful ways to help those in need. Unlike money (which can be spent on a charity’s “infrastructure” instead of going to those the group claims to help) or food (which is hard for food banks to manage and often a waste of time/money), donated blood can’t be “spent” on anything but saving a life.

Listen, the world in general is a cruel and uncaring place for most of us. But as individuals, we’re largely a decent group of creatures worth supporting and even saving, if necessary. Time and again we’re show definitive proof that we can’t go through the world alone — we need family, friends, safety nets, and social programs (including ambulances, emergency rooms, and fire crews) to get ahead and stay there. Everyone has to contribute whatever they can, so that everyone has the opportunity to succeed, or only the truly lucky will.

I’ve been scheduling a blood donation as often as they let me since I moved to Ithaca over 5 years ago. It’s the one thing I’ve been able to commit to, consistently, that is entirely about giving someone else a hand. There’s no glory in it, no reward, other than being selfless for 30 minutes, a couple of times a year.

I don’t have a lot of time to donate toward saving the world, and no money. I can do this, though, and so can you.

Bills to Pay and Words to Write

Updated 7/19/2017

It’s sometimes hard to make ends meet as a full-time freelancer. I’m always looking for new editing clients, applying for contract jobs, pitching for writing gigs–if you know of anything, please send it my way.

In the meantime, I’ve been taking prompts from friends and fans who contribute to my rent and expenses, and writing them into flash length fiction stories. So far in this round, I’ve posted:

If you want to inspire your own story, you can get on the list by donating any amount via my PayPal, HERE. (Seriously, any amount. I appreciate the help.) You don’t need a PayPal account to use that link.

You can give me a phrase, like “Dachshunds from Mars”, or individual prompts, like “forest stream, tall and short, violet, bunny, moons.” You can give me a name you’d like me to use for a character, or tell me what genre/time period your story should be in. (I reserve the right to say no, but as long as your ideas don’t include gratuitous sex or violence against vulnerable people, I probably won’t.) From your idea, I’ll write a flash fiction story of about 1000 words. I send the stories to the person who prompted them for review, and then post them here with a note about who gave me the prompt. You get credit for your ideas 🙂

Thank you.

Free Flash Fiction: “The Scent of Food is Memory and Love”

The Scent of Food is Memory and Love

Azedah took the leaves off of the last small, round eggplant, then cut through the dark purple flesh until she had turned it into a pile of thick slices. She added them to the others already simmering in olive oil in her largest frying pan, so wide it covered most of the cooktop on that side of the stove. When both sides were golden brown, she lifted the eggplant pieces out of the pan and put then aside to drain. Quickly, her fingers moving with long experience, she chopped a large yellow onion; the fine slices sizzled when they hit the hot oil left in the pan.

“Azedah,” the house said. “The visitors have arrived.”

“Ah, they are early! Is Yasmin out of the shower?”

“Yes. Yasmin is in the study,” the house replied.

Azedah stirred the onions with a worn wooden spatula, and the smell of their cooking spread across the large kitchen. “Ask Yasmine to greet our guests,” she said. Behind her, the pressure cooker beeped, its cycle finished. She tapped the “natural release” icon, and turned back to the stove.

She reached to her left – but her hand closed on empty air. Continue reading