Friday, November 11, 2016

Flash Fiction: Hope

My friend Lori—it's all your fault—suggested I write for the Plotto contest, put on by Tin House Publishing. Since my stories are big fat losers, I thought I'd publish them on my blog rather than let them moulder in my Google Drive.

The parameters: An original story, 500 words or less, based on the writing prompt.
Here was week one prompt:

And the loser story:


He stepped on to the bridge railing. The breeze felt fresh on his face. He dug his into his pocket and pulled out everything he owned. He opened his fingers and watched the detritus of street life disappear into puffs of mist as it sunk into the water--except for the rock; it was warm in his other hand.

He climbed down, and an anxious crowd parted. A police officer touched his elbow.

“Sir, can I get a ride? I need a haircut and these clothes...well they don’t smell too good.”

“Sure; get in. I know a place.”

Scratching a freshly shaved chin, he glanced at his reflection in a mirrored window. It smiled at him; good to see you man.

He pulled open the door and smelled the wood of the instruments mixed with the must of old building and dog. He picked up a guitar that looked a lot like the one he remembered, but older. He fingers made forgotten chord shapes as he squeezed his eyes shut and sang.
“Wow man, that was something.”

“Thanks. I’m Eugene. You got a job I can do?”

“For someone who plays like that, you bet your ass I do.”

"I need a place to sleep too.”

“There’s a room upstairs. You clean?”



Her morning was hectic. Her girls wouldn’t get up. They wouldn’t get dressed. They didn’t want to eat. They didn’t want to get on the bus.

Her littlest cried, “Mama, I just want to stay home with you.”

“Me too, baby.” She hugged her daughter and breathed in her buttery-flower scent.

The bus swallowed them up and left her hollow.

She weaved around people waiting for the train and bumped into a man who was rummaging in a garbage can. The blow knocked him back, sending his cans skittering over the sidewalk. She helped him gather them. She fished twenty dollars from her purse; hesitated, then wrapped a rock inside the money. She took his hand and pressed the tiny package into it.

Eugene unwrapped it. The word, hope, stared up at him.


Her feet ached. Her back hurt. She smiled down at the boy with a tube running from his nose.

“Sponge Bob? Boy, that show is going to rot your brain.”

The boy laughed, then winced in pain.

She picked up a remote and said, “I hear they have puppies coming in today. You want one or five?”

“Twelve.” “Hey, Harriet? Can you get my mom?”

“Sure thing, baby. You OK doll? You need something?”

“Just my mom. Please.”

His face had the shadow. She kissed his forehead and whispered, “I’ll go get her, baby.”

Harriet dialed the phone. She glanced up and noticed Luke’s mother walking down the hallway. She took her hands, “Amy, Luke was asking for you...” Harriet fished a rock from a pocket and pressed it into Amy’s palm.

Amy opened her fingers and the word, hope, stared up at her.

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