55Friday: The “Enter Sandman”* Edition

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This Friday, after reading a few of your comments on my last post about Sir Ben, I was struck by how many of you fervently appreciated his work in The House of Sand and Fog. In fact, I was so affected by your opinions, I was inspired to put up (finally) a new edition of the 55Friday.

I love creating an open space for all mutineers to get creative and if you care to grace our thread with a perfect little gem of nanofiction, which spans just 55 words, I eagerly await reading what you’ve imagined.

If, however, you feel like doing something different, perhaps we can do a little “writing exercise” to clear away the cobwebs, since it’s been a wee while since we 55ed. Sometimes, when my English teacher wanted to stir things up, she’d write a sentence on the board and then one-by-one, we’d have a few minutes to add to whatever came before us. At the end of this process (there were only 12 students), she’d read our ad hoc story.

So, I found a sentence from The House of Sand and Fog, and if you’d like to, you may write one to come after. And then someone can follow you, and so on. Normally, I’d say “leave an ‘I got next’ comment” if you want the subsequent turn, so we don’t have two writers scribbling simultaneously, but I get the feeling that won’t be necessary. ;) If by some miracle you all like this, then you might want to start doing that, with the caveat that if it’s been more than 10 minutes, you lose your turn.

Alternatively, if reading all that exhausted you, you can use our THoSaF sentence as fodder for your 55-word flash fiction. Just let your mind meander so you can exercise your atrophied creativity, and write something. That’s the entire point. :)

Here’s your prompt:

My daughter, Soraya, was married on Saturday and I feel already there is a hole in my chest with her gone.

Ready, Betty? Continue reading

55Friday: The “One Sentence Story” Edition

I hadn’t logged in to my del.icio.us for a while; when I did so today, one of the “popular” links on the main page caught my eye.

One Sentence – True stories, told in one sentence. [link]

Since I’m the resident doyenne of fast fiction (ironic, innit?), I was predictably and immediately interested.

As soon as I thought, “This might be fun for 55Friday,” your torment was assured. Last week, we had as many haikus as we did examples of nanofiction, so I know you like to change things up a bit. Oh, and to those who wondered out loud why we do this writing-thing/expressed how you’d like to see less of these posts on SM, I have three things to type:

1) Others actually love what you dislike.

2) It’s a tradition! We’re desi, we love rituals and routines!

3) As one of you put it in a very kind email:

I noticed that you haven’t posted a 55Friday topic in a while. I hope you didn’t discontinue it. I love 55Friday because it’s the only time during the week when I’m creative. One day a week, I get to feel like I’m living up to that ever-present new year’s resolution to “write more”, so please bring it back if you can.

So, please ignore this if it doesn’t have any effect on your knickers and move on to something which will– and that’s solid advice for every post you wrinkle your cute little nose at, not just 55Fridays.

Okay, back to one-sentence wonders. The most significant difference between this and our typical 55s? These are supposed to be true, real, non-fiction. I chose a few from the site, to inspire you and help demonstrate what to do. Most of these were plucked from the “Best of” section.

I don’t wish that I had Jesse’s girl…why did he find a woman like this:

Jesse
She’s ruined half of my music library for me.

Since these are true stories, this one made my heart crack:

zot
I am heart-sick because, like many parents of children with profound disabilities, my most secret and unspoken prayer is “Dear God, please let me outlive my child.”

This (since they’re supposed to be true!) is just wrong :)

Adam
The pedestrian looked concerned, as he bounced off the bonnet of my car.

Continue reading

55Friday: The “‘I’m Screwed’/Haiku” Edition

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When we 55 each week, it’s usually because I have looked to my iPod for inspiration; I try and choose a meaningful song with which to name our Flash Fiction orgies and yes, it’s almost guaranteed that whatever I select once aired on 120 Minutes.

However, on this freaky Friday, like most of you, I’ve got a screaming/crying blonde on the brain. It seems apposite to use one of her shitty songs, in honor of all this justice she got served. Welcome to “Screwed”, from her eponymously named album which is chock full o’ Scott Storch-tainted crap. Perhaps they should make Miss Hilton listen to it in prison, 24/7, as part of her rehabilitation…I know after 30 seconds of each song, I was clawing off my headphones while vowing to never misbehave again. It’s THAT painful.

The lyrics to “Screwed” (heh) are below the jump. Don’t expect much from them. Wait, what am I saying, you are all too bright for that…though if you’re anything like me, you’ll giggle at the thought that the words “I’m screwed” are repeated eight times (ah, there’s the reason for our title). Perhaps she was humming them to herself in the police car?

No matter, on this Fast Fiction Friday, write 55 words about heiresses, anything Paris’s or what’s fairest. Ignore our topic and write about other stuff, too, as long as you do so with exactly 55 words, since that’s what nanofiction is all about. Not sure how to play? Lookie here:

A literary work will be considered 55 Fiction if it has:
1. Fifty-five words exactly(A non-negotiable rule)
2. A setting,
3. One or more characters,
4. Some conflict, and
5. A resolution. (Not limited to moral of the story)
Many new versions of the 55 Fiction have started to modify on the rules by either ignoring to include conflict, or basing it on a true incident and dramatising it. [wiki]

Having copied and pasted all that, in celebration of today’s delicious victory for right over pink-clad evil, you haiku-freaks can get down, too. Same rules for you, just fit your genius in three lines of carefully-counted syllables.

Finally, if you’re wondering what’s up with our visual aid– it’s from an episode of South Park which aired in December of 2004. “Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset” was hilarious (and it really was the name of the show, so you can’t yell at me for the caption…that’s what I meant by the asterisk, not that you had any way of guessing that):

Continue reading

55Friday: The “Hallelujah” Edition

What was I supposed to say at that sorrow-saturated moment, when you stood behind security’s velvet rope, reaching out for me one last time? I couldn’t follow you to your gate, I can’t follow you in to hell, I must follow this war even more closely, because you have been deployed, though you weren’t supposed to be. fleeting sweetness.jpg

If we could all go back in time, would some of us have voted the way we did, if we knew this is where we would be in May of 2007? I didn’t vote for him and I certainly didn’t vote for this nightmarish occupation which causes nothing but anguish, for innocents cowering in their own homes, for the young, so very young men and women in uniform who witness that and for the relatives of those witnesses, who walk about in a depressed haze, worrying if the last time…was that the last good-bye?

Dazed, I now sleepwalk similarly through my days, wondering where you are, if you’ve had proper food (vegan? In the military??) and if you are okay. I can’t focus, I can’t sleep and I’m grateful to be an allergy sufferer, because it gives my tears and the perma-red eyes they descend from acceptable reasons to exist.

I miss you already, little sister and only sibling of mine. You will always be three to me, knobby knees and ankle socks, super-short hair and moody sweetness. I miss everything about you and I wish you could come home.

What kind of a war are we waging if we send people who just survived cancer scares over, I asked a mutineer. “We’re sending people with spinal cord injuries, what do you think?” was their reply. I think we should support our troops, by bringing them home NOW. And I felt that way before I knew they would take you, too.

That soul-crushing moment when I had to let you go, when I couldn’t stop hearing Jeff Buckley’s voice in my head crooning “Last Goodbye”, I lost every word in my expanded-thanks-to-Scripps-Howard vocabulary. I stumbled with my leaden tongue instead of my wobbly feet, awkwardly letting “bye”, “be well” and “take care of yourself” get muddled in to some nasty cliché cocktail. What I really wanted to tell you, was “I love you, so very much. You are precious to me and I will count the hours until you return.” But that truth never came out of my lips. At least I didn’t cry, not while you were looking. Only when the tram took you away from me did my tear ducts release pain and fear. And Buckley was there again:

There’s a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah
I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah [Cohen]

I did my best, Kalyani. It wasn’t much. Continue reading

55Friday: The “Something to Talk About” Edition

It’s Friday, which means another work week is over and it is time for some flash fiction-fabricating.

Between the last post I wrote, the edifying discussion on hair which spontaneously occurred when we failed to identify a brown model, AGAIN (Sorry, Sree) and the most precious Gmail I’ve received in weeks (which contained this query-via-wideo from a four-year-old) well, The Papaya, he is playing on my mind. One of you messaged me regarding your surprise that I hadn’t voted for Sanjaya, a secret I revealed here, but American Idol has nothing to do with my passion for papaya. I sweat him because he’s so kind and ingenuous, because of his sweet nature.

I’m thinking in particular about Papaya’s last performance (available in the video above), which took him from tears to a tiny bit of triumph when he customized the chorus of Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About” to “other than haaaaaaaair”. That was the moment when my affection for him became solid, when I realized that it wasn’t just idle amusement; he had put up with so much and he was still smiling in his typical, good-natured way. I was amazed, mostly because I’ve never been a fan of this song, but also because he seemed so poised for a teenager. “My hero,” I thought. All those detractors piling on him in addition to the biggest hater of them all—Simon–plus the blatantly racist slant to much of the criticism he received (uh…where were the anti-Italian comments?) equaled humility and niceness, not bitterness or resentment. When I grow up, I want to be a papaya.

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This week, write about gossip, the blues, papaya, fanjayas or continue the week’s trend and 55 away about hair, ‘pooed, oiled or otherwise. If none of this tickles your knickers, pick your own plot to flash some fiction with, but please play along anyway. I’m sure you have something to talk about, how about packaging it in a mere fifty-five words? Continue reading

55Friday: The “How Soon is Now” Edition

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I am glad that this song is now so old, I can cop to liking it without wincing from the “trendiness” of it all. You see little minnows, in 1988– which is when ancient me commenced high school –if someone random noticed a Smiths bumper sticker on a Spanish text book (ahem), it wasn’t surprising if they exclaimed, “OMG, I LOVE that ‘sun and air’ song, you know?” Mmm, yeah. I know.

Like all bands, The Smiths had one song which everybody knew; I always gnashed my teeth at the fact that it had to be this one. After all, I needed this one, damnit. But when you’re 13 and a painfully shy freshman in high school, all you’ve got is your indie/goth cred. So I’d just nod and be all like, “Yeah.” Then they’d leave me alone, lest they be seen with the weird kid and have their ranking on our school’s popularity index decline dramatically.

It always makes top-whatever lists (lyrics, songs, guitar tracks) but I think the real significance of How Soon is Now lies in its status as an anthem for the alienated. Beyond that, HSiN has the greatest intro ever, as far as I’m concerned. Goddess bless Johnny Marr, for his oscillating wildly. But I digress. Then again, that’s just what I do, innit?

Today is Friday and last week, we didn’t have a nanofiction orgy. I wanted to make sure that we got right back on that uber-short story riding horse, lest we all forget how delightful it is to zip up an entire tale in a mere 55 words. Our theme is “shyness”, but as always, you are free to digress…it’s only fair, if I get to do it…

I know I’ve built this flash fiction tradition around the songs that saved my life, but this one is extraordinarily special; it’s akin to breaking out the big guns, to battle the forces of evil. I woke up to some awful news in the wee hours of this morning, so I think it’s okay to dust off the greatest cannon in my canon. Leave your brilliance in the comments below; it’ll get my mind off of casualties, senseless violence and collateral damage, thanks. Continue reading

55Friday: The “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” Edition

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I wore burnt orange and maroon today, did you? I almost feel guilty hosting a flash fiction fete on a day which is dominated by vigils and remembrance. But maybe this is exactly what we need, maybe this will be an outlet or a distraction or a comforting little bit of familiar. There is no theme this week; the title song is there for an entirely different reason than “usual”. It is one of my favorite songs of all time and it means quite a bit to me. It conjures youth, loss, sadness, faith and eternity the moment I hear its first few notes. It is what I listened to when I wrote a letter to Minal Panchal on Tuesday. It’s a song which moves me, which breaks my heart a little whenever I hear it and that is why I can’t get it out of my head.

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Write 55 words about whatever moves you and post it below. If you can’t do that, but you can write a poem, a haiku or a slightly shorter or longer piece of flash fiction, feel free. While I usually try and insist on adhering to the 55-word shape, this is a week for inclusion, sharing and acceptance, so whatever you want to leave is welcome. Continue reading

55Friday: The “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” Edition

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I am drained.

It is not because I’ve fought a cold all week, nor is it due to what had to have been one of the busiest Fridays I’ve spent at any job. No, it is this. This site. This ever-growing, always challenging, far-too-smart-to-be-left-alone (much like my German Shepherds, when they were puppies) community/blog/baby/project which I cannot abandon, no matter how many times it makes me cry, rant or mope. I did all of the above, btw. I cried when I re-read a certain infamously raw post about my past, because it is a trigger. I ranted right here, just a few posts below where you are now. And I moped, ohhhh did I mope.

I felt despair. I had been warned that at some point, this blog would grow so big that we would not be able to contain it, control it, corral it…keep it. The writing may have been on the wall, but it was not in our comment threads; some of our oldest readers, loyalists who had been with us forever, people we met online and then later IRL via meetups, whom we cherished…they no longer comment or visit us. They don’t want to be here and it breaks my heart; “that’s the price of success,” one of you told me. No, not that. I want it to always be like this, exactly as rare and wonderful and mutinous as this…

But for a good chunk of the afternoon, exhausted from moderating and well, caring, I gave up. I started to drink the rotten kool-aid and it upset my stomach and more important things, like that squishy mushy, weak, red thing in my chest. What was the point? The mean people who suck would win. And I for one would not welcome our new troll overlords.

I couldn’t take being 16 when I was 16, so feeling that morose, melancholy, weepy bleh-ness was extra untenable as a 32-year old. What did I do when I was that age and this miserable? Ah yes, THE SMITHS. Because as perverse as it reads, they cheer me, yes they do. Within seconds, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now wafted through noise-cancelling phones and by the second line, I was smiling for the first time all day. I smiled wider when I realized that I had “my song” and thus, my theme for Friday’s nanofiction orgy.

Write exactly 55 words about what makes you miserable, what feels like heaven, Caligula (my favorite despot!), How Soon is Now or anything else that the lyrics which are pasted below evoke. Hell, write about whatever you feel like burying or praising, just make sure you do and that you post your mistresspiece below, yes?

Yes.

Now that I am impossibly chipper (just listened to Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me!), I’m ready to go home. I hope I have yummy 55s to read when I get there. Continue reading

55Friday: The “Candy Everybody Wants” Edition

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When I’m not listening to Accuradio at work, the wee leetle iPod, it is on the shuffle. Like all other gadget-addicted fruit-lovers, I marvel at how the seemingly random is the utterly awesome, since I like every tune that gets served up, every time.

This, despite the fact that I am the one who chose to load all my favorite songs on to Suitable iPod in the first place, thus making me an ingrate for feeling so much wonder at what I, not shuffle, hath wrought. Maybe it’s the timing of it all, i.e. how the perfect song always seems to play at the exact moment it should? How else to explain why Depeche Mode’s “Master and Servant” blares when I’m reading about Dick Cheney and Dubya… ;)

Anyway, I’ve heard the song which inspires this week’s nanofiction orgy 2-3 times a day, every day this week thanks to shuffling. It’s one of my favorite joints of all time, in part because I sweat Natalie Merchant’s voice so so very much. So, since I already had mancandy on the brain and there is ALWAYS candy in my tummy, this week is dedicated to sweet stuff, which seems especially apposite when baskets everywhere are being filled with goodies which will make dentists rich in a few months.

Write about sugar, peeps, sour patch kids or that totem of my childhood which is pictured to the left, Cadbury fruit and nut. I’ve had everything from Hershey’s to handmade, exorbitantly-priced truffles and no chocolate is more delicious or makes me feel more loved; if it’s from England (where it tastes better!) I feel positively adored.

Write 55 words (exactly 55 words, no need to be Hemingway) inspired by the lyrics to “Candy Everybody Wants” or about your own sugar-fix in the comments below. If you are in a salty mood, disregard the weekly theme. We just want to read, so get typing. Continue reading