Saturday, May 14, 2011

Flash fiction

Thanks to Twitter for exposing me to a new writing genre, Flash fiction. Otherwise known as a short, short story, Flash fiction is usually less than a page long. Web sites and other publications devoted to the genre even place word restrictions on their stories.

I am going to try my hand at flash fiction today. I haven't been writing much fiction lately, but have posted many poem tweets online, which in the brevity of its medium forces concision and multiple layers of meaning that good poetry contains.

I've got 35 minutes left at the library and don't know what I'm going to write about. Here goes...

It was hot and humid that May morning. And when Valdus and his son, Ragnar, took off for the disc golf course near their middle-class Midwest home, puffy anvil head clouds were billowing in on the southern horizon.

Ragnar was five and he couldn't throw the heavy discs nearly as far as his father, who, a technical writer and pseudo-Zen mysticist, exemplified the antipodal urges of concentration and impatience raging through his fragile psyche through his style of play on the disc golf course. He breathed deep, unconsciously twirled the disc in hand, took a grip and stepped into his throw. He had an unorthodox sidewinder windup that seemed hurky jerky until the whiplash release. He finished his motion and watched in awe as the disc sailed through the air. A moment of grace. But then, obvlious to Ragnar's turn and his short legs, Valdus walked in a fast pace towards his disc.

"Wait for me, Daddy." Ragnar said. Ragnar wanted to follow the rules and throw from the spot where the disc dropped, but since he could only throw the disc about 20 feet, he knew this was impossible because no way would Valdus wait for the five or six throws Ragnar would need to take to catch up to Valdus' initial throw. So he threw just once, ran to get his disc and caught up to Valdus just in time to watch his father make another throw. This throw sailed between the limbs of two trees and landed three feet outside the basket.

"Good throw, Dad." Ragnar said.

"Thanks. At least I'll make par."

And so it went for two more "holes."

Ragnar, breathless trying to keep up, asked questions to his father, who muttered to himself about his shots.

"That wasn't nearly as close to the pin as I wanted," Valdus said.

"What's the pin?"

"The basket."

"Is the basket the same as the hole?"


"Why do they call it a hole?"

"Because disc golf is derived from regular golf, and some of terms, even though they don't make sense, have transferred over."

Ragnar didn't understand "derived" or "transferred," and didn't know anything about regular golf, and so, confused on a multitude of fronts, he just nodded his head and looked at his father slack-jawed. Valdus interpreted this look as a sign his son wasn't listening, and in the back of his mind worried the boy may have some type of popularly diagnosed neurological condition, Attention Deficit Disorder or something like it. "Nature and exercise can only do him good," he thought, oblivious to the notion that Ragnar, like his father, had an eye for detail and a dogged persistence to figure things out. Ragnar had no idea he looked like a drooling idiot when he was concentrating.

By the fifth tee, the one where the basket was right next to the river, Ragnar noticed an ominous darkness as the sun quickly turned to shade and a breeze kicked in towards the impending storm.

"Is it going to rain, Daddy?"

Valdus just then noticed the impending storm. "It looks like it might."

"We're not going to get struck by lightning, are we?"

"I doubt it. But let's not walk in the middle of the field. We don't want to tempt fate."

"Why not?"

"Trust me on this one, okay son?" Valdus debated whether to end the game now or continue through past the 9th tee. They were almost half a mile away from home and had no umbrella. But he was feeling "on" today and had already made a birdie. He wanted to see if he could get enough on his throw to make it to the dogleg turn on the ninth.

But by the time they got there, the wind was whipping fast, the newly-budded maple leaves showing their silvery undersides, and fear edged Ragnar's voice.

"Let's go, Daddy." He said.

"After this hole."

Valdus let loose his throw from the 9th tee. Wind-aided, the disc landed clear of the tree line. He had a direct line on the tee/pin/hole.

Ragnar felt the hair stand up on the back of his neck. He looked up to see his father, standing in the middle of an open field, get surrounded by a blue light, a funny smelling haze filled the air. Then Valdus collapsed, his disc still in hand, melted and warped.

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