Flash Fiction – Old Mack Donald

Rose lineup Flash FictionI got a shock when the winners of the latest Flash! Friday contest were posted…I got a double-mention!

Not only did my story of the week make 2nd runner up (Which is the highest I’ve been in the ranks!) but the judges also went through some of their older judging weeks, and picked out stories that, for one reason or another – continued to stick in their minds.

So I’m all excited and bouncy and stuff 🙂  I’ll be damned – I CAN write!

The weekly contest was a tough one – we had to incorporate a farmer as our main character, and the photo to tie in was three men in bakers whites looking intently into a long window.  I fought over this one – cussed and swore at it – no matter how I tried to tie the farmer in with a baker, the story wanted to veer wildly off-course.  At the zero hour, I finally threw up my hands and said – ‘Ya know…I’m just gonna do the damn song…”

And then, that magical line appeared – the last line in the story.  There it was – beginning line, and end line.  The story almost filled itself in.

You Know You’re Singing this Song…
197 words

Old Mack Donald – he had a farm. He’d inherited it from his father, who had it from his – and so on and so forth back to the first Donald to set foot in the country. The chains of tradition had bound Mack to the land for longer than he’d drawn breath.

“The Donald Men always tilled the soil,” he’d say with his soft drawl to anyone listening. “And we always tended to the beasties. I didn’t know no different.”

But Mack was old – and Mack was tired. And, above all, Mack was sick of life surrounded by the cacophony of brays, snorts, peeps, moos and oinks from the assembled livestock. At any time, day or night, there were animals sounding off. Sometimes they were panicked over an errant shadow. Sometimes, especially in the spring, they were busy finding a mate to continue the cycle of life for the farm.

And sometimes, Mack swore – they made noises simply to piss him off.

So Mack sold the farm to a huge conglomerate, and slipped into clean, crisp baker’s whites. His bread is the best in 5 counties.

Old Mack Donald sold his farm – to knead a bit of dough…

And our esteemed judges had this to say:

TS – I don’t know if I remember the passage of even one week in the last seven years of being a mom where this song wasn’t stuck in my head at least once. So… thanks. For that. 😉 Ee-I-ee-I-Oh, I did enjoy the fun feel of this piece. I may or may not have laughed out loud over the “cacophony of brays, snorts, peeps, moos and oinks.”

And I love how Mack takes his final revenge on the animals that have drowned him in never ending brain vibrating irritation: he becomes a chef, and I bet (even though the story doesn’t say), that one or two of those animals might have found their way onto a plate. –Apologies to any vegetarians. 😉 Nicely done. Now I’m going to go drown out “Old MacDonald” with something infinitely more enjoyable, like “The Wheels on the Bus.”

MK – I saw this and smiled. A few times recently I have tried to incorporate songs as a theme of my stories and really enjoyed how they made the reader respond. The writer has picked a song here that was always going to spin around in our heads all day. It’s totally on-theme, and the writer has crafted something that is memorable, humorous, yet also deals with the progression of character. I’m not sure what the bakeries in Virginia do differently than the bakeries in England, but I’m scared that my fellow judge thinks it’ll involve the use of animals on plates. 🙂 Remind me not to eat bread at Tamara’s if I ever find myself in that part of the world 😉

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The story that stuck in the judges heads was one I created in December – and showed up on the T&T shortly after I’d posted it.  It was sooooo new a posting to me, I hadn’t gotten the ‘Flash Fiction’ banner done yet (although I was close – I was using the origami flower lineup…)

They called it the ‘Jailbird Santa as Best Character’ and this is how they introduced all the special mentions on their final, tear-inspiring duty as judges:

Alas, our time has drawn to a close, and as we’ve looked back over our time as judges for Flash! Friday, we’ve been amazed all over again by the magnitude of talent that has been displayed on this page over and over again. You’ve written your hearts for us, and we’ve so enjoyed the experience of delving into each story and reveling in every world that unfolded before our awed gazes. Truly, we are sad to end our time here, but a hearty thanks to each one of you for making it all so worth it. Thanks to our Dragon mother, who unselfishly gives of her time to make this board what it is, and I (Tamara) thank you, Mark, for being the best possible judging partner a person could ever ask for.

Over our time, each week we were up to judge, we wished we could choose more winners than we were allowed. So on our last time, we went back and picked out three from various weeks – the “Unsung Story Awards.” These, for one reason or another, didn’t make the final list the week they were entered, but they stuck in our heads, and we hoped to give them a little recognition this time.

And now, before I use up too many more tissues, one last time, here are our results.

Guys – you will be missed as judges, but I’ll still look for your stories each and every week!

Calling All Cars!
157 words

“Calling all cars! Calling all cars!”

Every year, we get the call. Every year, we respond. Every year, our department fails to close this decades-old case.

“Person of interest male, white, late 70’s, portly. Full facial hair, white. Last seen wearing bright red suit and hat with white fringe, black belt, black knee-boots.”

My hands curl around the steering wheel, mentally preparing for the yearly bloodbath.

“Suspect get-away vehicle tiny sleigh pulled by 8 animals of reindeer origin. No plates evident.”

My partner and I lock eyes, knowing…HATING…what’s coming.

“Ocular trauma to multiple victims. Eyes replaced with charcoal briquettes.”

I yank a cigarette from the pack on the dash. “Shoulda been nice…” I whisper, even as my partner mutters “Here comes the weird part…”

“Suspect 3.75 inches tall. Last known locations… ”

A string of addresses follow, blanketing the car in a wall of sound.

“Public Enemy number one…” I growl, flipping on the siren.

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Green…things. Sleeves Optional

Sunset Park mapAbout a week ago – I had a rather dramatic event at work.  The boss lady put her foot down, rather hard, and a metric ton of resentment came oozing out from my position under the sole.

We occasionally rub each other the wrong way, as can happen when any 2 humans associate…especially when the diametric is one of superior/underling, where the underling thinks the superior is anything but…

I still have the ear of HER bosses, though, as they are in my office and she’s all the way on the west coast – so we’ll all get on a phone conversation at some time in the future and hammer out yet another compromise.

Just another one of them days…

ANYway – by the time I was done with the work day – I had managed to bleed some of the frustration I’d amassed from the morning’s hostilities – but there was still a great deal of negative energy to dispel.

Enter:  A new Greenspace.

It’s funny – this place is one I’ve been driving past for almost 7 years.  It’s greeted me on the way in to work; it’s been there on the drive home.  It’s a patient thing, as most of nature is, simply being natural in all the turning seasons until I was ready to make its acquaintance.  It’s a great swath of grass, bush and tree bracketed on one end by the Fox River, and associated with both the Glacial-Drumlin State Trail (which ambles its way across the south-central portion of Wisconsin) and the Fox River Trail, which is pretty Waukesha-centric.

a IMG_3861 clean grass

A brisk walk across this greenspace will get you far enough away from the city streets to have the river’s movement drown out most of the human noise.  It doesn’t have play equipment, ball diamonds, or any other ‘sports’ related things that attract kids, as it’s part of the Fox River sanctuary – and has to be left ‘unimproved.’

Ah…human arrogance in all it’s glory – thinking we improve on nature…

It was green, and brown, with sprinklings of pink and white and red from the flowering trees – a space full of sunlight and fresh, spring-green grass, with the scent of the river caressing the breeze.  It is a space heavily Earth-centric – but still retaining a healthy tie to water.

In short – it was a space I didn’t realize I had been looking for, but after an energizing meditation session on the grass, learned I’d desperately needed.

All it all, it’s a perfect place to continue learning how to listen to the nuances of this fantastic little ball of blue and green we live on, instead of just inhabiting it.

Dragon Memoirs – A Rather Curious Bug

Every once in a while – a strong character emerges from my little bits of flash fiction, and decides to stick around after the story is written.  They generally add to the chorus of little voices in my head.  Every once in a great while, they meet in the landscape of my dreaming mind, and cause all sorts of trouble.

The Dragon has been around since this winter – nattering in my ear and occasionally breathing new tales of his ancient race to my concious mind.  Dutifully, I jot these leavenings down.

A bit a go, he met up with Bug – another very strong character who emerged from the rough streets, and has been enjoying herself intently in the darker corners of my mind.  As you can see – they have now had the opportunity to meet.  What trouble will they get into next?

 

Dragon Memoirs – A Rather Curious Bug

210 words

 

Book 1 alternate

My daily sojourn – to connect with the essence of the world and keep apprised of the human collective – was met today with a rather remarkable occurrence. I had the opportunity to cross paths with a rather curious bug.

A slight, soft, little half-grown human with abilities decades beyond her physical years caught my inner eye.  She blends into her environment as easily as I do, manufacturing personae at will to appear helpless and weak – tactics successfully employed to extract enough wealth from the comfortable to survive.

It wasn’t this pitiable personae which stirred my inner sight, though.  Rather, it was the warp she had stitched into place around her.

Imagine my surprise – here before me stands a human child who, with no formal training or even a clear understanding of the energies surrounding all life, masterfully weaves the Earth’s Song to do her bidding.

A human child – weaving the magics of the Dragons.

I was so stunned by the feel of magics not my own, I almost missed the gun she withdrew from her clothing.

She sleeps now, and will continue to do so, until certain questions are answered.

Why was this child – this Master of the Street known only as Bug, turned into a weapon and aimed at me?

Evil Lurks in the Strangest Places

Should have gone with the cold lunch today...

Should have gone with the cold lunch today…

You know how, when you microwave leftovers, little pockets of food-encased water will sometimes ‘pop?’  I’m pretty much assured that anything with a tomato base will errupt rather violently, spattering the top and sides of the oven with pinkish goo ANYtime I forget to cover a dish.  I’ve had some soups explode so violently that the dish actually jumps in in the microwave.  Once, I had one of those microwavable cup of soups (sadly, yes, it was tomato) actually filp over on me.

And – giving Murphy full credit for this one – it flipped on me right after I had cleaned the microwave.  I hope the moment gave him a good giggle over his asinine laws.

IMG_0087Well, today my lunch hit a new low.  It waited, like an evil basilisk patiently stalking its prey from the shadowy depths, until I’d taken the lid off and shoved a spoon up in there to erupt – spattering my hand with really, Really, REALLY hot cheesy potato stuff.

OUCH!

 

The evil protein & carbohydrate mix with which I intended to sustain myself for the afternoon at work bit me back. Actually, it bit me before I could bite it.  It was a totally offensive move on the part of my lunch.

Soooo – to teach it a lesson – I ate it.
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Keys

And – in totally unrelated news, views, and all things leaning more than slightly left – I have come up with a name for a new musical product.  I shall craft some rhyming phrases of totally nonsensical words, set them to music, and sell the project under the name MYSM.

Because I can’t write music to save my soul, have no practical knowledge of playing any instrument outside of pounding out the Meow Mix jingle on a keyboard or banging on a drum to make a sound – the name stands for MY Shitty Music.

Think it’ll be a thing?