Short Story/Flash Fiction Challenge

I think I’ve lived up to the challenge Rachel gave Writer’s Platform—Building Campaigners. The rules are:

Write a short story or flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall.” These five words will be included in the word count. If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), do one or more of these:

  • end the story with the words: “everything faded.” (also included in the word count)
  • include the word “orange” in the story
  • write in the same genre you normally write
  • make your story 200 words exactly!

And you all thought I was kidding when I told you I had aspirations of being a magician, an international spy, or a mad scientist. Here’s the story as told by my 10-year-old self…

Shadows crept across the wall of the garage, dance-like, as the orange flames licked up the curtained window. “Oh crap, I’m in so much trouble!” I shouted grabbing the fabric, to yank it from the rod and stomp the flames out on the cement floor.

“It would have been so much smarter to stick with a stink bomb,” I scolded myself. “There’s never been a hitch with a putrified egg stored in a Nestle Quick box; at least nothing more than an assaulted sense of smell when the hydrogen sulfide stink invades the air.”

Ignoring the “parental supervision” suggestion, I decided to make this year’s science fair volcano on my own. I’d worked with vinegar and baking soda in the past, but this year I wanted a ribbon—a blue ribbon.

Having made a test-run volcano from paper mache, I decided to use yeast combined with hydrogen peroxide for a larger explosion. Pleased, but not completely satisfied, I added the element of fire. “Yowza!” I thought as I smelled my past-tense eyebrows!

While stomping the flames in my new Keds, I heard the wail of sirens coming up the street, and then overcome with smoke, everything faded.

———————————————————————————————

Check out Rachel’s site here, where there’s a list of other participants and their stories. It’s fun to see how everyone has a different take on those first five words—Shadows crept across the wall—take mywithershins for instance…

What was your favorite science fair project?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

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© 2012 Laurie Buchanan– All Rights Reserved

119 thoughts on “Short Story/Flash Fiction Challenge

  1. **grin** Oh Laurie, what a cute 10 year old you were! And how you succeeded in your flash fiction. Good job. My favorite science fair project? Hmmmm….can’t remember a single one…which may be why I liked writing instead.

  2. In the words of the bard, Rod Stewart, “Every picture tells a story, don’t it?”. The Moody Blues called it, ” The Story in Your Eyes.”. What I’m seeing in the eyes of this 10 year old enchantress ( one who can convince with a glance that nothing but pure innocence is at home in her mind), as opposed to a magician, would be the imagination and derring-do of a female Tom Sawyer, willing to risk the consequences just to discover what will “happen next”. It might be wise to seek shelter but not too far away, you wouldn’t want to miss the action! Incoming! Duck!

  3. Grand work of “show don’t tell”! You still have that mishchiveous smile and glint in your eyes… it’s your “Orange Flame” glowing personality! Good luck!

  4. Yup, you were an imp all right! Great story!

    Like Kathy, I can’t remember a favorite science fair project… But I really enjoyed a science class assignment of collecting as many different kinds of leaves as we could and identifying the trees they came from. It was fun having my father drive me around town looking for even more after I had exhausted the possible finds around our house…

  5. Oh, I can really see a kid trying this! I love this story!

    My friend and I had an award winning science project on photography. No volcanoes for me, just developing fluid! Fortunately, there were no flames!

    BTW, thanks for the plug, Laurie! 🙂 I loved the pic of your ten-year old self. Reminded me of ME at that age. Mom insisted on Pixie Cuts too, which I detested because I thought it made my cheeks look fat, so in my fifth grade school picture I sucked in my cheeks, thinking that would compensate. Boy, was I WRONG! lol

  6. Laurie – Even at 10 you were a fun, witty writer! I definitely didn’t write like…but we did have the same haircut! Never tried flash fiction…may have to visit & give it a whirl. Let’s see my favorite science fair project..The Washing Machine…I really had no idea how a washing machine worked…but I got to use my Barbies as the mom’s washing all the clothes and hang my barbie clothes with little bitty clothes pins!

    • Chris – The washing machine — oh how fun! My friends Sally and Susan had Barbies so I remember the itty-bitty clothes pins you’re talking about. They were plastic, came in a variety of bright colors, and they were the type you had to pinch to open.

      I had a Chatty Cathy doll. Curious to know how she talked, I did a wee bit of surgery. First I scalped her — that yielded knowledge on why here eyes were open when she was upright, and closed when she laid down. Nice to know, but how did she talk? Unfortunately, that required a stem-to-stern incision. I can tell you I learned a lot that day as I received “the board of education on the seat of knowledge” when my parents discovered what I’d done 🙂

  7. I think you did a great job of telling the story as a ten-year-old – a nice light touch. Is it true? If so, I’m glad you lived to tell the tale! We don’t have science fairs where I come from, but anything I made would have been equally disastrous!

  8. Really interesting story. I love reading about other girls who weren’t afraid to get their hands a bit dirty and live dangerously, instead of having tea parties and playing with dolls all the time. It sounds almost like something my best friend and I might’ve done at that age, except for the fact that I’ve had pyrophobia my whole life.

    I vaguely remember some of my science projects, and that one of mine that won an honorable mention was really mostly created by my parents. My favorite science project I remember from grade school was from a girl who titled hers “Dumb Blondes: Rumor or Reality?” She was herself a blonde, and she concluded it was reality! The teacher and her father actually got into a fight over her project.

    • Carrie-Anne – The street I grew up on had lots of boys and we all played together–rough and tumble–and enjoyed many Tom Sawyerish adventures. I’ve never been afraid to get my hands dirty. They say “you eat a ton of dirt before you die,” my growing-up theory was you might as well get a jump-start on it! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  9. I’m late getting over here Laurie, as this has been a hectic week, trying to ready the house fopr Sunday’s Oscar party, while attending a Manhattan film festival at breakneck speed.

    I am off from school this week, but I will now immediately go into grading mode, applying an A + for this 10 year-old perspective. You are presently in fifth grade and you are sitting at the head of the class. But this hardly comes as any kind of a surprise. Your exceeding wit and charm ever-present in this burst of descriptive writing does bring a smile to my face.

    Science project? I remember putting together an elaborate solar system back in the fifth grade. Seems to have done well enough as I recall.

  10. *Funny – really enjoyed this! It brings to mind shenanigans with my sister involving candle-making with Crayolas on the stove. Resulted in the pan catching fire and a spanking before being sent to bed. Great job!

    • Dawn – That’s funny! I can remember shredding crayons (like grated cheese) with my trusty Swiss Army knife and then “sprinkling” it over the lightbulb on my bedroom lamp. Having melted crayons in a pan, you remember the odor? A dead giveaway to any and all parents within the surrounding zip code!

  11. What a cute story! The challenge cues totally make it easier to write a grim story so I am happy to read one so vivid and fun. I like the addition of the mischievous photo as well!

  12. What a fun story that really touches on a child’s experience! We have motivation, conflict, and characterization all right here! Good luck!

    Cynthia #124 on the Linky Links

  13. Hi Laurie
    We never had “science fairs”.
    So I tried the writing challenge:

    “Shadows crept across the wall of his mind.

    He was conscious of the fact that all of his world was second hand. Not the world itself, but mere images, approximations, shadows of the reality itself.
    He knew consciously that the reality of his experience was just a model of the real thing, created by his brain, that amazing machine inside his head, itself created by billions of years of trial and error through evolutionary history, with all existing life being the current survivors of the trials of existence.

    His mind returned to his perceptions, to colours. He was conscious that his experience of colour was just that, his and his alone, yet this experience of orange was his reality, his world, his model of whatever it was that actually made up this matrix of his existence.

    His mind raced.
    The infinite recursive waves of the infinite oceans of possibility stretched beyond the limits of his imagination, yet his imagination raced to see what was just over the horizon, and always, more horizon.
    Infinity was like that, horizons forever more, in every direction, in every dimension one looks.

    He was tiring now, his mind, had given of its all, everything faded.”

  14. I never did a science fair project. In fact, most projects happened the morning of when I found out from my friends (who had been working on theirs for weeks) that they existed. It’s amazing I lived this long. Ironic that now I am a teacher. 🙂
    Anyhow, great flash fiction. I love that the fear of punishment was bigger than the fear of death. 🙂

    • Erin – Teachers are some of the most important people in the world. My fifth grade teacher — Mrs. Kline — made a huge positive influence in my life! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  15. Pingback: Short Story | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

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