Short Story/Flash Fiction Challenge

I think I’ve lived up to the challenge Rachel at Writer’s Platform—Building Campaigners gave. 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.


What was your favorite science fair project?


E is for Elements

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Each of the traditional elements—earth, air, fire, and water—is associated with traits, meanings, and a direction on the compass. The information in this post is for readers in the Northern hemisphere. For my friends in the Southern hemisphere, please use the opposite correspondences:

Earth is associated with the north, the season of autumn, and the colors green and brown. Zodiacally speaking, the element of earth corresponds to Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo. Considered the ultimate feminine element, the Earth is fertile and has the aspects of birth, life, death, and rebirth. The Earth element is thought of as nurturing, stable, and full of strength and endurance.  

Air is associated with the east, the season of spring, and the colors yellow and white. Zodiacally speaking, the element of air corresponds to Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra. Considered the ultimate communication element, this masculine energy is wise and has the aspects of intellect, focus, and telepathy. It supports the powers of the mind—intellect and claircognizance.

Fire is associated with the south, the season of summer, and the colors red and orange. Zodiacally speaking, the element of fire corresponds to Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Considered the ultimate masculine element, fire is associated with strong will, vitality, and endurance. Fire creates and destroys; it can heal or harm; it purifies. And like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, it can transform.

Water is associated with the west, the season of winter, and the color blue. Zodiacally speaking the element of water corresponds to Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio. Considered the most cleansing of the elements, this feminine element (Goddess energy) is associated with emotional healing. It is used in many spiritual traditions for consecration—setting something apart as holy.

Spirit is sometimes referred to as the fifth element. Spirit transcends, yet is part of all the other elements; it has no direction, yet encompasses all directions; it’s beyond seasons and times, yet is all seasons and time. It is the source of human love and compassion.

Depending on the culture and tradition, elements are used in ceremonies, rituals, meditation, and Zen practices. And while sometimes identified differently than I’ve described here, the basic meaning is the same.

Which of the elements do you resonate with the most?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

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

© 2010 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved