Wednesday, June 3, 2009

So What Is Flash Fiction?

In my most recent quarterly writing magazine, Writer's Ask, I read an essay on writing flash fiction, but it didn't explain what flash fiction was exactly, so the essay made zero sense to me.  Just type a bunch of words after an image flashes in your brain, burning your retina.  I do that all the time and I call it junk, so the paper was circular-filed.  The world doesn't need any of the trash I try to pass off as writing.  I'm responsible.  I'm being literary green.  And I do so solemnly swear, never, ever to twitter.  I will continue to blarney blog the ol' fashioned way because it's fun, and the only thing that can stop me is if the ants make off with my computer. But please, excuse me, for I digress.

Today-while I should be doing a buzillion other things besides wasting time on the internet, like killing the ant invasion in my kitchen or going to the post office- I found an amazing piece of flash fiction written by Amanda Downum that actually encouraged me to research what this flash fiction business is all about, and dig the quarterly out of the paper bin.   

Please read and enjoy Amanda Downum's  flash below.  Don't worry, you have time.  Flash is fast, ranging from 300-1000 words, hence the name.  (I was definitely overthinking the idea!)  If you have time, mosey on over to her website at  In August, look for her first novel, The Drowning City.

To find out more about flash fiction, visit

Shadow of the Valley by Amanda Downum

Into the shadow of the valley of an underpass I track my prey. His stink trails through the rank city night--sweat and waste, subtle-sweet decay. And beneath the meat, Heaven.

I grip my sword hilt, palm slippery. Sweat crawls beneath my jacket; my stomach roils.

Grass and broken glass crunch beneath my boots. He shrugs aside his cocoon of dirty cardboard, rises on jerky marionette limbs. Doesn't attack, doesn't speak, just watches me. Face too young for those sad eyes, hollow and worn, hospital bracelet loose around one knobby wrist. He raises a hand in greeting.

Easier if he scourged me with curses and righteous wrath.

His eyes shine brighter, mask slipping. He knows me, knows what I do. My threats and entreaties die unspoken, no match for that calm strength.

"I'm sorry." I draw my sword, a needle-shard of ice and darkness.

He steps forward and spreads his arms.

Ofanim. The Wheels. The Many-eyed Ones.

He sheds his mortal guise like grimy clothes. A rush of heat and wild kaleidoscope flames, radiant sunrise against sin-black night. The underpass blazes like a cathedral.

So beautiful, my brother. His symphony swells inside me, light and motion and glorious purpose.

I have purpose too. The sword weighs in my hand.

For all his brilliant fury, he is at peace. The love and sadness in his eyes outshine his fire.

Half-blind with tears, I strike and miss, strike again. He catches my wrist, pulls me close. No anger in him, only love. Gently he holds me, stronger than my fragile flesh. Tenderly he wipes away my tears, that I may see him. Inexorably he meets my eyes.

He shows me paradise, the glory he left to be a soldier in this war. Glory he carries still. He offers it to me. If I lay down my sword, lay down my bloody purpose, my master's vendetta. Set aside my burdens and follow him.


My sword falls from numb fingers. The ofan enfolds me in his dizzying electric embrace. We rise together, weightless, the heart of an atom amid incandescent wheels.

I love him.

I hold his gaze, drink down the wonders he offers. My hand slips inside my jacket.

His song resonates in my bones. It will shatter me. Peace, an end to suffering, respite from this war. I give him what he promises.

My dagger slides between his ribs, into his borrowed heart. Ensorcelled steel binds angelic aether to rough clay, transubstantiates him till he is as mortal as I. I twist the blade; his blood bathes my hands.

We sink to the broken, bitter earth. Glass bites my knees as I cradle him. My tears splash his face. His eyes, brimming with love, slowly dim.

I hold him close until he's gone, an empty shell in my arms. My flesh unscathed--he's wounded me like no other. The night reeks of carrion and bitter tears.

We have fallen so far. I have farther still to go.

© 2007 Amanda Downum.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for the feedback. Be well, and happy reading!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blog Design by Use Your Imagination Designs Lost Atlantis kit by Irene Alexeeva