Flash Fiction Friday – Let Sleeping Cats Lie

It seemed like a good time for another installment of Flash Fiction Friday.

This is the prompt that my story is based on:

Write the beginning of a story that takes place in the protagonist’s home. Use at least 3 senses to describe your scene or set an emotion. Please write 350 words max.

I was feeling onery the day I wrote this and wanted to write something that would create an unpleasant or at least uncomfortable impression.

Let me know what you think!

Let Sleeping Cats Lie

With a sigh, she turned the key and pushed. The door opened three inches, then stopped. Crap, those damn cats must have knocked something over, she thought to herself.

Taking a deep breath and bracing her shoulder against the door, she shoved. One, two, three. It budged just a bit more. At least there was now enough of an opening that she could squeeze herself inside.

Gripping the door frame with one hand and the doorknob with the other, she stepped up onto a pile of junk mail, books, and empty takeout containers. As she began to hoist herself upwards, a black flash shot past her and she fell.

“Darnit Jasper! You had better get back here!”

She named all of her black cats Jasper, it was just easier that way.

Refocusing on the task in front of her, she pushed her substantial girth up onto the mound that was blocking the door, teetering cautiously atop it.

The reek of ammonia sucker punched her. She attempted to blink the sting away. This was another reason why she didn’t like to leave her house, any length of time in fresh air intensified the cat urine stench when she returned.

She told herself that her accumulation of things was actually a budget-friendly, cat-centric decorating technique – using found objects to craft a multi-level, feline wonderland. But the boxes she collected for the cardboard cat fort she once intended to build had become a haphazard catchall.   

Twisting, she pushed the door shut before prying eyes caught a glimpse inside. Darkness engulfed her. Last summer she had covered the windows with aluminum foil to try to keep the house cooler. It had been sort of cozy until her electricity was shut off, now it was like living in a cave. This wasn’t a problem for the cats, they could see in the dark. She told herself that the darkness was just another way that she was providing for her feline companions.

The avalanche had thrown off her established route to the sofa. She shuffled ahead slowly. After bumping into a familiar pattern of knee and waist high piles, she arrived at her destination. Her hands fumbled for the one, clear spot where she could sit. It was covered with sleeping cats.

Rough Writers 2020 Anthology

rough writers 2020 anthology

I have an exciting announcement for y’all today: we have just published the Rough Writers 2020 Anthology: A Field Day for Creativity. This is the third Rough Writers Anthology (they published a collection in 2017, before I joined the club) and I think we’re really starting to get the hang of it.

You may remember last year’s post about the 2019 Anthology. Well, as we all know, no good deed goes unpunished and I agreed to serve as Editor for this year’s anthology as well. At least this way, I was able to apply some of the lessons that I learned the hard way putting together the 2019 book.

The subtitle, A Field Day for Creativity, was proposed by one of our members as a response to the prompt and our club’s innovative way of applying Toastmaster’s curriculum to our creative writing pursuits.

Rough Writers 2020 Anthology writing prompt
This image was our writing prompt. Photo by Branislav Belko on Unsplash.

Intrigued? 

Good. Here’s an excerpt from my story:

Mrs. Bistone’s perfectly rendered exterior was her armor. It was a barrier both invisible and impenetrable. People were so taken with the apparition in front of them that they didn’t even notice what she was getting them to do, or say, or agree to. Her directives tended to be delivered in the form of questions, those kinds of small requests that would be rude to decline. She wouldn’t say she was manipulative. She just understood that by exercising absolute control over how she presented herself, she could exercise the same control over that to which she presented herself.

Everyone who had met her would say that they knew her, that they were dear friends. They would describe her poise and immaculate appearance in detail, but no one could ever recall one personal thing about her – where she grew up, what her interests were beyond the banal hobbies of any woman of means, or even the date of her birthday.  Moreover, no one ever seemed to notice, which was the way that Mrs. Bistone preferred it.

Aren’t you dying to know how that has anything to do with the photo?

Well guess what? I’m giving away several copies of the Rough Writers 2020 Anthology!

All you have to do is be a subscriber to this blog and leave a comment below by 5:00pm on Friday, November 20.

I only have a limited number of author copies, so depending on the response, I’ll come up with some random way to select winners.

If you don’t want to leave it up to chance, you can order your own copy on Amazon (and if you don’t want to use the hyperlink, just put “Rough Writers 2020 Anthology” in your Amazon search bar). There is even a Kindle version if you prefer.

Monday, November 23 at 7:00 pm is our official book launch on Zoom. If you would like to find out more about the diverse voices who contributed stories to this volume, please join us – just leave a comment below and I will send you the sign-in details.

Fresh Flash Fiction

The other week, my writing group had a flash fiction exercise. We were to write 350 words on the photo below.  That was it. The entire prompt.

Photo by Starr Canon
www.Instagram.com/starrchez

I had a lot of fun writing my story and decided that I would share it with you here. Let me know what you think!

The Unbridled Fury of a Woman of a Certain Age

As I merged into freeway traffic, a smile spread across my face. Ah, this is what they mean when they say precision, German engineering.

The irony of driving a vehicle manufactured by the same company that built engines for the last fascist regime to nearly conquer the free world in order to escape from the current fascist takeover of the western United States is almost too much. I mean, if this car actually belonged to me and hadn’t just been stolen, I might not care about the militarized takeover of every major city on the western seaboard.

Unfortunately, I have the great misfortune of believing in the beautiful idea of constitutional, representative democracy. However flawed the execution of it has been over the past 200+ years, there has at least been a modicum of respect for the rule of law by those who would choose to usurp it. Today, the Constitution may as well be used paper in a golden toilet.

When I arrive at the nearest resistance encampment in the Sierras, the “baby on board” sticker in the rear window will guarantee my access. I was able to procure an older model station wagon, we will have enough seatbelts to take six (not including the driver) on protest runs. I just hope that the fact that I’m not actually a mom won’t keep me from being able to join the most effective resistance faction, the Wall of Moms.

People seem surprised that the most effective, most radical branch of the resistance is middle-aged women. That’s because the patriarchal hegemony doesn’t understand the superpowers that this segment of the population possesses. It turns out that women are born with a finite number of both eggs and fucks to give. They tend to run out around the same age. This is also around the time that women discover that they have the power of invisibility.  

Think about it, what would you do if you were invisible and out of fucks? Drink chardonnay and shoplift? I know, that was my plan too, until the fascists came to town.

I Published a Book!

Rough Writers Anthology 2019:
Moments in Space & Time

Guys, something cool happened … I published a book!  Crazy right? Full disclosure, I didn’t WRITE a whole book, I published a book with my writing club. I did however write many parts of a book.  First, I contributed a story and then I somehow got tricked into being the editor. 

Once I had agreed, I found out that being the editor didn’t mean just working with the other authors on their stories and/or editing the manuscript, it also happened to include project managing the whole shebang and creating the other bits of text that go into a book (which I learned is called the front matter and back matter).

Since I have been on a bit of a hiatus from project managing, I may have taken a few things for granted and not kept as tight reigns on things as I used to.  Fortunately, I had a talented and motivated team working with me and we finally crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s and now we have a book!

The book is a collection of stories contributed by members of the Rough Writers Toastmasters club.  We named it the Rough Writers Anthology 2019 because we have some delusion (at least I do) that we will do this annually. Moments in Space & Time is a nod to the writing prompt.

Everyone wrote their story using the same photo as a prompt (I don’t have permission to publish the photo here, but it is in the back matter of the book).  One of the benefits of being the editor was that I had early access to read everyone’s work.  I was so entertained by the range of perspectives. Even the stories that sort-of took the same tack are very different. Some folks had a specific message that they wanted to get across.  I let the photo take me for a ride (it was a strange ride, don’t ask me how I got there).

Here is a little snippet from my story:

As Bill approached the clipboard girl, she eyed him up and down and shot a look to the man standing next to her who was roughly the size of a refrigerator. This girl could tell Bill was trouble from 50 yards. The refrigerator nodded. Bill was used to being aggressive and intimidating to girls to get his way, but her disdainful gaze and pet refrigerator made him feel very small as he approached. Clipboard girl was already on to his game.

from Carl’s Green Galaxy by Cynthia Gellis

Our book, the Rough Writers Anthology 2019: Moments in Space & Time is available on Amazon!  Mr. Man says that it is the perfect size for a stocking stuffer (wink, wink).  If you want me to get you a signed copy, comment below or message me and we can make that happen.

I hope you’ll check it out!