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.

Flash Fiction Friday, 2021 Edition

Welcome to the first Flash Fiction Friday of 2021! The prompt for this exercise was:

Please use a plot twist, reversal, or danger to tell a great story about the picture below.

You have 350 words to slay me.

The photo was a nighttime sidewalk scene. There was a slightly shabby storefront lit up with four different signs proclaiming its name (which is not the name in the story), and I just knew what the twist had to be.

I got a kick out of writing this and since there were a few giggles when I shared it with my writing group, I decided to post it here. I hope you will get a kick out of it as well.

KinKiller – Fun Gifts, Accessories, Vintage Clothing

I opened this shop seven years ago. I have been selling vintage clothes online since the dawn of E-Bay, but the online vintage marketplace has become really crowded. Some people thought that going brick-and-mortar in the digital era was crazy, but for me, it was the logical next step to protect my market share and continue to build my brand.

Keeping my one-of-a-kind, vintage inventory up-to-date online was getting exhausting, so I began stocking random tchotchkes so that I could keep the store looking robust. You know, fun gifts – incense, laptop sleeves, naughty garden gnomes, magic 8-balls. And accessories – floppy hats, beaded bracelets, and anything with fringe. The kind of junk that just screams, “BUY ME!” – especially when you’re trolling the internet drunk (or zonked out on Ambien). I know because most of my sales happen between 10:30pm and 3:30am.

Finding the right location was a big challenge. I couldn’t put my store anywhere that had requirements about business hours. Afterall, I needed my mornings free for thrifting. And my target customer is a bit tipsy. I needed to be somewhere where I could accommodate the same sorts of shoppers who frequented my online store. I needed to be next to some bars. Somewhere where I could open at 6pm and stay open late.

I wasn’t worried about having to deal with what the local PD termed, “unsavory characters” when they came by to check-up on me. After the cops realized that KinKiller wasn’t a front for some drug dealer or a pimp, they left me alone. What they didn’t realize (though the riffraff did) is that KinKiller’s off-the-books business is fairly literal.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. I know that I look like some bohemian hipster junk merchant. I mean, that IS what Instagram is for after-all. But there sure are a lot of Millennials out there who are sick of waiting for their folks to kick it. They are perfectly happy living with their parents, they just want to be able to spend mom and dad’s money without having to talk to them about it. They want their inheritance. Now.

Flash Fiction Friday – Dangerous Ideas

Recently, we had a writing exercise about danger. It gave me all sorts of dangerous ideas. Here was the prompt:

Danger is an important ingredient when we write our stories. We are hardwired to anticipate it because it is of primal concern to our lives.

  • Natural Danger – Floods, hurricanes, a tree falls on your house.
  • Physical Danger – Threat of harm or death, like you work in a dynamite factory.
  • Emotional or psychological – Like a mind game, abuse, loss of a child or a love.

GIVE me 400 words MAX of a story with DANGER in it. Make me feel it!

Remember that scene in Men In Black where Will Smith shoots the cartoon little girl instead of all the scary-looking monsters? One of the reasons she was dangerous was all those books she was carrying. I just love that scene. What if that cute little girl wasn’t in a rough-looking neighborhood in the middle of the night?  Could a pigtail wearing, book-reading girl be dangerous in any-old context? Afterall, there’s a reason that women weren’t educated for so much of history. What is more dangerous than a woman with her own ideas?

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Dangerous Ideas

I grew up in an idyllic suburban neighborhood. We had a white picket fence and a two-car garage. Dad wore a suit and drove to his office job every day. Mom was the queen of the neighborhood homemakers. She was as impeccable as June Cleaver and would send my sister Katie and me off to school every day with a kiss on the forehead and a reminder to “be good girls.”

As Katie and I walked together to school every morning, we talked about the challenges that we encountered in trying to live up to our mom’s expectations. Because what she meant when she said that was she wanted us to be quite and polite, to always do our very best, but to never, ever accomplish enough to stand out.

When I was in fifth grade and Katie was in third, she started to rebel. I kept finding her in the library, stacks of books on the table in front of her. Sure, she could check them out, but then our mom might realize what was going on. Katie was getting ideas.

The next year Katie decided to enter the spelling bee. I tried to talk her out of it, but she had gotten ideas from reading all of those books and she knew that she could out-spell anyone in the school. I have to admit, it was thrilling to watch. Finally, it was down to just her and Billy Jarvis.

Katie’s word was antediluvian. Really? But Katie didn’t hesitate, she didn’t ask for a definition or anything.  Then, it was Billy’s turn.  His word was libraries. And he got it wrong! In front of everyone! My sister was the Warren G. Harding Elementary School Spelling Bee champion!

Mom was waiting for us when we got home.

“I got a call from the school today.”

Katie and I froze.

“It seems as if Katie darling, you won the spelling bee. And now you are to go to the district competition.”

“Oh mother, you should have seen it! They gave me antediluvian and they gave Billy Jarvis libraries and he tried to spell it with ‘yz’!”

“Katherina Minola. I don’t know where you got the idea that you should go win a spelling bee. You don’t find your sister Bianca embarrassing boys in front of the whole school do you? That kind of behavior is dangerous!”