Sunday, August 26, 2012

I am not an animal!

                              Photo credit: Melbourne Waters (Flickr Creative Commons)

Oh, wait. Yes I am. But I’m a little confused. I’m an egg-laying mammal with the bill of a duck, the tail of a beaver, and otter feet. Hmmmm…I’m pretty much an identity crisis waiting to happen. So today, write about an identity crisis. Or mistaken identity. Or a talking platypus. Or just go wild and use the adjective “platypal” in your piece. Then be sure to share your platypal platitudes here. 



    He was tall. Lanky, they called him but never by name. No one knew his name. Even he had no idea. And so far, no one came forward to offer any insight into who he was. Or from wence he came. He just wandered.

    His facial hair was patchy, tinged with flecks of silver and bare skin. An unintentional beard for an unidentifiable man. Steel blue eyes revealed nothing of his former self. His past had indeed passed him by. All identifying features were random scars on his cheek and a nasty bruise on his right temple. Both appeared to be a symptom of what rendered his identity null and void.

    His shoes were scuffed badly, having dragged him through mud holes and ravaging rivulets that ran from the building downspouts to the sewer receivers. There was a tear down his right pant leg, from just below his knee down to his pant cuff. Pockets were empty, no change for bus fare (and nowhere to go anyway). No comb to rake through his matted and disheveled hair. His back pocket held no wallet to identify him. The remaining pocket contained a tattered handkerchief.

    “How you doin’, Sport?” the other indigents called to him. As far as he knew, that was his name. Ask him, and he’d tell you that and nothing more.

    But the “tag” paid more attention to the plaid sports coat that was clutched to his chest, than the man in consumed. It had see better days. But then again, so had he. “Sport” had no idea where he belonged. And he knew that wasn’t a good thing. How could one fall so far that the face of the earth was not recognizable? The guy in the plaid coat just didn’t recall.

    1. Walt, this is great. This line, in particular, will stick with me: "An unintentional beard for an unidentifiable man."

      I want to know more. :)

    2. Thanks Walt! And thank you Sport, for telling your story!

  2. Max-imum Crisis

    From what I could remember I was running. My breaths heavy, like as soon as I let it out, a weight fell from the sky and let it down.And there were these people. People who had badges glinting in the sun -or moon- light. They carried guns. Not your adverage gun. Like, gun guns.

    But now, -what has in been, three days?- I was tied up and cuffed to a chair in a bright white room with bright white lights, so I was practically being blinded. I wouldn't be surprised if it was on purpose.

    I heard the pounding of army boots on the floor. He is carrying a gun. It is a hand gun. I bet he brought it to beat me with it or to kill me. Either way- mame me in some form or way.

    "State your name. We have your govenment files to see if you are wrong. Don't mess up." I hear in an authoritive voice- but not a man's as I expected. I hear it in a girl's voice. It did not cross my mind that WOMEN went into the soldier position.

    As soon as I look up, I feel pain. I bet the have already hit my head multiple times. Becuase it hurt like- "State your name. I haven't got all day." Okay, okay. I get your point.

    "Max!" I yell. I look up and wince. Sure it hurts, but I need to see her. I can barely see her, but I do get a good look. She has long red hair, and eyes of chestnuts. I can just tell by the look in her eyes, she is studying me. Trying to take a picture of me.

    "Your age?" I have to think back. I haven't really cared about my age. There haven't been many birthday parties in the slums. All because of the stupid stock market. Now, the south was all slums.

    "Look, I think you have got me wrong, I haven't done anything wrong! I just live in the slums! I swear!" I hope she can give me mercy. I thought back. I don't remeber doing anything wrong. Just going to my job, at the rich people's houses, cleaning.

    She smacks me across the face, hard with her gun. I wince as I feel the blood slowly lingering down the side of my face. Suddenly an idea struck me. There have been wanted billbords of my brother, Simon, my twin.

    "You want Simon, right? He is my twin! Please just let me go and I will tell you everything!" All I feel is despiration, and the rope digging into my forearm. Oh, the pain of a brother.

    1. Abi! This is excellent! What a great start for a full story. I love this description: "My breaths heavy, like as soon as I let it out, a weight fell from the sky and let it down."

    2. Thanks. I had the book Legend by Marie Lu in my head and it is sort of like this. I loved it so much. I don't know what to do. I have to wait for the sequal to the Selection, the sequal to Divergent and Insurgent, and the sequal to Legend! Please hurry authors, I am getting anxious!

    3. Ack! It's so hard, waiting for that next book. That's the best compliment you can give a writer, that you're just itching to read new words from them. I'm looking forward to seeing yours.

    4. Aww, thanks! I know I am young and all, but I am writing a book and it has 10 pages already. I know Veronica sometimes comes here, and she is such a talented writer. School starts tomorrow, but I will have to fit in time for Flashy Fiction as well. I hope I can read the first few chapters to my class, get them intruged!

  3. Julia recognized him from his gait, the pace of his walk. He always leaned forward, like he was pushing against the wind. His trenchcoat whipped about his legs, just trying to keep up.

    She hadn't seen him in 26 days. She kept count, like an addict, numbering the days sober, free from the drug of his indifference.

    She knew he didn't miss her. There would be no drunk dialing followed by sloppy messages she could play over and over again. Nor would there be an unexpected visit, or mysterious flowers. He did not ask her friends about her, or stand in front of her house in the rain. He didn't do those things when she thought he loved her. Why would he when she knew she'd been wrong?

    He was still far ahead of her. She could turn at the corner and their paths would never meet. Between his five foot gaze and the fact that he wasn't looking for her face in every woman that walked by, he might not even see her if they did.

    He came closer. Her options were dwindling. Her indecision was deciding for her. She could duck into the coffee shop, or into a doorway. But why should she? He only owned her heartbreak, not the entire city, and he only owned her heartbreak because she gave it to him.

    Just as he took back what he had given, couldn't she? Couldn't she say, I take my pain back? I will do with it as I please? I can drown it in wine, or bathe it in tears, or fold it like a paper plane and send it on its way. Could she take her heart in her hands, and bandage it with soft words and kind thoughts, stitch it back together with determination and ready it to give to someone who would honor it.

    She could. She could stand her ground and let him see her and walk past. She readied herself for the blow and looked again.

    It was not him. But it didn't matter. She had earned her chip.

    1. Wow! I loved it. Great job! I want to see your writing published!

    2. Jeannine, there is such a complete STORY to your flash fiction. This one, as I have come to expect from you, is excellent. This line is fantastic: "He only owned her heartbreak, not the entire city..." Oh, YES.

    3. Thank you De, you are the fizz in my soda. :)

  4. Excellent work, everyone.

    Walt, your story told of such absence of knowledge and such acceptance of the situation that the character was indeed whole or "hole" according to one's perspective. I agree with De on that particular line, too. I was noting it down even as I read it.

    Abi, such a great basis for a much longer story. Good work. I'd really like to see where you take this.

    Jeannine--De says it all on this one. I hope you submit this one for publication. It's wonderful, moving, and liberating all rolled into one short piece.

    Kudos, everyone.

  5. Thank you Claudette! It's nice to see you back from your travels. I am researching markets as we speak...

    1. Thank you so much. When they said mistaken identity it went right to military and distopia!

  6. Here's a small one I put together this afternoon. It's a bit of a different take on the prompt. Hope you enjoy it.

    Mother’s Daughter

    Nina staggered from the shaman’s tent. She’d always felt so close to her mother. Now what was she supposed to do?

    For the ten years since her mother’s death, no day had gone by without a tear for that loss or a sigh of resignation at not being able to consult her wise mother on any situation.

    What was she to believe now that she’d been told the truth; the truth of her mother’s sacrifice and planning? How was she to know who she was without her mother assisting her from inside her own body?

    “Your mother placed a large piece of her spirit inside your body while she carried you in her own,” the shaman had pronounced in her usual soft and somber tone. “Her vision told her that your life would be troubled for some time and chose this way to protect you.”

    As she threw herself down on a patch of sweet grass, face to the earth, Nina asked her mother’s spirit one final question. “Was your life worth my protection, my mother?”

    She had no tears. The loss was too great for them. The knowledge that she’d carried part of her mother within her each day of her fourteen years had done more than shock her.

    Who was she—Nina? Was she still the girl who spoke to the brothers and sisters of the forest? She’d always spoken to the furred ones, the winged ones, always listened to their reports of happenings among the trees. Had she lost that as well?

    Nina rolled onto her back and stared at the stark sky. If much of what she was, that mother part, was now gone, would she be the same girl? Had her mother known all of her indiscretions, all of her moments of anger and rebellion? Had her mother watched from Nina’s own eyes and felt all that she’d felt and, in turn, been disappointed or dismayed?

    How could she find herself, the self not colored by her mother’s spirit? And, how was she to feel about this final separation. Her mother had left this life long before. Yet, this new severing was more final still and unexpected in far more ways.

    Before Nina could question herself further, a tiny rustling in the grasses brought her head around. Sitting on its haunches a few inches from her left foot was a prairie dog. It looked so curious with its bright eyes and twitchy whiskers that Nina smiled and held out her hand.

    The animal dove for her fingers, climbed onto her palm, and looked straight into her eyes.

    Nina brought her hand up slowly until it was on her chest. “Did you have something to say, little one?” she asked in a bare whisper.

    The prairie dog tilted its head, first to one side and then the other. After examining her, it seemed to nod as if in satisfaction. It stared hard into her eyes before chattering.

    “You are one now. Difficult it was to speak with you as two.”

    Nina heard the meaning within the squeaks and chatter. So, even her small friends had known what she’d never suspected. They did come back to her, which was a good thing.

    “Mother has left for her long journey, my friend.”

    Tiny ears pricked. Tiny hands held each other on the prairie dog’s chest. “It is time. You are you.”

    With that pronouncement, the animal patted Nina’s hand and moved to slide down her side and scurry away into the taller grasses. Nina settled back to ponder the meaning left behind.

    Her mother’s spirit was gone. And she, Nina, was now herself, whoever that might be. If the little one saw no problem in that, why should she? Her mother had stayed to secure her safety and no longer needed to remain.

    Nina could be who and what she chose to be. The time had come to explore her own spirit.

    1. This is intriguing, Claudsy, and a lovely write. Sometimes the truth truly does speak best through nature, doesn't it?

    2. Magnificent! Hope to read more from you sometime!

  7. "What the hell is going on here?" Heinze Jenkinson hollered.

    Looking completely unflustered, Perry sat up a little straighter in the bed, showing more of his slightly hairy chest while managing to keep his lower half under the sheets. Mrs. Jenkinson looked a bit apprehensive, remaining scrunched down, the covers pulled nearly up to her neck. Perry patted her hand reassuringly before answering, "Well, sir, what's going on is that you just walked in on our getting ready to nod off after a bit of canoodling."

    Struggling to process what his senses were telling him, Mr. Jenkinson's mouth opened and closed soundlessly a few times before he was able to force out a "What? How dare you? I can't believe..."

    "Come now, Mr. Jenkinson," replied Perry, "it's not like you've been spending any time at home with your wife. You were supposed to be in France with your current traveling companion. What happened there? Things not go as well as planned?"

    "My, er, um, secretary took ill so we cut the trip short. But that's not the point. I should call the police and report you for..."

    "For what, Heinze?" interrupted Mrs. Jenkinson. "For being an invited guest in our home? For checking in on me and showing me attention? For running the company into record profits in your absence? Perry is the reason you still have a company."

    "What are you talking about?" demanded Mr. Jenkinson.

    "Record profits may be a bit exaggerated, sir, but a coup of sorts was brewing that I was able to stop with a few emails from your account. With a few more emails, you were able to tweak a couple processes, saving the company some money, and improve some of the working conditions in the cube farm. You're quite well liked for someone who's never there now and I've gotten quite used to being you."

    "Including here at the house, Heinze," added Mrs. Jenkinson. "So, here's the deal. Perry is going to keep taking care of the business...and me. And you're going to get to keep going on your trips."

    Mr. Jenkinson looked from Mrs. Jenkinson to Perry, then shook his head and grinned. "Well, I guess it's a good thing for all of us that Perry is a better me than I am."

    1. Ha! This is a different take on the subject, now isn't it, Mr. Halpin? Love the sense of humor here.