Thursday, April 26, 2007

Saturday Afternoon

(I can't help joining in myself! Here is my vision of the Endless Hour photo. I'm also happy to announce that The Clarity of Night hit a milestone yesterday, it's 100,000th visit! The lucky person is J. Scott Ellis, Entry #15. He's earned himself a $10 Amazon Gift certificate in honor of occassion. Thank you everyone!)

Saturday Afternoon
by Jason Evans

"What's your name again?"


"How are you holding up?"


"Tell you what Derek. We've got this ridge covered. Can you swing down along the road? We don’t have many searchers there."

Derek nodded.

"Appreciate it."

The guy's radio squawked, and Derek followed the pointing arm.

Up the mountainside, the treetops blushed red. Buds were splitting. In a slant of sunlight, pear blossoms flamed like bouquets of snow.

Three volunteers emerged from the old Raster cottage ahead. A ragged hole cratered the roof, and every window was broken.

"You think they'll find her?" one said.

"I hope so."

The tall man shook his head. "Look, kids don't wander off and disappear. Someone grabbed her."

Derek hung back. He didn't want to talk.

Poking the bushes, the group circled the cottage. Their calls faded.

Derek slipped through the doorway. Such a disaster inside. Piles of junk and twenty years of mold.

He sat in the shade and drew a deep breath.

A fly hummed by.

Strange how no one belonged here anymore. Except maybe someone lonely like him.


He blinked away his thoughts. Flies crept through the cracked paint under the sink. They slipped in and out of the cabinet. Way too many flies.

Bile seared his throat.

When he saw her on TV, he should've known he would never save her. Heroes find little girls, not dead bodies.

He slunk outside and shoved through the next wave of volunteers toward home.

Something else might be good on TV.


Scott said...

It's funny, I thought about trying to tell a story in short bursts of dialog in order to tell a longer tale. I just couldn't figure out how. You just wrote the template. Very skilled piece here, Jason.

And I'm not just saying that because my wallet just got ten dollars heavier.

Thanks! And congrats on the milestone. In the year 2083 when my blog hits the 100K mark, maybe you can return the favor.

mr. schprock said...

I, too, thought the short paragraphs were effective, reminiscent of when serialists were paid by the column inch and evolved such an engaging style. The main character turning out to be pathetic in the end was a nice touch, kind of a twist.

Thanks again for hosting this contest.

Joni said...

Stellar, as always. You have a magic for powerful subtlety.

Great Contest!

Unknown said...

God job you weren't in the competition, otherwise voting would have just got harder! What a sad character.

Anonymous said...

nice slice of life, jason!
and congratulations to another great contest and hitting 100,000! i haven't left any comments, but i've certainly been reading and enjoying the entries. never intended to write anything myself, but couldn't get that image out of my head!!

Beth said...

Congratulations, Scott! It couldn't have happened to a better blogger.

Can I just nod to everything Schprock said? That's what I'm doing.

Anonymous said...

This is what flash fiction's all about, Jason. Huge kudos! You've brought in all the senses in a minimum number of words. Excellent writing. [is my envy showing? :)]

Anonymous said...

so much to learn from this piece. Thanks, Jason!

Anonymous said...

Scott, many thanks! I know we've all struggled with how hard it is to create a beginning, middle, and end in such a short piece. Everyone who throws their hat in this ring has my respect. (I'll be on the lookout for your own 100K!)

Mr. Schprock, very keen observations. And I love your description of the character as "pathetic." That's a perfect word!

Joni, thank you for being such a wonderful part of it!! Even though you're dear regular reader, I've still never forgotten your piece back in the Midnight Road contest. I think that is when we met.

Verilion, I'm glad that visceral reaction to him came through in the end.

Anne, you would love touring this house. I can only imagine what sort of things you could weave from it. Thanks re the milestone. :)

Beth, much appreciated!

Donna, thanks! If nothing else, writing is a delicate balance between competing elements. These short pieces have been a great way for me to learn.

Canterbury Soul, I've score half of the entries so far, and already you all have taught me a bunch of new perspectives and approaches. =)

Jaye Wells said...

Jason, as usual, you hit it out of the park. Thanks again for the contest.

The Wandering Author said...

Jason, that was incredible, the way you packed so much detail in there, and developed the character so well, all in so few words.

Fran Piper said...

Very well done, as usual! A lot said in a few words, and an original twist at the end. Good stuff.

mermaid said...

'Way too many flies.'

Many lives criss cross, live in parallel, but never see the larger picture.

You've zeroed in and zoomed away yet again.

Keep taking those pictures.

Terri said...

Yep, I'm really glad you don't enter your contests. Great writing, Jason, as usual.
And thanks so much for the contest - I really enjoy these.

Sam said...

Sad story!!
Lovely writing.
Thanks for posting this!

heather said...

with every story i read here i am more and more impressed. thank you for doing this.

AngelConradie said...

now that was spooky! nice one jason!

Anonymous said...

Jaye, the contest has been a blast. Thanks!

Wandering Author, it's amazing how much you can trust the reader to fill in the story around the words.

Fran, thanks. :) Great to see you!

Mermaid, there is miles of truth in what you've said. As you will see in a couple weeks, that has happened to me also.

Terri, I would never win my own contest. ;)

Sam, much appreciated!

Heather, you are very welcome. :)

Angel, I missed you! Thanks for the kind words.

Anonymous said...

A good twist ending to what looked like a serious story. Good on you.

Esther Avila said...

Very well done. Right from the start, you pull us in and we're right there in the middle of the search party. The first few graphs - especially the second says a lot. "How are you holding up?" - they've been searching a while.

"too many flies" - great hint - made my stomach turn thinking she was there.

Interesting ending. Selfish coward. So, he was doing the search to be a hero and not to find the little girl. Sad. Very sad.

Anonymous said...

Steve, thanks. :)

September, yes, I do like to provide a lot of exposition through the situation and through dialog. **I agree. He is not a likeable guy.