Broken Things: Four-minute Fiction

Writers BlockFour minutes this week for JD Mader’s Friday Freewrite. Here are two of the pieces I posted. Four seems like a luxury after all those two-minute timed freewrites, but when you sink into something, it doesn’t feel that long at all. I’m not sure where the inspiration came from for these. A random comment about crazy cat ladies, a memory of playing with my kneaded eraser when I should have been listening to my art teacher? Nothing in life is wasted.

Anyway, the writers kicked it this week; hop over to JD’s website and check out some really great flash fiction. Maybe one week, you’ll join us.

——-

In the fractured slice of time during which you won’t answer my question, I work my kneaded eraser, pull until the long, soft thread breaks, the two severed halves cringing back upon themselves. Funny, they can be molded back together but in essence will never really as good, as whole, as that clean square wrapped in cellophane. I think about broken bones, how they can knit together and become stronger, yet the two cut halves of a muscle during surgery will never be the same again. The body is a magical thing, with a brain of its own in every one of its cells, playing like music, each an instrument in an orchestra. Separately, the squeak of a violin’s bow on its strings and the bleat of a trombone, but together—music. Together, grace and beauty and melodies floating over our heads like bubbles, light and frothy. I don’t know how it happens, only that it does, and the less I try to examine the rods and cones and bits and bobs the happier I am, for the choreographed whole is imminently greater than the sum of its parts, the 88 keys were slabs of wood or ivory, depending upon who made them, but together, it’s a sleek, powerful animal that can growl and pounce and kill or sit in stillness, nursing its cubs. And still you do not answer my question, and I try to knead the eraser back together again.

—–

The soup had just reached a slow boil when she got the call. A neighbor hadn’t seen Aunt Sylvie in days. Nodding tersely as if the woman could see her expression, Nancy said she’d be right over. She turned down the heat and scrubbed her hands against the dishtowel she always wore over her shoulder. When her husband wandered in, she said, “Aunt Sylvie. Watch the soup,” and he wandered out again, a deep exhale escaping his lungs.

Nancy found her aunt ensconced in her favorite chair. One of her dozen-some cats, a giant, war-torn tom, perched on her right armrest, flanked by a big black female with a white triangle on her cheek. Both seemed girded for the duration, for battle if need be. No telling how long Aunt Sylvie had been frozen into this current, catatonic state. Her pulse was still present, if a bit weak, and she didn’t respond, no matter how many times Nancy said her aunt’s name or patted her paper-dry cheek. At the intrusion, the tom growled low in his throat and the black cat’s ears went flat. Nancy backed off. “I’m just trying to help, you guys.” But they didn’t seem to like her brand of comfort. She gazed into her aunt’s watery blue eyes, searching for…what? A way in? A way out? The doctor wouldn’t take a call this late, and how could she tell the stranger on his answering service about her condition? Might as well see if there’s food in the house, she thought, letting out a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding. Maybe clean up a little. Looks like it’s going to be a long night.

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Author: laurieboris

Writer, editor, proofreader, stand-up comedian in another life.

6 thoughts on “Broken Things: Four-minute Fiction”

  1. I’m so glad you are as enthusiastic about Friday as me. Honestly, if you hadn’t been so enthused in the beginning, I probably would have said ‘screw it’. And now it has turned into something so cool. Which is definitely to your credit as much as mine. If not moreso.

    Oh, and you have been killing it. Every week is better. Every week, I think, she can’t top last week. Then you goddamned do. 🙂

  2. Thank you! But think we’re all making each other better. I’ve seen it. There’s a kind of alchemy that happens when writers write together. I’m so glad you started this. 😀

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