Two-Minutes-Go Extended Road Trip

file0001863294772Well. Apparently I failed to break the blog last week, so while JD is giving Santa Claus a lift to the North Pole on his motorcycle, I felt duty-bound to step in again. That’s the new cover story for the NSA. Don’t tell them I said that.

Or, in a passage I stole from his website:

Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON’T IDENTIFY AS ‘WRITERS’ – all are welcome here! Every Friday, we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom!

Write whatever you want in the ‘comments’ section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds … no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send ’em here to read your ‘two’ and encourage them to play. 

Here’s one to start us off:

Ezra barely slept that night. The decision had been forming and unforming in his mind, sparking him out of fitful catnaps as he weighed the consequences of each choice. As he slurped coffee and stared into his squinty-eyed reflection the next morning, he knew he couldn’t leave it to a simple coin flip. There was right, and there was wrong, and he might lose his job or worse, but when he laced up his boots and ground step after step into the frozen earth on his way to the factory, he knew what had to be done. He was careful to greet his coworkers the same way as always, with smiles and backslaps and the same, tired jokes. Pushing out enthusiasm that he didn’t feel, because if they sensed anything was different, they might suspect. He might be called out to face the Big Boss, who surely would ask why the change in attitude. And then he could not lie. He was not bred for lies. When he took his place at the assembly line, he had to crush his hands into fists to hide the shaking, and when the aproned worker to his left seemed to notice this small gesture, he laughed and said, “Must be the cold,” and she handed him a pair of fingerless gloves. He would probably miss her the most.

The bell rang, signaling the start to their shift, and the conveyor belt began to move. Ezra sucked in a deep breath and steadied himself on increasingly unsteady legs. Heart pounding in his oversized ears, he let the base assembly pass him by. And then another. He knew it wouldn’t take long for them to notice; one elf not doing his or her work was bound to gum up the operation and fast.

A light flashed. The line supervisor called his name. The room went silent. Ezra waited, hands raised, as if in surrender. He cleared his throat and swallowed, then spun to face the head elf.

“I don’t care,” he said. Forcing more strength into his words. “Put me on dolls or trains or teddy bears. Or banish me from the workshop. But I’m not making toy guns anymore.”

61 thoughts on “Two-Minutes-Go Extended Road Trip

  1. hermitdog1 says:

    I lost my soul in the garden of gorgeous language, somewhere near the confluence of truth and fiction. I was walking the plath of self-discovery when I stubbed my toe on a kerouac. I sat down to watch the sky; it was almost somerset, and the boris was redd in the sky. A twain snapped behind me, and me eye caught a glimpse of a ginsberg in the twilight.

    I remained still, listening for whispers of truth and poetry. A browning owl hooted as night fell, asking a plaintive how, how. A light shower of wit fell from the sky, and I sighed, content to see a full mader rise in the east.

    Somewhere near, brooks babbled happily. I knew my time here was limited, and checked my watch for the time. If I hurried, I’d be on time to catch my antrobus, unless I got caught in the meyer of irony.

    I cantwell remember the trip home that night, but if I lost my soul in the garden of gorgeous language, I’d found reason enough for a trip bach.

  2. hermitdog1 says:

    The collie at my feet and I been through thick and thin, adventure and boredom, feast and famine. We kept each other alive one winter with the warmth of our bodies and the sharing of our souls. I found rabbits, and he chased ‘em.

    Now we are both older, the cold makes our bones ache, but our eyes still meet, and we know each other’s heart.

    Did I tell you about the time he rounded up fifteen deer and held ‘em in place, waiting for me to tell him when it was okay to let them go? Never saw a dog herd deer before… chase ‘em yes, but hold ‘em? Never another dog.

    Or that summer when he and that fool blue jay became friends? Played chase with each other just about every day, barking and squawking at each other, sure made me laugh. And then the jay ran into a window and broke its neck and the dog’s heart. When he carried it gently to me in his mouth, hoping I could fix it, just about killed me.

    We won’t climb any more mountains, us old ones, but we’ll remember the night the moon shined on us on a peak we ought not have climbed. Took us two days to get down and we were both hungry when we made it, but we knew we could do anything, us two.

    We huddle together now, by the wood stove, and venture out only in the sun. It’s been a good life. Sometimes when I reach down to pat him on the head, I feel only empty air.

    Been thirteen years since I said goodbye to the collie at my feet. His ghost don’t keep me near as warm.

  3. hermitdog1 says:

    He put the camera in its bag, and then he put the bag on the table. He took his boots off, rubbed his feet, and sighed the weary sigh of one who has captured images of wars and peace and flowers and blood.

    Was this what it was about? To bring what he saw to film or a memory card? To see the world and share it with those who wouldn’t look out their windows?

    His brother was a writer. He had worn the same weary look. They’d talked about it once, about being dealers to the addicts of pseudo-reality. People carefully posed in their nagahyde recliners, watching television, flipping through magazines and newspapers.

    He and his brothers were hunters of a sort. Not that they killed their prey, but they constantly prowled their corners of the world, one for images, one for words, and proudly showed their trophies.

    He’d come across his brother’s book in the remainder bin at the bookstore yesterday. The book he poured his soul into for twenty years. Two dollars, it was marked. Two dollars for twenty years of a man’s life.

    His brother would die if he knew, if he weren’t already dead.

    And his own photos? Plastered across the internet. Not even two cents. He removed the camera from the bag, held it lovingly in his hands, and then he threw it on the ground.

    The broken glass and metal was beautiful. He wished he had a way to capture the photo, and then he laughed.

  4. Smatrick says:

    “Peanut, what’s the worst thing you ever done?” Clack asked his bench partner.

    Peanut set down his hammer and chisel and gently swept the shavings from the block of cedar into a pile before him. He scratched a spot beneath his short white beard and thought carefully. You never asked Peanut anything if you wanted a quick answer. His thoughtfulness was one of the reasons Mister Kringle moved him up to shop captain.

    “You mean, like, at work, or in real life?” Peanut wondered as he pinched some shavings between his fingers and rubbed.

    Clack stopped painting the red nose on a toy reindeer and shrugged. “I don’t know. Either, I guess.”

    “Well, one time I was on coal duty and I had too much faerie juice the night before. Poor little kid in Des Moines got sixteen pounds of coal and alls he had done was hit his sister with some legos.” Peanut picked the tools back up and glanced at Clack before he continued his horse sculpture. “Why, little brother? What’s on your mind? What is the worst you could have done?”

    Clack looked around the workshop only to find every elf deep in concentration, no big ears turned their way. “I am having an affair with Mrs. Claus.”

    Tinks and tonks and clinks and clonks all went silent throughout the shop and all small eyes turned towards them.

    Peanut slid away from Clack on the bench, separating himself from the impending storm.

    The door at the far end of the shop opened and Clack saw the top of a pointy hat bounce up and down into Santa’s Office.

    Clack looked with panic to his benchmate and old friend, Peanut. “What, what should I do?”

    Peanut didn’t look him in the eyes and merely shrugged, “You’re on your own, slick. Never tell a secret around any elves. I guess my first lesson shouldn’t have been how to carve a realistic-looking reindeer but should have been don’t shit where you eat.”

    Clack was thinking about what he should do when Santa came barreling from the office, pulling his suspenders over his shoulders, murder in his eyes.

    “What do I do, Peanut?” he cried.

    Peanut got as far down the bench as his butt would go and shouted, “Run, idiot!”

  5. Lynne Cantwell says:

    “Two dollars for twenty years of a man’s life,” she read, and sighed.

    It’s not just two dollars, she thought. The guy was going at it all wrong. It was two bucks for the book in the bin, maybe — but what about the advance? What about all the readers who had marveled at the prose between those covers? What about the glowing reviews? What about the one or two or however many readers whose lives were touched — maybe even changed, if only for a minute — by that book?

    And what about the enjoyment he’d gotten from the act of writing the words? What about the thrill of holding the book in his own hands, lovingly stroking the cover, shelving it where guests could see and marvel at it?

    What if that book was in the remainder bin for someone who only had two dollars, but who desperately needed the truth or wisdom inside the covers?

    She glanced toward the closet where she’d stashed the boxes full of copies of her own books, and sighed again. What would they be worth now? Her tiny advance was long gone. She’d dropped it into the bucket of her credit-card debt, and the void had immediately filled again.

    Was it worth spending a life crafting truth out of thin air for such a trifling payback?

    What if the only life you saved was your own?

  6. Mark Morris says:

    “Smoother than a sigh.”

    Amelle raised the pumice stone from above her thigh and blew away the dead skin cells, following the stone with her hand.

    “Or maybe even smoother.”

    Closing her eyes, she drew her fingers along her leg, moving it first up and then down; seeking out any imperfections there might be.


    Opening her eyes again, she took the polished stone from her nighttable, drying it carefully with the lint-free cloth she’d bought especially for this duty. The stone took a few moment to warm though and she waited until its chill faded away; its weight the only sensation against her palm and fingers. She closed her eyes again and began once more, gripping the stone lightly so as not to influence its travel along her leg.

    The stone slid along her skin, lighter than a sunbeam but prompting less sensation. The slightest resistance drew her attention, her eyelids flicking open as she marked each position where it dragged. Eyes closed again, she focussed, seeking perfection; needing to know she was clean. Needing to know there was nothing surplus to her. No roughness. No thickening of the skin. Nothing to prevent her from feeling the slightest change in pressure or texture or direction or heat; everything pared and sanded and smoothed to the limit, stopping only when the skin grew too thin, gauging her attention on the pairing of stones. The rough and the smooth. The male and the female. The crassness and the purity, separated by the thickness of less than one cell.


    Amelle looked at her leg once more, studying it and finding it good.

    She smiled.

    “And now for my stomach.”

  7. Marl Morris says:

    Thank you both. I like to make things as real and as physical as possible, dragging you in by your synapses. But I like to think I’ve hint of poetry in me too. I’m not as articulate as many here but I get the ‘feels’ and hope I carry those over into my writing.

    And thanks again, You’re both always so supportive. I feel that I’m doing this for you all.

  8. M.P. Witwer says:

    This isn’t flash fiction, but it’s all I’ve got today…

    Although the outcome has been apparent to me for some time now (since about a week in, if you must know), the verdict became official Monday night: I’m not a “winner” in NaNoWriMo terms because I didn’t crank out 50,000 words during National Novel Writing Month, the annual frenzy that takes place each November.

    Hold on a minute. Does “not winning” make me a loser? Not by a long shot. It just means my manner of writing differs from that of those who were able to meet the goal — and that’s OK. Writing isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor.

    This was the first time that I approached NaNoWriMo seriously after skipping it altogether until last year, when I signed up with no intention of winning. This year, I fooled myself into believing I could totally revamp my writing style. As it turns out, three and a half decades of habit can’t be changed in one month.

    While Nano and I aren’t a good fit for each other, we parted on cordial terms. I don’t regret undertaking the challenge, and I’ll be back in April for Camp NaNoWriMo, a kinder, gentler version of the November event.

    But for now, I’m going to get back to writing my novel — on my terms.

  9. Erin McGowan says:

    He walked along the street, hugging himself to stay warm, grumbling about the cold and the obnoxious children trying to run over him with their bikes and roller blades. He groused at the stupid men, women, and teams of workers hanging lights, Santa, reindeer, and snowmen. He cursed the carolers as they passed him. He howled in rage at the guys putting lights in the park’s trees.
    What was so damn merry about bloody Christmas? The few family members who still spoke to him called him the Grinch. He figured that they had the right of it, but didn’t want to change it. He hated Christmas. He enjoyed hating Christmas. He enjoyed walking around with no coat and complaining about the cold.
    He was mad at the world. He’d tried to get over it, but one day he stopped trying. The next day it was that much harder to give a shit. The day after that, it was damn near impossible. Fuck it. He’d just keep hoping the world burned. If people didn’t like him for it, they could stay away.

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