Every year, I enter two flash fiction pieces to the contest sponsored by the Museo de la Palabra (The Museum of Words), which was founded by the Cesar Egido Serrano Foundation. The Fundación César Egido Serrano “was created to propose that the word be the tool of coexistence between cultures and religions and against all violence.” The author of the winning piece receives $20,000. You read that right. Clearly, the Foundation is making a strong statement about the importance of every word spoken and written in discourse.
It’s a real challenge to write a flash piece when the maximum word count is 100 words. Writing with that limitation, I’ve learned, more than ever, to appreciate diction choices. The task also reinforces one’s understanding and sense of what constitutes a story.
My only published flash piece to date is “Con Sord,” a story based in a futuristic world where human beings have lost their ability to speak and, resourceful as they are, have learned to communicate through musical instruments. I’ve written a few others, but haven’t dedicated as much time to this genre, which I find fascinating. So much so, that I designed and taught a course in it while at SUNY Plattsburgh.
Below are my two flash fiction entries for this year’s contest (you’re allowed two). Let me know which one you liked best. Leave your thoughts and remarks in the comments box below. As always, I appreciate your feedback.
Death by Laughter
No one knew how laughter became illegal. Some claimed the Great Leader had not tolerated anyone mocking him. History classes taught her the world had many problems. No time for frivolity, teachers lectured. Signs everywhere proclaimed the fatal punishment for disobedience. Her friend owned a smuggled clip of a comedian. The temptation proved too strong. Under the moonlight, he played it. Her lips curled, eyes twinkled, and from her mouth came a cacophony of sound. “Stop,” he warned, but she continued. In fear, he ran. She could not stop. Days later, they found her corpse, a smile on her face.
Hair and Feathers
From a lost civilization, only their creation myth remains. Their Goddess shaped a sphere from one long strand of her hair and cast it into the heavens. On its surface, she created the oceans, terrain, fauna, flora, as a private, hideaway paradise. Her lover, jealous, plucked feathers from an enormous, winged creature and buried the stringy core. Then, he inhabited her world with humans. He granted them intelligence and curiosity so they may discover the lone cowlick sticking out of the world. Once they found it, he knew they would pull it. And the world would unravel.