Saturday was National Flash Fiction Day, a day to celebrate short stories with less than 1,000 words. I know at least one of you wrote a flash story, because Laura posted hers into the comment section (huzzah!). I hope others were likewise inspired. If not, I hope you at least read a few flash stories over the week end—they’re short after all, so you could read more than one in a single sitting.
On Saturday, I committed to writing a flash. The first draft of “Wheat Kings” clocks in at 943 words, and it’s a story about loss and the connections of family. Here’s the first few hundred words:
Under the great chapel of sky, the wheat whispered to John McIntosh. It spoke of the rain, the sun, the rich, rich earth, and of his father and grandfather who had labored before him, and Daniel, who would work the fields when he was gone.
Daniel watched the wheat bow in reverence as his father passed through the south field. He had been helping his father since he was ten, but even a decade later, he still struggled against the stalks.
John stopped, planted his hands on his waist. His body ached and not just from the pains of work and age. Arching his back, he breathed deeply the green smell of the new wheat. It smelled dry, and with no rain in the forecast, the field would need water tomorrow.
Daniel put an arm on his father’s elbow. He sensed something was wrong. In two days his father had said not fifty words. Not since his mother had died had his father been so withdrawn.
John patted his son’s hand. Daniel had grown strong and lean, into a good man. Eventually he would be a good farmer. John hoped it would be soon enough. “Went to the doctor,” he said, struggling to keep his voice flat. “Been having fierce pain in my back. . .” He was dithering when he needed to be to-the-point.
“What’s wrong, Pop?”
“This will be my last harvest.”
It still needs some work before I’ll have something ready to submit, but I like where it’s sitting right now. I’ll work on it a some more, and if lucky, I’ll get it out the door before the end month, assuming I can figure out where to send it. “Wheat Kings” doesn’t have much of a speculative element—it’s got a bit of magical realism, but even that’s fairly subdued.