Tag Archives: Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction Titled Acerbic

Acerbic was previously published in Florida Writers Collection, Let’s Talk.
The challenge was to write a story less than 1200 words using dialogue only.

Setting; a doctor’s waiting room.

Acerbic

       “This is ridiculous.  I’ve been waiting more than twenty minutes.  My appointment was for nine fifteen.  What time was your appointment?”

     “Well, I’m not sure; I think nine thirty, why?” 

     “Unacceptable! My time is of value, too. Why aren’t complaining?”

     “I was told the doctor was running late when I signed in.”

     “It’s better if everyone is out of sorts.  I can complain for you, make something up, like your dog is in the car, sick and needs to be taken to the Vet.”

     “Reading here is as enjoyable as anywhere.”

     “Boy, you people are annoying, must you be so perky and pleasant?”

     “You’re upset.  Why don’t you thumb through a magazine?  There’s a travel article about Hawaii in this one.  Have you been there?”

     “You think looking at pretty pictures of places I can’t afford to travel to will help me… what?  Be happy I have to wait for a man I pay to tell me I’m sick. And looking at colorful advertisements won’t help either.  I’m Acerbic.  My parents and grandparents, on both sides, were Acerbic and proud of it.”

      “Acerbic?  Is that … American or … a religion?” 

     “Acerbic is a way of life.  You got a problem with that?  Our dispositions are generally crabby.  We find fault in others quickly and enjoy being sarcastic.”

     “Golly gee, everyone feels crabby from time to time.”

     “Golly gee?  Golly gee, we’ve been sitting here over a half hour.  Can’t you pretend you’re a little annoyed?  That wing back chair looks awful uncomfortable.  These doctors are all the same; think they’re better than the rest.”

     “His nurse said the doctor had an emergency, it sounded serious.  Are you really Acerbic?”

     “Our whole neighborhood is Acerbic.  We don’t like friendly.  People yell, ‘Don’t park in front of my house, jerk’ and threaten, ‘If your dog pees on my grass, I will call the police!’  Although things are changing.  Someone, I can’t find out who, moved my garbage pail out of the street on a windy day.”

     “You don’t mind if I read my book?’

     “Of course I mind.  I get it.  Why not say shut-up?  Add please if you have to.  It’s easy; watch my lips, ‘Will you please shut-up!’ ”

     “No, tell me about your life.”

     “Actually I had a great childhood.  We owned a small cabin not far from Rte. 95 below the Georgia border.  Dad named it Acerbia.  It was a retreat where we could be sour and discontent on weekends and during vacations.  You know, say nasty things about neighbors and relatives.”

     “Was that fun?”

     “Are you kidding, of course, the best.  By the way, they call me Unfortunately.  I’m Unfortunately Fortunato.  What’s your name?  Not that I care.”

     “Unfortunately is a first name?  And Fortunato your family…?”

      “Mom wanted an Acerbic name, nothing cheerful or common like Hope, Joy or Grace.”

     “That had to be a difficult name for a child.  Did she think it was a mistake?”

     “No, Difficult and Mistake are my brothers.  Mother named them good, too, because Difficult is in prison and Mistake, chronically unemployed.”

     “Was that a surprise?”

     “They still haven’t called anyone.  All they do is talk on the phone.  Someone else has to complain.  You can do it.  I like your pink eyebrows.”

     “My eyebrows are pink?”

     “Yea, they match your lipstick, compliments that bluish tint in your hair, and look cool on a woman your age.”

     “My hair isn’t blue! I’m not that old.”

    “Isn’t that book you’re reading in large print?”

     “It’s easier I don’t have to remember my glasses.”

     “Most seniors get a little forgetful.  It’s normal, not a problem unless you can’t remember what glasses are.  You know glasses magnify things, right?” 

     “I know what glasses are for and I didn’t forget them.  I do not need them to read a large print book.”

     “Did you hear that?  The receptionist called Ms. Fortunato.  That’s me, Unfortunately.  Doc’s ready for me.  Have a rotten, day”

     “You too, and my eyebrows aren’t pink!

The challenge was to write a story , less than 1200 words, using dialogue only. 

seriously . . . just saying, Claudia

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Flash Fiction

(The word pearl was a prompt given at a writing session. A strong female character came to mind and her story enfolded.)

Pearl

The last time I saw her, she was young; youth sparkled in her eyes. Now the sparkle is gone, the jade blue color diminished by time; her convictions etched in lines across her face. Her once narrow nose is broader, broken from standing up for others. Her chest sunken with anger, not there the first time we met.

“Pearl is that you?” I inquire.

She strains to turn towards me, her range of motion greatly compromised.

“Yes, I’m Pearl,” Her voice recalls dignity, and she pauses to ask, “Have I had your acquaintance?”

It was 1971; we got on the Concourse Avenue bus in the Bronx, each with a child in hand. She took notice of my bruises and we became friends.

I take the seat alongside her and gently touch her forearm, “Pearl, it’s me Rosa . . . . Rose, remember. . . .” I expect her to ooze with gladness, say, “Lordy, Lordy, Rose, how are you?”

Instead, she says “Rose? Can’t recall a Rose, refresh my memory child.”

If she remembers me, she would never mention beatings, and hiding in safe houses. I remind her of Bainbridge Park; how we would meet after lunch, let the children play in the sand box then walk them to sleep in strollers.

“I remember sunshine and playgrounds, how is your boy . . . ?”

“Danny, Dan, he’s at Fordham University; studying to be a lawyer.

Danny was five when I made the decision to leave the morning after a beating. I phoned my sister, asked her to get him from school, and left a note for John saying I didn’t want a divorce, and wouldn’t fight him for our son.

I worried about leaving Danny behind. Pearl said, “Don’t fret; your boy be fine,” and hooked me up with people.

John was a New York City Police officer and protected by his brothers, but the force would not ignore his beating a child.

Sill, I moved every four months with a new identity.

Three years later, the Richmond Virginia Newspaper reported the hunt for the killer of John McGill, a NYC Police Officer shot in the line of duty. I went home; stood next to his coffin, widowed with a pension; my eight-year-old son at my side.

John had never mentioned I was gone to anyone on the force.

Now Pearl dozes next to me, and her head bobs from side to side startling herself. “What was I saying?”

“We were talking about the time we brought the boys to the Bronx Zoo and rode the train around the park ten times. You packed potato salad and fried chicken; a stranger asked to buy your picnic lunch.”

The mention of potato salad crystallizes in her milky eyes, “I remember the day you left, bruised and wearing borrowed clothes; it broke my heart knowing I’d not see you again. How you been?”

“I never got to thank you, Pearl. . . .” She interrupts my attempt at gratitude and explanation of regret .

“Hush, Woman . . . tell me something that will make me smile.”

* * * just saying

(Originally posted on November 23, 2014)

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