The danger of flash/micro fiction, by the way, is in making sure that the pieces you create are stories. They most common result, unfortunately, is for those few hundred words to simply be a scene, or a thought. To make them into a story is hard…and that is where I fail most of the time.
It helps to have a plan for the piece…a plan over and above that one thought or image that gave rise to it. The piece below is one of those failures. Oh, I had a vision — I had the symbols I wanted to use, and the driving thought — but the story…the story was lacking.*
*Err…if you haven’t tried it, to conceptualize, write and edit a story in under an hour ain’t exactly easy…
Still, I haven’t posted a flash fiction piece in a while, so here goes:
There was no sky, only clouds. There was no sun, no light, only clouds, leaden and grey.
There was a path for me to follow, ahead, but it was faint and intermittent, nothing more than the barest bit of game trail.
I was lost. Again.
The trail meandered, as they so often will, and the sky offered no help. All I had were the unfamiliar hills and the bowl of trees and rocks in which I stood. A place I had never seen. The last familiar ground was too far behind to turn back, the last landmark a fading memory, and the way ahead even more uncertain.
I had nothing to steer by, nothing to guide me, nothing of comfort or care. All I had was me, and a lifetime of being lost.
I walked, then. The game trail came and went, a distant friend visited only in passing. My feet followed instead that lifetime of being lost, followed the path of experience and memory. When everything ahead is strange and dangerous, that is what you trust: experience and memory.
When you fall down a hole, people say, you stop digging. When you get lost, you stop walking and wait for help.
There is no help, no one coming to save you. You put one foot in front of the other and walk, from one tree, one hill, to the next. I put one foot in front of the other, then, and walked…from one tree, one hill, to the next.
The clouds hung lower and lower, the sky grew ever more threatening and cold. My one friend, that faint trail, disappeared and still I walked. My only survival was in walking, in progress. To stop was to die. I knew that. From long experience I knew that.
No food, little water, my energy fading, I knew the next hill would be the last. I couldn’t climb another. Being lost had finally caught up with me.
The sky grew brighter, even as I climbed. The clouds began to thin, the sun to return. I stood at the crest, then. I stood at the crest and stared. The sun had moved, the world had shifted, and what lay before my feet was…unexpected.
The world hadn’t moved, the sun hadn’t shifted, I had.
What lay ahead was a valley I knew well, the trailhead where I had begun so many days before. I stood and stared, more lost and confused than I had been in the mountains themselves.
I was home, I was safe.
I turned around and began walking to the next valley.