Birdbeat and Summer Move Challenge

Birdbeat, by Geoff Adams, is for bird lovers and fugue lovers.

The challenge, should you choose to accept: write a flash fiction story with the words bird, beat, summer, and move.

1000 words maximum.

Post it on your blog.

Link it back here.

Bask in the glory.

Oh yeah, in the next couple weeks, me and my hub unit, along with our kitties, are moving to another state, buying a house, and starting different “day jobs.” So I’ll be offline until sometime next month. I’ll put my own story in this post and reply to comments then.

Happy summer!

Love,

CM

UPDATE: Me and my hub-unit are still looking for new jobs and a new house. Our deadline for moving is the end of October. In the meantime, the “Birdbeat and Summer Move Challenge” deadline is extended until then!

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UPDATE REDUX: My hub-unit and I moved into a house, but it’s temporary housing. So we’re still on the lookout for new jobs / houses. My “Birdbeat and Summer Move Challenge” entry is below.

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TIDY TRUCK RENTALS

The clerk glances over his shoulder at the bare wall, save for a single set of keys hanging on the last nail. “Yer lucky. I got one truck left. But we usually don’t rent it out.”

My husband Stewie sighs. “Why? Is something wrong with it?”

“Naw. Not really.” The clerk shrugs his shoulders. “Jus’ haunted, that’s all.”

“A haunted moving truck?” I laugh. “Well, as long as it’s Halloween, a haunted moving truck is perfect. Where do we sign?”

The clerk pulls a clipboard of documents out from under the counter and grabs the last set of keys.

Stewie drums the countertop and frowns.

I slide the clipboard under his fingers, laugh, and turn toward the clerk. “So why is this truck haunted? Did somebody die in it?”

“Summer, please . . ” Stewie rolls his eyes.

“Oh no, not jus’ anybody,” the clerk replies. “My daddy. That truck jus’ happened to be the first truck my daddy overhauled to start Tidy Truck Rentals. He did all the upgradin’ hisself. Put his heart an’ soul into that truck, and it’s still goin’ strong today.” His eyes mist over, and he sniffs and shakes his head. “My daddy was a clean man. Prided hisself on that fact. Ran the cleanest truck rental business in the land. He died cleanin’ that truck. An’ now any customer that rents it says it cleans itself. They don’ hafta sweep it out or nothin’.

“Like I said, sounds perfect.” I press a pen into my husband’s hand. “Stewie, honey, please sign. The sooner we load the truck the sooner we can unload the truck. There’s still time to finish this move by tonight.”

Stewie mumbles and signs. “A haunted truck on Halloween. Do we get a discount for that?”

“Please, Stewie, let’s just get the truck loaded.”

Four back-breaking hours later, the last of our furniture and boxes is tightly packed in the back of the truck. We drive across town to our new address and spend four more grueling hours moving our belongings into our new house.

When the last box is shoved inside the front door, I collapse on it, panting. “I’m beat. I’m going to bed.”

“Not yet, Summer. What about the truck?” Stewie says. “We have to return it by midnight or get charged an extra day.”

“Have fun. I’ll be recuperating in our new home.”

“But you know my night vision is crap. I don’t want to hit any trick-or-treaters. You drive, I’ll navigate.”

I groan and lumber to my feet. “The things you put me through to save a buck.” We climb into the cab, I start the engine, and we pull out of our driveway.

“Take a left at Parker, then take a right after the railroad tracks. It’s the first lot on the left after the bridge. And watch out for trick-or-treaters and low-flying birds.”

“Very funny.” Bleary-eyed, I squint into the night. Fifteen minutes down the road, I ease off the gas and let the truck coast over the railroad tracks and

 

BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM

 

thunders from the cargo hold of the truck.

I slam on the brakes.

“Stewie, did you remember to strap the dolly to the cargo wall?”

“Yes.”

“Then what the hell was that?”

“I don’t know. Maybe the truck rocking side to side over the tracks shook the dolly loose. And the empty cargo hold amplified the noise.”

I slowly press the gas pedal. “Yeah. Had to be the dolly. So . . when you strapped the dolly in . . was it, you know . . tidy back there?”

“Yes.”

“Was it tidy because you swept up? Or was it tidy, you know, all by itself?”

“I couldn’t see very well. It was dark.”

I shiver and grip the steering wheel tight. Ten minutes down the road, I ease off the gas and let the truck roll under the bridge and

 

BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM

 

thunders from the cargo hold of the truck.

I slam on the brakes. “Let me guess- the angle of the road made the dolly slam around again?”

“That does it.” Stewie unbuckles his seat belt. “I’m gonna make sure the dolly is strapped to the cargo wall. I’m not gonna pay extra for a damaged truck.” He climbs out of the cab, walks to the back, and opens the cargo door. “The dolly . . ” he calls back. “It’s still strapped to the wall.”

“That’s weird,” I yell out the window. “Maybe the straps are spring-loaded?”

“I dunno. But I’m not gonna pay extra for a damaged truck.”

“Stewie?

“What?” He leans out of the back of the truck.

“Is it . . tidy back there?”

“I dunno. I guess. It’s dark. Could you move it along, Summer? It’s almost midnight, and I’m not gonna pay-”

“I know, you’re not gonna pay for another day.”

Stewie pulls himself into the cargo hold and shuts the door.

I slowly press the gas pedal. “Yeah,” I mutter to myself. “Had to be the dolly.”

Five minutes down the road, I pull into the parking lot of Tidy Truck Rentals. One minute to midnight. Stewie will be pleased. I climb out of the cab and

 

BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM

 

thunders from the cargo hold of the truck.

I run to the back of the truck as the clerk steps out of the building.

“Stewie! Are you okay?” I unlock the cargo door and fling it open.

Empty, except for the dolly strapped to the wall.

The clerk chuckles. “Like I said, it cleans itself. You don’ hafta sweep it out or nothin’.”

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(Inter)National Flash Fiction Day Press Release from Annie Evett of Raging Aardvark

(Inter)National Flash Fiction Day Press Release from Annie Evett of Raging Aardvark:

What do Hemingway, Kafka, Chekhov and Lovecraft have in common (other than they are writers)?

They wrote powerful stories in what is now coined Flash Fiction. The most poignant captured in just 6 words was penned by Ernest Hemingway.

For sale: baby shoes, never worn. 

While there is nothing new about the short-short story, National Flash Fiction Day is being celebrated for the first time in the UK and has been adopted around the world in a buzz of excitement.

Amongst the workshops, seminars, readings and write-ins arranged by writers groups, universities, and recognized authors, are a collection of anthologies that are set to launch this week. Annie Evett from Raging Aardvark Publications is delighted to present Twisted Tales, an anthology celebrating Flash Fiction. These short, sweet snippets of stories have the ability to tempt the imagination, tantalize a reader, pose questions, and form the heart of great flash fiction. Twisted Tales was born out of the need to showcase Flash Fiction in its own right, and a desire to present writers whose first love lays within the short story.

Far too long has society been indulged with the excessive word count. Annie believes that it is time the short story and all its derivatives demand their rightful place back into readership.

This collection explores the twisted existence of love, family, and relationships, as characters seek a sense of self and identity. It is filled with a mixture of stories, some which will make you think, others smile, and tales which will have you reaching for your security blanket.

Twisted Tales includes both established writers alongside emerging authors.  One of the heartwarming outcomes for Annie in undertaking this project was receiving emails from thrilled contributors who were excited to launch their careers within this Anthology. The support and encouragement for this project she continues to receive is fantastic and much appreciated.

The successful contributors to Twisted Tales will be showcased on ether books as a separate genre. They will be free download and its hoped that other writers begin to submit to this subsection of short stories.

Twisted Flash Fiction has stories currently under 700 words which include a twist or surprise in the end.

For more information about the celebrations round the world – check out National Flash Fiction Day, follow the #NFFD tweets or explore Raging Aardvark’s site.

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Pretty neat, eh?  I’m also pleased to share that one of my flash fiction stories- “How Does that Make You Feel?”-was chosen to be be included in Raging Aardvark’s first Twisted Tales anthology!

Read what else I wrote for Flash Fiction Day (scroll to story)!

And check out ether books.

Prisencolinensinainciusol

That is my flash fiction challenge for the 1st National / International Flash Fiction Day, this May 16th. For the unprisencolinensinainciusolified, I will explain. Prisencolinensinainciusol is officially recognized as “the greatest song ever,” and its accompanying video is officially recognized as “the all-time greatest artifact of human culture.”

The super sex-ay Italian responsible for this prompt is the insanely brilliant singer, songwriter, comedian, actor, film director, and TV host Adriano Celentano. He’s also unofficially recognized as the first internationally famous rapper.

See and hear for yourself:

Prisencolinensinainciusol original

Prisencolinensinainciusol transcripted

Now that you’ve been prisencolinensinainciusolified, care to join me in the challenge? Write a flash fiction story inspired by prisencolinensinainciusolification, post it on your blog, and link back in the comments of this post. I will put my own tale in this post on the 16th. All right!

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This story is PG.

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Giocherellona Misty

“Buona sera, Signorina Misty.”

“Buona sera, Signor Celentano. Grazie per me tutoraggio per l’ultima volta.”

“Molto buono, Misty! Il tuo italiano sta migliorando,” Adriano says. “I almost decided to skip your last tutoring lesson.” He looks over his shoulder. “The snow is really coming down. But I wanted to say goodbye to you and your parents.” He stomps his shoes and shakes the snow from his coat.

Misty smiles and steps aside. Adriano walks into the house and hangs his coat on the coat rack.

Clicking across the floor in her high heels, Misty quickly checks her nail polish and plops down on the loveseat. She props her heels on the coffee table, smoothes the hem of her miniskirt, and adjusts the strap of her halter top.

“My mom and dad aren’t here,” she says, smiling.

“Will they be back soon?”

“They’re in America, looking for a house.” She bends her knees and flexes her calf muscles. “We have the whole house to ourselves, Adriano.” She leans back folds her arms behind her head, her blonde curls haloing her face.

“Oh. Well, maybe I should leave. I mean . . the snow. Don’t wanna get snowed in, you know.” Adriano shoves his hands in his pants pockets.

“And skip my last lesson? I believe my parents paid you to tutor me all semester.”

“But you’re graduating early, aren’t you?”

“Yes. My marks are high enough that Signor Stan gave me permission to finish my senior year early. He already signed the waiver.”

Misty jumps up. “So let’s dance.” She turns on the DVD player, grabs Adriano’s arms, and gyrates to the beat.

“Ah, but I already have a girlfriend.” Adriano breaks away and crosses his arms.

“Where is she? In your pocket?” Misty laughs.

Adriano grins. “Well, we should get started on our lesson.”

“I changed my mind. I’m through with lessons.”

“I thought you wanted to become fluent in Italian.”

“Sono in grado di parlare italiano cosi come si puo.” Misty winks.

“Da quando?” Adriano shakes his head.

“Dato che sempre.” She turns off the DVD player.

“Then why am I being paid to tutor you in Italian?”

Misty looks at the ceiling. “My parents think you’ve been tutoring me in calculus. Funny thing, I’m not even taking calculus.”

“Ah-ha. Very funny. Well, tell your parents I said good-bye.” He grabs his coat and the door knob. “Good luck in America, Misty. I wish you well.”

“I see the snow is really piling up. Look.” Misty points to the window.

Adriano takes a step toward the window and lets out a low whistle. He turns back to Misty. “Looks dangerous.”

“Looks like nearly ten centimeters so far,” Misty says. “And icy. You should stay here until you can at least see the road. My parents would kill me if they thought I sent you home in a blizzard. And I would just die if you slid off the road.” She scoots to the side of the loveseat. “It looks so cold out there. Come here and sit by me.”

Adriano hangs his coat back on the rack and sits on a chair across from Misty.

“It’s so cold in this house.” Misty gives an exaggerated shiver. “Could you hand me that blanket on your chair?”

Adriano turns and grabs the blanket. He gives her the blanket, and she grabs his hand, pulling him toward her. “We might have to bundle up tonight. But don’t worry, I don’t bite.” She bites her lip and giggles.

He breaks free and sits back down in his chair. The blanket falls to the floor. “Maybe you should put on a sweater. Put on some sweatpants.”

“I don’t have any. Besides, I- yikes! I felt something crawling on me!” She jumps up. “Get it off! Get it off!”

“What? What is it?”

“It’s an ant. We have ants in this house.” She lifts her skirt over her hips and stomps on the floor.

“There are no ants in the middle of winter.”

“Oh. Silly me.” She giggles again.

Adriano shakes his head and puts his hand over his face. “Misty, I’m too old for you. All right?”

She sticks out her lip. “How old are you?”

“I’m twenty-eight.”

“Well I’m eighteen.”

Adriano looks at the floor.

“I just turned eighteen. My birthday is today. That’s only ten years difference.”

Adriano looks up. “Happy birthday.”

“Thank you. Aren’t you gonna ask me what I want for my birthday?”

He sighs. “I’m afraid to.”

“I want you to slip your shoes off.”

“Why?”

“You always slip your shoes off when you tutor me. Why don’t you slip your shoes off tonight?”

“I don’t know.”

Misty slides down onto the floor and crawls to Adriano’s feet. She unties his shoe laces and pulls his shoes off. She ties the laces together, climbs onto the table, and throws his shoes over the chandelier. They swing and twirl as the chandelier crystals clink.

“You may as well make yourself comfortable.” She jumps down. “You hungry? I’m starving. I hope you like store-bought pizza,” she calls from the kitchen. “It’s the only thing I know how to make.”

She turns on the oven, puts a frozen pizza in, and sets the timer. Back in the front room, she leans over the back of Adriano’s chair and lays her hand on his forehead. “You’re hot. It must be me. But if you pass out, I know mouth-to-mouth.”

Adriano pulls her hand away. “Misty, you can have any guy you want,” he says.

Misty sits on his lap and wraps her arm around his neck. “I want you.”

Adriano gently pushes her off, leans forward, and cradles his head in his hands.

“All right,” Misty says. “I get it. Wanna watch a movie?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“How about L’uomo che Guarda?”

“I’ve seen that one.”

“You like it?”

“Yes. But it’s mature.”

“You keep forgetting I’m eighteen.”

She turns off the lights, starts the movie, and sprawls out on the floor. Half an hour later, the timer rings, and she runs to the kitchen. She returns with the pizza, two wine glasses, and a bottle of Seghesio Dolcetto d’Alba Pajana. Adriano joins Misty on the floor, and she hands him the bottle.

“Open it please?”

Adriano pops the cork and pours the wine. “A giocherellona Misty,” he says, raising his glass.

“E afrodisiaci,” Misty adds.

“What are these leaves on the pizza?”

“Questi sono gli afrodisiaci,” she says, plucking a leaf and putting it in his mouth. “Basil.”

Misty licks her fingers and they take turns watching each other eat, and watching the people on the screen engage in flagrante delicto. An hour later, the movie is over, the pizza is gone, and the bottle is empty. Adriano lies on his back, his first few shirt buttons unbuttoned. Misty straddles his chest, her skirt hiked around her hips.

“The wine and the basil did me in, Misty. Perbacco, I don’t think I can sit up.”

Misty intertwines her fingers with Adriano’s. She leans forward, and her lips brush his ear.

“If you think I’m a virgin, I’m not,” she whispers. “You’re not my first.”

“I didn’t think that.”

“And if you think I can get pregnant, I can’t. I’ve been on the pill since I was sixteen. My parents are very permissive. So am I.” She kisses his neck, then his lips. “Bene?”

“Misty, you’re only eighteen. You’ll forget all about me. You’ll go to America and find yourself a nice American boyfriend. You’ll find yourself lots of American boyfriends. You won’t remember me.”

She trails her fingers over his face, down his neck, and down his chest. “So what’s stopping you? I’ll be on the other side of the world next week. You’ll never have to see me again. And now I think you would prefer that.”

He sits up. “That’s not true, Misty.” He cradles Misty’s head in his hands. “You don’t understand.” He kisses the top of her head and inhales deeply. “You smell so good. Like fresh, warm sugar cookies. With cinnamon.”

Misty pulls away and looks into his eyes. She grabs his hand and presses it against her breast. “And what do I feel like, Adriano?”

“Misty, per favore.”

“What do I feel like?”

“You feel . . Sento il tuo battito cardiaco.”

She presses her hand on his chest. “Just like yours.”

“Misty . . ”

“Just like yours, Adriano.”

She puts her hands on his shoulders, gently pushes him to the floor, and runs her fingers through his hair.

He slides his hands around her hips. “Misty. Ti amo. I’ve loved you from the first day I saw you. I just thought it was wrong. Avevo paura. I’m still afraid that you might still see me as your teacher. Then you would regret this.”

“I’m not a student anymore. Quit making excuses. Show me how much you’ll miss me.”

Misty slips off her shirt, then her bra.

“I need you to be the one to . . to initiate.”  He closes his eyes. “I have to be sure you want this. That I’m not pressuring you. Misty, Io ve desiderare. Si prega di fare l’amore con me.”

Outside, a faint rumbling. A couple minutes later, the rumbling grows louder.

Misty jumps up and peeks out the window. A wall of snow and ice plows onto the lawn. Blushing, she grabs her clothes and turns to Adriano.

“What is it?” Adriano says.

“Rapidamente, il tuo scarpe!”

*