I never know how or when a story will come, or where I’ll be when an image or a phrase drifts into my consciousness and lands. Some people carry paper with them everywhere they go, or at least know how to use their Smart Phones to take notes better than I do. I’m not an organized person in that way. While many glimmers and snippets and great “prosey” lines fade by the time I sit at my table, I always trust that something will come. This strategy takes the pressure off the job of stewarding every possible good idea.
A couple of weeks before the holidays I was having tea at a friend’s house. She served lemon and lavender and mint tea in an heirloom cup and we sat on her couch in the afternoon light.We talked of daughters and births and becoming grandmothers. We basked in our good fortune. As I stepped into the blank winter air, I wondered what my life would have been like if my daughter had not made it to womanhood and to a time where she herself would become a mother. And I cried. Not because an imagined peril, the what-if, had brought me real sadness, but because it hit me that she would become a mother and have what I have had with her, but with someone else. I felt a loss in that.
I write fiction to play with the nuances of human psyche through characters. So here’s what mingled in my writer brain: tea, bone china, daughter, loss, and I sat down to create.
“Bone China” is the first and only piece of flash fiction I ever wrote. A friend once challenged me to try and write a story under 2,000 words and I knew one day I would. When I approached this story on the afternoon of that day, I didn’t know it would be the story that met the dare. Everything I wanted to say flew from my fingers and in fifteen minutes, it was done. A few tweaks the next day, and off it went.
From “Bone China”…
“He led her to the living room. The furniture quivered at the sight of her, or so she imagined. The leather was skin, the velour a caress. Her mind was slipping into old ways, how she used to love this room after lunch, with him, before work, the children in school, and she steadied herself with the piano. He took her arm.”
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