FLASH FICTION is the art of the super-short story, and it helps writers in so many ways. It allows you to write faster and smarter; to experiment with different types of syntax or points of view; and, it allows you to start and finish many projects.
When Chris and I were developing this workshop, we talked a lot about how writers must write a lot to prepare themselves for bigger projects. And what better way to learn the craft of writing, then to actually write?
Here are the (awesome) stories that came out of this two-day workshop:
Saleem placed his dark burnt brown suitcase and silver wolf head cane near his desk, as he has done so for the past 33 years, limping towards the pedestal in front of him in order to start with the introductory slides of his lecture. Yellow-orange sunlight seeping through the large windows adorning the hall, fueling it with limitless energy, giving Saleem that extra zing to teach whole heartedly. As he reached the middle mark he scanned around the lecture hall, to his left side Kareem, his head flung way back, to the top rows Samer in his classic snooze pose, in the middle Nada, and Maha resting on each others shoulders, all had already succumbed to sleep. He could see the drool shimmering while dripping from Kareem’s textbook, Saleem started shaking, No matter how exciting his presentations are, many keep dozing off, He kept pressing hard at his laser pointer till it snapped. This time he was no longer going to sit it out, this time was the time the “Sandman” told him to prepare for. It was now or never! He limped back towards his dark burnt brown suitcase reached for his silver wolf head while continuing reading the remaining ball points for his class, then hastily pressed at the wolf head. An explosion shook the whole campus and engulfed the teaching halls with ash, debris and smoke.
– Hadi “HeDzZ” Chatila, Visual Artist
And here lies Dwight, standing next to crippled Dwight, sleeping in front of young and innocent Dwight, annoying old veteran Dwight, smoking under dead-from-the-neck-up Dwight. That odd, deja-vu feeling he had while puffing his cigarette, reminiscing on his friend of misery: That majestic Wall! And how Dwight tripped, embracing it with … Another Failure! The unavoidable everlasting loop; that peculiar misshaped in an altered yellow grayish red reality, where the sky and the soil forgot to play their roles properly. Dwight questioned, “was that iPhone really worth it?” His crimson eyes will only figure, as they flicker like a camera lens while scanning through LIMBO!
– Shady Abou Fayad, Audio Engineer
For the first time in a long time, Alice let her red-painted toes touch the water without cringing. The cold water ebbed and flowed around her feet, which were now sinking in the sand. The grains rubbed coarsely around her ankles, teasing her until she suddenly awoke from her daze. Alice raised her trembling hand in front of her face and fixated her gaze on the wedding band that shone more brightly than it had ever before.
Suddenly it was all flashing in front of her. His cry for help, echoing in the mountains that surrounded the sea. His arms frantically shaking behind every large wave. How loud had the music from her earphones been that day? Could she really not have heard him?
The seagulls circling ahead bring her back to her senses. She slips off the ring, lets it slide off her pale and trembling hands and drops it into the water. The sea now murkier than before feels like sheets of ice stabbing at her feet as she moves forwards. It turns her numb. And with every step her breath softens, her eyelids grow heavy. The sun is finally warm.
– Nour Jane Kachicho, Gender and Media at the London School of Economics & Political Science
A loud scream was heard coming from the gardens of a grand palace in the city of Beirut. Ayham, an agricultural engineer, was shouting at everyone trying to cut down an old maple tree, saying that it was dead. Although he was a peaceful and shy guy, but not on that day. He did not care for anyone around him; not the mistress of the palace, not the judge and it anyone else with a high authority.
“Do not cut it down,” he yelled.
Those people opposing him were over rude and stubborn, calling him ignorant, unable to fulfill his duties as a Consultant. Next to that maple tree were three men holding chainsaws, getting ready to slaughter their victim, and heading their way was a big truck carrying a huge Sycamore, pridefully looking at that throne it will soon clutch from that useless shadow that no one has any interest in. Ayham ran towards the maple tree, climbed on it and spoke in a loud angry voice:
“Madame… sir… this tree is not dead. I can explain to you what is really going on and I can prove it to you. You are making a big mistake!”
The Mistress and the Judge, both with the highest authority in the palace, gave Ayham an oath that they would do as he said, they would not cut it down. Feeling relieved, he jumped down and started explaining his theory, but he was brutally dragged away and all he could hear were the squeals of a dying tree-body, sentenced to death without giving it any prior notice.
– Mohammad Hajjar, Agricultural Engineer
In her head Violet is already dead, nothing but a walking corpse in a form of a living entity. She loves this twisted, this ecstatic, this electrified mass of atomic particles she is made up of; such a self-centric, chauvinistic piece of flesh. She heads towards her dirty mirror and stares at her funny-looking features, trying to put back the pieces of her broken soul, this acidified weight. The man in black keeps on following her, determined to kill her. It drives her nerve endings insane with fear but today, she decides to kill him. As the night falls down, lying in her bed, her body trembles with rage rocking her soul to stagnation, when straight up in front of her he leans, this time to kiss her. She points the gun to shoot but he jumps into the void and disappears again. This whole motion picture turns to an ultimate piece of black oily painting and she is back to life.
– Hadia Hussein Hallal, University Student
“I gotta get it right this time. I gotta win this challenge or I’m gonna skip school tomorrow”, Hugo muttered to himself as he jumped off the stoned fence in front of his house. He watched the crazy old man pick up the abandoned books on the side of the street, place them above the piled books in his rusty old cart, and push his way towards his next destination. He started following the old man as he had done the past couple of weekends. Every time he tried, he would lose him one way or the other. Either the old man disappeared into thin air or was too quick for Hugo to catch up with him. But this time, Hugo intended to speed up rather than stalk. Indeed, he found himself right behind him as if the old man was letting Hugo keep track of him on purpose. For the first time, Hugo was able to follow the old man outside of the neighborhood and towards the ‘otherworldly’ woods. For the first time ever, he walked into these woods that his mother had always told him to never enter, going deep in towards a cottage he had never seen before, into which he saw the old man enter pushing his cart inside. Hugo waited for a couple of minutes behind a tree, breathing in the cold air, wondering if it were a good idea to go inside. He was about to head back home, but something made him turn and walk towards the cottage. Inside the dim room, he saw shelves everywhere. On them there were jars, big and small, filled with a bit of water, feeding branches cut from trees. Some of these branches were growing root sprouts. All sides and corners of the room were filled with piles and piles of books, some dusty and totally ruined and some perfectly new. Brown and white torn papers were scattered all over the floor. The room had an odd smell which Hugo could not identify but reminded him of his school’s laboratory. He was silently looking around when the old man came out from the other room, drying his hands with a towel. He looked at Hugo and said, “What took you so long? We are running out of time. You need to learn how to resurrect books.”
– Nada Houri, Social Media Strategist
The man sat alone in the corner of the cold lifeless room. It was the middle of winter and temperatures were below freezing this time of year. In the background, there was the faint sound of metal banging. That desperate and relentless sound, coupled with the near-black darkness of the room, would be enough to drive fear into the hearts of most people. But fear, love, and almost all common human emotion was something he could not feel or comprehend. His mind was consumed by a darkness we all try to forget exists until we become victims of it. Yet to say he enjoyed being this way would not be true. He was a prisoner of his thoughts and they tortured him to the brink of madness. Meanwhile, the banging grew louder. It was coming from the basement downstairs and unlike the man, there was still someone with life down there. That life was now in his hands. He moved his fingers to his watch and pushed a small button. The man made his way to bed and lay his head on the pillow. He let out a comfortable breath of air as his body relaxed in the sounds of the agonizing screams coming from below. The man slept happy amid the sounds of crackling wood.
– Sami Jaafar, Computer Engineer
I was alive with lights. Blue and red lanterns on the racing boats looked like hundreds of miniature suns. The bright golden moon paved its way to the night dark sky projecting its crystal image on me. No! Oh and on Bob too! Fireflies flew toward his boat guiding him toward the finishing line.
Then a sweet chanting was heard,
“You know a dream is like a river
Ever changin’ as it flows
And a dreamer’s just a vessel
That must follow where it goes”
The deer and foxes gazed in awe and then smiled as he steered the boat. Bob wasn’t a stranger or a visitor, but he was family to me. He wasn’t an aristocratic graduate from Harvard University. He was a young simple man who lived his life with mine, doing his best in keeping my identity fresh and clean, and most importantly keeping my surrounding pretty green. I once read one of his poems when he accidently dropped his journal notebook into me, “A turquoise-blue stream wound its merry way through the forest. Pebbles whisked in the under wash like pieces of glitter.” All I know that his words were like the subtle sweep of a painter’s brush.
Tonight I prayed for the wind to blow and for my stream to flow as it was time for Bob to shine and glow.
“Row, row!” yelled Bob as he gently raced down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream. I smiled at him happily.
The lines “You know → it goes” – taken from the song: “The River” by Garth Brooks
– Rima Sinno, English Language Instructor
“And at what time will the second guest arrive, Sir?” the waiter asks, with a thick French accent.
“Oh, his time already came.” Replies Jeremiah, as he takes out a silver urn from his backpack and places it gently in the bread basket in front of him. Next to the ashtray, just in case.
The waiter looks bemused for a second. He begins to walk away but stops midway, turns around and asks: “Shall I bring you the wine selection before the third guest is here?”
Jeremiah pulls the waiter nearer and whispers: “Oh no, my friend here has been dry for over six months now.” And then points at the urn.
The waiter stares incredulously, then rolls his eyes. “A large bottle of water then, monsieur.” As the waiter pours water into the three cups, Jeremiah polishes the urn. He looks at the shiny reflection and winks. “Looking good, buddy.”
A tall redhead walks in and waves at Jeremiah. She walks over, sits next to him and takes off her flower patterned scarf. “You must be Cecil, right? I recognised you cause of the brown jacket. You never mentioned you had curly hair on your profile, it’s cute.”
“Oh no, I’m not Cecil, he is.” Replies Jeremiah, as he points to the Urn.
“The bread basket?”
“What? No… The… Oh, I’m sorry. This is so silly of me.”
Jeremiah rummages through his trusty old backpack. He pulls out a photo of a twenty-something year old man wearing a jacket identical to the one Jeremiah is wearing and places it next to the Urn.
“This. This is Cecil, my best friend.”
– Iyad El-Hout, Community and Events manager at Arab Arcade / Comedian
A NIGHT TO FORGET
Not in my wildest dreams could I have anticipated the series of events that followed. And yet, as if by miracle still vivid in my mind is his stance, as he stood naked at my window, pressed against the sweaty glass and puffing away at his last cigarette. His shadow oscillated back and forth as if moved by an ever-present sound that only he could hear and I was a witness to that moment, a moment carved in time, in my lifetime. Mina sighed in awe at the silence of the night. The chaotic introvert that he was, he wished nothing more than to disappear completely without a trace, never to come back. I understood him; I did; and found him inexplicably fascinating, the idiot that I was. Loving an unreachable man is like eating ice cream, it never lasts longer than it takes to melt. He was free, or was he, and I the devotee unable to snatch my eyes away from his world. That is until his body moved in the midst of my waking dream, and I saw him lean in with a steady focus toward the empty alley we had spent years discovering together; an alley we both knew far too well. Gazing into the darkness with a grin on his face as if possessed by something way bigger than him, he then glanced at me for a moment which I later understood as his attempt to free me from him. An anxiety too heavy to bear took ahold of my heart, as I intuitively prepared for the worst to come. I have always been a realist anyway.
– Sarah Saleh, Creative Copywriter
Right foot, then the left one, she tries to find her balance. Once steady, she spreads her arms wide open, allowing the night wind to flow through her hair, body and skin. She is all alone, stripped away from all her thoughts and worries. Adrenaline rushes through her veins; her heart begins to beat faster and louder, pumping fear and comfort into her blood. She felt a new kind of freedom, one she’s never experienced before; a redefined happiness, power. She was taken by a kind of trance, becoming completely oblivious to her surroundings. She was aware that there was a high chance she might slip, lose balance, and fall risking her life. Yet, the rush she was put into was worth the risk. She flaps her wings, getting ready to fly when she senses her bracelet slipping from her arm. She watches as it falls away from her, becoming so minuscule as it reaches the ground. She looks down, and a dark figure appears on the street. She jumps back from the ledge, observing, wondering what will happen to that bracelet of hers.Down on the street, we see her picking up the bracelet and slipping it back into her arm. She looks up at the building and sees her own silhouette fading into the night sky. She cups her bracelet, tightening her hand against it. She seems relieved as the sound of her heartbeat slows, merging in with her footsteps as she walks away in the middle of the street, as the melody of a soft violin fade in.
– Nay Tabbara, filmmaker
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