Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Ferret

Seen waiting for the Purple Line to Linden at the Fullerton Station at about 8:25 a.m. 

He was too small to be working construction, so the other guys called him The Ferret. They’d use his long, skinny body to squirm into tight spaces, scamper up rickety scaffolding, balance on the tops of ladders. They’d do it like this:

The biggest, burliest man on the crew would come over and, smirking, shout, “Hey, Ferret!” The big, burly man would grab the back belt loop of The Ferret’s perpetually sagging, paint-splattered pants and hike them up. “You know what to do. Get up there!”

The Ferret would always oblige them. But despite the insistence of the other guys, he never felt like a ferret. When he was high above the ground, high above the muscly man-boulders and their mockery, he felt more like a bird. 

I've slowly been working my way through Rose Metal Press' "Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction." It has lots of exercises and prompts. Very helpful. The one I was reading last night asked me to come up with 5 plots in which someone's actions had unintended consequences, then develop one of those plots into a story of 500 words or less. I thought I'd post what I came up with as an extra bonus story! Here it is:   

“Can you sign this? It’d be an honor.”

The guard held out the book. Her book. She took it from him. It seemed heavier now than when she published it, and the texture of the cover felt prickly and unpleasant on her palms. She scrawled her name on the title page and handed it back to him. 

She hadn’t meant for it to happen like this. She’d just been caught up in the movement like everyone else; the government had failed them, and people were tired of the rage pooling in their lungs and the exasperation furrowing in the wrinkles at the corners of their eyes. She wrote the book as a protest. She never knew how much it would catch on, never guessed the influence that one sentence might have: 

Power is a disease that rots the heart and spoils the brain. 

It became a rallying cry for the rebels, and when they finally captured the corrupt leaders, they forced those words through the prisoners’ lips before they were executed. She became popular, exalted, and eventually, the majority’s choice for a new leader. Surely someone with her wisdom could create a better world.

She wasn’t so sure. Sitting behind this big desk in the capitol city, surrounded by guards and advisors, she felt like she was coming down with something.

Thanks for all the happy thoughts/prayers/good vibes! They're already working--my aunt is doing much better than the doctors expected.

Trivia tonight. The category is dinosaurs. If you know any good dinosaur trivia, leave me a comment. Help us win. Because you're awesome.

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