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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

January 22 Challenge: Micro Fiction

I'm slogging off to a late start,  and here I was going to give you something a bit more toothy for a lazy, rainy (at least here) Sunday.

Give it a shot anyway.  And I'll make Monday easy so you can catch up.

Write a Micro Short Story.  A paragraph to a page is all you need, but it's a short story, so it should have a plot in there somewhere: a little conflict, character, theme, what have you.

If you need inspiration, there are several microfiction web sites as well as books.  I'm a fan of the Flash Fiction series, edited by James Thomas et al.  Need more guidance?  This site has good information even if a really lousy webpage aesthetic (sorry, bud).


Kiesa Kay said...

Sometimes the broken edges in ourselves send a silent shimmer, and the breeze binding us to the same earth feels cooler for the connection. As I stepped off the dance floor, a broken-winged angel walked past me. He had a black eye, fading to purple gray, and as I stepped to face him, he went perfectly still.
I took his hands in mine and whispered,“You’re so very beautiful. Sometimes it will be very hard, but you must keep breathing.”
I explained that in some Jewish traditions, there’s a belief that God will keep the world alive so long as thirty-six Just men live on the earth, and one never knows who those Just men might be. It could be the taxi driver, the singer, the bartender; it could be anybody. And the Just men themselves don’t know that they’re the ones; they simply keep living, and fulfill their purpose in life by living, regardless of how they live.
“Do you understand?” I asked, seeing the haze behind his eyes.
A tear slipped from Jacob’s black eye and rolled down his cheek, and then another slipped from his other eye. I gently wiped his tears with my fingertips, taking care not to push or press on his bruises. I knew nothing of this stranger except that I had to tell him to stay alive, and now. I had one minute, maybe two, and then he would be back to his dark solitude, and I would be back to mine.
“I love you,” I said. “You must stay alive. You’re fulfilling a life purpose simply by being here.”
“How did you know?” he said. “Oh, God, you have no idea how important these words feel to me right now.”
I didn’t know anything; I never do. I had no idea why I'd gone right into this stranger’s arms, and started witnessing. It honestly felt as if God had spoken through me. I held Jacob.
Like the Biblical Jacob, he had been wrestling with his angel, until he, himself, had become one. He had demanded his blessing and received a black eye for his trouble.
Jacob asked for my birthday, and I told him, the last day of December. Then I wrote it down for him on the back of a dollar bill. I wanted to ask him to come home with me, to take a long bath in my bathtub and sleep the whole night curled quietly next to my little gray cat. Instead, I gave him my number on that dollar bill, knowing that he’d spend it and I wouldn’t see him again.
“Aisha, my friend, she works in Asheville,” he murmured. “She knows what happens to me.”
Did Jacob manage to live into the next year? I’ll pray for him when I knit my prayer scarves, putting wishes into every stitch. I think back in anguish, knowing he needed more than a phone number scribbled on a dollar bill.
As Delta Blues crooned, I held that stranger in my arms and told him to hold on tight.
“I love you,” I said again, and I pressed my face into his soft brown hair, and let him cling tightly to my waist, his face near my heart. I could have stood that way for hours. It felt so natural to hold this stranger close; it felt like praying, like mending something beautiful and sacred.
If you have a moment, please pray for Jacob. He’s on the streets somewhere tonight, with no home on earth to welcome him. My one prayer is that he continue breathing until the pain recedes and he can embrace his life’s meaning with the fervent intensity he showed in his embrace of me.
He’s a light bringer, like you and me, but he’s been wounded badly. Still, his light shone and sparkled beneath that new moon sky. He is of my tribe, my family, although I never saw him before that night and like as not never will see him again. I gave him all I had in the moment. We of the wandering nature give what love we can. We see the pilgrim souls in all who approach us, and we love those shining souls with all the power in us. We love as well and as long as we can.
And then we walk away.

Jana Svoboda, LCSW said...

A vivid story-- it must be true.
This one is not. Yet.
I feel if I ask you to share yours, I should be willing to share mine.

Dear Josh:

I know it looks bad. I mean, we'll all supposed to be so happy,
right? But the thing is, I didn't get it done. I was signed up like
everybody else, but then it turned out there was this other Jacob
Walker right there, same birthday even, and I guess they thought he
was me-- man, there must have been twenty Jacobs and Joshuas and
Jeremys in the room, what were our moms thinking back then? and I
was laughing about this, about how they thought he was me, and I
decide to just play along and watch til he comes out after the
implant. I was laughing pretty good, until he walks out, looking
like that Nicholson guy in that old movie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's
Nest. You ever see that? About a crazy guy, only he's not so crazy,
he's crazy like a fox as they say, and he's putting one over on the
Man, or so he thinks. Then they take and scramble his brain, and
he's smiling like a pussy cat, but it's like it's not HIM any more.

And I know, all the ads say it doesn't change nothing, just makes you
happy, and even you tell me how great everything is now, since you
and Kaitlyn had it done, and why didn't we do it early, when it was
voluntary, save ourselves a couple years of regular real life
misery. And I was all for it, too, till I saw that other Jacob
Walker come out and look at me and smile that empty sort of smile.

So anyway, I never took it.

And I found out through the grape vine that there's a bunch of us,
others who didn't take it because of some religious crap or because
they're afraid of needles, or think it's some conspiracy to make us
all robots. That wasn't my deal, but once I decided, I started
paying attention to the Pre-bes, and thinking well they may be weird
but at least they are THERE. And I was talking to Phoebe about it,
and she had that weird smile, that same smile you see posted on all
the faces in the Emotech ads, and she kept telling me I should get a
check up at the clinic, because everything was really fine now and I
seemed to have some glitch that needed adjustment. Our cat had been
hit by a garbage truck the day before, and you know I hated that damn
cat, but still, Phoebe kept going on about acceptance and letting in
the bliss and I shook her and said but you LOVED that cat--

So yeah. I blew the place up. I'm no murderer-- I called them up
and told them to get everybody out. That cop, I feel bad about that,
but everyone says he is going to be fine.

I appreciate you trying to get me that insanity lawyer. But I'm not
crazy. I'm just not that happy-- and that feels right to me.

You know?

Your brother forever,

speck said...

OK, I'm gonna follow this path, see where it goes. Not that paths can be trusted to lead anywhere good, but there it is, a boardwalk descending beachward through a thicket of scrubby pines. I'm coming down one flight, and I'll take my chances on that 90 degree right turn because therein lies the mystery that interests. Sorry, Mom, I don't mean to break your back, but there are more cracks than boards and my feet aren't as small as they used to be.
I've read many things about paths--"path is on the bottom of your feet," "the way that be named is not the true way," "friend, I have lost my way (the way goes on)," "follow the path of righteousness," and so on. People get awfully poetic about danged linear connect-y things. So, where did I come from? Where am I going? and since I barely believe in stories, is this gonna lead into an essay instead?

I came from someplace higher, a mountain, a parking lot, heaven, or a skyscraper. I can tell by the rail slanting on the right. Some folks think "up" is "better" but not so much a parking lot. A place to stash my car, which brought me a long way from my daily grind in a fairly short time. The daily grind isn't all that "up" either; it's just hours dinking at the computer. If only I was Gnostic, my spirit descended from the celestial sphere to reach this earthy stair in my heavy body. I'm not, so say I've been above sea-level. It's enough to follow water downhill, reaching the ocean at last.
It's an assumption, to expect a beach down there around the turn. But those are coastal shrubs, and water is more trustworthy than paths, obeying gravity in it's free flow. If hell isn't full of water, does that mean the devil has a good sump pump? Or that hell isn't really "down"? Or that "down" isn't "bad"? I'm mostly water, so why not go with the flow? It's the fire in my mitrochondria that keeps me rising upward the rest of the time. Big bag of slow-burning water with an over-wired brain, that's me. So even walking down the steps to the beach, my thoughts go up in abstractio.

If this were a story, I would meet someone, or something, around that corner: a lonely child, a wild animal, an angel, an alien, a long-lost lover. One of us would be in distress, the other comforting. I would like for that to happen; I have been lonely this year and wasn't it Facebook I fled when I pointed my car west? I begin to picture my possible friend--an angel who invites me to dance on the head of a pin or a wild animal embracing me with horrible claws and hot breath. A long-lost lover, ah, the one whose face still needs to be slapped or the one I forgot to tell "I'm sorry"? As long as I pause on this step, frozen like a photograph, the futures multiply before me in quantum splinters. Another step down. I still can't see around the corner, but maybe an alien child, lost in space-time, with liquid (not salt-water) dripping (down, of course) from its eye-things. I'll hide it from the Air Force spies who are close on the trail of the rift it left in the continuum. I'll hold it close and learn its language by evoking universal compassion--that is, if it _is_ a UWO, an unidentified weeping object down below.

I don't want to take the next step. Turning the corner is like opening the box to check on Schödinger's cat; what if it's just me and the sand and the endless reach of the ocean and my crazy imagination? Or what if it's something more real than I could have guessed? Can I take that chance?

It's just a photograph, dope. You're sitting in front of your computer again. Wishing, imagining. The way goes on, when are you gonna follow for real?