No words can describe what I have been feeling since I read the news yesterday about the shooting of a Canadian soldier as he stood guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
My heart goes out to his family and friends and also to the family and friends of the two soldiers who were victims of the hit and run terrorist attack a few days ago. As well as to everyone across Canada affected by these terrible events.
My husband was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for 25 years. As an army wife, I always knew that when he deployed on UN peacemaking/peacekeeping missions that he may not return. His specialized trade in the army was also one that was not without its dangers. But never did I worry about something like this and I can only try to imagine what members of the military and their families are going through now and will go through in the days to come.
My prayers and thoughts will be with them.
I was going through some old files and came across a flash fiction story I wrote for a Short-short story contest back in 2006. The contest was run by Jason Evans on his blog called The Clarity of Night (no longer active). For each contest, Jason would post a photo and then entrants were to write a short fiction piece of no more than 250 words using that photo as inspiration.
The photo and a list of entrants and the stories they submitted can be found here.
I’ve since shortened the title but otherwise the story remains the same.
by Susan Flemming
The moon slipped behind a veil of clouds as Howard stepped down from the cab of the truck. He reached across the seat and carefully lifted the bag into his arms. He knew which pole marked the spot and he made his way through the grass and weeds in the ditch to its base.
A fine mist of rain fell. Howard felt the wetness soaking through his shirt; felt the chill wind begin to freeze the fabric. It had been drizzling and cold that night too.
He set the bag down and began clearing a circle at the base of the pole. Memories flooded his mind. Always they brought with them the questioning; the if onlies. How many times over the years had he played the if only game.
If only they had waited until morning to head out. If only he been able to maintain control a moment longer. If only they’d hit the ditch a few feet further on. If only…
When a large enough circle was cleared, he opened the bag and lifted out a bouquet of white lilies and a wreath. He nailed the wreath to the pole and laid the lilies on the ground.
He stood a moment longer remembering and then returned to the truck. As he pulled away, Howard cranked the heat to high and felt the warmth spread through his body. Somehow though, it could never quite thaw that place in his heart, frozen in black ice.
My original entry as it was posted on Jason’s site can be found here.
Note: Please respect my copyright. The stories and other content posted on this website are copyrighted by me, Susan Flemming and are not to be used in any form without my written permission.
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When my husband and I stopped at the book store last night this car was parked in the next lane over. My first thought upon reading what was written on the rear window was, “There has got to be quite a story behind that!”
What I find especially interesting is the fact the “Your” is underlined. For me, that creates in my mind’s eye a situation in which the person who wrote this had those exact words directed towards them by the owner of the car. And that in turn invites the question of who this couple is and what brought them to this point? In other words… what’s their story?
That’s what being a writer is all about… to explore the stories behind people and their unique circumstances.
Black-eye Susan’s can be seen growing in fields and along roadsides throughout Nebraska where we are currently living. They are native to North America and bloom from June through to October.
The healer in my novel uses a variety of plants and herbs to make her medicines so I like to research the medicinal properties of plants that I come across to see if they might be something I could incorporate into the world in which she lives.
Traditionally the root of the Black-eyed Susan has been used to rid the body of parasites. First Nations people made a poultice or wash to apply to snake bites. A tea or infusion would be applied topically to soothe minor scraps, sores or swellings.
Infusions of the root have also been used to treat edema (historically referred to as dropsy.) Juice extracted from the root was a treatment for earache.
A yellow dye can be made from the petals of the flowers.
The seeds however are poisonous and should not be used… unless of course, you are planning to kill off one of the characters in a story!
Side Note: The title of this post is also the title of a song written by Richard Whiting and Dave Radford, sung by the legendary Al Jolson. Lyrics can be found here.
Today’s Inspirational photo is for International Peace Day. Write about what a world at peace would mean to you personally.
Last Wednesday, I surpassed the 70,000 word mark on my novel-in-progress. I’m so close to finishing that now I’m finding it difficult to be patient with the process of getting there. I just want the words flow. To be there already. To write those words, “The End.”
So when I came to post today’s Sunday Inspiration, this quote from Neale Donald Walsh paired with this photo taken one morning while out on a walk at a local park was the perfect reminder to me to just keep going, don’t stop and I will get there.
Yesterday I completed the second of two 7 day challenges to meet or exceed my minimum word goal each day, no excuses allowed. Today I’m taking a break from any self-imposed writing goals to sort the scenes I’ve written in the past seven days into the chapters where they belong.
Then tomorrow, I plan to read through that section and see if I need to tweak things or rearrange the order in which the scenes occur.
One of the things, I’ve been learning over the course of the two 7 day challenges was to trust in the process. I spend about 30 minutes free writing by hand before I sit down at the computer to work and as I read back through my writing journal almost without fail I would be whining that I didn’t know where I was going to start that day or where the words were going to come from.
What I discovered was that once I sat down to write, determined to meet that day’s goal, the words would come. Sometimes they were agonizingly slow making the transition from the “movie” playing in my head into words on the screen but they came.
Then as I was writing my Morning Pages this morning, this quote popped into my head:
During those two 7 day challenges I may not have been advancing confidently (determinedly might be a better word) but I was most certainly advancing in the direction of my dreams. And I did indeed meet with unexpected success.
When have you met with success unexpected and what, if any, was the lesson that you learned from that?
When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1996, an amazing process called a trophic cascade began to take place.
This one small change, changed everything!
Now think of that in terms not just of eco systems but in your own life as well. Even in your own writing.
This past week while working on my novel I experienced that cascade affect. There was one small detail that had been bothering me but I wasn’t sure how to fix it. When inspiration finally struck, it required one small change to a scene about half way through the book. That one small change, necessitated changes to scenes in chapters further along. But not only that… that one small significant change now becomes the trigger which towards the end of the book carries my characters through to the climax.
What one small change could you make today that would change everything?
This photo was taken several years ago when we were living in Carrabelle, FL. I had been to an art show and one of the photographs on display looked really familiar and suddenly I realized… hey, I know where that is! And so one day on the drive into Tallahassee, I stopped to capture my own picture of it.
It looks like that one tree has been left standing many, many times over the years.
Note: I post a photo each Sunday with either one of my own personal thoughts or a quote by someone else (those quotes will be duly accredited whenever possible.)
Whether it’s the quote that inspires you or the photo itself, it is my hope that you’ll use it as a story germ and write about it.
If you do and would like to share, please post in the comments to let me know where I can read what you’ve written.