Flash Fiction Challenge

Friday, October 10, 2014
Tell me a story in under 1000 words
 Happy Friday!
I'm participating in Rachelle's Flash Fiction Challenge held over on her blog, The Ink Loft.
Each person taking place in the challenge both receives and gives a prompt to another participant.
The prompt that I got from Leanne was to create a story off of the song Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins. (Link leads to the lyrics)

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     Snowflakes fell from the sky. The wind hurled itself every which way. It was a kind of night where going outside was not a good idea. It was a night where people were in their house, curled by the fire, sipping a cup of cocoa with Christmas carols in the background. It was a kind of night where your outfit consisted of pajamas and fuzzy slippers. It was a kind of night where you wrapped yourself up into your own world and shut yourself from the outside.
     Not everyone had that privilege. A certain girl knew that feeling well. On this particular evening she was stranded in the view of my house, wearing ripped and tattered clothes, hanging off of her body. Her hair was in knots, and her feet barren of shoes. I watched from my corner of paradise in my warm, heated house. I watched from the window as a man walked past the girl. He didn’t spare her much more than a glance, his shoulders hunched and his hands buried deep in his coat’s pockets.
     The girl’s face was desperate. Her trembling hands lifted in a gesture of help before placing them around her arms, a shiver racking her body, causing her to curl up in a ball.
     A gust of wind beat against my house. I pulled my sweater around my arms, as if the wind was having an impact on the temperature inside.
     “Sir!” She called out, “Can you help me? It’s cold and I’ve got nowhere to sleep. Is there somewhere you can tell me?”
     He paused, and then walks on, he didn’t look back. He started to whistle as he crossed the street, something about him tells me he’s embarrassed to be there.
     I set down my coffee, sinking onto my couch. The girl’s face was tear-stained, and no doubt her feet were tortured with blisters. She couldn’t walk though she was trying.
     What would I do if I was in the man’s place? What would I do if a ragged girl called out to me, begging for help. I looked around at my house, I couldn’t allow such a girl as her into my paradise, could I?
     I glanced back towards the girl. She was on her hands and knees now, pleading for the man’s mercy. You could tell from the lines on her face, you could see that she’s been there. Probably been moved on from every place, because she didn’t fit in there.
     I wouldn’t have time to care for a girl.  I couldn’t allow her to stay with me. People would think me weird and crazy.
    The man was out of distance from the girl by now. I scowled at him. Wasn’t there nothing more he could do? Wasn’t
there something more he could say?
    A voice seemed to tug at my insides, spiking guilt into my mind. Was there anything you could do? Wasn’t there
something you could say? My stomach squirmed. I dared another look at the girl. She was hunched over, her body shaking with sobs. Pity flashed through me. Poor soul. I wanted to help her, but yet I had a job, I had a life… Could I commit to this?
     The image of the man whistling with his hands in his pockets, ignoring the girl ignited a fire in me. I may have once been an image of that man, but I would be no longer. I threw on a jacket and walked out the door with my pink slippers. I almost slipped on the steps with my quick pace of determination, but I caught myself before I could’ve fallen. The cold air wrapped around me like a clinging blanket. I shivered, looking at the girl’s garments. How had she survived this long?
     “Girl!” I half-walked, half-jogged across the street to get to her. What was I doing?
     She raised her head no more than an inch, her emotionless eyes boring into mine.
     I knelt by her side, putting my hand under her arms, “What’s your name?”
     It took a moment before she spoke, and when she did, her words came out rough, “Maria.”
     “Maria....Come with me.” I steadied her as we made our way back across the street, slowly, “I’m going to get you a bath, clean clothes, food, and somewhere to sleep.”
     Her eyes widened the slightest bit. I smiled a proud little smile to myself, glancing to where the man just disappeared out of us. Think twice, man. I thought to myself. Not everyone lives in such a paradise as you.

Thanks for reading!
Byeeeee,
Katie. 

10 comments :

  1. Wow! Great job, Katie! I'd never heard the song before, but I looked over the lyrics, and I really liked the way you shaped it into something new. I could definitely still see echoes of the song, but you added a whole new character in the narrator.

    You had a couple of tense slips that caught my attention. For the most part, the story was in past tense. But there were little sections where you used present tense. For example: "He paused, and then walks on, he didn’t look back." And, then, further in the paragraph: "something about him tells me he’s embarrassed to be there." There a few more in the rest. It's disconcerting to have two different tenses in the same story, though I can see why you may have had trouble maintaining past tense. The story is very immediate, in the moment (which is great, by the way!) So, I would suggest that, if you'd like to do some edits to it, you either change it completely to present tense or cement it more firmly in past tense. :)

    I liked the feel of the beginning, especially since I have a certain weakness for repeating phrases like that. I thought it went on a little too long, though. My suggestion is to change the second sentence to "...where the people curled by the fire...", cutting out the "were in their house", which is passive instead of active. You may also want to cut one of the sentences in the opening, but that's your decision. :)

    For the most part, I think you did a good job in not head-hopping. You imagined the girl must be feeling this or that; you figured her feet were probably blistered. The only spot I noticed where you actually put yourself in the girl's head without being in her POV was near the beginning, when you said, "A certain girl knew that feeling well." You don't know for sure that she knows that feeling, though, of course, it's fairly obvious. It just needs a little tweaking. But I love "Not everyone had that privilege." Very much a dramatic pause in the narrative.

    Wonderful story, Katie! I definitely enjoyed it! Please don't take my comments as negatively aimed at you; I just want to help you better your writing, if I can. Awesome job!

    Note: Don't forget to give comprehensive feedback to Leanne, whose story is posted on my blog, and Caiti Marie, who I assume will have her story up later today.

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    1. Tenses. *smacks head* I always get them wrong. That is most definitely something I need to work with throughout my writing.
      Yeah... I also have a weakness for repeating phrases and agree that I made it go a little too long. *takes notes*
      Thank you so much, Rachelle. Your comments were extremely helpful and will assist me in keeping a watch out for those mistakes while editing. I had a fabulous time participating in this!

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    2. I'm so glad I could help! And thank YOU for participating! I really enjoyed seeing your results! :) And I'd love to see the finished result of this if you decide to edit it, whether you post it here or email it to me. :)

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  2. Wow. Katie, loved it! I don't know if you actually listened to the music or just found the lyrics, but you caught the whole feeling of the song. :)
    I liked the way you incorporated the lyrics into the story, and the first paragraphs where I could almost feel the freezing cold outside, and the warmth inside. But like Rachelle said, the repeating phrases maybe got a little long, but on the whole I loved it. :)
    Beautiful story!!

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    1. *laughs* I actually listened to the song while writing it. :p
      Thank you so much! I'll keep a lookout for the phrases. :D

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  3. Oh goodness, I typed this long comment, then somehow an error occurred. *cough* I shall try again. *braces self*
    First off, I love your descriptions! I can feel like I'm right there in the same place and feeling the mood. You use strong and active adjectives. Also, I love the indirect characterization of the main character, how we learn what type of person she is by her thoughts.
    As Rachelle mentioned, you do have some slips with tense, but that's easy to fix. Also, this is entirely my opinion and in no way meant to be listened to, but I personally think that the part where the girl says her name seems to make a hole in the entire mood of the piece. All of it is vague, heavily descriptive, and emotional, and knowing the girl's name doesn't seem (at least to me) to fit with the mood.
    But all in all, amazing story! Now I gotta listen to that song... =D

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    1. Aw! I'm so sorry that Blogger did that to you. *scolds* Thank you for taking the time to retype your comment. :)
      *nods^ I know what you mean with the name. I think that's one of the first questions I personally would ask the girl, but as you said, it didn't fit as well with this story.
      Thank you for your feedback! I'm incredibly grateful for all of you who are helping me improve with my writing. :)

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  4. Hey, Katie! I'm sorry I took so long to get around to critiquing this— We've had a crazy-busy week. I have come by your blog and read the story a few times, and I have to say, I like it more each time I read it. :-) You did a good job of incorporating the very lines of the song with your prose; the whole story has a kind of lyrical tone, almost-dreamlike, which I appreciate in short stories.

    Rachelle covered most of the stuff I noticed at first glance. You might find it a little easier to double-check your tense if you read through the story backwards, sentence by sentence, paying careful attention to the verbs. This tends to work for spelling errors, for me.

    "Her trembling hands lifted in a gesture of help[...]" I am unsure about this sentence. Was she really raising her hands in a "guesture of help" or was it a plea for help?

    "Wasn’t there nothing more he could do? Wasn’t there something more he could say?" You've got a double negative here. "Wasn't there nothing...?" You should change the wasn't to was or the nothing to anything. I can't figure out how to explain why this is wrong, though. Double-negatives aside, it might be a good idea, stylistically, to match up your first sentence with the repeat of it in your main character's thoughts: "Was there anything you could do? Wasn’t there something you could say?"

    "Her eyes widened the slightest bit. I smiled a proud little smile to myself, glancing to where the man just disappeared out of us. Think twice, man. I thought to myself. Not everyone lives in such a paradise as you." This sentence would be an ideal ending to the story, if not for two minor problems. One, "where the man just disappeared out of us." Did you mean, "out of sight"? Also, when she is thinking, you put "I thought to myself." This threw me off, at first: The "Think twice, man," made me step back and think, Wait— The narrator is a man? Reading over the story again, I can see that this is not so, but your phrase "thought to myself" is a little misleading. Here's why: When you have a character speaking out loud, if you say she is "speaking to Bob," it means she is directing her words to Bob, addressing Bob. If you say she is speaking to herself, it means she is addressing herself. Generally, we treat thoughts similarly to the way we treat dialogue, so you should say "I thought to myself" only if she is actually addressing herself, sort of talking to herself, within her thoughts. I'm not a hundred percent sure this is a hard-and-fast rule, but it's the way it makes sense to me. Other than those two issues, I really, really like this ending to your story.

    You did a good job with a difficult prompt (such a specific song must have been a challenge), and I enjoyed it. Well done. :-)

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  5. Here's a helping comment, I hope you find it :P
    #Cousinsinchristforever

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    1. Oh my goodness. *headdesks repeatedly*

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