Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Flash Fiction (May 17, 2010)

http://52250flash.wordpress.com/Michelle & her "flash partner" John Chapin launched their new project today -- "52|250 A Year of Flash."  The challenge: to write one piece of fiction (250 words or less) every week for one year. Stories are written around a theme each week. Themes are submitted by anyone -- you, too (go to the site if you are interested). The first week's theme was "Breadfruit"

Our contributions this week are as follows.

A Knobby Thing
She reclines in her window seat, sees the starboard prop whirring superfast, looking slo-mo. She closes her eyes and drifts back to yesterday, the last day of everything, 80-hour work-weeks, devoted dull boyfriend, pet cat (a gift) she secretly hates. She brings her thumb to teeth, gnaws where there’s nothing left to gnaw, sorrowful nails bitten down to nothing. She feels ugly but ready for anything.

The wheels touch down and she gathers her things, spits cuticle out the side of her mouth, thp. She steps out into air so hot she’s sure she’ll never be able to breathe here. Then she inhales deeply and instead of feeling oxygen hitting lungs, she tastes it -- floral and citrus, sweaty and sweet. The first breath is as miraculous and jarring as the one she took some thirty-three years back. She almost cries out, too: the punch of this new world hits her hard.

She wanders along Main Street, spots the trademarked arches garish and gold against this landscape, jutting up amongst dusty buildings and peeling paint -- an echo of her old world. She longs for its familiar cool, then spies a small market across the street. Locals laugh, handle fruits she's never seen or heard of. She goes to the first long table, eyeballs a knobby thing, large and green, asks a dark woman with droopy breasts and happy eyes, "Quest-ce que c'est?" The woman answers, "Breadfruit, love." She picks it up, smiles, thinks she'll give it a try.

A story they might tell
To save our small South Pacific island from the rising tides of global warming, our ancestors turned to Google and the sacred breadfruit tree. From Google they got the names – thousands upon thousands – which they compiled in lists. From the tree, they plucked the breadfruit, which they shaped as human heads, inlaid with pretty stones and shells, drawing upon each a corporate logo or a flag, and inscribing a name: a captain of industry, finance or government. Streaked with war paint and chanting loudly, they split the fruit open with their clubs, boiled it in water, and then picked the meat clean with their forks. And in time zones far, far away, the bankers, executives, and demagogues suddenly began to disappear, vanishing from beneath their silken sheets, evaporating in the business class compartments of jet liners, the back seats of chauffeur-driven limousines, and behind the protective cordons of security teams. There was much weeping from laser-corrected eyes and gnashing of orthodontured teeth. And as if our ancestors had jammed the trunk of a coconut tree between the spokes of a giant bicycle wheel, the industrial gyroscope came to an abrupt halt, flinging millions upon millions of bodies into the oceans and into space. Years later, we still marvel at the sparkling night sky, following with our eyes the moving points of light as the debris of capitalism reenters the atmosphere and burns. We tell stories, like this one, drink kava, and eat well, for the breadfruit tree is bountiful.