Before I get onto the fiction today, I’d first like to take a moment to give everyone out there, the droppers-in, the musers, the commenters, the likers and the readers, a giant, warm virtual hug. The Path passed 150 followers this week and I am flattered, humbled and enthused all at once. I adore this accessible and encouraging community and knowing I am writing well enough to be considered worth following by you is a joy that will never diminish.
So thank you, all of you, and I shall strive to continue to provide you with helpful advice, food for thought and maybe even a laugh or two along the way. You have my permission to deploy some manner of blunt instrument should I ever fall short.
As well as this great milestone, I have also this week received confirmation that that All Hail the New Flesh, Dagda Publishing’s next collection of dystopian sci-fi short fiction, will be released on Saturday 25th Jan. In this collection, which promises to be varied and engaging, is my little response to the theme of ‘technology gone mad’: Isaac Heights. Read an extract here.
This is the second anthology I have made it into, after Ash was released in Tuned to a Dead Channel last year and chuffed doesn’t begin to cover it.
Now I am working on the draft of my second novel and am hoping to release details of the first before too long.
For now, here’s another addition to #FlashForFriday, my personal commitment to post a new piece of flash fiction every fortnight for everyone’s fiction-fuelled enjoyment.
This one is a little different from normal. Yes, for starters, (well spotted, can tell you’re awake), today is Thursday. I’m posting a day early because this piece has been produced in response to a challenge from the inimitable Chuck Wendig. Chuck is someone that any new writer should look into: his advice on the world of writing and publishing is inspirational, funny and insanely practical for any new writer taking their first steps into the publishing realm. And he shares it all for free on his blog.
Last week he posted a flash fiction challenge with a deadline of Friday 17th Jan, so I’m posting it now to make sure it’s done in plenty of time. The challenge was to use a number generator to pick two words form two lists to form a title. I had to blink at the screen for a full minute when mine flashed up, but then, with the help of a thoughtful brew or two, I came up with a starting point.
Also, yes, those of you who are eagle-eyed, another thing that’s different about this #FlashForFriday is that it has been three weeks, rather than my tradtional fortnight, since my last one, Red Sky at Night. I cast myself at your feet and plead for mercy.
Hopefully this new one will go part way to making up for it and make you reconsider the implementation of the blunt instrument at this stage.
(For the rest of my #FlashForFriday pieces, and some short fiction too, check out my Short Fiction page.)
But for now, here we go!
“Love, you don’t need to do this.”
“Yes, I do. Stop following me.”
“Please – ”
“Let it go, Pip,” Love said, wrenching her sleeve from her sister’s grip. “You’re not stopping me.”
“I just don’t think you understand…”
“I understand what it’s like to have lived through school and college with this stupid name,” Love said as she climbed the steps to the town hall. “Harassment, interviewers laughing in my face, boys backing off in bars. I’m not dealing with this shit all through uni too.”
“Yours can be shortened to something normal – hey, get out my way.”
“You’ve had it for eighteen years,” Pip said, taking her by the shoulders. “You can live with it a couple more minutes to listen to me, right?”
Love ground her teeth, staring over Pip’s shoulder to the front door and the sign for the deed pole office. “Make it quick.”
Pip swallowed a couple of times. “Did you ever stop to think why she gave you that name?”
“Because she was a hippy, Epiphany. Mum was a tree-hugging, lentil-weaving drop-out that didn’t live in the real world.”
“I was always jealous of it, did you know that?”
“Did you never think about what it means? What it literally means?”
“It’s in the dictionary, with the definition name given to unfortunate daughter by spaced-out moron.”
Pip didn’t speak but she didn’t let go of her sister’s shoulders either. Love eventually looked at her. Her eyes were soft and she was smiling.
“You’d’ve got on so well with her,” she said, smile widening.
“Make your point.”
“I got my name because when I came along, it was the first time Mum realised that you’re not defined by who you are, but by those you love.”
“So that stopped her calling you Jane or Amy, did it?”
“Come on, ‘Jane Birdhouse’? How ridiculous does that sound?”
“And Epiphany Birdhouse doesn’t sound like some kind of elaborate sex toy?”
“She loved me, Lovestruck. That’s what it boils down to. I gave her a different way to think for the first time in her life. But however much she loved me…she loved you more. I helped her get out of her head…but you filled her, head, heart and soul.”
Love swallowed, throat tight and eyes hot. Pip looked so much like their mother when she smiled in that soft, hopeful way.
“I miss her.”
“Me too,” Pip said and gathered Love into her arms.
“She was weird though, wasn’t she?”
“Oh without a doubt. But then, so are we.”