Flash! Friday for Dec. 18: Rocking Along

If you’re not familiar with what Flash! Friday is, here’s the explainer. But in short, it’s a fun weekly contest of flash fiction writers, where each week a new picture prompt, “element” prompt (based on fire and ice), and a limited word count is given, and writers have 24 hours to submit their story. By Monday, the judges pick a winner.

The Dec. 18 prompt was this picture:

Torii Shrine by peaksignal. Read more about the shrine here.

The additional prompt was to include one or more of the following prompts: 1.) write your story in a genre that’s different from your default, whatever that means to you; 2.) include a mythological character or non-Earth world; and 3.) incorporate a favorite fire or ice dragon challenge from previous contests. The word count was less than 200, with no minimum.

I was fortunate enough to receive a lovely shout-out from from one of the judges, Deborah Foy, who said, “to Brett Milam for tenderly crafted magic in, ‘Rocking Along,’ a story that emphasizes the beauty in just being.”

You can read the full results here.

My entry had a word count of 199 words, and used the prompt to write in a different genre. I went with fantasy or magical realism, maybe? I’m not sure where mine falls in, but I tried to write outside of what I usually do.

Here is my entry:

The sun set on the memory of Shirahige after Helen died, but the gods have longer memories.

Wes spent his days putting pressure on that ol’ rocking chair to still hold up its end of the bargain, as he watched the hills roll off into the horizon, with no tide rolling in.

The kids were buried next to Helen; their epitaphs yet to be scrawled because Wes couldn’t get his arthritic hands to grip the awls, mallets and chisels anymore. They sat behind cobwebs with smirks instead.

His only companion was the curse of Shirahige: a long, white beard that hung like a limp cloud by his ankles. They saw Shirahige on their fiftieth anniversary trip — a whim when they had a layover opportunity on a connecting flight.

Six decades later, he was still alive as bones in a waterlogged suitcase.

On days when Death’s whispers seemed too faint in his ears, Wes thought about returning to Shirahige to drown the beard, himself, whatever it took to lift the curse.

But then his bones rattled alongside that ol’ rocking chair, and he watched the sunset from a different view.

Helen would have to wait a little bit longer.

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