Friday, October 3, 2014

Flash Fiction - From Sentence To Story

Last week, Chuck Wendig posted a flash fiction challenge called "One Amazing Sentence".  This week, the challenge was to write a story from someone else's sentence last week.  The sentence that spoke to me was Laurie Jameson's:

The tree’s skeletal fingers stroked the ground as if to comfort the girl who lay below.
I have to admit, though, I jumped the gun and wrote this last Sunday, so I wrote to 500 words, instead of 1,000. I figure untimely words are better than the ones I didn't write, though. Anyway, here it is:

Great Potential

The tree’s skeletal fingers stroked the ground as if to comfort the girl who lay below.  The leaves of the gnarled oak were just beginning to turn with the onset of autumn, and they flowed with the breeze like a futile, desperate wave to betray the old tree's secret to the search team arriving on the scene.

Dust began to settle back down to the caliche road to reveal the growing number of dark sedans that parked alongside it.  Men and women emerged from each car with blue jackets and white block letters on their backs, carrying clipboards and cases to the gate where they convened at the mouth of the clearing.

A bark and a whine broke the monotony of rattling leaves and singing birds.  A German Shepherd sat placidly beside an open car door with a slowly wagging tail, her keeper hunched ahead of her and poised to set her training to use.  Through the day, the search team's uncertainty would give way to imminence, and a family would finally have their questions answered.  They would be able to set their little girl down to rest, and a man would be brought to justice.

Crime scene photographs would reveal a scene carefully set, a shallow grave marked subtly with a clear plastic box containing a desiccated prom corsage.  For the entirety of the summer months, the girl lay straight and supine, wearing a lavish formal dress, hands placed over her heart.

The autopsy would reveal slight ligature marks and a skull fracture consistent with blunt force trauma, which probably killed her instantly.  DNA evidence would prove her to be a missing nineteen year old woman from two towns to the west, and fingerprint evidence lifted from the body would link her to a man of twenty one years who was already "in the system".

What protocol and police work would not reveal, though, was the tapestry of tragic events that led her there.  The signed confession would not state that she was the altar at which he worshipped, and that her faintest smile quieted the most cruel and cacophonous voices in his head.  No trial proceeding would paint the picture of him sobbing like a helpless child and cradling her lifeless body when she fell and hit her head on the bathtub, declaring to himself that his life was over, too.  

She wanted to go to Arizona State to play softball and study biology, but he knew that they shared something profound.  He saw in his own misguided mind that they had great potential, and he just had to find a way to make her see it.  

Where there is that great potential, there is possibility for great things, but the fulcrum under the balance which directs that great weight can be strikingly imprecise.  The breeze continued to blow the branches of that old oak and the birds continued their songs, forces unmoved by those purest intentions and those darkest parts of that very nature that they realized.


Sia Marion said...

Very good. I liked the energy of this and the factual, direct narrative. I think you really captured the essence of the sentence.

Anonymous said...

That was so sad, really well done.

Anonymous said...

I loved this one! I suck at reviews and commenting, but I really liked the feels of this little story.

Laurie Jameson said...

Thank you Kevin. You done me proud.


Alice E. Keyes said...

Kevin, Thank you for the thoughtful comment on my Flash Fiction-The 234th Time.

I like the sentence you picked and I enjoyed how you used the imagery to develop your story. The use of trees or nature to impart meaning to human tragedy works well in your story.