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Friday Flash Fiction – “My Cup Runneth Over”

  The water dripped thoughtfully – like a meditation.  Each drop released its energy into the great universe of the pool, radiating and becoming one with all liquid matter.

She watched the ripples ease and fade as they carried the essence of life farther away from the point of impact.  She thought of the years spent, so like the inexorable path of the water; the countless cutting moments of unkindness.

The drops darkened – a deep red before thinning out to pink swirls in the basin at her feet.

He shouldn’t have said that.

The more I explore the world of Flash Fiction, the more I love it – particularly what we do here with the Friday Fictioneers.  At just 100 words, it is technically called Micro Fiction.  Camille Renshaw, editor of Pif Magazine, lists a number of points specific to micro fiction, but my favorite is Implication.

“The key requirement of a literary short-short is implication. There’s no room for life stories. Just enough for resonance.”  She stresses the need to know the difference between a situation and a story.

  • Use a directive last sentence that gives narrative insight or opinion. Thomas Bernhard does this with nearly every story in his recent Micro-Fiction collection, The Voice Imitator. He uses closing sentences like, “In this way Fourati, as is well known, had ruined not only the lady’s life but his own as well.” Or, “He asked us what he should do to be freed from his guilty conscience, but we dared not give him any advice.”
  • Make rereads necessary or at least inviting. In “Three,” Gordon Lish tells us three stories. He prefaces them with the statement, “One of them taught me the meaning of fear,” but doesn’t say which one. In the first story he talks to a woman who enjoys the funeral of her lover. In the second he sees a headless baritone on the subway that sings to him. The last simply reads: “The third thing was I went home.” What is it he said in that first paragraph again?
  • Close with a phrase that sends the reader back into the story. Then it might sink into the reader’s own life. In Molly Giles, “The Poet’s Husband,” she writes, “…but later that night when she is asleep, he will lie in their bed and stare at the moon through a spot on the glass that she missed.” Wow. What did she miss? We don’t know, but within eighteen lines, just one sentence long, we’re stirred to think about the loved ones of all the writers we know. How do they feel about the ways and places that our fiction intersects with their lives?
  • Know when you’ve made your point.In Grace Paley’s “Mother,” the last paragraph reads, “And then she died.” Paley can end this way because she has summed up the distinctive character of her mother and made us miss our equally distinct mothers standing in doorways at night abrading us with, “You run around senselessly. What will become of you?” Mission accomplished.

     What implications do you find in short fiction,

and how do you weave them into your own pieces?

Leave a comment below, and link to your own flash fiction if possible.

Want more Flash Fiction? Visit these Friday Fictioneers for more 100-word heaven! (If you have a flash fiction piece to share, please leave a link in Comments!) You can also visit the originator of the photo prompts, Madison Woods, or follow the gang on Twitter – #FridayFictioneers.

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32 thoughts on “Friday Flash Fiction – “My Cup Runneth Over”

  1. I think this leaves it open to interpretation. Did she finally give him a ‘terminal’ cut after he said the thing that drove her over the line?
    Is she cutting herself in what has become a ritual; this the final cut?
    I like the room left for musings.

  2. At first I thought she was commiting suicide, but the last line leaves that open. Is it suicide or ‘murder most foul’? ‘Very interesting, my dear Watson.’ Great job!

  3. questions:

    should not have said what? i didn’t see anything she said. i saw a thought but nothing spoken.

    also, where you had farther, it should be further.

    well done.

    • Thanks – actually I meant to use the word “farther”, as in the water was carrying it away from her in a physical sense. The word “further” is used in a metaphorical sense. (http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/further-versus-farther.aspx) However, I like the idea, now that you mention it, that it could be carrying her thoughts metaphorically further away from her. And no, she didn’t say anything. He did – just what, is for the reader to decide….

      • farther is a comparative adjective, i went far but you went farther. two different things going. further is used when you go a distance and then you keep going. when one thing keeps going, it goes further.

  4. Hmmm….the last line leaves me questioning…who is dying …? Is it suicide or murder? Perhaps the line “the countless cutting moments of unkindness”…may be the clue, so I’m guessing it’s murder. If she endured years with this brute and endless abuse, I hope she gets away with it. Revenge is sweet. Here’s mine:
    http://www.triplemoonstar.blogspot.com

  5. Wonderful story! Yours took it a bit further than mine. Perhaps ours are about the same people, yours just happens some time after mine.

  6. Love how your stories always start with a feeling of purity and innocence, then progress and end with a note of malice. I’m also enjoying the ‘flash fiction’ lessons you’re posting. I don’t ‘try’ to make my stories conform to a plan, but I love it when they do. And the ones that do usually end up being the better for it.

    • Thanks, Madison. I’m always trying to polish these little pieces, so I look for tips and hints and figure I might as well share them with the class!
      It’s funny how we develop patterns in our writing that we aren’t even aware of. Apparently I like people to think everything is fine, while some horror lurks underneath. Let’s hope this does not translate into real life! hehehe

  7. I’m thinking she is dumping his lifeless body into the pool… finally. I liked this line a lot… the countless cutting moments of unkindness.

    I also like Implication… I think that sums up Flash pretty well.

  8. I enjoyed the fact that your story is so open to interpretation. Also, thank you for the tips on writing Micro-Fiction.

    Thanks for letting me know about the difficulting commenting on my Blogspot site. Looks like I may have to roll on over to WordPress–like the rest of the world 🙂

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