Almost two years ago, I took an online writing workshop that focused on writing flash fiction. One of the publications we were encouraged to read was The Collagist, and with good reason. One of the pieces of flash we studied was this one, and I still think it’s a great example of the short, short story form. It’s a story that, honestly, could have gone on much longer. It could have been infused with more scenes, more backstory, more character examination. But I don’t think that adding “more” would have done anything for the effect. It just would have been more words, which isn’t always necessary.
In life, there are often quiet moments. There are often quiet moments that are masking a hidden current of electricity so palpable the room seems to vibrate. But still, the moment itself is quiet.
This piece of flash fiction is one of those kind of moments.
A lot of flash fiction relies on the “punch” ending. There is sometimes a strange twist. An unexpected outcome. Or just something that blindsides the reader. Sometimes these work, and sometimes they feel a bit contrived.
And, sometimes, they are so subtle and unexpected, and the foundation is so well written and established, that the ending almost leaves you breathless. That’s the case for this week’s selection.
As someone who has suffered from panic attacks and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) for most of my adult life, I know the complexity and challenges of explaining how this feels to someone who is inexperienced in it. For that reason, any time I come across a piece of writing that encapsulates that experience effectively, I’m drawn in.
This particular short story does just that, explaining the irrationality and the overwhelming fear that can occur.
Go read “Traffic Jam” by Jen Bresnick.
The story for today is intriguing and captivating, but is based on such a simple (yet unique) premise.
Go read “Transit Wives” written by Timothy Marsh.
I think I’ve mentioned before how a unique premise is essential to draw a reader in, and this particular story definitely has that. But, it also has vivid setting and beautiful language and some of the best description and verb use I’ve seen in flash fiction.
In the interest of full disclosure, the author of this week’s selection is also my current teacher in the Short Fiction workshop I’m participating in through Gotham Writing School. And she’s just as fantastic as a teacher as she is a writer. (And I don’t think she reads this blog, so this honestly isn’t me attempting to suck up.)