Today I am posting a piece of flash fiction I have been working on for a while. The second half of 2014 was turbulent mentally and emotionally from a creative viewpoint where my day job demanded a lot of my attention.
I put off some short pieces until later in the year and was trying to decide whether I put more work into them to get them ready to sub, or put them out to pasture and let them go the way of cassettes and VHS tapes.
When the school year ended I managed to come back to these short pieces to have a closer look at them. I worked them over and decided that it was not worth subbing them out as I didn’t think they would sell. Maybe they would have sold but I felt it was time to put the old things aside and focus on the new. I’m also clearing my virtual desk to make way for some other projects that I want to attend to.
Any piece of work is a practice, a development of voice, tone, structure, ideas. Some of them will work, others won’t and it shows you what you need to improve. It’s also a case of ‘showing my work,’ seeing some of the progress, some of my ideas, what’s working, what isn’t.
But you get the benefit of a FREE READ. Please enjoy it.
Up and Down
The blank television screen flickered on as he pressed ‘Play’ on the video camera. A young boy wearing a Superman cape was engaged mid sequence moving like a pendulum, arcing back and forth, on a set of swings. The cape fluttered behind him on the upward trajectory and stuck fast to his bottom on the downward pass.
A disembodied voice, too loud against the background noise, jumped from the speakers. “Hey buddy, how you doing?”
The boy waved. “Hi Dad.”
The camera flicked sideways and a woman with her arms crossed filled the frame, focused on the boy on the swings and her gaze did not alter. With another flick the scene changed again to see-saw, a simple old-fashioned broad wooden beam with a metallic T-shaped handle. Once painted green, only flecks remained between the splinters.
“Want to swing a leg over?” his voice asked.
“We haven’t done that in years,” she said, her arms folded stedfastly.
Jerky movements and the shuffling of feet accompanied the quick passing of ground. The handle came into view, then a hand grasped it, pulled it closer to the camera. A bump, clatter and suddenly the movement ceased.
He raised his end to equilibrium, the seat in line with the horizon behind it then dipped it lower.
“Chivalrous,” she said and walked to the other end. “What have you done to the camera?”
“Attached it to the handle,” his too loud voice said.
She straddled her end, filling the frame, and took the weight. The camera jerked slightly as the sounds of him lifting himself onto his end filtered through. She moved higher as the horizon dipped beneath her.
“Think we’re a bit old for this?” she asked.
With a gentle push upwards, she descended, the horizon moving up and down like a pilot’s instrument as she stayed in the centre of the frame, an odd optical illusion. She bent her knees and absorbed the weight, feeling the pressure, making it difficult to gain purchase.
Slowly, momentum begat momentum.
Movement opened conversation.
“Remember the roundabout in the old park by the railway station?”
“It always made me dizzy.”
“You felt sick on the carousel at Luna Park on our honeymoon.”
“But you did win me the big teddy bear.”
“How are the kids going with their homework?”
“I am now adept at my times tables.”
“Katie’s teacher is worried about her progress.”
“Remember the holidays to Coffs Harbour when the kids were in primary school.”
“Car sickness all the way.”
“Katie was stung by bluebottles.”
“And bananas with every meal.”
“Stuart was convinced he’d become a monkey if he ate any more.”
“I heard Susan’s mother died. How is she coping after the funeral?”
“She’s finding it very tough but she’s managing.”
“Want to try for equilibrium?”
The camera wobbled and rocked as they shifted and slid, her body leaning forwards and backwards, as her arms outstretched like she was balancing. The horizon settled in a moment of balance.
The afternoon breeze picked up, punching into the camera’s microphone, and almost imperceptibly the horizon behind her lowered as the balance shifted until he knew for certain he was descending while she ascended.
Two young faces crowded the centre of the seesaw, careening into the view of the camera.
“Mum and Dad, what are you doing?”
“Going up and down, sweetie.”
“That’s not a real answer.”
“Help your Mum off, please.”
His son offered a small hand to his wife. She twisted sideways and with a little girlish yelp, jumped off.
The imbalance of weight jolted the camera and when it steadied she was no longer in frame, the end of the seesaw vacant. The camera wobbled again as it was unclipped and the view pulled backwards until the whole seesaw was in the frame, slowly coming to a halt with his end paused above the ground.
Her voice broke in over the image. “You still ok to have the kids same time in a fortnight?”
“Say goodbye to Dad.”
There was a sudden collision of bodies and arms, muffled farewells and the wet smack of kisses as the camera pointed to the dirty patchwork of grass and dirt. In the bottom half of the frame arms entanged each other and feet shuffled.
The embrace finished, the camera swung up and captured the boy and girl walking hand in hand with their mother, disappearing towards the car as a focal point.
The camera turned, focused on the seesaw paused in its trajectory.
Two young children raced over for their turn, chose an end, scrambled on and bounced
Leaning forward he pressed the ‘Stop’ button and stared at the blank television screen.
This one will haunt me now for days. A powerful piece on so many levels. Your choice to publish this means a great deal… Thanks for making that choice.
Thank you, Rus. That means heaps.
Reblogged this on The Baltimore Writer and commented:
The words preceding the story are just as powerful. Enjoy both, and let them resonate for these first few days of the new year…
Powerful, I agree! The last line really changes the whole thing.
Thank you for the kind words.
love the non-linear sentence shaping
Looking back on it now I wonder if I could have made more use of non-linear sentence structure.
The imagery in this is fantastic Adam! Thanks so much for sharing it.
Thank you, Deanna. It’s always nice to receive praise from you.
This is just heartbreaking.
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Nice work. Now I’m a little dizzy.