Friday Fictioneers: free time

Dammit, I’m addicted. Two weeks in a row and I just can’t help myself.  So here we go again with another flash fiction story challenge courtesy of the wonderful Rochelle Wishoff-fields (her story is fab, by the way!) and her ever-inventive story-telling band of Friday Fictioneers (going to check them out here just as soon as I’ve posted this) The challenge as always: using the picture prompt, write a 100 word story with a beginning, middle and end. Here goes:

Thief of Time

Now the school has closed, Alice thinks back.  Remembering how each event of the day was heralded by the bell;  how even before it was a school, the cloisters had rung with its compelling voice, calling the nuns to prayer.

Her phone chimes once.  A reminder.

It chimes again, this time two short pings. Her daughter Melissa, exhorting her not to forget her appointment.

Alice sighs. It seems her life is still regulated by bells after all.

The bright flowers outside grow wild, following their own rhythm.  Dropping her phone into their blooms, she knows they won’t be listening either.

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Friday Fictioneers: the colour of memory

Friday being valentine’s day, it seemed impossible not to weave the theme of romance into this week’s Friday Fictioneer challenge.

Go here to find out more about Rochelle Wishoff-fields and her Friday Fictioneers.  Read all the other entries here.  In brief, the challenge is to write a 100-word story with a beginning, middle and end inspired by a picture prompt. The restriction is strangely addictive!  Here’s my story below:

Punch-drunk

They’re celebrating my exhibition in the gallery next door, laughing as they drink Zednya’s famous fruit punch. She’s skillfully showing the collectors around, telling them about each Memory Painting. How like apparitions, they flash into my mind when I’ve forgotten everything else, even my name.  All I remember are those vivid images just before the explosion, tormenting until I finally release them onto canvas.  Then they disappear, no longer troubling me.

Except this one.

Zednya believes she’s just another ghost from that time. Girl Unknown.

I think about her crushed strawberry lips.  Wondering if she survived somehow, remembering her dress.

Andy Couturier: A Different Kind of Luxury

If you have a nagging disquiet in you which senses there has to be an alternative to this life of stressed high pressure, wired yet numbing pursuit of status, income and possessions driven by the pressing need to make a living instead of a life, then this book: A Different Kind of Luxury written by Andy Couturier is for you.

Chris Morrison writes an excellent review that captures beautifully the essence of A Different Kind of Luxury. What he says resonates with my own experience, both because I happen to be re-reading the book right now, and because I have personally met 7 of 11 people profiled in the book while travelling around rural Japan with a small writing group led by Andy. I’m concurrently reading Monoculture: How One Story is Changing Everything by F S Michaels, her brilliant but disturbing analysis of how the economic narrative is the story which permeates every single aspect of our lives – without us even realising it.

This turns out to be perfect reading companion for A Different Kind of Luxury lending it even greater authority as a satisfying antidote to the monoculture of city life as we know it.

Thirty-Two Minutes

A Different Kind of Luxury coverAndy Couturier
A Different Kind of Luxury
(2010, Stone Bridge Press, 316 pages)

Many of us know at least one person who is resistant to the attractions and complications of modern, frantic, high tech, commercial life. Some people take action – small, achievable steps like growing some of one’s own food, joining a food co-op, riding a bicycle or walking to work, using less electricity, and so on. A few go even further in taking themselves “off the grid.” Subtitled “Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance,” Couturier’s lovely and valuable book – based on articles he wrote for The Japan Times – profiles eleven men and women who have given up contemporary Japanese urban life and found more sustainable alternatives living in the countryside. Most of these eleven people share characteristics, aside from the fact that most of them know (and, in a couple of cases, are married…

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