It was one of those rare occasions that the first pancakes I made were the best in the bunch and I should have realized that was a bad omen for the rest of the day.
They had everything they needed to be wholesome. Fine cut oats. Almond milk. Only one egg yolk, but three egg whites. The frying pan was just hot enough to get both sides nice and brown. Maple syrup, peanutbutter and an espresso, good to go.
Commute. I struggled with my shoelaces, for no apparent reason, and although my left hand glove was in my coat pocket, my right hand glove had made its way up, not one, but two flights of stairs. So, I had to take off my shoes, and put them back on again. That’s when one shoelace snapped.
While searching my coat, I had also found a receipt from yesterday’s shopping and placed it on the counter to be processed with all the other administration, which is what I call the pile of papers I keep in my home office, the one that is slowly growing back into a tree, and I reminded myself to pick up my wallet off the kitchen counter before I turned around and walked past the umbrella propped up in the corner of the hallway.
It was a grey day, but I had places to be, no time to look up. I was terribly busy you see, and there was no better place to get a head start on my emails than while I walked to the tube. So I whipped out my phone, and meandered along, thumbs typing, cars honking as I crossed streets, cursing at auto-correct as people grumbled when they bumped into me, before I hit send to gossip with Jeremy about that wordy email the boss sent around.
At least I got to the tube before the drizzle started.
I stood at the gates and patted myself down, looking around at the people passing me by as gates slid open and shut, open and shut, open and where was my damn wallet?
I was sure I’d picked it up off the counter. Did someone pickpocket me? Wait, did I pick it up off the counter? I wasn’t so sure now.
I turned around and rushed home, and the drizzle turned into rain. I bumped into a lady who was so absorbed in her little screen that she did not watch where she was going.
Get off your phone!
She looked furious. I ran on. What’s wrong with people?
I got home, rain dripping from the tip of my nose, and there it was. My wallet, right where I had left it.
My phone vibrated. Jeremy. Why is he calling me? Maybe some new gossip that can’t wait.
Are you mad?
Why did you reply all?
What are you talking about?
You’re an idiot, you know that?
He hung up. Tap, swipe and I looked at my sent emails and I wished the ground would open up beneath me, and swallow me whole.
I snatched my wallet off the counter and considered calling in sick. It doesn’t matter, I would have a job interview with another company the day after anyway. I remembered to grab the umbrella, and as I opened the front door, my phone chimed.
A calendar notification for my job interview.
I should’ve known.
I wrote flash fiction for twenty-eight days. This story is the one that best shows what I learnt:
- An opening designed to peak the reader’s interest,
- A sense of location, grounding the reader in the story through a sensory detail
- Character. Objective. Obstacle.
- Escalation, or a simple try-fail cycle
- A surprising resolution, a pay-off for early set ups
There is no one way to write a piece of flash fiction, there are no formulas. In writing and reading flash fiction for a month now, I’ve noticed that these five items are present in stories I enjoy. I hope you enjoyed this one.