I've recently discovered flash fiction writing - short stories of usually no more than a couple hundred words. Writing flash fiction is challenging and fun! I hope you enjoy the flash fiction pieces I've written below.
The Story Behind the Book
“That will be $3.25,” the thrift store clerk said. I paid her for the three books and promptly drove home so I could lose myself in my favorite rainy day pastime - reading. As I opened the front cover to the first torn and tattered old book, I noticed a handwritten inscription at the top of the page:
To Elizabeth - To our lifetime of love. Love always, Charles.
The inscription was dated May 5, 1926. At the bottom of the page was an address label that read: 1420 Eagles Nest Drive, Montpelier, VA. Excitedly, I grabbed my nearby laptop and typed the address in the search engine. Just a few more clicks revealed the homeowner’s name and phone number: Charles Madison. 222-7848. Nervous and excited, I dialed the number. A gruff male voice answered.
“Uh, yes, is this the Madison residence?”
“Who wants to know?” he demanded.
“Well, sir, my name is Lucy McGuire and I just purchased a book from a thrift store in Chesapeake that had this address written down in it, and I thought the owner might still live there. Does “Charles” or “Elizabeth” live there by any chance?” The line went silent for a few minutes. A few moments later a woman’s voice came on the line.
“Hello, this is Mary Ann Donavan - I’m sorry, my grandfather is elderly and doesn’t hear well. I’m over here visiting him today. Can I help you with something?”
“Yes, well, you see, my name is Lucy McGuire and I live in Chesapeake, and I just bought a book at the thrift store today that had this address on a label on the inside front cover, and an inscription that reads, “to Elizabeth… from Charles.” I was just trying to find out if there was a Charles or Elizabeth living there, and if this might be their book?”
“Well, my grandfather’s name IS Charles, but my grandmother passed away and her name was Rebecca Ann, not Elizabeth. Hold on just a minute and let me ask Grandfather if he knows anything about it.” After being kept on hold for several more minutes, she finally came back to the phone.
“What’s the name of the book,” she asked.
“Yours Truly, by William Peele,” I answered. She asked me to hold again and I heard her repeat the title to her grandfather. Another short wait followed.
“Yes, he remembers it,” she said when she finally came back to the phone. “It was a gift from him to a lady friend of his that he planned to marry a few years before he met my grandmother - Elizabeth Owens. Sadly, she died in an accident before they could get married. He married my grandmother Rebecca a few years after that. I never knew about Elizabeth until now.”
“Oh, I see. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to open old wounds.”
“No, you didn’t. In fact, my grandfather smiled when I asked him about her. He’s promised to tell me the whole story when I get off the phone.”
“Oh, that’s great! Does he want the book back? I’d be happy to return it after I read it!”
“Yes, that would be very thoughtful of you - if you don’t mind."
“Oh no, I don’t mind returning it at all - I’m just glad I found your grandfather!”
After we hung up talking, I began reading Yours Truly. It was an amazing heartfelt love story and I could understand why he gave it to the woman he hoped to marry. After I finished reading it, I put it in a shipping envelope, and mailed it out the next day.
A few weeks later, I received a lovely, but sad note in the mail from Ms. Donovan:
Dear Ms. McGuire - Thank you so much for returning the book my grandfather had given to Elizabeth. The tears in his eyes when he saw it bespoke the burning love he had for her - his first true love. Afterwards, he told me of their amazing love story, and of her tragic death - a traumatic loss he had been carrying around for over sixty years. Sadly, Grandfather passed away last week. If you hadn’t found and returned that book, he would have taken that loss to the grave with him, and I would have never known about his great love for Elizabeth. Your willingness to track him down and unselfishly return the book will never be forgotten. Sincerely, Mary Ann Donavan.
A few days later, I was back at my favorite thrift store scouring the book shelves for more lost books I could reconnect to their owners. Sometimes it's not the story IN the book that makes it so good, but the one BEHIND it!
My husband had just been admitted to the hospital with Covid pneumonia. I tested positive the next day. At bedtime, I downed a heady capful of codeine-laden cough syrup. Sometime later, I woke up, urged by a full bladder. After using the toilet, I groggily head back to the bedroom. Sometime later, I woke up sprawled on the bathroom floor. I had no recollection of falling. I pressed my hands into the cold vinyl floor beneath me. Terror gripped back. With no one else in the house except our dog, I knew I would have to fight this battle alone.
We were renovating our haunting 100-year-old Victorian home. I was painting the kitchen; he was in the upstairs bathroom fixing some leaky plumbing. “Bring me a towel!” he bellowed from above. Throwing down my paintbrush, I grabbed a towel and headed upstairs, only to find the bathroom empty. “Robert?” He wasn’t there. I heard the backdoor slam. I ran back downstairs to find him standing in the kitchen. “Thought you wanted a towel?” A puzzled look crossed his face. “What for?” Just then, a weighty drop of water hit me on the head. He looked up at the ceiling. “Guess I better go up and fix that leak, huh?”
I pulled a rose down from the bush and took a long deep sniff. Nothing. Scratching a leaf from the nearby dwarf lemon tree with my fingernail, I held my finger up to my nose hoping to catch the fresh clean essence of lemon. Still nothing. Later, as I nibbled on a piece of tasteless pepperoni pizza, I closed my eyes and tried to recall the familiar flavors. The memory was as lost as the scent of the rose and the lemon leaf earlier. Covid had stolen my sense of smell and taste. I am now nose and tongue blind.
Walking along the beach, I watched a sea bird scurry from an impending wave, then run back when it retreated out to sea. His prize was a dead fish brought in with the tide. As he ran to claim his free meal, yet another wave rolled in, dragging the fish back out with it. Undaunted by his loss the sea bird mustered even more spirit to continue the cat and mouse game with another wave. His persistence finally paid off when his lost fish meal from before landed safely on the sand in front of him. How much MORE does our God provide for His children?