Friday Fictioneers: Busy Day

Madison Woods is asking for 100-word short short stories again, and this time she’s offered a beautifully serene picture to inspire us.

You just know that serenity can’t last…

Busy Day

A day of cupcakes and phone calls, she thinks. Bake sale tomorrow; people like little things they can eat out of hand. Arrange to have the car tuned. Phone Carla, just to talk – itโ€™s been too long. Dentist appointment. So much to maintain, just to stay in the same place.

The kitchen always makes her smile – those silly Japanese lantern lights. But itโ€™s dark. She flips the switch, burrows into a cabinet for cake mix. Mixer. Pans. Smell of smoke. Tongue of fire eating the lantern shade. She fishes her phone out of her jeans, running for the door. Call 911.

Flame riots in the windows. She stands on the sidewalk, making a mental list. Tomorrowโ€™s going to be a busy day.

* * *

I’d love to know what you think!

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40 responses to “Friday Fictioneers: Busy Day

  1. I was so much enjoying this until the fire. Very well written. Thanks for coming by. I’m here for others: http://readinpleasure.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/fridayfictioneers-the-empty-heart/

    • I’m sorry the fire disturbed you! Part of the inspiration for this story was some TV news coverage a few days ago of a serious house fire in this area (and part was trying to unsettle an ordinary day for the main character, I’ll admit.) Your story picks up well on the strange barren atmosphere of the photo – something I just ignored.

  2. Hi Sharon,
    Life is complex enough with little demands. A big emergency, that’s too much. I like the double entendre of your title. Good strong voice. Ron

  3. Whew, from the way you set this up, I expected her to open the ice box and start stuffing body parts in. Excellent job!

  4. I loved the way this was going, and then turned into something completely different. ‘Tongue of fire eating the lantern shade’ is such a great image. Well done.

  5. I have had a busy week, it is no wonder i have lost my brain somewhere!! you haven’t see it have you? Loved the story, no matter what happens we continue to make those mental lists.

    • Gosh, no, even though I’ve spent the week cleaning out the laundry room and finding all sorts of unexpected stuff! But no brains, alas. As for lists – yes, this is one character I really identify with. (Actually, the story got started this morning when I found myself thinking exactly what she does about cupcakes and phone calls – so far no fires, thank goodness!)

  6. Top of her list: No more paper lanterns! You definitely unsettled her ordinary day, excellent!

  7. I like the way you understated the piece. I think it was more effective that way.

  8. when you can make humor within a tragedy, you’ve done something very well.

  9. I have to agree with Rich ๐Ÿ™‚ *thumbs up*

  10. I especially loved they way you used short, simple sentence to emphasize how busy the woman is. Her choppy thoughts make the story humorous,

    Cleverly written! I hope tomorrow is better for the busy bee ๐Ÿ™‚

    Adieu, scribbler

  11. The staccato sentence construction worked well in this matter-of-fact delivery. Good work.

  12. “Flame riots in the windows” is my favourite phrase of this piece, Sharon! I have an image of them dancing and shoving and pushing other tongues of flame out of the way. Well done ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Well told, Sharon. I liked the way your character just seemed accept the situation with aplomb. I find for myself that my mental lists are only as good as the paper on which they’re written.

    • Thank you! I suppose some of her reaction is shock, but clearly being practical and making lists is her habitual way of dealing with a crisis. I’m sure she’ll eventually become emotional about this disaster, but not until things are well on their way back to normality…and the passage of time and the fact that the worst is over will help her at that point.

  14. I think she better add ‘looking for a new place to live’ to her list of priorities. Good story.

    • Yep! Looking for a new place to live, calling the insurance company, dealing with the adjuster, finding out if any of her clothes can be salvaged and if not replacing them…..she’s got a very busy fall and winter coming up.

  15. Can we say, “ultimate bad day!” Poor dear, well done.

    • Well, she did make it out alive and unhurt – but other than that, yeah, pretty catastrophic. She won’t even be able to enjoy those lantern shades any more, will she?

      Glad you like it!

  16. And there was that fire extinguisher on the cabinet. Maybe the flames got out of hand before she had time to grab it? And another busy day tomorrow. Sounds like she needs something to de-stress!

  17. Enjoyed this but one question. I’m curious. How did the fire start?

    • Um, er, (waves hands distractingly), the paper shade had been accidentally bent so that it was touching the light bulb, which must have been an old incandescent one that got hot, and it set fire to the shade. Yeah. That’s the ticket.

      Let’s see, how did the shade get bent? Well, she has a couple of children, who are fortunately at school and safely out of the house, and they were playing catch in the kitchen and hit the shade with the ball. They never mentioned it because they know they’re not allowed to throw balls in the house, and the adults never noticed.

  18. “So much to maintain, just to stay in the same place.” I can relate to that. And then, with the appearance of the fire? I lost my breath. Good story!

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