I am lucky enough to be contributing a short story to Baby Shoes Flash Fiction Anthology. The book name was inspired by a six word (yes, that’s six) short story attributed to Earnest Hemmingway, “For Sale, baby shoes, never used.” It isn’t one hundred percent clear if he actually wrote these words, but they are credited to him nevertheless. At first, I thought the editor, Jason Brick, was looking for stories relating to the title in some way, so I wrote a short story inspired by those six words. I bet those six words bring something to your mind that is quite different than what developed in mine, and that is the beauty of reading and writing. Turns out, the stories do not have to relate to the title in any way, which is exciting in that the book will have such a rich variety of styles, genres, and topics. But I was inspired by these six simple but vibrant words, and the result is a story created from what those words inspired in my mind.
By the way, if you don’t know what flash fiction is, it is really SHORT short stories. One hundred authors, one hundred stories, one thousand words or less per story. How cool is that? In one book you will get love stories, scary stories, abstract stories, funny stories, dark stories, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
Here are the first few lines from my story, Ballerina, which will be one of the 100 stories.
Her dream was to be a ballerina.
It was cliché, but ever since she was little, twirling in a yellow sateen recital costume, gold sequins flashing, feathers fluttering, she imagined a life on the stage in New York City. She started dancing at age three, when the uniform was pink tights, tutus, and tiny leather ballet slippers with the elastic band across the top. They were always a perfect baby pink, unlike the faux leather version, which came in black or white. She always begged her mother for pink, the most expensive of the colors, but had to settle for white, the color that dirtied easily and showed all the flaws. Even at age three she registered the difference between her scuffed up white knock offs and the other girls’ pale pink leather slippers.
Okay, shameless plug for my own work is now over. Here are some sneak peeks at other writers’ stories in case my ballerina doesn’t pique your interest.
Want something darker? Check out this blurb from Scott Crowder’s Valley of the Black Pig:
He breathes in deeply, lets the breath out gently and squeezes the trigger. The Iraqi crumples almost serenely to the ground as the .338 Lapua Magnum round splits his head in two. The little girl is sent flying in a horrible cartwheel, blood spraying in the arc of her tumble. The sniper lost his ear plugs to the concussion of the first bomb, but his ears are still ringing from the gunshot, and he doesn’t hear her scream.
How about this tantalizing tidbit from Danika Dinsmore’s Consummation:
Fire is contagious. She knows this from the way her hands burn when he approaches. Fire is what happens when we collect oxygen, fuel, and heat. Anyone can oxidize over time. Anyone can burn slowly.
Want something mysterious? Check this out from Jenny Cloyd Cokeley’s Anika’s Fall:
Before sliding the iron key across the counter, she felt the weight of it in her hand and traced the amaranthine design with her fingertips again and again, as if rubbing it would reveal how it came to be in her pocket that night on the train.
Like something with a historical flavor? Here’s a peek at Carrie Uffindell’s Beneath London’s Streets:
It was hot and musty, the air stagnant and rank from hundreds of men, women and children seeking shelter from Hitler’s bombs. The platforms, corridors and stairwells stank of urine, sweat, blood and sticky flies.
Harry squinted, reading a novel under the faint yellow lights. With his one uninjured hand, he carefully flipped to another page but stopped reading when he heard a low moan. A filthy woolen blanket undulated in an unmistakable rhythm nearby.
Oh, bloody hell. Not again.
Perhaps you like something about love, romance, or relationships? Try this tease from April Joitel Moore’s An Affair to Forget:
He walks in and sees her sitting with his imaginary girlfriend.
Damn it! These two were never supposed to meet. How did this happen? Doug slinks into the busy coffee shop and grabs a small table in the corner and watches as his love life disintegrates over lattes and almond biscottis.
And Shelley Widhalm’s Wanted Man:
I crafted my personal ad as if some fairy godmother could wave her magic wand and usher in a tall, handsome man with blue eyes. This, I wrote trying not to think about Derek.
He managed the front of the Sushi restaurant and I, the back. Sans ring, he rode the rollercoaster of those going through a divorce. His smile blew heat to my toes, causing my eggrolls to crisp.
How about Derek Knutsen’s Ready to Face Home:
Pottersman drops the blowgun and pulls a pan pipe from one of his pockets. He starts a haunting melody that carries through the bleak landscape.
Or M.D. Pitman’s Willie:
“Why can’t we just handle this? Just take him to Willie’s grave and tell him he’s dead. Then just hold him tight.”
“You know why, Dan. The doctor said it may scar him even deeper.”
“It’s been a year and nothing has helped. I’m just …”
“Frustrated,” Nancy said finishing his thought. Dan massaged his temples. “Yeah.” “I’m frustrated, too,” Nancy said softly. She stood up and wrapped her arms around him.
I, for one, cannot WAIT to read the rest of these beautiful writers’ words in Baby Shoes Flash Fiction Anthology. It is pretty amazing what just a few words can do to get our minds going, inspire an image, a thought, or a memory.
I hope you enjoyed all of these sneak peeks! I feel so honored to be part of this project. If you are inclined, you can pre-order the book at the kickstarter site (link below), which will help us fund the production of the book. Then when it comes out you will get one delivered right to your door. If you aren’t a big reader, maybe as a gift? Something to put by the potty for when you just need a quick read? This book has it all, something for everyone who enjoys the written word.