Have you ever written flash fiction? Well, you should because it’s a lot of fun! Since flash fiction is supposed to be under 1,000 words, it forces you to choose each word carefully, making sure each one is perfect for the story.
I’ve found it to be the perfect antidote for writer’s block–when I’m stuck in my WIP–or when I want a change of pace.
I’m participating in the The Penprints Flash Fiction Dash organised by Rosalie Valentine over at her blog. She sent me a photo, and I found a story to go with it.
Hope you enjoy reading Bird-watching and Other Human Pursuits as much as I loved writing it.
I stare at him through my camera lens, wishing for another set of binoculars.
Which isn’t as creepy as it sounds; I’m bird-watching with Grandma. And bored out of my skull. I love hanging out with her, but her latest interest lacks the thrill of, say, watching ants travel to and fro across the sidewalk.
It’s a relief to rest my gaze on the boy’s chiseled jaw and full lips instead of the warble-throated hawk-beak or whatever I’m supposed to be searching for.
He’s about my age—seventeen—and sitting on a bench a quarter of the way around the placid lake from where Grandma and I are staked out. He checks his watch for the umpteenth time. Hope he’s not waiting for his girlfriend. I brush my bangs off my forehead and breathe in the scent of honeysuckle lying thick in the air as a dragonfly buzzes by.
Grandma grabs my arm. “Ooh, look Briar. A Costa’s hummingbird.”
“Wow. Awesome.” I keep my camera trained on the hottie.
“Such beautiful plumage.” She chortles as she scribbles in her notebook, her silver bob falling forward to frame her face. “Leah will be thrilled?”
“Where is she?” Mrs. James, Grandma’s best friend, usually tags along to whatever hair-brained hobby Grandma chooses next. Last month was ceramics, though that was more fun than I expected. I even managed to turn out a half decent bowl. Of course, Mrs. James tried to set me up—again—with her grandson.
“She said something about taking a walk. We’ll catch up later, I imagine.”
“Is she going to lay off how perfect what’s-his-name is for me?”
“Probably not. But for once, I agree with her. You two have a lot in common.”
“Grandma. He collects stamps.”
She continues as if she hadn’t heard me. “You both enjoy the outdoors and photography, he plays the guitar, you play the piano—”
“—not since fifth grade.”
“—and he adores his grandmother.”
I hug her. “Three out of four isn’t too bad. But I’ll do the choosing, okay?”
The hummingbird flits away and lands on a branch. Right above the hottie’s head.
“Come on.” Grandma motions to me. “Let’s get a closer look.” She sets off down the gravel path, and I follow her, tucking my hair behind my ears. Of course I’m wearing sloppy cut-offs and a concert t-shirt. I expected to be tramping around the lake all day, not bumping into a cute guy.
Oh, man. He’s watching us approach.
We’re almost to him when Grandma stumbles and loses her balance.
“Grandma!” I dash forward as the guy leaps off the bench, but he’s the one who manages to catch her before she falls.
“Are you okay?” we ask her at the same time.
“Oh, my.” She glances at me then him. “Thank you, young man. That could’ve been a nasty spill.” Leaning over slightly, she straightens her fluffy cardigan.
He smiles at me over her head, and my breath catches. He’s even more gorgeous up close. Hair darker than mine. Broad shoulders under a forest green tank top. Perfection. “Guess I was in the right place at the right time.”
Straightening, Grandma lays her hand on her heart. “I think I should sit down.”
“Oh no.” I put my arm around her and lead her to the bench. “Should I call Grandpa?”
“No, no.” She waves her hand at me. “I only want to rest for a moment.”
“If you’re sure.” When she nods, I turn to the hottie, who flashes me a smile. “Thanks for your help. I’m Briar, by the way.”
“Jack.” His lips twitch. I try not to stare at them. “Have we met?”
“Dunno.” His name teases my consciousness. Where do I know him from? “You go to Central High?”
“Meadowdale. But you look really familiar.” Jack points to my t-shirt. “Did you see them last summer?”
“Yeah. The Occidental Tourists are my favorite.”
“Mine too.” He beams at me. “I haven’t met too many people who like them.”
“There must be some because their concert in two weeks is sold out, and I didn’t get any tickets.”
“Really? Well, ah”—he looks down and scrubs the back of his neck, his ears turning pink—“I’ve actually got two. Well. One. Extra, I mean. Maybe we could…you know.”
I bite my lower lip. Is he asking me out?
Jack glances up, and his chocolate brown eyes narrow.
“What?” I look over my shoulder.
Mrs. James walks towards us, wearing a huge grin under her wide-brimmed hat. “I knew it! I knew if I could just get you to meet each other!”
I spin toward Grandma. She winks at me. I turn back to Jack. What’s going on?
His face is flushed bright red. “I don’t believe it. Briar, I am so sorry…”
Realization dawns on me. “You’re the grandson.”
He holds up both hands. “I swear, this wasn’t an ambush. I had no idea she was still trying to set us up. I told her weeks ago I wasn’t—”
I take a deep breath. How could they trick us both like this? Jack seems really nice, but he’ll never want to go out with someone his grandmother introduced him to.
He moves closer, eyebrows raised. “She told me you were an excellent student who played the piano. So, yeah, not interested.”
I giggle. “I heard you collected stamps. So, yeah—”
“—not since third grade!”
We both start laughing.
He sticks his hands in his pockets. “What do you think? Want to go to the concert with me?”
Hopefully he can’t hear my heart pounding faster than a hummingbird beats its wings. “Yeah. That would be fun.”
Bless Grandma and her nosy friend. Maybe bird-watching isn’t all that bad after all.
Do you like flash fiction? Check out another story by my friend, Amanda, who blogs over at Hope Perch.
I’d love to host a flash fiction challenge myself. Would you participate? Answer in the comments below!
Jebraun Clifford always wanted to step through a door into an imaginary kingdom, so it’s no surprise she now calls Middle Earth home. Too short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, she lives in a gorgeous town smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island filled with thermal activity,
stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her Californian heart swoon. Her unpublished YA fantasy, The Two Queens of Kyrie, won both the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 First Impressions contest and the 2016 Genesis contest. She loves coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and harbours a secret penchant for British spelling.
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