Wednesday, September 20, 2017

NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge Round 2 - 2017

Hi Everyone,
Here's Round Two for the 2017 Flash Fiction Challenge for NYC Midnight.
I'm in Group 78.
Genre: Political Satire
Location: Drive-Thru
Object: Wine Glass.

I hope you enjoy it!

America's Idols

“We need to make a quick stop on our way to the Capitol,” I tell my daughter as I pull off the freeway. “It should only take a few minutes.”
            My daughter lets out a deep groan knowing my version of a few minutes really means ten, but I don’t care. I need this to make it through my day. At fourteen, she doesn’t quite get the struggle of adulthood and only really cares about herself, but rather than fighting, she turns on the radio to drown out the silence.
            We watch with cheers as the final monument is annihilated. The Washington Monument will no longer scream out oppression and slave mongering any longer, the announcer declares. In the background crowds are shouting, celebrating the end of the idolization of hate spreaders in the nation. The reporter speaks louder to ensure he’s being heard, New statues are being constructed across the country as we speak showing the world we know what and who matters when making the positive changes needed for our civilization to thrive.
            I reach over and tap the down button until I can get her attention again. “Aren’t you excited to see the unveiling of the new statues at the Capitol? Today’s celebration is the first in our state.”
            She rolls her eyes and scoffs. “Sure, Mom.” Jewel barely looks up from her screen.
            I inch the car forward moving up my place in line, then reach into my purse and pull out the flyer. “Here, read the descriptions to me so we know what we’re going to see,” I say attempting to pull her away from her Snapchat.
            “Mom, seriously, I don’t care.”
            “Jewel, I really think this is something you’ll appreciate.” She’s so disinterested in everything, and I wanted this to be something we could do together. “Ok what’s the first on the list.”
            She unfolds the handout to find descriptions. “Fine. The first one is a statue of Kanye. Seriously?”
            “Hey, he’s a major icon,” I interject.
            “Whatever. Kanye West,” she begins, “a leader in the mental health movement, demonstrated to the world the positive power behind reaching out to others to spread great ideas while practicing mental health coping strategies.” She rolls her eyes and drops the paper.
            I shake my head and smile. “What an inspiration,” I tell her. “We should all be like him in our daily life. This is so wonderful that our representatives have decided to do this. Who’s next?”
            She lets out a sigh, yet again. “Britney Spears.”
            “Oh really? I love her,” I exclaim.
            “Mom, please,” she stops me. “It says that she’s an animal activist who worked hard for the liberation of boa constrictors. Is this a joke or something?”
            Trying to ignore her disrespect, I look out the window watching the people drive by wondering if they’re as lucky as I am at this very moment. I’m on my way to see our nation’s newest dedication to those who have shaped our evolving culture. I feel sorry for those who won’t be able to witness it like us, but as I watch them talk on their phones and text while driving, I can tell they are as happy as I am, and I smile.
            I pull forward again. “Welcome to Starbucks. May I take your order?”  
            “Yes. Yes, you can. I’d like a grande Pumpkin Spice latte and a bagel, please.” The promotional wine glass on the menu reminds me I should get something to absorb the wine I had with lunch.
            “Mom, get me a Pumpkin Frappuccino,” Jewel demands.
            I nod and relay her order to the faceless voice. “That’s all.”
            We’re still a few cars away from the window, so I turn to her again. “Ok, who’s next?”
            She looks back to the circular searching for the third figure. “Simon Cowell is being honored for his demonstration of Freedom of Speech and the power of truth.’”  
            I just love him on those talent shows, the way he speaks to the children letting them know that their dreams just might not be their realities is touching. “OK, who’s the last one?”
            Jewel’s looking back at her phone ignoring me, so I tap her leg. She jerks her head up in response. “What?”
            “This is important. What are you doing anyway?”
            “Reading the Iliad,” she snaps back.
            “Who’s that? I’ve haven’t seen them on YouTube, have I?” I ask, sure I’ve missed the next best thing.
            “No, Mom. It’s a Greek Epic. You’re so basic.”
            Ignoring her insult, I look ahead. “Who’s the fourth?”
            She finds the final description and laughs. “Seriously? It’s Tom Cruise. Apparently, he’s being honored for religious freedom. ‘Tom Cruise and his selflessness shows the world that Scientology is the future. It encourages personal growth, stressing the importance of the individual over reliance on others.’ Mom, is this for real? These people aren’t idols, they’re has been celebrities. Why aren’t we learning from our history and keeping the real figures in our cities? We’re supposed to learn from the past so we don’t repeat it.”
            I’m appalled at her intolerance. “Jewel, where do you learn these horrible things?”
            “School, Mom, you know that place I go every day for an education? They teach us things like keeping an open mind and respect the Constitution. Fight for the people who can’t speak for themselves. Help the Earth by recycling. Volunteer to help others. These so called ‘icons’ are hacks. We need to be putting our torn down monuments back. Where’s MLK Jr., Rosa Parks, Father Junipero Sera, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln?  Where does it stop? They’re all people who made a difference.”

            Why can’t she be more normal? I ask myself and pull up to the window. I pay and retrieve our drinks before looking to her one last time. Her ignorance drives me insane. “Enough.” I can’t take it any longer. These lies she’s “learning” are destroying her. “You don’t deserve to see real history being made. We’re going home.” 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Round 1

Hi All,

I'm at it again...two years later. I decided last minute I'd compete in this year's NYC Midnight's Flash Fiction Competition. Last weekend was round one and my topic was:

Group # 78
Genre: Sci-Fi
Location: Man-Made Island
Object: Skeleton
1000 words max.

I'd love any feedback in the comments.

Here's my story.

The Island

            It’s time. I’ve had 14 years, 364 days to make this decision, and now on my 15th birthday, I’m forced to make a decision that will control the rest of my life. It’s so not fair. The ignoramuses who destroyed the actual planet five hundred years ago had no idea we’d be this limited with our resources and forced to move to space, but now we are, so I’m forced to choose between work and marriage. Awesome, right?
            I have to get ready for the day, so I throw my hair into a pony before asking my bot to spray on my face. The spray hits quickly, making me flinch. I know I should be used to it, but I haven’t been using it for long. Mom laughs when I jerk away. “You’re so innocent,” she tells me, but today, she’s not here. Instead, she wants me to reflect before going in. Whatever that means. I mean I’ve been ‘reflecting’ on this for as long as I’ve known about it, which is pretty much my entire life. I give myself a final look and shake my head. “It’ll have to do,” I say and leave my bedroom.
            “Hey Mom,” I say as I walk into the kitchen.
            She looks up from her reading screen and stares at me. “I can’t believe today’s the day. I’m so excited for you,” she says and smiles. “Honey, aren’t you excited for Iris?”
            I look to Dad and just laugh. He doesn’t even look up from his screen. As always, he’s watching some live feed, this time it’s about the discovery of a skeleton somewhere on the “Island.” Though it sounds interesting, I wish he’d for once pay attention to us. “Dad, did you even hear Mom?” I ask knowing it will piss him off.
            “Yeah, yeah. Excited. Choice,” he mumbles without glancing up.
            This is what I have to choose? Getting married tomorrow and having a kid within the year, or having a career and staying single. My mom obviously chose marriage, but she’s practically alone, and once I leave, she will be. I read in my school screen there was a time when there was equity between the sexes, but when the world went to shit and surviving meant creating the healthiest possible people, 15 became the magic age. The roles regressed. Now women are either workers or birthers. You can’t be both, but I’ve heard rumors about workers having babies. They got ejected back to the planet below. It sounds horrible.
            “Dad, can you look at me?” I say attempting to get his attention.
            Finally, he looks up. “What’s up?” He’s totally oblivious.
            “Um, not much other than I’m choosing my future today. That’s all,” I say with my hand on my hip.
            He turns to my mom. “Claire, is that really today?” She nods and rolls her eyes, and he looks back to me. “Happy birthday, Iris. It seems like yesterday you were learning to walk and now you get to be married and make one of your own.” He’s actually excited about this.
            “Um, who says I want to get married?”
            My mom’s coffee cup crashes to the floor and Dad chokes on his own spit. “Excuse me?” Mom barely gets out.
            I know this irritates them; they’ve told me dozens of times how they can’t wait to have grandchildren. “All I’m saying is I haven’t made my choice yet. That’s all.”
            They look back and forth at each other and back to me before proceeding. Great. They’re pissed and I know it. Working women are disgraceful, to them, and I could be one of them.
            “Iris, we’ve talked about this. I thought you wanted to get married,” Mom says and cleans the cup up from the floor.
            It amazes me how much we look alike. We could be twins if we were the same age - same dark hair and same light skin - but now she looks old. 33 years old, married with two kids, and her life’s practically over. She could get sick at any point and the government would put her in her own room of choices. I shake my head trying to get rid of the thought. It’s too depressing. “Mom, I know you’ve talked about it, but I’ve never actually chosen. Seriously, you’re asking me to let a computer choose a guy for me to marry tomorrow and have kids. It’s totally barbaric. What’s wrong with me using my brain and working? I mean, I could totally be the person who figures out how we could heal the planet and move back.”
            Dad laughs. “Not likely,” he mutters.
            He’s a dick.
            Mom looks at the clock and lets out a soft yell. “It’s time, honey. We need to take you to the Room.”
            Together, all three of us, step into a tube that moves us through our metal and glass island to the Room. When we arrive, they both give me a hug. “Good luck! We know you’ll make the right choice,” Mom tells me and ushers me through the airlock.
            It’s cold and sterile, possibly the most uncomfortable place ever. I’ve seen pictures, but nothing matches the terrifying reality. There’s a small white table with two buttons: the left is white with a yellow ring - marriage. The right is black with a red ring - work. Neither is very appealing, and I don’t want to be in here longer than necessary. This shouldn’t be this hard. On one hand, I could be a mom and have a family. It would be nice to have people to share my life with, but on the other hand, I could be known for my mind. I could change the world. I want to push both, but I’m scared one will choose for me. I shake my head, angry at the situation, but step forward and reach for the button I feel the strongest about. “I’m sorry, Mom.”

            The door opens and I walk out.