Flash fiction is a fun way to loosen up for the real writing. Sometimes what comes out is just awful, in which case one should be grateful it is out, where it can be disposed of instead of leaking into something else. Sometimes what comes out is gold, which can be polished and sent out into the world.

This week I thought I’d share all three of my attempts for Flash Friday. The picture was the prompt, along with the idea that this is Mother’s Day weekend. The word limit was 200, which is really tight! I wrote three versions. Besides being too long, I didn’t particularly like the way the first two came out. The third one is what I went with.

“Gimmie!” Veronica shrieked and grabbed the stereoscope out of her grubby brother’s hands. “You’re such a hog.”

Vinnie was unperturbed, as always, both about being called a hog and about having the toy ripped from his hands. He’s long ago learned that the best way to deal with his big sister’s bullying was to ignore it.

“I’ll bet we could do that,” Veronica said.

Vinnie hesitated. Veronica was going to have her way, there was no doubt about it. And unless he figured out some way to tweak the situation, he was going to end up being the one hurt and the one blamed.

“Of course we could do it the easy way, like they did…” he said, without really looking at his sister.

“What do you mean, ‘the easy way’?”

“Well, with the bigger kid on the bottom. I mean, of course that’s the way they’d do it while they were apprentice acrobats…” he let his voice trail off.

Vinnie stood still while his sister climbed onto the fence, then leaned over and touched her forehead to his.  “Give me your hands,” she ordered.

Vinnie did exactly what he was told, and no more. When Veronica landed flat on her back in the mud, he said nothing at all.

210 words, 200 limit with a 10 word leeway…

I can do better.

“But I didn’t get her anything for Mother’s Day!” Victoria wailed despondently. Vinnie set his stereoscope down, being as noisy as clumsy as possible so his sister wouldn’t notice him sliding his carefully hand-made Mother’s Day card under the pile of magazines.

“We could give her this…” Victoria said, snatching up the stereoscope and looking through it. “Hey…what are they doing?”

“They’re acrobats,” Vinnie answered. “I know, why don’t you make Mom a construction paper basket? You still have more than a day to work on it…”

“I know what we can do!” Victoria declared, dropping Vinnie’s toy, not on the table, but on the floor. “Let’s make a video.”

That’s how Vinnie found himself dangling upside-down by his belt loops from a coat hook in the guest bedroom. “Don’t worry…it’s like a green screen. I can edit it later…” explained Veronica, setting up the camera while all the blood rushed to Vinnie’s head and his legs went numb.

“Wait there,” Veronica ordered, and ran off down the hall.

Vinnie fumbled with the button on his jeans until he finally fell out of them and onto the floor. Veronica would just have to make a video or whatever for their Mom by herself. He’d endured enough.

Vinne went to retrieve the card he’d made, but it was no longer under the stack of magazines.

“Oh, sweetheart, thank you so much for the card!” his mother cooed from the kitchen. Vinnie walked in, still pantsless, to see his artwork in his mother’s hands, and his big sister standing beside her, taking credit. “You too, Vinnie. Veronica told me you helped her make it!”

OK, still way too long. Gotta get tighter.

Umm… one more…

Vinnie allowed himself just the briefest flash of a smile as his sister fell face-first in the muck. She darn well deserved it, but if she or their mother saw him taking pleasure at the sight of his sister’s distress, he’d be scrubbing toilets all weekend. Again.

“This time, I’ll be on the bottom,” Veronica directed. Vinnie had been able to connive a way into being the support-acrobat in spite of his smaller size for their first attempt. If he didn’t come up with something to convince her otherwise, he’d be the one face-down in the muck next time.

“Just a minute. I’ll go get you a washcloth,” Vinnie said, thinking fast.

Their mother was in the kitchen.

“Mama, do you know where’s that cup-thing Dad made me wear in my pants when we played hockey?”

“It’s in the mudroom, sweetie. Why?”

Vinnie drew on every acting lesson he’d ever had at the feet of his sister and replied in complete innocence with the exact words he knew would get their mother up and out the door. “Veronica said I shouldn’t tell you.”

It was magic, like a genie granting a wish. And it was the end of his acrobatic career.

201 words @USNessie

OK. That one I like. 201 words is right in there!