Monday, May 18, 2015

Fun With Flash Fiction

By Mary Moeller, class of 2015, Creative Writing minor

Going into Dr. Jayne Waterman’s Short Story class, I expected it to consist solely of analytical exercises. While we did do quite a bit of reading and analyzing short stories from a wide variety of very talented authors, I was pleasantly surprised when Dr. Waterman informed the class that the final paper would be a creative piece rather than an analytical one. The assignment was that every student in the class had to write a piece of “Flash Fiction,” which is a very brief short story. Specifically, our assignment had to be about 500 words or less.

Writing such a short story seemed almost impossible when we first received the assignment, but Dr. Waterman had the class keep a creative journal throughout the semester in order to help us generate ideas for our pieces. She also had us read short stories she chose specifically to help inspire us as we wrote. She was very diligent about reading our journals and giving feedback to help steer us down the right path when writing our stories. With her guidance, the task became much less daunting and much more enjoyable.

During the final class period, Dr. Waterman brought in pizza for all of the students and had us read the final products of flash fiction. Reading my piece out loud in front of the class was both nerve-racking and rewarding, and Dr. Waterman was both curious about our stories and encouraging of our creative talents throughout the entire class. What I enjoyed most about the exercise was that it allowed us to take some of the various storytelling methods we’d studied and find ways to make them our own. For example, many of the stories we read throughout the semester ended with a surprising twist, and I used that technique in my flash fiction piece. Altogether, it was a truly rewarding assignment that helped the class interact more with short stories than we would have otherwise and gave us a deeper appreciation of all the work it takes to write one.

Read Mary Moeller's flash fiction piece below:
A Wedding

I stood at the altar in a rented tux with a red rose pinned to the lapel, her favorite color. Bridesmaids and groomsmen surrounded me, and my best friend Jesse smiled by my side. The music from the piano swelled until I worried the church wouldn't be able to hold it anymore, and it gave way only when the doors opened for the final time and the bride stepped through as a vision of beauty. I can't remember much of what she was wearing; I know it was white, but her smile captured my attention and I couldn't look away. No one could. She looked like a dream come true, like the reason behind every cliché about falling in love. Looking at her filled my heart with such emotion that I worried I might explode.

"Here Comes the Bride" played too quickly; suddenly, she was at the altar and her father was kissing her cheek. My heart raced, my palms sweated, but she looked perfectly calm, like she'd been preparing for this moment her whole life. Her eyes glistened with happy tears, and I remembered pulling all-nighters with her through college, laughing at 3am TV shows until our guts hurt like we'd been shot and we were crying. I remembered the meals she used to make before she learned to cook, how I teased her for months about setting macaroni on fire. Her smile was so bright it lit up the past like an airport runway. But planes can only fly forward, so I faced the altar and stood patiently while the priest said his part.

She pulled a piece of paper out and her smile grew shaky as she read the vows she had written herself to surprise the man she loved. She spoke softly, only worried about one person hearing her. I could hear them just fine. She spoke of days to be shared, of a life full of laughing at stupid jokes and being too busy to get a good night's sleep. She vowed always to love and cherish her husband, and that word made my heart jump like a rock on a trampoline. She swore to face life's challenges together, said she'd never love another soul as much as she loved the one in front of her. Her words touched something inside me and it was everything I could do to remain standing at that altar, staring at her, when all I wanted was take her into my arms and whisk her away. I loved her more in that moment than I ever had in my entire life, and I knew the more time I spent with her the deeper in love I'd fall. God, she was wonderful. So sweet, so perfect. Besides Jesse, she was the only person in the world whose happiness mattered more to me than my own. And so I smiled as the priest gave permission for the newlyweds to kiss and Jesse stepped forward to claim his bride.