Four by Flash is a new writing challenge that started in January, somewhat similar to NaNoWriMo. 4xFlash was designed to keep writers writing all year long, and the challenge goes as such: You pledge to write four flash fiction stories per week, four weeks in a month, four months out of the year. Flash fiction is typically defined as under 1000 or under 500 words, and my stories were written to keep as close to 500 words as possible. I only pledged to do one month, but it was one of the most productive months of my life, NaNo included. I’ve decided to share some of my flash here. The stories range from mild to explicit, across m/m, f/f, and het pairings, and not all of them are romance or erotica. Attached is the first story I wrote for 4xFlash.
He gave it to me before he died. The mirror was a simple thing, not so much bigger than a shoebox, in an unadorned frame. To most people, it would seem like the kind of mirror one would have over one’s dresser, something for fixing hair and makeup, for slotting in an earring or ensuring a necklace was centered, for adjusting a collar or tie. But not to my grandfather. Not to my father. And not to me. I knew better, and I was determined not to let it ruin my life the way they had let it ruin theirs.
As a child, I believed the mirror to be the most wonderful, precious gift in the world. My grandfather would sit me on his lap and tell me stories of what he could see when he looked into its glass.
“Ah, Annie,” he’d whisper in his rough Irish brogue, the accent he couldn’t shake after more than three decades of living in the States, “there are riches and gold in the hills. Beauty more vast than you can imagine. There’s something special out there for us. Just you wait and see.” He had never stopped working for that.
My father hadn’t quite been so idealistic. After my mother died, he’d stare into the mirror for hours, trying to divine just what it was telling him. If I asked he’d sullenly tell me that I wasn’t old enough to understand, and he’d send me off to get him another beer.
The mirror had caused more harm than good, of that I was certain, but what I didn’t know was what exactly I would see when I finally looked into the mirror myself. That was the magic, of course. This mirror had been in our family for generations, and only one living person could see into it, could see its depths and read its secrets. When the seer died, the veil lifted from the eyes of the mirror’s heir. The day my father finally drank himself to death was the day I’d be allowed to look and finally see, but I didn’t look that day. He had given it to me months before, wrapped in heavy burlap, sandwiched between wood panels, and slid securely into a box. I had tucked it underneath my bed and left it hidden there ever since, not daring to venture a look. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know, really.
A week passed, a month, two, before I finally gathered my courage. With some cautious effort, I hefted the box from its hiding place and tentatively propped the mirror on several pillows. Carefully, I peeled back the thick cloth, took a deep breath and opened my eyes. I stared into the mirror in disbelief.
Staring back at me was the image of myself, whole, beautiful, undamaged. No burn scars. No battle wounds. Nothing to remind me of the terrible fire that took my mother’s life and destroyed my childhood home. I burst into tears.