Friday, May 3, 2013

Life in Snowglobia

Flash Fiction Friday!

Today's assignment, courtesy Chuck Wendig: select one from a list of 13 story titles, and write the story.  1000 words max.  I added a twist, by taking the list to my after-school Jr. High kids at the library and having them choose.  Without further ado:

Life in Snowglobia

Dick and Dora considered the ruin of their home.  Everything lay in heaps on the floor, and anything breakable was broken.  People in Snowglobia avoided breakables, but mistakes could be made.

"At least we’re not hurt," Dora said.  This time, she added silently.

"Let's clean up," was all Dick said.

They worked in silence until everything was returned to its place, wedging cabinets shut and books more tightly onto shelves in readiness for the next time.  At one point Dora looked out the window.
"It's stopped snowing."

"Good."

"Do you think so?"  She didn't elaborate.  She didn't need to.

When all was restored to order, Dick dusted his trousers, put on his coat and overcoat, and took up his top hat.  He smoothed a dent from the crown and carefully brushed the dust off.  Dora watched him.

"Do you have to go out?"

"Yes.  It's a short shift today.  I'll be back for tea."

Unless it happens again, they both thought.  There was no predicting the cataclysms, just that moment of warning and then the utter destruction of all sense of up and down.

Dora watched from the window as Dick made his way to the lamppost on the corner.  As he approached, an identically dressed gentleman nodded, folded his paper, kicked his feet loose, and walked briskly away.  Dick took the same position, stamped his feet into place, opened his newspaper, and began to read.  Dora watched for a long time, but nothing changed.  The snow lay on the ground where it had settled, and the only motion was the occasional turn of a page.  The light remained constant, without so much as a momentary dimming.  That was good.

Two hours later, the light vanished.  It was odd, that way.  Sometimes the day faded away, sometimes it ended in a flash.  Either way, darkness meant Snowglobia came to life.  It meant an end, for a time, to the fear of cataclysm.  No one had to stand in position at the lamp post, or around back of the next house where one of the women had always to be poised to feed the cat.  In the darkness they could visit one another.  Dick came back inside to Dora.

When the light vanished outside, cautious little lights came on in the four houses of Snowglobia. They were attached in a row, so no one had to venture outside.  They could pull the chairs together around a table and eat off whatever dishes remained unbroken, confident that there would be no disruption.

This night, Dick and Dora didn’t join the other residents in the communal meal.  They sat together on their own horsehair sofa, and stared at the floor.

“I can’t stand it any longer, Dick.”

“There’s nothing to be done about it.”

“'That’s life in Snowglobia.’  That’s what everyone says.  But I can’t stand it.”  She didn’t sound passionate, as she sometimes did when raging at a cataclysm that had sent all her work flying and filled the air with a blizzard.  She said it like someone who truly could not endure any more.

“There’s no escape, Dora.  Good God, do you think I haven’t looked?  We just have to enjoy the dark times, when things stay calm.  Come and have some dinner.”

She pushed herself to her feet and followed him slowly into the other room, then through the connecting door to where the other residents ate silently.  They were always subdued following a cataclysm, and most bore bruises and wrapped joints, injured when they had been tumbled about.

Dora looked around.  “Where’s Arthur?”  The oldest member of the community was missing.  No one would meet her eyes.  Finally Clair spoke in a low voice.

“He broke his neck.  The cataclysm.  It was so much worse than usual this morning. . . .”

Dora nodded.  It had been quiet for several days, but this morning the shaking had gone on and one, tumbling them about for an eternity.  None of the usual precautions had worked.  Only the moment’s warning had prevented them all from being killed, those who could move fast enough to take hold on something solid when the shadow covered the globe.  Always the moment of warning, the dimming of the light before the tumbling began.  But never something you could plan on.  Just a dimming, and then seconds later the shaking.  And pain.

They could see it in her face, the refusal to accept it.  Colin said it anyway.

“That’s life in Snowglobia.”

“No,” Dora said.  “It’s not.” They all looked at her, mystified.  They had long since been bludgeoned into acceptance, but she could not give in.  “It’s not life in Snowglobia.  It’s death in Snowglobia.”

14 comments:

  1. So fun-- and love that theme. Leaves so much open to the imagination!

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  2. Yeah, I had a lot of different ideas about this. All the titles were intriguing, actually--which is why I let the kids choose. I was pretty sure I could do something with any of them.

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  3. I got your link from the terribleminds blog Flash Fiction Challenge, and I hope you don't mind that I comment. I love how whimsical, and yet dark, your story is, I really enjoyed it. I feel for Dora especially, trapped inside Snowglobia with all of its hardships, with no way out. Good job!

    - Billijean Martiello
    http://teatimeforwanderer.blogspot.com/2013/04/resurrected-by-wife.html

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    1. Heck no I don't mind! I love readers and commenters, especially when they say such nice things :) Tell your friends and relations to drop by too--everyone's welcome!

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  4. Oh this was just perfect. I loved everything about it. I got your like from terribleminds as well. I reminded me of my "The Indian in the Cupboard" days. I wish this comment could be more coherent but I just wanted to tell you how cool this story was.

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    1. by "like" I meant "link." Words, man, they're betraying me today.

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    2. Thanks, Mari! And no worries about typos--you saw my link at terribleminds, so you know I'm having trouble today too! Maybe it's something in the air.

      Ooo. There's a horror storie for writers and word nerds. . .a virus or something that makes us all unable to spell or find the right word or. . .

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  5. What a terrible existence! Love how you set this up. Also reminds me (a little) of the Pixar short, but yours was darker, more realistic.
    Nicely done :)

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    1. Thanks, Lexie. I don't think I've seen the Pixar short you're referring to. Did they do a snow globe?

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    2. I looked it up it's called "Knick Knack" but I couldn't find a good version that was complete. It was a trailer for Toy Story 3 (I think). It's really cute but I prefer your story! :)

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    3. I'll try to pick up a copy of the video at the library. Not that it really matters. . . you've just made me curious. Besides, I love the Pixar shorts (better than the real movies).

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    4. I agree that sometimes they're better than the real movie! My favorite is Boundin'. Can't remember what movie it's a trailer for. It's just so dang clever and cute! :)

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  6. I loved this. I probably start all my comments of your flash fiction with 'I loved this'! I 'got' it after the mention of cataclysm, but that in no way detracted from the rest of the story.
    I'm joining in next week, btw - hope it lasts!

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    1. Joining in next week, as in on the Flash Fiction challenge? Chuck has a new one each Friday, but nothing to stop you using an old one. Maybe I should start a challenge of my own, with a focus more on kids' stories (though I enjoy making my FF pieces less age-specific. But, then, the Ninja Librarian isn't really all that age-speciific either, is it?).

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