Flash Fiction 202
for my friend Jess who likes the music
Frank had a hard time finding anything he was passionate about for the mid-term exam in Public Speaking 101. Everyone had to give a 5 minute speech about ‘something you’re passionate about’ and nothing came to his mind. It was disconcerting. Finally he came up with “How Frightening the World Is”, not because it was something he felt passionate about, exactly, but because he was truly bewildered. He figured if the point of it was to humiliate himself in front of the class then that was probably good enough. He also figured that if he humiliated himself enough he would probably get a decent grade, something for his valorous effort.
Afterwards sitting in the cafeteria with Rachel, quietly eating his pizza, he thought ‘that was even worse than I thought it would be’. She gave him a sideways glance over the lip of her Whataburger cup, lowered it and said, “You did really good.”
”I did?” said Frank.
”Yeah, you were passionate.”
”I was confused.”
”Well. It’s close to the same thing.”
”Are you confused about us?”
”Don’t be. I love you very much.”
”Yeah but what does that mean? Is that an arrangement?”
”Yeah pretty much.”
”Like a flower setting. Oh God.”
Ananda and Kapoor joined them at the table with their food trays. Ananda had spaghetti and a drink, Kapoor had a pastry with orange juice and a plate of rice with stir fry vegetables.
”I thought you were really good.” said Kapoor, “You were passionate.” Everybody laughed at the comment.
“And the world is full of worlds,” quoted Kapoor trying to sound like Frank. “So you either stay home like a hermit in your little world with your little light or you wander out in the world full of people and the people are full of their world.”
“Yeah, it was brilliant.” said Rachel.
”And maybe you enter into someone else’s world.” continued Kapoor, “an unknown and unknowable world. And then after awhile you leave and wander back into the forest of worlds and you discover that the trail of bread crumbs you left to get back home was eaten by the birds and you are lost in the forest of trees of the worlds of unknown and unknowable worlds.”
”Yeah”, interjected Ananda, “and then you find yourself in your own little world looking out at the worlds.”
”Pretty much.” said Frank.
“What about yours?” said Rachel, turning to look at Kapoor.
”It was about rocks.” said Ananda.
”Yeah, how rocks can save the world. That was like hilarious.” rejoined Rachel.
”Thank you.” responded Kapoor. “I couldn’t come up with anything to be passionate about so I just thought I’d be, you know, hilarious.”
”I like how there are different kinds of rocks.” said Rachel, “They do different kinds of things, like you know rocks on the seashore that overlook the cliff. And, you know, rocks in your backyard that sort of . . . or in the garden.”
”Yeah and they all have a specific job to do . . .” Kapoor.
”Like overlook the garden or the seashore.” said Rachel and laughed.
“Dr. A, hey. How’s it going.” said Frank.
”My favorite students!” said Dr. A, “Excellent work, all of you, on the mid-term. I try to make it so the instructions elicit a response, not necessarily ironclad rules about how to do it. You caught the spirit of the thing.”
“We got you Dr. A.” said Ananada.
Everyone laughed at this and Dr. A wandered off to find those of his own ilk to sit with and to talk.
Flash fiction is literature. It has all the parts. Words that mean something. And even though it’s brief, it contains a story. A story is something where you learn something. What happens teaches you something. That’s literature.
In Frank’s case, he’s learning that everybody lives in their own personal world and he does too and sometimes they visit each other, sort of enter each other, sort of like osmosis maybe even endosymbiosis. Biology is his favorite subject. He doesn’t know what he wants to be though.
It surprises him and dismays him to discover that everyone lives in their own personal bubble. This new found knowledge has caused some fundamental shift in his thinking to occur. Maybe something like growing up is happening to him and he’s becoming a different person. He feels more aware but also more anxious, maybe uncertain is a better term.
He doesn’t know what to do with this new feeling. Should he accept it as part of life, part of the process of becoming an adult? Or should he fight it off? Retain his previous and familiar self? I don’t know if that all comes thru in the flash fiction but that’s why he says he’s bewildered. C’mon people pay attention!
Exegesis is a time honored tradition. All the religions do it. They have separate books bigger than the original book that holds the exegesis. Anyways in literature you can do it because you’re supposed to break down the story into bite sized bits and swallow that. A story is different for everybody. Same for movies, right?
If you see a good movie and you’re talking with your friends about it, each person has a different perspective and each person had a different experience watching it. That’s exegesis too,
Anyways, we all live in separate bubbles according to Frank and we all live in a giant pregnant Mother Earth according to Rachel and we all interpret the world in our own way according to Rohn. That would be the theme of this post I suppose. I had no idea what it was when I started writing.
Of course it’s entirely up to your discretion what this post is about. I might have missed it completely while you were experiencing some epiphany about diversity in education or something.
“The world of worlds.” said Ananda, is that how you really think?”
“Pretty much.” said Frank.
“ In India people believe that worlds are nestled inside each other, like infinitely. Like Men in Black.” said Ananda, “Infinitely small and infinitely large.”
“I find that terrifying.” responded Frank.
“Why.” replied Ananda “You are only in one world at a time.”
“I’m not sure I want to be in any worlds.” said Frank.
“You’ve got to be somewhere.” responded Ananda.
“I think the world is round because it contains everybody. Like a pregnant Mother Nature.” said Rachel, “I saw this picture on Facebook of a pregnant Mother Nature in the form of a big green planet and she was all happy and jolly sort of giving birth to everything, including humans. I think that’s what I believe.”
“That’s hilarious.” rejoined Kapoor. “I would like to see that picture.”
“It’s on Facebook somewhere.” said Rachel.
“Is Facebook searchable?” inquired Kapoor.
“I think so.” said Frank
“No, it’s not.” said Ananda.
“It’s searchable, in that certain elements can be grouped in a data set and then the search parameters of the data set can be made available to other users on a tool bar or a function button.” said Daniel.
“Hey Daniel. Whaddup Brudah!” Kapoor.
A tall lanky guy in a cowboy shirt and blue jeans positioned himself to slide into the picnic table style table that the cafeteria offered. Once ensconced he pronounced, “Hi.”
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