Brevity is the Soul of Wit: Whipping up a Flash Fiction Collection

By Maryann Henck

Flash fic­tion is not only a fun and quick read, but also a fun and not-always-so-quick write. The key is to cre­ate a suc­cinct sto­ry – rang­ing from 250 to 1000 words – that prefer­ably focus­es on one spe­cif­ic char­ac­ter and ends with a twist or epiphany for the char­ac­ter in ques­tion. In my cre­ative writ­ing sem­i­nar, “A Way with Words – Away with Words,” Rebec­ca rose to the flash-fic­tion chal­lenge and com­posed a three-piece col­lec­tion enti­tled The French Con­nec­tion – an homage to the art­sy and quirky char­ac­ters that pop­u­late the Parisian land­scape. The first instal­ment, “Belle Époque,” recounts the mus­ings of a some­body from a small town who always dreamed of mak­ing it big.

Belle Époque

By Rebec­ca Lüps

“I could’ve been some­body, you know,” Miss Pat­ty says. “But wait, I am somebody.”

She sways through the stu­dio, accom­pa­nied by the creak­ing sound of the wood­en floor­boards. One hand akim­bo, the oth­er one wav­ing her quel­lazaire like a mag­ic wand. She knows how to cre­ate a cat­walk out of nowhere. With a swoosh she turns around, her taffe­ta gown swirls and sucks you in like a whirlpool of octo­pus ink.

“I was beau­ti­ful, I was tal­ent­ed, sit­ting in a hick town where I could already see all of my poten­tial fade away. Just like the let­ter­ing of my father’s hard­ware store.” She takes a deep drag.

“The world was wait­ing for me, but I knew it wouldn’t wait for­ev­er. I knew I couldn’t make it on my own in the big city. And to leave home only to return because I didn’t make it? Over my dead body!” Her nos­trils flut­ter as she exhales deeply with her eyes closed, show­ing her per­fect­ly drawn eye­lin­er, ful­ly aware that all eyes are on her.

“I need­ed to be dis­cov­ered. And God knows, I knew how to turn a man’s head around. So when I heard a tal­ent scout was in town, I seized my chance.” Her eyes twin­kling, her deep voice purring.

“See that pic­ture over there?” She points to a framed pho­to­graph on the wall, and even though she tries to play it cool, pride swells in her voice.

“I made that dress myself. Took for­ev­er, and my friend Lizzy had to sew me into it. But it was worth all the effort. I met hus­band num­ber 1 that night. I was singing ‘Get Hap­py’ by Judy Gar­land. Ah, sweet mem­o­ries… but of course, he didn’t get hap­py right away girls! And mark my words, if you want to get hap­py your­selves, he nev­er will!”

It feels like she has sud­den­ly wok­en up out of a day­dream, her eye­brows raised, the look on her face like that of a lioness watch­ing her off­spring care­ful­ly, with slight concern.

“How did we get to this? Oh right, Shirley asked if I always want­ed to be a dance instruc­tor.” A pause, a drag, a smile.

“Oh dar­ling – I always was what I want­ed to be.”

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Car­la Rebec­ca Lüps is a busi­ness stu­dent at Leuphana Uni­ver­si­ty, Lüneb­urg. She likes to take cours­es that focus on ecol­o­gy, sus­tain­abil­i­ty, and for­eign lan­guages. When she’s not at the uni­ver­si­ty, you can prob­a­bly find her in her nat­ur­al habi­tat (the cof­fee shop), or out­side enjoy­ing a game of table tennis.