By Liz Betz

It is inspirational to me when I learn of a story’s background. What was the story seed? How were the challenges met? These three flash fiction stories include my author notes which allow a peek into my process, inspiration and decisions.

Learning

They say, when you stop learning you start dying. I’ve declined the golf lessons my wife wants me to take but I’m still not dead.
Miriam says I am. She says; Oscar you’re dead. You do nothing but sit in front of the television.
It’s the finals! I want to watch them.
She says I’m driving her out of her mind.
I’ve worked hard, given us a good living. We’ve been able to retire. I’ve earned the right to relax and unlike her, I’m not interested in lessons or classes.
Maybe she can learn something there, if she wants.

*Author Notes – The subject of retirement is one that my peer group tosses around often, and communication between spouses is a rich source for story conflict. The story opens with quote from the infamous ‘they’ and runs with it to the slightly twisted end. This story gives a flavor of the little bickers that can arise between long-married. Technical note; while there seems to be dialogue, I did not use quotations. The story is a narration from Oscar, a sort of gossipy rendition of his situation.

Property Lines

The police deliver an ultimatum. Either mediation or being charged with theft. They give me a ride, detour past the police station, to show me they mean business.
The mediator has a workbook filled with discussion suggestions. Inside there should be the proverb about how it’s better to beg forgiveness than to seek permission. Maybe it offers some assistance about brothers who have the wrong impression; because my brother is on a mission to scare me straight. I borrowed his truck; he knows perfectly well I wasn’t stealing it.
I’m not heading toward a life of crime and deception. Not me.

*Author’s notes – This story is of brothers who have different standards and values. It seems the ‘borrowing’ brother is disrespectful of the ‘owning’ brother who is losing patience but still trying to help. However, nobody can rescue someone who doesn’t see the need; the story offers the reader a glimpse of the denial involved. The entire story is expressed with phrasing that reflects the problem brother’s world view. The use of mediation and then mediator is a transitional method I used to overcome the change of location within the story.

Ouch

The end of our friendship comes by text. I read it twice. Your flaws are too many. You are too much work.
What about her? You… before I reply, I put the phone down. I make tea instead of pouring a drink. My countless flaws? I’m weak. If only I had been more courageous. I’m evasive; I could have said what she wanted to hear. She’s texted the truth. Her case is solid.
The bitter reality? I’m on her side. (But she’s not on mine.) I’d be at her side. (She doesn’t want that.) Respond to the message? There’s no rebuttal.

Author’s Notes – One of the unfortunate facts of these times is that people do end relationships via text. This character might not be extremely self-aware but when things are pointed out, they are willing to consider the evidence. All but the first paragraph is meant to be a dialogue between self and self. The method I chose to convey this is via parenthesis, but italics would have been equally effective.

About Liz Betz

Liz Betz is a retired rancher who loves to write fiction. Her pastime seems to help her days go by, her brain to stay active and sometimes keeps her out of trouble. An overactive imagination is a wonderful thing to harness, but left alone…Her publication credits are many and varied as she explores the fictional world of mostly somewhat older but not necessarily mature characters.