By Liz Betz

This group of flash fiction stories have ‘one’ thing in common. They are stories that mainly feature one person. Something happens to this one person and because of that a change occurs. In the first story, all it takes is a look for the protagonist to become defensive.

Change Unwanted

The librarian scans my book – a ‘Meals for One’ cookbook and I see her give me the look of sympathy. Next, she will point out the library programs. She’ll tell me that not only will I learn about genealogy or knitting, I will have an opportunity to meet people! I won’t argue, but I believe shallow socializing is highly over-rated.
Just once, I’d like someone to ask me about my secret for enjoying my own company. I know I’m different but I’m still okay.
If there were a book with that title, I’d buy it for the library.

Author notes – A prediction, based perhaps on past events and a secret wish reveals much about the character. The quite generic book title in the first sentence orients the reader to the story problem; the italics imply an ongoing conflict for the protagonist.

The Apple Stand

The bag of a dozen apples only contains ten. I know I should take them back and complain. I’ve been shortchanged. Another part of me scoffs; for two apples? Who are you, the apple morality squad?
It wouldn’t be hard to do. I can turn around and walk back to their fruit stand right now. Or. I never buy from them again. Let my boycott tell them my dissatisfaction.
I bet they took one look and knew I could be fooled. Like always.
No. That’s crazy thinking.
I’ll just say that I’m short two apples. Simple.

Author notes – In this story the internal dilemma is that of a disgruntled customer. The dialogue, which I point out in the story, is between self and ‘another part of me,’ and as such requires no quotation marks. While the ending- a one-word sentence – implies a resolution but there is some ambiguity as well. The title serves as a clue to the setting and a hint to the story’s meaning.

Secret Revealed

“Congratulations, you have won a consultation.” The heavily accented voice says they’re calling from The Astrology Center of Montreal, Quebec.
“Where?”
“The Astrology Center. I will transfer you for your personalized session.”
“Thank you but I am not interested.”
I hung up as I do with these types of calls, but the incident lingered in my mind. How unusual, how bizarre. Perhaps I have just turned down a mystic message, a prediction. Then I see the phone display; the call originated in Oregon. They weren’t at all honest; just another scammer that I just know would ask for money or information.
But I wanted it to be real. That’s a newly discovered secret.

Author notes – This is one of those ‘from life’ stories. I did get this phone call, but had to put on my writer’s cap to give it story logic. ‘Heavily accented voice’ heightened the sense of strange event, as did the locations I chose, just in case the Astrological Center wasn’t odd enough. I took extra pains to not repeat words although the ideas were very similar – consultation or personalized session. Same idea behind the use of prediction, message, and secret. The occasional repeat of a word is not noticeable in longer fiction but in flash fiction, unintentional repetition shows a lack of polish.

About the author:

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.