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When did you last read or write #Flashfiction ? #WEP

flash fiction wep challenge

WEP fictionFlash fiction is not for fainthearted writers, and I’m writing this pretty much last minute. Posting this slapdashfic because I need to do something to make sure my wakeful hours tonight are pleasant, or at the very least, bearable. Not taking my writing seriously, engaging in play, is often the best relaxation.

In the last few weeks, I lost a dear one, traveled between a few towns and cities, took traumatic flights, but more about that in another post.

For now, here’s my stab at the WEP flash fiction challenge hosted by Write…Edit…Publish, written in a few minutes, with a kitchen timer on the counter.

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flash fiction wep challengeAlways with the goddamn whistling.

He tried to shut it out, but the tune that disturbed his childhood dreams  wouldn’t leave him alone. One long note, followed by two staccato breaths in quick succession, and then a drawn-out trill that could be a lullaby, or a warning.

He sat on the bedroom windowsill, feet dangling, kicking air. The breeze this high up felt like hands on his coat, swaying him one way, then the other. Or maybe it was the single malt. Or the whistling, the never-stopping-one-two-two of it, the way it seemed to be a sound and a beckoning, a taste of something old, an unwanted caress at the back of his neck. A push.

Lisa said he thought too much, she’d said that on their wedding day, and on many a day in the thirty years since.

He looked down at the toy cars far below, at the ant-like people in colorful gear and considered how he could make it all stop for just a second. No sound, no whistles, no scraping footsteps at his bedside at night. Lisa, though. What would Lisa do on the high white bed, when rainfall cast twisted shadows on the windowpanes? Would the whistling find her?

He leaned forward and Lisa’s perfume came to him, as if he were nuzzling her neck right before they left for a concert, or when she lay with her head on his arm, face curled into the sheets.

They said they’d buried her. That she had left, gone wherever people go, depending on what or who you believe. He believed no one, because they’d lied to him before. His mother had gone, but she’d never left. Each time he was swamped by his father’s whiskey-soaked tunes, she came to him, and stayed.

Now here was the tune again.

Lisa, Lisa. He whispered the name over and over, the two short syllables that had come to mean his days and contain his nights. He leaned out further and called to her, till he couldn’t hear the whistling, only the air swishing past, whizzing now, the throbbing at his temples, the flap and rustle of his coat, and the silence of the earth rushing up.


Any and all feedback welcome. This week I’ll be returning all the kind visits and comments I’ve received in the last two–please bear with me.

When did you last read or write flash fiction? How are you gearing up for Halloween? Have you heard of the WEP Flash Fiction challenge? Have you participated in one of the sessions?

I co-host the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post Fvourite Placethe last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.

This monthly event has brought smiles on the faces of a lot of participants and their audiences, and somewhat restored their faith in humanity. Here’s a sampler. Click here to know more. Sign up here and add your bit of cheer to the world on the next installment of October 26!

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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69 Comments

  • this was great! I don’t read a lot of flash fiction, well, some. But I found myself … whistling. Oh, mercy. And the MCs inability to overcome his horrible OCD bringing him to kill not just himself to end the agony. And I have heard someone absolutely agonize about something not too dissimilar, but it was clearing destroying her joy. The phrase ‘eat your heart out,’ had become a visual, one she couldn’t stop hearing in her head or seeing. So sad.

  • Sarada Gray says:

    I loved this. I like stories inspired by a picture

  • ksrikrishna says:

    Holy cow! Eminently relatable and scary – the image of the skyscraper only added to it. I think as Natalie Goldberg says, keeping your hand moving can make good fiction happen. Keep at it. Brava!

  • Tom Burton says:

    Fantastic story! So raw and emotional to read. You envelop the reader in a truly emotional scene with some stunning imagery of loss and heartbreak. Keep writing! 🙂

  • L M Dee says:

    I love flash fiction and this was a great example of such a piece 🙂

  • I’m catching up on reading your blog, Damyanti (as if you couldn’t tell). Excellent story. Lyrical foreshadowing, interesting POV, a lot of showing rather than telling me how to feel; I really believe I inhabited this melancholic character for a good while. I loved all the sensory details, too, especially in terms of the sounds. Bravo. I find flash fiction to be as difficult, if not more difficult, to write as short stories, honestly. And I’m an expert at neither!

  • Yeah, flash fiction is very hard. You did good for the short time you had to write it!

    I prefer reading shorter writings than novels, flash has more to offer me that something that takes a few weeks to read and ends in the same result.

    Sorry for your loss but I’m happy to see that you are able to channel it through some writing!

    Cameron

  • Yeah, that’d be annoying. Good story.

  • jlennidorner says:

    A really nice bit of flash fiction here. Glad you jumped in. Sounds like you’re having a rough go right now. I know how it is, sadly. But, at least, unlike the character here, I’m not haunted by ghosts. So that’s something, eh? Good work with the prompt.

  • Abhijit Ray says:

    The grief is expressed beautifully in such a short space. Great piece of writing.

  • What an emotionally wrenching read! Well done for capturing so much sadness in such a short piece. Especially something written quickly.

  • DG Hudson says:

    A sad flash, but well written, even if fast. For some it’s too much to exist after our heart’s love has gone for whatever reason. Grief can take over your life if you sink into it. Hope things improve in your life.

  • aj vosse says:

    To answer your question… I’ve just read flash fiction… and a powerful tale it was!
    Thanks for writing it… it’s got me on two levels… pondering your story and thinking about something I wrote a while ago… plunging toward the earth!

  • cleemckenzie says:

    In such a short piece you were able to pack in some poignant and heart-wrenching emotion. Excellent.

  • Yikes.
    My hat is off to those of you who can do flash fiction!

  • dgkaye says:

    Well done Damyanti! I’ve only recently hopped on to a few Flash challenges, but limited to 99 words. That’s a feat in itself, getting the whole story in by eliminating unnecessary words. 🙂 x

  • Such a beautifully written story. So sad, but his choices are understandable.

  • Oh! Great writing – emotional and poignant and scary.

  • Kaye Spencer says:

    Damyantig

    This piece of flash fiction was as beautiful as it was gut-wrenching. I felt his pain. I understood his grief. Well done. 😉

  • Pat Hatt says:

    Just wanting to make it stop can sure bring some to the brink. Some trauma never leaves.

  • A powerful, melancholic piece of writing. I’m glad to see you come back and share such a moving piece of flash fiction. Welcome back, Damyanti.

  • Over Soil says:

    Oh wow, I’ve not hears of flash fiction before, but as my adult son says “Every day is a school day”. Love the bit ‘… the silence of the earth rushing up.’ Thank you for sharing <3

  • Toi Thomas says:

    Kudos to you for writing such a powerful piece in the midst of all you have going on. I’m glad you decided to share this.

  • Very poignant. Who was haunting him, his mother?

  • Nilanjana Bose says:

    Doesn’t feel slapdash. The anguished tone is spot on, and superb imagery. Thanks for a lovely, poignant read. Great to see you at the WEP!

  • Hi Damyanti,

    You wrote this in a few minutes? I’m impressed. Evokes so much emotion. Such sadness. Poor tortured soul.

    Enjoyed the read!

  • Adura Ojo says:

    Literally died because death got to him and he felt his heart couldn’t live another day. You captured the anguish so well. Love the pace. Good use of the prompt too.

  • pjlazos says:

    Oh my, wow! That was really good. I’ve never written flash fiction. I guess I’m not that acquainted with brevity! :o)

  • Whatever the circumstances childhood trauma intrudes into the rest of a person’s life unannounced and constant. Some can suppress and lead a somewhat normal life, but sometimes the suppressed feelings can scream for resolution. Some find help from the medical profession in various pays and some seek other means to shut down those disruptive voices and cancel their inner pain.

  • Wow, your Flash Fiction brought me chills. Poor guy…

  • lgkeltner says:

    i’m sorry to hear you’ve been through such tumultuous times. I admire you for writing with everything going on.

    This story is powerful and haunting. I feel like it’s going to stick with me for a long while. Well done!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Laura. It is often in the hardest times that I reach for the keyboard.

  • DJ Cockburn says:

    I particularly like the detail of the two-tone note, that could be saying ‘come back’ or ‘jump’ or both. Really impressed that you wrote this to a time limit!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks so much. I pretty much write most of my stuff with a timer, so it has become second nature for me. Flash is easier to write this way, and then rewrite later.

  • Rebecca Douglass says:

    That’s a really evocative story. Moving and a little eerie, but really more the former.

    Good job getting something written in light of all the rest of life. I love the WEP, and really any challenge that gets me to writing whether I feel like it or not. This is my second WEP and I’m sold 🙂

    As for Halloween… I’m ignoring it.

  • Shirley Corder says:

    Sjoe! This is really moving. Well done on getting such a sense of emotion in such a short piece! Thankful Thursday Week 42

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    Wow this was such an excellent read. Absolutely loved it. You should write more. I love reading your fiction.
    I am sorry for your loss and hope that you feel better soon.

  • Jemima Pett says:

    Lovely, Damyanti.
    Keep in good spirits after all you’re been going through recently. Hugs
    Jemima

  • Beautiful, Damyanti!
    It’s written in your signature style that I’ve come to know and love! 🙂

    Please link your flash fiction to the WEP+IWSG badge that’s pinned to the top, over at the IWSG Facebook page, so that others can read your lovely work.
    Thank you!

  • Sad how depression can overwhelm. Your character is so well developed, his emotional state so vivid. Very well done Damyanti. I am sorry for all your sorrows over the last few months. I hope all gets better for you soon.

  • StuHN says:

    I’ve felt like this, off and on, over someone you and I know. This kind of did me in, emotionally. Great writing as I’d expect from you.

  • Denise Covey says:

    Hey Damyanti!

    First, thank you for posting and under such duress. I’m sorry for the turmoil in your life at the moment, I hope you’re reaching an equilibrium again. However sitting down to write a flash can prove cathartic. You’ve certainly nailed the emotion here – ‘He…considered how he could make it all stop for just a second. No sound, no whistles, no scraping footsteps at his bedside at night.’ Wow. You kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. And that ending,,,woo,,,who’s going to forget that?

    Thanks for posting to WEP. I’m glad we gave you a reason to sit down and write!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Denise. It’s been a tough few weeks.

      I don’t know if this one was cathartic, but it certainly felt satisfying to write–I don’t write much fiction on the site, but now I’m beginning to think: why not? It is just play, and perhaps a display of courage in hanging out a first draft in front of my blog friends.

      Over the years, I think I’ve become too careful with my writing. Slapdash is a good antidote, it takes away preciousness from writing. All we need is a few good sentences, and a good story, right? Thanks for letting me play!

  • rolandclarke says:

    Shocking as it built to its crashing climax. I admire the fact that this was written in a few minutes – impressed.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Roland. This is how I write most of my work, in short bursts, and then, a lot of rewriting. There wasn’t any rewriting in this one, nor tweaking (other than trying to catch all the typos).

  • This piece is heart-wrenching and beautifully written. For you to churn something this powerful out while a timer ticks beside you absolutely boggles my mind. Great job!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Susan, I practice timed writing a lot. I may not always produce quality, but I do create fodder for rewriting.

      Glad you liked this one–it can be tweaked and improved, and maybe I will. Now that it is up on this blog, no magazine will want it–but not all of my work is for magazines, or even for readers 🙂

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – beautifully written … sadly so true – I just hope happiness is reached when it all ends.

    I’m sorry to read about the grief you are experiencing from the loss of a loved one – with thoughts to you and the family … take care – Hilary

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I lost my grandma, Hilary, she was in her nineties–the grief is more at the passing away of a way of life and an institution. I don’t think I’d ever be able to live up to my grandparents.

      • hilarymb says:

        Hi Damyanti – it’s always a shock … I don’t really remember mine and didn’t spend too much time with my Ma’s mother, my father’s mother died when I was too young … but I’m sure your grandmother was inspirational to you (as you so clearly imply) and to the family … my heartfelt sadness for you … and yes we all have our own ways of embracing life and giving of our best … you do – so take heart and I just wish you peace as you adjust and think – they live on with us … big hugs xoxo

  • Oh the pain. The pain and the longing.
    Grief is SUCH a powerful force.

  • Olga Godim says:

    What a beautiful and tragic love story. So much emotional truth in so short a piece.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Olga. Emotional truth is what I seek when I write, so I’m glad you sensed it in this writing exercise.

  • Jemi Fraser says:

    Heart-breaking & beautiful! You have such a lovely way with words!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      You’re so kind, Jemi. This was just a quick writing exercise, thanks to Denise and Yolanda’s excellent event!

  • Esha M Dutta says:

    I could sense your character’s confusion and pain both, at once and very intensely! Beautifully written piece. Haven’t written in a long time, but love to read one, any day.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Esha. I Just wanted to write a piece about whistling, to go with deja vu’. This character and his suffering appeared by themselves on the page, and I just let them be–that’s my job as a writer, I find, letting characters appear as they will, and do their thing.

      This was a sort of quick writing exercise–most real writing comes through rewriting, imo. Hope you write again soon.

  • cath says:

    Such a powerful flash, quite heart-wrenching.

  • Grief is a deep well, a darkness with no light. His solution truly horrific.
    Flash fiction is one of my writing loves.
    Happy Halloween!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks Yolanda for visiting, and for organising this challenge. Sorry I haven’t been able to participate before. Flash is my playtime writing, and I enjoyed writing this one. Happy Halloween!

  • This is so well written, yet so intense and so sad!

    Flash fiction is actually something I do regularly!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Adelaide. Will hop across to check your flash fiction.

  • I wanted to stop in between………………(Because I am alone at home) but couldn’t.
    Damyanti, I think this will remain with me for long….

    alifelessordinarywithsaurabhavna.com/2018/10/17/finding-missing-pieces-of-my-love-on-a-blind-date-with-the-world/

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Bhavna. And I’m sorry if your time alone was disturbed in any way by this piece. Will check your blog for the posts I missed in the past two weeks.

  • How sad. I wouldn’t want to be in his place.

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