The Space Between

“It’s what I call the sound of the string before it’s plucked, or the sight of perfect darkness before the switch is flicked,” the man said to me.  His son nodded and strummed a few notes as I scribbled in my notebook.
“Kinda like looking for the place you were before you were born, maybe the place you’ll go after you die,” the man added as he picked up his guitar.  “Know what I mean?”
Without waiting for my response the two men looked at each other for a moment, paused, and launched into song.

———-

I’ve passed the test…now I’m a doctoral candidate.  This has some big repercussions: my wife getting her husband back, me not getting kicked out of school…but most importantly, I can rejoin Friday Fictioneers!  Frantically studying seismology is not amenable to flash fiction writing.  Anyway…Every Friday, writers from all around the world write 100 word (or thereabouts) flash fiction based on a photo posted that Wednesday on Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog.

I welcome constructive criticism; without it I cannot grow as a writer.  The weekly photo that inspired this story is below:

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GeRoNiMo #Friday Fictioneers

Walk onto the set at 7 AM with two hours of sleep and my breath’s doing the Bacardi family proud.  Fist bump with the cameraman, swipe the stubble with an electric razor and man when I hear ACTION I am IN ACTION.  They got me playing this guy GeRoNiMo.  It’s a pretty intense.
Going through a hard time?  Yeah, it’s been tough.  Imagine looking in the mirror and seeing GeRoNiMo staring back at you and he’s smiling even though you know you’re not.  You’ll see what I mean when the show comes out.

———-

Spring’s finally come!  Thought it never would.  Anyway…Every Friday, writers from all around the world write 100 word (or thereabouts) flash fiction based on a photo posted that Wednesday on Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog.

I welcome constructive criticism; without it I cannot grow as a writer.  The weekly photo that inspired this story is below:

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Fragments of Time #Friday Fictioneers

“Can’t quite reach it-wait-okay, got it,” he said.
He held up the dripping, mossy bottle for her to look at.
“Gross,” she said.
He picked at the cork until it crumbled.  A roll of paper fell out of the bottle.  Something else was wrapped up inside, but he caught it before she could see.
He looked down in surprise.  A ring, glittering in the palm of his hand.
“This bottle’s been at sea for over a hundred years, can you believe it? And, by the way, can I ask you something?”

———-

Spring break…time to get the soldering gun and teh codez out and get some stuff done.  See, spring break for a grad student doesn’t mean vacation – it means more time to do research!  If only it could be spring break all of the time.  Anyway…Every Friday, writers from all around the world write 100 word (or thereabouts) flash fiction based on a photo posted that Wednesday on Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog.

I welcome constructive criticism; without it I cannot grow as a writer.  The weekly photo that inspired this story is below:

I have a confession to make.  The title of the story is inspired by a Daft Punk song called Fragments of Time:

I do love their new album.

 

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The Sleeper #Friday Fictioneers

I left him sitting in the lawn chair in front of his little yellow tent.
“You sure about this?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he replied.  “I’ll switch the data loggers and leave tomorrow morning.”
The ground shivered.  I looked back.
“Seriously, it’s okay.”
I climbed out of the crater, a little puff of ash spurting up with every step.  Hit the rickety little bar in Endulen that night, watched the dim cone against the stars.  A few hours went by, a few more beers went down.  My eyelids fluttered, closed; the mountain and I slept soundly through one more night.

———-

I’m back!  Life’s been moving fast but I’m gonna slow down a bit and keep up the fiction.  Plus, I couldn’t resist writing a story based on a photo I took!  Below the picture, I’ll comment on both that picture and the sense of tragedy in the story, because it’s based on a real incident.  Anyway…Every Friday, writers from all around the world write 100 word (or thereabouts) flash fiction based on a photo posted that Wednesday on Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog.

I welcome constructive criticism; without it I cannot grow as a writer.  The weekly photo that inspired this story is below:

The active crater of Ol Doinyo Lengai in September 2006. Released into the public domain under the Creative Commons with Attribution license by the author (me).

Okay, so, the backstory.  I organized an expedition to Ol Doinyo Lengai while studying abroad in Tanzania.  I convinced nine other students to go with me to this incredible volcano, the only one of its kind currently active on Earth.   The lava’s got the chemistry of laundry detergent, and dissolves in water.  Unfortunately no activity was going on when we were there, but about a year later it exploded, burying our old campsite in ash.  Anyway, there was some nice floor heating in the tent from the gas vents and occasionally there’d be a deep, almost inaudible sound from the depths – you feel the more in your chest then hear with your ears.  I mean, I was convinced before, but I knew now – this is what I want to do with my life.

I'm gonna be a volcanologist someday.

I’m gonna be a volcanologist someday.

So here’s what the mountain looked like when we visited (our campsite is by the crater rim on the left edge of the picture):

Lengai in September 2006.  Photo copyright Jeannie Coffin.

Lengai in September 2006. Photo copyright Jeannie Coffin.

Here it is about a year later after a series of violent explosions:

P1020721

There are three reasons why I wrote an ominous story.  For one, volcanoes are dangerous, of course, and any work on them entails risks. Second, one of the students on my expedition died in Afghanistan a month ago due to a suicide bomber.  Third, the prompt reminded me of David Jonston, one of the victims of Mt. St. Helens on May 18, 1980.  He agreed to stay in place of a fellow grad student at an observatory about 7 miles from the volcano for the night of the 17th and the 18th.

David Johnston, thirteen hours before his death.

However, instead of erupting straight up, the volcano erupted sideways.  I have stood on the ridge where he was camping.  It is stripped to bare rock.

Every volcanologist knows Dave’s last words by heart – listen to them here:

I keep the photo below on the background of my computer.  It keeps me mindful of how fragile we are in the face of nature.

Mt. St. Helens the day before it exploded. Everything in the foreground was wiped off the face of the Earth.

 

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The Cup #Friday Fictioneers

“Here it is,” she said.  “My studio.”
He followed her in and looked around.  One little lamp at the far end casting conic sections against the blank white walls – parabolas of light.  He glanced at the table in the center of the room.  Bare except for a glass of sangria.  Little beads of dew chasing themselves down the smooth cold curve.
“What’s this?”
“In case you want to stay for a while,” she replied.
She took a pitcher from the fridge, set it on the table.
It’s okay, he said to himself.  I’ve waited long enough.

———-

I’m back!  Last week, I was preparing for a big exam.  This week, I’m stuck in the house due to the Great North Carolina Snowpocalypse.  Anyway…Every Friday, writers from all around the world write 100 word (or thereabouts) flash fiction based on a photo posted that Wednesday on Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog.

I welcome constructive criticism; without it I cannot grow as a writer.  The weekly photo that inspired this story is below:

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Sunrise Before Midnight #Friday Fictioneers

“Missiles over the Atlantic.  Headed this way.  You gonna do this or not?” I asked myself.
The door was locked but I knew the code.  The commander was on the other side.
“Turn around.  Hands up,” I said.
He looked over his shoulder.  “Six warheads are armed and ready to fly.  Put down your weapon.”
His hand slipped towards the holster on his belt. “Who are you, anyway?
“The janitor.  Night shift,” I said, and shot him.
Way I see it, one life here’s worth a couple million over there.

———-

The photo below reminded me of a nuclear explosion for some reason.  Anyway…Every Friday, writers from all around the world write 100 word (or thereabouts) flash fiction based on a photo posted that Wednesday on Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog.

I welcome constructive criticism; without it I cannot grow as a writer.  The weekly photo that inspired this story is below:

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Mountain, Come Down #Friday Fictioneers

“Turn around and leave the key in the ignition.  We might need to leave in a hurry.” I told her.
Her eyes widened.
“You can stay in the car if you want.”
“No, I’m okay,” she said, and we walked up to the door together.
I knocked.  The door opened.  A man peered out.
“Yeah?  What’s up, kid?”
“The evacuation zone’s been extended,” I said.
The man glanced at the mountain at the head of the valley.
“When’s it gonna happen?” he asked.
“Anytime, now.”
He nodded.  “Thanks for letting me know.”

———-

What I study has become my subject for fiction today, since I’m nostril deep in volcanoes and earthquakes!  The semester has begun, and soon I’m sure I’ll be seeing differential equations in my sleep.  Again.  Anyway…Every Friday, writers from all around the world write 100 word (or thereabouts) flash fiction based on a photo posted that Wednesday on Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog.

I welcome constructive criticism; without it I cannot grow as a writer.  The weekly photo that inspired this story is below:

 

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