Tag Archives: Flash fiction

Why Do You Want to Work Here? Writing Micro-Memoir

The Writer online magazine had a Micro-Memoir contest a while back. The idea was to write a 200 word memoir inspired by an object that holds meaning for you. I was too late to enter the contest, but I wrote one anyway. You might want to try this writing exercise. The article was written by Beth Ann Fennelly, who was inspired by a workshop on writing short fiction taught by Leslie Jamison. You can read about it here:

https://www.writermag.com/2017/07/06/micro-memoir-contest/

The object I chose to write about? A job application. The old fashioned paper kind, not the ones you fill out online. And I made mine a combo of fiction/nonfiction, so it’s not exactly a memoir.

Why Do You Want to Work Here?

Copyright © 

2017  by Sara Jacobelli

I filled out my first job application when I was nine. Mom brought home two, in case I messed up the first one.

“Mr. Cappizotto grabbed me in the elevator today.” She lit a Lucky Strike.

“Ole Onion Breath.  You gonna tell Poppy?”

“Jake’ll kill him and go to prison.” She opened the refrigerator and stared at the scant contents. “Grab a can of tuna and the opener. Fill this out. For the dry cleaners.”

The application reminded me of a giant blinking eye. Who are you? Are you good enough to work here? Name, phone number, address. “What job did you have before Levitt’s Store?”

“Waitress. White’s Diner.” She opened the can, slopped tuna in a bowl.

I completed the application, using that Big Imagination everyone said I had. She got the job. A few weeks later Poppy got fired from the restaurant for punching a customer. He brought me a stack of applications and I filled them out, ignoring my homework, listening to the radio. My brother Nicky handed me his application for a cashier’s job at Food Fair. I made them all sound like glowing job prospects.  I learned the power of the written word.

*****

 

 

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Rafael with the Green Eyes

This flash fiction piece was inspired by a writing prompt from the online journal, Typishly. Start your story with the first sentence, “She lived in a dented silver trailer.”

And, it’s freezing here in New Orleans, I watched a Law and Order SVU Baby it’s Cold Outside Marathon, and I’m procrastinating on some of my other writing projects. 

Check out Typishly, you might want to try some of their writing prompts:

http://typishly.com/

Fiction Copyright © 2017 by Sara Jacobelli

Rafael with the Green Eyes

She lived in a dented silver trailer. Mom found the trailer for rent in the classifieds section of the free weekly paper. Insisted Bernice move in. The rent was cheap; Bernice’s SSI checks would cover the rent and utilities. Food stamps would take care of groceries. I paid her cable and internet bill. Figured the TV and computer would calm her down.  Mom was happy with her cats and her shaggy dog and her library books and her volunteer work and didn’t want Bernice living with her. Bernice with her temper. Her odd ways. Smoking and staring at the wall.

It was my sisterly duty to visit once a week, bring her Chinese for lunch. Bernice never liked going to restaurants, rooms full of people made her nervous.

She had the TV on with the sound off and sat typing furiously on her laptop. She was wearing her purple bathrobe.  I plopped the cartons of food on the cluttered kitchen table.

“You hungry?”

She lit a cigarette. “I gotta finish this. He answered my tweet.”

“Who? What?”

“Rafael. From the TV show. The one with the green eyes.”

“Bernice. You do know those famous people don’t answer their own tweets? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all that crap. They pay people to do that. Secretaries or college students, interns. They don’t answer the five million tweets they get from lovesick fans.” I rooted around in the kitchen, looking for clean plates. “You taking your meds?”

She kept typing. “Not true. He answered me. I think I’ll visit him.” She stopped typing and took a deep breath. She closed her eyes. She was counting.  One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Some trick one of her counselors taught her.

“Just fucking eat something. Do you want the chopsticks or the fork?”

She stubbed out her cigarette, grabbed a dirty fork from the sink and ate her Kung Pao Shrimp straight from the carton.  “I’m going to Los Angeles. To meet him, in person. We have.” She closed her eyes for a few seconds. “We have a connection.”

“Right. A connection with some guy on TV, who’s playing a CHARACTER, he’s ACTING. You’re going to LA with no money—to stalk some poor fucking guy. And get arrested. Remember the LAST TIME you thought you had a fucking connection with someone?”

She grabbed the remote and turned the sound on. “You have to go now. The Law and Order marathon is starting.

“That’s the guy? The one who plays the DA?”

“His name’s Rafael.” Bernice closed her eyes. Counting again. “He answered my tweet. We. Have. A. Connection.”

“Yeah. Sure.”

She opened her eyes, ran her fingers through her hair. She still had that thick shiny red hair, red with natural blonde highlights. When we were kids, she was the pretty one. The smart one. The best speller. The best singer. The best swimmer. The fastest runner. I used to kneel by my bed at night, praying that one day, everyone would like me more than Bernice. When we started high school she changed. Something happened.

I touched her hair. I was the only one who could still touch her. “I don’t think you should go to Los Angeles. I think you should leave this man alone. This man has his own life. Just leave him alone. OK? Bernie? Agreed?”

“I’ll talk to you during the commercial.”

“I gotta admit. He’s kinda cute.”

“Isn’t he? That voice. And those eyes. Those green eyes.”

*****

 

 

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One-Sentence Stories: An Anthology of Stories Written in a Single Sentence

Author/Editor Val Dumond is putting together a second book of One-Sentence Stories. Book One is available on Amazon.com as a print or ebook, or you can buy a copy directly from me. (I have a few author copies).

https://tinyurl.com/ybhqnvvs

I have two stories in the first book and two stories in the second book. If you are interested in submitting to Book Two, here are the editor’s guidelines:  (The Deadline is January 31st, 2018).

CHALLENGE TO WRITERS

When the novel writing slows down to a dead stop, take a few minutes and word-doodle. You heard me — but do it by telling a story in one v-e-r-y long sentence, which is a kind of word-doodle. It’s fun, it’s diverting, it’s FREE.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Muddy Puddle Press is seeking submissions from writers of one-sentence stories for Book #2, One-Sentence Stories to be published in the spring (2018). Guidelines are minimal, and all stories will be vetted to ensure they are followed.

•     Submissions are to be more than 200 words and fewer than 2000. Limit two (2) per author.      Each must tell a story (fact, fiction, funny, serious, on any subject as long as it is your story.        Submit stories to muddypuddle@live.com.

•     Do not use vulgar or crude language. (An occasional “drat” or even

“damn” may be acceptable.)

•     Do not use periods or semi-colons. Do not use excessive dashes.

•     Each author of an accepted story will receive a complimentary copy.

•     Rights to each story remain with the author, who has permission to re-publish it.

Authors may request permission to re-publish stories of other authors.

•     The book will be copyrighted by Muddy Puddle Press, with royalties going to the publisher.

Royalties of more than $2000 will go to support a writers group.

•     Authors will have the right to buy extra copies of the book at an author discount.

•     Deadline is midnight, January 31, 2018, with publication in Spring 2018.

There is NO $$$ cost to you other than your time and effort. PLUS — you’ll receive a complimentary copy of the book and have an opportunity to suggest ideas for it.

Do you know how to construct a sentence? Will you dare to reject your English teacher’s advice about run-on sentences? Can you fine-tune your story to follow the guidelines outlined here?

Try it! And have fun!

You’ll return to your novel relaxed, energized, inspired, and ready to move ahead.

 

Val Dumond

 

More clues & examples

at www.valdumond.com

Muddy Puddle Press

P O Box 97124

Lakewood WA 98497

muddypuddle@live.com

 

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Hear my stories on WRBH Radio 88.3 FM!

I’m reading three pieces: short stories/flash fiction, on WRBH Radio. This is a new weekly program called Figure of Speech. It features local authors reading their work—or the work of writers who have inspired them.  The stories I chose to read are all stories I wrote that were inspired by my experiences in the French Quarter in the late 70s, early 80s. (And they are fiction, fiction, I say fiction!)

It’s on FM radio, 88.3.

http://www.wrbh.org/

First airing is Saturday, December 9th, 3:00-3:30 pm.

An encore airing is on Monday, December 11th, 9:00-9:30 pm.

I can also send you the link so you can listen at your leisure!

If you are not in New Orleans, you can listen to this station through the internet.

WRBH is a radio station dedicated to people who are blind, visually impaired or literary impaired. However, a lot of sighted people listen to it as well: They offer many interesting programs, including book reviews, the newspaper, fiction and nonfiction books.

Photo Credit: “Radio-Vintage,” Pixabay Copyright-free images.

https://pixabay.com/en/radio-vintage-ancient-rustico-wood-2967677/

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One-Sentence Stories

I have two stories in this anthology published by Muddy Puddle Press, compiled and edited by Val Dumond, who also wrote the introduction: “Make Your Pet a Celebrity” and “Dear Mr. Lucarelli.” You can purchase a copy on Amazon.com,

https://tinyurl.com/n2a68ux

You can also buy a copy directly from me for $15.  Just email:

sarajacobelli at hotmail dot come

The stories are by forty-three different authors, and range from 101 words to 1531  words. The catch is that all the stories are just one sentence. These stories composed of run-on sentences are fun to write and fun to read. She’s going to publish more of these, so if you are interested in contributing to the next one, go to Val Dumond’s website: http://www.valdumond.com/

 

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What Do You Want To Be?

cabin-in-woods

Fiction       Copyright © 2016 by Sara Jacobelli

Jim didn’t want to come see the cabin where they found him. Said he’d rather keep his memories.  But I had to. One of those things you have to do in life. I figured once I see it, it’ll be like closing a door. Time to move on.

This place is smaller than I expected. Never been in a place in the woods like this before. Never seen nothing like it. There’s a few things left here that are his. I’m not going to take nothing.

I never knew why he did it. Killed all those people. He was a happy, fat baby. Dark wavy hair. When he was born Mama said, “I don’t like the eyes.’ But she always said stuff like that. We just laughed it off. When he was born, I just remember feeling tired. When you have your fourth baby it’s not that exciting, believe you me. It might be exciting for those cute movie stars with nannies, they have all these babies and keep their slim and trim figures and the nannies do all the work while they run around skiing and sailboating and going to parties. Sounds nice. But for me, one baby after another was no big thrill. I’d get a few beers in me and tell Jim, “Hey, call Father Riley and tell him to come babysit these brats. It’s cuz a him we got all these kids.”

He seemed OK as a little boy. Quiet. Different from his brothers and sisters, that’s for sure. Dr. Goulash said I never bonded with him. Bonded.  That’s the word he used. Everything nowadays is about bonding to your child or bonding to your husband or bonding to your God Damn pet. Seems like when we were kids our parents never worried about stuff like that. They just had kids. Fed em, clothed em, raised em. Seems like stuff wasn’t so complicated. Sure, they loved us in their way, but Mama said they didn’t make a Federal Case outta being a parent.

Jim and I never saw nothing different about him, til he was about ten or eleven. The kid started having nightmares. Kept to himself more.  Didn’t want to be around the rest of us. Jim called him a Lone Wolf. I’m sure the other kids called him much worse. But I was working at the dry cleaners and Jim was working at the plastics factory. We had seven kids in a third floor walk-up and a grouchy landlord and a crummy car and no money and no time.  Dad died and Mama moved in with us and then Jim’s mom too, and of course they couldn’t stand each other. Their drinking and fighting and swearing and card playing wasn’t too good a influence on the kids, but hey. You do the best you can. You go to work and you come home from work and you cook dinner and you watch TV and you spend your God-damn day off at the laundromat and you hope your kids turn out OK.

Your eleven year old’s moody, that’s normal, right? We didn’t have no money for psychiatrists and all. Jim always said that boy just needed to get the belt more. Jim always said kids nowadays are spoiled.

One day his teacher Mrs. Popovich, calls. She says, “Your boy’s stealing things from the other kids’ desks, he’s drawing strange pictures, he’s scaring the other kids, he chased after the Tarinelli twins with a pair of scissors.” She wanted me to come in for a parent-teacher conference. Like I have time for that. Like I can afford to take the morning off of work and take the bus over to the school for nonsense.

One day he’s sitting at the kitchen table, drawing dragons or something. I’m at the sink washing dishes.  I look at him and think, well, that’s not so bad. He’s acting pretty normal. Maybe he’ll grow out of this phase. That’s what they called it when we were kids, a phase. You’re going through a phase. He touches my shoulder, leans in close. I never liked it when he touched me.  His skin was clammy. “Guess what I want to be when I grow up?”

“Oh, what do boys want to be nowadays? When I was a kid, they wanted to be astronauts, ball players, cowboys, race car drivers, movie stars.”

“I want to be,” he pressed his mouth against my ear and attempted a rough whisper. “A serial killer or a mass murderer. Don’t know which one yet.”

*************

 

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The Recruiter

briefcase-1316308_960_720

© Copyright 2016  by Sara Jacobelli

At first I thought he was one of the dads. Dads nowadays are so involved, you know, compared to our fathers who just went to work and went out drinking and playing cards and shooting pool and figured taking care of kids was women’s stuff.

He was just sitting there, staring off into space. Figured his kid was playing on the swings or slides. Then this girl runs up to him and I think it’s his daughter. She says something to him, hands him what looks like several pieces of paper and runs over to a parked car. She jumps in the car and the driver, a woman, starts the car and takes off.

Must’ve been her mother in the car. The funny thing is, he doesn’t react at all. Just stuffs the papers in his briefcase.  So then I figured it’s not his kid. He’s not watching and waiting for his kid on the playground. He’s just sitting there with his briefcase.

Then I figure he’s one of those people who lost his job and is getting up and going to work and pretending he still has a job. You hear about them. The displaced folks. Funny thing is, I can’t figure out where folks like that get their money. You get on a bus, you get off the bus downtown and buy a coffee and a newspaper, you go to the movies and you go to lunch. That all costs money. Maybe they get unemployment.

Then I think maybe he’s got brain damage.

Or maybe he’s waiting for a woman.

I have a lot of time to think because I’m always walking dogs. I walk Rich People’s Dogs for a living. I make between forty and a hundred bucks a day, depending on how many dogs I walk. And  I charge extra for the wiener dogs, you ever walk one and you’ll know why. I walk them and I play with them and I feed them and yeah, I scoop their poop. You gotta, The City gives you big fines if you don’t.  I don’t mind scooping the wiener dogs’ poop but the Great Dane, whoa. Those are some big logs. But all in all it’s not a bad way to make a living and it’s all cash too.  Beats waiting tables. And the people-watching is fun. Just wish I made more money, living with four roommates and taking the subway from the Bronx gets pretty old.

That’s how I started watching this guy. I call him Bond, like James Bond. Just Bond. I figure maybe he’s a spy. Or maybe he’s having an affair with some exotic woman.  They’re both married to other people, and they rendezvous every day in this park. That’s their bench. They meet, go to a hotel. Someplace expensive like the Plaza or the Waldorf. Order room service so no one sees them together. Me, I’ve never stayed in a place that fancy. Never had room service. They sure don’t have it at Motel Six.

Funny thing is, I never see the woman. I pass by with my first dog in the morning and he’s there. I pass by with several more dogs at noon and he’s still there. I pass by in the late afternoon with more dogs and there he is. I see him again at my last round after dinner, when I take a trio of wiener dogs out for their evening stroll.  It’s always just him.

So last night I got up my nerve to approach him. Used the wieners as an excuse. I let Suzi off her leash and she ran wild in circles while I try to hang on to Stella and Sylvie. I run up to him and ask him if he can help me catch Suzi. He grabs her and hands the squirmy sausage dog to me.

“Thanks! She’s a mess. I don’t want to get fired for losing a dachshund. I need this job.”

“I bet you do.” He has a slight accent. Can’t put my finger on in. Canadian? Australian?

“You must be a fellow dog walker. But I don’t see any critters.”

“No. No critters.”

“Are you a nanny then? Never seen a male nanny before.” I pointed at the shrieking kids on the playground. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

He shook his head.

“You’re a devoted dad then. Well, good for you. It’s nice to see a man take his kids to the playground. Dads nowadays are so involved.”

“No. I don’t have any kids. If you must know, I’m what you call a Recruiter.

“For jobs? What kind of jobs?”

“It’s like this.” He motioned me to move closer to him. I attempted to sit on the bench and untangle the wiener dog leashes while they yapped their hearts out. “I keep an eye out for kids under ten that look smart. Smart, fast, agile. Ten’s too old, by then they just want to play games and watch TV. We don’t want them playing video games, for Christ’s sake, we want them designing the games.  I give them a brief IQ test. They turn in their answers, and if they are what I’m looking for, I recruit them. With their parents too of course. Then the whole family moves into our Compound, out in California, and the kids go to work.” He sipped his coffee and winked at me. “One bright kid, say seven or eight or nine years old, can be trained to be better at software development, video game and app design, even IT security, than any adult. We used to recruit at the colleges, then the high schools, then junior high. But the playground is by far, the best spot I’ve found.”

I looked at the snot-nosed kids chasing each other around the playground. “How much can one like that make?” I pointed to a chubby boy in a striped shirt using a stick to draw in the dirt.

“Two, three hundred grand a year, easy. His parents, they’ll never have to work again. They’ll never have to pay rent or buy food either. Everything’s provided for at the Compound. Medical, dental, vision care. They don’t need a car, we have everything delivered, or we can take them in our bus. They don’t need to pay for summer camp for the kids or a family vacation, we’ve got it all there. Swimming pools, bowling alleys, movie theatres. When they get old they just stay there and move into our Assisted Living Center. We’re even working on a way to use the old folk’s brains somehow. There’s theories that when the memory fades, you can actually reprogram the brain to perform new tasks. Like a second childhood. We might be able to get the old folks to design more apps, who knows?”

“Do you give any finder’s fees? If I find a smart kid and you hire him or her, do I get a percentage?”

He opened up his briefcase and took out a business card. “You just get a flat fee. Two thousand, if the referred child passes all the tests, the parents sign the life-time contract, and the while family moves into the Compound.”

Two thousand a pop! Dollar signs started multiplying in my head.  I looked at the card. “That’s you?”

Mr. Harrison

The Recruiter

GOOGLE

 

“That’s me.”

The wiener dogs were getting hungry so I left the park to finish their walk and bring them home and feed them. I’m always looking for more ways to make money. If I find a few smart kids every month, I can ditch the roommates. Maybe get a little pad of my own in the Village. Take taxis instead of riding the subway. Eat sushi instead of off the McDonald’s dollar menu. Things are definitely looking up.

Fiction (or is it real???)

**************

Photo Credit: “Briefcase.”  Pixabay copyright-free images. Public Domain. https://pixabay.com/en/briefcase-handbag-bag-case-luggage-1316308/

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