Flash Fiction is a style of writing for extreme brevity. I found a great Flash Fiction challenge posted by fellow author Haley Whitehall. Here are the rules of the challenge, with a May 1 deadline:
- You must start your story with the sentence: “She had been warned, but now it was too late.”
- The story must be 500 words or less.
- I’ve read a lot of flash fiction stories that express an incomplete idea so for my challenge I am challenging you to make sure your story has a clear beginning, middle and end.
Without further ado, here is my first ever Flash Fiction story (at 497 words – 3 words to spare!):
She had been warned, but now it was too late.
Notes and printouts scattered across the floor like unraked autumn leaves. Tracy had sifted through every page, gasping with each revelation. She slumped against the wall, cushioned by dresses and coats on her side of the walk-in closet, and moaned.
The heady eight-week romance had dragged her from a mundane life to a miraculous one; Joe was everything she didn’t know she wanted. When the tall, athletic accountant proposed, Tracy knew that Fate was finally delivering her just desserts. In fact, Joe was a red-velvet cake with creamy white icing, chocolate shavings, and a scoop of French vanilla to boot. Despite her sister cornering her after the engagement and insisting that “Something isn’t right about this guy!,” they eloped, honeymooned, settled in, and began married life with odds in their corner.
Now less than a year later, she studied her wedding ring in the dim glow of a 60-watt bulb and wondered where she owed allegiance. Legally she couldn’t be forced to testify against her husband, but morally could she let a crime go unanswered?
Tracy’s cell phone rang and Joe in a Rangers baseball cap smiled at her from the screen. She let the call go to voicemail, then listened to his message: “Hey, Sweetheart. Getting off early. Be home soon. Love you.”
She gathered and stacked the papers in order, dropped them into the box, and sealed it carefully. Using the stepstool, she returned the evidence to its place on the dusty shelf.
Her text to Joe was brief, “Found the papers. Called the police. Leaving.” It had been a grueling week deliberating her options, but her conscience had prodded her like a woodpecker’s beak. Principle trumped passion.
As Tracy ambled with her suitcase down the driveway, a taxi pulled up and Joe jumped free before it halted. “Thank God I caught you!” he yelled. “Got your passport?”
Panting and perspiring, he ran with eyes blazing and suit coat flapping at his sides.
“Passport. You’ll need it.”
“Joe,” she whispered.
“Tracy,” he said breathlessly, “I’ve been gathering that info to turn it in. Our phones are bugged. They’ll be coming to kill us.”
“What!” she shrieked. “Who?”
“Can’t explain now. We’ve got to go!”
Joe grasped her wrist and pulled her toward the house. Tracy’s brain vacillated between anxiety about Joe and the word “they.” But familiarity trumped fear.
She ran up the steps with him, watched him toss basics into a duffle bag and grab the box from the closet, and wheeled her suitcase out the front door a second time. Before exiting the house, Joe yanked passports from the study desk.
She held his hand and looked through the smudged airplane window. Joe had insisted on getting out of the country before contacting the FBI. Three times, Tracy’s life had changed in a moment – meeting her husband, calling the police, trusting Joe.
Time would reveal whether Tracy’s devotion trumped doubt.