Sunday, July 17, 2011

Taking Care of Future Jason

No, I didn't name my son Jason Jr. This is a vanity post, make no mistake, but not quite in the same way. I thought I'd mix it up and talk a little bit about my life and how I think. By that last clause, some of you are surely ready to jump in with a smarmy comment. I invite you to. Most readers of The Farthest Reaches are astute, capable and filled with wit. And you should take every chance you can to rib me.

I wish I could say the same about my own level of capability and wit. You see, dear friends, my biggest challenge as a writer and a person is that I have a terrible memory. I can swear to myself, my family, my colleagues that I have finished or tended to something, perhaps some major task, perhaps some minor one. Then, days, weeks, months will go by and I will discover that I left it hanging. I don't mean to do it. I honestly don't. But, hey, the road down below was paved with J. McIntyre's best intentions.

Lately I've been pleasantly baffled and bemused by some of my behaviour that has been grossly contrary to this character flaw of mine. We had an incredibly wet spring. It seemed like it was raining every second day in April, May and June. Downtown, I needed to walk several blocks to my building and, after a few days of coming in out of the rain, drenched from head to toe (though with my haircut, some of you smarmier friends can joke, "How wet, exactly, were you, J.?") I had the brilliant idea that I would finally buy an umbrella this year.

Yes, yes, I've lived on the west coast, Vancouver Island even, where rain is a fair constant. But still, in my childhood and adulthood I've never owned an umbrella. Even my three-year old had a Batman number which cupped his little head and shoulders perfectly at the age of two and a half. Me? Never. Never had an umbrella. Must have thought I was too cool for one.

So, one day, wet and frigid, I hiked back down the wet concrete trail to my parked car, popped the trunk to put in some items and, Lo!, there hearken a small black fabric pod with a tag still on it! An umbrella. And in that instant I remembered late last summer, plunking down a dollar at the drug store for one on clearance. A brilliant idea. Wish I'd thought of it. Oh wait, in retrospect I had. I had just forgotten my brilliance.

Same thing happened just yesterday. Spring's rain made way for a sweltering summer out in my neck of the country. I've only owned two pairs of shorts in my adult life and, remembering this after a back-breaking day of labour in the sunshine, I needed a fresh pair -- one that didn't reek of sawdust, dirt and, frankly, my own sweat.

As I entered the bedroom to check the closet, I hoped the *other* pair was clean. It wasn't.

But there were four brand new pairs of shorts, some dressy, some casual, with the store tags till attached, neatly folded at the top of the closet. Whoah! This was getting weird, I thought. Then I vaguely started recalling how I had bought these shorts to supplement my two-pair ration. Again, it occurred late last fall and I found these articles on clearance for anywhere from one dollar to ten. A bargain.

And a smart one at that. Looks like someone (maybe even me) was looking out for "Future Jason." I can't wait to see what else "Past Jason" has done for me. The anticipation is exciting.

So, writer friends, let's have a little fun! Write a flash fiction tale inspired by the above post and nail it to the comment space below. The premise? A forgetful character starts discovering actions made in his favour at some point in the past. The only catch? He honestly can't remember doing them himself. Funny, sad, poignant or horrific, have fun with it. No character limit, but maybe anywhere from 200 up to a couple thousand. You're the boss of the story. Er. Well, the story's more likely the boss of you, but don't feel limited.

The prize? Nothing too grand: A free e-copy of any story (ies) in my catalogue you might be curious to check out. Plus, and more importantly, I'll make a special individual mention of everyone who posts a story here. I'll do so on Twitter, even if you don't have a Twitter account. The world shall know your awesomeness.

@Lesism, @edenbaylee -- no pressure, but I bet you each can come up with something grand here! 


  1. Haha... great post. Being in an eternal state of brokeness, I was worried how I could afford a new pair of hiking boots when the soles were getting thin and the leather was beginning to crack. They'd served me well for years, and were definitely reaching the end of their natural life... but - because of my finances - I plodded on with them and in them.

    I think it was approaching the peak of Ben Lomond, in April, when, starting to feel a bit of pain from the wear of the boots, I suddenly remembered: "Wait? I bought TWO pairs of these and put the other in the top of my wardrobe."

    So, past Les wasn't always an idiot. ;-)

    Will rise to the flash challenge later in the week. :-)

  2. So, how long is flash fiction, anyway? I wrote a little piece here, but got the message that it can't be accepted: "Must be at most 4,096 characters."

    Word tallies my piece at 3,661 characters (with spaces). What shall I do? :)

  3. J, the fact that you mentioned my name in your post means I must rise to the challenge, only cuz...I'm just that type of gal...and well...I like you (and Les too, of course ;)

    Putting on my thinking cap.


  4. Les, the tale about the boots is exactly like something I would try and then blank out on later. The post was getting a bit long but I also found a pair of Rockport dress shoes in my closet a few weeks ago. They actually date back TWO years. Glad yer 'past self' is looking out for you too! Can't wait to see if you share a lil flash story with us.

  5. Marty, I'm sorry Blogger's being a fussbucket. Didn't know there was a character limit at all. Flash stories are usually one or two hundred words. I know I posted a three hundred word story on Les's blog a couple weeks ago and I believe his is a Blogger site too. I'll check my settings but in the meantime, I wonder if you could try posting it in two parts. Can't wait to read yours -- Thanks for taking part, Marty!

  6. I knew this about you Eden. :P But please don't think I was trying to goad you into taking part...even though that's exactly what I was doing! Excited to read your entry!

  7. After Hours (Part 1)

    I hate parties. The endless introductions. The plastic smiles. The standing around. And worst of all, the mind-numbing conversation.

    Still, I find myself standing by the food table tonight, wondering why I let myself be shamed into coming to this one. I should have know better. I tell myself this every time.

    I've just eaten what must be a whole bag of chips and now I'm searching for something to flush the salt mine that is my throat. Nix the alcohol; the sooner I can get out of here and drive home the better. Nor do I need a buttload of sugar at eleven o'clock at night.

    Ah, a pitcher of ice water. I pick up a plastic tumbler and reach for the pitcher. Another hand lands on it ahead of mine.

    "Oh, sorry!" she says with a smile. "Here, let me pour." She takes my glass and fills it before handing it back to me.

    "Thanks," I say and take a swig. "I needed that." Only I spoke too soon. I should have finished drinking first, but party nerves got the best of me. Water is dribbling off my chin and onto my shoes.

    "Drinking problem?" she says with a laugh.

    "Right. Yeah. Airplane."

    She just looks at me. She cocks her head as if to ask, Are you all right?

    "The movie?" I say. "You know, Leslie Nielsen?"

    "I don't think I saw it," she says with a shrug, still smiling.

    I realize now she was probably born a decade after it came out. "Never mind. It was a bad joke anyway."

    "So, what's your connection?" she says, nodding toward the roomful of party-goers. "You here with anyone?"

    "Nah. I don't really know anyone. Jeff invited me. We're neighbors."

    "Ah," she says with a twinkle in her eye. "That would explain your attachment to the food table."

    "Is it that obvious?" I want to wrap this up and slink out before it gets any more awkward. "I was just grabbing a bite for the road. I've got to get going."


  8. After Hours (Part 2)

    "Already?" she asks with a look of disappointment.

    "'Fraid so," I say. "It was nice to meet you." I extend a hand. "What was your name?"

    "You don't remember me, do you?" she says with a bemused look. "Marcia Hargrave?"

    I'm clueless. "Uh, not really. No," I say sheepishly. "I'm sorry. I'm really bad with names." I set my glass on the table and turn to go.

    "Wait!" she says. "I want to talk to you, Peter."

    I stop and just stare at her. She knows my name and I can't for the life of me place her. I just want to duck out, but she's got me cornered. I don't know what to say and the silence is already awkward.

    "C'mon," Marcia says, grabbing my arm. "I'll go with you."

    I'm helpless to refuse and follow her wordlessly out the door into the rain. "Uh, don't you have a jacket or something?" I ask her, hoping to break her momentum.

    "That's OK. I can get it later. I just live up the road." We've already reached the road and she's leading me in the direction she's pointing. "That house, right there."

    I want to get in my car and go home, but for some reason I don't. What is it about this woman?

    "But you knew that, right" she's saying to me.

    "Knew what?"

    "Where I live," she says. When I don't respond, she stops and turns toward me with a look of incredulity. "Wait, you honestly don't remember."

    I just shrug. I have no idea what's she's talking about.

    "You've been to my house before!"

    "I have?"

    She rolls her eyes for dramatic effect. "You stood on that very doorstep and flashed your badge at me. It was just over a year ago."

    "Oh." Of course I don't remember. It's work related.

    "I invited you in and gave you a glass of lemonade."

    "Well, you see," I begin, launching into my standard disclaimer, "I've taken an oath of confidentiality. I never mix business with—"

    "Pleasure?" she says, finishing my sentence. "Well, come on. I promise not to bring up any more business."

  9. Keep writing, Marty! This is getting good!

  10. Hey, you said this was flash fiction! I thought I was done. Isn't that how it works? (I've never done flash fiction before.) Just make something up extemporaneously? :)

  11. Marty, I just felt you had the beginnings of something interesting here. But yeah, you can be done -- if you want. I liked it and want to know what kind of confidential business Peter is into. Is he a cop? Or is it something more insidious?

  12. Ok, J, here's flashing you...eden

    The Gift

    A knock on the door jarred me out of my afternoon nap on the easy chair. I lifted the knitting off my lap and dropped it into the basket beside me.

    “Who is it?” I asked, not recalling the last time someone had come to visit.

    “It’s Dave, the mailman.”

    “Dave?” There was a hint of recollection.

    “Yes, Mrs. Stevens. Please open the door, I have a package for you.”

    I unlatched the door and saw a stranger standing in front of me. “What did you say your name was?”

    “Dave, and you look lovely today Mrs. Stevens,” he said, handing me the package. “Looks like someone sent you a present.”

    I took the box and wondered why he seemed so familiar, but the thought left my mind as quickly as it had entered.

    Sitting at the dining room table, I stared at the writing on the package but didn’t recognize it. There was no return address. I pulled open the kitchen drawer, retrieved a knife, and ran it along the seam of the box.

    Whatever was inside was wrapped generously in pink tissue paper. Sitting on top was a small envelope. I opened it and read the note:

    Dear Kate,

    By the time you read this, you will not remember who I am. I was once a vibrant woman who loved to dance, enjoyed the opera, and read voraciously.

    I was married to a wonderful man until he passed away five years ago. We had three children and nine grandchildren, and they’ve all gone on to lead happy and productive lives.

    On the occasion of your 75th birthday, here is a gift I prepared two years ago in anticipation of what I knew would happen.

    Please open it, and remember who you are. You are Kate Stevens—a woman who was deeply loved and who led an incredibly full life.

    I ripped away the tissue paper from the object and held it in my hand. It had an antique silver frame and handle, and the quality of the glass was exceptional. I stared at my image and saw the face of Kate Stevens, only…I no longer knew who she was.

  13. I liked Marty's story too..intriguing.


  14. Whoah. Eden. Now I'm just sad.

    Way ta sucker punch me, girl!

  15. Hehe, life is sad ...makes the good times more memorable ...ooh, didn't even intend to make that pun, but ya know...when opportunity knocks ...or the I'm just rambling.


  16. Marty,

    yes, insidious disease, very sad.


  17. See why I felt sucker punched? I can't imagine waking up one morning and finding pieces of my history starting to disappear like building blocks lost in the yard.

    Or, worse yet, to witness it happening to someone I love.

    Very effective fiction piece, Eden. Plays right on my heart strings.

  18. Yes, it's funny how a story progresses. My first run at this would've had you laughing with finding I had an extra 32 rolls of toilet paper when I thought I'd run out...I'm anal about ensuring I never get down to less than 32 rolls in the house...need that buffer you know...hehe

    I thought it was time to go for something a little different, and yes, the mind is a terrible thing to essence it's losing the pieces of our lives, and our experiences, after all, are what define who we are.

  19. The Way it was and ever shall be...

    “Well, that about does it. I think I deserve a rest.”
    “You’ve worked hard, and everything came out just perfectly.”
    “I must admit, Day 1 was probably the hardest, and that model I’d made was of no use at all, but the heavens, the earth, light and the darkness? That was huge, even for me.”
    “I know. After that, creating Heaven, the land, and seas, sun, moon stars, not to mention the fish and birds was child’s play for you.”
    “I suppose your personal favorite was when I create animals and man.”
    “Well, after all, we are made in your image, and we do exist to serve you.”
    “Yes, yes, I know where this is going. Fine, I give you stewardship over all my creation. Please remember to take out the trash and tidy up once in a while.”
    “Thank you, Lord, you are most kind and wise. I shall do my best.”
    Through the mists surrounding God and Adam walked a raccoon sporting a bowler, waistcoat, and cane. Clearly annoyed, he coughed, waving the clouds out of his way. “What’s with the clouds and hocus pocus all the time anyway?”
    The man stopped him. “Come no closer, animal of the forest.”
    “I’m a raccoon.”
    “And I am your boss. God has just appointed me steward over his creation.”
    “Is that so?” The raccoon pushed the man aside and walked closer to God. He pulled a parchment out of his jacket and unrolled it. “Then how do you explain this?” He read the words, “I God hereby give dominion over all these lands and stewardship of all creation to raccoon.”
    God looked down at the man. “In all the excitement I must have forgotten. Sorry.”
    To this day, whenever man takes his trash out, the raccoon claims it as rightfully his.

  20. GENIUS!

    Larry, I loved that! Thanks so much for taking part. You're as razor-witted in word-smithing as you are in the Twitterverse.

  21. Gosh, I suck at flash fiction. I tried, I really did. But I simply can't write teeny-tiny stories. They just grow.

    For anyone interested in what I came up with...

    Remembering Train Car Six

    j. //

  22. I think Larry may be Einstein reincarnated.
    There is a resemblance.


  23. /* finger-snap */ Ah-HAH! Now I remember where I knew Larry from!

    The Geneva Convention!


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