Sunday, January 19, 2014

Flash Fiction: Plotting

PROMPT/CHALLENGE SUMMARY: Remember that 200 Words at a Time challenge I did every week for five weeks? (Of course you do; I talked about it so much you'd have thought that was all I was doing with my life for the rest of forever. Sorry about that, by the way. But not that sorry, since I'm going to talk about it more today and in at least one more post.) Well, if you remember that, you might also remember my first entry, which no one ever chose to continue. :-( My poor sad lonely words. But, being me, I decided I'd continue it on my own. I faithfully wrote 200 words of my own every week, as if I was the one to pick it up for the challenge. Except for the last week, because things have been so crazy around here lately that I never actually got around to finishing it off. Well, I've made time now, so here it is, better late than never. Enjoy!
(Source: This is the 1000-word story I wrote from my original 200-word entry back in November. My original spark of inspiration came from one of those moments all writers have, when they're having a conversation with other writers or doing research or something and they realize that to anyone outside that moment, they probably seem like a psychotic serial killer or a terrorist or something. I have those moments all the time.)


"I think I'll stab him." Miranda eyed the two fingers tapping the steering wheel and forced them still, not wanting to think about how she needed a cigarette. She had to focus. She had a murder to plan. "Can't use a big kitchen knife. That's so... cliché. Glass from a broken mirror could work. It'd send a message."

The radio fuzzed out as her car idled at the fifth red light in a row. She punched the power button, letting silence replace the static. Getting a new antennae was too far down on the priority list to even think about, as was paying someone to dig the broken CD out of the useless piece of junk in the middle of the dashboard. She'd had to give up on things like non-essential car repairs and cigarettes and living in a neighborhood where people didn't steal your car antennae when she'd walked out on her ex two months ago.

"Would it negate the bad luck thing though? Or just make everything worse?" Her teeth pulled on her lower lip while she worked through potential consequences. Then she laughed. "Well, I guess it probably transfers, since he's the one who ends up dead."

Miranda pulled up in front of a tiny house and honked. A glance at the clock--and some quick visualizing to fill in the missing dashes in the half-dead display--told her they were late. She honked again.

"Just a sec!" Emily shouted, shouldering her way out the front door. She was loaded down with half a dozen spiral notebooks and an enormous dinosaur of a laptop in one hand and a bag that looked too small for a tin of Altoids in the other.

Somehow she'd make it work though. Miranda was convinced her best friend had some kind of Time Lord technology going on when it came to purses.

Emily managed to close and lock her front door without dropping anything--does she have a third arm hiding behind her back?--and then raced down to the curb and hopped into the car.

Miranda felt her energy level drain after just two seconds in Emily's overeager presence. The girl was pretty much vibrating with excitement.

"Did you figure out how you're going to kill him yet?" she asked, her grin so wide it would probably sprain something in one of her cheeks if she held it much longer.

"I'm going to stab him with a mirror shard." Miranda checked her blind spot carefully as she eased out into traffic. One more fender bender and her insurance would drop her for sure.

"Oooh, I like it. A mirror to the heart for the narcissistic asshole." Emily nodded and scribbled something in one of the notebooks she hadn't managed to cram into her bag yet. "That's very symbolic."

Miranda nodded as she merged into the fast lane. Maybe traffic would ease up once they got to past campus. What kind of idiot sets up a meeting downtown smack in the middle of rush hour?

A quick glance revealed Emily was now adding notations to what looked like a very complicated flow chart with Miranda's name at the top of it. Emily had scrawled mirror shard in the middle of a circle labeled "Murder Weapon" and was now listing things like disposal and finger prints in little side bubbles.

"So what are you going to do about Rick?" Miranda asked, trying to distract her before she made more notes. The girl was obsessed with writing down every detail, which just meant more notes for Miranda to toss in the trash later.

It worked. Emily closed the notebook and turned her full anguished attention to Miranda. "I don't really know. I just can't buy this whole secret life thing, you know? He's just such a nice guy. And so. . .  normal. He just doesn't seem the type to lie so much, right?"

"All guys lie," Miranda said, thinking of her cheating bastard ex. "It's coded into their DNA."

Emily bit her lip and some of her shiny enthusiasm dimmed. "That's not true," she said.

Miranda sighed, wishing she could be cynical without feeling like she'd just kicked a puppy.

She and Emily had a nice ridiculous cycle of guilt running between them now. Miranda felt guilty for killing Emily's buzz. Emily felt guilty for saying something that reminded Miranda of Gary. Miranda felt guilty for still letting the asshole into her thoughts at all. Not to mention for falling for his shtick in the first place.

And, of course, there was the giant whopping elephant in the car. Emily felt at least ten different kinds of guilty for being one of the women Gary slept with while he was engaged to Miranda.

Not that Emily knew Miranda knew about that. Yet.

"Did you figure out what you're going to name the prostitute yet?" Emily asked, pulling on a cloudy version of her sunny smile as Miranda pulled into a space across from a trendy little coffee shop. "Or is she just going to be Victim #2?"

Miranda got out of the car without answering, snagging her messenger back from the backseat. A handmade neon poster in the shop's front window caught her eye.


Well, there are signs, and there are signs.

"Mir?" Emily turned in the middle of the street to look back at Miranda.

"Yeah, I did."

"Great!" Emily's smile was back to full volume, writerly fanaticism crowding out the shame. She dug her bright yellow plotting notebook back out and turned to the page full of notes about Miranda's proposed thriller as they climbed the shop's front steps. "What is it?" she asked, pen hovering over the "Victim #2, Prostitute" square.

"Emily," Miranda said as she pulled open the shop's front door. "I'm naming the whore Emily."

Welcoming shouts from a dozen other writers almost covered the sound of Emily's notebook hitting the floor and Miranda smiled in response.

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