Flash Essay Assignment

Flash Writing  isn't anything new, but writers and editors have given the various forms of very short writing  some twenty-first century names. Flash essays have become a popular online outlet for numerous nonfiction  writers.

A Flash Essay  is generally considered to be very short piece, typically less than one thousand words. I consider  the flash essay  to be at least 100 but no more than 2,000 words (750 words is about perfect). It's not an easy form of writing because there are so few words to play with; however, it’s an excellent way to hone your craft, and when you nail it, well, the work is worth it. Keep in mind that it is one small piece of writing that tells a story and conveys a theme as simply as possible. The aim is to leave the reader breathless and to do it with as few words as possible. Remember, no surprise for the writer, then no surprise for the reader. When the essay is by definition a flash, the writer has to throw away unnecessary adverbs and take the piece  down to the raw frame. To do this, other descriptives are needed–single words or phrases that can speak volumes. It creates the flash in flash nonfiction and it can be magical. Check out some examples here!  https://brevitymag.com/  

Post your piece of flash nonfiction  into the comments section below.  Have fun with it!

30 thoughts on “Flash Essay Assignment

  1. Andrew Lange

    I’m riding shotgun down the four-lane Richardson Highway on a forty-degree, drizzly, mid-September day, shaking, shimmying, bucking down the frost-heaved, sun-baked rightmost lane, shouting over the hiss of the air wipers, the wind noise, the old 14 liter Cummins diesel of a fellow enthusiast’s 1983 American General ex-national-guard 5 ton 6×6. We can’t hardly even hear each other, but I’m trying to be the biggest information sponge possible as the wrecking yards, car or equipment dealerships, and brilliantly changing fall colors of the poplar and birch trees on the outskirts of North Pole, Alaska fly by at barely fifty-five miles an hour. I’m yelling about how a former roommate bought one of these exact trucks at age 16, as the first vehicle he ever bought with his own money, and poured who knows how much money and time into it with a full resto-mod, all at under age 21.

    I’ve been picked up in a Carrs-Safeway parking lot a few minutes before, told to jump in, and before I know it we’re underway. Boy, is it bouncy going down the freeway in one of these things, more so than I expected, but I’ve still had far worse rides. These aren’t any smooth-riding, quiet passenger car, as I’m yelling over ear plugs and realizing how this ride could potentially lead to a sore lower back with hours and hours of this going down the interstate, driving cross-country. Don’t worry about being pulled over for talking on a cell phone. You most likely won’t be able to even hear it. It’s a real reality check for me, but still nothing I feel as though I couldn’t handle.

    I’m trying to glean and absorb as much information as I can about the funky air wipers, spring brake override (most civilian semi-trucks don’t have this odd feature, it’s our government tax dollars at work here), and how you drive one of these big, Army-green, 22,000-pound behemoths without somehow losing control and running over a minivan with multiple single-digit-age children inside.

    I’ve been fantasizing about owning one of these things since I was 17, even daily driving the beast simply because I can. I’m being given suggestions based on hearsay about my native state of California’s historic vehicle laws, and I’m thinking to myself about how these are old enough to qualify for historic plates, although I wouldn’t be able to put one of my own to much practical use besides Sunday drives with such plating.

    It seems like for some reason ownership of one of these rattly, shaky, fuel-consuming trucks makes you one of a growing, relatively large group of enthusiasts. Remember how I was yelling about how my first college roommate had acquired one of these vehicles as a teenager? Had he not had one, and been posting about it in online forums, we would never have met. As with many hobbies or interests, people are generally quite receptive to others of the same mindset, often joking that we are all just ever so slightly off-base, a little on the crazy side. Hence my having been picked up in a Carrs-Safeway parking lot on a rainy morning to go for my first ride in one of these simplistic, rough trucks.

    In fact, as time passes and the green highway mileage destination signs crawl by at not even the sixty mile an hour speed limit, I’m thinking of how some of us perhaps slightly whacked civilian owners have daily driven these military-surplus five ton trucks. Literally, daily driven to work, to Fred Meyer or Vons for a gallon of milk, to Home Depot or Lowe’s for a $3.99 toilet flapper valve. If practicality and fuel mileage and fitting into a single parking space were the only concerns on the table, nobody in their right mind would drive one of these things on a daily basis. Yet I’ve even joked somewhat seriously with my former roommate about carpooling in one of these five tons about an hour each way, from Pleasant Valley, Alaska to the main University of Alaska Fairbanks campus in aptly-named College, Alaska, about fifty road miles away. About an hour each way at a top speed of fifty-five miles an hour.

    We cross into the North Pole city limits, and merge into an exit ramp. The Allison transmission downshifts with a hard thunk, trying to throw us off the bench seats, through the (probably not safety glass) fold-out windshields into the traffic nightmare that is downtown North Pole.
    “Where do you want to eat?” he asks, casually navigating the nearly 28-foot-long truck through multiple roundabouts with ease, as though it were a small pickup.

    Pulling into a narrow strip mall parking lot you find yourself banishing the thought of how easy it would be to just drive right through a storefront. You take up about four parking spaces if you park horizontally, so you are definitely parking in the “Back-forty”. We pull out ear plugs, he applies the parking brake, and we walk inside a restaurant and find a table. Now begins the virtual fire hose of information. I’m tired and didn’t sleep well last night, so although the information is fascinating and relevant trying to be an information sponge while half asleep doesn’t work well. I’m describing everything I’ve learned in two years of daily reading of forums and Facebook groups, and he is doing the same. Batteries, high water fording, air system maintenance, keeping a cold-blooded Cummins diesel engine running in frigid Interior Alaska winters, suggestions for the winterization thereof, my mind is filling up fast as I’m picking away at a lasagna dish.

    We finish lunch. Still talking five ton, we go back out to the parking lot. I get to climb all over and touch most of the truck, hands on. I even manage to become the laughingstock of lots of Subway and Taco Bell patrons as I struggle to lift the forward-tilt hood by myself. Over the course of the past hour or two, numerous passerby have congregated, unsure exactly what to make of the Army-green, 28-foot-long truck in the parking lot, left there idling for the past hour, now with two guys climbing all over every inch of it.

    He has to drive back to Salcha, Alaska, for his duty shift at the volunteer fire department there. I can’t thank him enough for taking a few hours out of his day to drive up here and teach me about these vehicles. As I head back to Fairbanks myself I feel the ear to ear grin still glued to my face. I’m sold.

  2. Aubri Stogsdill

    As I stepped off the plane, a gust of salty wind rushed over my face and pulled at my hair. Two suitcases was all I had in the world. Two suitcases to my name. That is, two suitcases and a purse, not that the purse made much of a difference. Over the past five months, everything else had been sold or given to others who were, in my mind, more fortunate than I. To people who were lucky enough to live in the same place for more than seven years. To people who were not me.

    I had heard it all. This would be the most exciting and adventurous time of my life, I’d make new friends in Kona, and God knew what he was doing when he told my dad to sell everything, including our house, and only let me keep two suitcases… two suitcases and a purse.

    As I exited the plane, I was reminded of why I told my friends that my spirit animal was a disoriented giraffe; do I even know how to walk? I stumble down the metal stairs and stood on the runway. My palms were sweaty. The sun seemed to beat directly on my shoulders and neck, which didn’t help the nausea that I had developed during the turbulence filled eight-hour flight.


    Instantly, I was jerked from my trance like confusion and looked over at my mother who was frantically calling my name,

    “Hurry, or we’ll miss the bus!”

    Driving to the missions base felt like a scene straight out of a music video. You know, the ones where a moody teenager gazes longingly out the window, wishing dearly for a different reality. My eyes, swollen from lack of sleep, blurred for the thousandth time with warm, salty tears. I couldn’t help but let out a gasp, which I quickly caught and pushed down lower into my abdomen for fear of being discovered. My tears had been my food for long enough; my stomach wanted something else, a burger maybe.

    Carrying my two suitcases to our second level apartment was just about the end of my life. My inhales were quick and shallow and my arms ached. Our room was small and the walls were white washed, like a tomb. Of course, this was the best housing available, and many of the families were more than content to be staying there for awhile, but I was in no state of mind to be thankful. As I sat on my creaky old bunk bed and tried not to cry, a small man with massive curly hair and gleaming blue eyes bounced through the door of our so-called home. His happy temperament and kindness irritated me. I tried my best to communicate that the last thing I wanted to do was talk to him, without actually saying anything, but he didn’t catch what I was throwing. He sat beside me and gave me a quick and uninvited spiel about the first time God called him to move away from home.

    Once the happy little man had left our house, I spread my blanket out on the thin and lumpy bunkbed mattress and tried with all my might to go to sleep. Unfortunately, sleep is not a wrestling match, it is more like a comforting conversation you have with a three-year-old who desperately misses his mother. You can’t force it, it must be negotiated slowly, tenderly, and with great caution. Unfortunately, I was not up for a quiet conversation, I wanted to win this match, so restlessly I tossed and turned.

    As I lay there I pulled my knees to my chest and coddled the deep ache that was gnawing at my center. Here was a whole new world, full of faces I had never seen, none of which belonged to my comrades. The sense of loneliness ate me alive. If only I could be there, with my best friend. But instead, I was here. Here with a load of strangers who seemed much happier than me to be displaced from their normal environment. Here surrounded by people, and yet I felt so alone.
    After my far from restful night, I awoke with about as much excitement as a sloth with the flu. When I stood up the ground seemed to swim beneath my feet. My sleep hadn’t cured the intense exhaustion I was suffering with. As I entered the cafeteria, I noticed that my dad had already dished up a plate of ripe papaya for my breakfast, so I slid onto the bench beside him. The sweet fresh scent of the fruit wafted towards my nostrils. Eagerly, I scooped the bright orange flesh from the bitter green peel and plunged it into my mouth.

    To the right of my father sat a man with a head so hairless and shiny it could blind you on a sunny day. Below that, covering the front fat folds of his chin was a well-trimmed goatee, the type that you’d see on your neighbor’s dad who used to be in a biker gang.

    “This is Lee,” my dad told me, “He has a daughter that’s about your age.”

    I sat quietly as my dad conversed with Lee. Before I’d gotten a chance to finish my breakfast, a short, stout, dark-haired and bright smiling girl scurried over to the table and stood behind Lee. This girl was Lee’s daughter, and her name was Abby.

    Once the meal had finished, Abby and I headed to our first day of classes. I struggled to make conversation, as was usual for me with people I’d just met. She seemed so happy, but as we talked, I noticed a tear forming at the bottom of her eyelid as she mentioned what it was like to leave home.

    In our first class discussion, we went around the table and shared a brief synopsis of where we came from and how we had ended up in Kona. I sat in amazement as I heard the stories of people from Norway, The Netherlands, Ohio, and California. Teens, who just like me, had been uprooted. People who sold everything and left everyone to come to this sweaty little rock in the middle of the ocean. Some were happy about it. To them, this was an extended vacation. Others held back tears as they described their home. As I listened, I realized that here, on this island, I was far from alone. I looked around at all the faces. Here, at this table, sat people who understood exactly what I was feeling. Finally, It was my turn to share. I stood and cleared my throat,

    “Hi, my name is Aubri and I’m from Missouri. I think leaving my friends was the hardest part. I didn’t even want to wave goodbye. But the strangest thing, by far, is that everything I own fits into two suitcases. Well, two suitcases and a purse…”

    1. Cassidy Kramer

      Oh my gosh I love this! Also, I have been going to Kona for the past two summers for a teen Christian Youth Leadership Camp called Infusion, and it’s with YWAM. What you are describing from the sun beating down on you, to the overly nice people that seem to have to be on some kind of medication (turns out it’s just Jesus amen?) definitely describes YWAM Kona lol.

    2. Michelle Cordova

      You are an incredible writer and should be proud of your ability! I have never been to Kona, but my family and I moved to North Pole from a big city so I can relate in not knowing anyone and feeling a little disoriented. Anyhow, I really enjoyed your essay and look forward to reading more of your work in the future!

  3. Corbin Knapp

    Jet Lag
    I sighed as I watched the planes circle overhead through a dark window, their droning buzz audible even from where I sat. As I watched the small dot that was a plane coming in for a landing, I realized how different it was here at the Seattle Airport than at the small airport of my hometown. I usually hate travel; the bustle of sweaty bodies all around you, all of them aching to reach their destination and stop the drudgery of waiting for their next flight. It was even worse now that it was two in the morning. People waited for their flight to arrive, sleep deprivation making them look like zombies with nary a brain in sight.

    Groaning I looked over at my parents and my brother. My parents dozed in the corner relaxing after a long flight where none of us had gotten any sleep. My brother Ben sat near an outlet, his bloodshot eyes taking in the glow from the screen of his device. I was no better, the only thing keeping me awake was the game I had been playing on my tablet. I did not want to go to sleep, tired as I was. What if somebody stole our stuff while we were sleeping? What if the plane left without us? Even if my parents could sleep, these questions remained in my brain keeping me more or less alert.

    At least our layover was in Seattle. Out of all the airports I have ever been in, Seattle is the most interesting. It has an enormous food court with metal sculptures of what look like tiny shrimp dangling by the dozens from the metal rafters far above (hey I was hungry), and there was a touch screen that took up most of a wall where you could play a memory game. Over the course of our eight hour layover we had wandered the halls, looking at everything as we tried to pass the time before we finally found the place where we sat now. A row of seats right next to the terminal where our plane was supposed to arrive, with a view of the runway just visible through the dark glass.

    As I sat blearily looking out the window a hand grabbed my shoulder, and I turned around with a start. To my and Ben’s surprise it was a couple of friends from back home in Fairbanks who by coincidence had a layover in Seattle too. After joking around with them for a few minutes and showing them the way to the food court, Ben and I took our seats back at out terminal to await our flight. Time passed slowly and I must have dozed off, because when I was shaken awake by my mother the plane was at the terminal.

    With a tired grin I said, “Is it here?”

    “Yes” she replied with a smile.

    As we stood up and the flight attendant announced, “Premium Delta members now boarding,” I thought to myself how much the the boarding system resembled a caste system with the richer people boarding first while the “dregs of society” that included my family boarded last.

  4. Ben Knapp

    The Disturbance

    I lie curled in peace and warmth. All is right in the world; I want for nothing. Beside me, a fire crackles and sparks, furnishing the heat that warms my fur. As I lay, the couch slackens as someone stands up beside me. Heavy but gentle steps fade gradually away, but I pay little notice. A low creak builds in a rising crescendo, and a vague feeling of dread snakes up my spine. Suddenly, the warmth is gone and with it, the peace and happiness.

    My fur stands on end. I am in the air, leaping to a place of refuge from the chill wind that has blown through the room. In a flash, I am aware of the room around me. I see the two sofas that lie adjacent to the stove in the corner of the room. I see the small folding tables that are placed at random intervals throughout the room. I see the set of stairs that line the wall opposite from what used to be my place upon the couch.

    The stairs … I must reach the stairs before … CRASH. The room is filled with noise. It is only after rocketing up the stairs that I turn back to see the human loading wood onto the grate next to the fire. I know that, in time, I will be back on the couch, once again soaking up the heat of the lit stove. But for now, I can only sit wide-eyed at the top of the stairs and wait for the crashes of wood upon metal to cease.

    Once the human has retaken his seat upon the couch, I leap across to the post by the stairs. I sit and begin to restore the fur made shabby by my flight from the couch. I remember when the dog first came, and how she would not let us have peace anywhere in the room where the fire and humans were. I remember how the humans had built the post to allow us to stay out of the reach of the dog. In time, we learned to ignore the dog, or fight her away, but we still use the post when we
    feel like it.

    The fire beckons me from across the room. I feel myself being drawn to the memory of warmth that it offers. I make my way slowly, so as to not seem too eager, back to the couch.

    Soon I am sitting in my old spot, sinking slowly into the peace and warmth that I knew before. I begin to drift to sleep, tucking my tail up under my legs. Suddenly I am aware that the dog is sniffing me. It persistently jabs with her large and obnoxious nose, forcing me to leave my comfortable position.

    “Meg! Leave it!” someone yells. As if the dog would ever listen to them. I could swat the dog, defend myself and drive off the annoying creature, but already the feeling of coziness is drifting away.

    I decide I’m not in the mood for violence today. I once again reluctantly leave for bigger and better things; like sleeping somewhere where the dog can’t bother me. A bed perhaps, or maybe a soft chair somewhere. Life can be difficult when you’re trying to find a place to sleep.

    1. Monica Gallagher

      Wait, are you a cat?! I love the mystery of the narrator and how it develops. Please tell me that it is actually a cat and I don’t seem completely crazy saying that. Great little story though, I brought up a picture in my mind as soon as I started reading it, the dialogue of “Meg, Leave it!” especially.

      1. Leah Rego

        Oh my goodness that was a delightful little tale, made me think of my kitty and her canine siblings.

    2. Aundrea Pierce

      Adorable! People have no idea what runs through a cat’s mind, but I feel you’ve captured a close truth! I enjoyed the words you wrote like, the dog jabbing her with its obnoxious nose. Another good one, “I decide I’m not in the mood for violence today.” You did great depicting the superior demeanor of a cat.

  5. Monica Gallagher


    She. Otherwise known as He. Otherwise known as A, B, or C.

    A confusing walk to public transport noticing leering glances as D tried as best as possible to not allow the shaking to be noticeable. The mornings were great. The solitude of confinement. The safety of home. Hell only turned the corner when exposed. Exposure was death. Yet it was the truth as far as the eye could see. Way back when, it was her family that was the most supportive, ironically. It empowered her to move forward. When she really did move forward, she wished that she could take a step back. It was too late. The stubble was noticeable. The angles of her face were sharp. Her breasts, gone. This was her life now.

    In the background of her busy mind, she could hear the voice of her mom over the chaos of the subway, saying, “Suck it up Buttercup”.

    And she did.

    Headphones in, the cares of others out.

    1. Naimy Schommer

      This is powerful. I love how you capture the uncertainty in second-guessing using such minimalistic language. Beautiful.

  6. Sierra Russell-McCollum

    The sun shined bright down upon the beach heating up the sand with it’s powerful rays. It was a Saturday evening and I just got off of work. Without even thinking my legs lead me toward the beach, my sanctuary. Home doesn’t sound appealing at the moment, all the kaos my family creates can be so overwhelming, so here I am. With a book in hand I slip my shoes off and step into the sand. The warmth welcomes me, relaxation quickly washes over my body. My stressful day at work completely forgotten. I begin making my way down the beach, with no planned destination. The usually secluded beach is busy today, tourist and locals both enjoying the water on such a hot day. The life guards are all on duty sitting at their stations soaking up the warm sun, while keeping a close eye on the people in the water.

    I reach the water’s edge and dip my feet into the crashing waves, the water like the sand is also warm. I stand still for awhile and let my legs break the waves, while I let my eyes close and enjoy the sound of the busy beach. My body stiffens suddenly when I hear the waves near me get louder from people running. My eyes shoot open and before I have a chance to move a huge man runs into me. I let out a squeal and drop my book. Before I fall he quickly grabs me and balances me while mumbling what I think is sorry before he runs off again. I quickly bend down and grab my book checking for any damage, but luckily it fell in the sand. While shaking the book to get the sand out I glare in the guys direction he ran off to and began walking in the other direction.

    I love how one moment I can be in peace and the next it gets completely ruined. I shaked my head and eventually find an empty space in the sand to sit. I drop down and cross my legs, leaning back on my arms and backpack that I haven’t taken off yet. The book rests in my lap waiting to be read. My family never understood why I came to the beach to read, she always claimed that reading was an at home activity. Sitting up I grab my book and open to the page I left off at but something else catches my eye. A boy my age is walking down the beach alone. I look closer and see a book and a smile spreads across my cheeks. The boy must have felt my eyes upon him because he turns his head in my direction and our eyes lock. My cheeks burned with embarrassment and I quickly looked away. Eye eyes snap back to my book and I try focusing on the words written on the paper, but my mind is somewhere else. I glance up and see him smile and walk away.

    Disappointment floods my body. I hate that I have to be so awkward and shy. I stare at the water and try to forget what just happened. Eventually I do, and begin reading my book. After a while I hear footsteps behind me and I quickly turn myself in the direction of the sound. It’s the boy, but he’s walking away. I continue to stare, and suddenly he turns around with a smirk on his face. He points at my backpack and gives me a wink before he turns around and walks towards the buildings. Without waiting or a care in the world if he sees I grab my backpack and throw it in front of me. I notice a piece of paper and gently grab it. I unfold it and see his name and number. Once again my cheeks flush red but not out of embarrassment, out of happiness.

    I hold the note in my hands and stare off into the ocean, watching the swimmers and surfers. After a couple of minutes I decide it’s time to finally go home. Standing up I collect my things and make my way back up the beach where I came. The note still clutched in my hand.

  7. Naimy Schommer

    It was a red-lipstick kind of day in late July.
    I found myself in Anchorage’s Mulcahy Stadium with my parents, three siblings, and a handful of mis-matched cousins as the Glacier Pilots baseball game closed with a disappointing, consecutive-out last inning. The home fan base begrudgingly gathered blankets and half eaten bags of peanuts at they prepared to leave.
    My cousin Amanda had just turned sixteen and was well, extremely sixteen. Throughout the game, she had sat and quipped about how it was too windy to watch baseball, how her newly-vegan diet didn’t support stadium food, and how much number eleven, pitcher Kyle Tyler, looked like Miles Teller. She’d latched on to me like a finger monkey for the sole reason that I’d just turned 20; I was old enough for her to look up to, but young enough for her to still feel as if she could outshine. I was fine with it; it’s hard to be sixteen.
    It was my first time leaving the house without crutches since my hip surgery two months before-I was grateful for the sunshine, blazingly uncommon 83 degree heat, and the glorious fresh air. Amanda couldn’t ruin this day for me, and I was content to let her griping run its course and dismissed her skittering eyes as a symptom of adolescence. I focused my attention on the Glacier Pilots-our family had always been supporters-and consented to an afternoon of good ol’ American baseball. I’d made an occasion of the casual family afternoon (wore a fiery red lipstick and such) and was excited for the opportunity to see strangers and move about in the world crutch-free. Given, the heavy cocktail of bedrest and prescription drugs I’d been sipping since May had taken its toll on me; I was anxious and unnerved in the crowded stadium and jumped every time a ball cracked against a bat.
    After the game, Amanda required a trip to the stall-less, dingy women’s bathroom on the other side of the stadium. I thought, sure, I could walk around and stretch my legs a bit, and went with her. By the time she’d finished petting her hair and applying the 3rd coat of nude lipstick, 20 minutes had gone by and my freshly-healed hip was starting to feel the stress of standing. Finally, I ushered her out and we made our way around the empty stadium towards the parking lot where I knew my mom was waiting.
    As we came around the corner of the home dugout, we saw the Glacier Pilots filing out of the locker room and goofing around in the narrow walking area. We were forced to stop cold-there was no way around them.
    “God, he’s so hot I just can’t with him” Amanda had found Kyle Tyler, aka Miles Teller look-a-like, aka the pitcher, in the midst of the group. He was leaning against the poster-ed wall of the dugout, working a half-eaten apple, and talking to a few of his teammates nearby. He’d changed into jeans and street shoes, but retained the dirt-streaked jersey that had secured him the game’s only home-run. He was cute, sure.
    “You know what’d be really funny right now?” Amanda sneered, a squinted jab loaded in her extentioned eyelashes,
    I harrumphed an indulgent sigh and turned to squint through the sunned group of baseball players, looking for an open passing lane.
    “If you just walked over and kissed him”. She darted her braced fingers straight into my chest and something in me ignited.
    You would be foolish to deny the power unfastened within the perfect shade of lipstick. Nude can make or break brunch, mauve runs professional circles, and purple kicks creativity into gear. But red, the coat of womanhood herself, red that esteemed consort of confidence and mischief, red the translator of woman’s wild spirit and sachem to intuition is powerful above all. Again: it was a red lipstick kind of day. Fearless in motion, I didn’t even feel the fresh scars pinch as I strode straight into the mass of men.
    Kyle Tyler didn’t see me until I was a couple paces out. I’d woven and elbowed my way through the towering forest of MLB hopefuls and almost tripped twice. But I continued. ‘Hey, maybe you should think about what you’re doing’ a voice briefly crossed my mind as the unknowing pitcher met my eye and pushed away from the dugout wall, but that thought was internally squashed by the louder and more urgent ‘Don’t you do this half-assed’. I approached the target, grabbed a mit-full of his white jersey and planted one square on his lips. Faintly, I heard the hollers of his whooping teammates around us, but mainly just the voice of my mother echoing in my head screaming ‘WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING’.
    I pulled away, smiled at his drunk smirk and the red lipstick smeared across it and turned to walk towards the parking lot; I fully intended to make a clean escape, but he caught my arm and stuttered out a slurred “Whh..wha…what…I…”
    I had to say something quick. “Nice homer”, I said without comprehending my words. Who was I? What romantic comedy trailer was I in?
    I caught a glimpse of Amanda through the staggering jersey’d torsos-her glossed mouth hung so open I could see the unnaturally green gum sticking out from her lip. Catching my eye, she shook her head, stooped to grab the sweater she’d dropped, and charged through the crowd with her arms crossed and head down. She caught up with me on the other side and we hustled back to the bathroom in silence.
    Of course the lipstick was smeared across MY face as well and anyone who wears this particular red badge of courage regularly knows you’re not faced with a “just wipe it off” sort of situation when removing it. I did my best with water and crappy paper towels and just pulled my hair closer around my face. We walked out to our respective family’s cars in silence and went our separate ways never to address the event.
    I dove headfirst into the backseat and rode home without drawing attention to myself. No one mentioned the lipstick smeared on my face. When we got home, I immediately jumped into the shower and changed into pajamas and just like that, all evidence of the kiss was gone.
    I texted my best friend later that night and to this day we share the absurd allure of this story. Never again will either of us underestimate the power of red lipstick or its ability to help one regain their stride.

    1. Aubri Stogsdill

      WOW, Naimy! What a story! It’s incredible what a bit of lipstick and a moment of sheer confidence can lead you to do. This was so exciting to read, and it absolutely sounds like something you would do!! (:

    2. Katherine Whelchel

      This is such a funny and crazy story! Your description is incredible! I agree with Aubri, it sounds like you. 😉

  8. Leah Rego

    The two little girls got off the school bus, and as it drove away they realized that they had been dropped off at the wrong spot. Their usual bus stop was close to their grandma’s house, but the house was nowhere to be seen. It was dark and cold, the ground was a monotonous white, and the trees stood tall and foreboding all around. There were only two ways to go, further down the road the bus had been driving on, or down the unfamiliar road that bore the same name as the road their grandma’s house was on. “We should go this way,” the younger of the pair said pointing to the road named like their grandma’s “the house has got to be here somewhere.” Her older sister agreed and the two set off down the road.
    The sisters were only six and seven years old and quite small for their ages, they had only moved to their grandma’s house a couple of weeks before. They didn’t know much about the snowy forested place they were in, they had spent their whole lives in the suburban desserts of Arizona. They shivered from the cold and from their fear. They were lost, in a strange place in the dark, there weren’t any houses around, and no cars were on the long dark road ahead.
    They continued walking down the long dark road looking for anything familiar. The younger girl noticed a blinking red light above the trees, “Hey! that’s the same light we can see from grandma’s house.” She told her sister. “You’re right,” the older girl said, and the two kept following the road heading in the direction of the blinking red light.
    They trudged along shivering in their little coats, trying to ignore their imaginings of what horrors and wild creatures might lie in wait in the forest that lay beyond the boundaries of the road. They tried talking to each other but their voices only emphasized the vast emptiness around them, so they remained silent, each wrapped in their own thoughts. They continued this way for what felt to the girls to be a very long time, when finally they saw a hint of light ahead.
    The girls began walking faster and as they drew closer to the light they began to recognize their surroundings. The trees were a little less frightening, and they felt a little less cold. Then they saw the driveway and finally, their grandma’s house. They ran to the front door, bursting inside, their family exclaimed in relief at their homecoming. The two girls began to tell their tale of their journey all in a rush, their mother cried and told them off her worry and all she’d been doing to find her lost girls. Their grandma made them hot chocolate and helped them out of their winter gear, wrapping them in blankets to bring warmth into their freezing bodies. They’d been on an adventure they would never forget, and had a story they would tell many times over the years to friends and eventually to their children.

  9. Michelle Cordova

    There I stood, in the entry way of our 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house on Skyline drive. I was shaking as tears dropped from my eyes like bombs off a fighter jet as I buried my head into my sister’s chest. Even at just 7 years of age, I knew my father’s abuse towards my mother was wrong … why didn’t he?

    The humid summer day in south Alabama started off just like any other with me bouncing out of bed the moment my eyes witnessed that bright ray of sunshine blasting through my curtains. My sister, 6 years older than me, enjoyed her beauty rest, so I quickly and quietly ran out of our modestly sized bedroom and down the hallway, through the living room, and straight to the pantry. I cannot recall the cereal I chose that day, but I am certain that I filled up on the sugary goodness as that was the normal breakfast in my house, seven days a week.

    The moment my bowl touched the sink, I was off to my room to get dressed, and there was not a moment to waste. I could already hear my friends outside playing, riding their bikes up and down our street where we’d roam for hours on end, making the occasional pit stop at the house of the kid who promised the best snacks. I threw on my shorts and top, bathing suit underneath, grabbed my flip flops, and rushed out the door. My father, deeply in love with his red candy apple convertible, was already outside washing and waxing his baby, called out something to the extent of, “Shell, be careful” as I slung my leg over my pink Barbie bicycle and raced off.

    After hours of trampolines, sprinklers, tag, and bike riding and covered from head to toe in dirt and sweat, I’d finally felt defeated and ready to head home. As I rode my bike out of my friend’s back yard and rounded the corner, my eyes were met with the flashing lights of 4 police cars. My heart began to race, but my legs felt frozen. I mustered up the strength to peddle, regardless of how slow. As I approached our brick house, I noticed my father was handcuffed, yelling and causing a scene, even as he watched me run past him and into my sister’s arms. Scared and confused, I peeked behind my sister into the living room only to see my mother sitting on the floor, surrounded by my brothers and a few officers. Her head sat in her hands as her sobs rang through the disheveled house. Blood trickled down her fingers from a broken nose as her eyes began to swell. Earrings that she once wore proudly now lay at her feet, ripped from her ears, leaving behind slits that would never heal.

    You see, my father was a raging alcoholic, the type that would pop open a beer first thing in the morning and continuously drink the day away. No part of his being was happy when he drank, possibly even when he didn’t, and my mother tried tirelessly to protect us kids from his torment. I recall the bruises, screaming, torn clothes, and pain as if the seemingly endless fights occurred yesterday. I have not seen my father to this day, and I am thankful for the right to choose my own path and not let my past determine my future, but instead, allow me to know my worth and not settle for less.

    1. Aundrea Pierce


      You definitely achieved pulling at my heart! I’m left feeling so sorry for the child, and glad she had her older siblings to protect her at such a vulnerable time. I enjoyed how you included small details with the cereal and the dad’s red candy apple convertible. As the reader, I could quickly grasp that the dad’s priorities were toxic!

  10. Aundrea Pierce

    I’m sitting in the hard unwelcoming chair among five other people; one being my 2-year-old mini-me making the whole waiting area her personal fortress of caves and trampolines. Then there’s the giant tall sandy blonde man I married, glaring at the Tasmanian, refraining himself from stepping in to tame. With my leg bouncing up and down I’m looking at her too but I’m not watching. I’m in my own little world because I don’t want to be here and wishing an emergency exit could emerge from any surface of this perplexing atmosphere. A nurse appears at one of the two openings to a hall, “Mrs.Pierce” she broadcasts. She, like the majority of the staff and nurses, are Hispanic which comes as no surprise considering the city we are in. The sound of my name halts the race in my leg. I stand. Those butterflies in my stomach begin to have seizures as I give my husband the, I’ll be back, have fun with the Tasmanian look.

    With my chest slumped forward I reluctantly follow the long black wavy hair of the nurse in front of me down the narrow hall, ignoring the walls full of encouraging paintings of breathtaking scenes from nature. Please let us walk next to a giant Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night (1889), so I can twirl away in the mesh of oily blues. We enter the same dim, tidy patient room as last week where the same dance was danced and a feeling of gratitude that there is no offensive, overwhelming, rubbing alcohol smell greeting my nostrils.

    Moments later I’m on the familiar long, slender, warm white cushioned cot with my head confined by the corner of the room and the giant ultrasound machine takes up most of the view of the right side of the room. The butterflies are no longer seizing, but they are paralyzed. The nurse sits and immediately waves a tube over my exposed abdomen plopping a warm, slimy, jelly dollop on my flat abdomen. It’s an unnerving, but comfortably warm sensation thanks to advances in modern medicine. Looking up at the ceiling from the platform of the bed, I’m letting all of my weight and worry sink into the cushion. Letting nearly everything go, but not my guard. My walls are up for as long as I can hold them, for now.

    While dazing in the grooves of the ceiling, the thoughts awaken, and I begin to question my morals and try to justify why another bad omen is happening to a decent person. It doesn’t matter, to this room, I’m just another number. A deep breath in just to snap me out of wonder and take in the quiet atmosphere of the patient room. Now that I’m close enough to the lady on my right I can make out the cute little snoopy designs on her scrubs. My anxiousness makes me enjoy and gloat over snoopy, even though before entering the room I never cared a wink for the cartoon because I didn’t grow up in a time where Snoopy was the big hype. The nurse held intense concentration while staring straight at the screen on the monitor, which is hidden from my view. A glance from the ceiling to her face shows no emotion, just stillness and silence with an occasional “tink tink” from one hand on the keyboard and with the other, she’s using the scanner to finger paint heartbreak around my belly button.
    A week prior while in the same bed, same room and nurse but different scrubs I could feel the heaviness of my little girl who sat on my legs. She concerned about her mommy’s well being and full of tendencies to snoop around. Just a week ago, these simple four-cornered walls in this room were filled with excitement, greetings, and eagerness. Today the walls have encased me, and the bed confines me to inevitable calamity. Even though the little girl is waiting for me in the waiting room today, her concern is still weighing on me, on every limb of my body. The knot that formed in my throat days ago from the phone call expands and bulges, but I still refuse to let the knot untangle.
    The nurse lady is still consumed with the mission on her screen. Even though it has been a mere five minutes, that’s a long time to be overcome by the panic from flashing questions and moral thoughts pecking in and out of your brain. With no emotional connection or green light from the silent dutiful nurse, I must keep everything glued together. Just like my mom, I’m not any good at keeping things to myself. Stubbornness, pridefulness, unacceptance will surely keep my mask on for the next fifteen minutes. Ten more minutes of silence and a couple, “doing okay?” from the nurse I start to sense emotional weakness and the walls start to tremble. The nurse needs to remove her mask so I can remove mine! Seconds later, after an intense silence, involuntary, without my say, the ceiling becomes blurry, eyes swelling and filling up with two puddles, tears begin to sprint from the corners of my eyes and disappear into the roots of my hair. The blotched tan square ceiling eventually comes back into clear view as the bed assures me it’s still holding up. Finally, the nurse behind the mask speaks. Her mellow, colorless tone whispers, “would you like to see?”. A few of the paralyzed butterflies turn into stone and wither away. A deep breath fills every cavity with my outer body experience. What I choose to say next took me to a new world I never experienced.

  11. Jessica Honebein

    Jessica Honebein- Flash Essay
    It was Independence Day, 2016 the crowd roared and nerves were high. I jumped around as to keep myself warm and the blood running through my body. The gun fired and the battle to the base of the mountain began. Most of the runners, including myself hit the base of the mountain around five minutes and separated to the paths we had trained on. It was only five minutes in and I was already questioning my logic. I was exhausted but still managed to crawl my way up the roots. Finally I had reached the first small crowd on the mountain which gave me a boost of motivation as I trudged on. I inched my way up the mountain as I felt fire resonate throughout my legs. The higher I got the more sweat dripped down my body. The only thing that kept me going was the competition I had gnawing at my heels. Finally I escaped the trees and a swarm of flies automatically caked my body. I was so annoyed with the flies that it took my mind off of the pain for a mere second. I pass the half-way mark, which is a pipe that sticks out of the ground and realize the pain of uphill is halfway over.

    Conversation begins between the women about the flies being annoying and the lack of breeze. I manage to muddle out a simple, “well at least that means we are getting closer to finishing” and everyone laughed. Time seemed to pass by quickly as I was focused on keeping as little flies on me and possible and listening to the other womens conversations. Every now and then I threw in input of my own, but I mainly tried to save my breath. I hit about three-fourths the way up the mountain and saw that the first women had rounded the rock and began her decent. I wanted that to be me more than anything, but the little bit of rock climbing I had left made my focus shift back to my footing. Before I knew it I looked up and could see the rock! I got a subtle burst of energy and rounded the rock with confidence. I managed to grab a quick sip of water and began my controlled dive down the mountain.

    My feet sank into the shell rock and relief filled my body knowing I would be down the mountain in a few minutes. I hit the little waterfalls and my feet swallowed the water. It was almost over as I clinched onto the last cliff and shimmied my way off the mountain. I was finally at sea level, crowds were cheering again and I was ready for the race to be over. Covered in mud and blood my race numbered flapped as my feet hit the concrete. I Sprinted down the road swarmed with people on each side of the barricade. Every step I seemed to take my legs turned more to jelly and the immense smells from different booths crowded my nose. I choked back my pain and lit fire under my butt when I rounded the corner onto fourth street and saw the finish line. I inched closer and closer every step I took, I heard my name being called over the speakers and it all became real. I watched time slowly tick as I got closer to crossing the line. Time stopped at one hour and twenty-eight minutes when I crossed the line. I had completed Mt. Marathon race for the first time, and beat my goal of getting one hour and thirty minutes.

    1. Caitlyn Williams

      Hey Jessica, I can visualize your story, and how much effort it takes to run a marathon. I’ve never ran a marathon, and It sounds like a thrill. Through the pain and sweat, I see the thrill of making past the finish line! I also liked the dialog, and how the main character managed to crack a joke while racing uphill. Good work!

    2. Ben Knapp

      Your essay is awesome! You really do a good job of describing the feeling you get after intense exercise, although I can’t really talk because I’ve never done anything as amazing as that.

  12. Caitlyn Williams

    Caitlyn Williams
    Introduction to Creative Writing
    Flash Essay
    22, January 2018

    The Fall Out
    Snap, crackle, pop. The bonfire crackles as the celestial fireball we call the sun, sets over the horizon. It’s going to be a good night, as our high school basketball team won their third game in a row against the Comets. The Comets used to be one of the top teams in our region, but in recent times I’ve seen that their team now is a bunch of ragtag boys; some can’t even pass the ball straight! I’ll admit, they do have some good players, but not as good as ours. We used to have a ragtag team, but we’ve gained a lot of skill since then. I’m proud to be an Akiak Thunderbolt; I wear my maroon and gold proud! When I cheer for them I cheer for them LOUD LOUD LOUD!
    It’s a chilly Saturday night in February, and the games are over. All of my friends are here except for Brandy; she’s running late as usual. She’s been late to just about every party we’ve thrown. I love her for that though. She works tirelessly to take care of her 3 younger brothers. On top that, she’s in AP courses; I always wonder how she does it so gracefully. We’ve been friends since middle school, and she’s been with me through everything, including my first break up. Her mom is friends with my mom, and that’s made our bond even stronger. She inspires me to achieve more, and that’s what best friends are for.
    Unfortunately, we had somewhat of a fall out when she moved towns for our junior year in high school. When she came back, it was like we never knew each other. I was more into sports, and cheer. She came back in all black clothing, listening to the newest Asking Alexandria album. The music wasn’t my taste; the screaming always made me uneasy. She was always into alternative fashion, I just didn’t expect her to come back all out.
    We still tried to hang out, but it was nothing more than a hollow shell of what it used to be. I missed her so much, and I didn’t think she cared anymore. I still latched on to the various memories we made, but she doesn’t need to know that. Maybe she felt the same way, but I’ve always thought otherwise. She’s still into metal, and I’m still into sports. Needless to say, our relationship has been strained since she moved back.
    I have quite a few friends in school, but only a few I’d consider “close”. My close friends mean the world to me, I’ve known them almost all of my life. There’s Christine, Angie, and Agatha, Karl, and my friend Robert. They’ve always got my back, and I’m very grateful for that. We’ve had our ups and downs as everyone else has, but luckily it made us closer and not farther apart! My other friends are pretty close, but we almost only hang out at school. This includes my friend Brandy. Her and I’s relationship was built on family. We still see each other at family functions, but she’d rather walk alone than hang out with me.
    On my little brother’s 7th birthday, Melissa, Brandy’s mom, and Brandy came over with all 3 of her little brothers. It was a wild having all 4 boys over, but we didn’t care. It was the peak of summer, and we relished in it. We watched as the little boys chased each other playing a game that only they know. It was always fascinating watching my brother and his little friends imagine the wildest things. Imagination was powerful to me, it was the ability to believe that something was there when it wasn’t, and that intrigued me. It made me wonder when I stopped using my imagination for play, and started using it to wonder.
    While watching the boys play, Brandy muttered something to me about going outside. I didn’t expect that she’s let me follow when I said nothing and walked out with her. It was tense, and time seemed to stand still. It was silent until she laughed and asked, “You haven’t changed much have you?” I replied, “Hardly, I’ve only gotten taller!” After that, she opened up about what had happened when she moved and I was shocked. She had became friends with people she thought would be her friend. They ended up being manipulative, overpowering, and abusive. They forced her to do things she didn’t want to do, and that changed her demeanor. She said that the last few months she was there, she was alone. Completely and utterly alone. We hadn’t been talking because her phone was disconnected. I had thought of sending a letter, and how aesthetic that would be, but I didn’t know her address.
    After she was finished telling her rough story, I gave her the tightest hug I could muster, and told her that I didn’t know. She said that she avoided me because she was filled with shame. That part broke my heart. This was the girl that was always with me through middle school and parts of high school. I then mentally took a step back and asked myself why I hadn’t asked about her change in character. It made sense, her change in clothing and music. Her feelings channeled into the way she presented herself. I hadn’t seen it until now and I felt horrible. After the long embrace she smiled at me and told me she’s glad I understood her and the way she handled things.
    Now, we’re in our 20’s, and she’s still into alternative fashion. I am too, with my long shiny hair, and my gauged ears. Brandy’s now sporting red and orange hair, and she rocks it! She’s still my best friend, and I got nostalgia thinking about all that’s happened between us, and how we’re closer than ever. ‘I’m glad to be apart of her life’ I think as I watch her finishing up her makeup look for tonight. We’re going to a Machine Gun Kelly concert tonight, and I couldn’t be more excited!
    “Ready for an amazing night with some even more amazing music!?” She asks excitedly as we put our shoes on and head out the door. “Hell yeah!” I respond with the same excited tone. I start the car, and we’re off to pick up a few more friends and start our new adventure.

  13. Katherine Whelchel

    The black lights were illuminating every inch of white on me. The rented, beat up blue and green shoes squeezed the side of my foot that was unusually wide. A blacked out bowling alley with a flock of catty girls was setting the night up for disaster. All I could see was the outline of neon tee-shirts and laces crossed like the back of corsets. Obi Won Kenobi couldn’t save me, my only hope was to stun everyone with a skill I had never refined. The next lane over was occupied by half drunk, gym addicted men who were having the greatest fun chucking balls at what they saw to be toothpicks. How is this considered a sport? Swiveling in my seat, I took all this in while a nickname to put on the scoreboard evaded me. But my effort was useless; they had already given me a name, “Kassie”. There goes the only fun part of bowling.
    The unoriginal name lit up as I approached my doom. Apprehensiveness and the hope that I was a bowling protégé loomed above me. Lining up with the ally, I attempted to rid my thoughts of old educational TV. All I wanted was for this heavy, semi-sticky bowling ball to make its fateful journey and hit some stuff. The thought that I did not have to do this never occurred. I was on the scoreboard; it was expected of me. Deep breaths and practice arm swings were failing diversions. My hopes were dwindling fast. On the first try, the ball couldn’t bear to separate from my grasp. Second try and they were severed, but the nauseating crunch in my knee was the only thing that registered as the ground approached my face.
    Disoriented and throbbing, I mustered the strength to look around. I was three feet in the lane, and the ball had failed its number one mission. Who knew they keep bowling alleys extra slick? The noise of gut laughs in the next lane over met my ears. My sudden predicament humored them. Attempting to stand brought my fate closer; I would have to crawl on my hands and knees off of the lane.
    After the marathon, a thousand “Are you Okays?” was my reward. My mouth produced the sounds they wanted to hear as my mind processed oppositely. ‘What did you do!? I think I’m dying! Don’t be dramatic Kassie; look at it. Why did I wear skinny jeans?! You’re the lead in the Spring Performance! It’s called Peter Pan and YOU’RE Peter Pan!!’ As my mind ran in dizzying circles, the game ended and I was escorted like a maimed animal to the car.
    The second part of the evening was a hotel stay. Bed and sleep were my goals and a miraculous healing was prayed for. By 3 a.m. I surrendered and accepted my fate: an old bag of semi-hard gummy bears, the tune of snores, and Britain’s Got Talent reruns on YouTube. It was an impromptu night; I made do with what I had. After hours of Simon Cowell, the sun rose and my second marathon of the night ended. I then did what I should have done the minute I crawled off the lane.
    Called my mom.
    She would know what to do. Her main area of expertise was kissing it until it was better. Even though the magic of my childhood was gone, I still believed it could work. With deep disappointment though, I realized that my mom’s magic must have died after I turned 13; her only solution going to the doctors. After this realization, came the next hurdle: we were on the fourth floor, six rooms away from the elevator and walking was out of the question. As I began to cry for about the fifth time, my mom exclaimed,
    “Is that a wheelie chair?!”
    ‘Bless you mom, I take back what I said, you’ve still got your magic’. Mounted on my royal steed, I was, more slowly than I would like to admit, pushed down the hall to the best invention in the world. One awkward elevator ride later I was wheeled, in an actual wheelchair this time, into the doctor’s office. All while only wearing blue sleep shorts, a pink Hollister hoodie, and one sock.

  14. Mekayla

    My eyes are closed.

    I feel so many things; The wet earth to my back, The cold breeze that raises the hair on my arms. My lungs swell with it. I rise and I fall with every cold breath. I am the air that fills my lungs. Nothing else.

    My eyelids open, and I am enveloped into a new realm of experience. The trees are alive, swaying with the breeze that still moves in me and cools me. The sunlight trickles through the gaps in their leaves, but the light is soft, and the air is shades of yellow and green silk. The more I sit there, in that still forest, the louder it gets, the more it moves. The leaves that were just silent are now part of a symphony with the birds, giving a low voice to the breeze that moves me. I am my surroundings, nothing else.
    I am what I take in. My mind is blank, but maybe more active than ever.
    And I know that people talk about this sort of meditation, being completely submerged into an environment, letting the ego sink into the wet ground beneath, until you are no longer you.
    But it always feels like something more when I’m there, in that moment.
    I find that I feel the most alive when I’m not myself, but the energy that is in every moment, every movement, every sound, every cold breeze that fills my lungs.


    And then it ends. I get up from off the ground, and I exit the moment in which I am the most alive, the least myself, and I walk back into my life that is less of a life than that moment in the forest.

    1. Corbin Knapp

      I feel this way when I’m in the forest too! sometimes I like to wander through the woods near my house and just take in my surroundings. You described that feeling really well. Keep up the good work!

  15. T Gordon

    It was 5:30 AM, and the grumpiness was just beginning. The digital clock was flashing the wrong time, letting me know that the power had gone out sometime in the night. But the sight of these blocky red letters at least let me know that the power was back on. I drug myself out of bed, joints creaking with each step downstairs to see if our heat had managed to stay on throughout the night.
    When you are young and inexperienced, but you want to have the world and to not have to wait for it, you go get a mortgage. It was a bold thing to do at this time of our lives, but I was able to close on a home after the trials and tribulations of mountainous paperwork, income verification, and laying off my credit cards for a few months. That’s life, right? You gotta take the risk. Nevermind that I had no idea what I was doing.
    “I smell burning,” said my fiance from upstairs, interrupting my journey to the furnace.
    “What?” I responded with irritation. ‘Take back your words,’ is what I wanted to say.
    A series of “woah”s filled the house next. He pointed out the bright flashes from the surrounding woods.
    He dressed as I dialed the fire department. I managed to not trip too much over my words as I described the intense fireworks show happening between our snow loaded trees and the struggling power lines.
    “Keep us updated, we’ll come check it out.” I was promised.
    As I ended the call, the microwave let loose a drawn-out siren, as if someone’s popcorn kernels had been left long past popped–we would only realize later that it was it’s dying cry as a power surge fried its circuitry.
    “We should probably leave the house.” The dogs wagged their butts hard, excited at the prospect of an early morning adventure.
    It was mercifully warm outside due to the cloudy, snowy conditions, and we could see where we were going despite the sun not clocking in until later that morning. The pink-tinted clouds overhead were lit up every now and then by the arcs of electricity coming from the power line within the woods. The buzzing and crackling noises, and a blue-rimmed flame made the scene look like a giant bug zapper.
    A small fire had started where the tree was making contact with the power line. With all the snow, the fire couldn’t quite catch the closely neighboring trees. It didn’t matter–you couldn’t tell me otherwise that the world was not ending. Thoughts of statistics and science were shadowed by the visions of home burning hell-fire.
    Local firemen arrived 15 minutes later, parking a ways up the road and walking towards us, as the road leading up to our home was impeded by severely bent over trees.
    “Oh yeah,” one of them said, joining us in our stare. “We saw arcs all up the line in Goldstream.The power company should be out soon enough. You called them already, right?”
    As I stared at the dancing sparks, I thought about how I had handled my homeowner’s insurance. I had picked the highest deductible, assuring myself that we could handle whatever mess life could throw at us. I did not feel that same sense of confidence watching the morning flame, and the many tree-sized wicks.
    A loud pop came from the jumbled electric mess in the woods. I jumped, though I had been warned that it would happen.
    “Yup, that’s your transformer failing. The power is completely out now.” The fireman said quite casually.
    The fire show quickly fizzled out now, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
    Back inside our home, we sat in the living room, surrounded by candles and flashlights, wondering when we will next have those lose-it-all feelings.

  16. Josh Hartman

    The launch
    by Josh Hartman
    It’s 12 p.m. and Josh and I are illuminated by the flat light from the fluorescent lamps hanging above us. I was thinking about the light because we were sitting in front of a live camera. That’s what we worked with since just a few days before, the room that was now our broadcast studio was a workshop and monitoring station for Poker Flat Research Range.
    It was the third day of the launch season at Poker Flat. As a member of the public relations team I got to drive the 30 dark, lonely miles out to the range to help with the live broadcast of the launches. The other Josh was actually a space physicist who helped with outreach on occasion.
    While the camera staring us down was technically live, the broadcast was cut away to the cameras on range viewing the rocket. The building shrouding the rocket crept back exposing it to the frigid air. Then the rocket began to stand up straight and point skyward.
    “Beginning vertical checks,” the radio buzzed.
    The rocket could have been launched anytime between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. The broadcast team had already been waiting a couple hours to see if the rocket would launch tonight or if the conditions weren’t correct. The rocket would countdown for 30 minutes prior to launch. Normally the countdowns are only 10 minutes, but this launch was more intensive than others.
    The “science” or the atmospheric conditions had to be correct. There needed to be a strong gust of charged particles, called solar wind, impacting the earth’s protective magnetosphere at the time of the launch. They also needed there to be no aurora in the section of sky that they launched into. Unfortunately strong solar wind and aurora usually go hand in hand.
    It was only midnight so we still had another hour-and-a-half before they either scrubbed the mission or decided to launch the rocket.
    “They probably aren’t going to scrub even if the conditions are bad,” Lynda, my boss sitting off camera, said. “It costs more money every day that they don’t launch the rocket so even if there is a tiny chance that the conditions will improve they’ll wait. There is over one hundred NASA folks here working on this.”
    Two minutes later the launch was scrubbed. It did not bode well for launching anytime soon. Excited that we were getting to leave early, but still frustrated that the launch wouldn’t be happening we drove back down the long winding Steese highway.
    The next day was the same. We waited. It was midnight. Conditions are bad. We waited. It was 12:30 a.m. Conditions are still bad. It was just after 1 a.m. One of the scientists monitoring the atmospheric conditions in the other room comes in to tell us that the launch isn’t going to happen but they’re not scrubbing just yet.
    Dejected Josh and I start packing our bags and getting things ready to leave. I started to walk over to the other room to grab my backpack when I heard the radio come back on.
    “We’re dropping the count … twenty minutes and counting.”
    The red display clock behind the desk where Josh and I sit flash 20:00, then 19:59.
    “Are they actually counting down now? Why is the timer at 20?” I said into the room.
    “It looks like they have a window but it’s closing soon,” Lynda said then urged Josh and I to get back to the desk.
    We hurried to sit down. We arranged our papers. We fumbled with our lapel mics while attaching them to our shirts then we looked toward the camera. Jason, the physicist and switchboard operator, gave us the signal that we were on.
    “Hello and welcome to this live broadcast from Poker Flat Research Range, we are at 19 minutes and counting,” I said.

  17. Cassidy Kramer

    I feel a sharp, stinging pain, or I guess you can say the cold is “nipping” at my cheek. I apply less and less pressure on my throttle until my snow machine comes to a complete stop, take off my glove, pull down my face mask, and touch my hand to my cheek. My cheek is completely frozen, hard, cold to the touch. I have no feeling in that part of my cheek, it feels dead, kind of like a chicken breast when you first pull it out of the freezer for dinner. Knowing it is the only thing that will help, and not caring how gross it is, I blow my nose into my bare hands, and I start to rub my warm snot onto my cheek. I regret not doing this before I left town. I knew it was cold, I knew this was going to happen, why didn’t I prevent this frostbite and snot on my face beforehand. Then I think to myself, maybe I wanted this, going back to town with an award-winning frostbite is stupidity in our elder’s eyes, and a sign of being a cool “hot” outdoorsy girl in the shallow eyes of a teenage boy. As the burning worsens, I realize the pain is not worth it, this is not what I want. Ever. No wonder they call it a frostbite, it feels like Jack Frost literally bit a chunk out of my face. I can feel Jack trying to make my hand his next victim, so I finish lathering up my face in as much snot as I could muster up, pull my face mask back up, slip my glove on, rev my snow machine, and resume my path to the cabin.

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