The circumstances surrounding my discovery of The Iron Writer are vague at best; I think I was researching places to submit my short stories for publication and a few web clicks later, I found this rad place to challenge my flash fiction writing skills and test my creativity.
Here’s how The Iron Writer challenge works. Each week, four writers are pitted against each other. They are given four elements, a 500-525 word limit, and four days to craft a flash fiction masterpiece. The submissions are posted to the website each week where the public can vote on their favorite piece. Behind the scenes, impartial judges rate the stories. The popular votes and the judges’ votes are combined and voila, a winner is selected.
A couple months after joining the Iron Writer community, I’m in the finals for the Iron Writer Summer Solstice Open. And I think that’s pretty dang cool.
To get to the finals, I’ve written two qualifying stories, one in which I had to combine the gods, dice, cocktails, and irrigation boots, and another in which I had to combine the point of view of Death, a chamber pot salesman, the Justice League v. Avengers, and a minion (a la Despicable Me). It hasn’t been easy, but I love the stories I’ve crafted from these crazy prompts. I’m better for it. They’ve stretched my brain in new ways, made me write differently. Growth in my craft, my friends.
For the finals, my elements are:
A lost key
A dessert topping
And here’s my entry:
By Tiffany Michelle Brown
The body was starting to smell—sickly sweet like bruised plums abandoned in the trashcan for too long. Jocelyn imagined the internal sugars rebelling, turning to acid, attacking the flesh. She brought her cup of tea to her nose, inhaled steam and chrysanthemums, felt the comfort settle into her bones. She knew the solace would evaporate quickly. She needed to decide.
Jocelyn bent forward and surveyed the glossy brochures fanned out on the coffee table. India. Australia. Lebanon. Germany. Luxembourg.
“Where would you like to go?” the travel agent had asked.
Jocelyn took off her sunglasses and hat, returned the agent’s gaze, and said, “Far away.”
The agent’s accommodating smile dissipated like instant coffee granules in hot water.
“And I want options.”
Jocelyn had received a handful of brochures generally produced for couples researching honeymoon destinations or kids fresh out of high school ready to backpack the continents before heading to college. For Jocelyn, this wasn’t about adventure; it was about survival.
The old two-story house shifted and settled, startling Jocelyn. Tea sloshed over the rim of her mug. She sighed and pattered to the kitchen for a towel.
While dabbing her top, the house shifted again—louder this time. Jocelyn dropped the towel and grabbed a knife from the butcher block. Her heart hammered in her chest and her muscles tensed…TO BE CONTINUED!
Yeah, I’m teasing y’all. To read the full story, check out the Iron Writer website. And then vote! (Hopefully for me?)