Behind the Curtain…
Okay, so if you know me at all from this blog, you know I’m a bit of a sucker for a flash fiction challenge. They’re good for sharpening the creative mind, and keeping the creative juices flowing. Especially when you have parameters: a word limit, a set of words that must be used, a theme, or something else that maybe pushes you to write something you wouldn’t usually think about writing.
So, when I saw a link to this flash fiction contest hosted by Anna Meade at Yearning for Wonderland, I salivated. Then I wiped my chin and thought, “No, I’m supposed to be gearing up for NaNoWriMo!” But then I thought, “What better mental exercise can you have for writing fiction than a flash fiction contest?” I shrugged. “Okay.” Yeah, I can be a bit of a pushover at times.
Anna’s challenge is for us to write a piece of flash fiction that fulfills the following criteria:
- Has the theme: “Behind the Curtain”–pulling back the veil to reveal the darkness behind (with, it seems, a theatrical element–the circus, ballet, or something like that). She encourages the use of a Pinterest board she’s set up containing photos for inspiration. Include the picture if you use one of them.
- No more than 400 words.
- Posted on your blog between midnight EST on Oct 2 and midnight October 13.
- No fan fiction–original worlds only.
- No erotica–nothing graphic.
There will be prizes, but they haven’t been announced yet. And frankly, I’m just happy to participate. So here goes…
Behind the Curtain
I decided to walk home from the party, hoping a mile of night air would help sober me up. I passed boarded-up buildings, littered parking lots, and the filthy homeless, huddled in corners, drinking from bags. A jarring contrast to the tuxes and frocks, and thousand-dollar champagne I just left behind. The sweet perfume of affluence compared to the urine stench of depravity. I turned my nose and picked up my pace.
It started raining. I took cover under the awning of an abandoned movie theater, arousing the interest of the disheveled hiding there. I could feel their eyes, so I moved further in toward the doors.
Then I heard piano music. It was hypnotic; I found myself drawn into the theater. I wandered through the doors, dull to the must, the mold, and the decay. The carpet was soiled and threadbare, the grime visible on the walls. I didn’t care. The music was leading me.
I reached the auditorium and staggered toward the source: a beautiful black grand piano sitting center stage. The pianist was in bow tie and tails, a white carnation pinned to his lapel; his dark hair sleeked back, his face intense, his fingers dancing across the keyboard. The piece was unfamiliar, but it moved me beyond comprehension.
I reached the front row of seats just as he finished. He rose from the bench, turned, and bowed. I applauded and cheered. The curtain fell. I was giddy with joy; I had to meet this genius.
I clambered onto the stage, my heart pounding, fingers sweaty as I pulled back the curtain.
My face fell. On the stage stood an upright piano, battered and stained. I approached it carefully, afraid it would fall apart at the slightest movement. Its keys were chipped, the ivory missing on many of them. The whole front panel was gone, exposing strings and hammers–what was left of them. I shook my head. Was it the champagne? It couldn’t be. The music played in my mind, like a song that won’t go away, only I didn’t want it to go–ever.
My heart sank as I followed a broken exit sign at the back. On the way out I nearly tripped over a man in a greasy, weather-worn coat that reeked of beer. I almost ignored him, but for the white carnation pinned to his lapel.
Now, go check out the other participants’ stories!