Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Overcoming Adversity Bloghop - Flash Fiction Piece

Today I am participating in the Overcoming Adversity Bloghop to support a good cause. The host of this blogfest, Nick Wilford, is trying to raise money to send his disabled son to a higher education school that will fit his needs and help him have a successful and satisfying life. He will be compiling the flash fiction pieces posted during the blogfest into an anthology which he will then sell. The proceeds of this anthology will go into his son's college fund.

The two major requirements for this piece were:
  1. The entry must be at or below 500 words.
  2. The entry must be centered around the prompt "overcoming adversity."

Her name was Adversity and I guess that was appropriate because she had red hair. As red as the blood she coughed up on occasion into white tissues she kept in her pocket.

Her favorite class was English, a sort of dry humor considering she was a play on words herself.

Her favorite class was also mine because I sat right beside her every day. Every day she was there anyway. On none of those days did I say a word to her.

Until she wrote a word to me.

She leaned across the aisle, her yellow pencil clenched between her fingers. She only ever used wooden pencils. It scratched across the top of my desk, but her hand was in the way and I couldn’t see what she had written until she straightened once more.

The faint gray marks almost blended into the desk top: four lines, three dots, and a curve. The rest of the hour, though the teacher must have written and gone over a hundred sentences on the board, the only mistakes I saw were the slight waver of the “i” in “Hi” and how she ended it with a smilie face instead of a period. I wouldn’t have corrected them for the world.

We met at the door to the classroom when the bell rang. Everyone else had streamed ahead, eager to be home and out from behind the bars of school. I gazed down at her, trying to find the word in my throat. I had never realized how short she was, how narrow and frail. Her presence always outweighed mine.

She waited, smiling, and ran a hand through her hair, shaking off the few strands that clung to her fingers.

I watched them drift to the ground as I said, “Hi.” Not nearly as perfect as hers.

She laughed until she coughed, but even as her chest made horrible over-crowded noises, the grin never left her lips.

I glanced back into the empty classroom. The teacher cleaned the last errors off the board.

“You know, you would’ve gotten in trouble if you’d been caught,” I whispered close to her ear. Her heat made my skin itch.

“I know,” she said and this time when she laughed it was clear, “but I did it anyway.”

The teacher looked over at us then, her eyebrows close together.

“Guess we better go,” Adversity said.

I opened my mouth, but she put her finger over it. “I don’t believe in saying good-bye.” Then her skin was no longer touching my skin.

I stayed in the doorway as she walked down the hallway, stopping just inside the open outside door. Sunlight gave her entire body a halo. She pulled the tissues out of her pocket with two hands and threw them all away.

-465 words


  1. By naming your protagonist "Adversity", are you employing synecdoche? I think you are since the adversity, i.e., the disease she must have is a small part of the whole yet represents her entire being. If this is the case, then I say you've created a cunning use of synecdoche in this piece, and in the immortal words of Kenneth Parcell "I love it."

    And have I ever told you that you are a master of the color red? I've seen you use it before and it always seems so bold when you choose to throw that color around.

    Red on white, blood on snow...those are Cornell colors you know? I think you should go to Cornell for college :)

    1. Actually, I was using "Adversity" to implement irony. It also has another use since the boy is scared to talk to her and overcomes that fear. It was kind of a play on "overcoming adversity."

      Umm... no, you haven't. But thank you. ^^ I'm actually thinking about going to a liberal arts college. While I'm good at math and such, I don't really enjoy it. Like at all.

  2. Beautifully written piece, Brooke. A simple and understated story of what can happen when you reach out to someone. I like how the exact nature of the disease was not revealed - it's not really important is it?

    Great job! Thanks for taking part.

    1. Thank you, Nick, and thank you for hosting this bloghop. I'm very glad I wrote this piece. :)

      And yes, you're very right that the disease is not so important. It is not her, only part of her. He doesn't admire her because of it, he admires her despite it.

      Good luck with the anthology! I can't wait to see it. I'll be sending my information soon.

  3. This was a nice story, though sad that she's unwell. Still, she shared a nice moment. :)

    1. Perhaps she won't be unwell for long. Perhaps she's getting better... :)

  4. I enjoyed reading this story. I hope she does get better and goes on to enjoy her life to the full.