Ficlet: Only Driftwood

This weekend, inspired by Eric, I logged back onto Ficlets for the first time in months and wrote a couple of ultra-short fiction pieces.

I’ve included one of them below – I am pleased with how it turned out.

Only Driftwood

This morning I took a walk on the bleak, deserted beach; not even the seabirds wanted to scavenge in the stinging, horizontal rain.

I usually try to follow the high-water mark. It is easier to walk there, and the seafoam sometimes carries treasures.

Today, though, I walked back near the driftwood margin; it blocked the wind a little. Driftwood has always fascinated me. The bleached, twisted shapes speak of desolation and endurance.

I stumbled, lurching, and looked down. I’d tripped over bones, a hand, fingers partially buried in the sand. It seemed like a desperate skeleton clawing its way out of the earth.

I breathed deeply… be calm. I knelt, and without touching, looked more closely. A silver bracelet circled the dessicated wrist, inscribed with the word “Faith”.

It was disconcerting; I’d thought this was a good place to hide the body.

I brushed sand back over the unfortunate bones, relic of a different time in my life, and headed back up the beach to warmth.

14 Responses to “Ficlet: Only Driftwood”

  1. Tom Says:

    Very nice. I like the turn it took, especially right after “Faith” signaled a completely different turn.

  2. Nathan Says:

    I like that too.

  3. Tanya Says:

    That was great Jeri – I didn’t expect that to happen!

  4. Jeri Says:

    Tom, Nathan – thanks! That’s part of the fun of Ficlets – including twists that help the reader imagine so much more story than it’s possible to fit within 1024 characters.

    Tanya, you were there at the inspiration for the setting to this story. OK, Cannon Beach isn’t the only beach I’ve wandered along recently – but I was thinking of the rainy Oregon coast.

  5. Tom Says:

    I’d just started reading a Joe Haldeman short story on the train when some friends asked me about the story. I showed them I was 2 pages into it, then proceeded to give them 10 minutes of what it was about. They were amazed.

    But Haldeman fed me precise droplets of character, back story, current setting, and overall plot. I love reading like that, Jeri, and you qualify.

    Thank you.

  6. Shawn Powers Says:

    Very nice. And as a note: No, I won’t ever go to the beach with you. ;)

    (Great ficlet though, seriously, it’s a difficult medium to get anything good. I’ve tried a few, but never anything good.)

  7. Nathan Says:

    I still like the idea of ficlets, but to be honest, you’ve got to wade through so much crap to find the good ones. Also, I liked the whole Prequel/Sequel idea, but rarely the execution.

  8. Nathan Says:

    BTW, I noticed World War Z on your bookpile. I’ll be curious to hear what you think of it after it rises to the top.

  9. Shawn Powers Says:

    I too struggle with the prequel/sequel idea. I thought it would be neat, but it’s just sorta lame. Hard to follow, just, more awkward than anything.

    And yes, there is a lot of crap there.

    And and, WWZ is on my short list to “buy soon”, so I’ll have to chime in when I read it too.

  10. Jeri Says:

    Actually – my bookpile is stuff I’ve already read. I read so fast that I can’t maintain any kind of a future to-read pile. Some people are compulsive handwashers – I’m a compulsive reader.

    So, that said, World War Z was very well done. I really enjoyed the concept, which was a very loosely intertwined set of short-story-like narratives from people spanning the globe. It was organized chronologically, from discovery to, well, the end.

    It was really fun spotting the cross connections among stories, and the ramifications of the global (rather than USian) perspective were refreshing. Some of the stories were outstanding, more profound and attention grabbing than others, but I’d say all of them were quite good.

    It’s also not really a traditional horror genre book. It was violent, somewhat graphic, and the pacing was good – but the format was more expository/SF than suspenseful, fearful horror.

    It’s definitely worth the read!

  11. Jeri Says:

    I enjoy the format of writing ficlets – packing a punch into 1024 characters requires really careful editing. IMHO, it’s good practice for writing story hooks.

    I’d have to agree with you on the sequels/prequels. I often find myself disappointed with those that folks write related to my pieces – and am not always inspired to do it with other people’s work.

    There are really two places where I have had fun with it – the first was a back-and-forth, humorous storyline with a couple of other writers, each of us capping the other’s story with something wilder and more improbable. It was almost a challenge/response scenario. The second is if I get decent writers I know from other forums to ‘play’ – bouncing off each others’ work rather than sifting through everything that’s out there on the site.

    Shawn, Tom, thank you for the feedback on the piece. The next item I take to the beach will be the “Hijack This” concept. ;)

  12. Elizabeth Bowie Says:

    Hi Jeri,

    I am a radio producer at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp in Toronto. I work for CBC’s national technology show, called Spark.

    We are doing a story about Ficlets for our show, and I would love to feature you and your ficlets. We are making a montage of people reading their stories, and it would be great to include you.

    It’s quite the coincidence that you’ve started writing ficlets again in the last few days. Must be a sign!

    If you’re keen to take part, please send me a email asap. I’d like to record your story tomorrow if possible.

    Thanks for considering and I hope we connect tomorrow.


    Elizabeth Bowie
    Producer, CBC Radio
    Spark: Tech, Trends and Fresh Ideas

  13. Jeri Says:

    Thanks, Elizabeth! Per our email correspondence, I look forward to trying this out with you on Monday. I am honored. :)

  14. Nathan Says:

    OK, CBC thing? Way cool. congrats.

    RE: Ficlets sequels. I did a couple I was really proud of. Then some 12-year-old (possibly only on a mental level), picked it up and…ppbbfffffft!

    RE: World War Z. I’m totally conflicted. I usually don’t like short story collections. As soon as I get to know the characters, etc. its over. The “short stories” in WWZ were mostly excellent. But with very few exceptions, you never see or hear anything about them again. I can’t remember her name, but I’d love to see an entire novel about the female pilot who was shot down in Louisiana(?) She was great. Ditto the geek Japanese kid who learns ninja.

    Oh, and the CBC thing? Keeeeewwwwwl. Make sure they give you a link to post.