Archive | August 2013

Flash Points: Cindy Vaskova


Welcome to Flash Points. Every (ish) Monday we stick one of the previous Friday’s entries under a sparklyscope and tear it to pieces (in a good way). What makes writing “good”? Specifically, what makes great flash? Let the discussion begin!

Prompt: Map readers

Word limit:  240 -260

Today’s chosen flash piece:  The Time Traveler’s Daughterby Cindy Vaskova

He’d have me seated beside him on our white Spanish terrace overlooking the sea and he’d open an old map with names barely readable, holes forming where the edges met; it always seemed magical to me with its untraceable lines and curves, nameless mountains and ancient rivers, distant cities and marvelous capitals. My father would then say “Point somewhere, anywhere, and we shall go at once.” And I did, thrilled to have this little adventure of imagination…

I regretted not visiting my old father for many years after that; one summer though, I went back to Spain.

“It seems you haven’t changed at all, Father.”

He smiled. “The Spanish sun does me wonders, my dear Ophelia. Come now, sit with me – I have your tea and our map settled.”

I had secretly hoped to play our little game again, though I knew by now the limits of travel and the vastness of the world.

He stretched the map and for the first time perhaps I noticed how indeed old it was – the material resembled papyrus and all the contours were needled in, fine thin laces of horse hair. I gasped.

“Any place you’d want to visit, now, just like old times.”

I traced places familiar and not and chose the distant sands of Egypt; the mysticism of Cairo. My father then did something I did not recall from before – he took out a beautiful compass from his inner pocket; it spun as he opened it, glimmering, pulsating in golden, and madly searching… searching for Egypt.

Then the world became a blur.

What works

Oh, how I love this story. It resonates with me in a way it no doubt resonates with many of you who, as children, spent hours imagining with your parents over maps or globes(The worlds built by my own father also included Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and Arabian Nights. Today I can’t think of a genie without hearing his voice.) 

Cindy tells the story well. She frames it beautifully with time-compressed scenes of a child, then adult, studying the same old map with her father.  The worldly wise grown daughter regrets not having visited her father, but there is also a hint of regret in her loss of imagination (“I knew by now the limits of travel and the vastness of the world”). This blending of maturity and regret shows us some marvelous character development and strikes an emotional chord for the reader as well.  (After all, doesn’t a part of us cry more than the children when they stop believing in magic?)

The spinning compass seizing the pair across the world or into history also echoes scenes of so many other wonderful stories, from Alice falling through to Wonderland, or Lucy stepping through the wardrobe, or the children climbing the Faraway Tree, or a hundred others. This connection to other well-beloved tales is both familiar and clever.

The story itself is kept simple; we readers are left behind to wonder at Ophelia’s pending adventures. But we know, oh yes, we know, she is launching into an entirely new life with her father. Reminiscent of the search for the Fountain of Youth, someone has at last found a way to recapture childhood, and with pleasure and longing we watch them vanish into wonder.

Just for Fun: The Last Dictionary

Corominas. Photo by Manel Capdevila.

Corominas. Photo by Manel Capdevila.

The Last Dictionary

Written by Rebekah Postupak

for #MondayMixer

He shouldn’t be alive.

That’s what people whispered behind the verbal luminary’s bent back after he hobbled by, as though he had toilet paper dangling from his shoe or had inadvertently voted Republican. It’s true he was famous, or used to be: he had, at ninety, actuated the speech of an entire generation with his glorious compendium of words. And no slapdash effort that: it was a linguistically gustatory triumph (said the Academy), a monument of his age for all the ages. Tributes were written. Lavish ceremonies held. Journalists pre-wrote glowing obituaries, ready to post at a single click.

But he kept living.

Newsrooms yawned and moved on.

Other people died. Words died too: a flux of syllables and breaths tumbling forgotten into an impervious past. No morphemes replaced them.

“I’ve one more word,” the luminary said at last. “Ethereal.

In confusion the world watched as he, weeping, fell silent.


150 words exactly, inspired by this week’s Monday Mixer flash challenge and using 7 of the 9 listed words (overachiever attempt, of course), from the required selection:

Things:          1) flux              2) luminary         3) compendium
Verbs:           1) predicate     2) actuate           3) chirrup
Adjectives:   1) slapdash      2) gustatory       3) ethereal

Flash! Friday # 38 — WINNERS!

A map. A gentle ocean breeze. A loving couple chatting together over a pleasant afternoon snack.

And then:

You writers threw them off cliffs, drowned them, poisoned them, betrayed them, sent them to hell and/or the depths of the sea. And while yes, all of that would be a bit of a downer for a vacationer, your tales of plots and avarice and murder (with a hint of romance) demonstrate to the reading world yet again the depth and breadth of your imaginations and writing abilities. Have I mentioned recently how awesome y’all are?? 

Don’t forget all stories remain eligible for further plotting on by Monday’s Flash Points feature, right here most Mondays.   


Judge Dan Radmacher says, Wow. I’m not sure why this photo prompted so much treachery and deceit, but it certainly did, along with a heaping of great imagery, characters and storytelling.



Margaret Locke, “The Honeymoon is Over.” Great visuals and humor in this one.

Pratibha Kelapure, “Lady Lucky.” Never has “It’s peaceful here” been filled with such emotional weight.


Dieter Rogiers, “To Boldly Go.” Even before the unexpected and magical reveal at the end, this story was captivating in its description of a man’s brooding need for broader horizons and adventures. Great, economical characterization, even of the wife who gets only a few lines.


Marissa Ames, “Saucy Jacky.” The writer here does an excellent job of telling a complete tale with a few bold strokes. The characters are vivid and intriguing, and the twist is revealed with dexterity. Excellent job. 

And the Flash! Friday first time 



for “Where Next?”  

What a wonderful tale — subtle, witty, charming … and just a little bit frisky. There’s not much plot here, but the emotion and attraction between these two lovers is tangible, sealed with the sweet final line.

Congratulations, Charles! Here are your Winner’s Page, a glorious dragon eBadge (below), and your winning Tale. Please contact me asap (here) with your email address so I can interview you for Wednesday’s Sixty Seconds feature.

Where Next?

She studied the map; he studied her. Red hair, green eyes, and a bright intelligence had captured him from their first meeting. He felt blessed.

“Where next?” She said it in a soft, thoughtful voice with her hand marking their location.

He noticed his hand on her shoulder and thought to himself, “Where next, indeed.”

“Jack, where are you thinking?”

“Perhaps, down under?” He kept his voice from revealing his mischievous thoughts, but his hand betrayed him as it made a slight movement down her back. He corrected himself and hoped she had not noticed.

She raised her head and spoke gently, “Husband, are you thinking of our trip, or are you thinking of your hand?”

He glanced around. He felt a slight panic, trying to avoid her perceptive eyes. He had been caught. “Maybe a little of both.”

He was embarrassed. Rightly so. “Well, my bride, I told you when we got married I would let you go anywhere you desired.”

She turned and faced him. His hand stayed on her shoulder so that it wrapped around her in a loose hug. He was not accustomed to this closeness. It made him dizzy. But it was a most delightful dizzy.

She stared at him. He settled down and returned the gaze. Then she intentionally glanced at his hand on her shoulder and said, “And I told you, my dear husband, I would let you go anywhere you desired.”

They both thought they had the better half of the deal.