I love to share, unless you ask me for a bite of my Twix bar on a day when I horde a candy bar and a Coke as the solution to my problems.
Wednesday’s Word, though, is a treasure worth sharing. As an exercise, Wednesday’s Word dismisses writer’s block and makes it possible to turn any word into inspiration for a story. Today, I welcome E. Victoria Flynn to the word of the day challenge.
I usually let Wordsmith.org call the shots on a given Wednesday. However, I wanted to flex the rules for a guest author. Victoria bravely accepted my invitation to write a flash fiction piece on a word of my choosing, and I gave her more than 24 hours to write on her word.
Today, Victoria shares a bit of her writing process and the resulting story.
Victoria says: I am so thrilled to be writing this week’s Wednesday’s Word. I was actually given three words to choose from: Wrong, Bees, and Living room. The assignment was very open, write a short story, either fiction or non, using one or all of the words. I don’t write fiction often, so I thought this would be a great excuse to give it another go. The first thing that came to mind was the bee problem we had in our own home this past summer, then I remembered the story my husband brought home from the hardware store. This is an adaptation of that story.
Maddy heard the bees inside the farmhouse walls. She knew they were there, couldn’t shake it. Even when Jack said, “They’re outside, Maddy. You know those bees are always hovering out by the clover. You only hear ‘em when you’re standing by the window.” Even then, she could feel it.
It didn’t matter though. Maddy had quit arguing with Jack. As a matter of fact, she had quit mentioning the bees at all, but he always knew when she was listening. The years had taught them the language of married.
Maddy and Jack had been living on a little parcel of land in southwestern Wisconsin for a good 14 years—a hobby farm, something to do after the kids moved on into their own lives, after the theater closed down. It was comfortable living. Maddy looked after the gardens and house and fed the chickens. Jack kept to the tool shed and repairs and worked for the county clearing snow in winter or clipping grass along the highway.
“I don’t know why you get so worked up about those bees,” Jack said slugging down the last cup of after-dinner decaf. “They’re just doin’ their job makin’ honey for the bears.”
Maddy watched him. She had his face memorized, knew how every crease had formed, yet his way of thinking still bewildered her. “We don’t have bears around here,” she scolded picking up his plate and returning to the sink.
Jack let out a gruff sigh, and leaned back in his chair. The floor squeaked. “What ya mean is, you ain’t seen no bears,” he said, closing the discussion. “Gotta remind me to pick up some oil in the morning. Dad-blamed tractor’s been burnin’ heavy all week.” With that he took to the living room, Jack’s pride and joy.
He’d spent months in that room plastering, painting and laying down a tender oak wainscoting to match the original floors. Maddy thought when Jack entered that room he knew he was King. Not her though, she loved the kitchen as if it were one of her children. Finally, she thought when they first walked into the house, Finally, a kitchen I can cook in. It was just the way of things that it had to happen after the kids were grown.
Maddy emptied the sink, washed down the counter tops and placed her hand on the wall, listening. She felt it hum.
It reminded her of the hum of their old apartment back in the early years. Those years were hard on her, the winters worse. Through her adoration of her children she had felt herself drifting. Sometimes she knelt in the tiny rented kitchen and sobbed while the kids called out an incessant, “Mama. Mama!”. But, there were the good days too bathed in laughter and creativity, hours spent holding and reading story after story. Those were the times she felt right.
Maddy put away the last of the kitchen towels and picked up her knitting. She joined Jack in the living room.
As usual, he was folded in his chair, flicking through the channels on the TV. “What is this crap they’re putting on these days? I don’t get this reality television. It’s just a bunch of stupid people trying to get attention.”
“Why don’t you put a movie in, Jack?” Maddy said over her knitting, “Didn’t Kate send you something in the mail the other day? She always finds interesting things.”
“Yeah,” Jack said, “She sent one of them independent movies this time. Something about Russia.”
“Well, put it in,” she said.
Jack roused himself and plodded over to the TV. “Where is it?” he said then, “Damn!” as he kicked the corner of the entertainment center. He bent down to search a drawer, but knocked a red cardinal figurine off the curio shelf.
Groaning as he contorted his body further to retrieve the knick-knack, Jack noticed something oozing between the cracks of the wood paneling. He looked closer and saw more drips stuck to the wall. “What in the world?” he said and reached out. It was sticky. He touched his finger to his tongue. “Honey,” he said.
“What is it, Jack?” Maddy asked.
“Nothing,” he said and hoisted himself up and went out to the shed.
E. Victoria Flynn is a nontraditional student of Creative Writing with a strong interest in memoir and personal essay. She maintains a memoir blog, Penny Jar, as well as a parenting blog, Mama’s Experience Initiative. Victoria lives in Southern Wisconsin with her husband and two young daughters. Most days she can be found jumping on her bed or twirling in circles.