There’s a new website in my Google Reader: Fiction Writers Review. Writers can find a plethora of information, stories, and great blog posts there. Plus, they have a blog series by Celeste Ng called “Get Writing,” where she posts an exercise to get your muse off the couch and back to some serious calisthenics. This week, Celeste suggests writers turn to the tabloids.
Looking through the tabloids is a lot like waiting for Wordsmith.org’s Word of the Day – you never know what you’ll get – and, seeing as it’s Wednesday, the timing was perfect to use the tabloids as a spark for a little flash fiction.
(Based on this post, called “Magnetic Boy,” from Weekly World News)
Standing outside, Nicholas Baker – even at ten years old – could see that his mother had lost it. She used to get mad if he ran outside without a jacket, when the air was just a little bit cool. But now, she was insisting that he stand in the front yard, naked from the waist up, in the middle of winter.
“She’s looney,” his older sister, Emily, had said about their mother just a few days before. “Mental.”
“You are what you say!” Nicholas yelled back at first, because he didn’t want to hear her call his mother crazy. Though, he figured she might be right.
“Mom, Nicholas is shivering,” Emily said now. “He’s freezing.”
His mother adjusted his arms up and out to his sides and then stood back to look at him.
“Mom!” Emily shouted.
“Shhh,” she said. “Hold still, Nicky,” his mother told him. “I have to get this picture just right, otherwise we won’t win.” Then, she wiggled her hand toward, Emily. “Hand me some tablespoons,” she said.
Emily rolled her eyes and bent down to grab a handful from the silverware tray that sat on the ground. The wind kicked up. Nicholas’s teeth started to chatter.
“At least let me get him a coat, Mom.”
“No. If his skin is warm, the metal won’t stick. You know that. Now just be quiet and let me work.” His mother’s hands moved in swift diagonals across his chest. She shifted spoons around into various shapes. Her eyes flashed and she was breathing hard.
This wasn’t the first time he stood out in the cold while she lined him with kitchen utensils. Ever since they found out he was attracted to metal, or that metal was attracted to him, his mother had glued herself to the internet in search of contests on sites like Ripley’s Believe It or Not. She took picture after picture and drove to the post office every weekend. Nothing ever came of the pictures, so Nicholas started to wonder if it was really such a big deal that a set of keys sitting on a table would jump into his palm if he held his hand over them.
“You’re like Jedi Knight!” His mother had told him. “Like Luke Skywalker living in Cleveland, Ohio,” she’d grinned.
“Worth money,” he’d overheard her tell his Aunt Judy on the phone.
His stomach felt sick, and his head was frozen like a giant ice cube. He told his mother that his fingers were numb. She cupped each of his hands and blew on them, promising that in two more minutes she’d make him the biggest cup of hot chocolate he’d ever seen.
He didn’t like being a Jedi so much anymore, and he wondered if Luke Skywalker ever felt this bad. But, he did his best to smile for the camera, thinking maybe this would be the last time.