Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the eighteenth piece of flash fiction in this weekly series. Tonight Theodore P. Druch returns with a 411-worder entitled ‘The Old Barn’.
The old barn stood dying on the edge of the wheat field. It had been dying for a long time, almost as long as the wood of which it was made had been living. In a sense, it had lived two lives, and that’s more than most can hope for. But now it was coming to the end of its second, and there was no third to be had.
What boards of its sides were left unpillaged stood twisted, weathered, warped, and gnarled. Some had turned hard as rock, but bone thin in places. They would stand yet a long time, as the rest of the barn decayed apace.
Occasional patches of red paint could still be seen on sections that had remained, more or less, intact, but every windstorm tore off more and more of the crumbling flakes, and soon, it would be a featureless gray all over.
Its roof was mostly gone, only skeletal rafters poked through the many holes where the shingles had blown off. Several loose ones flapped in the wind.
Its old bones were getting rickety; the very hardness that had invaded them made them brittle and no longer able to bend as they had when young and green; they were in danger of breaking. Several had, as in one corner, where a falling hayloft had sent a sudden shock though a post and it had split neatly into two pieces, the one lying quietly below, waiting patiently for its widow, still dangling from the remains of the ruined loft, to join it in their final, silent journey into dust.
Dust that would blow away on the wind.
The old man stood dying on the edge of the wheat field. He tried to remember what the barn had looked like when he’d been a boy and it had just been raised. He’d thought that it was beautiful then; and he thought that it was beautiful now, but with that awful sort of beauty that recognizes the inevitability of endings, no matter how perfect.
He had grown up and grown old with the barn, but the barn had never taken any notice of him.
The barn didn’t know that it was turning to dust.
Lucky barn. He thought, and moved on to contemplate the old oak, whose mostly leafless branches appealed in silent supplication to the uncaring sky.
The old man stood dying on the edge of the wheat field. Six months. He thought.
I asked Theodore what prompted this piece and he said…
I hold a weekly workshop for serious writers of the Puerto Vallarta Writer’s Group, and we usually begin with an impromptu writing exercise for five minutes. One of them was to describe a building. I wrote a description of an old barn. It was only later that the idea came to me to expand it into something more. It is interesting to note that some of the best writing was done on this kind of impromptu basis. An exercise like this doesn’t give one much time to think, so what flows from the pen is pretty much instinctual, and I think that the best writing always is. I have been consistently delighted at the high quality produced, often by people whose edited writing leaves something to be desired, The problem is to get writers to go with this instinct, and be very careful of wrecking it with excessive editing and second thoughts. People seem to have a basic distrust of their instincts, and that can ruin what might otherwise be a fine piece.
I totally agree. I run a workshop every other Monday night (usually three or four 10-15 minute exercises) and we come out with some corkers. Thank you Theodore.
Born in Milwaukee, educated at Brandeis and later at the Timothy Leary commune in Millbrook, NY, Theodore P. Druch, Ted to his friends, spent most of his life in trivial pursuits – like making a living. After chucking it all and traveling around the world for ten years like a dandelion seed on the wind, he settled in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He is an active member of the Puerto Vallarta Writer’s Group, and conducts a weekly workshop for serious authors. In the last two years, Ted has published four full-length non-fiction e-books, and is currently working on his first novel, a historical fantasy of 1492 called King David’s Harp. He fully expects it to be a blockbusting best-seller, filled as it is with pirates, adventurers, corrupt popes and priests, several heroes and heroines, and a search for clues to the hiding place of the harp of King David, the recovery of which might bring about the return of the Messiah.
Footprints on a Small Planet is also available as a trade paperback through Amazon. Ted’s blog can be found at http://selfpublishedandbroke.wordpress.com and you can watch his African Odyssey trailer here.
If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with multi-genre author Terri Morgan, the two hundred and fifty-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.