Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the one hundred and forty-first piece in this series. This week’s is a 257-worder by new guest contributor Isaac Birchmier. This story will be podcasted in episode 42 (with two other stories and some 6-worders) on Sunday 27th July.
The Cathode Ray Tube Television © Isaac Birchmier
Images flashed and flitted in her eyes. Dull wavelengths of colors danced overhead—tinges of blackened neon—and the scope of the universe seemed to her to exist only in those flitting stripes of color. She couldn’t imagine a world where the colors surrounding her fit comfortably within the lines—everything was just contained so perfectly outside of its object. For instance, the table that chilled the soles of her bare feet was just an average table to the observer, but to her it was perpetually superimposed with a filmstrip of black and white. Beyond the desk, blotted like paint on a canvas, were its colors: the reds of the paint from the tabletop; the browns of the table’s wooden legs; the silver of the screws that held the pieces together, that kept the table from falling apart. It was only after some time that the colors finally decided to leave. The specks of silver were the first ones gone; they scuttled lethargically, slowly moving beyond her periphery. Then went the browns, soaking into the floorboards. Then the reds. And her world was colorless. She was delighted that the flashing and flitting colors had finally concluded their blinding dance. All that remained were the shaded static flickers of white noise. A white screen stood in her eyes and black specks leapt tick-like, disappearing and reappearing with increasing rapidity. A noise reverberated through her skull, as if she were inside a giant oil drum. She smiled and stepped forward to shut the program off. Her feet were weightless.
I asked Isaac what prompted this piece and he said…
Sometimes I feel like modern stories don’t have enough room for interpretation. Many stories that are written nowadays are written with the meaning on the surface and with no other mode of understanding than that which the writer narrow-mindedly intended. Interpretation has become secondary to plot and writing style, and, in many cases, there is no interpretation at all. What is written is written and there’s no seven-eighths of the iceberg below the surface to extract. I wrote “The Cathode Ray Tube Television” just for that: to allow the reader to discover within its lapidary structure any form of interpretation of their choosing. There’s no correct way to view the story. Yes, I wrote the story with my own interpretation of it, but I see other people’s interpretations as better subjects for their character and a way to bring out the personality of the reader through it, and I prefer those beyond any meaning I may have instilled into the story of my own choosing.
Since I wrote this story a few months back, I have read it to a number of friends and family. They have all (thankfully) interpreted the story differently. And, surprisingly enough, their interpretations of the story and the female protagonist were all oddly representative of how they saw the world and their own personalities. My goal in writing this was to see how others would interpret its events, and I would love to hear readers’ interpretations. I want to see what others see in the story, to see if I succeeded in my goal: of writing a mirror for the reader to see into their own self. If I was successful, the story is as you read it.
Thank you, Isaac. I loved it, especially the fine detail of the screws, the browns soaking into the floorboards, and simple but impacting ending. Great imagery.
Isaac Birchmier is a young and aspiring writer who was born in the United States in Mountain Home, Idaho and raised in Helena, Montana. He is a recent high school graduate who is whittling away the time in Helena before his freshman year at college by writing as many short stories as humanly possible. He began writing creatively two years ago, and, since then, has written a number essays, short stories, poetry, reviews, and book analyses for free on his website. He hopes someday to be known as a great writer and to be placed among his heroes—James Joyce, William Shakespeare, and David Foster Wallace—in the history books for his writings. He is pursuing an English degree as an undergraduate at the University of Montana. You can find out more about him and his writing from…
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