That's the idea behind an interactive project I call Flash Fiction, Button Style. People send me a picture of a button, and I write a flash fiction story about the button and the person who once wore it.
Flash fiction is a relatively new genre of writing that emphasizes brevity. I like to think of it as a bridge between poetry and fiction--every word is chosen carefully, the overall rhythm has heightened importance, and the final sense of the writing carries more weight than its individual components.
For Flash Fiction, Button Style, each story is 250 words or less. To accentuate the genre's penchant for suddenness and spontaneity, I also limit the time spent on each story to one hour or less. While the pieces may lack perfection and polish, I hope their immediacy gives them freshness and intimacy.
I'm copying one of my favorite Button Flashes below. It's a fun little beach romance to celebrate the upcoming summer. Thanks to reader Lorelei M. for the sweet button picture.
A SUMMER THING
"I don't understand."
This was why she didn’t say good-bye. How had she forgotten?
She rubbed her hand against the stubble on his cheek, noticed how the moonlight formed a halo around his curly hair.
“I have to go back,” she whispered. “It was a summer thing--fun, pure. That’s how I’ll remember it.”
“But the things we did, the things we felt—I’ve never . . . . ” His voice broke.
She was glad she couldn’t see his face. She leaned into his warmth, felt his breath on her ear—the air pulsing out from his lungs, a dangerous weakness of hers. She bit her lip.
“You’re so beautiful,” she whispered. “Like this moment--a beautiful last gift.”
“I’ll go with you . . . .”
She kissed his mouth, felt a tingle as the breeze sent fingers through her gauzy pink blouse. For a moment she wavered, pulled by a strange current, a hypnotizing force.
But then she turned toward the distant moonlit whitecaps. “You have to walk away,” she said in a voice she knew he couldn’t refuse. “Don’t look back.”
His face struggled but he turned and slowly disappeared down the beach.
She slipped off her white shorts, pulled off her blouse roughly, tearing fabric, popping buttons.
Clothes were something she would not miss.
She stepped into the surf, feeling the saltwater reclaim her. When she was waist deep, she dove under, scales flapping, his face a pleasant dream drifting among the last bubbles.
Do you have a button with a story waiting to be told? Email an image of it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do the rest. More details can be found here.