She expected me to dance with her. Innocently, like we had when we were two little girls in the fourth grade.
“Taylan” is a micro-story – under 200 words – that I wrote as an experiment, for a microfiction magazine called Leodegraunce. The theme of the issue was “Elegance”. I managed to write a quasi-love triangle (one of the loves being, probably, platonic) in that length and make it work, and Leodegraunce bought it.
This led to a short burst of wanting to write ALL OF THE MICROFICTION, as you can see below.
23. Feasting Alone
The chewing, smacking sounds. The smell. Someone had taken pity on the man and given him a program to conjure up the virtual ghost of food. He squatted on the floor, guzzling obscenities: salt pork, chocolate, rigatoni, grapes.
“Feasting Alone” was written for the Leodegraunce theme, “Seven Deadly Sins”. I noticed that, out of the seven, people didn’t usually have much to say about Gluttony, and that when they did, it was usually facile fat-shaming. Or, occasionally, a critique of modern food corporations; but that wasn’t where I wanted to go with the story, either. I wanted to write about food, and an excess of food, and why characters might be disturbed by this, in a way that had nothing to do with anybody’s body shape or supposed health.
I ended up with a tale of a virtual world in which people couldn’t remember the appeal of food anymore, or why anyone had bothered to put up with the chewing sounds and other potentially overloading byproducts of eating in the past. (Yes, I have been overloaded by people’s chewing sounds before. And scrapey cutlery sounds, UGGGH. It is one of the things that is usually under control when I take my meds, but it is a thing.) Despite all this, learning to live with food again might be the only way to understand a lonely and overwhelmed stranger. (Comfort eating, for me, is very much also a thing.)
It wasn’t a very good story at 200 words, and Leodegraunce didn’t want it. On the advice of a beta reader, I expended it to about 700. It worked much better at a more typical flash length, and it sold to AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review.
When they put Marnie in solitary she started to pick at her fingertips.
At some point, Leodegraunce announced that they were making an anthology, and that I could submit up to TEN microfics! I proceeded to go wild and write so many microfics that Krista D. Ball asked if I was on drugs.
Most of the microfics were not very good, but “Ribbons” stood out from the pack. “Ribbons” was, in its first incarnation, less than 100 words long (I later expanded it to exactly 100) and TERRIFYING.
It didn’t sell, either to Leodegraunce or other venues (and the anthology ended up folding before it was printed), but Krista still says it’s the scariest thing she’s ever read, and whenever I look at it now, I smile and think of her.
37. Space Pops
Once they notice real limitlessness, all they can do is grow to match it.
“Space Pops” was written, not for Leodegraunce, but for the AE Micro 2012 contest, which happily published it. It features deep space and people cheerfully exploding. I think it is tied with “Ribbons” for my favorite microfic, but the tone is very different.
47. The Wives of Miu Fum
We found a cave in the side of the mountain and built Miu Fum a death-house as large and well-furnished as any living man’s.
The only other one from the large batch of Leodegraunce-inspired microfiction that I still like. “The Wives of Miu Fum” is the tale of a funeral. I ran out of markets for it, so I published it on my Livejournal in 2013 as an experiment.
Pro tip: don’t ever publish work you care about on Livejournal (or Dreamwidth, or WordPress, or whatever). You will feverishly wonder for the rest of your days if it is Terrible, if No One Likes It, if you are a Terrible Presumptuous Author publishing Bullshit in your journal and expecting people to care about it, or if anyone even read it at all. Send things to editors and get paid, and you might still wonder those things, but at least you’ll have money and one person’s approval. Oh well. It was an experiment and I learned things.
I’m pretty sure I put this one in the collection out of sheer cussedness. Enjoy!