I am confident we won’t have school the rest of the week.
Here are 50 words about the day. This one is “No Change.”
The district e-mails. The subject line is, “Negotiations continue; classes canceled Tuesday,” leading me to believe they think we could be back on Wednesday. Which is when I read the e-mail and find that there is no change in the near future. Which means there is no change in mine.
Our teachers are striking. Today is the third day. Reporting is that the sides — the teachers’ union and the school district — remain far apart.
Let’s make things tougher and more satisfying by writing in 50 words exactly a snapshot of how daily life shows up with three little kids in the middle of a pandemic at the end of winter at the beginning of a teachers’ strike.
Teachers strike, parents themselves to kids home now. I brace for uncertain weeks. My three run circles, laughing, which won’t last. They’ll dissolve before screens; I don’t have energy to enrich them. We survive this like everything else. A pandemic with a strike on top, and no way to prepare.
My disclaimer is that I’m writing simply to exercise my brain and distract myself from daily annoyances which are minimal in light of the war, in light of our privilege, in light of the fact that I should be more thankful and grateful and happy and all that. Writing proves to be a necessary and accessible escape.
Flash fiction is, to me, a heart beating in your hands. I’m not talking about holding your hand over your chest and feeling its rhythm. I’m talking about the experience you’ll never have. Cupping your hands, cradling a beating heart. When I think of micro fiction, short short fiction or flash fiction, I think you’re approaching as a writer the heart of whatever it is you’re trying to convey and stealing it from its home, nestled all warm and comfortable, for a few brief moments out in the air to be examined. I’m in Minnesota, so maybe a better metaphor is a fish being caught and released. But this doesn’t resonate with me. I’ve only ever fished while on a field trip in eighth grade, and it didn’t do anything for me.
A heart is essential to life, and it needs to be protected. But it also needs a body to provide for.
I have a number of other projects (I recognize how pretentious I sound). I write on Substack, I have a newsletter out every other week, I write here once a week-ish, and I run a couple of groups for fun as well. I even have other stuff I’m attempting. It’s all experimental (like the cheesy light hearted stuff that I’m trying to use to keep me from being swallowed by this endless pit of winter), and it’s all serving a real purpose for me.
All of these things are my ribs. They provide structure, support, shielding. Space for the organs within.
And the more you write, the better you write. The more you read, the better you write. I hope.
I decided to stop waiting on myself some time in the last year. Jerry is a constant companion now. Every writing project serves as a rib, a protective element. The heart of all of this is the fiction I’m writing.