I Learned the Truth in Mexico

Hello, I am Zin! (this post was written a couple of weeks ago – I forgot about it, sitting there gathering dust in the Drafts bin!)

Since the Second Person Study is winding down (not ending – I will keep adding to it, but not as often), I need a new project! I just this week – yesterday – started writing in the Flash Factory at Zoetrope again. I have not written there since last May! So I am thinking maybe I will track that here, to keep me motivated.

For those who do not know, the Flash Factory is a private office at Zoetrope that holds weekly prompt-driven flash-writing “contests” (the only prize is the honor of giving the prompt for the next week). All participants review each other. I have found it useful for finding ways to approach things differently. Most of my published flashes began in the Flash Factory!

This week, the prompt was “Eavesdropping” given by the wonderful Beth Thomas:

Your task this week is to write a flash based on an overheard snippet of conversation. Take note at the grocery store, park, bar, etc. People are so free on their cell phones these days, you can overhear all kinds of interesting personal stories.

You can borrow a phrase, a few sentences or a plot, just make the story your very own. You must post the “borrowed” stuff at the bottom of your story and give us a little insight into when/where the eavesdropping took place.

Word limit: 600.

I wrote a story from this true incident from 2 or 3 or 4 (or 5?) years ago:

I was waiting for the dental hygienist – the one who loves to scold me, and even though for four years I have had no cavities, no tartar, no gingivitis, no additional bone loss, nothing, nothing at all for her to tsk tsk over, she still will scold me because she is like one of the nuns from Catholic school (where I never went but I understand about it anyway) and I deserve to be punished for spending the first 50 years of my life ignoring my teeth and somehow I have managed to redeem my molars and she does not believe in that kind of forgiveness!

I was reading the 2001 O.Henry Prize stories (pre-PEN). A little girl, maybe 6 or 7, said to her mother: “I learned the truth in Mexico!” I stopped reading, because I thought that was a surprising thing for a little American girl to say (you might expect it from a waif, wearing rags and peering at you with haunted eyes from behind the ruins of her ramshackle hovel in a burned-out village somewhere on the other side of the world). Her mother mumbled something from behind her People magazine, and the little girl said, “MOM!” in that tone little girls use to let their mothers know a tantrum is imminent if proper attention is not paid to them immediately.

“Yes, you lost a tooth in Mexico,” her mother said, and turned the page to read something else about some other beautiful person.

I wrote the words on the inside cover of my book, both versions, for some day when I would be able to figure out how to use them.

I do not want to post the actual story here. It was titled “I Learned the Truth in Mexico” and was about a man with a long history of depression who was drowning, clinging to a rope, he could just let go and die but he found he could not do that, so he discovered the surprising “truth” that he wanted to live!

It is not a very good story but I am glad I actually wrote something! I have been writing so much on this blog but no fiction! So I have to start somewhere. And maybe I can turn it into a good story after it percolates a while and I see the suggestions the Flash Factory has!

Update: My flash won! And the “prize” as usual was to set the prompt for the next flash gig – so I made it, write a flash in second person! And, in honor of my friend Marko, gummi bears and gruel (which, well, you would have to be there, Marko runs a “What’s for Dinner” thread in an office on Zoetrope and somehow works gruel and/or gummi bears into nearly every week!) And what is really wonderful is that Randall Brown, Flash God, wrote a story and will be here at some future point to talk about second person! I am so excited! So even though the story was not that great, good things came out of it. And now I am going to work on the next Flash Gig…

3 responses to “I Learned the Truth in Mexico

  1. How exciting! I haven’t been on Zoetrope for about as long as well. The only story I had submitted was a second-person story and had some great feedback. Are rewrites welcome? When is the deadline?

    • Hello, Stan! It is so good to hear from you again!

      This all happened in the Flash Factory, where things move very quickly – the prompt was for last week so we are on the next prompt already! But I remember your story “Bullseye” – I inquired about it a few months ago, remember? – and I am hoping when you find a home for it I can interview you about it! I will email you and nag you more about sending it out! It was a great flash!

      • Haha, thanks. For the record, Bullseye and a handful of other stories are still in the editing stage. I hope to send them (or at least one of them) out by end of year. Fingers crossed.

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