11 July 2012

Flash Fiction Contest Entry for "Writer Unboxed"

Earlier this week, I entered the following sample of "flash fiction" in a writer's contest on the site, "Writer Unboxed."  They're going to have a different contest every week for seven weeks.  Many writing blogs and sites do this.  The format is called "flash fiction" - it means you have a prompt and usually some limitation as to length, genre, etc., as well as visual and other cues.  You also have a time limit.  You sit, write, and - bang - you're done.  This was my entry for the current contest.  I drew on some of what I was experiencing and feeling when I first went to India, years and years ago.  The limitation, here, was 250 words.  My entry uses 249 words.


Bombay International, back when it used to be Bombay. 

I could feel the humidity penetrating the cabin as the Air France jet depressurized, making her approach from over the Arabian Sea. Ribbons of light below, but mostly darkness, and somehow, even through the fuselage of the plane, the odor of toxic fumes mingled with decay and spices. 

Touchdown. Everyone rising to their feet, stiff after eight hours. The hiss of the door, and then chaos. 

Crowds, shoving, men shouting, police with machine-guns, complacent grandmothers in saris, shuffling feet in sandals, bored-looking men perfunctorily stamping passports, eyeing luggage. Pushing, pulling, more shouting, my newly-acquired rupees pouring out of my hands. I am a broken ATM machine, sitting dejectedly in an ancient Ambassador cab with no seat-belts, hurtling through the night. 

At the hotel, my fleecing continues, but it’s quietly, orderly, and ends when I close the door. Taking a swig from a water bottle, I wonder if the water is safe. I sniff a musty odor, wondering if the sheets are clean. Surely not. I eventually sleep, wondering how I’m going to survive this place. 

When I open my eyes, I hear birds singing. Cheerful sunshine slants through my little glazed window where it is left ajar. Cautiously, I creep to the window, pushing it open, and I see little boys, squealing and shouting on a neighboring, monsoon-stained rooftop, flying kites, little tilted squares of color dancing in the sky, soaring high above a sea of buildings and narrow lanes.

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