Show of hands, how many of you know what flash fiction is? I’m guessing maybe some of you but probably not a majority. Flash fiction is simply a complete story told in under 1,000 words. That’s usually less than 2 pages guys. Kinda crazy, right? While I haven’t written any flash fiction in a long time, there was a period when that was pretty much all I would write because it’s all I had time for. When my youngest was still a baby, the only time I could carve out for any type of creative fiction writing was when I was nursing her in the rocking chair in the little corner of our bedroom. I’d pull out my phone and open the Notes app. One arm cradling my baby and the other hand cradling my phone, I’d type out flash fiction stories with my on the smart phone’s keyboard.
I’ve decided to revisit that time and share with you one of those stories. It’s called HOMECOMING and I wrote it even before we were a military family, way back in 2015.
Nine months, two weeks, five days.
But no more counting. No more red Xs on the calendar. No more marking time.
My heart fluttered and a smile–a real smile–pulled at the corners of my mouth as anticipation zinged through my veins.
I surveyed the clothes hanging in the closet with a critical eye. Yoga pants and a sweatshirt wouldn’t cut it today. I needed breathless. Memorable. I ran a hand down a slinky red number. Would it still fit? My eyes flitted to the mirror above the dresser. He’d last seen me with a flat stomach and perky body. Now a poochy middle sagged over the top of flannel pajamas. My bottom lip worried between my teeth before pushing back joy-sucking thoughts of body image. Eyes back to the closet, I lifted a black A-line dress and paired it with a thin red belt and matching peep-toe pumps.
The soft cries of a newborn beckoned me to the nursery. I scooped up the baby, my Amanda Grace, and held her close, swaying and bouncing. “Shhh baby girl, Mama’s got you.” Even at three weeks old she looked like her daddy. Same cleft chin, same wide-set eyes.
I placed Amanda Grace in her car seat and hooked the diaper bag over my shoulder. The sun shone bright in the sky as I shut the front door behind me. It was as if the celestial orb smiled down on the day. What wasn’t there to smile about? My own cheeks pleasantly ached from the grin that split my face whenever my mind repeated the mantra today is the day, today is the day.
I pulled the minivan into a parking spot and took a deep breath. My heart beat wildly and my hands trembled. I’d thought about this moment a million times.
Baby girl snoozed in her car seat so I left her buckled in and hefted the thing in the crook of my arm. Men and women, boys and girls flooded into the large auditorium. The air buzzed with excitement, and I set the car seat on the concrete floor. The back door burst open and the sound of hundreds of synchronized boots stomping swelled the space.
Up on tiptoes, I tried to peek around the bald head of the man in front of me. A glimpse, I searched in desperation. A sea of fatigues, a body of one. But one was all I looked for.
The order “fall out” rang from the sergeant’s mouth, and all who’d been standing as statues came to life. Shouts. Laughter. My eyes scanned the crowd. Where was he? I clutched my hand over my heart.
Dear God, please.
Chocolate brown eyes caught mine.
Time stood at attention, unmoving.
He wove in and out of bodies, his eyes sparkling and his face creased in a wide smile. Moisture collected in the corner of my eye, and I blinked it back. I didn’t want anything to distort this perfect moment. In front of me he paused, and then wrapped strong arms around my waist and twirled me in a circle. Homecoming…for the both of us. I buried my face in his neck, my hands raked through his buzzed hair. He set me back on my feet, but didn’t let go. Eyes roamed over my face—I was soaked in.
Blankets rustled and a small whimper pulled my focus down. I bent, gathered up baby girl, and cradled her in my arms. Turning, I met his glossy gaze, his hand cupped over an open mouth.
Emotion clogged my throat. “Meet your daughter.”
This is a picture that was taken on our own Homecoming Day when my husband came back for his first deployment. We’re gearing up for round two so would covet your prayers.
So, what do you think of flash fiction? Was this your first flash fiction story or had you read others before?