Our Flash Fiction course, taught by Kristen Falso–Capaldi, is currently in session. Students have been working from photo prompts. Here’s a sneak peak at a prompt and the resulting flash fiction!

Thank you to student Amanda Blount for sharing her work with us.

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by Amanda Blount

Amy leaned forward and watched the hordes of people on the street below. The distance to the sidewalk caused her to step back. Everything was gray down there – the sidewalk, the doors, the sportcoats pulled over men’s heads, the rain rushing diagonally across their backs. She pulled her sweater around her.

Six months ago the sun had been so hot she would have done anything for rain. It’d taken her fifteen weeks to hike the length of New Mexico, and the heat had induced many moments of panic. She wasn’t in good enough shape for this, she’d tell herself. She was never going to make it. Tracking the mile markers calmed her, though.  Seventeen miles to the next town. Thirteen. Six. Every step closer to going home.

Today Amy felt the familiar panic creeping in. Only this time, she didn’t know how to stop it. She hugged her knees, picturing Mitchell. She wondered if he hated her. The morning she’d left for the trek, he’d stood awkwardly in their driveway, both fists full of the weeds he’d pulled to distract himself as she finished packing. She’d assured him the weeks would fly by. That she really needed this adventure before she could settle down. That image of him – in the driveway, clutching weeds – had made her smile months ago. These days she did everything she could not to conjure it.

A phone inside the apartment rang and she stood, her face catching drops of rain. She heard the second ring, and then the third. She knew she had to answer it when it rang, those were the rules.

She crossed the room and answered the phone, her voice raw. “This is,” she hesitated, “Catherine.” It was the first time she’d said it. The man on the other end asked her how she was settling in. She told him she was pretty lonely. He said it would get easier, suggested she adopt a pet. They hung up. Amy stared at the phone, wanting desperately to dial Mitchell’s number. Her heart raced.

During the trial, she’d asked what the relocation would be like. They’d said it would take time to adjust. They’d said that panic attacks were common early on.

Amy couldn’t breathe. She banged her fist on the counter, wishing like she had a thousand times before that she’d never met Carl. Hadn’t gone home with him. That she’d just gone back to California.  She wished he hadn’t been drunk, hadn’t told her about the shipment. She wished the cops hadn’t approached her. She wished he’d seen the wire and killed her right then and there.

Her hands shook. She tried to slow her breathing, loosen the tightness in her throat. She pictured the New Mexico highway. One million one hundred thousand miles to the next town. Through blurry eyes, she scanned the room. Finding the phonebook, she scanned the pages and picked up the phone.

“Hello? My name is… Catherine… I’m interested in adopting a cat.”