Student Spotlight: Veronica Vela

Frequency is honored to feature the voices and writing of community members! Our Student Spotlights bring you the words of some of our inspired writers. If you would like to share your own thoughts, please email coordinator@frequencywriters.org.

The Writer

When I’m not writing, I’m usually laughing. I love watching movies and traveling. I’m grateful to have a career in writing, where I can still be creative. The goal of being able to write professionally has always been my goal ever since I can recall….

…Reading helps me find the right mood I’m trying to achieve in a new story…. I’m typically very focused and sometimes (if I’m lucky enough) I’ll get in a trance-like state where the piece writes itself. Experiencing that is one of the many reasons I have always loved writing. 

The Writing Community

How has Frequency inspired your writings? 

I was part of Kristen Capaldi’s Flash Fiction course. The reason I joined was because I hadn’t written anything new in over a year….Kristen’s prompts helped unlock my creative juices and I managed to finish three complete storiesaround 500 words each, which I am grateful for. 

How has being part of a writing community impacted your writing practice and life beyond the page?

Typically, I love solitude…but I challenged myself to participate andreally listento other writers. Members of my writing group helped me solve problems I was grappling with, they motivated me to keep going… Their insights were invaluable. 

Because of this class, I became motivated to submit to journals….[T]he act of submitting a piece of fiction was an achievement for me…. [W]e still meet bi-weekly to talk writing and workshop our pieces. 

Who would you invite to Frequency writers? 

I would encourage people who are nervous about getting out of their comfort zones to take a class, with classmates from all different backgrounds[some] had never written a piece of fiction in their life.  Like most people, we were busy, tired from working ten hours at work, and driving in bad traffic, but we all showed up. We showed up just so we could engage in something wonderfully creative….

Read a flash fiction piece by Veronica Vela, Astrobee-3:

Astrobee-3

I can’t recall the feeling of being hurled hundreds of feet into the air, but I can remember the smell of the field. Stretches of young, coarse wheat surrounded me and I drew my hand through the cool stalks.

Each time I landed, I hit the ground butt first and each time, I woke up further from the house. Father had taken to the new device, the Astrobee-3. The Astrobee was a precarious little knob that worked roughly half the time. He had worked his way up on the dial to 500 feet. It was a distance far enough from the house that the march back would be a contemplative one.  According to the manual, “anything greater than 500 feet could result in the unpredictable displacement effect or even death.”

I can’t recall the feeling of being mid-air, but I remember always wanting him to leave. My father was an orphan from the slums of Birchdale and by the time I had become a teenager, he was a widower from Moose Jaw. He had a shrewd, fat face, and was devoid of spirit except when it came to swinging his wrists. By the time Astrobee arrived, he was practically giddy as he removed the contraption from its box. ASTROBEEwas printed in black bold letters on a silver round button. He couldn’t read, yet fingered the black raised letters sweetly as if hoping he could. He kicked the styrofoam peanuts all around the floor and tinkered with all of Astrobee’s mechanical parts. “This knob ‘il set you straight you mark my words” and kept the button deep in the pockets of the trousers he wore every day.

Father used Astrobee every chance he could. If I shifted in my chair a certain way, if my shirts were too tight, if I cooked a bad meal,  hell if the sky was pink. Each time I made the walk back to the house, I came back bruised and blood-crusted with wet grass stuck to my legs. But each time, my body adjusted a little more. He thwacked the ejector knob so often and with such excitement, the “A” “S” and “R” had worn off the button leaving the word “T   OBEE” in pale black ink.

Our house was a squat log cottage, with two bedrooms and three beds. The house came with a high stone fireplace and a good country dog, one rich in leisure. The last night I saw father, he had about two pints of curl (homemade alcohol that’ll curl your toes) and passed out with his head resting on the hearth near the fire box. Father had tripped so hard that the button slipped out of his khaki’s. My body felt like an electric wire and I shot straight up. I could see the tick marks so clearly and the DO NOT EXCEED label near the orange range. In that moment, I saw everything.

I took the button and turned it over with the dial side facing me and cradled it in both hands like a precious animal. I looked at my drunken father on the floor, looked back at the device, and smiled as the dial’s face stared back at me.

 

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