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Winston-Salem Monthly writer challenges fellow local authors with a flash fiction assignment.

Winston-Salem Monthly writer challenges fellow local authors with a flash fiction assignment.

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A publisher buddy of mine once explained to a mutual friend, “Carroll just likes to write short stuff.”

He was dead on. I have never written a novel, but I have written mounds of “short stuff.” Maybe it has to do with attention span. I have a house full of books that I have read bits and pieces of and I’m always amused when I pick one up and find a bookmark still inserted at some random page.

It has been said, “You can always tell a southerner. They start conversations by saying, ‘Let me tell you a story.’” I am surely of that school. I enjoy stories. I talk in stories. And I love short stuff, and I bet you do, too. Let’s read some.

I have asked some people you may well know who are comfortable at a keyboard to try their hand at writing “short stuff.” The assignment was between 500 and 750 words, I said. Subject matter? Their choice. I wrote one myself.

So what you have here is a summer reading sampler that ranges from a loosely fashioned “filling station yarn” to a terse piece of experimental flash fiction. I think my contribution qualifies as “slice of life,” a style I once explained to my English students. Another is a story of childhood mischief told in a breezy fashion and, the last, a spare, pensive piece that leaves the thoughtful reader with unanswered questions.

[Editor’s note: The five short stories featured below were reviewed for context but not for grammar and punctuation as Winston-Salem Monthly magazine follows a different style guide. The views expressed in the stories are the views of the authors themselves.]

After the accident, he decided they needed cell phones. He found a deal and chose two phones…

I was the only girl and my Daddy’s darling. We had plenty, and every day of my life was fun!

The neighbor never acknowledged with much more than a wave or a nod or an occasional tip of …

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