If you haven’t joined me in the #iwriteincolor challenge for 2017 you are missing out. If we don’t tell our own stories they just won’t get told and that is the truth of the matter. We also have to spend time with characters, all kinds each and every day so writing every day needs to become a habit we cultivate. There are so many aspects of plot and character and setting that can be explored in a word sprint. For me, Flash Fiction is just that, a word sprint. It helps me learn how to pour things out and turn off my critical self editor. I’ll be sharing more flash fiction with you guys, along with some bonus content in my newsletter.
If you’ve never tried flash fiction, what I do is write uninterrupted for 20-30 minutes. My inspiration can be a prompt or a picture. What I’ve done for the campaign is provide the prompts. What you need to do is put your unique self at the center. This campaign is about centering people and experiences that publishing often overlooks so let your immigrant, brown, queer, bi-polar self take center stage and explode all over the story. It’s important. It’s interesting. It’s fun.
He opened the box on the nearest street corner in the Financial District. “Hearts for sale! Untainted! Guaranteed not to break!”
Fresh Hearts for Sale
“Hey, Black! Lemme get one for cheap!” The man yelled from across the road. Tomas didn’t break his stride. He didn’t even look up to give the fiend the satisfaction of acknowledgement. Why should he? He was on his way to work and he didn’t have time for old men who couldn’t afford the luxury of dreams. Besides, he didn’t answer to hood dudes who couldn’t be bothered to use his real name. Everyone knew that he didn’t like to be called Black, but some folks held on to the nickname well past the age where Tomas felt it his right and obligation and duty to whoop ass anytime he heard it.
His father had given him that name. I guess it was supposed to tie him to the man whose skin was almost blue it was darkly colored. Tomas had his mother’s coloring, though he bore his father’s face. After Big Black left he all but avoided mirrors after that.
Sweat trickled down Tomas’ temples and collected in the tiny spaces where cloth bunched next to skin. Long sleeves and pants weren’t the ideal attire for a heatwave, but he wanted to look professional. He knew that sometimes it’s the salesman that people buy more than the product. Though, he’d been sure to get the finest product he could find. In the slums broken hearts were everywhere, but if you were slick, if you knew where to look you could get the purest hearts at the lowest cost. Hearts didn’t sell in the slums. It was better to be dead inside on his side of town. No, he sold his wares on 7th avenue to tourists hoping to get the “authentic” island experience and the rich and desperate women hoping to convince their boyfriends they were really marrying for love.
He found a corner near a jewelry shop and a boat tour company. The shops had just opened up, but the sun was already high in the sky. Though, the breeze from the ocean helped a bit. He unfolded the legs of his trunk and popped open the case before slapping his cheeks a few times. The strain of smiling for hours would soon make them burn and an old woman in his building told him slapping might help.
“Hearts for sale! Untainted! Guaranteed not to break!”
He took in another big breath so his voice would carry.
“Hearts for sale! Untainted! Guaranteed not to break!”
It didn’t take long for a group of girls in linen sun dresses and the understated thin gold jewelry of the really rich to approach him.
“Are these fresh?” One of the girls asked. She was older than the others. He could tell by the sun damage on her shoulders and crinkles around her eyes. There wasn’t a ring on her finger. She was aging out of the debutante market. She would be his victim.
“The freshest.” He reached into his case and took out a small filigreed tin box and undid the latch. The fresh pink heart inside pulsed with energy and glistened with health. “Just fourteen summers old and more tender than any you’ll find in the big box stores. This heart will make you cry at sad movies and laugh at spray from the rocks in the ocean.”
The group drew in a collective breath and their eyes bulged with sick desire.
“I wouldn’t sell it if it weren’t.”
“Does it have a certificate?”
“My methods aren’t exactly legal, you could say, but they are ethical. I sourced this from a girl whose mother was about to die. She knew she didn’t have the strength to endure the loss so I relieved her. I felt it was my duty to help her as one of the only practitioners in the area.”
The girl turned to whisper to her friends and he wondered if they could see through his lie. It was true the girl was fourteen, but he’d pulled the girl’s heart from her chest at the request of her grandmother. The girl’d been in love with the son of her Nana’s employer and the woman was afraid she’d lose her job if it went any further. Still, the heart was functional and still full of love. It was worth his price.
The girl turned back. “Was the girl…untouched?”
A sly smirk pulled at the corners of his mouth. “Sadly, no. But I do have another here, which I sourced under similar circumstances, but the cost is much higher.”
“I don’t care about the cost?” the girl said and waved away the protestations of her friends.
When Tomas opened the new box, this one in encased in gold the girl’s breath quickened and he could see the hollow between her ribs. She’d tried to cover the bruised area with makeup, but the day’s heat and Tomas’s keen eye could see that her heart had been shriveled for years. With that kind of damage it would be hard to fake interest in anything or anyone. He wondered what she’d done or what was done to her to give her the heart of a sixty year old day trader with a cocaine habit.
The girl drew back and eyed him, but Tomas didn’t flinch. This would make his week if it worked. He knew she had it and she knew he knew. Neither blinked for a full minute, but when one the girls friends pulled her arm she snatched it back.
“Sold. Michael won’t wait forever and I’m tired of being left on the shelf while everyone else rides into the sunset.”
Tomas placed the case into a velvet drawstring bag along with his card.
“I’m here every Friday for any friends you might want to recommend. I also do custom retrievals,” he told her knowing full well she’d be back within a year.