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Flash with No Flash: A Story About Nothing

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.

originally published at

originally published at

So there I was, at the kitchen table eager to write a story, but not sure what to write. Did I want an adventure or a comedy? Maybe a play or screenplay are in order? Either way, the need to write was there, but something alway took the momentum away.

I started thinking about a fantasy. One that pitted a wizard against a futuristic world. What was it going to be called? Who was the main character? What was the theme, setting, and main conflict? There were too many parameters to consider.

I took a deep breath and slayed that beast. It was getting too complex and required a lot of time and energy to formulate. Sure, I wanted a short story -- flash fiction to be precise -- but formulating it was taking a lot of time and energy. The unnamed story about a wizard was vanquished. Poof! Gone! It didn’t take long before that story -- or what I dreamed up in the moment -- vanished in thin air.

In addition, the Jack started to take effect. My mind wandered and meandered through a ton of stuff.

I was back at the first level. I conjured up another tale from the deepest darkest part of my mind. The first thought to enter my head was about the Grim Reaper deciding to retire and to leave it to a asocial and apathetic person.

Hmmm, I thought, maybe there’s something to a lesson here. Could it be that apathy is close to death? Or could it be that….I had to stop there. I felt I was stretching my head way too thin on this (The Jack Daniel mix with Sprite didn’t help for clarity, either). I had envisioned an opening scene for this story (possibly a one-act play, which is something I’ ve always wanted to try but never got around to doing). In which Death/Grim Reaper sits comfortably in a retro-future chair that dates back to the seventies. He waits for a person that reminded me of my worst math teacher in high school. A real disgruntled soul that uttered a lot more pessimism than algebraic formula. But the more I thought about it, the murkier it got. Soon it was a jumbled mess with no way to unravel.

In addition, the Jack started to take effect. My mind wandered and meandered through a ton of stuff. On top of that, I was starting to nod off. My eyes were heavy and my mind felt adrift in some delirium. Possibly I could take this quest to the bed. Thus, I grabbed my laptop and wandered down the hall to my bedroom.

I shook off the haze, but also, shook off the Grim Reaper and the person he wanted to replace him (I guess I’ll have...never mind, I can feel the need to sleep creep in) Suddenly, I had a battle at hand: get one of a million stories out of my head, or just sleep on it and try it for another day.


Still, I soldiered on...while moving to my bedroom (my wife’s out, so I had the breadth of the bed to lay out) I didn’t want to give up. I was eager to write something, but I wasn’t sure what it would be.

Quietness ruled. I felt at peace as I slipped under the cover. Immediately I propped myself up. The peace of the night added more weight on my eyelids. Even though I had my laptop on my lap, I couldn’t get my concentration going to write the story.

I should write about zombies, or vampires, or maybe robots? Who knows? But before I could reach a penultimate moment in my need to write, The door to my oldest son’s room swung open.

“Go to bed!” I order him.

Quietness ruled. I felt at peace as I slipped under the cover.

“But can’t sleep…”

I knew what he wanted but I had the bed to myself. And, I was reluctant to fulfill that inquiry he wanted. But he insisted, and I was adamant. I wanted the bed to myself. Story be damned! A five-year-old prone to nightmares was to take precedent, and this time, I wanted to be the victor!

Eventually, I prevailed after a brief back-and-forth. Finally, I mentioned that the monsters were in the house and the safest place was his room. He left in a huff, and he left me exhausted.

The moment he closed his door, I ended up closing my laptop. The stories were not flowing. There was no need to continue. Instead, it was time for bed whether I liked it not.

And so the night ended. And in the most anti-climatic way possible, no story came to fruition.

So I put the computer away and prepared for bed. Immediately, I fell asleep…and that’s when the stories started to flow.


© 2019 Dean Traylor

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