Rejected – Again
So, a short story I was really hopeful would be accepted by an online magazine was rejected this week. I’ve seen a lot of literary rejection in the last year, and I thought I’d developed a tough skin against it. But, this one, for some reason, struck deep, and had me in a bit of a funk.
Luckily, in the last week, I also tapped into the #WritingCommunity on Twitter. No, I didn’t lament my rejection and disappointment on Twitter! I didn’t need to. The community is filled with kind souls who send supportive messages for their fellow writers out into the ether, and some of those messages this week couldn’t have been more apropos to my state of mind if they had been written specifically to me. In addition, I was treated to tips on navigating Twitter (and its traps and pitfalls, too), lessons on modern literary genres, and exposed to publication outlets I’d not heard of elsewhere.
Thank you #WritingCommunity.
I keep moving forward.
Flash Fiction – Bunny Race
Dena and her friend Jeri, who was visiting from Nebraska, took their coffee out on Dena’s deck. The morning was humid and warm with the promise that the heat later in the day would be unbearable. Dena’s dogs, Gunner and Harley, both beagle mixes, rushed in tandem down the deck stairs to the grove of giant cedars that lined the back of Dena’s fenced property.
Jeri, watching the dogs excitedly circle the trees, said, “They’re on the trail of something.”
“Rabbits, most likely,” Dena answered. “The rabbits and the birds all love those cedar trees.”
Jeri staring at the trees said after a moment, “ I see how the birds would love them, there could be an army hiding in those branches and we would never know, but why would the rabbits love them?”
“See how the lowest branches are only a couple feet off the ground? There’s no mowing in there, and so there’s all sorts of undergrowth for the rabbits to hide in.” Dena paused a moment and then said, “I should probably clear it all out, but I like the naturalness of it, and the dogs love it.”
Dena was right – the birds loved the cedars, and hundreds of them were hidden within the grove. If the women had been able to see deep within the foliage, they would’ve seen robins, cardinals, finches of every variety, eastern bluebirds, Carolina wrens, downy woodpeckers, nuthatches, a couple blue jays, and one solitary barn owl resting from his previous night’s activities. If they’d been able to look deeper to the trees’ trunks and could slow time, they would’ve seen a small colony of fairies, also sitting out on the decks of their tiny homes sipping nectar.
Because humans experience the passing of time at a different rate than fairies, they rarely are able to catch a glimpse of the fairies sharing their yards, gardens and trees. Most often a person will perceive a momentary shimmer that they explain away as a reflection. Occasionally, a perceptive human will get a better peep, but their logical minds explain away what their eyes saw as being a dragonfly or a butterfly. Dogs occasionally will perceive fairies’ presence, erupting into senseless barking perplexing to their owners, but usually they are oblivious. Cats, on the other hand, can readily suss out a fairy’s location, which is what they are doing when they stare relentlessly at seemingly nothing while slowly waving the end of their tail.
Today, Amaryl was on bunny duty. As Dena had supposed, there were bunny dens beneath the cedars. Of course, this was not the best place to set up their homes given that this fenced yard was home to two very prey-driven beagle mixes, but logic is not a bunny’s forte. So, the fairies protected the bunnies, while also exercising their natural love of gameplay and competition.
Amaryl was ready for today’s race. She knew the dogs well. Gunner was careful, not easily thrown off by false trails. He would be the one to flush the one bunny currently at home. But, in the genetic lottery, he’d drawn Corgi legs, and so it was Harley who was the true competitor. Amaryl wasn’t familiar with today’s rabbit, and so this would be a particularly challenging game, one that the other fairies were eagerly anticipating.
Meanwhile, back on the deck, Jeri asked, “Do they ever catch a rabbit?”
Dena shook her head and said, “No. Harley gets close, but the rabbits always magically get through the fence. I’m not sure how they do it, but they always do it.” She paused between sips and continued, frowning, “Now, Harley did get a squirrel once a couple of years ago. It was horrible. I couldn’t even look at her for days.”
At that moment, Gunner started baying, and a rabbit shot out from under the cedars, Gunner behind it. Harley came running around from the other side of the grove now baying, too.
Amaryl whispered to the bunny, “Left. Now right. Right again.”
The bunny followed directions and then ran headlong to the fence in front of him, Harley’s breath close enough to ruffle the fur on his tail. Right before the bunny hit the fence, Amaryl flicked her finger, and the bunny continued running on the other side of the fence. Harley turned and rolled to avoid hitting the fence.
Jeri, incredulous, yelled, “Did you see that? How did that rabbit get through that fence?”
Dena smiled. “Some sort of rabbit magic. Harley got closer than usual that time. I’ll admit I was worried for a second.”
Deep in the cedar, Meryllis said drily, “You almost lost that time. Why the second right turn?”
Amaryl smiled sheepishly, “I was trying to run Harley right into the fence. She’s nimbler than I thought.”
Meryllis said, “It was a silly risk.”
Amaryl replied smugly, “And, yet, I’m not the one who lost the squirrel, am I?”