By Marriah Talbott-Malone
Over the past few months I’ve learned a lot about short stories. As a college student, I’ve come to find short story collections are more practical when it comes to reading with a busy schedule. I’ve always favored novels over short stories and novellas, but I now have a deeper respect for both. While I love the amount of time I can invest into a novel and the connections I’m able to develop with its characters, I also love the alertness of short stories. That constant feeling of being “kept on my toes.”
One type of short story I’ve been reading a lot lately is the short-short, also commonly referred to as flash fiction, micro-stories, or in some cases, prose poems. A short-short is an even shorter form of a short story with a notable theme and an average word count of about 1,500-2,000 words. In a short-short, every single word, action, and sentence means something.
I went through my personal collection of short stories and gathered together this group of short-shorts. These pieces key in on childhood innocence and youth and all that is lost and gained during this time. I couldn’t keep these stories to myself, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
“Confirmation Names” by Mariette Lippo
This short-short follows a group of girls in the midst of choosing their patron saints. As the girls have grown older, they’ve begun to develop a deeper connection to and understanding of their religion. This piece shows how the transition into adulthood can impact one’s thoughts and opinions.
“Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros
In this piece, it’s Rachel’s 11th birthday. While at school, her teacher notifies the class about the red sweater that’s been in the closet for a month. When no one steps up to claim the sweater as their own, a fellow classmate tells the teacher that the sweater belongs to Rachel. Rachel’s reaction emphasizes the idea that parts of our youth stay with us even as we grow older.
“The Flowers” by Alice Walker
In this story, a young girl by the name of Myop is cherishing the beauty and peace of the outdoors. When strolling through the woods, she comes across a starling discovery that transforms her mindset. Walker’s story displays the loss of innocence and the awakening of reality.
“Following the Notes” by Pia Z. Ehrhardt
This short-short begins with Liddie calling her dad to help jumpstart her car after work. What her dad doesn’t know is that prior to her shift, she had sex in the backseat. Later that night, she is on the telephone with the same boy and hears a girl in the background of the call. While this goes on, Liddie’s father is struggling with the strife of his broken marriage. In this story, we see Liddie come to terms with the fact that her and her father are more alike than she’d originally thought.
“No One’s a Mystery” by Elizabeth Tallent
In “No One’s a Mystery,” an 18-year-old girl is driving down a highway with her lover on her birthday. Jack, the older man with whom she is having an affair, gifts her a diary. While she shares with him all the things she will write--including their future--Jack refuses to believe this. He tells the protagonist that she will eventually change her mind about their relationship. This story displays how one’s youth won’t last forever.