Dale Loves Marcia :: Flash Fiction


stocksnap_960338787aThe first time, he spilled his lunch on her. He’d tried to sit next to her at the café across the street from the postal processing center where they both worked. She’d had meatloaf and gravy stains on her uniform for the rest of the day.

The second time, he’d dropped a forty-pound box on her foot.

It happened every time.

Dale turned into a disaster with legs whenever he got near Marcia. He clearly wanted to ask her out, but could never find the courage.

One day he would.

If she survived that long.

Meet the Author

july-16-headshot-6Whitney L. Schwartz is the author of Grace Like Rain and the Carlingford Chronicles series. Her work has appeared in Evangel, Time of Singing magazine, The Cresset, Splickety magazine, and LightandLifeMagazine.com. Whitney has been a four-time guest judge for Christian Flash Weekly and her short story “Remember Where Your Home Is” was chosen as a semi-finalist for The 2014 William Van Dyke Short Story Prize.




Get more great stories of Love in Uniform with Splickety Love’s latest release available now on Kindle!


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Love is in the Air :: Flash Fiction

I clutch my Dr. Seuss-inspired tote, careful not to bump the passengers seated in first class. That’s where you should be sitting, Dad would say. And would be sitting if I’d said yes to Lieutenant Devlin.

But there’s more to life than extra legroom and a man in uniform. At least one who’s so full of himself he could pop his own brass buttons.

Someone taps my shoulder. “Pardon, ma’am.”

I grimace. Ma’am makes me sound so much older than 28.

I twist my torso so the steward can squeeze by.

“Nice bag.” He winks through black-rimmed glasses and slides sideways past me.

On the aisle seat of my row, a middle-aged man gnaws on a bag of jerky while reading Stevenson’s Kidnapped. He either has no peripheral or chooses to ignore the outline of my emerald dress.

“Excuse me, I’m A.”

He grudgingly uncrosses his legs. “Let’s hope B doesn’t show.”

A baritone voice croons over the speakers. “Welcome aboard Flight 2066 bound for Tampa. We’ve completed boarding and closed the cabin door. There are a few planes ahead of us for takeoff, but we’re right on time. My name is Kevin, and I’ll be your flight attendant along with my lovely assistants Ellie and Claire.

“For now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the safety demonstration. Drumroll, please.” He makes a ta-da-pop noise as the stewardesses appear in the aisles with their seat belts, oxygen masks, and inflatable life vests. They animate the routine to Kevin’s instructions and curtsy as he concludes, “Let’s hear it for Ellie and Claire!”

I pull out my draft book and pen with a smile.

As the plane taxis down the runway, the row behind me erupts into chaos. “Where’s your binky? Here it is!” A mom coos at her crying baby. As if on cue, another infant joins the chorus.

The man next to me slaps Kidnapped on his knee. “I didn’t sign up for a circus!” He complains so loudly that I blush for him.

The steward appears at his arm. “Is everything all right, sir?”

“Am I to listen to howling infants this whole flight?”

Kevin smiles like a court jester appeasing his churlish lord. “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Mr. Jerky demands.

Kevin nods at his book. “Why, your Mr. Stevenson said that.”

I point my pen at the steward. “He wrote it for children, actually.”

“That’s right.” Kevin’s eyes sparkle with interest. “And how do you know that?”

“I write children’s books.” My face warms under his gaze. “Poetry is my favorite.”

Mr. Jerky glances from Kevin to me. “Humph!”

The wailing subsides after we take off and reach cruising altitude, and the crew begins their beverage service.

“Something for you, ma’am?”

My least favorite word. I look into the steward’s bright face. He’s probably another flirt, all froth and no forever. Yet his expression is so endearingly sincere that my heart trips over itself.

I look into the steward’s bright face. He’s probably another flirt, all froth and no forever.

Wait a minute. I just met this man an hour ago.

I clear my throat. “Water, please.”

As he hands me a cup, the plane drops. Babies resume their refrain, while Mr. Jerky scowls over his now-soggy book.

I gasp. “I’m sorry.”

“Clumsy idiot!” He growls at Kevin who’s passing napkins like a Frisbee champion.

I help Kevin mop up the water on the tray. “It was my fault. I didn’t get a good hold on the cup.”

The captain drones over the speakers about a patch of turbulence and requests the flight attendants to be seated.

Kevin smiles his thanks and accepts the soppy napkins. His hazel eyes graze my empty ring finger.

The crew retreats until the captain announces they are safe to resume their service.

Kevin reappears directly, bearing another water for me and wafers for us both. On the plastic wrap, there’s a number scrawled in black marker. I count ten digits and look up to find him watching me. Almost sheepishly.

“If there’s something else I can do for you, let me know.”

I twirl the wrapper between my fingers. “There is.”

His eyes dance.

“Call me Miss Julia.”


Meet the Author

Kristen headshot3-2Kristen Hogrefe is a young adult fiction author and speaker for youth events and professional conferences. She leads an online Word Weavers’ group and takes pleasure in helping other writers share their stories. Together with Bethany Jett, she launched the Build Your Brand Program to teach writers basic social media topics and help them build their personal brands.

You can find Kristen blogging each week at thinktruethoughts.com where she challenges young adults to think truthfully and live daringly. She craves coffee, sunshine, and good books—and loves sharing them with friends.

To say hello or learn more about the Build Your Brand Program, visit kristenhogrefe.com.

Posted in Flash Fiction Tagged with: , , , ,

NaNoWriMo Ninja Tactics: Squeezing Your Writing Time for Words

With National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) in full swing, there are writers across the six continents of the world with the same struggle: how to make the necessary daily word count to achieve the winning 50,000-word NaNo goal. Last year, of the 400,000+ writers who participated, only about 40,000 made it. If you’re like me, you want to be one of those winners.

NinjasLast week, we shared 3 Tips for Surviving NaNoWriMo, and I’m not going to repeat the excellent advice Avily gave us. So check it out. This is the sixth year that I have plunged into the dark forest of NaNo, and these are the ninja tactics that have proven most effective for me.

Dedicate a Distraction-Free Zone

Distractions like family interruptions, television noise, and Facebook notifications will noticeably lower your word count. Sometimes, even chores you normally avoid look appealing compared to knuckling down and getting the words out. Select (or create!) a place where you can focus. One year, in order to avoid family distractions, I wrote in an old recliner in the garage (bundled in blankets and gloves because of the winter cold).

A more subtle form of distraction is what’s on your computer. What apps are open when you write? What browser tabs? Shut down anything that isn’t writing-related. Keep open your most needed writing reference tools. Rather than staring into space for minutes on end trying to remember that perfect word (it’s just on the tip of my mental tongue!), I keep Thesaurus.com open in a browser tab so I can quickly find the word I need and move on with the next sentence.

Use Every Possible Non-Writing Moment as a Prep-for-Writing Moment

During the month of November, take those spare moments when you would normally think about dinner options, work (or school) assignments, existential worries, or romantic interests and instead think about your story! While you’re in the shower, brushing your teeth, folding laundry, driving your daily commute, waiting to fall asleep at night. These are prime times for story pondering.

The key is keeping your non-writing story needs at the forefront of your mind. So use one of these non-writing moments to make notes about things that need your brain-time (try dictating into your cell phone voice recorder app during your commute or while walking to class).

Potential non-writing story needs:

  • Filling out a flat character who needs a backstory
  • Coming up with names (and other details) for minor characters
  • Imagining sensory details to heighten the impact of high points in the story
  • Pondering motivations of various characters and constructing epic webs of conflict
  • Dreaming up impossible obstacles for your protagonist — and clever ways out of them
  • Brainstorming unique settings or weather to enhance the impact of key scenes

Never Look Back

It’s been said before and in many different ways: when it comes to first drafts, just write on and don’t look back. Don’t edit, don’t revise, don’t agonize over little phrases and clever descriptions. Let the story pour out as fast as you can dream it up and type it out.

Yes, that means there is a lot of cleaning up to do. Yes, that means you may even need to cut whole sections of the story that you write and then realize is a non-essential tangent. But the cutting and the cleaning up comes later. Today, it is all about getting the words on the page.

Never Give Up

No matter where you are in your word count today, there’s still time to catch up. Twenty-two days left (including today), so even if you’re just starting now it would only take 2,273 words per day to nail NaNo. (And guess what, I’m one of those folks who just started yesterday. So if that’s you, you’re not alone.)

Go get ‘em, tiger!

Posted in Staff Features, Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,

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