The Life in Their Eyes

This post was written in response to a prompt from the red dress club:
Flash Fiction can be fun and a real challenge. This week focus on the words and the strength of each to contribute to your story. Write a 300 word piece using the following word for inspiration: LIFE.
* * *

There’s a sign at the entrance to Bitsy’s Diner.
“She’s selling out.” Spank waves his spatula in the air. 
“This diner is your future, El.  The money I got invested in this place will get you out of Medford.”
“But…”
“You got your whole life ahead of you, child.  This is your opportunity to go and live it.”
“You know how she’s always going on about the city,” Spank says.
Years ago, Bitsy took me to New York.  The people crowded on the sidewalk regarded one another with eyes of indifference.  There were lights and noises and people.  Everywhere, people. 
“City’s full of life, Ellie.”  Bitsy’s eyes gleam.
Life.
* * *
Annie once said babies grew on trees.  Told me I sprouted from a pink blossom in the apple orchard over yonder hill.  Told me she watched me grow fat and red before plucking me from the branch to bring me home.
Jonathan once told me that babies came from potatoes.  “Cut one into pieces and you got babies.  Just be sure an’ plant ‘em with their eyes looking towards the sky.  The life is in their eyes, Ellie.”
Bitsy once said that Annie and Jonathan were full of shit; said a girl oughta’ know her birds from her bees.   But I took their meaning:  Life surrounds me in the country.
* * *
“A body can’t fit into the city,” I say now and the gleam in Bitsy’s eyes fades to hopelessness, reminding me of the homeless man at Penn Station with fingerless gloves and a tattered Starbucks cup full of nickels and dull, lifeless eyes.
“I choose to stay, Bitsy.  I choose the farm.”
And in so choosing my life, I fear I have destroyed Bitsy’s.

21 thoughts on “The Life in Their Eyes

  1. The visual imagery in these lines if perfect:

    “Annie once said babies grew on trees. Told me I sprouted from a pink blossom in the apple orchard over yonder hill. Told me she watched me grow fat and red before plucking me from the branch to bring me home.”

  2. You had me at Medford – I’m visiting there next month.

    I found it a little confusing though – too many names, in such a short piece. Was not sure who Bitsy and ?El? were in relation to each other.

    I loved the second section, and actually, the last, too. It’s damn hard making a story with so few words, and you did beautifully, all considered.

  3. Beverly,
    I’d call this a flash scene within a larger piece of fiction, the novel I’m working on. So the characters would make sense within the novel. You could say I cheated. Thanks for reading. And, yes, I’d like to live in Medford, too.

  4. I wanted to address this prompt, but I just can’t figure out flash fiction. You did such a nice job with it. “Cut one into pieces and you got babies. Just be sure an’ plant ‘em with their eyes looking towards the sky. The life is in their eyes, Ellie.” Loved those lines.

  5. Thanks so much, Susan! When I was planting potatoes a few years ago, my dad told me to plant them with their eyes looking at the sky. I’ve had that line in my head ever since.

  6. I like the dialogue between them and the way they express themselves. some of the things they say remind me of my granmother’s old sayings. This is a story I could follow.

  7. Oh my god. I am in love with the simplicity of the middle section. The apple blossoms and potatoes. Gorgeous! I’m left with the sense of beauty and appreciation far more appealing than Bitsy’s no nonsense view of life.

  8. What a nice little slice of life piece! I love the conversational tone of your writing. Your character’s dialogue flows well and is very believable. Like some of your other commenters, I liked the following lines best:

    “Cut one into pieces and you got babies. Just be sure an’ plant ‘em with their eyes looking towards the sky. The life is in their eyes, Ellie.”

    LOVED that. That’s one of those lines we writers dream of writing 🙂

    Great response to the prompt!

  9. I adore the short vignettes, the slice of life, and the way that you used language to create time and place.

    The section about apples and potatoes, birds and bees? Perfection.

  10. Thanks, Galit! Now, if I could get all these various scenes to come together, I may have something…

  11. Thanks for reading! I just got lucky with those lines. The eyes towards the sky came from my dad when I told him I was planting potatoes and the rest just kind of came on its own after that. I love when it works out that way.

  12. Thanks! Poor Bitsy. She’s just looking out for Ellie. But she’s got her priorities all messed up.

  13. Thank you! I’m going for a slower time; a simpler time; so I’m glad the conversation worked.

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