Where it all begins …



For me every story begins with one sentence. No matter what happens to that sentence later, I never write anything without that one sentence. In the blog a portion of that sentence might become the header. In a novel it might one day become the tag line.

For inspiration, I began to write a list of sentences that would  capture the essence, the soul of the story.

I did this because I intend to keep my promise to wax comic with new characters. However, I cannot promise you will ever know what happens to any of them.

I never did tell you what happens to the rebellious Viola or her discontented mother, Lucille. Was there a future for Viola beyond South Bradley Street, or would she be trapped like her parents on the wrong side of the tracks?

And in the four years I have done the blog I never told Antoinette’s entire story. I might have tortured my poor hapless Gail with fumbling blind dates, but I never told you about the one … that one and only one she finally met.

Do you know if any or all of them had a happy ending?

Alas, they are what they are … a snippet … a tease … a temptation … and another beginning with no end.

starts here

Life in Reverse …

Whoever designed the automobile to go faster when it shifts into reverse must have known Aggie.

She stretched out her short legs trying to make the bridge between the chair and the ottoman and like each time, her heels slipped, her body lurched and she spilled coffee in her lap.

“Maybe you should keep a change of clothes with you, the way we did when the kids were babies.” I handed her a paper towel. “And if you put the damn ottoman closer to you before you plop on the chair, your heels wouldn’t slip off.”

“Yeah, yeah.” She handed me a folder. “Here, look at my new business plan.”

“What is it this time?”

“Mason jars.”

“You wrote a business plan to sell Mason jars?” The folder contained dozens of pictures of Mason jars in dozens of colors.

“It’s the latest craze. Girls call it shabby chic. You buy cheap ass jars, spray paint them and then you sand them, put a bit of raffia around the rim and sell them for ten bucks a pop.”

“I don’t want to spray paint anything.”

“Ah common, Eva, it’ll be fun.”

“No it won’t be fun. No more than a basement crammed with Amway products it took us two years to unload was fun.”

She huffed. “You still upset over that?”

“Yes. And the damn stuff made me itch.”

She gathered up the papers and stuffed them back into her folder. “Okay, then why don’t you come up with something for a change?”

Living with Aggie was like hitting the pedal too hard backing out of the garage; terrible things can happen.

Agatha “Aggie” Boyle was my best friend since second grade. In second grade she had flaming red braids and resembled the fictional character of Pippi Longstocking. Long, light lashes feathered over her translucent blue eyes.

Looking at her today, I saw a woman who aged well, her flaming red braids replaced by short wisps of white and silver, her eyes, a deeper blue.

“My idea is that we don’t do anything for a while.”

She waved her hand in dismissal. “That was your idea the last time.”

“Oh, the last time … like right before you thought we should do parties and sell sex paraphernalia?”

I was Eva Marie Franco, named for a famous actress no one remembered. I was a-typical of my heritage, dark hair and eyes, tawny skin, shapely rounds strategically placed to drive men wild.

I pushed gray waves off my face and looked south. South where all my rounds settled around my knees. The real tragedy for us was simple. we were invisible to the opposite sex.

“How about we reopen the travel agency,” she asked. “People are flying again.”

In the ten years since we became widows, we had gone through a dozen small business ideas that mostly flopped and lost money. The one time we did make money, Aggie, who was keeping the books, forgot to pay the taxes and we went belly-up with fines and late fees.

My scalp rippled remembering the defunct travel agency we opened two months before 9-11.

“Why can’t we be two old geezers and do lunch, join book clubs and attend card parties like all the other old geezers our age?”

“We’ve never been like other girls our age, why start now?

Her parents moved into the house next to ours one week before school started.

We grew up on the same block in Brooklyn in connected row houses located half-way up a hill on the edge of a blue collar world. Our living room was connected to their downstairs hall. Our upstairs bath, connected to their second bedroom.

Our house was one of two houses on the block that was semi-detached which gave me enormous status with all the neighborhood kids. My dad was a professional man, a CPA, a man with narrow glasses that remained fixed to the tip of his nose from the moment he woke until he went to bed.

My mom was a stay at home, bake cookies and clean all three floors until they shined kind of woman. We were the national average. I was an only child for five years until my brother, James Anthony Franco showed up.

Both of our houses had the same square feet of space. However, while everyone in my family had separate domains, and for several years a third floor tenant to pay our mortgage, the Boyle’s filled every single space with people and stuff. Aggie lived with her parents, five siblings, both her paternal and maternal grandparents, her crazy Aunt Cloe, her old maid cousin Bitsy, and her perpetually unemployed Uncle Pat.

To make life more interesting for Mrs. Boyle, her husband’s sister-in-law ran off with a plumber and his brother, unable to cope, dropped his four kids off for the weekend and didn’t come back for ten years.

Nobody paid them rent. Few if any of them worked. My conservative dad with his navy blue suspenders concluded that Mr. Boyle was in the Irish mafia. “How else can he afford to feed them all?”

Aggie became a fixture in our house and like one of my mom’s favorite stained glass lamps she was cherished by all of us.

It doesn’t matter how we went from there to here. All the stops and starts between second grade and hanging on the brink of destruction at fifty-nine, brought us full circle back to our connected row houses.

We remain one of their strangest of strange soul mates.

Where to go from here …

Ideas are all around us. They are the stolen moments, the unguarded smile, the silent disapproval. How could you know what someone like me might do to these ladies next … or if I’ll be taken in by another strange idea. I haven’t a clue.

I might give you another wanna-be funny opening.

 Tell me how you begin?
And what do you do when you get there?

fOIS In The City


Maxine on Pinterest







Filed under Flash Fiction

14 responses to “Where it all begins …

  1. The latest group of stories began with an image — something I read, not something I dreamed up: angels bending over the hospital bed of a dying young man. This is strange because no one dies like that in NEW SUN RISING, nor does anyone witness such a scene.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lindsay, I guess that the angel was there to inspire you, if not encourage you to add an angel to one of your stories. I think any odd thought we have stays with us and then without warning it moves to the front of our brain and off we go. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this story, Florence. I can picture these two so easily because of the way you describe them. Well done. I can see a book forming around these widows.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. christicorbett

    I begin a story/book in the most outrageous and disorganized way possible, basically word vomiting every thought onto any form of paper, and then I spend the next several weeks trying to sort through the endless sticky notes, back of the envelopes scrawlings, bookmarked pages in library research books, and make everything come together in one long storyline that makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Christi, I would expect nothing less after seeing a photo of your story board. You obviously have the kind of mind that can track these thoughts into a whole story. Although I don’t write my stories that way, I did do all my college papers like that 🙂 I wonder what the heck that means.

      Keep doing what you do, because you do it so well 🙂


  4. Hi, Florence! and I’m with Patty, your character descriptions in this story are fabulous. In fact, combine all your stories into one big book, the way Maeve Binchy did her stories. I usually start with a word or a phrase or a dialogue and off she goes! I’d sold a couple of short stories when I noticed a class on short story writing and thought I should take this to see if I’m doing something right. The teacher had us look at pictures and write stories. I did and it sold, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vicki, I am getting closer to the time I will do something with all my shorts. Life has been imposing and distracting me … it absorbs too much of my writing time. Now I see a clearing in the thicket and I’ll go for it soon 🙂

      BTW … I’ve looked up your shorts and love your work in general … thanks for the encouragement 🙂


  5. Florence, I love all of your shorts. You have such a wonderful voice and your characters always make me smile. 🙂 I start with a flash of a scene and go from there. Sometimes I get to the muddle in the middle and stop. Sometimes I make it all the way to the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I just sit my butt in the chair and write the first thing that comes to mind . . . the first draft always looks like vomit on paper with all my convoluted thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Jamie … now that sounds like a true challenge. I bet there are hundreds who do just that and never admit it. I do believe that when we think we have a block or we don’t feel like working … that your method is a sure cure 🙂


  7. GACK!!! “…brink of destruction at fifty-nine.” SO. NOT!! Add a decade and…

    STILL, so not!

    LOVE, love, love these two. Yes! You MUST give them a whack-a-doodle adventure. Pretty please? For some reason, I find I relate to Aggie. No clue why, but…

    You haven’t yet RSVP’d to my sex toy party invitation. What’s up with that?

    ASIDE: I arrived in Pennsylvania a week ago. All settled at temp digs with my sister. I went searching for my fave blogs and discovered most had been sent to SPAM! It’s the EN ES EH. I know it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yipee !!!! So, so glad you are back, Gloria. You have been missed. I understand how you could relate to Aggie … no need to explain 🙂

      Adventure? Mystery? Misadventure? Who knows what I’ll do with them. They will become a long short story and I might do the entire things here … or not … or not 🙂

      Keep coming back for more and take me the heck out’a spam … I’m a salami and provolone kind’a gal 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s