Throwback – “Clumsy Luck”
“Clumsy Luck” was one of the first stories I ever posted on my blog. Back then, I had yet to figure out what my blog was supposed to be, or what blogging was supposed to be. I had imagined it would be a space to market and develop the book I was working on at the time, my first. But the blog, and my writing adventures, quickly expanded beyond that.
This story was accepted for publication on The Story Shack, but I recently received notice that the site will be shutting down for some time, if not permanently. Along with the bad news, the editor said if he resumes work on the flash fiction site, he will publish those works already accepted. I have no urge to submit this story anywhere else, so if it gets published some day on The Story Shack, then that’s where it will end up.
I also wrote this story before I really understood flash fiction. That was something new to me when I started the blog, but proved to be a good fit for blogging. The combination of wanting to develop my book and to develop my flash skills, led to The Adventures of Iric, a 20-episode flash series. What’s striking about the story below is how well it works as flash fiction, despite having been written by a flash amateur.
I hope you enjoy it.
by JM Williams
Bjorn shuddered as the pan bounced off the floor. He rushed down to pick it up, forgetting about the long broom in his other hand, which pushed an opened carton of milk off the counter.
Bjorn stood in the white puddle, pouting. He berated himself for always making things more difficult. Now he had to wipe the floor, wash the pan, clean up the counter…cleaning the kitchen was taking him all day. He just wanted the house to be clean and neat by the time his mother came home from work. He wanted to give her a special birthday.
Bjorn hadn’t been able to buy her a present, having wasted his allowance on toys and candy. He had tried to make something, several somethings, but they all came out wrong. He had already ripped up a half dozen ugly pictures, and smashed a disfigured sculpture. The last thing he could do for her was to clean the house. But he knew she was the kind of person that would take such an act to heart.
After cleaning the kitchen, Bjorn’s next task was to water the garden and clean the bird feeders. He found the watering can in the backyard, along the back of the house and under the wide, wooden deck. The plastic can was large and orange, with a sunflower design on its tip. After filling it, Bjorn had to heft it with two hands, carrying it to the edge of the garden.
As he stumbled through the yard, he felt the ground squishing oddly under his feet. The water in the can swished, the weight of it throwing Bjorn’s small body from side to side. Suddenly, something caught his toes and Bjorn tumbled forward. He fell right on top of the plastic waterer. It shattered under his weight, splashing him with the cold liquid. Bjorn’s head hit the ground and buried itself in a deep hole. Bjorn didn’t bother to get up; he just laid there and cried.
“What’s your problem?” came a gruff voice from deep down in the hole.
“Huh?” Bjorn mumbled.
“I said, what’s wrong with you kid?” Bjorn could start to make out a small figure silhouetted in the middle of a long tunnel.
“Everything is so wrong today. Everything is bad,” Bjorn cried.
“You look fine to me,” the little man said.
“But I broke my mother’s watering can and I spilled her milk and I dented her pan…and, and it’s her birthday! I just wanted to do something special for her.”
“Ah…I see,” the little man said.
“Who are you?” Bjorn asked.
“I’m Gim. I’m a garden gnome,” the little man said.
“A gnome? What’s that?” Bjorn asked.
“Kind of like a fairy, but one that lives in the ground. We help the plants grow. ” Gim smiled at the boy, then raised a finger excitedly. “Wait a moment, I have an idea.”
The little man disappeared down the tunnel. After several long minutes, he reemerged with something shiny in his hands. Bjorn pulled his head out of the hole, letting the light hit the tunnel in full. He saw what Gim carried. It was a brilliant, golden ring with a bright red gemstone cradled in its center.
“Wow,” Bjorn said, staring in wonder.
“Here, take this for your mother,” Gim said. “Birthdays are special things. She is lucky to have a son like you.”
Gim offered the ring to Bjorn with two hands. The boy giddily accepted the gift.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Bjorn said.
“Just don’t tell anyone you saw me, okay?” Gim said. “It will be our secret.”
“Our secret,” Bjorn repeated.
Bjorn said goodbye to his new friend and carefully filled in the hole. He picked up the pieces of the broken water can and put them back in their place. He would apologize for that later. For now he jumped around, thinking how lucky it had been for him to be so clumsy.
Thanks for reading.
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