Our Neighborhood Offers a Row

Flash Fiction

https://www.reflexfiction.com/our-neighborhood-offers-a-row-flash-fiction-by-tina-hudak/

Once in a while, your art, whether visual or written, goes out into a the world. I am grateful to editors at the UK’s independent, Reflex Press and the judge for Spring 2020, Kathy Fish, for including my piece online. Frankly, if I thought it would garner any attention, I would have created a title!

Stepping outside my personal geographic area – at least virtually – introduces me to a host of other writers, artists, and publications to follow, allowing me to grow in all these fields.

Primarily, as a visual artist, I am thrilled that my story is introduced by the photography of Peter Hall.

I hope that you will read other flash fiction at this site, and view other photographs. They are well worth the trip.


I would love to hear of your experiences regarding art/writing submissions. How did these help or hinder your creativeness? Please comment appropriately. Thank you!

Nothing in particular

FLASH FICTION

This morning nothing in particular holds Jane’s attention as she walks along the tree-lined street to Joy’s house. The past nor the present. Unusual weather. Sun. Cool breezes, now and again. One could not help but be in a good mood. A gift, really. She is grateful. She smiles realizing that her whole life is summed up in this word, despite heartaches and setbacks. 

Windows open wide with breezes passing over friends seated around the table. As always, the women cook too much food, drink too much wine, and talk incessantly. Today, Jane listens as she picks at the vegan lasagna. Absolutes resound.

One needs passion in one’s work

Yes, it is what our youth need to know! 

Quietly, Jane’s thoughts turn to her work. She ponders her new life without it, without commitment. Every workday morning she came in early; always pleasant to everyone. It was mandatory. She remembers being good at all of it. Tracking down facts for the scientists with their research, creating spreadsheets with tabbed information to have at the tips of their fingers, and even answering desperate weekend emails with pleas for more information. This need to serve; her “passion.” When did it all start to turn, she wonders? 

Then, she hears her voice questioning,

Joy, how do you keep passion when it’s not rewarded, month after month, year after year?

-You do it for yourself, of course, not for others!

Well, I certainly couldn’t.

Jane states her new insight stoically.

photography of a dark sky

Then, begins the unraveling of her resentment with every word. Resentment at being passed over for this promotion or bonus. Her voice pitches higher, the words spilling out faster. All eyes are on Jane; all ears, listening. “Oh yes”, she tells them,

I got a certificate once, noting my dedication printed in the office on stock paper.  Standard size, of course. I bought a cheap, plastic frame and hung it in my office to show them my gratitude.

More chatter and nods. More food. More wine.  Jane says little else that afternoon. She is ruminating on her Pandora’s Box of hidden grudges.  Finally, with a subdued anger, she asks herself,

-Why am I always so damn grateful?


Dedicated to the “moms” of Takoma Park who are steadfast.
Hudak, Tina. Nothing In Particular, © 2019

Flash fiction 4 children: a story

Prudence shares the story of the “w”

Prudence the rat, who everyone thinks is a mouse, knows a lot!  For instance, she knows that the rare, flowering, blue vine, only grows near the lower-case w. Many never can find it because they do not know this fact.

lower-case w with blue vine

It is NOT the upper-case W. That is another magic flower and another story.

Many of you know that rats are very social, quite kind on occasion, and get around a lot at night! Sometimes, if they are fat they can get stuck in a manhole cover! Good grief! Anyway, you should know that Prudence has a wide circle of friends due to the fact that she IS a rat, although not fat.

And, the other day, she heard that a young boy, one with a lower-case w, a william, was not feeling so well, which of course made her sad. More importantly, she heard that he was CRANKY! She LOVES cranky boys. They always say what they mean. Being a no-nonsense rat herself, Prudence values this character trait considerably.

Small rat looking out

Here she peeks out to let william know that she is sending along a bit of magic 4 him only. Make a wish and feel better, young william.


This drawing and story are for young william who is brave & strong, and recovering in hospital.
Tina Hudak
© 2019

A rat & the #9, very flash fiction

What’s Up With the #9?

The #9 has come into my life demanding my full attention. So, as in many cases, I have handed it over to Prudence. She is a most congenial rat. Often she is mistaken for a mouse. Make no mistake, my friend, while diminutive in stature, she can be fierce in nature.

Anyway, back to the #9. Prudence has done a fine job of pay homage and placating the conceit of this digit. She has created a space of him, gathered posies as a tribute, and even offered her heart. All this with honesty and shall we say, forbearance. Yet, the cheek of this #9! He is not assuaged

Showing her resolve, tinged with some exasperation, she insists he meet #2.

Is #2 up to the challenge of placating and softening this petulant character?


Only time will tell, dear Prudence.


Prudence has been in my life for decades quietly, behind the scenes. I am grateful to the art of Beatrix Potter for inspiring and mentoring this season’s illustrations of her, when she befuddled me by never sitting still .

All work, art & story, is under copyright. Tina Hudak © 2019.

From the Back Porch

Morning Glories

morning glories

 

The enclosed space, perhaps an afterthought at the back of our house, is small. Its size somehow reminds me of our inexpensive rug. One that the working class can afford – bordering on gaudy – to show that, they too, have dreams of more.

Here, windows are everywhere. They gaze back with tired faces encased in layers of hardened enamel paint. Pure white, because it is cheap, yet chipped from years of opening and closing, despite the paint’s viscous thickness.

The early morning summer sun blinds the eyes. Brittle paper shades carefully rolled onto wooden rods are tinged brown from scorching sun and bitter cold. Weathered, they remain serviceable still, for this family of the sewing mills and steel yards in Pennsylvania. Good enough.

My mother pulls on silky braided cords dangling at the shades’ edges. Faded from sun and use, they too, remain serviceable closing out the blistering heat – heat that runs through this long, narrow house made of bricks, as fans whirl.

She shuts out the plethora of morning glories that rise to greet us in the garden.. Silently, I watch her, but do not enter. Waiting, as only a good Catholic girl can, waiting for her to relinquish this room.

 

This back porch. My world.

To a small, seven-year old girl, it is an immense space with infinite possibilities. Closing the kitchen door softly – the shared kitchen door of my mother’s world – brown & white, saddle-shoe feet enter. They are eager, but silent. Walking on toes.

Alone. Breathing in the heat, the tepid air.

The wonder of it all.


To balance my life this first year in retirement, I continue with an online writing through the offerings of author, Beth Kephart and the JUNCTURE publications.

Garden of clay

Red Clay

Red clay. Its dust lays everywhere around me. A magic circle. In the center I squat with the sun beating relentlessly against my back, as the sweat trickles sweetly between my breasts. These small streams cause a frisson where I am at once shivering, and another, damp. Heat hangs heavy in the summer sun.

The red clay of these bricks spreads before me, unearthed long ago when this house first became ours. Someone else built this house of wood and brick. Someone who raised their chickens in the yard that is now my garden, laid down these bricks. Here. In a soil rich with leaves decaying for decades, perhaps a century, I lay down the bricks once again.

This time they stand upright. One against another. One atop the other. So closely do I place these and with thoughtful care, that my fierceness of purpose may be obscure to the casual eye. Yet, the birds know. Scraping one against another with such intent, the songbirds stop their singing. I hear their silence.

And the dust of this red clay surrounds me. It envelops me. I, this builder of short, stout walls, revel in the earthen dust.

Sitting back on my haunches, I pause. Shaded by the wide, straw brim, my eyes adjust to the distance. I breathe softly, and the birds resume their tattle. I ponder this wall in my mind’s eye. This peculiar wall; the one under the pine. There are many walls throughout this garden. Brick by brick. Side by side. Hidden under canopies of variegated hostas, the oppositional red demands that you notice this structure. While questioning its very presence. Or, perhaps you glimpse the long, slender wall winding its way through the daylilies ruthlessly pushing and shoving at its interlocking links and wonder. Their silky, apricot petals clashing with the russet red lend an air of dissonance. Yet, it is this wall under the pine where sunlight filters through the supple branches of forest green, holding my attention. Holding my heart. Eyes ahead, yet heart rooted here, I look for purpose. Each wall serves a purpose. Each a tribute to the aliveness of spirit or to the necessity of being alive. They are porous, these walls. So, when the summer storms flood the small inclines or the careless foot nicks the soft brick, they give. They hold And give. And hold, again.

I am a builder of small, stout walls. Walls rooted in a farmhouse history. Walls rooted in the now through my love of form and color.


Hudak, Tina, “Red Clay.” ©2018; portion from this essay included in the book, The Walls Between Us (Juncture Workshops, 2018). Read more by clicking here.

A dog, a story: in english

The Good Dog

Once upon a time, there was a dog whose heart was so good that his coat glimmered like gold.

His bark was so pure that his muzzle was white like the snow. His devotion was so true that his eyes shone like the stars.

When he was happy, his tail wagged furiously that the leaves in the trees would sway to and fro.

When he was content to lie at his master’s feet, the air was so still that the crickets sang in time with his beating heart.

But, he knew that he was old, and would soon die.

He saw the sadness of his master and said to him, “My master, though I will die soon, I will never leave you…

Every day when you see the golden sun,

Or walk through the shimmering white snow,

Or gaze at the evening star,

Or watch the leaves in the trees dance,

Or hear the cricket’s song,

I will be with you.”

And the master put his arms around his wonderful dog,

And was content.


Opine I have come to believe that the best way to learn a style of writing is to mimic others whom one admires.  I wrote this many years ago (using a typewriter – that’s how long). It was a tribute to our first Golden Retriever, Amicus, out of the three we have loved through the decades. It was completely and utterly inspired by Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. The timing coincided with my attempts to learn the Italian language. Thinking that it would be good practice for both writing and language, I wrote it in Italian.  I will include that version as a postscript.  And, yes, I am well aware of how poor my Italian writing is!

Allora, in italiano

Il Buon Cane

C’era una volta, c’è stato un cane chi ha avuto un cuore qual’è stato molto onesto che la sua pelliccia è brillavata come d’oro,

Il suo abbaio è stato molto chiaro che il muso è stato bianco come la neve,

Il suo affetto è state molto reale che glie suoi occhi sono lucidati come le stelle,

Quando è stato felice, la sua coda agitasse furiomente che le foglie negli alberi oscillassero su e gìu.

Quando è stato content sdraire aipiedi del suo padrone l’aria fosse molto calmo chi I grilli cinguetassero nel tempo con la ronda del suo cuore.

Lui ha conosciuto che è stato vecchio e lui morira presto.

Ha veduto la tristezza del suo padrone, e lo ha detto,

“Il mio padrone, benchè morirò presto no t’abbandonaro mai.

Tutti giorni quando  vedrai il sole d’oro o camminerai nella neve bianca,

O sembrerai alle stelle di notta,

O guarderai le foglie che oscilleanno negli alberi,

O ascolterai I canti di grilli,

Starò con ti.”

E il padrone si e abbraciato il suo cane meraviglioso,

E è stato contento.


Hudak, Tina. The Good Dog, Not To Be Eaten Editions, 1991.
Silverstein, Shel. The Giving Tree. Harper & Row, 1964.