Flash Fiction Challenge: Summer Fun

Photo by K.S. Brooks

This is the place. This is where you and your friends always had the best time. You came here every summer as a kid.

Tell us your favorite memory. Did you sneak under a carnival tent to pet an elephant? Was it the year you saw the kid who always bullied you throwing up after a roller-coaster ride? Maybe a first kiss shared with someone special that time you got stuck at the top of the Ferris wheel? In 250 words or less, tell me a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until 5:00 PM Pacific Time on Tuesday, August 28th 2012.

On Wednesday morning, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted.

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8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Summer Fun”

  1. Title: Silent Echoes

    I came here as a kid. Then I brought you here for years. Now, as I look at the remnants of the carnival gates, I wish I could hear your laughter once more.

    Maybe I should have brought you up differently…but I didn’t. You were the ‘All-American’ kid. Everyone loved you.

    Sitting on this cold and rusty bench, looking at the façade, I wish I could hear your laughter just once more. I couldn’t hold my emotions back any longer and people were starting to stare…I don’t care anymore…I miss you with all my heart.

    This is where we had words that day.

    I wonder what you would be like if I had brought you up differently. But, no such luck. I can’t hate myself for bringing you up right, but I miss you so much.

    I tried to reason with you that fateful day, but you learned your lessons well, and echoed my words back at me. ‘I need to do what’s right; I owe it to myself, my country, to God, but most of all, to you.’

    Oh, how I wish I said things differently.

    You joined the Marines. ‘Nothing less for you.’ You went to that hell hole and you made a difference. You saved your buddies. You’re a hero.

    So, why do I feel so bad? I listened, straining to hear even the echo of your laughter.

    Why did I come here? I really wish I could hear you, and your son laughing.

  2. We all had tans that year. 1978. I felt confident – a rare emotion for a timid teenager. Looking back, I realize it was the tan that gave me the courage.

    I wore my pastel pink t-shirt. Why do I remember? Consider the tan. Pink looked great against my bronzed skin. I felt pretty.

    Arriving at the fair, we breathed in the sweet aroma of cotton candy but we couldn’t stop. We had only one reason for our visit: the wooden roller-coaster.

    Luckily there wasn’t a long lineup because my desperate fear of heights had begun to well up. But seeing my reflection in the metal gate, I was reminded that today was different.I was strong.

    The lap bar cinched over, making a comforting locking noise. The cars chugged up the first hill. I scanned the beautiful view. I could take on the world! Why had I been afraid? Smile!

    And then, the descent.

    Sheer panic, utter terror, my screeching, feeling I was falling, Tracey laughing, hating Tracey with every atom of my being, hitting the lap bar, my prayers, gripping Tracey’s arm like a vise, hoping I was creating a bruise, higher ascents, straight down drops, eyelids squeezed so tightly they folded in on each other.

    Then suddenly it was over.

    Prying my eyelids open, I watched as our car chugged harmlessly to a stop. I scanned the faces of those now waiting to get on the ride. I saw their fear. I laughed.

    What a bunch of wimps!

    (250 words)

  3. That day is still as clear in my mind as if it were yesterday and not twenty years ago.

    The delectable scents of funnel cakes, cotton candy, and corn dogs wafted through the record crowd of the 1992 county fair. Kids ran through the milling throng wearing overpriced glow necklaces and pridefully waving their cheap carnival game winnings in the air. Standing in line for the tilt-a-whirl, my friends and I poked fun at the “classier” attendees and ogled girls who would never give us the time of day.

    Something caught my eye, though. There was a man in a faded AC/DC t-shirt, the sleeves ripped off and washed-out d.i.y. tattoos on his shoulders. He was roughly pulling on the arm of an attractive blonde in a miniskirt as she struggled to pull away. I recognized the girl, Sarah McIntire, a senior. She gave the man a solid smack across the face. When he struck her back, something in me snapped. You never hit a girl. Never.

    I don’t really remember leaving my friends. I vaguely recall standing before the man and feeling as if I were going to wet myself. What I clearly remember is the man sprawled on the ground before me and aching knuckles. I remember the beautiful smile from a girl who would never have any interest in a nerdy sophomore.

    But as you know, that wasn’t the case. No, I will never forget the day I met your mother.

  4. There is freedom in captivity. There is security in knowing that you cannot be seen.

    If the breeze hadn’t blown just so, you might not have huddled up against me, and my world might have remained what it was.

    The gondola shifted again, and my hand reached for your thigh as if to steady myself. Any other time I might have been concerned that the Ferris Wheel had stopped moving, but we were stuck at the top, out of reach and out of sight, far away from prying eyes and the roar of the fair crowd below. The roller coaster continued to race beneath us, mindless screams wrapped around the throbbing in my wrist.

    Don’t we all want to be irresistible to somebody sometime? That was the thought that struck me as you burrowed deeper and lifted your face for a kiss. Would this have happened if the ride hadn’t suddenly stopped, leaving us to rock back and forth slowly in the wind like lovers? Would you have felt the instincts of my protective arm around you and found that same feeling within yourself?

    For now, I didn’t care. I granted your wish and brushed my lips against yours just as the Ferris Wheel shuddered back into motion. We broke our embrace, our eyes meeting uncertainly. I leaned out over the edge and located the worried faces of your parents below in the crowd, and wondered if they realized this was the beginning of the end of their daughter’s innocence.

  5. With the cool wind whistling in my ears, our car trundled down the rickety scoop of the ride, and the fairground skimmed my eyes in a colourful blur. Jimmy gasped, which turned into a burp, and the laughter bug caught me. As we sailed around the coming curve, my eyes watered. Round and round, down and down, the endless rhythm eventually came to a halt and we staggered off, clutching our belly laughs.

    “What next?”

    “The waltzer!” I shouted, sprinting towards it.

    “But it always makes me barf!” Jimmy wailed, stumbling after me.

    “Hold up!”called Sam, racing across the ground to get to the ride before me. He always could outrun me, but, hey, I ran like a girl, which was fine by me, as that’s what I am.

    Pulling a face at Jimmy, I jumped into the purple waltzer car.

    “Okay, just once, but I get double choices for this!” sighed Jimmy, squeezing in.
    “Go, go, go!” shouted Sam.

    Jimmy’s face was a picture. I bit my tongue to stop myself laughing again. Slowly the car began to turn, this way and that, until it was spinning and Jimmy’s face was a whirlwind of angles and colours.

    “You look like you’re wearing a funny mask!”

    “It’s fast going green!” replied Jimmy.

    As my world whirled, I giggled, feeling free and feeling whole. I glanced at Sam, smiling behind the controls. Three phantoms having fun at the fair. Above, the stars twinkled. I was pretty sure they were laughing too.

  6. It was considered necessary and proper to spend at least a few minutes in the ocean surf, as a sort of obeisance to the god of beaches, before going to the arcade. Chris Johnson gave no thought at all to doing otherwise, especially today, and made sure to dunk his head underwater at least three times.

    On sunny days in those glorious months of June, July, and August, it was bad form to enter the semi-sacred confines of Gee-Gee’s with a dry shirt on, or heaven forbid, a pair of shoes. The strict dress code consisted of sand-caked bare feet, a damp OP bathing suit (that’s ‘Ocean Pacific’, though Gee-Gees was on the Atlantic), and hair matted with dried saltwater. A thin red line of pizza grease on the right arm, stretching from the hand down to the elbow, was the only permissible accessory.

    The social hierarchy of Gee-Gees, and indeed, of all arcades, was divided into two classes: those with quarters, and those without. Chris belonged to the former, and assumed the coveted position in front Street Fighter II, controls in hand. Members of the quarter-less class eagerly took their position at his side to watch. Word had spread that today was the day Chris was going to demolish the reigning high score.

    And doubtless he would have done exactly that, had not fate intervened in the form of his sister, who stepped on a jellyfish, and his mother, who insisted it was time to go home “right now!”

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