The Iron Writer Weekend Quickie #1


The Iron Writer

Weekend Quickie #1

One Image!

One Prompt!

One Emotion!

200 Words!

Burning Man


Abject Despair

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12 thoughts on “The Iron Writer Weekend Quickie #1

  1. I smell the fire consuming the structure beneath me. The smoke is starting to burn my eyes. In another hour, maybe, the heat will start to blister my skin. I no longer scream for release. I no longer thrash and pry at my cage. I sit here, my mouth dry, staring into the night through swollen eyes.

    Nothing helps to console a man during a slow death. After the initial panic, there comes only anxiety, regret, and despair. His life does not flash nostalgic before his eyes. Instead it lingers like rotten fruit on the vine as he waits to die. All his mistakes are dissected. All his hesitations lamented. Before long he wishes for death to hurry along its way as he grows weary of his own company.

    It is at this juncture that I now find myself. Confined inside the head of a burning wicker effigy of man and praying for death to quiet my mind.

    How, might you ask, did I come to be in such dire straits? I doubt you would believe me if I told you, but, it all started with a dropped jar of applesauce and a chance encounter with fate at the grocery…

      • Wonderful emotions and visuals. It is hard to make things so short that they are complete in themselves. To me the way this ended made it a preface more than a complete little story in and of itself. Although I really do want to know how the character got there now. Great grab to make the reader want more.

        • Thanks for the compliments.

          The ending can give the impression of being a preface, however it is complete in that the narrator does not intend to finish the story. The reader is left to wonder, quite intentionally, at how a broken jar of applesauce led to such a fate. The final sentence ends in ellipsis signifying his resigned voice trailing off as he goes back to waiting silently for death to come.

  2. Journal Entry
    September 1, 2013

    It has been five days since arriving. Lots of crazy people. Last night, after it was dark, I stumbled on something buried in the ground. Cursing I discovered my foot was bleeding. I looked down and noticed the rusty edge of a metal gallon can sticking up through the salty dirt. I found a stick and dug it out. To my great surprise it was still sealed. The label was barely readable: Brisket. The time stamp said 1941. World War II surplus. I was hungry. I opened it. Wasn’t bad. It tasted like applesauce. Not sure what it tasted like. I had a few mouthfuls when suddenly someone ran by, grabbing it out of my hands. ‘We need something to start the fire with’, he yelled. He went to bonfire. Several drugged up groupies were trying to light it but couldn’t. The man who stole my applesauce tossed the can as high as he could.. Suddenly it caught fire. My dinner. I was starving. I hadn’t eaten in two days. Oh the agony, the abject despair. I seized the fellow who had taken my food. He was laughing. I tossed him on the fire.

  3. Here is your 5 minute 200 word prize 🙂

    I wallowed in abject despair as I desperately tried to put out the fire with applesauce. It was the only thing we had in large quantities in the Kingdom of Apples. I should have known better than to bring the large, wooden man to my homeland. I had thought the realm became more tolerant of differences since my sister married a pear from the neighboring realm in a good faith effort to unite the kingdoms. War was all we ever knew before that arranged marriage.
    I met my wooden man on a spring day as I was studying abroad. My father hoped my studies would help his public relations and repair some of the damage caused by years of war and intolerance. For a while, it did help. The other realms found me quite delightful. I will never forget the first day I saw him standing in the meadow. He was such a dreamer. I was the apple of his eye and he my tall, dark, and handsome. Love bloomed until the fateful day I took him back to meet my people. Turns out, they blamed his distant kin, The Sticks, for skewering our ancestors in the Shish Kebab Massacre.

  4. It was a typical annual get-together at the burning sacrifice with the relatives, sitting and watching the Druids perform their wonderfully detailed rituals. The women had brought the usual picnic. Trust Bradán, the moaning sod, to ruin it.
    “Where’s the applesauce, Genovefa?”
    I heard his request and poked Genovefa with a stick.
    “Applesauce? I thought I…oh. Sorry, left it. The kids were playing ‘hide the acorn’ and I…”
    “What? Oh, Genovefa, how can I eat my pork without applesauce?”
    Bradán started to whine. Another of the women tried to help him out.
    “I got some cranberry.”
    “It’s not the same! Oh, you’ve brought me to abject despair, you really have! How can I enjoy this poor man burn without applesauce on my pork?”
    “There, there, Bradán. Look, his arm has fallen off first. That’s different from last year.”
    “I don’t care! Oh, how could this have happened? No applesauce!”
    “Bloody hell, Bradán, put a rag in it!”
    “Oh, the pain! Pork without applesauce!”
    “Shut up, you’re spoiling the sacrifice.”
    “Haerviu, go and take Bradán away, could you, dear? Let him go and sulk elsewhere, over by the crannog…oh look! His head has rolled off!”
    “Ah, the gods will be pleased.”

  5. I remember watching the first one go up back in ’86 somewhere near San Francisco, everyone dancing around the burning man and dog, everyone happy. I was only 8 years old when Aunt Marney took me camping on the beach and introduced me to Mr. Larry and the others. They talked about big, important things that gave me new ideas, like the visit by Halley’s Comet, and Ronald Reagan, and the explosion at Chernobyl. We helped feed everyone, at least everyone who asked, and I beamed at the praise. She let me mix the apple fritters, folding applesauce into the batter, then cooking them in a Dutch Oven over the coals after the fish were done. I was going to be an artist too, and I said so; Aunt Marney and the other talked about what a bright life I had before me.
    Aunt Marney is gone now, so too my marriage and any fragment of happiness I ever saw in the future. London said everyone follows his path of least resistance, but how I ended here, winning that scumbag’s freedom and being made partner and slave to this soul crushing job, makes me wish I fought a little harder.

  6. 15 Minutes, 200 Words:

    I thought Burning Man would be fun. Jack said it would be, and Jack’s Mr. Fun Incarnate. So, we loaded up on vodka, Tang, poptarts and little plastic containers of generic applesauce. Jack had to hit his credit card for every fuel stop, and he’d get gas station hot dogs when he could. I knew money was tight for this trip because he never once bought cigarettes.

    Jack always said we had to go once in our lives. What can I say? He’s owned my heart, ever since I left college to follow Dave Matthews summer tour with him last year. Living on a futon on the bed of the truck, under the battered cap wasn’t so bad, I told myself. I’d seen more of the country by age 20 than most people see their whole lives. I’d never be homeless while I had Jack.

    But now I’m sitting at Burning Man, junkies and exhibitionists swarming around my blanket. Jack’s gone, left with another hippie chick, and I’m all alone with my poptarts and applesauce and a solo cup of orange flavored vodka, shivering in the desert night chill.

    Fire from the wicker man consumes the world through my tears.

  7. Tilly threw down her bag on the sofa, shrugged off her coat and slumped gratefully into the warm comforting cushions. It had been a tiring day. If ever there was an evening for breaking out the chocolate bars, a spoon and that jar of apple sauce, she’d been hoarding for such an occasion, this was it.

    Stretching her arms above her head, she looked around. Stopping short as she caught sight of the thin stream of water making its way across the beige carpet from the short passage that led from her living room to the rest of the apartment. At the same time, a faint smell of burnt wheat caught her nostrils.

    Swift steps took her to the bathroom door. It wouldn’t open. Something or someone, prevented the door from opening even a crack. Tilly tried again with more force, this time succeeding. Behind the door stood a figure. It’s stance indicating abject bewilderment.

    Leaning past, she turned off the taps, pulled out the plug and hung it over the taps before turning to give hell to whoever this stranger was, that was stood in her bathroom. It was a sad looking Wicker man that looked back at her.

  8. La Fête Médiévale de Laroque

    France is replete with delightful stone villages dating back hundreds of years – like Laroque, where they hold a medieval festival each summer. Our French isn’t the best, but we were made hugely welcome with villagers attempting to converse with us even though we murdered their language.

    After a meal of roasted potatoes, homemade sausages with applesauce and plastic glasses of local wine accompanied by exuberant musicians and much bonhomie, we trailed behind flaming torches carried through the twisting cobble-stoned streets towards the riverbank by the increasingly jubilant villagers.

    We didn’t realise the festival featured ‘feu’ (fire). A massive bonfire was lit which soon burned down enough to allow young men to race towards the glowing coals and leap to the other side. My husband, fueled by the free-flowing red wine and forgetting he was middle-aged, ran over to join them.

    Meanwhile, all eyes were on an articulated metal effigy of a man. He was ‘walked’ around the green like a giant burning puppet with flames flaring into the black night, the puppeteer invisible.

    Later I found my poor husband in, if not abject, at least embarrassed, despair with a damp towel around his blistered backside.

    I didn’t say a word.

  9. The Guard
    Danielle Lee Zwissler
    I was completely depressed. The large flair that I was building was completely a bust. Not only did it not catch fire as it should have, but it looked nothing like the picture of the one on Pinterest that I was following. I sighed, took a bite of my applesauce once more and looked at the large wooden structure. It was depressing, a mockery of a tribute to my building skills. It was laughable really, and there was no way in hell that I would win this year’s contest.
    At 75 feet, the damn thing resembled a birdhouse with a person’s body, instead of a knight faithfully guarding his castle. I thought back to the real reason I was doing this whole thing, the object of my affection, and started to cry. I was a loser, a man that couldn’t even follow a simple diagram. Pathetic. Tears started to spill from my eyes and collect on the printout. I sniffed and picked it up, noticing something that I hadn’t before. I rolled my eyes, realizing the mistake that I had made and pulled my pencil from behind my ear, noting the newest correction. Maybe it would turn out after all.

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