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Flash Fiction: Blinkbirds are Fast!

Is everyone too busy for LJ these days? I know I am, some days. I've been peeking at LJ on and off since the Muse Fusion started, but mostly off, since there's been real world stuff to deal with and writing to do.

But I'm not here to complain, I'm here to share a bit of my Muse Fusion work with you.

So far, I've completed a poem, Surprises at Sea, which can be sponsored for $10, and a short story called A Promise of Leather, which is definitely in the "spicy" category, which can be sponsored for $24. I'm also willing to write the (definitely adult) sequel for an additional $20, though I suspect it will run longer than 2000 words.  You can sponsor stories using my paypal button (below) or Torn World credits.

And now, I hope to brighten your day by sharing one of my Muse Fusion stories with you:

Blinkbirds are Fast

Mradi was chopping vegetables for dinner, when Filor ran past, an iridescent black wig on his head and a blue piece of paper cut into frills in one upraised hand. “Chirp Chirp!” He narrowly missed her elbow.

“Filor! Calm down!”

“It’s a blinkbird, Mom. Blinkbirds are fast. And I’m not Filor—I’m Filirii, a Mayaloi boy. Can’t you see my hair?”

“Well, blinkbirds can’t be fast in here while I’m making dinner.”

Filor’s hand darted to the vegetables, grabbing a slice.

“Filor, this knife is sharp! You could get hurt!”

Munching, he smiled up at her. “Blinkbirds are too fast to be caught with a kitchen knife.” He grabbed two more slices.

Exasperated, she still couldn’t resist grinning back at him. “Filor—”


“Filirii, then. Get yourself outside to play with the blinkbird. I’ll call you when it’s time to clean up for dinner.”

“Can I go to the park?” His eyes lit up.

“No one is here to walk you to the park today. Dini is at a dress fitting.”

“For his wedding dress?”

“No, Dini will be wearing pants for the wedding. This is a fitting for one of the costumes for the new play.

Filor rolled his eyes. Uncle Dini looked good in dresses, everyone said so, even the Guildmaster of Dini’s theater company, who’d picked him to play the female lead role in the first play of the winter season. But for the wedding, Uncle Dini was going to wear pants, which made him look ordinary, while Uncle Lalya, who never looked ordinary, would wear a dress. It made no sense to Filor. He concluded (not for the first time) that grownups were weird, and returned to more important matters. “I could dig in the sand at the park!”

“No. Go play in the green behind the house. It’s just as big as the park, Filo—” she paused, seeing his frown, “Er—Filirii. There’s plenty to do without leaving our block.”

He frowned harder, and she smiled gently. “It would be more fun than cleaning your room. So why don’t you go see how fast the blinkbird can fly around outside?”

He grabbed another handful of vegetable slices and headed outside, oblivious to the soft bang behind him as his mother opened the slow box again to take out more vegetables.

Outside, Filor immediately set to running from tree to tree, the curls of blue paper hanging from his hand fluttering quite satisfactorily in the sunshine. The blue paper had been the result of some experimentation in class, and though the teacher had not found his efforts appropriate to poetry class, she had not bothered to confiscate it.

Exuberantly, he made up a poem about his creation. “The sky is blue. This blue bird is pretty. I love its blue feathers. Blue is my favorite color.” He grinned. Doing homework was more fun while running—but did he get the order of the lines right? He couldn’t remember. He stopped to think, and felt the brush of feathers against his fingers—what?

Filor pulled his hand down and stared at it, five fingers still smudged with ink from class, and no paper bird. “Hey!” He looked around, but no one was near him. “Who took my bird?” He looked back along the path he’d been running, but there was nothing there. And no one was near him.

He walked slowly back to the tree he’d most recently run by, looking and looking. It wasn’t anywhere. He could cut another one, of course, but all of the paper at home was white and ordinary, and blinkbirds weren’t white. He didn’t want an ordinary bird to play with, he wanted his blinkbird.


Filor looked up into the tree—there, in the tree, was his paper blinkbird, or part of it, being tucked into a mess of ribbons and strings and twigs by a real blinkbird. “Hey—give it back!” He knew, of course, that such a demand was futile. Blinkbirds never gave stuff back. And everyone—well, most people—said that blinkbird nests were unlucky. His mother said that was nonsense, but his mother had also forbidden climbing trees. So all he could do was stand there and shake his fist at the pest.

Then he felt a gush of air around his ears. His hands flew to his head, but the wig was gone. And now he knew where to find it—sure enough, there was the bird, with his Mayaloi-hair wig, tucking it into the nest.

Grimly, Filor started to try to climb the tree, but the trunk had no low branches, and he fell down three times before he stopped to think about other options. Filor wasn’t going anywhere without the wig.

Maybe he could throw something at it and knock the nest down. There were some rocks on the ground, but over there, Uvorl’s mother was playing with her new baby. She’d tattle about him throwing rocks.

Filor looked at the tree—it had many branches, some of which hung down almost as low as his head. Then he smiled. One of them had the nest on it. He was too small to climb the trunk, but if he could get a good hold on the branch, he could pull himself up onto it and get to the nest that way.

He studied the branch, leapt up, and grabbed it. It swung down under his weight, and he lost his grip and fell again. The second try was better. Carefully, he straddled the branch, and walked forward, a little bit at a time. Soon, he was bobbing as he went, the branch swinging up and down under his weight.

He set his foot, on a high tangle of side-branches, and lunged upward, holding on with one hand and reaching forward with the other. The branch swayed wildly, and there was a loud crack.

Again, he fell to the ground, the branch still underneath him, and twigs, ribbons, papers, and other debris showering down from the nest.

A moment later, brown hands lifted him up. “Are you all right?” It was Uvorl’s mother.

Filor took stock. His knee and both elbows hurt, his shirt was ripped, and there, at his feet, was his beloved wig and two pieces of his paper bird. “I’m fine.”

The blinkbird appeared over Uvorl’s mother, lifted a glittery comb out of her hair, and vanished again. Her hair fell into her eyes, and she let go of Filor to brush it back. He grabbed the wig and held it tightly over the place where his shirt was ripped. “I’m fine now,” he repeated. To forestall a lecture, he added. “Thank you. I think I hear my mother calling.”

He ran back home, where he tried to sneak in past his mother. Maybe if he got cleaned up and his shirt changed—”

“Filor—I told you to stay out until—what happened?”

“There was a blinkbird!”

His mother sighed tiredly. “Yes, I saw your blinkbird. It was beautiful.”


“Look at you! You’re filthy, your shirt is ripped, and your good wig is all tangled. Go get cleaned up and changed, young man, right this minute. And then you can sit down and start your homework.”

Filor sighed. Homework. That reminded him that he’d had the perfect poem before that bird stole his wig, but now he’d forgotten even what word he’d repeated. He headed for the sink, still clutching the wig. He didn’t want to write a poem about a dumb blinkbird any more anyway.

Please let me know what you think!


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 17th, 2011 08:12 am (UTC)
Would that poem form require switching his second and third line to get it right?
Apr. 17th, 2011 08:34 am (UTC)
Good guess!
But not quite right. This is a form of poetry in Torn World called a Tile Poem because it originated as inscriptions on tiles or bricks to honor people who sponsored some portion of public projects. The repeated word is supposed to be the first word of the first line and the last word of the last line, and in the middle of the line for the middle two lines.

I imagine on a building like a Theatre, the most common tile poems might read something like this:

Dorli is a very generous person
Young Dorli loved to watch plays
For 20 years, Dorli danced on the stage
1,000 bricks were sponsored by Dorli

Thanks for stopping by!
Apr. 17th, 2011 12:21 pm (UTC)
Wow. And I thought writing haiku was a tricky little exercise!

Fun story. Good job of showing the boy's POV and Attitude. I also like the blinkbird, but am just as glad we don't have them in Minnesota. I can see why folk would consider them unlucky, since things disappear in a blink when they're around.
Apr. 17th, 2011 06:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Actually, it's probably easier to track one word as it shows up in four lines than to count syllables! ysabetwordsmith created this form for us.

You might want to stop over and read her free offering from the Muse Fusion--it's a poem about the flowers in the Rainbow Rainforest: http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com/1667638.html

I'm glad we don't have blinkbirds too, even though they're pretty!

Edited at 2011-04-22 07:06 am (UTC)
Apr. 17th, 2011 12:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah . . . I think many of us are either getting too busy for much time playing on the internet (as in LJ), or have procrastinated too many things while playing you-know-where and need to spend time tackling those piles of chores.

Or maybe I'm just projecting my own issues.
Apr. 17th, 2011 07:02 pm (UTC)
I suspect playing games over on you-know-where is a significant issue. :-D

Life being busy is a perennial problem; depression or lack of internet time or computer equipment due to joblessness may also be taking a toll.

But I'm glad for the people who do still make time for LJ.
Apr. 17th, 2011 04:21 pm (UTC)
I remember when I thought I could climb anything. Fun story. I particularly like Filor's observations, especially "He concluded (not for the first time) that grownups were weird".
Apr. 17th, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks for stopping by! Thank you for your comments. I always wonder about the balance between internal thoughts like this and action. It's good to know I got it right.
Apr. 18th, 2011 08:03 am (UTC)
This is cute. It reminds me of my childhood, running around, stealing bits of food from Mom preparing it and climbing trees.
Apr. 18th, 2011 09:02 am (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Apr. 18th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
This is adorable, thank you!

I shall have to re-read the notes on blinkbirds.
Apr. 19th, 2011 02:16 am (UTC)
I'm glad you like it!
Apr. 22nd, 2011 03:56 am (UTC)
Nice story, and nicely portrayed from the child's view point. That Blinkbird was certainly fast!

Apr. 22nd, 2011 07:02 am (UTC)
Thank you.
The blinkbird is one of the more ubiquitous and mysterious Torn World creatures. They can be very fast indeed.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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