My flash fiction was originally inspired by an assignment for class. The assignment was to find a talismanic object, an object that had some special meaning to us. I then took that object and gave it to a character that I made up, and developed my main character who was nervous about his first year as a student and used his talismanic object, a ribbon, to soothe his nerves. For this assignment I had to effectively tell the story with a limited amount of words. I had to effectively describe the setting and characters, also giving sufficient background information.
It was Tommy’s last day of his first week of kindergarten, and he was nervous. The whole morning he couldn’t stop biting his fingernails and tapping his foot, but once he wrapped a pink strip of felt around his wrist, the biting stopped and the tapping ceased. He didn’t have many friends, but his lucky pink ribbon washed away his awkwardness and gave him the courage to talk to the other students.
After school, he and his parents are out for a walk at their neighborhood park. Since Tommy is shy, he doesn’t talk to the other kids at the park and mostly keeps to his parents. Today, he’s taking the usual concrete path around the playground with his parents, stopping to sit on a plastic Fisher Price seesaw. In the background, his parents mumble something about how fidgety their child has been lately. Tommy knows he’s not supposed to be fidgety, as it’s something his parents scold him for fairly often, but he runs off to the swingset and their conversation becomes background noise.
The second week of kindergarten starts tomorrow, and Tommy worries about the kids still. How they’ll perceive him, how they’ll treat him. He strips the pink ribbon from his wrist and wraps it around his fingers. His tense fingers relax under the soft felt fabric, and his mind forgets about the mean kids and focuses only on the softness of the ribbon. The felt is soothing against his hand, and somehow all other thoughts cease to exist when Tommy has his hand on the ribbon.
The gentle breeze picks up into a strong wind quickly, catching Tommy by surprise. His grip on the ribbon was loose. The ribbon flies away, too quickly for Tommy to follow, then the wind dies as quickly as it came to life.
His parents try to calm him down, but Tommy tenses up immediately. Tears begin to well up in his eyes, and he starts biting his fingernails and tapping his left foot furiously against the pavement. After a few seconds of furious foot tapping and deliberating, he runs after the ribbon in the direction it went, running far across the playground’s tanbark and a grassy hill, but he can’t catch up with it. One of his parents tells him to stay, while the other runs farther and faster than Tommy can, after the precious pink ribbon.
Tommy tries his best to hold back tears, but to no avail. Soon, drops run down his face and his eyes become red and puffy. Without the pink ribbon, what will he do now? How will he go to school and talk to people? How will he ever show his face at school again? It was still the second week; he didn’t know his classmates very well and still felt very nervous around them. The ribbon was what gave him power, but the ribbon was gone now.
His parent came back with empty hands. The ribbon was lost.
On the first day of the second week of kindergarten, Tommy woke up not wanting to go to school. Not without the ribbon, at least. But despite his protesting and tantrums, Tommy’s parents still made him go to school. His parents told him that he would be fine, but he didn’t believe them.
Finally, it was time for his mom to go to work after dropping him off at school. She wished Tommy good luck, and left her son on his own.
Tommy moped into his classroom, head down. He decided that without his ribbon, he would never find the courage to talk to his classmates again. And of course, none of his classmates would want to talk to him. Instead, they would point and laugh at the little boy sitting by himself. The things they would say, it would be horrible! He would become the laughingstock of the class, his role already set for the rest of the school year.
But Tommy’s anxiety quickly dissolved when his classmates still talked to him. When the fun and casual conversation came naturally, Tommy stopped biting on his fingernails so that he could talk and respond to his classmates. As the conversations continued, the foot tapping gradually slowed and eventually stopped completely as Tommy was immersed in dialogue. He no longer needed a fuzzy piece of felt to take his mind off of what could go wrong in a social interaction; he became so lost in conversation that his mind didn’t have enough space for all his “what ifs”, and his worries flew away on their own.