Flash Forward Fiction

by Christopher Lovejoy on March 20, 2022

the syntactical nature of reality, the real secret of magic, is that the world is made of words,
and, if you know the words that the world is made of, you can make of it whatever you wish

These words are attributed to Terence McKenna, but I wonder if he grasped just how far reaching they could be. I suspect, given the immense power of his intellect, that he did. The part of this passage that most intrigues me is this: “if you know the words that the world is made of.”

I myself wonder: do I know the words that the world is made of?

In a World of Vibrations

In a lab, as part of a videotaped demonstration, a group of Japanese people, young and old, encircled a flask of tap water from Tokyo. Under a microscope, the molecules of water appeared deformed and grotesque. In sending a prayer of gratitude to the water, however, the group caused the appearance of the water molecules to beautify and harmonize in real time.

Masuro Emoto remarked afterward that the children in the group were astonished by the results.

One could argue that it’s not the words themselves that bring the beneficial effects, but the intent behind the words; the words themselves are merely vehicles of intent, and so, words like peace, love, joy, bliss, grace, ease are just words if they lack the requisite feeling and intent.

As an example, I invite you to speak this word aloud with feeling: peace. Whisper it a few times in a manner and at a pace that feels right to you. Ask yourself: am I infusing this word with feeling? Or, am I resonating with the frequency of a word that is already infused with feeling?

Let us assume, then, that the world is made of words.

The Joy of Flash Fiction

Two day ago, while completing a course in fiction writing, I learned that flash fiction is a thing. I had never heard of this form of fiction before, but for reasons that remain unknown and mysterious to me now, I felt compelled to learn more about this fascinating creative medium.

Flash fiction is a short-short story form, purportedly no more than 1,000 words in length. The best flash fiction conveys deep truths about life, while resonating with readers from all walks of life, and I can already sense its promise to serve as a tool of personal growth and discovery.

Aside: a resource to learn more about this form of fiction is offered at the end of this post

Stories of flash fiction share three characteristics in common: (1) they have a beginning, middle, and end, which sets them apart from vignettes, which merely articulate a thought, feeling, or memory; (2) they typically pack an emotional punch in less than 1,000 words; and (3) they contain the element of surprise ~ an ending that carries a twist or an unexpected last line.

This latter feature is not a gimmick: the aim is to invite readers to think deeply about the true meaning of the story. Consider this micro story of flash fiction, generally attributed to Ernest Hemingway (but whose veracity remains unsubstantiated), which is but six words in length:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn

In a single line, a story is told that highlights the fact that a whole lot of meaning and feeling can be packed into relatively few words. As you can well imagine, such stories are as rewarding to write as they are challenging to render. What follows are some tips on how to render . . .

Flash Fiction Rewards

Many of the rewards of writing this type of fiction are found in the tips suggested to write it. Whether a collection of such works is intended for publication, for use as a marketing tool, or to serve as inspiration for more robust works, it is almost always an exercise in creative restraint.

tip 1: use vivid imagery; help readers visualize as much as possible; make every word count
reward? the satisfaction of advancing the skill to render captivating images through words

tip 2: keep the focus of readers on one moment in time, i.e., one scene, one moment in time
reward? the satisfaction of honing the skill to be present to the details of one moment in time

tip 3: work with the thoughts, feelings, exchanges, and actions of only one or two characters
reward? the satisfaction of improving the skill to convey the essence of a character (or two)

tip 4: use first person point of view (1st P PoV) to generate an instant connection with readers
reward? the satisfaction of building the skill to express more in fewer words through 1st P PoV

tip 5: surprise! end the story on an emotional note different from the one that began the story
reward? the satisfaction of cultivating the skill to tap, tune, and taste the new and unexpected

tip 6: make the most of a title, e.g., Widow’s First Year : I kept myself alive (Joyce Carol Oates)
reward? the satisfaction of pushing the skill to capture the essence of a story with a catchy title

Of course, these guidelines are not carved in stone; there will always be exceptions to the rule.

In perusing these tips and rewards, we can see some of the practical benefits of writing flash fiction for authors, but for my purposes, I’d like to call the attention of readers to the role that flash fiction can play in attracting and manifesting desired results and outcomes for ourselves.

Perspectives Given, Perspectives Taken

Assume the feeling of the wish fulfilled, and the realization of your desire is inevitable.

This counsel is widespread in spiritual circles, along with ways and means for making it come true, like a daily review of heartfelt imagery on a vision board or a daily review of heartfelt intentions in a list.

The keyword here is heartfelt, applied both to feelings and to the fulfillment of wishes.

These two methods, among others, rely on the assumption of linear time, where the desired result or outcome resides somewhere in the future. A better, or at least different, assumption is that of horticultural time, where the appearance of a desired result or outcome from a daily review of a heartfelt image or intention is allowed to arise and grow organically in its own good time.

There are those who would say that the present moment is all that we possess. In Meditations (2.14), Marcus Aurelius said as much almost 2,000 years ago. The idea is that no one owns ~ or can own ~ the past or future, and so how is it that anyone can feel deprived of either?

Point well taken, and yet . . . is it not true that most have some sense of past and future? And is it not true that having said sense can enhance or enrich any given life lived well and good and wise? Can the past not be remembered fondly? And can a future not be anticipated eagerly?

Must humanity as a whole resign itself to living in the present moment?

To flesh out my point and press it forward, consider this micro story that came to me in the middle of the night, in the twilight of my sleep, after considerable rumination, interfering as it did with my slumbers:

Pride of place, pride of position ~ happy, healthy.

Consider, if you will, the questions that follow from the PoV of a reader:

Could this micro story be a reminiscence? Could it be a proposal for how the author (and therefore a reader) might wish to feel at some point in the future? Or might it be a perspective held in the present moment as a fait accompli ? Or is it more than any of these ~ like a prophecy?

In view of these questions, I cannot help but feel, all the more, just how potent words can be.

Proposals, Perspectives, Prophecies

So far, we’ve caught a glimpse into the syntactical nature of reality; we’ve seen how the potency of words in a prayer of gratitude can harmonize molecules in a flask of tap water from Tokyo; and we’re now beginning to see the utility of flash fiction for shaping the fabric of reality itself.

Here, I’d like to circle back to the tips on writing flash fiction and personalize, as follows:

tip 1: access my innermost thoughts and feelings to manifest desired results and outcomes
tip 2: apply 1st P PoV to generate, elaborate, and perpetuate instant connections with myself
tip 3: keep my focus on rendering one moment in time, i.e., one scene, one moment in time
tip 4: use vivid imagery as much as possible to picture outcomes and make every word count
tip 5: surprise myself: make a habit of tapping, tuning, and tasting the new and unexpected

Tip 3 gives a hat tip to the Huna principle of Manawa, i.e., “now is the moment of power,” which is not to suggest that anyone should drop the past or future from their lexicons, as most of us already live in a world that has come under the spell of what is called “future presence.”

Future presence is pretty much what it says it is: living in the presence of a future in progress, one that straddles two worlds, between real and representational, continuous and discrete, analog and digital.

This future in progress is commonly understood to be linear, horticultural, or exponential, rather than multi-dimensional, but in my view, the appeal of an accelerated sense of future presence lies not so much in our interactions with virtual reality as it does with reality as a whole.

Unless and until someone can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the whole of reality can be wholly bent by the will to power with presence and promise, virtual reality (VR) will always remain a subset of Reality with a capital R ~ on the whole, a mere instantiation. This hedge serves those who would lose themselves in the enrichments, enhancements, and enchantments of VR.

In Reality, with future presence, a micro story can be rendered as a proposal, a perspective, or a prophecy. What follows is a sample of each story type that I wrote for my own personal edification:


Proposal

Eternal gaze: tender words spoken, intimate gestures made.

Perspective

Cooling waters swirl below the sunrise beyond the shore of a tropical beach.

Prophecy

This misfortune is a prelude to a pleasant future in progress.

Each of these renderings tells a story, which could be taken as a prompt for future exploration; as a potent tool of contemplation; or simply as a point of departure for taking action, but where does the challenge of change fit into the big picture of a life lived well and good and wise?

Change, Challenge, Chaos

We’ve heard it said, be careful what you wish for, meaning that if you come under the spell of a controlling desire, unforeseen and unpleasant consequences might arise in the wake of fervently seeking and/or passionately meeting such a desire. Could flash fiction be of any help?

I would submit that a flash of fiction offers refuge in the face of a lack of meaning or in the wake of a loss of meaning, while bearing in mind that a sacramental innerstanding is key to navigating tricky (ambiguous, ambivalent) events of impulse with intuition by divining the who, the what, the when, the where, the why, and the how of any given transaction or interaction.

Consider, too, that . . .

a story can be found in a sentence
as a wish, a dream, or . . . sometimes,
from the depths of feeling, a truth

A convergence of mind and heart with appreciation is a beautiful thing. It seems like a law of nature: the more we appreciate, the more we can appreciate, but is it also not true that the more the world is engaged, the more likely it is to hit a wall that is felt to be impossible to navigate?

What then?

Well, we do have many options ~ avoid, bypass, deny, dismiss, evade, ignore, suppress ~ all of which can be consciously and deliberately chosen, but consider that “confront” or “carefront” might be the better option when we recall that “bad” feelings often serve a useful purpose; feelings of discomfort or distress often yield cues and clues that something is off or needs to change.

This simple choice point offers a quick guide to lending meaning to those feelings:

confront? or carefront?

Truth be told, we con ourselves (and others) when we put up a false front of tyrannical certainty, even as we care about others (and ourselves) when we keep up a fair front of magical curiosity, but in the very midst of challenge and chaos, it’s not always clear which way to go . . .

confront? or carefront?

A quick answer to the first moves us in the direction of “me first” (which, incidentally, is not always a bad thing); a quick answer to the second moves us in the direction of “me second” (which can, on occasion, not be such a good thing). Confused? Understandable. If it helps any, know that we all operate under a universal law known in some circles as The Law of Confusion.

Incidentally, “confront? or carefront?” could be construed as a flash of fiction, because, in using it, we tell ourselves a story about a situation in which we find ourselves. That is, it might not even be necessary to “confront” or “carefront” to come away feeling mostly if not wholly satisfied.

Even so, flash fiction is useful to reflect on choices construed as wrong choices:

I coulda shoulda said this: _______; I coulda shoulda did this: _______

To facilitate responses to these stems, let’s tweak the tips that I offered above:

tip 1: access my innermost thoughts and feelings to navigate change, challenge, and chaos
tip 2: apply 1st P PoV to nourish and nurture intuitive connections with myself and others
tip 3: keep my focus on rendering one moment in time ~ one feeling, one moment in time
tip 4: use vivid imagery as much as possible to describe feelings and make each word count
tip 5: surprise myself: be open to tapping, tuning, and tasting the new and the unexpected

In view of these tips, let’s talk briefly about vignettes, which inhabit the world of art and graphic design. For my purposes here, a vignette is a brief evocative account that captures a flash of feeling and insight.

A heavy heart, a heavy head ~ not unlike two weights of lead.

In keeping with the tips offered above, I elaborate as follows:

A heavy heart, a heavy head ~ not unlike two weights of lead. Startled, I recall the white ceramic mug, worn from use, wearing out on the inside, appearing a little too gray for my liking.

The vignette yields a micro story of flash fiction that settles a question of meaning: what would it mean for an author of flash fiction to keep using this mug for hot tea or cocoa in the morning before beginning to write in earnest? What would it mean for such an author to stop using it?

Now let’s turn our attention to finding freedom in a cosmic context.

Freedom, in a Cosmic Context

I usually welcome my reveries when they come up because I know they supply food and fuel for my feelings. I also know that if I am to “assume the feeling of the wish fulfilled,” I better have access to my feelings, and what better way to access my feelings than to welcome my reveries?

Not all reveries are created equal though: one is a state of being pleasantly lost in thought and feeling ~ a daydream, for example ~ and yet another might be a fantastic, visionary, a less-than-practical idea ~ an idea that may not ever see the light of day and come to fruition.

Earlier, I made reference to different kinds of time ~ linear, horticultural, exponential ~ when speaking of a future in terms of progress, and a future presence in relation to this progress, but there’s another (far more interesting) kind of time that is multi-dimensional in nature.

We normally think of time in terms of “before and after” in a context of three dimensions of space (spacetime), but from accounts of the near-death experience, we can also think of space in terms of “here, and then there” in the context of three dimensions of time (timespace).

Three dimensions of time?

The three dimensions of space in spacetime anchor the three dimensions of time in timespace, just as the dimension of time in spacetime anchors the dimension of space in timespace. This mutual mirror effect can be illustrated with an example from one who has crossed to the other side.

A light body leaves the body of someone undergoing surgery. This light body floats into a waiting area not far from the operating theater and overhears a relative wondering whether this body has “kicked the bucket” (answer: no, no buckets to kick). This light body suddenly finds itself at the home of a sister many, many miles away. Now, when I say “suddenly” I mean suddenly.

Instantaneously.

Here, and then there. Meaning “one dimension of space, three dimensions of time.”

Again, three dimensions of time?

The three dimensions of space in spacetime where the sister lives serves, for the light body, as a 3D frame of reference for the light body to comprehend three dimensions of time, all the more as and when it flits instantaneously from one place or space to the next in timespace.

Now, as a thought experiment, let’s move our minds beyond this spacetime/timespace mirror into timelessness, where we have, with a mere thought, sacred and divine ease of access to . . . brace yourself . . . everyone and everything, everywhere and everywhen in the cosmos.

At this level, we can, at the very least, observe any one of an infinite number of events.

Now let’s suppose that every event conceivable and possible has already come to pass. This isn’t a difficult supposition to accept when we realize that quantum theory now postulates cause and effect (causality) moving in both directions in time, from past to future (as we usually think of it) and from future to past. This retro-causality is as influential as the usual antero-causality.

Many of us just don’t know it yet.

A quick, simple example: I feel a sense of foreboding for no apparent reason. I then get a sense that I “go this way rather than that.” Moments later, a sharp object falls from the sky, landing where I would have been had I not moved this way rather than that. I feel a wave of relief.

Take a moment to let this sink into your mind and heart before realizing that the supposition does not negate free will. Why? For one, the fact that we can fathom living a wholly random life or a wholly determined life can only ever be possible in the light of a freedom of the will.

Second, this freedom is a very specific kind of freedom, and if we never really innerstand it, we’ll never truly enjoy it. This freedom of the will is not the freedom to do as we please, for the simple reason that we can only ever embody a finite set of events for a lifetime in spacetime.

Apophatically speaking, when we act against anyone or anything (resist or insist) within the possibility space of a finite set of events, we act, whether we care to realize this or not, in the interests of less freedom, not more, but with mindsight, we can act in the interests of more.

Cataphatically speaking, we act in the interests of flow, freedom, and fulfillment with mindsight, that is to say with (a) focus, (b) feeling, and (c) fiction, as “assume the feeling of the wish fulfilled” requires not only a focus, but a fiction comprised of intentional words and vibrations.

Whenever we hear someone tell us “it’s just a story,” know that this too is part of the story.

In a nutshell, we can either tighten focus with feeling to concentrate attention on bringing forth X (the outer fiction) or we can loosen focus with feeling to contemplate the retention of having brought forth X (the inner fiction). We can also mix the two to gather relational insights.

With this notion of cosmic freedom, let’s upgrade our understanding of flash fiction.

Flash Forward Fiction?

With the way the world is going these days, a lot of spiritually woke people are likely wondering in their heart of hearts, without saying as much, “just how much longer before the whole kit and caboodle goes down?” I would add: just how much longer before we pass from this world?

By way of preparation, I would counsel the realization of what I call “wisdom beyond this world.” We’ve already had a taste of this wisdom in this post (see above) with a treatment of freedom in a cosmic context, but I’d like to go further with a focus on what I call “flash forward fiction.”

Flash forward fiction is a supercharged version of flash fiction, whereby one moves vibrationally beyond space and time into timelessness to combine proposal, perspective, and prophecy into a realization of a proposed scenario at some future date as a prophecy with perspective.

Here’s a personal example to illustrate:


Holding hands, we casually held fast to a sand-packed shoreline at low tide in view of a melting sunset.

The moment suddenly seemed ripe to release the hands and face one another. From the perspective of an outsider, a bubble in space and time opened up. Like two peas in a pod, we gave ourselves up to the eternal gaze, with tender words spoken and with intimate gestures made.

Vibrationally speaking, tender feelings of the wish fulfilled are assumed in this romantic scenario; the scenario itself is treated as “a done deal.” Beyond romantic prophecies, however, many applications are possible for what might be called Triple F (flash forward fiction).


I hereby invite inspiration to draw up a shortlist of applications for Triple F, as defined; thank you

This post is already too long, and so I’ll give only a few generic examples of applications for Triple F: narrate a scenario where you have gone beyond a disagreeable pattern, habit, or attachment; have met a need with deep satisfaction; or have fulfilled a deep and delicious desire.

Other applications include resolving problems, making transitions, or bringing closure to relationships.

Beyond personal applications, one might also envision a better, brighter world, alone or in concert with others. The idea is to craft a fictional perspective and weave it into a proposal and prophecy that draws on words, feelings, insights, intuitions, and intentions with inspiration.

In the light of Triple F, future presence is all well and good, but “past presence” also has a place, notwithstanding those who would say or suggest otherwise.

I conclude this post with a peek into what this would entail.

A Sacramental Innerstanding

Let’s not fool ourselves: articulations of reminiscence do have their place in a world bent on future presence, serving as vehicles of both value and virtue for the cultivation of a sacramental innerstanding, which can serve our personal inner guidance, well and good and wise.

Beyond the reminiscence, we find and follow proposals, perspectives, and prophecies in the midst of change, challenge, and chaos. Where fate compels consideration of the latter, destiny compels consideration of the former. In essence, we are compelled to consider ourselves.

The usual strategy is to “push, push, push” proposals, perspectives, and prophecies forward, while downplaying change, challenge, and chaos, but a wiser strategy offers this: “I allow myself to be ever mindful of my need for change as I continue to advance, evolve, and progress.”

I hold sacred my capacity for innerstanding so that I might cultivate a sacramental innerstanding in accordance with principles of clarity and harmony, as consistent with nature and nurture, in keeping with due diligence and a genuine care, with adherence to Logos and Law.

With a sacramental innerstanding of love, trust, and care, in the midst of change, challenge, and chaos, I can entertain the pretense of stopping time, if only for a time, all the while marveling at any and all flash fictional attempts to do in one page what a novel can only do in 200.

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Resources

The Best Short Shorts of 1932, Paul Ernest Anderson and Lionel White (G.P. Putnam’s & Sons)
Anthology of Best Original Short-Shorts (1950s), Robert Oberfirst
Sudden Fiction (1986), an anthology edited by Robert Shapard and James Thomas
Flash Fiction (1992), an anthology of 72 stories, published by W. W. Norton
SmokeLong Quarterly, founded in 2003, a dedicated flash fiction literary magazine
Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer (2010), R. Smartwood and N. McNabb
Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook (2016), David Galef

updated: 03.22.22

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Everything is here and now ~ could this be the ultimate story of flash fiction?

But then, my one desire is to conjure a wholly fulfilling timeline in spacetime

~ yours

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