Comedy is probably the genre I most dread when I do microfiction/flash fiction challenges. Being funny on purpose is *hard*. I usually aim for “mildly amusing” and hope for the best. For the second time in a row, I drew comedy. I had almost forgotten about the NYC Midnight microfiction challenge in the craziness of holiday preparations, and I had quite the emotional rollercoaster when I got the email saying I’d made it to the next round…and that comedy was my genre. When I’m trying to be funny, I really can’t tell if it’s working unless I have facial expressions for immediate feedback. Anyway, my prompts for the second round of 250-word Microfiction were: Comedy/burning a finger/effort. Funny story! I had actually submitted my entry before suddenly realizing I hadn’t included the word “effort.” Fortunately, I had submitted early for once and the contest allows you to resubmit as many times as you need up until the deadline.
Once Burned, Twice…Burned
“Ow! What the hell? Something burned me!”
Meg held up a blistered finger and Seth passed her a cold pack. “What do you mean, burned? Like the sap irritated your skin?”
“No, like a goddamn fire! Look, it’s still smoking!”
Seth peered into the hole in the tree where Meg had been collecting fungus samples for their study. “That’s not possible.”
“Stick your hand in, then.”
Seth reached toward the tree and hesitated.
“Are you screwing with me again? Grow up. I was just playing along when you gave me your niece’s slime and told me it was a new species. It’s not like I believed you.”
“You were trying to extract DNA for sequencing!”
“I was playing along!” he shouted. “Let’s just get a sample and get out of here.” He reached in and shrieked. “Something burned me!”
Meg leaned in to look. “Really? But that’s—I made the whole thing up! I burned my finger baking cookies last night and I thought this would be funny.”
Seth stared. “What if it’s some kind of exothermic reaction involving the fungus we’re studying? This could be really big. I’m going back to grab some more sample jars. We should check the rest of the trees in this area.”
Meg smiled at another successful effort as she reached in carefully to retrieve the butane curling iron she’d planted there earlier. Her hand brushed against something hot. What the—
Seth stood behind a tree, chuckling softly to himself.