A series featuring writers whose work was published in early issues of Flash Frontier
First piece published here?
Running and Waiting
February 2012 | HEAT
The rhododendron, paler than white, leans in the heat towards the path which is sunk below the road. The glistening heat has melted the rhododendron petals off the branches; they settle as browning water lilies in the grass. But the grass doesn’t pour down towards the path because it isn’t water.
The path is a deep dip, so that a child can race with her dog down one side and make it up the other before running out of puff.
The child runs down the path, her knots of knees pumping past faster than the eye can grasp. There is a splash, but this isn’t water. The dog pulls on the lead and drags the child, strains to move forward. The child’s grazed knees bleed in rivulets. She pushes herself upwards, stands, sobs for a moment.
Calls to the dog. Calls the dog names. The dog sits on the hot pavement, indifferent. English is not his first language.
The girl dabs at her knees with a tissue: the heat of the sun is already drying the rivulets of blood. The dog waits, as dogs do. The pavement is warm. Waiting isn’t difficult. Boredom is not in his experience, or vocabulary.
The grazes sting in the heat. The child brushes the stings aside in her mind. Self-pity is not in her experience, or vocabulary.
At the time you published your first story at Flash Frontier, what were you writing, and how did you come to flash fiction?
From memory, I was finishing the writing and composing of a children’s musical, Grimhilda!, which went on stage in April that year. Can’t find any record as to how I came across Flash Frontier.
What are you writing now, and where has your literary career taken you?
I’m finally editing the first full draft of a fourth children’s fantasy. It’s a sequel to the first book, and I’ve taken forever to get a full draft done. Procrastination, having to work without someone else to bounce ideas off (as I did with the previous three kids’ books), and feeling disheartened about it more than once have all contributed to the exceedingly lengthy time it’s taken.
Could you share a newer piece?
Hmm. The draft mentioned above is exactly that; not at all ready for publication. But as well as writing, I also compose music, and this year I’ve composed five songs using poems I’ve written in the past. It saves on difficulties in getting the rights to use other people’s words!
Mike Crowl is a writer, pianist, and composer. Since 2011 he’s written a children’s musical, three fantasies for middle grade readers, and a nonfiction title for men. He’s currently working on a fourth children’s fantasy, and has finally completed a usable draft (after a considerable time). He used to write weekly columns, used to blog regularly, used to write book reviews, and sometimes still writes poetry.
After living in Dunedin for most of his life in 2020 he and his wife unexpectedly shifted to Oamaru, where they knew almost no one. They’re surviving. Their first great-grandchild arrived three years ago.