Welcome to Flash Fiction Fridays! Every Friday I use conversational AI to generate a new flash fiction prompt inspired by the changes and updates to my digital garden.
Flash fiction is a unique and challenging form of writing that requires creativity, brevity, and skill. By using conversational AI to generate the prompt, I’m tapping into the power of machine learning to come up with interesting and unexpected ideas that I might not have thought of otherwise.
I use the weekly changes and updates to my digital garden as a starting point for the AI to generate the prompt. The prompts are designed to be open-ended and flexible, allowing me to explore a wide range of themes and genres that are aligned with my interests and experiences. However, it is important to remember that these pieces are fictional. But that’s not all, there is a piece of AI generated art to go with every story as well! If you want to dive deeper, check out the updates to my digital garden.
Write a story from the perspective of a family heirloom that has been passed down through generations, bearing witness to the tumultuous lives of its owners. Explore the object’s silent observations of birth, death, marriage, and loss, as it serves as a constant reminder of the family’s history. Delve into the object’s stoic presence, and examine how it serves as a reflection of the human experience – fleeting yet enduring, impermanent yet enduringly present.
It was not what you would expect. Cold to the touch, smooth, bearing the reflection of its owner. To tell the tale of time. That was its purpose, its sole reason for being. A golden shell, holding several moving parts, all working together to provide a shared source of truth. And not just for this family, but for everyone. Nobody really knew where it came from, or how it had first come into the family’s possession. Everyone would tell a different origin story. And with every generational leap, the truth would be further buried in an inconceivable past. To carry this token, to cover its surface with your hand, was a great honor. The heirloom was the only witness to the family’s deeds.
One particular exchange of hands is worth mentioning. Not because it does the heirlooms legacy any more justice, but because it helps to understand just how dangerous the passage of time can be. It was supposed to be a celebration, a transitioning from the unstained curiosity of youth into the dual faced nature of adulthood. This meant learning when to say what you’re thinking, and when to pretend, to act, to stage a play for the joy of others, and for your own tranquility. Because the truth of Sally’s emotional reality would require a response, which in turn would require her dearest family to think about her uncomfortable nature, something that is best avoided. Learning to be an adult meant to learn to say that you’re okay, even though you’re really not. For everyone’s sake.
And so this party unfolded with a large buffet of cake and pastries. Circular splashes of color arranged on a snow-white linen. Everything on this table looked too good to be true. But that was the point of this get together. Appearances. Everybody looked their best. Slick suits, glistening skin, beautifully adorned hair. Sally’s family knew how to throw a birthday party. But no amount of pastries could save her from having to meet her mother on the family altar. Picture a raised platform, tastefully decorated with flowers, the walls lined with family portraits, faces becoming strangers the longer you looked at them.
It was supposed to be a special moment, as the matriarch lifted the keeper of secrets from her pocket. Sally readied the palm of her hand, just before turning and raising her arm in a motion of defiance. It was quick and swift. A single wave that echoed through the hall louder and stronger than any words could. The muttering stopped as her mother gently slid the golden spark back into her pocket. Her eyes betrayed her sadness, a feeling that would turn to disappointment as soon as Sally started to speak. She wanted to choose herself, she wanted to choose the only person who would stay with her until the very end. Her rejection of the longest standing family tradition carried weight. A process of individuation had begun. Sally did not want to be a part of this play. But any gobbled explanation that she uttered at that moment fell on deaf ears. Nobody knew what to do. The evening came to an awkward conclusion as members tried to amuse themselves with cake and music, finding solace only in their shared defiance of Sally.
Things were different after that night. Nobody ever talked about the events that would lead to the only known deserter in the family’s history. The heirloom was passed down to those that wanted it. Its will was only as strong as the will of its holder. And Sally knew that she did not want her life to be observed and studied by a masterfully crafted clock and the family spirit that lived within it.
People forget. Time never forgets. If you were to unwind the sacred internal mechanism of that clock, a history would unravel that would indeed prove that Sally had not been the first to defect. Yes, there had been others who did not want to see their reflection on the polished gold of its surface. For some, the pain of being a part of a social structure that was so claustrophobic was too much to bear. The family had functioned as a self-governing body, with laws, customs, votes. You were restricted in who you could be and what you could say, but in turn you were protected and safe. Free from existential angst. That is, if you don’t count the fear that comes with wanting to be your own person. This is what Sally felt. And as she was confronted with what would await her in adulthood, she saw no other choice for herself but to turn away. To leave time and its keeper behind. Only to find it somewhere else.
This object had seen people trying to do better every day. It had the compounded knowledge of past mistakes, if only it could speak. If only it could tell the tales of forgotten disgrace and guide its beholder to see the bigger picture, the entirety of the families arc. If only it could share the lessons learned from forgotten mistakes. This clock, with its muted candor, held so much potential. With it, you’d be fooled into thinking you could establish a continuum of truth that reaches beyond a singular lifespan, allowing us to make new mistakes instead of old ones. If only it could speak.