Fans by Sue William Silverman

If you haven’t checked out Brevity magazine online yet, you need to bookmark it post haste and visit often. My chosen featured story this month is published there, called Fans by Sue William Silverman. The format is graceful and the motif of the fans is exquisitely deft.  The story shows off the characteristic zinger of all good flash, which has made me return to read it five times so far.  It begins:


In St. Thomas, where I live as a child, I stand on the verandah at noon watching heat itself shimmering aluminum flecks across the Caribbean.  I cool my face with a fan constructed of small palm fronds – woven strips attached to a wood handle.  At dusk, when the trade winds finally gust the heat away, I don’t need my fan at all.  But the next afternoon, when the wind hibernates, the fanned breeze sounds like a green rustle, brush-brushing through long curly hair.


One summer in Washington, D. C., I stay in an un-air-conditioned women’s residence hall.  A small electric fan is propped by the windowsill.  It’s old-fashioned (I’m a poor college intern), and it creaks as it slowly oscillates.  At night, while I lie alone in my narrow bed, the metal blades waft humidity from one side of my room to the other.  Yet the current delivers energy from outside the open window: the hiss of air brakes; acrid oily diesel; shouts from bars on M Street full of Saturday night beer and trouble; rock ‘n’ roll – the Doors, the Beatles – from car radios.  The breeze almost cools the sweat at the base of my neck.  In the morning …  Read the rest of the story at Brevity

Have you written a story similarly in some way?  What were your challenges and how did you arrive at the final form for your story?

More great sample stories

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