• Micro Fiction Challenge: The Plane to Lisbon

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 110 comments
    Jun
    22

    Discussion questions: In fifty (50) words or fewer, write a scene or story that includes the phrase “the plane to Lisbon.” Write or paste your story into the comments. The winner will get a free book, courtesy of your pals at WriteByNight.

     

    After last week’s discussion of harsh criticism, I figured we could use a fun palate cleanser. And we haven’t done a micro fiction contest since February. So… let’s do one.

    Earlier this week I boarded a plane to Lisbon. The process was decidedly undramatic–I scanned my ticket, walked down a jetway, stepped onto the plane, and found my teeny-tiny seat. No swirling fog or whizzing propellers, no approaching Nazis trying to deny my letters of transit.

    Casablanca is one of my favorite movies. In the famous final scene, Ilsa and Rick stand on the runway as the propellers spin, the plane bound for Lisbon and (ostensibly) freedom. Cue famous lines: “We’ll always have Paris,” “a hill of beans in this crazy world,” “maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life,” etc.

    Goosebumps!

     

    What Is This Contest and How Do I Enter?

    In fifty (50) words or fewer, write a story or scene that includes the phrase “the plane to Lisbon.”

    Enter as many times as you wish.

    Write or paste your response in the comments section below.

    Get your entries in by the end of Friday, June 28.

    Our favorite story will earn its writer a free book of his/her choice from WriteByNight!

     

    You’ll Choose a Winner Based on What, Exactly?

    Effort, for one thing. The quality of the writing itself. And humor is never a bad idea.

    I’ll also take the number of thumbs-ups into account. So if you really like someone else’s answer, click on the thumb.

    Good luck! Have fun!

    And here’s looking at you, kid.

     

    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2019 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

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    David DuhrTrevorLisa HoenischRaymundoJacques de Chabannes Recent comment authors
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    Kevin Wozniak
    Guest
    Kevin Wozniak

    African sunrise stabbed his eyes. No sleep, again. The plane to Lisbon was making one unauthorized stop in Sao Tome. He jumped down and spotted the old Constellation filled with food and medical supplies. Biafra Airlift in progress. Someone yelled that Armstrong was stepping on the moon. No one cared.

    Julie Farin
    Guest
    Julie Farin

    It’s been 30 years since I saw him — I was celebrating graduation; he was waiting tables. I’m a lawyer now and he owns a restaurant — with two divorces and five children between us. As I boarded the plane to Lisbon, I drifted back to when we lovers last locked eyes.

    Kenneth Harris
    Guest
    Kenneth Harris

    Drug possession in Portugal’s de facto capital isn’t legal. It is ignored. However, if busted by the Barney Fife of Portuguese law enforcement, plan on two weeks of counseling followed by two weeks of “life style therapy”. The plane to Lisbon is easily arranged-plane FROM Lisbon is the trick.

    Jerry Schwartz
    Guest
    Jerry Schwartz

    Not my best work, I’m afraid.

    The luggage fees are outrageous for those of us who carry tools. Scalpels are a must. Forget the flensing tools. I’ll take the plane to Lisbon; it will do double duty. So will the bone saw. Cutting wood will ruin it. Dare I buy a shipping crate? It’s a risk.

    Elissa Malcohn
    Guest
    Elissa Malcohn

    The plane to Lisbon draws its contrail. Gnat sized, no-see-um sized, reflecting UV. Old dragonfly’s head swivels, compound eyes tracking. Torn wings twitch; the taste of prey dims. From 35,000 feet up the green quilt of the world fades into champagne sleep, consumed by the engine’s low drone.

    Gary Bingham
    Guest
    Gary Bingham

    Light rain fell, lending a quiet feel to the soft night. Wispy fog wrapped corners of the buildings in thin puffs of grey wool. Thunder rumbled distant warnings.
    “Were you successful in acquiring it?”
    “Of course.”
    “Our exit point?”
    “We leave on the plane to Lisbon.”
    “Walk quickly, someone’s coming.”

    Amanda
    Guest
    Amanda

    I like this – the dialogue creates tension.

    Gary Bingham
    Guest
    Gary Bingham

    Thank you

    frances hill
    Guest
    frances hill

    This could be added to mine for a mystery.

    Shirley Obitz
    Guest

    I’d return. She threw her arms around me. “Love me?” Respond. No, keep quiet. I signaled the bartender. Downed it. My head thundered. Was it the drink or the astounding pressure to respond? My immediate concern was to leave. Drunk, restless, I boarded the plane to Lisbon. I will return.

    Joe Giordano
    Guest

    I met Magdalena on the plane to Lisbon; our first kiss at the romantic vista, Miradouro de Graça. Our breakup felt like a dull knife carved out my heart. I couldn’t discard our iPhone photo – clinging, smiling by Belém Tower. I sighed. If only she would love me again.

    Amanda
    Guest
    Amanda

    “Hi, Mom!”

    “Where are you?” A necessary question since cellphones.

    “Boarding the plane to Lisbon.”

    “Weren’t you going to Iceland?”

    “No, Mom, *Lisbon.* Two syllables, sort of sounds the same, farther south.” (Mom, the ditz.)

    “What about that Icelandic boy you like?”

    “Portugal has better beaches, and cuter boys.”

    Amanda
    Guest
    Amanda

    EXPLANATION:
    Apologies to Gladys Knight & the Pips, and the additional word mid-sentence in the required phrase. You can sing along, karaoke-style, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teSPgVSxOc4 and see the original here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwbmufPphP0 . (Might be easier to follow along with Gladys rather than the karaoke version.) Whether this fits the requirements or not, it sure was fun to write!
    ……………………………………………….
    ENTRY:
    Paris was much too hot to stand
    So he’s leavin’ the woman who holds his heart
    “Ilsa, I’m goin’ back to war
    and hope to save our world,
    the life we had back then,
    the love we shared…”

    She’s leavin’
    On the midnight plane to Lisbon

    Amanda
    Guest
    Amanda

    She stumbled up the steps to the plane to Lisbon, tears blurring her vision. The tragedy of growing up American, a child of immigrants, Mom insisting, “We’re Americans now, you have to fit in.”

    An attendant caught her before she fell.

    “Honey, what’s wrong?”

    She sobbed. “I only speak English.”

    Amanda
    Guest
    Amanda

    This micro-story is a reflection of my own history as the grandchild of immigrants. Even my mother wasn’t allowed to speak their language, because “we’re Americans now, we have to fit in.” I regret that lack of knowledge immensely.

    frances hill
    Guest
    frances hill

    Me too! They were remarkable and more patriotic than most people born here.

    Amanda
    Guest
    Amanda

    He grumbled as he shucked his shoes and emptied his pockets. Good thing he wasn’t on a job, with weapons to put in checked luggage. That was always a hassle. He hoped the plane to Lisbon would be on time, his woman waiting for him, brilliant smile and open arms.

    frances hill
    Guest
    frances hill

    As planned, we met in the airport. He whispered between clenched teeth,”the guy behind me is recording us.” His lips never moved,(Edgar Bergen couldn’t have done better) I felt the thumb drive drop into my blouse. “Gotta go,” he shouted,”going to catch the plane to Lisbon.”

    Amanda
    Guest
    Amanda

    I wish I could upvote this twice!

    Jerry Schwartz
    Guest
    Jerry Schwartz

    Edgar Bergen? You’re dating yourself (and me).

    frances hill
    Guest
    frances hill

    Oh crap! I was going for the Lisbon effect!

    Ryan unger
    Guest
    Ryan unger

    Body odor singes my nostrils from the passenger on my right, and unruly toddlers chaotically control my left. Even better, cold gruel is on the menu. My stomach turns while vicious flight attendants patrol the aisle like the Third Reich. I should have never boarded the plane to Lisbon.

    Bonnie West
    Guest

    Hit in the face by a line drive. It was that odd detail that propelled her onto the plane to Lisbon for his funeral. She was only attending because he’d managed to hold on to the ball, like a grandmother dying while rocking, but never dropping, the baby. #Yakbabiespatreon

    Kevin Wozniak
    Guest
    Kevin Wozniak

    Did he not drop
    the ball because it was stuck in his face?

    Bonnie West
    Guest

    Ha… I love that. Not what I had in mind.. I had him hit by the ball..but he’s got his glove, the glove he ALWAYS has at a game.. after it hits him and falls off his face he and into his glove where he hangs on and instead of a tunnel of light his vision is of himself smiling and holding it high, on the JUMBOTRON.

    Kevin Wozniak
    Guest
    Kevin Wozniak

    She raced into the terminal, loudspeakers calling her, “Bonn, Elizabeth Bonn, please report…” At the counter she breathlessly gasped her name. The attendant perked up and smiled, “Yas, zis way…”. Elizabeth followed and boarded the DC3. Six hours later she realized she had accidentally boarded the plane to Lisbon.

    Amanda
    Guest
    Amanda

    I want to know what happens next! This would be a great opening for a novel.

    Jerry Schwartz
    Guest
    Jerry Schwartz

    There’s no sign of violence. Corpses sit, seatbelts on, tray tables in the upright position. A cabin attendant lies in the aisle, head wedged under a beverage cart. The cockpit is empty. The plane to Lisbon departed JFK at 10:30. At 10:15, it was found in a cornfield in Pennsylvania.

    Jerry Schwartz
    Guest
    Jerry Schwartz

    Rome is for lovers. Paris is for lovers. Even Virginia is for lovers. Smiling at me from the window seat is the most beautiful, wonderful, sexiest woman in the world. Just looking at her brings a tear of joy to my eye. Today, the plane to Lisbon is for lovers.

    Jerry Schwartz
    Guest
    Jerry Schwartz

    I watch her sleeping in the recliner. She can’t get comfortable in bed. She’s a slight woman, barely 100 pounds, and you could imagine that she is an appendage of her swollen belly. Her hair is lank, her face shows exhaustion. Gravid with our twins, she’s beautiful beyond words.

    Kevin Wozniak
    Guest
    Kevin Wozniak

    Is she on the plane to Lisbon?

    Jerry Schwartz
    Guest
    Jerry Schwartz

    Doh! Mea culpa.

    I just realized that when I trimmed this down to 50 words, I took that key phrase out. Sorry about that, folks.

    david lemke
    Guest
    david lemke

    Turbulence hit. The flight attendant, cute Portuguese girl with black bangs is tossed into my lap. She laughs, embarrassed, says “desculpa.” Tries to get up. She cries out. Clearly, her arm is broken. I yell for the pilot. He’s busy. The plane to Lisbon has a problem. The lights fail.

    Ronni Lester Ebbers
    Guest
    Ronni Lester Ebbers

    Rick is squeezing himself from his car, the diet didn’t quite do it. Here comes trim and chatty Karen. We’ve yet to decipher what she says. Watch out, Gary’s drives like a lunatic.
    Out of his way! Relief, walkers have now arrived to line up for our flight to Lisbon.

    Bonnie
    Guest
    Bonnie

    Wagyu steaks were shipped to the Rattlesnake Round-up and the Rattlesnakes were on a plane to Lisbon destined for a five-star restaurant.

    Ace, the ranch foreman, explained the mix-up, “Got us a new widow-lady boss. Gripped by grief, she confused the shipping coolers. How bout some rattlesnake recipes?”

    Barbara Wild
    Guest
    Barbara Wild

    Flight delay. Juliet was late to the interview; late to decide if she even wanted the interview; late to accept Doug’s proposal, and, now, late where it matters. Pregnant at 45, Juliet was late to life. Late, but still in the running. The plane to Lisbon flew toward the future.

    Jacques de Chabannes
    Guest
    Jacques de Chabannes

    From our correspondant
    Speculations are running wild in the press conference room after we noticed the President said the same words “the plane to Lisbon” at least five times in his speech today! It must be a prearranged signal! Who is the recipient? What is going to happen? When?

    Jacques de Chabannes
    Guest
    Jacques de Chabannes

    “How did you land in this fog, without gyro and compass?”
    “I kept flying in triangle, praying for a Shepherd to find me and guide me”
    “And?”
    “Happened! Saw lights above, followed, found your airstrip”
    “A Miracle! Who was this Shepherd?”
    “It called itself the plane to Lisbon”

    Raymundo
    Guest

    “Choose me or your Spanish lover,” old Maggie texted, not unexpected–
    even from afar, I can smell her cigar.
    “She’s Portuguese,” I replied, with emoticon snide,
    as I longed for fun in the sun.
    “Be on your way,” barked the TSA,
    and I boarded the plane to Lisbon.

    Lisa Hoenisch
    Guest

    Beneath the shadow of the plane to Lisbon, her molten caramel eyes met his, the color of smoke which recalled to mind her desire to return to her days of jazz and bourbon. Regardless of her desire though, she must take this last opportunity to escape her old life.

    Kevin Wozniak
    Guest
    Kevin Wozniak

    There once was a girl a bit strange
    Who was overly concerned with climate change
    She found an old, smoke-spewing plane to Lisbon
    And loaded it full of hydrochlorofluorocarbon
    But ended up overdrawn on the carbon exchange.

    Trevor
    Guest
    Trevor

    I stared at the clock on the nightstand, it was 8:37am, the plane to Libson was at 10am. I studied Jasmine who layed beside me, she looked so peaceful. Last night had been magical and wonderful like old times, but how did she find me in Paris and what was she afraid of.

    Amanda
    Guest
    Amanda

    The plane to Lisbon
    I go searching for flora
    But find a diner.

    Amanda
    Guest
    Amanda

    https://www.instagram.com/faunafloralisboa/ , if you’re curious! I was looking for something flowery/seasonal to put into a haiku and found this, and laughed. Perfect.

    Amanda
    Guest
    Amanda

    Except haiku should never need to be explained, so ignore that comment!

    Jacques de Chabannes
    Guest
    Jacques de Chabannes

    “We have read your report and enquired about this Shepherd”
    “The plane to Lisbon”
    “Yes, we have found two other cases, planes lost in the fog, triangle flight, then the shepherd, identifying itself as the plane to …”
    “Ah! See!”
    “The last plane to Lisbon disappeared twenty years ago…”

    Jacques de Chabannes
    Guest
    Jacques de Chabannes

    “Mister President, fifteen years ago, you made this speech”
    “Ah, the plane to Lisbon’s speech, right?
    “Yes, sir”
    “I sent a message that day, to my daughter. I was going to take that plane”
    “Not sure I…”
    “Lisbon is where it all started, I was going to end it there.”

    Amanda
    Guest
    Amanda

    I search for flora
    While on the plane to Lisbon
    But find a diner

    Amanda
    Guest
    Amanda

    Everyone screamed when the lightning bolt struck near the plane to Lisbon. We cried, we prayed, someone peed their pants. (The scent is unmistakable.) If I had room to kneel and pray, I would. I clasp my hands, reciting the words of the Our Father. Another strike! I scream and

    Amanda
    Guest
    Amanda

    “Mom. Mama. Mother… Wake up!”
    “Mmmmm, huh?”
    “We have to catch the plane to Lisbon in two hours. You have to get up.”
    “Two hours? What?”
    “Yes. Wake up, I have coffee.”
    “Thank god.”

    Amanda
    Guest
    Amanda

    I check out everyone as I board the plane to Lisbon. My eyes scan their bodies – Guns? Knives? All seems well, and I settle into my seat.

    My row-mate glances up. “Do you like to dance?” I’m confused. “Um, yeah.”

    “Then let’s dance when we get to Lisbon.”

    I nod.

    Bonnie West
    Guest

    Flight 3527, the plane to Lisbon, lost its allure when it turned around and took us home to Newark.

    Kenneth Harris
    Guest
    Kenneth Harris

    “Were there…”
    The ticket agent’s sad eyes told me he’d answered this question all morning.
    “I mean…flight 3750, the plane to Lisbon…”
    “No survivors…”

    Sent from my iPad




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