Thursday, April 23, 2015

Flash Fiction - The Dirty Kitchen by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

The writer Susan S. Lara recently conducted a writing workshop for participants of the Young Writers Workshop in Manila. She used one of my flash fiction or short short, "The Dirty Kitchen", along with other writers' works. Susan informed me her young work-shoppers "loved "The Dirty Kitchen" and empathized totally with your young protagonist."

To those who don't know, flash fiction or short short is a story that's under a thousand words. There is another category called micro fiction, which refers to stories that have less than 300 words.

"The Dirty Kitchen" has around 253 words.This story is part of my third short story collection, Vigan and Other Stories (Anvil 2011); it was first published in the anthology Fast Food Fiction (Anvil 2003).

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

            My favorite room was the outdoor kitchen, which we called the "dirty-kitchen.”  It was a separate structure in the back of the house, a place with a huge cooking hearth, a place where the servants sat around, talked, and ate.
            The main house was huge, Spanish-style, with marble floors, crystal chandeliers, very formal. My mother ruled the main house, and she shouted a lot. The dirty-kitchen felt like another world.  The floor was simple cement; the roofing was made of corrugated sheets that threatened to blow off during the typhoon season.  It always smelled of fried garlic.
            I enjoyed my visits there.  Sometimes the driver would play the guitar, sad songs full of longing for home or a loved-one.  The servants liked to discuss the "Big Dance," an outdoor affair open to the public, which was held across the river.  Friday nights I’d hear the loud music coming from the "Big Dance."  They also talked about the Amateur Hour, a talent show open to the public, which was held at the Fuente Osmena. 
             Every night, they switched on the transistor radio to listen to the evening soap operas.  Sitting on the wooden bench, legs swinging, I got lost in the dramatic stories that involved infidelity, out-of-wedlock children, lost loves, every twist and turn in the human drama that one could imagine.
            I listened until it was time to return to the main house for supper.  Before opening the door to the main house, I often took a deep breath to brace myself.
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