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Michelle K. Sholund
Jul 11, 2022
In What Are You Writing?
I recently wrote this for a contest regarding summer foods, but didn't make the cut, despite it being a popular read and well received when shared at open mic events. I love this story - specific to Maryland, and think others here will too. I plan on including it in a Flash Fiction Collection Book, but for now really want to share it here (668 words not counting the title) . . . The Crab Feast Symphony “Can you smell it? Can you smell it?” Chanted Kenny to his baby sister, Mimi, amped up to eat as everyone around them is busy telling stories and catching up on family news. “Not only can I smell it, I can see it,” said Mimi back to her brother who caught sight of their waitress and the large tray she was effortlessly carrying balanced on her shoulder as she walked to their outdoor table. Mimi’s eyes were big and bright and she couldn’t help but smack her lips. The family of ten watched as the tray full of large, brilliant red crabs and large ears of white corn on the cob complete with steam rising above the food and generously dusted with an intense orange colored seafood spice. The heavenly concoction drifted to their table causing family members to drool like Pavlov’s dog. The annual Thompson family crab feast was today and always held at their favorite crab house, located right on the Chesapeake Bay, at their usual outside space, a picnic table with an excellent view of the bay. The briny, salty breeze of the water complimented the aroma of crab seasoning and yacht rock music piped through speakers hidden in large planters overflowing with canna lilies, petunias, and geraniums all in the colors of the Maryland flag. Kenny and Mimi watched as their family, with octopus-like arms, reached, stretched, and grabbed rolls of paper towels, small plastic cups of apple cider vinegar and J.O. Spice crab seasoning, wooden mallets and crab knives all while several fat steamy crabs were placed right in front of them. Everyone has a different way of eating steamed crabs, yet Kenny and Mimi, had learned from their grandparents the best way to pick a crab. First, pry the top shell off, remove the apron and guts and then break it in half - down the middle, to where it is easiest to remove remove the cartilage and expose the lump meat. Then, pulling the attached legs one at a time, you expose the huge lump of white lump meat and then work your way down to the crab legs and claws. This was their secret to eating so many crabs before getting full like the others. As Kenny and Mimi feasted, the symphony began. The song mimicked the Danube Waltz…. da da da da, BAM BAM, BAM BAM, as wooden mallets whacked crab legs. Da da da da da, although what the gathered people heard was Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm, when parents, uncles and aunts, and kids sang praises of the sweet, buttery, lump crab meat pulled from tight crevices and popped it into their mouths. Or the crunch crunch crunch crunch when juicy fresh corn kernels soaked in butter and mixed with the spices on their hands from picking crabs popped and sprayed their neighbors as more bangs from wooden gavels rang over the table. And as vocalizations continued, an “OW” in a soprano range was heard as the salty spice mix inflicted pain on someone’s open cut on their fingers from a jagged edge of shell. Mumbles of conversations resembled a base line followed by the harmony of Ahhhs from drinking refreshing cold beer or sweet tea only to blend together to carry the tune as it progressed. Then came the finale of a burp or two, groans of eating way too much, and laughter at how messy everyone looks. Every year, Kenny and Mimi heard the same symphony and they never grew tired of it. This was music to their ears just as the feast was music to their stomachs. The brother and sister duo, now in their thirties with families of their own, also hoped it would be music to their families ears when dessert time came as they revealed that they bought the restaurant. Not to just further their families legacy but to be a part of countless other families; generations still yet to hear the Danube Waltz played with Mmms, laughter, and crab mallets. - M. K. Sholund
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Michelle K. Sholund
May 23, 2022
In What Are You Writing?
(FYI - I am a fan and writer of Flash Fiction as well as fiction novels and this is one I wrote based on a prompt suggesting writing about a roadtrip. As a huge fan of roadtrips myself, this prompt took me back to my high school and college days driving around Maryland in my old blue Ford Tempo. Hope you enjoy! - M. K. Sholund) "Road Trip Soundtrack" On day three of their road trip to Florida, Michael was about to strangle his co-pilot and girlfriend of six months, Nina over listening to the same playlist over and over. Not five minutes into their days voyage, after their lack luster continental breakfast at the Comfort Inn, she reached for the mix tape from the glove compartment and proceeded to insert it into the tape deck of the hand-me-down Ford Escort. "Oh no! Not again. I'm calling out Road rule number 3 - the driver chooses the music," Michael said reaching out to block the tape going into the cassette player. Sure the song choice did bother him, but what sent him over the edge was that Nina couldn't carry a tune if her life depended on it "Babe! It's my favorite. I thought you liked Wannabe and Torn and the other songs?" "They're ok, but not more than three times in one day!" "But this is the first time today." "We heard it enough yesterday to last the whole road trip." "I suppose you have something better YOU want to listen to," Nina asked with a snarky twang. "Well, we have other tapes in the glove compartment. Just pick something else. I need too stay focused on the road.... Hmm Fayetteville? That's a city I have never heard of before. Anyway, if I hear that playlist one more time, I am going to drive off a cliff." Nina shoots Micheal a puzzled look as there are no cliffs nearby. She shakes her head to move on to the task of leafing through the various papers and things within the compartment and retrieves three cassette tapes. She chooses one marked 'Make-out Mix' and holds it up to Micheal. "What's this?" "Hmmm?" "Make out Mix?" "Oh, that one. I forgot I had it. Let me see," asked Michael inquisitively, feeling a little flush hoping she wouldn't see the few sweat beads that are starting to form on his forehead. He takes a quick glance and exclaimed, "Oh my gosh! I can't believe I still have that! I made this for a girl I had a crush on back in high school. Sadly, she never gave me the time of day. I thought I threw it away, I must have just put it in the glove compartment instead." Hesitant to believe the story, Nina tests him. "What was her name?" "Hmmm. Kelly. I don't remember her last name though, but we had a science class together." "Sure. Could it have been Chemistry class," Nina asked coyly. "I think it was. I don't remember much about the class except for Kelly and that one day when Greg, a jock, turned on his bunsen burner all the way up before lighting it setting off the sprinkler system," Michael laughed remembering the silly memory. Nina snorted out a laugh to which they both laughed harder at the snort. "Pop it in. I believe there was some good songs on it." Nina inserted the tape and pressed play. The first song that played was 'Kiss Me' by Sixpence None the Richer "Aww. I love this song. It's from that movie... "She's All That", right?" "Yup" "I'm curious. I guess we can listen some more." Michael smiled relieved to have dodged a bullet. The truth is that playlist was his signature move in order to get into the pants of his past girlfriends, but Nina didn't need to know that although he can't help but be a little giddy to see if it still works. After all, getting lucky later that day and reach their destination, the University of Florida, with aspirations in getting Masters Degrees would be a great way to start this new chapter in his life. That is as long as he can get through the last stretch of the trip without hearing 'I'm a Barbie Girl' one more time.
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Michelle K. Sholund

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