Flash fiction – “Sand” by Fletcher Goldin




                                                  —Fletcher Goldin



Fine and white, it tingles under your feet, between your toes.  But under your nails it grates.  Green fills the sea, foam tinges its waves; salt fills your nose.

          The bright sandcastle is new and smooth, the stooped man old and cracked.  The castle must be young, built so near the rising tide.  The lapping water drains a sliver of sand with each gentle, relentless caress.  Each wave reaches higher than the last.  But it’s not a castle, it’s a house. 

A simple, single-story house.  The roof is lightly pitched.  The sand is just wet enough to retain the finely etched features—the outline of the front door, the sills below the windows, their panes.  The veined, mottled hands tremble on their way to the chimney.  One holds an X-Acto knife, the other a child’s plastic shovel—small, yellow, flat.  The shaking hands near the frail sand, and are suddenly steel-steady.  The knife-edge scores a laser-straight line across the chimney’s side; the grains fall into the shovel’s plate, a finger’s width above the shingles carved into the roof.  A small step higher, and the blade scribes again.  A quiet but distinct splash—a wave-tip crests the slight dune in front of the house.  Waves at sea grumble, signal the tide’s rise.  The large nose, the watery pale eyes, the crevassed face remain fixed on the work:  the knife’s point begins at a horizontal groove and creeps down.  It stops at the next groove, the yellow shovel again catches the sandy waste.  The knife hand above and shovel hand below move to the right in unison, and a second short vertical scribe completes the tiny sand-brick.  The next wave plants its leading bubbles of foam at the doorstep. The knife, the shovel, the focused eyes continue.  Brick, brick, brick.  The chimney is finished, the house complete.  A crack as the back straightens, another as the legs slowly fight gravity one more time and bring the old man to a stand.

The man turns and walks away.  The next wave seeps into the foundation and steals enough sand for the house’s front to cleave and crash.  The man does not look back.

— Short piece by Fletcher Goldin, electro-optics engineer working on nuclear technology, docent at the Chabot Space and Science Center, and aspiring novelist with a satirical tale of dark office politics. I enjoy what I’ve read of his novel so far – gently funny, dry style. Would encourage interested publishers and agents to look into it.

Freelance Writing Gigs site – November’s issue coming very soon!

November’s issue is on its way – the theme will be Choosing to Create Amidst Challenges. Includes a novel review, photography, essays, and flash fiction. Also – encouraging everyone to check out another good opportunity for publication, the Freelance Writing Gigs site at http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com This site attempts to collect freelance writing jobs (onetime things, major book projects, and many jobs in between) into a one stop site updated daily or every few days. Real people search out and blog about the opportunities – it is not a search engine and everything is described and commented on in detail. They aim to showcase legitimate, paid opportunities and provide a place where an aspiring or established freelance writer can go to find work.

We’d like to hear from you (contributors and readers) about what you’d like to see in and from Synchronized Chaos.


This webzine was conceived as a collaborative effort by and for artists and writers, to build community and help meet needs that we have as we develop our crafts and move forward in creativity. So I’d love to take a moment to hear from all or any of you, from our contributors and readers and anyone involved with Synchronized Chaos.

Please feel free to leave comments here about anything to do with this webzine. What directions would you like to see the magazine take in the future? How can Synchronized Chaos best assist you with your artistic and/or professional development, with networking, with getting published, with meeting whatever goals you have set for yourself? What interests you, and what would you most like to read or see here? What would be the most informative, or interesting, or worthwhile for you to see and read? What features might we add, or whom should we contact for an interview? And how might you see yourself helping to contribute to Synchronized Chaos, or getting involved to improve the magazine?

Several people have mentioned that they would like to learn more about publishers or other paying markets for their work, and here is one I came across in another writing community:

http://www.sottovocemagazine.com/index.htm – A new and upcoming webzine with a lovely floral background focusing on well-crafted short pieces (poetry, prose, and nonfiction) of any style and topic. Does pay upon publication, not an awful lot but it would put some extra cash in your pocket.

Also I ran into someone last week who’d volunteered at the SF Writers’ Conference and obtained free admission in exchange for helping with timekeeping, recording lectures, etc. The conference features several well-known writers and workshops on improving craft and networking opportunities and volunteers are able to participate in at least half the event. They’re online at http://www.sfwriters.org and I’ve already emailed them offering my services and mentioning that I could potentially bring some friends and colleagues along also 🙂

Invitation to create how-to articles for a project for those with Asperger’s syndrome

Here’s someone in the United Kingdom with Asperger’s syndrome (a form of autism where people can find it easier to understand concepts and social norms if they are presented directly and logically, rather than having to rely on being able to pick up social cues) looking for volunteers for a writing project! I personally know a few people with Asperger’s and they are highly sensitive, creative, interesting, and beautiful people – and this project would greatly help at least some of them.

She’s looking for people around the world to join her free online LiveJournal community and write up short step by step guides to handling various social situations (job interviews, public transit etiquette, shopping, business etiquette, when and how much to tip, etc.) There are already some guides posted for ordering coffee, taking yoga classes, etc and she’d love to see more and will compile them into an upcoming freely distributed nonprofit book and credit the authors.

You may access her online community, “aspergers_howto” here: http://community.livejournal.com/aspergers_howto/

If you have any problems logging in or using LiveJournal please comment here and let me know, I’ve become somewhat of a geek/expert over the years 🙂

From Stacey’s introduction to the community:

My name is Stacey, and I am a 19 year old university student from the UK. I have a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, and have found it difficult to get ahold of helpful literature concerning how to deal with the every day social situations in which I find difficulty. With some encouragement from the people close to me, I have embarked upon a project to write a book to fill in this gap.

The book will be aimed at people who have Aspergers, but will be useful to a range of people who have social difficulties. The format so far is that of a ‘how to’ guide, with a series of stand-alone guides which outline step-by-step many of the tasks which cause people with such difficulties problems.

From how to plan a bus journey to what you should do if a homeless person asks you for some spare change, I hope to compile a decent selection of guides which will be applicable to most people.

Submit art regarding gender-based violence to Amnesty International exhibit

I encourage people to submit art or writing related to this issue to Amnesty’s exhibition – they do plenty of great work to reduce violence and human rights violations around the world. I would have preferred the more inclusive terminology of ‘relationship abuse’ or ‘intimate partner abuse’ when referring to domestic violence – however I applaud the way the intersections between society’s marginalizing certain groups of people and violence against them are explored, and the sympathetic treatment of community-based grassroots responses to violence and different forms of discrimination, and the use of art as a healing tool.

Call for Submissions: Amnesty International‘s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign Art Exhibition
Amnesty International organizers for the Stop Violence Against Women campaign announce a call for art submissions. Be part of an inspiring art event that tells women’s and girl’s stories of both struggle and victory over violence and motivates people to take action in support of the International Violence Against Women Act. Exhibition will launch March 8, 2009 and travel to six cities throughout Northern California through June.

Now accepting artwork and media that raises awareness about the diverse forms of violence women and girls face around the world, such as trafficking, body image, Ciudad Juarez, or domestic violence, and that offers inspiration about women overcoming violence such as art therapy or activist campaigns. Anyone is invited to submit. All forms of artwork considered. Submit work no later than January 10, 2009. For an application form, find one attached or email svaw.norcal@gmail.com.       

If you have any questions please contact Renée Gasch at svaw.norcal@gmail.comFor more information on Amnesty International USA’s campaign to Stop Violence Against Women please go here: www.amnestyusa.org/women

Invitation to cross-submit to the 23 Press webzine (seems like a fun project ;)

Occasionally we at Synchronized Chaos find other zines or publishing projects we find interesting and help publicize them. The 23 Press is an independent media project based on Discordian philosophy, a free-thinking way of embracing chaos and contradiction as a jumping off point for creative thinking and personal growth, rather than brushing the chaos under the rug with some type of over-arching system that can too easily become repressive. Inspired by the works of Robert Anton Wilson and others, Discordianism affirms the individual and the local community and grassroots pragmatic efforts to improve the world and create/find beauty while having fun in the process. Many people were into Discordianism back in my college student/hippie activist days and it provided the theoretical background for many of our progressive projects and campaigns. You can read about Discordianism here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discordianism

Call for submissions to the 23 Press:

have  you ever written silly poems, surreal works of short fiction, discordian puns, or situationist epics? drawn ‘bob’ dobbs’ head, recorded merry pranks, written limericks or zen koans or flying spaghetti monster fanfiction? magick? taken photos of hot dog buns?  created any kind of radical discordian art? then oh please send it to us – twentythreepress at gmail.com – so that you can be a part of twentythreepress’ first ever Discordian Compilation Zine! All High Emperors (everyone) who are selected for inclusion will receive a free copy of the project. 



Please send submissions to twentythreepress@gmail.com

Two charity shoutouts – children’s art needed around the theme of Good Ideas, and encouragement to visit the site of a poet/writer fighting Lyme disease

I’m also helping to put on an art auction of very young children’s art to benefit a global humanitarian project of San Jose State University’s Entrepreneurial Society. As the quarter proceeds we will brainstorm and decide on an organization dealing with some global issue (malaria, AIDS, hunger, child labor, pollution, tree planting, clean water, literacy, etc) and auction art off to wealthy venture capitalists to fund our chosen project. This event takes place December 4th at the reception after we present our own business plans to the investors.

They’re looking for art by young children (any style/medium OK but something that can be hung up on a wall.) The theme is “Good Ideas” – either a business idea they child has, or an invention, or a place filled with things they child thinks are good ideas.

If anyone here has young children, teaches, works with kids, or knows of kids who would like to participate (and the kids can come see their art on the walls in SJ State if they would like) then please send a scanned PDF/JPEG to our vice president Ruth Gonzalez at rkgonzalez@gmail.com with the child’s name, age, and an artist’s statement describing the work.

You may also send artwork via mail to:

Ruth Gonzalez
700 Vasona Street
Milpitas, CA 95035

Also I encourage you to check out http://www.helphealfran.org – website for Fran Varian, a talented poet/author/human rights activist/community builder from San Francisco who’s battling late stage Lyme disease. She was bitten by a tick and came down with recurrent flulike symptoms, then was misdiagnosed for years before finally receiving a correct diagnosis and finding out she needed expensive treatments not covered by insurance.

I attended a benefit auction and art performance for her last night in SF near the Civic Center – excellent variety, from a guy playing bicycle handlebars as a musical instrument, to singers, folk music, poetry, humor, lovely art and music, etc. Some acts were serious and beautiful, others more lighthearted and fun. Lots of love for Fran, which I admired though I’ve never met her.

So if you have some kind of chronic symptoms, please get a second/third opinion, don’t let the first doctor tell you it’s nothing or just stress. He/she might have inadvertently made a mistake and there are diseases which go undiagnosed till they are much harder to treat (Lyme, Crohn’s autoimmune digestive disorder, etc.) Also please check out the site…there is a place to donate but it’s not just about money, it’s about passing the site on, leaving notes of encouragement, perhaps donating some creative use of your time and talent to a benefit auction in your area, etc. People last night were offering to write stories on command, send recipes, etc in exchange for donations to Fran’s treatment.

If people are interested, for Fran or for any other charity or cause readers or contributors support, we can auction off advertising space or host a charity writing/art auction around the holidays. Please let Synchronized Chaos know by commenting and we can all organize something in the next couple of months.