Thursday, July 6, 2017

It All Started with a Google Search

By Cheryl Oreglia

That's right, it's Google search time my friends, my first at bat so to speak, and I'll admit to wanting to knock it out of the park.  It's a bit of a hack job but at least I tried. Apparently there are rules for these quick writes and I'm a avid rule follower. 
  • Start a random search string in Google (or could be from one of your previous searches) 
  • Choose one of Google’s suggestions
  • Write up a post (or some flash fiction if you’re feeling really creative)
My google search began with a search on the meaning of the word google. I assumed it would give me something of interest. I found out, "Googol is a mathematical term for a specific number that is written out as the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros. According to Brin and Page, the theory behind selecting a name based on this extremely large number is to reflect the mission of Google to organize a potentially infinite amount of information on the Internet." So naturally I googled stories that involved math and infinity. 
There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There's .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I'm likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Of course the whole "Fault in Our Stars" thing got me thinking about the Fourth of July. Right? New search: 4th of July - A celebration that dates back to the American Revolution. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, two day later delegates from 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, drafted by our very own Thomas Jefferson. And the rest is history. 

A little known fact is that John Adams believed that July 2nd was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American independence, and would reportedly turn down invitations to appear at July 4th events in protest. Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826—the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Makes you wonder about the synchronicity of things. 

Which brings to the brink of some marginal flash fiction. This is not my forte, but I made an attempt, because I'm a rule follower like our founding fathers. Keep in mind I'm at the lake, packed house, and sleep deprived. Okay, that's my apologia, read on.

A Fourth of July story of death, betrayal, and mistaken identity

She pulled the cold trinket from her coat pocket, a small replica of the liberty bell, it felt heavy in her sweaty palm. It's the third of July, the bells have been on sale all week, along with an assortment of fireworks, and brightly colored banners. She has never stolen anything in her life. What made her take this from Mel's Hardware Store today? On the eve of a horrendous personal tragedy? It's late, she wasn't thinking straight, maybe she'll return it tomorrow. 

As she slips the key in the front door, it opens unexpectedly, her identical twin emerges in the doorway, "You look like you just committed a crime Helen," Tori giggles. The trinket slips to the ground where the sound of the clanking bell seems to collaborate her sister's statement. Helen snatches up the contraband before it rolls off the porch, jams it back in her pocket, and steps quickly into the house. You can hear the sound of the wheels skidding on the loose gravel as the car speeds away with Tori and her gaggle of friends.

On the verge of sleep, the sound of an incoming text makes Helen sit up in bed, and reach for the phone on the nightstand. She knocks over the stolen bell in the process, but she lets it go so she can read the text, "I saw what you did today Helen, hope it was worth it?" The text is from a blocked number. She froze. 

As the night turns into day Helen continues to pace in the small room. She is painfully aware of the consequences for stealing. She lives in the small town of Hackalim, tucked away in a remote part of the Appalachian Mountains, almost forgotten by mainstream society. The crime rate is negligible, especially when justice is swift, and irreversible. What possessed her to take something that didn't belong to her? She knew the answer long before the question formed in her mind. It is her private rebellion and the liberty bell is the perfect symbol. It's cracked and imperfect but the inscription at the top reads, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." 

A second text came in mid morning, Helen fearfully glances at her phone, "Amputations at noon, are you ready?" She fainted, holding onto the phone with her left hand, unable to shield herself from the fall. Gashing her head on the metal coffee table as she went down, Helen lands with a thug on the hardwood floor, the blood slowly pools around her limp body. 

She watches her motionless body, wrapped in a crisp white sheet, from a distance. She seems to be hovering near the back of a sterile hospital room, detached, but fully alert. The only thing keeping her body alive is a machine, that forces air in, and out of her lungs. She is on the fourth floor of the St. Stephen's General, but she is not in her body, how could this be? 

Five years earlier Helen was accused of steeling a rare book from the library downtown, but the accusations were false, she was no where near the library on that faithful day in July. Her right hand was amputated before her innocence could be established. It wasn't fair. She never found out who accused her of this crime. 

It was past midnight when the door slowly opens and she watches a nondescript shadow slip into the room. It approaches her unconscious body, bends to whisper in her ear, "I'm sorry..." As soon as the confession manifested itself into the world Helen's heart stopped beating, it was the Fourth of July, Independence Day, and finally the truth had set her free.

Where have your google searches taken you? 

I'm Living in the Gap, drop in anytime! 


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

That John Adams tidbit cracked me up for some reason. "I will not go forth with haste to your cookout as we were independent on the second."

Cheryl Oreglia said...

John was a stickler for dates and rules, that's for sure. Interesting that he died on the 50th anniversary on the 4th! Hope you enjoyed an unruly Independence Day! Cheer's to John.

Unknown said...


Cheryl Oreglia said...

Thank you Shareen, I appreciate the enormous support you give me, and endless encouragement. Much love to you.

Carrie Beckort said...

Love this, Cheryl! Your flash fiction was wonderful. As for strolling on Google, I also often get taken down random Google roads. Sometimes useful, sometimes not :)

Cheryl Oreglia said...

Thank you Carrie! I think I should have ended it at "It was past midnight when the door slowly opens..." leave people hanging so to speak but that came to me after I hit the publish button! Write and learn. I am thrilled you liked the flash fiction, I was afraid I'd be booted out of the group!

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