Flashbacks Are BAD (Unless They’re Good)

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Using my unreleased manuscript An Angel On Her Shoulder, I am showing you my techniques for reworking a story into a more readable, more enjoyable piece. It’s 45+ lessons in about 45 days. (To start at Chapter 1, click HERE.)

To view it best, bring up the two versions in different windows and view them side by side to see what was changed.

Then give me your thoughts in the comment section.

 

FLASHBACKS,

according to whoever “they” are – the literary rule makers of the day – should never be used.

GASP

But…

A great American novel like Catch-22 used a TON of flashbacks. And it’s a classic! We had to read it in school and everything!

Pulp Fiction, a terrific movie, used flashbacks. (I’m not sure the writing rules apply to movies, though.)

So, what do you do?

You can get away with those bad flashbacks – if they are Good. As in, done well.

What decides that?

Ideally, a flashback is a critical piece of information given to us that doesn’t seem gratuitous or like you couldn’t write the story properly so you just threw it in. The flashback needs to be a style thing, but done for a point.

Oh, and it has to be as seamless as possible.

This story has several flashbacks. One is rather jarring, done that way on purpose. The other is relatively seamless. Do they work? It may be too soon to tell, but I’m guessing you’ve invested enough to say yes because of the quality of writing – so you will allow me some license. That’s really the key. Is the writing before and after the flashback of a high enough quality to support it all? Some will say no. Others will say yes.

I’m confidant enough in my writing to forge ahead with my damn flashbacks.


Chapter 9 “FINAL”

A good cry had accomplished what the champagne could not. As frustrating as the conversation had been, releasing the pent-up emotions exhausted Mallory to the point where she could no longer fight off sleep. Now, with the bottle empty and the hotel TV switched off, I sat in the darkness considering what my wife had said.

Each year, around the same time of year, a life threatening situation happened to our daughter.

When Sophie was born, the examining doctor had inadvertently “heard” something in the stethoscope while he checked her heart. It turned out to be a rare heart condition, one that could take her life without warning. With proper medications, people with the condition could lead a long happy life, but without getting diagnosed, the first symptom was usually sudden death.

If we had taken her home, she could have died. We never would have known why.

The next year, the “incident” was even worse.

At the time, we had two sport utility vehicles, an old Lincoln Navigator and a little Ford Escape. Since they were paid off, the plan was to drive them until they dropped. With the money we weren’t spending on car payments going into Sophie’s college fund, it felt noble, not cheap.

Our little Ford was a fine and roadworthy vehicle, but it was getting up there in miles. So it wasn’t a huge surprise when it started acting up one day.

Sophie and I planned a trip over to her cousin’s house in St. Petersburg, about an hour’s drive. Sophie wanted to go swimming in her cousin’s pool, so I arranged for a hamburger cookout. My brother and I could catch up and see about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ prospects for the remaining football season.

I packed the little Escape: beach towels, swimsuit, pool toys… stroller. Always in the back of the car just in case, Sophie’s stroller served as a reminder she was big enough that she didn’t need it all the time, but when she did need it, we wanted to have it with us. She only weighted about 28 lbs., but gets awfully heavy lugging it around a grocery store or a mall. After one particularly long trek to the parking lot after Sophie conked out midday at Busch Gardens, I decided to keep the stroller handy until she started in high school.

I didn’t pack any food or drinks for the drive to St. Pete because we were going to my brother’s house for lunch. A quick trip across the bridge, a bite to eat, a little swimming, and then back home. Should be a nice day.

I clipped my daughter into her car seat.

“I can’t wait to see cousin Vanessa!” Sophie had been asking me all morning when we were going to leave. Now it was finally time.

A few minutes later, we were on our way. At the last stoplight before the highway, I texted my brother to give him our estimated arrival time, and we pulled onto Interstate 275.

Immediately, I knew something was wrong. The car seemed sluggish. I pressed the petal to give it some gas and get us up to highway speed, but it didn’t want to do it. That had never happened before.

The on ramp is only a few hundred feet long. I needed to be up to 55 miles per hour when it ended, or we’d get hit from behind by another driver. I gripped the wheel and stomped the gas. The Ford was too sluggish. We weren’t going to make it. I glanced around as I flicked on the emergency flashers and pulled into the emergency lane. Cars roared by on my left side. I mashed the gas pedal again to clear whatever was blocking the fuel line or clogging the engine.

The little Ford made a loud hissing sound, but without the white cloud of steam that usually accompanied a blown engine hose. The car still refused to accelerate as traffic whizzed by. The next exit was coming up quickly. I pulled off.

As I decelerated coming down the off ramp, the noise lessened. When I came to a stop at the next traffic light, the noise stopped.

I considered my options.

It was a hot, sunny Florida day, and the swimming would be good at my brother’s house. The kids wanted to see each other. Whatever the noise was, it had stopped. Maybe a piece of a tree limb had gotten stuck under the car and had finally come free when we turned off the highway. It had happened before, and the rubbing against the wheel had made a similar noise. In any case, it was gone now.

I glanced at the odometer—over 200,000 miles. That was a simultaneous source of pride and embarrassment. I preferred driving a new car, of course, but I love my daughter enough to make that small sacrifice and get her college paid for. As long as the car was drivable and had air conditioning, it was the smart thing to do.

That smart decision didn’t seem so smart now.

I pulled into a gas station. Slipping the transmission into neutral, I revved the ending a few times. The car acted fine, like whatever had been clogging it was now gone. I stepped out and looked underneath. No tree limbs.

Inside, Sophie was waiting to go see cousin Vanessa.

I got back in and revved the car one more time. It seemed fine. I dropped it back into drive and turned around, listening for any noises. Pulling onto the road again, I cut off the air conditioning and radio, put down the windows, and listened. I didn’t hear anything strange.

As I made my way to the interstate, the car acted fine. Whatever it was seemed to have cleared itself up.

Probably just a stick from a tree in our yard that got stuck underneath, and it broke free on the off ramp . . .  

I got back onto the interstate. This time the accelerator responded fine. The car got up to speed quickly and my pulse returned to normal.

“Daddy, the wind is blowing too hard on me!”

I reached down and held the window switches, putting up the windows, then I turned on the air conditioning. Cocking my head and listening, the car seemed fine.

Three bridges connect Tampa to St. Petersburg. I-275 runs across the middle one, a long narrow ribbon that stretches 10 miles over the bay. Once on that bridge, there are no exits until the other side. And of course, parts of the bridge were being worked on, so there might be delays.

As we approached, I still listened to see if the old car was going to tell me something or not.

I didn’t hear any hissing or rattles; the accelerator was working fine . . . we came to the “last chance” exit. I thought about pulling off, but only for a moment. It seemed like whatever had been wrong with the car before, it wasn’t wrong any more.

I eased my car onto the bridge. The water of the bay was beautiful, a glorious shade of blue, with just a few ripples on the surface. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the sun was beaming down. It was hot, but otherwise, it was a real chamber of commerce day.

BOOM!

The car lurched like a cannon had been shot off under the hood. My hands tightened on the wheel. The engine hissed louder than ever—it was all I could hear.

This time, there was no handy off ramp. Construction cones and sawhorses blocked the emergency lane for miles. A strange plastic smell came into the car.

In the other lanes, cars streaked by at 70 and 80 miles per hour. Ten miles of bridge and no place to pull off. Even slowing down could be dangerous. Cars behind me wouldn’t be expecting that. We could end up in a huge pile up.

The smell got stronger and the hiss got louder. Something was definitely wrong, and there were no good choices for what to do about it. I cracked open the windows to let some fresh air in.

Sophie said something, but I couldn’t hear her over the engine noise.

I took my foot off the gas pedal. The car began to slow down. Once again, I turned on the emergency flashers, hoping the speeding commuters behind me would notice in the bright sun.

With the windows open, each construction sawhorse made a whoosh as we passed it. They were too close together to avoid hitting any at that speed, if I decided to try to pull into the emergency lane, and I couldn’t risk slowing down too much or I’d get rear ended from another car.

A faint line of smoke streamed out from under the hood. There was no time left. I gripped the wheel and took a deep breath.

“Hang on!” I turned the car into the sawhorses. The first ones smashed into the side of the car, jolting us with rapid metal and wood crunches. The next ones slammed into the grill and piled up underneath as pieces flew into the windshield. The debris under the car clogged the front tires and threatened to pull the steering wheel from my hands.

Flames flickered under the hood. The pile of sawhorses under the car blocked the steering. Three feet away on the left, cars roared by, horns blaring. Three feet to the right, a small concrete wall and a forty foot drop into the bay.

Gripping the wheel as best I could, I hit the brakes. Splintered sawhorses flew everywhere. Construction gravel spewed everywhere but helped slow us down.

Now black smoke poured out of the hood. Orange flames burst upward in front of my eyes. Inside, the car quickly began to fill with smoke.

I hurried to unclip Sophie from her car seat, straining backwards to reach. No good. I couldn’t get both hands far enough to undo the clasps. It didn’t take long to undo it, maybe it took 20 seconds, tops. That would be enough time.

I jumped out, dodging the speeding traffic on the driver’s side. The wind from each passing vehicle shoved me back and forth, threatening to suck me onto the road. I reached the side door and flung it open, releasing a cloud of smoke as it did. One, two, three, the car seat was unbuckled and my daughter was free. Holding her to my chest, I rushed around the door and ran to the front of the car.

I turned back to see the flames growing larger. Thick black smoke churned upwards into the pale blue sky.

The slight wind on the bridge came from the west, so I had been driving into it. As I stood in front of the car watching the smoke pushing out faster and faster from under the hood, I thought about going to get anything of value inside. In the amount of time it took to wonder, the decision was made for me. It was only seconds before the whole car was engulfed in flames.

There, in the middle of a sweltering hot bridge, I stood with my daughter in my arms. I had been no time to grab my cell phone. I hadn’t packed a cooler because it was just a short drive across the bridge. We stood there, with the sun scalding our heads and the pavement frying our feet, as a black column drifted to the heavens. The flames ravaged the car like a pack of starving animals.

Traffic whizzed by at 70 miles per hour or more, just a few feet from us. There was no place else to go, so I stood there, getting tugged on every time a car went past.

I glanced at Sophie’s face as she watched the car become completely engulfed in fire. Two little smudges of dirt were under her nose. It was from the smoke. The few moments we were stuck breathing it was all that were needed to lightly coat our faces and clothes, but the real danger was from inhaling it. The fire is eating the air with you, but it eats it much faster. A few seconds more behind the wheel and I would have passed out from lack of oxygen.

Then there would have been no one to get my daughter out of her car seat.

She would have sat there, strapped in, struggling against the intense heat and the acrid smoke, until the fire took the last bits of air available. The two marks under her nostrils were a sign of how close had come to doing just that.

“Hey,” I said. She looked up at me. “Let’s try to blow your nose.”

Holding her in my arms, I raised one hand and pinched her nose slightly with it. “Blow.”

She blew. Black dirt splattered onto my hand. Smoke residue.

“Again.”

More black. And more, the third time. I wiped it off on my hip. Then I did the same for myself.

It was a freak occurrence. I had just had the car serviced. Clean bill of health. But a random short in the electrical panel for that model caused a spark that happened to catch just right. They sold a million of those cars, and none of the others would have that happen. The service records showed that we had properly maintained the vehicle. Everyone, the police, the insurance inspectors, the insurance agent, all agreed: we were lucky.

Standing on the bridge in the 95 degree heat, we didn’t feel lucky. It was hours before we got off the bridge. Other drivers had seen the fire and called for help, but it was a fire truck that arrived first, to put out the blazing car fire. When the police finally arrived, they wanted statements and answers. They were sympathetic, but they didn’t have sunscreen. The firefighters gave us bottled water, and the paramedics checked our lungs.

We were fine. Scared, but fine. And tired.

I consoled myself that I now had a good story for another time. Sucks when your car gets burned up.

In the dark of the hotel room, I recalled feeling something else that day, too.

Calm. Just calm.

It was a characteristic I felt I always benefitted from at work. In tough situations, when others panicked, I was able to keep cool. Really, that was when I performed best. It was the same during the car fire. Before I plowed into the traffic sawhorses, I went through the steps necessary in my head. Get Sophie out. Get clear of the car. Lack of time would not allow me to keep driving.

It saved our lives—even the firemen said so. They noted that if I had tried to drive even a few moments longer, the car would have been too filled with smoke, knocking me out, possibly crashing into the bay. At highway speeds, anything was possible.

But when I did the math in my head, I knew I only had enough time to get my daughter unbuckled from her seat and to safety if I stopped immediately. I knew I’d probably destroy the car in the process. So I just did it. It never occurred to me to be nervous. There just wasn’t time for that.

That was true in the NICU, too. Watching our little baby wired up to machines, and watching my wife get weaker and weaker from stress every day, not knowing what would happen or how long it would all go on, I had a strange sense of calm. I prayed, because it felt right to pray. But I never let myself consider that our daughter wouldn’t be safe.

To be honest, I actually worried a little that this ability to remain calm in such dire circumstances might somehow be abnormal.

I rolled over in a huff. Too many questions for this time of night. In the morning, I would pack the van and take us all home. I would offer to stop anywhere Mallory and Sophie wanted, but I had a feeling that home was the only place they wanted to go.

Back at the winery, I had only worried after I talked to Mallory. When I realized that she thought she had lost her whole family. Considering that, I felt tension. But at the time, I was almost detached. My impulse to go help the woman who had been hit was immediately replaced by the desire to protect our daughter for what she might see if I did rush over to help the victims. I let others rush in.

I did not need to be a hero. I needed to be a good father.

So why did I feel bad?


ORIGINAL Chapter 9, An Angel On Her Shoulder

A good cry had accomplished what the champagne could not. Michele had raised questions that nobody had the answers to, and in doing so she had connected things that didn’t seem to be connected before. As frustrating as the conversation had been, releasing the pent up emotions exhausted her to the point where she could no longer fight off sleep. Now, with the bottle empty and the hotel TV switched off, I sat in the darkness considering what my wife had said.

 

Each year, around the same time of year, but not on the same date, a life threatening situation had happened to our daughter.

 

When Savvy was born, the examining doctor had inadvertently “heard” something in the stethoscope while he checked her heart. It turned out to be a rare heart condition, one that could take her life without warning. With proper medications, people with the condition could lead a long happy life, but without getting diagnosed, the first symptom was usually sudden death.

 

If we had taken her home, she could have died. We never would have known why.

 

The next year, the “incident” was even worse.

 

At the time, we had two sport utility vehicles, an old Lincoln Navigator and a little Ford Escape. Again, the plan was to drive them until they dropped, with the money we weren’t spending on car payments going into Savvy’s college fund. That made it feel noble, not cheap.

 

Our little Ford Escape – another old SUV – was a fine and roadworthy vehicle, but it was getting up there in miles. So it wasn’t a huge surprise when it started acting up one day.

 

Savvy and I planned a trip over to her cousin’s house in St Petersburg, about an hour long drive. Savvy wanted to go swimming in her cousin’s pool, so I arranged for a hamburger cookout. My brother and I could catch up and see about the prospects for the remaining season of football.

 

I packed the little Escape: beach towels, swimsuit, pool toys… stroller. The stroller was always in the back of the car, just in case. Savvy was big enough that she didn’t need it all the time, but when she did need it, we wanted to have it with us. She only weighted about 28 lbs, but that little amount of weight gets awfully heavy if you have to carry it around a grocery store or a mall. We planned on keeping that stroller handy til she was in high school.

 

I didn’t pack anything to eat or drink because we were going to my brother’s house for lunch. A quick trip across the bridge, a little lunch, a little swimming, and then back home. Should be a nice day.

 

I clipped Savvy into her car seat. “I can’t wait to see cousin Vivian!” she exclaimed. She had been asking me all morning when we were going to leave. Now it was finally time.

 

A few minutes later, we were on our way. At the next stoplight, I texted my brother to let him know. Then we pulled up onto the interstate.

 

Immediately, I knew something was wrong. The car seemed sluggish. I tried to give it some gas to get us up to highway speed, but it didn’t want to do it. That had never happened before.

 

The on ramp is only a few hundred feet long; you need to be up to speed when it ends, or you’ll get hit from behind by a driver going 55 miles per hour. The car was too sluggish. We weren’t going to make it. I flicked on the emergency flashers and stayed in the emergency lane. Cars roared by on my left side. I stomped the gas pedal a few times to clear whatever was blocking the fuel line or clogging the engine.

 

Suddenly, the car started making strange noises. There was a loud hissing sound, but without the white cloud of steam that usually accompanied a blown engine hose. The car still refused to accelerate. The next exit was coming up quickly. I pulled off.

 

As I decelerated coming down the off ramp, the noise lessened. When I came to a stop at the next traffic light, the noise stopped.

 

I considered my options.

 

It was a hot, sunny day, and the swimming would be good at my brother’s house. Besides, I reasoned, the kids wanted to see each other. Whatever the noise was, it had stopped. Maybe a piece of a tree limb had gotten stuck under the car and had finally come free when we turned off the highway. It had happened before, and the rubbing against the wheel had made a similar noise. In any case, it was gone now.

 

I glanced at the odometer. Over 200,000 miles. That was a simultaneous source of pride and embarrassment. I preferred driving a new car, of course, but I took pride in the fact that each month I avoided a car payment, Savvy’s college account got fatter. I love my daughter enough to make that small sacrifice, and besides, as long as the car was drivable and had air conditioning, it was the smart thing to do.

 

That “smart” decision didn’t seem so smart now.

 

I pulled into a gas station. Slipping the transmission into neutral, I revved the ending a few times. The car acted fine, like whatever had been clogging it was now gone. I stepped out and looked underneath. No tree limbs…

 

Inside, Savvy was waiting to go see cousin Vivian.

 

I got back in and revved the car one more time. It seemed fine. I dropped it back into “drive” and turned around, listening for any noises. Pulling onto the road again, I cut off the air conditioning and radio. I put down the windows. I didn’t hear anything.

 

As I made my way to the interstate, the car acted fine. Whatever it was seemed to have cleared itself up.

 

Probably just a tree limb stuck underneath, or something…

 

I got back onto the interstate. This time the accelerator responded fine. The car got up to speed quickly.

 

“Dad, the wind is blowing too hard on me!” Savvy complained from the back seat. I put up the windows and turned the air conditioning back on. The car seemed fine.

 

There are three bridges that connect Tampa to St Petersburg. The interstate runs across the middle one, a long narrow ribbon that stretches 10 miles over the bay. Once you get up on that bridge, there are no exits until you reach the other side. And of course, they were working on parts of the bridge, so there might be delays. As we approached, I still listened to see if the old car was going to tell me something or not.

 

I didn’t hear any hissing or rattles; the accelerator was working fine… we came up on the “last chance” exit. I thought about pulling off, but only for a moment. It seemed like whatever had been wrong with the car before, it wasn’t wrong any more.

 

I eased my car onto the bridge. The water of the bay was beautiful, a glorious shade of blue, with just a few ripples on the surface. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the sun was beaming down. It was hot, but otherwise, it was a real chamber of commerce day.

 

Then, BOOM!

 

The car lurched. My hands tightened on the wheel. The engine hissed louder than ever. It was all I could hear.

 

This time, there was no handy off ramp. Construction cones and sawhorses blocked the emergency lane for miles. A strange plastic smell came into the car.

 

In the other lanes, cars streamed by at 70 and 80 miles an hour. 10 miles of bridge and no place to pull off. Even slowing down could be dangerous. Cars behind me wouldn’t be expecting that. We could end up in a huge pile up.

 

The smell got stronger and the hiss got louder. Something was definitely wrong, and there were no good choices for what to do about it. I cracked open the windows to let some fresh air in.

 

Savvy said something, but I couldn’t hear her over the engine noise.

 

I took my foot off the gas pedal. The car began to slow down. Once again, I turned on the emergency flashers, hoping that the speeding commuters behind me would notice in the bright sun.

 

With the windows open, each construction sawhorse made a zoom! noise as we passed it. They were too close together to avoid hitting any at that speed, if I decided to try to pull into the emergency lane, and I couldn’t risk slowing down too much or I’d get rear ended from another car.

 

Smoke started coming out from under the hood. There was no time left.

 

“Hang on!” I shouted at Savvy, and turned the car into the sawhorses. The first ones smashed into the side of the car. The next ones slammed into the grill and piled up underneath. Pieces flew up into the windshield.

 

Flames began to flicker under the hood. The pile of sawhorses under the car blocked the steering. Three feet away on the left, cars sped by, horns blaring, Three feet to the right, a small concrete wall and a forty foot drop into the bay.

 

Gripping the wheel as best I could, I hit the brakes. Splintered sawhorses flew everywhere. Construction gravel helped slow us down.

 

Now the black smoke came pouring out of the hood. Orange flames burst up in front of my eyes. Inside, the car quickly began to fill with smoke. There was no time to spare.

 

I hurried to unclip Savvy from her car seat, straining backwards to reach. No good. I couldn’t get both hands far enough to undo the clasps. But I knew it didn’t take long to undo it.  If you ran a stopwatch on it, maybe it took 20 seconds, tops. That would be enough time.

 

I got out and dodged the heavy traffic on the driver’s side as car sped past, horns blaring. I reached the side door and flung it open. A cloud of smoke was sucked out as I did. One, two three, the car seat was unbuckled and my daughter was free. Holding her to my chest, I stepped around the door and ran to the front of the car.

 

I turned back to see the flames grow larger. The thick black smoke billowed upwards into the clear blue sky.

 

The slight wind on the bridge came from the west, so I had been driving into it. As I stood in front of the car watching the smoke poured out faster and faster from under the hood, I thought about going to get anything of value inside. In the amount of time it took to wonder, the decision was made for me. It was only seconds before the whole car was engulfed in flames.

 

There, in the middle of a hot bridge, I stood with my daughter in his arms. There had been no time to grab my cell phone. I hadn’t packed a cooler because it was just a short drive across the bridge. We stood there, with the sun baking our heads and the pavement frying our feet, as a black column drifted into the sky. The flame ravaged the car like a pack of starving animals.

 

Traffic whizzed by at 70 miles per hour or more, just a few feet from where we stood. There was no place else to go, so I stood there, getting tugged on every time a car went past.

 

I looked at Savvy’s face as she watched the car become completely engulfed in fire. Two little smudges of dirt were under her nose. It was from the smoke. The few moments we were stuck breathing it was all that were needed to lightly coat our faces and clothes, but the real danger was from inhaling it. The fire is eating the air with you, but it eats it much faster. A few seconds more behind the wheel and I would have passed out from lack of oxygen.

 

Then there would have been no one to get my daughter out of her car seat.

 

She would have sat there, strapped in, struggling against the intense heat and the acrid smoke, until the fire took the last bits of air available.

 

The two smudges under her nose were a sign of how close had come to doing just that.

 

“Hey,” I said. She looked up at me. “Let’s try to blow your nose.”

 

I was still holding her in my arms, so I held up one hand and pinched her nose slightly with it.

 

“Blow.”

 

She blew. Black dirt splattered onto my hand. Smoke residue.

 

“Again.”

 

More black. And more, the third time. I wiped it off on my hip. Then I did the same for myself.

 

It was a freak occurrence. I had just had the car serviced. Clean bill of health. But a random short in the electrical panel for that model caused a spark that happened to catch just right. They sold a million of those cars; none of them would have the same thing happen. The service records showed that we had properly maintained the car. Everyone, the police, the insurance inspectors, the insurance agent, all agreed that they were lucky.

 

Standing on the bridge in the 95 degree heat, we didn’t feel lucky. It was hours before we got off the bridge. Other drivers had seen the fire and called for help, but it was a fire truck that arrived first, to put out the blazing car fire. When the police finally arrived, they wanted statements and answers. They were sympathetic, but they didn’t have sunscreen. The firefighters gave us bottled water, and the paramedics checked our lungs.

 

We were fine. Scared, but fine. And tired.

 

I consoled myself that I now had a good story for another time. Sucks when your car gets burned up.

 

In the dark of the hotel room, I recalled feeling something else that day, too.

 

Calm. Just calm.

 

It was a characteristic I felt I always benefitted from at work. In tough situations, when others panicked, I was able to keep cool. Really, that was when I performed best. It was the same during the car fire. Before I plowed into the traffic sawhorses, I went through the steps necessary in my head. Get Savvy out. Get clear of the car. Time would not allow me to keep driving, so I made the decision to run into the sawhorses to access the emergency lane, even though it was under construction and all dug up.

 

It saved our lives. Even the firemen said so. They noted that if I had tried to drive even a few moments longer, the car would have been too filled with smoke, knocking me out, maybe causing the car to drive into the bay. At highway speeds, anything was possible.

 

But when I did the math in my head, I knew I only had enough time to get my daughter unbuckled from her seat and to safety if I stopped immediately. I knew I’d probably destroy the car in the process. So I just did it. It never occurred to me to be nervous. There just wasn’t time for that.

 

That was true in the NICU, too. Watching our newborn baby wired up to machines, and watching my wife get weaker and weaker from stress every day, not knowing what would happen or how long it would all go on, I had a strange sense of calm. I prayed, because it felt right to pray. But I never doubted that our daughter would be safe.

 

To be honest, I actually worried a little that this ability to remain calm in such dire circumstances might somehow be abnormal.

 

I rolled over in a huff. Too many questions for this time of night. In the morning, I would pack the van and take us all home. I would offer to stop anywhere Michele and Savvy wanted, but I had a feeling that home was the only place they wanted to go.

 

Back at the winery, I only got worried after I talked to Michele. When I realized that she thought she had lost her whole family. Considering that, I felt tension. But at the time, I was almost detached. My impulse to go help the woman who had been hit was immediately replaced by the desire to protect our daughter for what she might see if I did rush over to help the victims. I let others rush in.

 

I did not need to be a hero. I needed to be a good father.

 

So why did I feel bad?


ANALYSIS

I think my flashbacks work.

I also trimmed out some of the repetitive stuff, as you probably noticed, along with the standard tags and adverbs.

Now, by raising the question of Mallory basically saying Doug is in denial, we have this chapter takes on a whole new tone. We are now wondering if he’s been in denial about all of it, and if this calm he says he feels is actually aversion to the truth.

Interesting how changing that line earlier affected the whole meaning of this chapter.

And some really good stuff is coming up, so if you liked it so far, you’re really about to have fun.

Now:

head shot
your humble host

Let me have your comments. The next chapter will post tomorrow but they will ALL come down shortly after February 15, so don’t dawdle!

You are readers, too. Your input will shape the final product. Be honest.

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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to get your copy of The Navigators – $2.99 or FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Available in paperback and audio book, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Flashbacks Are BAD (Unless They’re Good)

  1. I like seeing the start to the finish because it shows me that we should write first and then sculpt later. so many times, people feel it has to look perfect, out of the gate. If that happens, then woo hoo! However, standing back and looking at again often proves to be valuable. Yes, I believe your flashback worked. I didn’t feel like I was reading a flashback. I felt like I was reading a continuation of the story. Oh, and I love me some Pulp Fiction. One of the funniest films I have ever seen. In fact, I was the only one in the theatre that night, who enjoyed it. #CestLaVie

    Liked by 1 person

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