Flash Fiction: Forbidden Beef

Last November, I entered a 250-word flash fiction contest hosted by NYC Midnight. Thousands of writers entered, and we were placed into groups of 50-or-so and assigned an action, a word, and a genre. Our story had to include all three parts, and the top ten in each group would advance to the second round.

I placed 13th. Respectable, but not enough to move forward.


The feedback from the judges was encouraging (at least they didn’t say it was hot garbage, haha), so I thought I’d share the story with you anyway. I’ll tell you what my genre, word, and action assignment was at the end.

Forbidden Beef

I jostle the freezer’s contents, searching for what I crave: real meat. Not tofu dogs or Impossible patties. Honest-to-God, greasy, processed cow.

I thought I’d adjusted to the vegetarian diet Keri imposed upon me, but with the grill smelling of smoldering charcoal, old memories of meat-filled barbecues came to life. I move another package, about to give up, when I spot something.

I grab the unlabeled Ziploc. Ground beef! And it’s not freezer burned!

Keri’s not home to argue, so I defrost the meat then head out back. The dogs are chasing each other on the grass. This perfect summer evening just got better.

I form three patties and set them on the grill next to Keri’s bean burgers. I stand watch as they sizzle, my mouth watering. When they’re finished, I put a meat patty on a bun, anxious to sink my teeth into my prize.

A heavenly mix of fat and flavor fills my mouth, making up for the few tough spots.

I hear Keri’s car out front and a minute later, she breezes onto the deck, instantly scowling. “I smell meat.”

Snickering, I take another bite.

“Where did you get that?”

“Found it in the freezer.”

Her eyes widen, and she busts out laughing.

I stop chewing. “What?”

“That meat was for the dogs. There’s bone meal and organ parts in it.”

Oh God.

I force the bite down, return to the grill, and call the dogs. I toss them the remaining patties. “Thanks for sharing, guys.”

My genre assignment was comedy, the action was barbecuing, and the word was stand.

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