Aesop’s fables, those very short stories involving tortoises and hares and mice and such, are considered by many to be the first flash fiction. In more contemporary times, we have the literary flash magazine Vestal Review, founded in March 2000.
Vestal’s editor, David Galef, wrote Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook (Columbia University Press, 2016). “A good piece of flash resonates with me in a way that a longer story doesn’t,” he explains. “It’s like a perfect miniature, like those portraits you used to see in museums – tiny pictures of someone’s face in which everything – setting, description, character development – is perfectly proportioned.”