Then I began to edit, and guess what--I rather easily eliminated 500 words. One tenth. That's when I remembered the rule of thumb. And yes, I think it's a better story now. Some non-essential stuff is gone. The story itself hasn't changed. I've trimmed several descriptions, and I've found that I need to look at the end of each sentence for trailing prepositional phrases and other stray words. I don't use a lot of adverbs or adjectives, but I found several that could go.
I've written several flash pieces which were almost twice as long as they could be to place them. I've whittled them down to the required word count. Sometimes this is a bit too much, but usually it makes for a more interesting, sharper story. And it's a good exercise. Try it, you might be surprised.
However, I'm not sure I can get rid of another 500 words in that piece I'm working on. I put it aside for a couple of days. I'm going to have another go later. Should be interesting.
(This blog edited for wordiness--have fun finding any extras!)