flash fiction story about cranes

Cranes – That’s stretching it!

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills wrote about the different species of crane that inhabit North America and included an image of the stunning crowned grey crane.

crowned crane as part of the Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge

I was fascinated by the story of an ornithologist and a crane and, when she challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story defining “the charisma of cranes”, I wondered why my mind drew a blank. I struggled to recall ever seeing a crane.

Charli’s additional information that “For centuries, cranes have inspired art and philosophy” and her suggestion that, “You can write a crane story or create something new out of the phrase. Go where the prompt leads”, didn’t make it any easier.

I consulted my favourite book of Birds of Australia. It listed only two cranes. One I knew of as the Brolga. The other, the Sarus Crane, I hadn’t heard of.

An online check confirmed the two species. The Brolga is famous for its dance and features in many Aboriginal legends and dances. At over 1 m tall and with a wingspan of 2.4 m, it is one of Australia’s largest flying birds. The Sarus Crane is rare and lesser known.

To my embarrassment, I also discovered that the Brolga is the bird emblem of my home state Queensland and appears on its Coat of Arms. Information about the Coat of Arms tells me that the Brolga is one of Queensland’s most distinctive birds and “symbolises the native population”.

Follow this link for information about the importance of the Brolga to Indigenous Australians and a video of an Aboriginal story.

More familiar to me are the cranes that dot the ever-changing city skyline as new buildings creep skywards.

For my response to Charli’s prompt, I’ve avoided the birds and employed two other meanings of crane. It might be stretching it a bit, but I hope you like it.

Living the nightmare

The shaft of light reflecting from the mirror jolted her awake.

“What time is it?” She fumbled for her phone. “Hell!” All night she’d craved sleep, then slept through. She pulled on yesterday’s clothes, ruffled her hair and charged out.

People packed the square so tight she couldn’t squeeze through. She craned her neck but, even on tiptoes, couldn’t see. She pushed into the tiniest gap on a ledge, only to be elbowed off. But she’d spotted a cherry picker. She climbed in, pushed a button and up she went; just as the crowd dispersed. She’d missed out again.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

44 thoughts on “Cranes – That’s stretching it!

  1. Hugh's Views and News

    A very creative take on the prompt, Norah. You’ve certainly gone ‘out of the box’ for this one. It got me thinking what she was looking at? I did wonder if she lived in Windsor, and was looking at Harry & Megan as they went past in their carriage? See how your piece of flash fiction has now got my creative mind wondering?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
            1. Norah Post author

              You and me both! I had the grandchildren for the weekend too – such fun, but no writing time. I wouldn’t give up a moment with the children though. xx

              Liked by 1 person

              Reply
  2. Jules

    It seems like the advancement of man is ongoing. There are mechanical cranes everywhere.
    Not that we needed it but we now have a new shopping, housing and hotel area not far from my home. What was once a two lane highway now has five lanes on one side and two in the other…
    It seems there are always some cranes in the city building higher and higher.

    Off to look at your video 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
      1. Jules

        Progress… at what cost. I think of some of the animals that have no place left for ‘homes’ of their own.

        By the way I watched the ‘Crane’ video and I really enjoyed it – Thank you.

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        1. Norah Post author

          I was thinking about Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell, or Where Will the Children Play by Cat Stevens. At what cost, indeed.
          I’m pleased you enjoyed the crane video. 🙂

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  3. Annecdotist

    Enjoyed watching that crane dance – at a metre high you wouldn’t want to get in the way of its wings. Craning one’s neck is a good way of stretching the prompt, but I’m afraid I had to scroll down the other comments to get that a cherry picker is a baby crane, but what a lovely term. I think we’ve all had that experience of being just a moment too late for a rare sighting, and not only when focusing the binoculars just as the bird flies away.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m pleased you enjoyed the brolga’s dance, Anne. They are big birds, but beautiful. I wondered if cherry picker might be an Aussie term, but wasn’t sure. I had no clue for a bird crane story. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  4. Charli Mills

    I saw both your Australian cranes! The Bolga were nesting and territorial. They rushed out to greet us, but truly they were trying to shoo us away. I was fascinated by their big beaks. Those could really do harm. Alas, your waking nightmare employed two other uses of the word. I wondered who or what was so charismatic as to crane necks for a glance. She found the cherry picker but too late. Great flash, Norah.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Wow! You are so lucky to have seen both species of Australian Crane. The Sarus Crane is more rare and the first official siting took place in my lifetime – in 1966.
      In my flash, you could say finding the baby cherry picker crane too late was the story of her life. Sorry I couldn’t follow the bird’s path this time. It was too big a stretch.

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      1. Charli Mills

        The International Crane Foundation is the only place in the world to have all 15 cranes. Pretty amazing that I saw both of your country’s cranes!

        Ha! Oh, no, now I get it! I thought she was looking for a celebrity. Great way to twist the “time is ticking” adage and make it a crane pat. You are so clever!

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        1. Norah Post author

          Oh, so you saw the cranes over there. I thought you’d been lucky enough to have seen them both here. The International Crane Foundation must be a pretty amazing place.
          Clever! Thank you. You’re very kind. 🙂

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  5. Jennie

    Norah, you always combine an interesting story with your flash fiction. I so enjoy that. Learning about you country’s crane and great flash about craning a neck to see is just one of many. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Yep. My fiction probably was just as much fact as fiction, in so many ways. I almost missed out on joining in as it was. 🙂 The birds flew away and left me stranded, sadly.

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  6. Steven

    Like you, I am much more familiar with the towering construction cranes that appear everywhere. I expected that you would write something about one of those, so you gave me a surprise.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your kind words, Pauline. I don’t like those panic-inducing dreams, though this story was meant to be a waking nightmare, not a dream.

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