flash fiction abandoned suitcase

A case of the unexpected

Do they still do Greek myths in school? I know I read some in my primary school days, but I never read any to my students when teaching.

The two stories I remember most from school were of King Midas and Pandora’s Box. Both carry strong cautionary messages which had a big impact on me.

King Midas was greedy and when offered a wish, wished that all he touched turned to gold. He was saddened and regretted his wish when even his beloved daughter turned to gold. Lesson: Don’t be greedy. However, I was more horrified at the thought of that young girl trapped in a body of gold. Surely that would be worse than a straitjacket, the thought of which is terrifying enough.

Pandora was presented with a box which she was instructed to not open. What more effective an invitation could there be to a curious soul? Of course, Pandora opened the box. Who wouldn’t? Unfortunately, in doing so, she released all the ills of the world. It is her, so the story goes, we have to thank for illness, plagues, wars, famines and so the list goes on. Lesson: Do what you’re told and don’t be curious. I’m not sure that I learned the lesson from the tale. I’d already had the message firmly installed prior to encountering it.

As I matured I realised that the lessons from stories such as these didn’t always apply and I am now an advocate for curiosity if not for greed. Where would we humans be without curiosity, wonder, and imagination?

flash fiction prompt stranded suitcase

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase. Go where the prompt leads you, but consider the different perspectives you can take to tell the tale.

The five W questions that we often teach children to use when interrogating a text or preparing to write spring to mind: Who, What, Where, When and Why.

  • Who abandoned the suitcase?
  • What is in the suitcase?
  • Where was the suitcase abandoned?
  • When was it abandoned?
  • Why was it abandoned?
  • Who found the suitcase?
  • What did they do?
  • Why?

In bygone days, had I come across an abandoned suitcase, I may have investigated it to discover:

  • Did it have any value?
  • Was it discarded or lost?
  • Was there anything of value in it?
  • Could I find the owner and return it?

I remember as a child going along with my older brother’s suggestion to create a fake package, tie some fishing line to it, place it in the middle of the road and wait for a curious and unsuspecting pedestrian to come along. (Traffic was infrequent back in those days.) When the pedestrian bent to investigate the package, my brother would pull on the line and the package would move out of reach. We found the response of the pedestrians hilarious and our laughter soon gave away the plot from the bush or fence behind which we lay in wait. Fortunately, they all laughed too when they realised what we were up to.

Nowadays, with warnings about the possibilities of abandoned bags and packages containing terrorist bombs, people may be less inclined to investigate, concerned that the result may be more similar to what Pandora discovered.

For my response to Charli’s prompt, I’ve decided to go with a more innocent age when two children playing in the bush find an abandoned suitcase.

A Case of the Unexpected

“I wonder what’s inside,” said Jamie.

“D’ya think we should open it?” Nicky asked.

They looked around. No one anywhere.

Jamie shrugged. “I guess.”

“Looks old,” said Nicky.

“Probably been here for years.”

“So dirty.”

The rusty catches were unyielding.

“Might be locked,” said Nicky, hopefully.

“Let’s see,” said Jamie.

They pried with sticks, battered with stones and willed with all their might. When the catches finally snapped open, they hesitated.

“Go on,” said Nicky.

“No, you.”

“Both.”

“Okay. One, two, three … open!”

The children’s eyes widened.

“What is it?” asked Nicky.

“Dunno,” said Jamie. “Looks like …”

What do you think was inside?

Thank you blog post

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

67 thoughts on “A case of the unexpected

  1. Miriam Hurdle

    Now, Norah, you got me curious what they saw when they open the old abandoned suitcase. You let your reader add any ending to the story. Haha. Very clever. I remember having the poster with those questions in my classroom. They were very helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. Jules

    I remember a show that used to do just that – pull pranks, with and without strings. 🙂
    Yes we all do need to be more careful these days. But your story also reminds me of
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumanji_(picture_book) – which was later made into a movie (twice over I think)
    I always liked Chris Van Allsburg’s illustrations. 🙂

    As for your suitcase… maybe a treasure map 🙂 that would be a good way to spend the summer…
    searching for clues. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I neither read nor watched Jumanji, Jules. I think it looked a bit too scary for me. I haven’t seen the book so am not aware of the illustrations. Should I check them out?
      A treasure map for holiday explorations and discoveries. I like that. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Hugh's Views and News

    What’s in the suitcase? Why a suit, of course, Norah. Afterall, isn’t that where suits should be kept? In their case? 😀 I also did think it could be a Rubix’s cube from the 1980s, and that the story was set in the present with the children having no idea what it was. Once they got the colours on one side to match, a wish would come true. The more sides they matched with colours, the better the wishes that would come true.
    Loved your practical joke. It reminded me of the TV Show from the 1970s ‘Candid Camera.’

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      A suit, Hugh! Now there’s an original idea. 🙂
      I like the thought of the Rubik’s cube and wishes coming true. That sounds like a real Hugh story.
      I almost hate to admit it, but our practical joke pre-dated ‘Candid Camera’. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Hmm. Now there’s an interesting thought. All the family history discarded in an old suitcase. I wonder why. Was the keeper of the family’s secrets the last of the line? Was his/her life in danger?

      Like

      Reply
  4. Alexis Chateau

    That’s a good question. I did Greek and Roman mythology in 7th grade history back in 2001. I doubt that has changed in Jamaica, but I don’t remember any American referencing Greek or Roman mythology from school. All the millennials I know who are interested in that cite personal interest as their source, or are actually Greek themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Alexis. It’s interesting to know that Greek and Roman mythology was (is) taught in Jamaica, especially as part of the history curriculum. My son had an interest in the myths too, and it didn’t come from school. I think many of the gods and monsters were featured in fantasy boos he read, which lead to his interest.

      Like

      Reply
      1. Alexis Chateau

        I don’t know if it’s taught at all schools, but it was taught at mine. Evolution was also taught in the 7th grade, and considering it’s a Catholic school, I’m not sure how normal that was. They were really dedicated to giving us a very liberal and well-rounded education.

        Fantasy novels do take a lot of their sources from Greek and Roman mythology. My friend is writing a fantasy book and that’s what she’s been doing, too, so doesn’t surprise me at all. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. Norah Post author

          I like the sound of the education you received, Alexis. I wish all were so fortunate.
          I wish your friend success with her fantasy book.

          Like

          Reply
  5. Annecdotist

    Well of course all the evils on the world have to be pinned on a woman! And of course Midas’s disappointment matters more than the abrupt curtailment of his daughter’s life.
    I loved your story of the practical joke with your brother. And glad you’ve managed to shrug off the constraints of a taboo on curiosity – I got that message in my childhood also.
    As for your flash, and waiting for next week’s instalment to reveal the mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      It’s a good thing some of us don’t take notice of all we’re told isn’t it.
      I’m not sure about solving the mystery next week. I might have to leave it up to your imagination. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  6. dgkaye

    Not sure what was in it Norah, but I can tell you I thoroughly enjoyed your 2 blurbs about King Midas and Pandora’s Box, I was laughing out loud as I read it. And of course, I enjoyed your little flash. If it were set in today’s times I’d probably say an explosive. But if set in the last generation, it could be anything, perhaps old newspaper clippings, pertaining to an unsolved mystery? 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
      1. dgkaye

        Lol, first thing I thought of was money! Then a little story started to form in my head – newspaper clippings, a missing person’s case for years, with ‘someone’ keeping track of clues. Oooh, what a mystery! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. Norah Post author

          What a mystery indeed. I like that one. I wonder if it will remain a cold case or whether it might now be solved. I wonder how long ago it occurred. You’ve got me thinking. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
  7. Steven

    It is a live cat. Either that or the body of a cast iron sewing machine.

    I could be wrong but I don’t remember any Greek mythology from my schooling experience and I would guess it isn’t covered today either.

    I quite enjoyed your fake package prank. It immediately reminded me of the note on a fishing line prank, which someone has already mentioned. When I was young, we lived adjacent to a fenced public pedestrian alleyway. One weekend I devised my own prank, where late in the day (when nobody would use the path), I superglued a $1 coin flat onto the footpath. Being fenced and the fact that I obviously wasn’t going to sit somewhere nearby in this thin alley the next day, I wasn’t going to get to observe the ensuing antics – I suppose it was more of an imaginative or mental satisfaction I was tickling. I noticed that it was gone the next week, so I guess that someone must have had a really good go at it – perhaps a few times. I don’t know how they would have done it, but it greatly amused me.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      A live cat or a sewing machine – interesting. That’s divergent thinking.
      Thanks for sharing your story of the $1 coin, Steven. There’d be no question about how it happened today – it would be caught on camera somehow. 🙂
      Interesting, also, had I been telling the story it might have been a shilling. 🙂

      Like

      Reply
    2. Steven

      So reading between the lines, you’re saying that I guessed wrongly? I guess it’s back to the drawing board then, but at least you found my answer to be a case of the unexpected. I’ll take that in shillings 🙂

      Yes indeed, these days such an event would be caught on camera, perhaps going viral. Odd that mentally visualising it was enough to entertain my thoughts back then, whereas now, most of the population would prefer to see it for themselves… on a little screen!

      It was likely a collection of different name-tags, all for the same individual.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Norah Post author

        There was no wrong guess, Steven. What was in the case was whatever you imagined.
        I hope the shillings are some of the valuable variety!
        I think what we imagine can often be more vivid, including more entertaining or more funny, than what we see on screen. The thought of someone working hard to release that $1 coin is amusing. Unless of course it was just heat that melted the glue. 🙂 (Sorry. What a spoil sport I can be.)
        I wonder why that individual needed so many name tags. Was s/he having an identity crisis?

        Like

        Reply
  8. TanGental

    I always thought, when I was old enough to think for myself that the pandora’s Box/curiosity killed the cat admonishment was rubbish. Where would we be without trying things. It was an exercise in thought control. Still there are two sides to every story, or in your case an infinite box of wonders. What was in your case? That’s easy. It’s a Hawkins Attaché and contains the gateway to Stephen H’s parallel universes, the first being home to a sepia coloured, brassica based lifeform with infinite self folding dna. Just saying.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thought control was certainly imposed when I was growing up. I’m pleased I was able to squeeze through some of the barriers. (I probably wouldn’t be able to do so now. I’m not as slim as I used to be. :))
      ‘an infinite box of wonders’ – I love it. Something different to everyone.
      I’d love a parallel universe, even multi of them. I’m not sure about a Brassica-based lifeform though, but I’m sure it would have a contribution to make.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. calmkate

        you got it, lost my word there … Hitler’s lost his conscience is in the locked suitcase about to be flattened by the next train … no need to wonder any longer where it went 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
  9. Charli Mills

    Great post, Norah! Your line of questioning is useful for writers of all ages and genres. I enjoyed Greek mythology, and now that you point out the fate of King Midas’s daughter, yes, that is worse than a straight jacket. I love that you invite us to be a part of the discovery of your bush suitcase. Okay, it looks like…a soldier’s uniform!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      The 5 Ws and the 1 H are very useful. It’s funny that, after writing the post, I’ve seen them mentioned everywhere. I hadn’t noticed anything about them for a while previously.
      A soldier’s uniform. Now, I wonder how it got there and what the boys will do with it. Interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  10. robbiecheadle

    This reminds me of when my sister and I were small girls, Norah. We found an old bag in a ditch and were eager to open it. The bag contained groceries but it had been there for a long while. There was a parcel of mince meat and it was seething with maggots. I still have that horrible memory etched into my mind. Some things are best left alone. Great post.

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Oh my goodness, Robbie. What a way to learn that some things are better left alone. Sounds frightful. Almost as frightful as listening to those two stories I mentioned. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  11. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Dang you, Norah! Not an open and shut case.
    I am glad to have it set in a more innocent time, thank you, phew. I too have put a dollar bill out on a fish line.
    In your prelude.. Pandora (Eve)… teachers know that if you have negative statements, tell a class of students what NOT to do, they hear only the what and do it. Frames. Frame what you want, not what you don’t want for actions or behaviors. In first grade I remember being told not to lick metal when we went outside. Why would anyone lick metal? Of course that’s the first thing I did. Guess what? Yeah. Ouch.

    Liked by 6 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      No, not an open and shut case. Should I have shortened the dialogue and told what was in it? I thought I’d rather hear suggestions. A prompt for a prompt, I guess.
      I know that rule about telling. Oh my dear – a tongue on metal in the midday sun. Ouch! But why would children need to be told to not do that? What was the teacher thinking? Did it hurt as much as getting your tongue stuck on an icy pole?

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Oh, Aussie, not the hot sun, the extreme cold. My tongue was stuck to the pipe, which is why one shouldn’t touch damp parts to metal in the cold. Oops, have I already told this one?
        Anyway, inside that case in that flash of yours were maps. And the maps led to-
        Where do you think the maps led?

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. Norah Post author

          Ooooh! I’m squirming in pain. Cold metal. That’s worse than an icy pole. What did they/you do to release your tongue? I can’t imagine the pain. An icy pole was bad enough.
          Maps, eh?
          The maps were marked with ‘you are here’
          And paths that led to anywhere.
          You put your finger on the spot
          You wished to be, and in a jot
          You found yourself some other place
          A different time, a different space
          Where all you wished to be, could be
          And all your dreams came true.
          (But not your nightmares!)

          Liked by 2 people

          Reply

I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.