flash fiction story about peering from the bushes

Peering from the bushes

Hattie and the Fox by Mem Fox

One of the multitude of my favourite picture books is Hattie and the Fox, written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Patricia Mullins.

I am allowed a multitude of favourites, aren’t I?

Like children, it’s too hard to choose just one. I don’t mean just biological children, I mean the children I teach. They all become ‘my’ children the moment they enter my classroom and remain that way forevermore. How could I choose a favourite?

Hattie and the Fox is a fun story for reading aloud. The children love to join in, especially with the dialogue, and even enjoy acting it out. The cumulative and repetitive features of the story, along with the rhythmic text, support beginning readers who beg to read the story again and again.

While my daughter never liked it when I ‘put on voices’ to read, the children in my class did. Somehow they didn’t think it was me putting on voices. They became involved in the story and thought it was the characters speaking. I used to smile to myself when they’d say things like, “That cow, she’s so funny.” And mimic my reading. Although I am no Mem Fox (you can listen to her read the story here), they enjoyed it anyway.

In the story, Hattie the hen announces that she can see a nose in the bushes. The other animals show little interest. Even when Hattie announces that she can see two eyes, two legs, a body, four legs and a tail, they are not concerned. Only when she realises and announces that it’s a fox peering from the bushes, do the others respond.

Peering from the woods, Charli Mills flash fiction Carrot Ranch

I couldn’t help but think of Hattie and the eyes peering at her from the bushes when Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes  an act of “peering from the woods.” Go where the prompt leads.

We don’t have “the woods” in Australia. We have “the bush”. There could be any number of things peering at us from the bushes such as possums, koalas, kangaroos, drop bears, bunyips, or a great variety of birds. Most are fairly harmless. It was deer peering from the woods in Charli’s story.

While deer are not native to Australia, some were imported for hunting and farming purposes. Many of those escaped to freedom. Some roam the suburbs destroying vegetation and creating hazards for unsuspecting motorists. We’ve occasionally come across a group of them in the middle of the road when we come home late at night. At Christmas time the road signs warning of deer are decorated with tinsel and red pompom noses to add to the festive mood.

two flash fiction pieces about yellow tents

Last week, in response to Charli’s ‘yellow tent’ prompt, I attempted a romantic story which was rather well received. I decided to continue the story. You may remember that a reluctant camper, unable to find any further excuses, finally agreed to join her boyfriend. When she arrived, the campsite was deserted except for one yellow tent lit by solar fairy lights spelling the words, “Marry me,” and her fears melted. But should she have dropped her guard?


She parked her car beside his and grabbed her bag. As she locked the car, she looked around. Where was he? He said he’d be watching for her. Cicadas buzzed louder than her footsteps crunched the gravel. A bird startled as it squawked and flapped overhead. Where was he? He must know she’d arrived. Even with the fairy lights, it was darker than she liked.  Peering from the bushes, he willed her to be brave, to open the tent, to find what he’d made for her. Finally, tentatively, she pushed aside the flap. Her screams silenced the night chorus.

Is that what he expected? What do you think was in the tent? Why was he peering from the bushes? What happens now?

Thank you blog post

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

15 thoughts on “Peering from the bushes

  1. Sherri Matthews

    Oooh Norah, I love that you’re continuing your yellow tent story from last week with this rather delicious twist. Very cleverly done, from romance to darkly sinister. Or is it? Perhaps it’s all part of the boyfriend’s ‘marry me’ plan? Or not? I hope you will be writing a sequel to put us out of our suspense! I love that your deer signs are decorated for Christmas, wish ours were. I had no idea they are not native to Australia. The bush fascinates me. Lovely to read you again , my friend. Wish I could keep up better…I will once those rewrites are done! 🙂


  2. Jennie

    Oh, no! But wait. Maybe they are screams of delight and surprise. The suspense is killing me, Norah. And of course, Hattie and the Fox is a classic. Love that book!


  3. Mabel Kwong

    I actually have never heard of Hattie and the Fox, but it sounds like a fable many kids would take a liking too. I can just imagine you putting on voices to voice the characters, and I am glad that you still do that, and perhaps other teachers too. That just gives so much character to the characters and the narrative, and if you get the kids to do the voices too, that could encourage them to read. Of course, it’s not for everyone but it can make reading and storytime in the classroom all the more interesting.

    Love the way you wrote the camping story. It sounded like such a happy ending, though it did feel like she was going on a bit of a scary adventure 🙂


  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    I too love Hattie and the Fox. Reread it just recently.
    But she screamed because, despite the Australian setting, she saw, much to her surprise…. Bigfoot! (aka, Sasquatch) Lounging on the sleeping bags, reading Hattie and the Fox, he was.


  5. Charli Mills

    Given that we learned she was not inclined to camp, despite the romantic gesture, she screamed when she opened the tent flap to discover he had made their bed on the ground — no mattress, no pillows, just two flat sleeping bags zipped together. It’s fun reading through everyone’s responses!

    My kids loved it when I read to them. I did some playing of voices but nothing too dramatic. I’ve always enjoyed readers who could do that!


  6. dgkaye

    You leave much to the imagination Norah. This could be frightening, but I rather like to think when she entered the tent she found rose petals strewn across the tent, a few romantic candles and a nice bottle of wine. Am I dreaming? Lol 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jules

    Oh, this could go so many ways… But I’m thinking her scream was of joy too –
    I’m hoping that tent was like one of the magic ones from Harry Potter that opened up into a house with multiple rooms and the dining table was set with lit candles and fine china… and maybe she could see a canopy bed with an abundance of pillows piled high?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. thecontentedcrafter

    This story could go either way – in the hands of certain Mr Le Pard he could turn out to be quite creepy – and that scream well founded….. However I think, as it’s you, it’s a scream of pure joy and delight and excitement. Though I have no clue what he could have made for her in the tent. I shall have to wait for the next episode!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Miriam Hurdle

    Norah, I don’t remember reading Hatti and the Fox to my kids. I think when we started the Literature Based reading program, there were many sets of books came with the program and we were required to use them. I guess I didn’t read as many trade books as I would like to. Your yellow tent story is getting interesting.

    My daughter and her husband-to-be went camping on a quiet beach. The next day, they went for a walk on the sand. He then pretended that he dropped something, he knelt, dug his fingers in the sand, out came the ring, and asked for her hand (he asked for our permission beforehand).

    Liked by 1 person


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