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?

Surprise!

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.

79 thoughts on “Peering from the bushes

  1. Pingback: Wishing on a comet | Norah Colvin

  2. Steven

    A live cat or the body of an old cast iron sewing machine? I guess neither of those fit in this story. Given the atmosphere, I’m inclined to think that it is more a scream of horror than a scream of joy. So I’m going to go with… his Brother.

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    1. Norah Post author

      His brother! That does sound terrifying. 🙂 I like that you’re sticking to your cat and cast iron sewing machine stories. I’m sure they’ll fit in somewhere. Don’t discard them yet. 🙂
      Thanks for reading and commenting, Steven.

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  3. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

    I must get Hattie and the Fox at the library and read it. Then I’ll read it to my grandsons! As for your story, it is full of suspense and I can’t believe the scream is full of delight. Of course, camping in general would elicit screams for me, so perhaps as Charli suggested it was seeing sleeping bags on the ground that terrified her. But the scene is creeepy with him lurking in the woods, and a terrified response when she opened the tent. Very intriguing, Norah!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Your grandsons will love Hattie, I’m sure of it.
      Thanks for your comments on the story. Charli’s added to the suspense with her new ‘comet’ challenge this week. We’ll have to see what eventuates. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  4. Annecdotist

    Great to have a sequel to last week’s story. Having once camped at a site in Scotland where deer roamed free, I’m imagining a sweet little fawn has got into the yellow tent – although I’ll leave you to decide how the guy watching from the bushes didn’t notice.

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  5. Hugh's Views and News

    So many questions, Norah. However, when she opened the tent flap, she saw a cardboard cutout figure of a vicar standing there (which he had made). He was peering from the bushes to see if she stayed or ran. She found herself caught like a rabbit in the headlights.

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  6. 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! 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your lovely comment, Sherri. I’m just as uncertain as you about what happened when she opened the tent flap. We both have to wait to find out.
      I wish I could keep up better too. There’s just not enough hours in the day. 🙂
      Take care, my lovely. Keep writing.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I knew you’d love Hattie and the Fox, Jennie. It is a classic, and great for reading aloud.
      I’m not sure what she saw in the tent either. I guess we’ll have to wait to see.

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  7. 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 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hattie and the Fox is a great story, Mabel. I love reading, and love reading aloud to an audience. I think it’s important to model expressive reading to children. How else will they learn to be expressive? Michael Rosen is a master of it. 🙂
      Thanks for your thoughts about the story, too, Mabel. She was a bit unsettled about it all. I’m pleased you think it might have a happy ending.

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      1. Mabel Kwong

        I had a bit of a harder think about my childhood and the books I read after I posted my comment last night. Probably I might have read Hattie and the Fox because I have this nagging feeling in me that I’ve had lol.

        Some of us might be shy, but reading quietly out loud is also a way to be expressive. I think you feel the story more and make the story your own when you read out loud with your own voice, like how many writers do with their writing or reading and interpreting other’s works 🙂

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        1. Norah Post author

          You’ll have to check out Hattie next time you’re at the library or in a book store and see if you recognise it. 🙂
          I like, and agree with, what you said about reading out loud, Mabel. I think performing is not as scary when you’re being someone else.

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  8. 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.

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  9. 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!

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    1. Norah Post author

      He obviously had no idea!! Did he think his charm could make up for the unpleasant situation?
      I’m loving the suggestions too, giving me lots of great ideas.
      I’m not too dramatic with the voices. I’m wondering if Bec didn’t like it because I didn’t seem like her mother anymore and she wanted me to just be me. I must ask her sometime and see if she remembers.
      Reading with your children is such a magic experience, isn’t it?
      Thanks for sharing, Charli.

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Charli Mills

        Allison and Drew read to each other and I love listening, even if I’m not tuning into the story. There’s something comforting about reading aloud to others.

        I’m glad you are getting lots of ideas! 😀

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        1. Norah Post author

          How lovely that they read to each other. I remember this being mentioned before. It must be great for their relationship. Have you tried reading to Todd. Would that help calm and focus him?
          The ideas are so imaginative! It reminds me of when I was in the classroom. The children’s suggestions would blow me away. 🙂

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          1. Charli Mills

            I used too. That’s a phrase I’m coming to terms with these days.

            Ah, yes I can understand how you would feel blown away by your students’ responses (kind of like how I feel when I collect all the challenge responses)!

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            1. Norah Post author

              I’m sorry that you have to accept what is no longer possible. It’s hard to get used to that.
              I’d hadn’t thought about your feelings when receiving all the submissions being similar to mine as a teacher, but of course they is. So exhilarating.

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  10. 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 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Maybe she screamed cause she’d decided to be child-free. Or maybe it wasn’t a hologram – it was his ready-made family. 🙂 I like your suggestions. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

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  11. 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?

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    1. Norah Post author

      Wow, Jules, thanks. You have a wonderful imagination. I appreciate your ideas. I’m making a list … and checking it twice, trying to decide if he’s naughty or nice. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  12. 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!

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          1. thecontentedcrafter

            Actually, I think it is ‘Clarice’. ‘Silence of the Lambs’ references – Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. I never saw the movie but you know, it’s out there in the collective consciousness……
            Sorry about that missing ‘r’.

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      1. Norah Post author

        I ignored Pauline’s descriptor, Geoff. 🙂 ‘Silence of the Koalas’. Now there’s an idea. Thanks. 🙂
        Actually, have you ever heard koalas? They can be quite loud.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Pauline, I like your response. I’m pleased you see the story as open ended with a possibility of going either way. Can I let you in on a little secret – I have no idea and will have to wait for the next episode too! 🙂

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  13. 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 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Miriam. I think you’d love Hattie and the Fox. It’s gorgeous.
      How romantic a proposal. I’m pleased he recovered the ring in the sand. How awful had he dropped it really.

      Liked by 1 person

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