Category Archives: Flash fiction

Freedom #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about what freedom feels like. Whose point of view do you use? Does the idea of freedom cause tension or bring hope? Let the reader feel the freedom. Go where the prompt leads!

Last week, the prompt was Danger Zone. My story saw a couple of playful children ‘trapped by quicksand’. I thought it appropriate to free them this week. My story begins where the last one finished. I hope you enjoy it.

We’re Free!

Help! Save us!

What’s wrong?

Can’t you see? We’re sinking. It’s quicksand! Help!

I’ll save you! I’ll pull you out!

Quick!

Okay. Stay right there! I’ll get a rope.

Jane, Jane. Quick, Give me your rope. The boys are sinking in quicksand. We have to get them out — before it’s too late.

I’ll come too.

Where are you going?

We have to save the boys! They’re sinking! It’s quicksand!

Quicksand? I’ll help too.

Quick! Grab the rope! Now, everyone, on the count of three, one, two, three, pu-ull! Pu-ull! Pu-ull!

Made it! You saved us! We’re free! Thank you.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Danger Zone, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Danger Zone #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a danger zone. It can be an exciting plot-driven story (think “story spine”) or a situation a character must confront. Play with different genres, and use craft elements like tension, tone, and pacing. Go where the prompt leads!

Charli didn’t say it could be nonsense but that’s all I could come up with after a pretty heavy week of writing books about writing for an educational publisher. The work can be draining at times and nonsense is all that is left. I hope it gives you a smile anyway. Smile and carry on.

Quicksand

Stop!

Why?

That’s quicksand.

I can’t see it.

That’s why it’s so dangerous.

It doesn’t look like quick sand.

It never does. Until you start sinking in it.

I don’t believe you. You’re just trying to scare me. I’m going in anyway.

Suit yourself.

Help! Help! Save me!

You don’t look like you need saving to me.

But I’m sinking.

It’s just your imagination.

You said it was quicksand.

I know, but I was joking.

Then why am I sinking?

You’re not sinking. You’re just  — disappearing into the ground? Yikes! It really is quicksand. Help! We’re sinking! Save us!

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Stacking Stones, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Stone-stacking #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features stone-stacking. How does the activity fit into a story? Who is involved? What is the tone? Do the stones have special meaning? Go where the prompt leads!

I tried all week to find a fitting ending to my story beginning but couldn’t get anything I was hoping for to fit. I have ended up with ninety-nine though, so I hope it works, at least a little.

Stacking Stones

Active children were everywhere — throwing, skipping, climbing, swinging, laughing, playing. But over in the garden, on the gravel path, one child was stacking stones.

“What’s he doing?” a visiting teacher asked.

“Jack? Counting stones. He’s been doing it for days now. At the end of playtime, he tells me how many he stacked.”

“Why?”

His teacher shrugged. “He likes counting, I guess.”

“Is he okay, I mean, you know —”

“Oh, yes. He’s completely fine. He just wants to see how high he can count.”

“How high has he got?”

“Twelve.”

“How far does he want to get?”

“Ninety-nine.”

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Memorials, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Memorial #99wordstories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story behind a memorial. Is it a structure, plaque, or something else? What does it seek to remind those who view it? Go where the prompt leads!

Charli’s prompt was in honour of Memorial Day commemorated in the United States on 30th May.

In Australia, we have two main days for remembrance — ANZAC Day on 25th April (which we share with New Zealand), and Remembrance Day on 11th November (which we share with many other countries).

Every evening, The Ode is recited at many RSL (Returned and Services League) Clubs around Australia. The Ode is the fourth stanza of the poem “For The Fallen” by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943). 

At times such as these, I always think of my family members, especially my father, who fought in the Second World War. This is my response. I hope you like it. It is a #99wordstory but it is truth (as I know it), not #flashfiction.

Memorial

As a child, he lived at Yuleba, a tiny town in south-western Queensland. His father was a boundary rider on the fence bordering New South Wales, keeping rabbits out of Queensland. A peaceful if difficult life. Aged 20, he enlisted. His overseas service included the battle at Milne Bay, a turning point of the war. Upon their return, servicemen were told to forget. Memories and nightmares disagreed, but it was years before he could talk, let alone write, about his experiences. After his death, his words were engraved on a memorial in his home town, never to be forgotten.

These are the words on the memorial, a brief extract from a longer poem Ode to the Old Digger by RJ (John) Irwin.

You’ve seen him marching with his mates all in sombre mood;

For they march to pay homage, and remember fallen mates

But, they also remember the horrors of their fates

and they pray to God their sons will never have to face

 a similar situation for there’s never any winners only death.

Aah! But did you see him in his glory, as he stood among the dead

and he wondered why it had to be;

…So look upon him gently for he is not to blame

 For he only fought that all peoples may be free.

So let us honour him, and give him his just due

For he is only man, just like me and you;

But he was called upon to make a stand

against an inhuman ideology, too horrible for minds to grasp

and all he asks for now, is a chance to live in peace.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Well’s Gone Dry, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Well’s Gone Dry #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase “well’s gone dry.” Is it a real well or a metaphorical well? Why is it dry? What is the consequence and to whom? Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you like it.

Well’s Gone Dry

Having lived independently for years, when they moved in together, they had two of everything and needed nothing more. At their public celebration, they advised, ‘No gifts, please. Wishing well contributions appreciated.’

With well-paying jobs, they had no immediate need of the well’s contents, which they didn’t inspect but agreed to keep for a ‘rainy day’.

It sat untouched for many years, until it didn’t just rain; it poured.

“Must be all notes,” they said when it didn’t jingle.

There was but one note: “Always carry an umbrella in case of rain.”

The well remained the only thing dry.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Soldier, Prisoner and Buttercup, which I unfortunately didn’t find time to respond to, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

The collection of stories made in response to the most recent prompt I responded to Mum Selfie can also be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Mum Selfie #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a mom selfie — a story that creates an image of a mom. No one mom looks alike or fits a maternal mold. Who is she? Go where the prompt leads!

Mothering

She paused in the shopping mall, one arm cradling her week-old infant, the other hand her breast as she gently positioned it enabling the infant to suckle. So engrossed was she in her newborn that the world of passing shoppers and nearby café chatter was non-existent. Her face radiated love, peace and joy, the child’s adoration, contentment and bliss. Serenity. I smiled as I passed, captivated in the moment, drawn into the circle of life and love, both envying and admiring her confidence and lack of inhibition in a situation won for her by generations of mothers before her.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Extraction, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Extraction #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about extraction. What is being extracted and from where? Is it an idea? How does genre change the perspective (sci-fi versus romance)? Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it.

Conversation Extraction

Marcia’s eyes met Henry’s across the room. He looked as unenthralled and uncomfortable as she was. He raised an eyebrow. Her mouth twitched, part smile. She extracted herself from the conversation. He did the same. They met by the kitchen door.

“Haven’t seen you at one of these shindigs before,” he said.

“First time.”

“Enjoying it?”

“Better now. That conversation was more boring than a tooth extraction.”

“What were they discussing?”

“Teeth extractions. They’re all dentists.”

“What about you?”

“Teacher. You?”

“Dentist.”

“Oh.” She reddened, then smiled. “You should join that conversation.”

“You should join mine. They’re all teachers.”

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Up and Away, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

Up and Away #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “up and away.” You can imagine a story from the photo of hot air balloons, a flying superhero, a natural wonder, or any other direction your inspiration goes. Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it.

Up and Away

April placed a coin onto his palm.

“What will I make for you?”

“A magic balloon, please.”

He scanned her face, searched deep within her eyes, read her every wish.

“A magic balloon,” he said, selecting a dark blue.

He stretched it this way and that, then blew. As the balloon filled, the blue lightened and brightened. It shed sparkles that glistened in the sunlight. He knotted the end, held it out, then twisted and twirled and pulled it into a star.

He wound the ribbon around April’s wrist. “Up and away!” he whispered, as April was whisked aloft.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Never Ending can be read at the Carrot Ranch here. Sadly, I didn’t get to join in with that prompt due to a (brief and mild) tussle with covid.

Water Falls #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writes to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, water falls. Where is the water coming from? How does it shape a story? Who does it involve? Go where the prompt leads!

Any creative ideas for incorporating ‘water falls’ into a story dried up and I was left with this piece very much a BOTS (based on a true story) about a weather event that occurred along the east coast of Australia earlier this year. It was devastating for many, and many still suffering the aftereffects are homeless.

Water Falls

The water fell, gently at first then obstinately, in unrelenting torrents, like uncontainable tears from a sky in mourning. A ‘rain bomb’, they said, a ‘one in one hundred years event’. It swelled the rivers and flooded the lands mercilessly, taking lives and homes and destroying livelihoods. Water from dams filled beyond capacity cascaded over spillways, intensifying the deluge. A supercharged natural event not experienced before, never expected again. When the sky opened just a few years later, crying those same mournful tears of loss and destruction, surely the denials would cease.  As indisputable that water falls, they didn’t.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Baby Ducks Ate My Lunch, including mine,can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

Baby Ducks Ate My Lunch #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to explain “baby ducks ate my lunch.” How did that happen? Who is the protagonist? Where did the baby ducks come from? Go where the prompt leads!

My first thought was of the oft-quoted excuse for failing to complete homework: the dog ate my homework, but I decided to go with a more plausible situation with excited children feeding ducks at the park. I hope you enjoy it.

Baby Ducks Ate My Lunch

A wail fractured the picture-perfect ‘Freedom Day’, the first outing since lockdown began aeons ago.

Father’s mind wandered like the lonely cloud contrasted against the vivid sky, contemplating nothing—no lessons, no video calls, no demands for something to eat or do. Mother absentmindedly stroked his hair as she inhaled the freshness of the sunshine and the scent of nearby gardenias. The children entertained themselves—what luxury—feeding ducks with days-old bread.

The wail amplified, like an approaching train, finally demanding Father’s and Mother’s attention. “What’s wrong?”

“Baby ducks ate my lunch,” wailed the younger. The older one shrugged.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Disappearance, including mine,can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.