Category Archives: Flash fiction

fruit bats hang upside down like blacked fruit

Going batty over flying-foxes

According to the Australian Museum, Australia is home to over 90 species of bat with almost a third found in Queensland. The species with which I am most familiar are the black flying-foxes, grey-headed flying-foxes and little red flying-foxes which have taken up residence in trees about a kilometre from my home. The diet of many of the species earned them the name “fruit bat”.

black flying foxes, grey-headed flying foxes, little red flying foxes

While the bats rarely pose a health risk to humans, they can send neighbours a little batty with their noisy, smelly and messy behaviour. And it’s not only their neighbours who are affected. The bats can fly up to 50 kilometres a night in search of food. They frequent our fig tree, interrupting our evenings with their incessant screeching and squawking and leaving their sticky calling cards for Hub to remove in the morning.

However, as all flying foxes enjoy the full protection of the law, it can be near impossible to move them away from peopled areas. It may even be that bats are attracted to these areas because of the planting we do. If we offer them a backyard filled with their favourite food, why wouldn’t they wish to visit?

The reason I’m going a little batty this week is in response to the Carrot Ranch flash fiction prompt in which Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bat. You can use an association to the winged, cave-dwelling critter, or you can explore the word for other meanings. Bonus points for including a bat cave. Go where the prompt leads.

Though I love our nocturnal visitors and am constantly in awe of the numbers roosting in full sun through the heat of our summers and am entranced by their almost-silent departure flight overhead as each day changes to night, others I know consider them more of a bother.

My response is more a BOTS (based on a true situation) description than fiction, so there’s not a bat cave in sight. I hope you like it.

flying foxes hanging in trees

Flight of the Fruit Bats

All day they hang upside-down like blackened fruit left too long in the hot sun. Only an occasional stretch shows them capable of independent movement. Passers-by sometimes stop to wonder and photograph. Other keen observers travel greater distances to marvel at the spectacle.

Locals grow to abide their noisy, smelly presence and accommodate their daily activities.

Every evening at dusk, the colony flaps and stretches, then rises in unison like a cloud of dust shaken into the darkening sky. High above, their silent wings carry them away for night-time foraging. Others screech and squawk their joy in closer feasts.

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Carrot Ranch Round the World Tour, Pennsylvania, USA | Jules in Flashy Fiction

And now for the next stop on the Congress of Rough Writers Tour Around the World. We are with Jules Paige from Pennsylvania, USA.

Jules has a unique ability to respond to a number of prompts and challenges in one. She even did six in one blow! What a feat. Read on to learn more about Jules and her writing process.

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch….brought to you from JulesPaige – because “words are like Jewels on a Page” Jules from Pennsylvania, USA Writes for “The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol 1 World Tour.

I was going to write about my first piece for Carrot Ranch until one of my unnamed characters did some forest bathing. I was struck by a comment from our Lead Buckaroo on my piece entitled ‘The Rescue’ that I wrote in February 2018. Charli says: “A lovely escape and a fine mashup, Jules. I’m impressed at the depths you go to mine language, prompts and even comments. That’s literary art!”.

I’m drawn to what I call ‘mashing prompts’. One, two, five… sometimes I get carried away. But I managed to stuff The Rescue? a whole whopping 99 words with two prompts from one writing site, a photo prompt from another, the Unicorn prompt from Carrot Ranch as well as a quote from another piece I wrote that someone else liked as well as a comment I posted on another friends site.

That’s six inspirations woven into one very short piece of fiction.

Continue reader: Carrot Ranch Round the World Tour, Pennsylvania, USA | Jules in Flashy Fiction

Pop over to the Carrot Ranch, too, to see what the Lead Buckaroo has to say about one of the “bright jewels of the Buckaroo Nation.”

information about sun safety and being smart in the sun with Slip Slop Slap the article includes a story about children playing with shadows

How sun smart are you?

My home state of Queensland is the melanoma capital of the world. Melanoma is a form of skin cancer primarily caused by exposure to the sun’s UV rays. If not detected and treated early, it can quickly spread and often cause fatalities. In Australia, it is the fourth most commonly diagnosed form of cancer, and over one thousand deaths result from melanoma each year.

When I was a child, we didn’t know of the dangers of the sun and spent hours in the sun playing to our heart’s content. Although it was painful, we thought nothing of going home after a day at the beach with our backs as red as a beetroot, knowing that in a couple of days our siblings would be peeling huge chunks of skin from our backs.

Nowadays, there is plenty of information about sun safety and an abundance of products for protection from the sun. We are educated about the dangers of too much sun in the media. In the 80s there was a “Slip! Slop! Slap!” promotion – to slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat.

The slogan was later updated to include Seek (shade) and Slide (on sunglasses).

We teach children in school about sun safety as part of our Health and Physical Education programs and insist they wear a hat in the playground through our “No hat No play” policies.

no hat no play is a rule employed by many school in Australia to ensure children are sun safe when playing at lunchtime

While the Cancer Council believes the campaign to have been very effective in changing behaviour and reducing the incidence of sun cancer, many are still not heeding the advice.

In fact, as soon as the days become warm (as if they ever aren’t in this Sunshine State), people are told, that it’s a great day for the beach or the pool. No one warns about staying in the shade in the hottest part of the day or covering up for sun protection.

When Bec was little, a friend watched me apply a generous amount of sunscreen to her exposed skin. The friend asked if I was concerned about Vitamin D and if sunscreen would prevent her getting her daily dose. I had not previously given it a thought and, being in the pre-internet days (would you believe there were days before the internet?) I asked who I thought to be the most reliable source of information — the pharmacist. He scoffed at me for entertaining such a ridiculous thought. How could anyone in Australia not get enough Vitamin D?

Many years later, Bec did suffer a deficiency of Vitamin D and was “prescribed” a short walk in the sun each day.

Having done more than sufficient damage to my skin in younger days, I now tend to be an indoors girl and avoid being outdoors in the heat, for which I have little tolerance and less interest. I apply sunscreen as part of my morning routine and wear a hat whenever I’m out and about for more than a few minutes. I seek the shade whenever possible and closely follow the recommendation to

Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide.

I’ve been thinking of the importance of sun safety and being sun smart in response to the flash fiction prompt at the Carrot Ranch this week in which Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a silly sun story. Up north, “sun silly” is the energetic and playful response to returning sunlight. It could also be an April Fool’s jest, a silly story, or a reaction to spring fever. Be silly and write playfully! Go where the prompt leads.

a photograph of a glorious spring day in Queensland with clear blue skies and wattle in bloom

In Queensland, we tend to have sun all year round. Our mid-winter June days are often glorious with the most amazing blue skies. It may be cool indoors but always warm in the sun.

In my last teaching position, my classroom opened onto a grassy area and, particularly on the cooler days, we could pop out for a few minutes to warm up in the sun between lessons. Sometimes the children had fun trying to catch their shadows.

I turned to fun with shadow play for my story. I hope you like it.

Running in the Sunshine, Dancing in Shadows

Dad was working and didn’t look up.

“Can we play outside?” the children asked.

“It’s very hot,” said Dad. “Wait until it cools down.”

“We’ll stay in the shade.”

“We’ve got sunscreen on.”

“I’ve got my hat.”

“And sunglasses.”

“There won’t be much shade,” said Dad.

“There is a little bit.”

“Can we?”

The deadline loomed.

“Well, stay in the shade,” he conceded.

When finished, Dad sought the children.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Dancing in each other’s shadows,” they laughed.

“But you’re in the sun.”

“We have to be. We don’t have shadows without the sun, silly.”

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Everything Susan: Rough Writer Tour Around the World

From autumn in Australia, we fly to spring in Orillia, Ontario to visit with Rough Writer Susan Zutautas on the next leg of the World Tour. Susan tells us about her beautiful location and the place of flash fiction in her writing process.

 

Continue reading: Everything Susan: Rough Writer Tour Around the World

Also – just in – The anthology won a silver in the Literary Titan Book Awards April 2018. How exciting is that!
counting on fingers, mathematics, mathemagic,

Counting on fingers

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fingers that fly. Think about the different ways we use our fingers and what happens when we add speed. Go where the prompt leads.

I thought about the use young children make of their fingers when counting. It may increase their speed and ease of calculation in the beginning, but continued use tends to slow them down.

I also thought about magicians, and how the speed of their fingers amazes us with tricks and sleight of hand.

Combining both thoughts brought me to the mathemagician Arthur Benjamin who never ceases to astound with his calculations.

A performance of mathematic by Arthur Benjamin TED talk

Are you a math whiz, solving complicated problems and making calculations with large numbers effortlessly, or do you still need to count on your fingers at times?

I don’t think I was ever what would be considered a maths whiz, but I did have my confidence in maths taught out of me. Sadly, I think this happens to far too many.

Many children who have been provided experiences with number and engaged in discussions about number from a young age develop strong understandings and are able to calculate with little effort, arriving at answers almost intuitively. While it can be good to help them develop metacognition by asking them to explain how they knew, or how they worked it out, sometimes they don’t know how—they just know.

While some children need to be taught methods of working out answers, requiring maths intuitive thinkers to use the same working can cause them to second-guess themselves and to lose confidence by breaking what they know down into steps that only cause confusion.

I was interested to hear Arthur Benjamin’s plan for improving maths education when he is made “Czar of Mathematics”.

Arthur Benjamin Czar of Mathematics

His suggestions relate more to high school than primary, but probability and statistics still have their place in the early years, as I’ve shown with many readilearn resources.

For my response to Charli’s prompt, I’ve considered what may occur if a child’s intuition with maths is neither appreciated nor encouraged.

Counting on fingers
Everyone said she had a way with numbers. Even when still in nappies she was counting effortlessly to large numbers in multiples of twos, fives and tens as well as ones. The parents didn’t dare think they’d bred a genius, an outlier. They wished for an ordinary child who fitted in, unnoticed, like them.  They strove to inhibit her talent and discourage her enthusiasm. She tried to hide her ability by delaying responses with finger actions resembling calculation aids. But they slowed her none and flew too fast, earning her the nickname “Flying fingers” and ridicule instead of appreciation. 

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Stop 7: Noosaville Australia: Congress of Rough Writers Round the World Tour: A Book Review with a Difference

The next stop on the Rough Writers Tour around the World is with fellow Aussie Irene Waters. Pop over to see how writing flash fiction contributes to Irene’s memoir writing.

Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)

tour-around-the-world

May 21st 2014 I wrote my first flash in Charli’s 99 word flash fiction prompt. Little did I know that Charli’s vision of a site that would make literary arts available to all would see me join the ranks of the Congress of Rough Writers, participating in a writing rodeo both as contestant and leader of one of the competitions and writing a monthly post on memoir. The biggest achievement has been the publishing of  Anthology 1, but more about that in a minute.

I had found Charli’s site via a Bite Size Memoir prompt  and found that as a memoir writer, writing fiction didn’t come easily, at first. Indeed, this very first flash was a BOTS, that is it was based on a true story that occurred when my father had gone to Sydney to teach for 3 months and my mother, brother and I were left in our…

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Marnie's graduation of dreams and nightmares flash fiction

Of dreams and nightmares

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme “follow your dreams.” Bonus points for throwing a badge into the tale. Go where the prompt leads.

The prompt led me back to Marnie, a character about whom I have written a number of flash stories, as I try to figure out who she is and what her world is like. We know that she was both neglected and abused at home and bullied at school. One special teacher Miss R has been her confidante and champion over the years, instilling in Marnie an inkling of self-worth and giving her the will to survive. This story takes us to her graduation day.

Of dreams and nightmares

Marnie snuck into the back row. The ceremony was underway. “Follow your dream” and “What is your dream?” were displayed on the large screen above the stage. As each graduating student took the microphone to share their dreams for the future, images of past achievements were projected onto the screen. Marnie should have been there too: but what could she share? Who would listen or even care? Only Miss R. Marnie craned her neck for a farewell glimpse, then left as quietly as she had entered. Once she had escaped her nightmare, perhaps then she could begin to dream.

You can read more of Marnie’s story here.

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