Category Archives: Flash fiction

Oh My! #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, “Oh, my.” It can be used in storytelling or dialog. What is the cause for such a response? Have fun with this one! Go where the prompt leads!

I’ve written another episode for Amy and Lucy. I hope you enjoy it.

Amy, Lucy and the Cookies

“I’m home!” Dad crouched at the door; arms outstretched ready to cuddle his girls.

“I’m ho-ome!”

“Shh, in here, Dad,” Lucy whisper-called from the kitchen.

“Oh my,” said Dad, surveying open doors, packets spilling contents on counter tops and floor, bowls, dishes and spoons fighting for space in the sink, and two bright-eyed floury girls.

“What are you making?” he asked aloud. “Other than a mess?” inside his head. “Where’s Mum?”

“Resting. She’s got a headache,” explained Amy. “Chocolate cookies.”

“To make her feel better,” said Lucy. “Wanna help?”

“Can I lick the spoon?”

“Okay,” the girls giggled.

“O-kay!”

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt A Story with a Lie, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

A Story with a Lie #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills was talking about family histories not always telling the truth. There are parts of my family’s history that may not be totally accurate too. There are different versions of some tales, and not just of events from different perspectives.

Last year when I wrote a brief book about her female ancestors for my granddaughter on her tenth birthday, I included a version of a story that my father related. When his only remaining sister read the account, she informed me that it was wrong. Somehow, she said, all the males of the family told my father’s version, but my aunt was sure she had the correct version.

My father said that my great grandmother Hannah was born in England and met her future husband George in England before emigrating to Australia. He said that George came to Australia as a paying passenger and that Hannah masqueraded as a cabin boy and worked her passage out. He said that George called her Jim so as to not give her secret away. They arrived in Brisbane in1891 and married on 11th June that year. Hannah gave birth to six children, two of whom died in infancy. Fortunately for me, one of the survivors was my grandmother.

According to my aunt, it was Hannah who paid her way out and George who worked as a cabin boy. I think. Perhaps I’d better check while I can and before I spread too many other lies.

As well as untruths, many families have skeletons that they like to keep locked in the cupboard. My family has a few of those too. When my mother’s brother was researching the family history, he discovered that one of our ancestors had been transported to Australia for a minor misdemeanour, as many were, such as stealing a loaf of bread. I can’t be sure. Both my mother and uncle were horrified and didn’t want to tell anyone, but somehow the word got out. It’s not so bad really. We found out that there’s a similar ancestor on my father’s side. Nowadays, it’s more acceptable to have a convict way back in the family tree than it was for previous generations. Most are no longer fazed by it.

When Charli challenged writer to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes a lie. What is the lie? It can be subtle or blatant. Who tells the lie and why? Is it an unreliable narrator? Go where the prompt leads! how could I go past family lies and skeletons? I’m sticking with my two little girls again, sans their red car this time. I hope you enjoy it.

A Skeleton in the Cupboard

Lucy was opening and closing every cupboard in the house.

“What’re you doing?” Amy asked.

“Mum lied,” said Lucy.

“About what?”

“The skeleton.”

“What skeleton?”

The skeleton. Mum said Dad has a skeleton in the cupboard. I can’t find it.”

“You won’t find it.”

“Why not?”

“Cause it’s not a real skeleton.”

“Skeletons are so real. I’ve got one and you’ve got one. Everybody’s got one.”

“Not those sorts of skeletons.”

“Then what?”

“Secrets.”

“Secrets?”

“Things they don’t want nobody else to know.”

“So, Mum did lie.”

Amy sighed. “Mum didn’t lie, but there’s no skeleton in the cupboard.”

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Something Squeaky, excluding mine because I didn’t get it done in time, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Something Squeaky #99WordStories

Last week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes something squeaky. What is squeaky and why? How does it move the story or disrupt a character? Listen, write, and go where the prompt leads!

I didn’t have time to write a story in time to be included in the collection, but I wanted to write one anyway. I’ve stayed with Lucy and Amy and their little red convertible as they play with their toys. I hope you enjoy it.

The Squeaky Wheel

“Shh! What’s that noise,” said Lucy.

Amy stopped the car. Everyone was quiet.

“I don’t hear anything,” said Amy.

The others agreed. Nothing.

They continued on their way.

“There it is again,” said Lucy.

Amy didn’t stop the car, but they all listened.

“I hear it,” said Monkey. “Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.”

“Eek!” screamed Ellie. “There’s a mouse in the car!”

“No, silly,” said Bunny. “It’s a squeaky wheel.”

“Just needs some grease,” said Amy. “Everybody out!”

They all piled out. Amy hoisted the little red convertible for Lucy to grease the wheel, then they were on their way again.

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

Wheels Keep Turning #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about how the wheels keep turning. Are the wheels tangible or metaphorical? Go where the prompt leads!

My first thoughts went to the Rawhide theme song with its ‘Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’’ refrain.

Of course, they’re not wheels that are rollin’, so that song wouldn’t do. But how wonderful to see these actors, who looked so old when I was a child, look not much more than children to me now.

My next thought was of Proud Mary and her big wheel that kept turning.

But that wouldn’t do either.

I wanted to return to my girls Amy and Lucy and their little red convertible from previous stories but couldn’t decide how. You could say the wheels were turning but I wasn’t getting anywhere. Fortunately, I thought of a third song about wheels.

That was more my style and this is my story. I hope you enjoy it.

The Wheels of the Limo

“The wheels of the bus go —. No, wait. The wheels of the limo go round and round, round and round —”

“Why’d ya stop?”

“I didn’t stop. We’re stuck.”

“But the wheels are turning.”

“Must be something underneath. Okay. Everybody out.”

Teddy, Ollie, Ellie, Monkey and Bunny piled out. They watched as Amy hoisted the little red convertible for Lucy to check underneath.

“There’s a rock,” said Lucy. She reached under, withdrew the culprit, and hurled it into the shrubs.

“All aboard!” she called.

The passengers settled back in, and everyone sang, “The wheels of the limo …”

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

Bones #99Word Stories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about bones. It can be any genre or tone. Is it spooky, irreverant, poignant? Go where the prompt leads!

All I could think of at first was the children’s song, ‘The head bone’s connected to the neck bone …’ and it took me a while to come up with an idea. Once I got an idea, the ending eluded me. I finally decided to go all-out horror, which is unusual for me, to follow up my entry Beware or Be Scared in the Halloweensie Contest run by Susanna Leonard Hill. That entry was meant to be as Halloween humorous as it was scary. I hope it succeeded. On its own, this one may lack the humour. I hope you ‘enjoy’ it anyway.

Make No Bones About It

“Go and get changed.”

 “But, Muuuum —”

“You will not go to the party dressed like that.”

“Why?”

“It’s not appropriate.”

“But it’s dress up. It’s Halloween!”

“Yes! A skeleton or a ghost. Not a princess. Princesses don’t do Halloween.”

“If I can’t be a princess, I’m not —” The door slammed to punctuate her sentence perfectly.

Mum shook her head. She was teased enough, without being a princess on Halloween.

The following morning, when bones found in the middle of a mystery sticky stinky sludge were identified as her bullies, Margie and Mum gave thanks for their disagreement.

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I See the Light in You #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that references “I see the light in you.” You can use the phrase or demonstrate it in a story. Who is shining and why? Who is observing or reacting? What is the setting? Go where the prompt leads!

In the post, Charli explained the prompt as being inspired by ‘the beautiful Ojibwe greeting of “aanii.” It means, “I see the light in you.”’ Charli suggested it was a great way to greet people, to see their light and avoid judging them. I imagined it as a saying shared by a family over generations. This is a different response from my recent playful  ones. I hope it works, nonetheless.

Gran’s Inside Light

Jamie squeezed his hands and clenched his knees, as if that might still his churning belly and stop his heavy heart from falling. Like recycled paper, his thoughts were all mushed up. They said Gran was sick. She mightn’t get better. What did that even mean? Gloom dragged his face into a frown.

“You can see her now,” said Mum. Jamie looked up, questioning. Mum simply nodded. Jamie tentative step-by-stepped, hopeful, fearful, step-by-step.

“Gran?” he whispered. Dull eyes flickered. This isn’t Gran. Gran’s eyes sparkled.

Jamie trembled. “Where’s Gran’s inside light?” Mum hugged him. “In you and everywhere now.”

I missed responding to Charli’s previous prompt due to lack of time and imagination. However, I decided to write a sequel to Gran’s Inside Light with that prompt in mind. The prompt was to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that expresses the idea, “for the water.” You can find inspiration in water protection movements. Is it a celebration or a dark dystopian warning? Consider your place and the bodies of water that have shaped you. Go where the prompt leads!

Gran’s Light

Jamie sniffled and wiped his face with his sleeve. He and Mum weren’t the only ones crying. Everyone at Gran’s graveside was crying. Even the umbrellas cried teardrops of rain that fell from darkened skies, as if the whole world was grieving his Gran. As the final words were spoken, the clouds parted to let the sun shine through and paint the biggest and brightest rainbow Jamie had ever seen. He squeezed his mother’s hand and pointed. “Look, Mum. There’s Gran’s light.” Everyone looked. Umbrellas were folded and smiles lit faces with joy remembering a life well-lived and loved.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt For the Water can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

A Ritual Involving Tea #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to in 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about any ritual involving tea. It can be a daily afternoon tea prepared specifically or the reading of tea leaves in a cup. What do you know? What do you imagine? Is your story deep and ponderous or bright and flash? Go where the prompt leads!

As a child, I enjoyed playing with my tea sets. It was fun lining up my toys and having tea parties. I remember two tea sets from my childhood. One was a pretty little floral set made of china. The other was red and white plastic.

I remember sitting on the back steps one day when I was about three, washing my china cups and saucers. Perhaps I was getting ready for a tea party or cleaning up after one. I’m not sure. But while I was sitting there, busily at my work, Dad came out and didn’t see my pretty little cups and stood right on them, smashing them into little pieces. He was very apologetic and, surprisingly, I was very forgiving. He would tell the story many times later about how I’d looked up at him and said, “It’s okay, Dad. You didn’t mean to.” I think the adult me could learn a lot about forgiveness from the little me.

As an adult, I consider a very special treat to be a high tea with its cucumber and smoked salmon finger sandwiches, fresh baked scones with jam and cream, and a selection of petit fours. I have enjoyed a number of these over the years, usually in very special locations for very special occasions.

I remember having one with my mum and other family members to celebrate her 90th birthday at a restaurant she had enjoyed going to with her mother when she was growing up. It was definitely a special treat and an occasion to remember.

I’ve allowed some of these ‘special’ thoughts to influence my response to Charli’s prompt as I add another event to Amy and Lucy’s imaginative play. I hope you enjoy it.

The Tea Party

Ollie said the table looked divine. Teddy agreed, adding the fairy cakes were the prettiest and sweetest he’d ever tasted, and the tea was the perfect temperature. Amy and Lucy beamed. The tea party to welcome the happy couple home from their honeymoon was a success. Everyone was there. It was all going swimmingly, until a balloon popped. Ellie started, upsetting the teapot with her flailing trunk and whipping the cakes from their stand. Monkey screeched. Bunny watched tea puddle under the table.

“I’ve ruined the party,” wailed Ellie.

“It’s okay, Ellie,” said Lucy. “No one’s hurt. Nothing’s broken.”

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

Broken Arm #99WordStories

Broken Arm

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a broken arm. What happened? Is there a cause and effect because of the broken arm? Was the injury faked? Why? Go where the prompt leads!

I’m pleased to say that I’ve never had a broken bone. I hope that continues to be true for the rest of my days. Breaks can become more frequent as we age. So far as I know, neither parent had a broken arm, though my brother did when he was five (a big boy fell on him) and my daughter did when she was eleven (an accident at gymnastics caused by a younger child). So, with no personal experience, I’ve stayed with Amy and Lucy and their imaginative play. It’s wet outside, so they’re playing indoors – no red convertible this time.

Teddy’s Broken Arm

The waiting room was crowded. As usual, Doctor Amy was running late.

Nurse Lucy looked at the list. “Teddy!” she called.

Teddy was hugging his arm, trying to stifle tears.

“What appears to be the problem?” asked Doctor Amy, looking over her glasses.

“I think my arm’s broken.”

“Nurse Lucy, we need an x-ray,” said Doctor Amy.

The x-ray agreed with Teddy. Doctor and nurse plastered his arm with plasticene and tied it in a handkerchief sling.

“Lunch time,” said Mum. “Oh, what’s wrong with Teddy?”

“He’s got a broken arm,” said Amy.

“Just a fake one,” said Lucy.

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

Mud on the Tires #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about mud on the tires. The tires can be from any conveyance or serve as an analogy. How did they get muddy and why? What impact does mud on the tires have on the story (plot) or characters (motivation)? Go where the prompt leads!

In her post, Charli says ‘I guess this seems similar to balloons on a bumper. It differs, though. Mud is real. Balloons are temporary hopes and dreams susceptible to popping. Mud can stain. Mud can wash away. Mud says, “You’ve been places, Kiddo.”’

For my response, I have continued with my red convertible story with the girls Amy and Lucy playing imaginatively in their back yard with their toys and whatever else is available. (I have included the previous two stories at the end, in case you’d like to read them together.)

In the last episode, the girls had balloons on their bumper as they travelled to celebrate the wedding of their toys Teddy and Ollie. The balloons, as Charli says, were temporary. In this third episode, they have been replaced by empty cans. But the girls and their toys, including the tyres of their red convertible, have been covered with mud. The mud does say that they have been places. It also says they have had fun, used their imaginations and been creative — three things I consider to be very important in life. I hope this mud sticks, not only for them, but for everyone.

A note about tires. In Australia tires means to grow sleepy and tyres refers to the black rubber things on the wheels of a car. Hence the change in spelling.

I hope you enjoy my story.

Mud on the Tyres

After the wedding, Teddy and Ollie scrunched into the back of the little red convertible.

As Amy and Lucy drove them away from the faraway forest, the guests cheered and threw confetti. The empty cans, now replacing balloons on the bumper, clattered across the wooden bridge and scattered gravel along the mountain trail.

At the honeymoon resort, Teddy and Ollie splashed in the pool first, but they were overexcited, and the grounds were soon a mucky muddy mess.  

When Mother called, ‘Dinnertime!’, the girls were mud-spattered, from the hair on their heads to their convertible’s tyres.

‘Coming!’ they replied.

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Here are the two previous episodes of this story.

The Little Red Convertible (Episode 1)

“Where to today?” asked Amy.

“Over the mountains, across the river, and through the far-away forest,” said Lucy.

“Be home in time for dinner,” said Mother.

“We will!”

The little red convertible chugged to the peak of the highest mountain where the children danced in clouds. It rolled through misty valleys and onto the plain where the children played hide-and-seek in patchwork fields. It trundled across the wooden bridge over the river that led to the forest where they fluttered with fairies and pranced with unicorns.

Rumbling bellies told them to head for home.

“Just in time,” said Mother.

Balloons on the Bumper (Episode 2)

“Where to today?” asked Amy.

“A party,” said Lucy, tying balloons to the bumper of their little red convertible.

“Whose party?”

“Teddy’s. He’s getting married.”

“I didn’t know he had a girlfriend.”

“He doesn’t. He has a unicorn-friend. Mother said I can marry anyone I want. So, Teddy can too.”

“Right. Which way?”

“Over the mountains, across the river, and through the far-away forest.”

“Be home for dinner,” said Mother.

“We will!”

The balloons sailed above the little red car. At the party, the children fluttered with fairies and pranced with unicorns as Teddy and Ollie shared their vows.

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

Balloons on the Bumper #99WordStories

Balloons on the Bumper

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about balloons on a bumper. Is it a spectacle, an occasion, an eccentricity? Why are the balloons there? Who is involved? Go where the prompt leads!

The prompt reminded me of an occasion just over twenty years ago, when my sister, niece and I attended a ‘hen’s party’ (terrible term) for my future sister in-law. My niece collected a bunch of helium-filled balloons to take home. She couldn’t squeeze them all into the car, and I drove home with one balloon sailing above us and my sister and niece both in hysterics all the way. Needless to say, they’d both had a few drinks to help the merriment. When we got home, my daughter and nephew, both early teens, decided to inhale the helium, and the hilarity began all over again.

Anyway, I decided to revisit Amy and Lucy and their little red convertible from a few prompts ago. I hope you like it.

Balloons on the Bumper

“Where to today?” asked Amy.

“A party,” said Lucy, tying balloons to the bumper of their little red convertible.

“Whose party?”

“Teddy’s. He’s getting married.”

“I didn’t know he had a girlfriend.”

“He doesn’t. He has a unicorn-friend. Mother said I can marry anyone I want. So, Teddy can too.”

“Right. Which way?”

“Over the mountains, across the river, and through the far-away forest.”

“Be home for dinner,” said Mother.

“We will!”

The balloons sailed above the little red car. At the party, the children fluttered with fairies and pranced with unicorns as Teddy and Ollie shared their vows.

Thank you blog post

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

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