Category Archives: Flash fiction

Upstairs or Downstairs flash fiction

Upstairs or Downstairs #flashfiction

Over at the Carrot Ranch this week, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using two words that contradict. Examples include champagne and hard-rock; rosemary and sewage; duck down and firecrackers; sleep and square-dancing. Use one of these or make up your own. Go where the prompt leads!

Carrot Ranch flash fiction contradictions

I haven’t gone with contradiction as much as confusion, but it’s fitting following something I wrote on my readilearn blog last week. In case you missed it, I wrote that being in lockdown has “felt like time has stood still and sped by at the same time”. That’s a contradiction. My story is a confusion.

Upstairs or Downstairs

Granny scratched her head. “I don’t know if I’m Arthur or Martha.”

“Whad’ya mean, Granny? I’m Arthur,” Arthur laughed.

“It’s just an old saying. Means I don’t know if I’m coming or going.”

“But you’re not coming or going. You’re staying here. With us.”

“I know,” laughed Granny. “I’m just a bit confused is all.”

“What’re you confused about?”

“I just came all the way down here for something, and I can’t remember what.”

“But this is upstairs, Granny. Not downstairs.”

“Silly me. There’s not much in my upstairs anymore.”

Now it was Arthur’s turn to scratch his head.

Thank you blog post

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

A nourishing fruit break

A nourishing fruit break #flashfiction

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction - Nourish

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to nourish. The characters can nourish or be nourished. What else can be nourished? A tree? A setting? Does the sunset nourish the soul? Go where the prompt leads!

In many schools, children have a 10-minute mid-morning break to have a piece of fruit and engage in some movement activities. It’s often called a fruit or a brain break. Its purpose  is to refresh and reenergise for the next part of the session. It is generally welcomed by teachers and students alike. While the fruit may nourish the physical, as my story shows, often other forms of nourishment are also involved. A smile is sometimes all the nourishment a flagging spirit needs, especially on one of those days.

One of those days

The morning hadn’t let up. It began with a “Can I talk to you for a minute?” that stretched into an unresolved 45. Meanwhile, the children swarmed at the door, and the day’s activities hadn’t set themselves out. Her day flipped from organised to ‘fly by the seat’ with one unscheduled meeting. As the minutes ticked away, she hankered for fruit break and recalibration as much as the children. Her apple was a mere millimetre from her mouth when ‘Miss, Ellenie’s crying’ interrupted her. One look told her everything. Ellenie’s grateful smile turned her grey to sunshine. Sanity returned.

Thank you blog post

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

Who's in charge flash fiction

Who’s in charge? #Flashfiction

Carrot Ranch - in charge flash fiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story in which a character takes charge. Who is this character, and what situation calls for their action? It can be playful or serious, fantastical, or realistic. Go where the prompt leads!

While not really about a character taking charge, as Charli suggested, my thoughts went to the stampede that occurred in supermarkets across the globe earlier this month, and I wondered who had initiated it and how they had achieved such a dramatic result. It seemed to me that it was more suited to an April Fools’ Day joke (that’s tomorrow, folks) than a serious event organised by the March Hare. Not that I would approve of such a joke.

I remember being warned in the early seventies (way back last century) about the use of subliminal messaging in cinema advertising. I never liked the idea that someone could be trying to control my thoughts and actions with subliminal messages. Now, of course, we have social media. There’s nothing subliminal about that and the effect is more immediate and more widespread.

The toilet paper stampede occurred because of a fictional shortage which then became a reality because people were buying in bulk and hoarding it, meaning there was none for anyone else. People seemed to be doing it because everyone else was doing it, regardless of the reassurances we were being given that there was, and never would be, a toilet paper shortage.

This, in turn, reminded me of the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. It has been one of my favourite stories since childhood. I could never understand why people would join in admiring the emperor’s clothes when they must have been able to see that he wasn’t wearing any. However, the very clever trickster weavers pulled the perfect April Fools’ Day joke by telling everyone that only the clever could see the clothes. Who would dare to admit their lack of cleverness? I was always pleased that it was the children who were brave and honest and spoke up to denounce the scoundrels.

So, with April Fools’ Day on 1 April and Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday on 2 April, it seems the perfect time to think about who might be in charge. This is my story. I hope you like it.

Charge!

As if a starting gun had been fired, the children scattered, looking in grass, under rocks, in branches of trees.

“What’re you doing?” asked the playground supervisor.

“There’s eggs, Miss. Easter eggs — millions of ‘em. Enough for everyone.”

“How many’ve you found?”

“None yet. Gotta keep lookin’.”

After a while, the searching slowed. “How many’ve you got?”

They showed empty pockets and empty hands.

The supervisor said, “Who said there were eggs?”

They shrugged.

When the punishment was handed down, the instigators explained, “It was just an experiment to see how many’d be sucked in. We meant no harm.”

You’ll be as pleased to know as I am, that Google has cancelled April Fools’ Day jokes for 2020 and that the coronavirus is deemed unsuitable for April Fools’ pranks. I thought that would go without saying.

I want you to know that this is not a joke: I may join in these challenges only intermittently for the next few months due to work commitments. I may also not get to visit your blogs as often as I would like but know that I will get there as often as I can. Stay well and happy and keep your distance from that awful virus.

Thank you blog post

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

Rabbits on the Roof flash fiction

Rabbits on the Roof — Who’s Counting? #flashfiction

Carrot Ranch - Rabbits on the roof

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a rabbit on the roof. Or many rabbits. Why are they there? Explain the unexpected, go into any genre. Go where the prompt leads!

As I mentioned in my comment on Charli’s post, all I could think about was the Fibonacci Rabbit Problem.

I wrote about the Fibonacci number sequence previously in a post called Counting on Daisies.

In the Fibonacci sequence, each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, and so on.

As the sequence progresses, the numbers get exponentially larger, not unlike the numbers succumbing to the dreaded virus that engulfing our world at the moment.

The number sequence occurs naturally in many situations; for example, in bee populations, in spirals of snail shells, in leaves on plants and petals on flowers.

But who was Fibonacci, why does he have a number sequence named after him, and what is the problem with rabbits?

Fibonacci was the Italian mathematician who introduced the Arabic-Hindu system of numbers and arithmetic (the numbers we use) to the Western World in the 12th Century.

Fibonacci wasn’t his real name. He was really Leonardo Bonacci. His famous book Liber Abaci was handwritten, long before the era of the printing press (let alone computers and indie publishing).  A couple of centuries later, some students reading his tome, misread what he had written (‘filius Bonacci’ meaning ‘son of Bonacci’) as Fibonacci and that’s how he’s still known today.

Fibonacci (Leonardo Bonacci) wrote about the number sequence that now bears his name in his book Liber Abaci. He explained the sequence using an example often referred to as The Rabbit Problem. The problem involves rabbits breeding profusely. While the situation described isn’t necessarily accurate, it is entertaining and helps us get the picture.

The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett

A beautiful picture book by Emily Gravett, also named The Rabbit Problem, is a fun way of introducing the concept to children. Set on Mr Fibonacci’s farm, the rabbits multiply each month for a year according to the number sequence. However, each month, new problems for the rabbits arise.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Fibonacci’s numbers, I highly recommend this video by mathemagician Arthur Benjamin.

But now for my story in response to Charli’s challenge. Perhaps it has an underlying message suited to these troubling times. Maybe you’ll see it too. If not, I hope it’s just a fun story that you enjoy.

What Rabbits?

“Wassup?” He knew something was when she stopped rocking.

“Nothin’.” She continued rocking.

“Musta bin somethin’.”

“Nah. Thought I saw a rabbit on that roof, is all.”

“I ain’t never seen no rabbit on a roof.”

“You ain’t never seen nothin’.”

 

“What?”

“Thought there was two rabbits on that there roof.”

“That’s crazy.”

 

The rabbits multiplied, but she never stopped rockin’ and she never said nothin’.

 

One day, he stopped.

“Shhh. I hear somethun.”

“What?”

“Sounds like …”

A multitude of rabbits exploded from the roof, landing all around, even in their laps.

“What?”

“Nothin.”

They kept on rockin’.

Thank you blog post

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

Tap into knowledge with books and reading

Tap into knowledge with books and reading

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes tapping. You can play with the sound, make it an action, or create something unexpected. Tap a story and go where the prompt leads!

As it usually does, the prompt led me to children and education, especially the empowerment that comes from being able to read. Reading is the key that unlocks the wonders of the world.

While not a continuation of previous stories, it does include some of the characters. I hope you like it.

The Key

Tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap.

Peter removed his headphones.

Silence.

He returned to his game. ZING! KAPOW! BOOM!

Tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap.

There it was again. Incessant.

What was It? Where was it?

He placed his tablet and headphones on the couch and crept towards the sound — the bookcase!

Tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap.

With every step, the tapping intensified. The dusty glass obscured the interior, but the key was in the lock. Should he, or shouldn’t he?

He did!

Into his lap tumbled a rainbow cat, a girl in a hood, a herd of dinosaurs, an Egyptian Pharaoh and all the wonders of the world. Magic!

Thank you blog post

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

 

 

First Cow in Space flash fiction

First Cow in Space #flashfiction

I’m sure you all know the nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle about a cat playing a fiddle and a cow jumping over the moon.

I love using nursery rhymes with young children. They are a great way for them to learn the sounds and rhythms of our language, develop their memories and just have fun with nonsense. I’ve never considered it important for them (or me) to know the background of the rhymes. We can leave that to more serious students of literature.

The rhythm and rhyme of nursery rhymes encourage children to join in with the recitation and commit them to memory. Their memory for the rhymes can be used as a step into reading. I’ve written before about nursery rhymes, both on this blog and on the readilearn blog here and here. I have also some written some literacy lessons based on nursery rhymes that are available in the readilearn collection, including Let’s read and write with Little Miss Muffet, Humpty Dumpty — a story in five sittings and The Accident — Humpty Dumpty’s Fall.

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about Clarice. She can be any Clarice real, historical, or imagined. What story does she have for you to tell? Go where she may lead!

You may well wonder what that prompt has to do with nursery rhymes. But Charli always says to go where the prompt leads. It usually leads me to children and education in some way. This time, and with a huge apology to all the Clarices out there, it led me to a cow in a nursery rhyme. Why should she be called Clarice? I don’t know, but I thought the first cow in space would be quite an imaginary historical figure. I hope you like my story. I’m certain, if given a chance, children would come up with their own wonderful innovations too.

First Cow in Space

“We are here today with the first cow in space, whose identity, until now, has been kept secret. Will you please welcome [drum roll] Clarice Cloverdale.”

[Applause]

“Clarice, please tell us about your adventure and why your identity was undisclosed for so long.”

“It was simply a non-disclosure agreement. That contract has now terminated so I’m free to tell.”

“Go on.”

“We were all tired of playing second-fiddle to Cat. Dish and Spoon ran away so Dog had no alternative but to make me the star. Needless to say, I was over the moon. The rest is history.”

[Applause]

Thank you blog post

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

On the road with the library cat flashfiction

On the road with the Library Cat #Flashfiction

My passion is education in general with a focus on the education of young children. The development of literacy is a major part of that. Much of one’s success in life depends upon being literate. Literacy is recognised by the United Nations as a basic human right. Anything that impedes a child’s ability to learn to read and write violates that right.

Being literate is not only empowering, it can be a source of joy and escape. A literate population requires access to books of all kinds so that readers can choose materials relevant to interests and purpose.

I fail to see any sense behind decisions to have school libraries without trained teacher-librarians, or indeed, to close school and public libraries. I was incredulous when I learned that new schools were opening without a library, let alone a teacher-librarian. In my opinion, the library should be the hub of the school.  I am happy to say I am not alone in that thought.

But the idea needs more support. Fortunately, there is at least one Australian politician who agrees.

As reported on the SCBWI blog, NSW Member of Parliament David Shoebridge says that “libraries should be the heart of every school and that investment in school libraries is essential!”

In the next sitting of Parliament, he is moving that “every public school student in NSW has access to a quality school library and a qualified teacher librarian.”

If only we could get all MPs in every state to support the same movement for all our children, in every state, in every school.

Last week I wrote a story about a library cat. It was well received so I decided to write another episode this week.

Carrot Ranch - Open Road

Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch made it easy for me with her challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the open road. Where will the trip lead? Who is going, and why? Follow the open road wherever it may lead! I hope you like it.

Looking for Love

Rainbow Cat clawed through the rubble. One by one she pulled out the survivors — Little Red Riding Hood, Little Miss Muffet, The Gingerbread Man; even Wolf who promised to behave.

“Where are we going?” squealed the Three Little Pigs as they piled onto the bus.

“Where children will love us, like before.”

For many, this was their first time beyond the covers of a book. As the bus roared down the open road, they peered through the windscreen and out the windows, dreaming up new adventures yet untold.

Spontaneously, they burst into a chorus of On the Road Again.

Thank you blog post

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

The Library Cat Flash fiction

The Library Cat #Flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a library cat named Rainbow who escapes. Use this situation to write what happens next. Where does this e=situation take place, and who else might be involved? Go where the prompt leads!

I haven’t joined in the prompts recently for a variety of reasons — other priorities mainly. However, I couldn’t resist this one about libraries and stories — two things of which I am very fond.

I think a cat, especially a rainbow cat, would make a wonderful addition to any library, especially one packed with great children’s literature. I can just imagine the children reading while the cat devours every word.

Of course, I had libraries, books, stories and children in mind as I wrote my story in verse —aimed at a younger audience, of course. I hope you enjoy it, nonetheless.

 

The Library Cat

The library cat is fatter than fat.

She sits by the door on the welcome mat.

She greets the readers as they come in —

Nods her head with a welcome grin.

 

Sometimes she’s in. Sometimes she’s out.

She’s especially quiet when a reader’s about.

She sits so still you can see her purr

When the reader strokes her rainbow fur.

 

She’s heard every story there is to be told.

Even the classics never grow old.

But read her stories of adventures rare

She twitches her whiskers, “I’ve been there.

No need of a cape. Reading books is my escape.”

Thank you blog post

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

Wife Carrying Contest - Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction

The Strong One #flashfiction

Wife Carrying Contest - Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a carried wife. Why is she being carried? Who is carrying? Pick a genre if you’d like and craft a memorable character. Go where the prompt leads!

In her post, Charli

  • explained differences in genres
  • introduced us to Sirrka, a remarkable 99-year-old American of Finnish parents
  • told us of the Finnish wife-carrying contest, which prompted the flash fiction prompt
  • assured us that we are ‘always evolving’.

Please pop over to the Ranch to read Charli’s post and other responses to the prompt.

I agree with Charli that we are always evolving.

When I started writing this blog six and a half years ago, my intention was to write about education. Whenever I responded to one of Charli’s prompts, I attempted to embed my story in a post that focused on education or child development. I was mostly successful.

However, not all prompts, such as this wife-carrying challenge, lend themselves easily to education, though I could certainly do it if I tried with a story about children in school learning about Finland and Finnish customs, for example.

Since I also write posts about education for my second blog at readilearn, which I republish here, I have decided to allow myself a little more flexibility with my responses to Charli’s prompts. From now on, with my word for this year being ‘prioritise’, I will focus more on writing a story than embedding it in a post.

This is my story for this week. I hope you like it.

The Strong One

“You’re strong,” she giggled as he piggy-backed her around the playground at lunchtime.

“You’re strong,” she murmured as he lifted her over the puddle outside their graduation dance.

When he carried her over the threshold on their wedding day, her eyes sparkled with words unsaid but understood.

When they heard of Finland’s wife carrying contest, she smirked. “We could do that. You’re strong.”

He indicated the sleeping children. “When they’re grown.”

When cancer ravaged her body, she soothed, “Stay strong.”

When he and their sons carried her from the chapel on her final journey, he’d never felt so weak.

Thank you blog post

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

Just Rigt

Just Right

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - gnome

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to in 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a gnome. It can be a garden gnome, a Christmas Joulutonttu, or a sauna protector. You can write magical realism, or feature contemporary gnome-like product.  Go where the prompt leads!

In my story, I have combined three themes: Christmas wishes, growth mindset and self-acceptance. I hope you like it.

Just Right

Longing for height, Gnomie joined Santa’s queue in the mall. Unfortunately, the queue hardly moved, and people grumbled when the air became hot and still. Elves demanded everyone disperse. Gnomie didn’t want to disperse. He wanted to be tall. Elves spotted him approaching Santa. “Hey! You there!” He froze. Santa glared, then said, “He looks about right.” The elves quickly explained — in the heat, Santa’s ring had slipped off and into the air conditioner, jamming the controls. No one could reach it. “I can!” said Gnomie, and he did. Elves cheered; Santa smiled, and Gnomie contemplated a new request.

Thank you blog post

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