Tag Archives: Carrot Ranch flash fiction

Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic

The Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic

Are you ready to ride in the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic? The contest, with a $100 prize, is now live. Pop over to the Carrot Ranch for details.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

by H.R.R. Gorman

Here at the Carrot Ranch, we take the business of 99-word literary art seriously. Those who participate in the Ranch prompts or yearly Rodeo saddle up to TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction) it out and train new Rough Riders as we go. Now, the Ranch is hosting a new event to sharpen minds, welcome new hands, and celebrate one of our own the best way we know how: our first ever Rodeo Classic.

In this Rodeo Classic, we’re here to celebrate a stalwart center of many blogging corners, Sue Vincent. Sue has variously contributed to the community here at the Carrot Ranch, through communication with many other bloggers, and run her own famous #writephoto weekly blog prompt. You can (and should!) follow her on her blogs, The Daily Echo and the shared blog France & Vincent. She has inspired us to become better writers and shown…

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Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic

Coming soon to the #Carrot Ranch: The Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic

Sue Vincent is one of those special bloggers that inspires people all over the world. Readers have long been galvanized by her posts about mythology, about ancient ruins and medieval churches, and her daily #midnighthaiku. Even more have participated in and grown as a result of her #writephoto prompts. In addition to posting her prompts, Sue has tirelessly supported other bloggers by sharing others’ responses to her 19,000 and counting followers.

Recently, Sue has been faced with a new and difficult challenge: lung cancer. You can follow her blog to find out more directly from her. The Covid pandemic has served not only to pose a specific threat to a person with a severe respiratory illness, but it has caused loss of human connection through self-imposed quarantine.

Now it’s time for Sue to receive something back from the community she’s been a cornerstone of for a decade. Let’s bring the Rodeo into Sue’s house through her computer, and let’s come together with hearts full of joy. Join us for the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic at the Carrot Ranch – a contest, parade, and celebration all in one!

There are many ways to participate. One is to visit the prompt image, “Hidden”, at the Carrot Ranch. The prompt image and entry form will go live on Monday, February 1st, 2021. Enter a flash or a poem by Friday, February 19th, 2021, and you could win either $100 or a copy of one of Sue’s books. The form will allow you to give a small donation for Sue and her family, and a link can be found on the contest page. The winning entries will be announced at the Carrot Ranch on March 22nd, 2021.

If you’re not ready to rodeo, there’s always the “Parade”. Reblog one of Sue’s posts from any of her sites (Daily Echo or France and Vincent) with a comment about why you found it special. Follow her blogs. Read one of her books, then leave reviews where you can. Several people are already gearing up for the parade – so feel free to check out other people’s blogs for suggestions.

Also, go ahead and reblog, tweet, Facebook, or somehow otherwise share the contest! 99 word literary art is a fantastic way to celebrate a blogging hero and very deserving person.

Saddle up, everyone! It’s time for a Carrot Ranch Rodeo like none ever held before. The Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic begins on Monday, February 1st, and it’ll be a TUFF prompt to fit within 99 words. 

I hope to see you at the Ranch, buckaroos!

With a Little Help from my Friends flash fiction

With a Little Help from My Friends #flashfiction

The focus of my life has always been on children’s learning and development, whether at home as a parent or in the classroom as a teacher. I believe in the importance of play, curiosity and fun.

Now that my own children are grown and I am no longer in the classroom, my focus remains on children as I prepare lessons that focus on learning and support teachers teaching for my website readilearn and write stories in the hope they will be published in the future as picture books.

In the meantime, I enjoy writing 99 words in response to the weekly flash fiction prompts at the Carrot Ranch. Not always, but often, my stories reflect my focus on children as they play, develop and learn.

Last week, when writers were challenged by Charli Mills to write about dressing up, I combined it with a playful ‘dare’ from D. Avery at Shift and Shake that she would do anything I would. In response, I had D. and me dressing up appropriately to ride a zipline from the US to Australia, just like a couple of preschoolers dressing up and having fun in their imaginations.

This week Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that rephrases “light at the end of the tunnel.” Think of how the cliche replacement communicates a hopeful ending and aligns with your character or story. Go where the prompt leads!

I thought this prompt provided the perfect opportunity for a sequel to Norah and D.’s zipline story, especially as Charli said she’d like to come too. For that to happen, they had to go back and accompany her. (Please think of them as children in the playground, just coincidentally with names of writers you know.) Some suggested the zipline would be too dangerous for children, but it couldn’t be used to return north because ziplines work with gravity. (That’s a down under joke.)

I hope you enjoy this sequel and see its underlying message about the importance of the support and encouragement we receive from friends.

With a Little Help from My Friends

“Whatcha doing?”

“Digging.”

“Can I help?”

“Sure.”

The two girls dug side by side. Then D. broke the silence, “What’re we digging?”

“A tunnel.”

“Why?”

“Charli wants to come down too. We can’t use the zipline anymore. Anyways, going through a tunnel’s quicker’n going round.”

“Looks jes like a hole to me.”

“Tunnels always start as holes.”

They continued digging. The pile of dirt grew higher as the hole got deeper.

“Look. We can stand in it now,” said Norah.

“How will we know when we get there?”

“Easy. Charli’s waiting, holding a light to show us the way.”

Thank you blog post

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flash fiction Riding the Zipline Down Under

Riding the Zipline Down Under #flashfiction

I’m not known for being adventurous. I don’t like heights or enclosed spaces or cars that speed. I’m not sure where my fears originated but they generally don’t bother me too much as they have little effect on my everyday life. I don’t have to clean windows on high-rise buildings, and I don’t operate the lifts inside them. I generally take the stairs if going only one or two floors, always checking the door will open again before closing it behind me. I can manage travelling in a lift, especially if there are few other occupants and it goes directly to my floor, but I am always relieved when it arrives and the doors open to release me.

I have never and will never ride a roller coaster or bungy jump; and haven’t as yet and probably won’t, travel on one of those ‘Eyes of’ the world. I don’t feel I am missing out by not doing most of these things. I think life is exciting enough without them.

That’s not to say I haven’t ever done anything I found terrifying. When I visited the Great Wall of China outside Beijing, I had to take a chairlift up to the top. My heart was racing, and my palms were sweaty, but I did it. Then I had to take a flume ride down to the bottom. If pressured, I might say it was even a little bit fun, but I wouldn’t choose to do it again, unless I had no choice as in this instance.

Probably the one thing I think I would love to do, if I was brave enough, is hot air ballooning. I think the sensation of floating up there in the air, looking down on the world, would be amazing. But it could also be terrifying. If I could get on without being overcome by anxiety and knew I could come down when I wanted, I’d probably do it; but I think that’s for another life.

Surprisingly, perhaps, I love being in a plane and looking down at the earth below. One would think a fear of heights and claustrophobia would prevent this. I can’t explain why it doesn’t. I love the moment of lift off, of being taken up into the air. I always thought it would be great to be a bird flying above the earth, looking down. It is a beautiful view. Perhaps that’s why Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach is one of my favourite books.

Anyway, because of my reluctance to do some of these adventurous things like jump out of a plane, go zorbing or ride a zipline, people close to me often joke that they will do them if I will, knowing full well that I won’t, and they won’t have to admit their own reluctance.

So, I was amused this week by a conversation with friend and fellow writer D. Avery on her post Zip: SixSentenceStory. (Please pop over to read it.)

In D.’s story, her young character Marlie made a zipline from the top of the fort for her doll. I was picturing a playground flying fox which I think I would have enjoyed as a child, had they been invented then, and commented that ziplines are fun. (My grandchildren love flying foxes.) D. replied, ‘… let’s agree to disagree on the fun-ness of zip lines. Tell you what, Buddy, you go first.’ Well, that sounded like a challenge to me and I told her that we could maybe go together in a next life or in a story. And so, the story was born, with a little help from Charli Mills.

At the Carrot Ranch this week, Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about dressing up. It can be a child or another character. Be playful or go where the prompt leads!

Perhaps it is a stretch to go from dressing up to a zipline, but we’d have to dress differently from our everyday, wear a harness, and harness a persona we wouldn’t normally wear, so I hope the stretch isn’t too far. After all, it is pure play through story and from USA to Australia is only halfway around the world. Charli always says to go where the prompt leads …

I hope you (especially you, D.) enjoy it.

Riding the Zipline Down Under

Many hid behind Norah’s fear of heights, speed and enclosed spaces. “I’ll do anything Norah does,” they’d boast, feigning bravery. D. said she’d ride the zipline from its start, high up in the US, all the way Down Under, if Norah did.

Dressed for warmth and to prevent chafing, they adjusted their harnesses. “You first,” said D., still not believing Norah would do it.

“Whee! I’m flying; flying without wings,” sang Norah, zooming across the landscape.

“I’m dying,” screamed D., squeezing her eyes shut.

“We’re here,” said Norah. “Welcome to Australia.”

“That was amazing,” said D. “I did it!”

Thank you blog post

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A Butterfly Promise #flashfiction

A Butterfly Promise #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the contrasting prompts butterfly and stones. The two can be used in any way in your story. Go where the prompt leads!

Charli is a collector of stones and I love butterflies. I don’t collect them, but I welcome them into my garden, and one of my favourite things of the year while teaching was having a butterfly house in the classroom.

We would acquire some butterfly eggs or just-hatched caterpillars, watch them grow and pupate, wait while they metamorphosed, and gaze in wonder as they emerged and prepared for flight.

The children and I enjoyed the experience so much, I gave my granddaughter a butterfly house for her birthday one year and re-filled it for her on successive years. It was enjoyed by all the family.

I have written about our classroom butterfly experience many times, both here and at readilearn where minibeasts (including butterflies) are star attractions. Some of those posts include:

I Spy Butterflies

Classroom Minibeasts

Who’s on the Move? (includes FF but not butterfly-related)

Bug Me, Please (includes FF but not butterfly-related)

Learning about minibeasts at home or at school

I have also written other butterfly-themed flash fiction in response to Charli’s previous prompts, including:

First Flight

Once upon a time … the power of story

Which brings me to this week’s story linking butterflies and stones. I hope you enjoy it.

A Butterfly Promise

Jack scrambled over the rocks to their favourite place for discussing the wonders of the universe and the meaning of life. And death. He took Grandma’s special stone from his pocket, turned it this way and that in the sunlight, and admired its iridescence. ‘Like butterfly wings. Like life.’ Grandma said she’d come back as a butterfly, if she could.

‘You shouldn’t have left me, Grandma!’ Jack didn’t try to stop his tears. He blinked when a beautiful butterfly alighted on the stone, tickled his nose and circled his head before fluttering away. ‘Grandma!’ called Jack. ‘You came back!’

Thank you blog post

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flash fiction The Princess wore Stilettos

The Princess wore Stilettos.

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features stilettos. Who will wear them and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Carrot Ranch flash fiction prompt Stilettos

Here is my response. I hope you enjoy it.

The Princess wore Stilettos

The princess clattered around in stilettos and beads, giving orders and making demands. Servants attempted to fulfill her requirements, but nothing was ever quite right.

“Do this.”

“Don’t do that.”

“No!”

“Now!”

“Not now!”

Should they dare bring her juice in the wrong cup, she’d bat it away, “Not that cup. My special cup.”

They would quickly consult, but no one knew what was deemed special for this occasion.

As she grew more unbearable and uncompromising, the suggestion that she retire to her chambers triggered more hostility.

When she finally surrendered to sleep, crumpled on the floor, peace reigned.

Thank you blog post

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

In your dreams #flash fiction

In Your Dreams #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something a character never dreamed would happen. The situation can be fortuitous, funny, or disappointing. Go where the prompt leads!

When I began my blogging journey in 2013, I never dreamed that I would:

  • continue writing two or more posts a week for more than seven years
  • participate in weekly flash fiction prompts at the Carrot Ranch year after year
  • meet so many fascinating people from nearly every continent with varied backgrounds and interests
  • make so many wonderful friends in the blogosphere whose encouragement and support is constant (thank you)
  • become addicted to the conversations that occur on my blog and theirs
  • enter into a rodeo contest, a writing one at that, and receive honourable mentions for my efforts.

(99 words)

The 2020 rodeo is over now, the winners have been announced and prizes been distributed. All submissions (except for the TUFF contest) and winning entries for all contests are available to read at the Carrot Ranch on the Rodeo Contests page.

Scroll below my response to this week’s prompt for my rodeo submissions.

Dreams Fulfilled

She dreamed she could control the weather, but never believed she could. Until she did.

She wished it would rain.

 ‘It always rains in spring,’ they scoffed.

‘From a blue sky?’

‘Sometimes,’ they said.

She wished the rain would stop.

‘Showers never last long,’ they said.

‘I love rain,’ another said. ‘Can you make it rain forever?’

She wished.

Rain fell, first gently, then in torrents. It rained for months, overfilling rivers and washing villages away.

They begged her to make it stop.

‘I can’t,’ she said. ‘I must have dreamed three wishes. I never dreamed this would happen.’

My participation in the 2020 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo

I write and rodeo

I entered three of the weekly challenges and was a judge in the fourth. I also entered the TUFF contest that was held over four weeks.

Here is a brief description of each contest and my entry. I hope you enjoy them.

#1 Folk Tales and Fables — Kerry E.B. Black asked participants to write an original folk tale or fable with a western feel in 99 words.

My entry (earned an honourable mention):

Snow White and the Seven Gunslingers

The huntsman made the all-too-common mistake of revealing everything before enacting the deed. Snow White kicked him in the shins and escaped into the forest.

Exhausted, she chanced upon a cottage. It appeared abandoned so she went inside and soon fell asleep on one of the seven beds. She was startled awake by a septet of menacing heavily-armed gunslingers.

When she explained her predicament, the gunslingers were outraged. “He’s a bad one, and she’s the worst. Stay here. We’re onto it.”

She heard them say as they rode out of sight, “Hi Ho! We’ve got a job to do.”

#2 Double Ennead Syllabic Poetry — Colleen M. Chesebro asked participants to write in a new 99-syllable poetic form she created for Carrot Ranch.

My entry:

Pain — Inside and Out

Hoofs pound across the roof

Hunting a way in

The pillow muffles but still they thump so loud

Relentless drenching rains

Over all around

Hoofs pound inside my head

Brutal throbbing pains

Lightning lasers pierce my eyes I cry dry tears

The torture does not cease

Blinding like a rage

Hoofs pound inside my chest

Warning it will burst

While my clammy skin pours sweat in waterfalls

Pain grips my heart and shreds

What remains of me

#3 Git Along and Start Writin’ — Marsha Ingrao asked participants to write a 3-act story based on a western song in 99 words.

I was a judge, hence no entry.

#4 Wanted Alive — Sam “Goldie” Kirk asked participants to write a 99 word story in response to a wanted poster and the words ‘Reach for it, mister!’

My entry (earned an honourable mention):

Squirreled Candy

“Reach for it, mister, and you’re dead!”

Henry meant it. He hadn’t squirreled his penny candy away to let others help themselves to it. Every night, more disappeared. He’d wanted to catch the culprits alive and receive restitution, but they’d become too greedy.

His wanted posters hadn’t helped. A stake-out was the only way.

Night after night he tried to stay awake, but every night he failed and every morning, more candy had disappeared … until now.

The startled intruder dropped the candy jar and disappeared into the darkness.

“I’ll get you next time!” Henry fired after the squirrel.

4-week TUFF Love contest —  Carrot Ranch’s lead buckaroo Charli Mills asked participants to revise an original western romance through a 99-59-9-99 word process with each step requiring a different craft twist. Since the contest required all parts to be submitted, only the winning entry is published on the site.

My entry:

Spaghetti Western

TUFF Part 1: Original 99-word draft

Fortune teller said love’d arrive on a stage coach, but she’d given up waitin’, watchin’ and hopin’ years ago. The only thing ever arrived was trouble, and most of them in a skirt. She’d done alright for herself, runnin’ the only eatin’ house in town, servin’ up meals to ‘spectable folks, not them gunslingers and their sportin’ women types. She’d only had trouble once – addin’ a new dish to the menu and servin’ it up unannounced-like. Customers weren’t none too pleased when she served ‘em worms. “’tain’t worms,” she said. “It’s spaghetti. We’re in a spaghetti western, ain’t we?”

TUFF Part 2: 59-word Story with Original POV

Always independent that one, tough inside an’ out. Never needed no man, she said. No man ever good enough, as like. Spent her time ‘sperimentin’ and servin’ up grub in her eatin’ house. Never liked no trouble. One night trouble found ‘er. She served up some Eyetalian dish — spaghetti. Everyone spat it out, thought she was feedin’ ‘em worms.

TUFF Part 2: 59-word Story with Different POV

The fortune teller said love would arrive on a stage coach. I watched every coach for ten years. Not one eligible candidate stepped down — only gunslingers and floosies. Then one day, this elegant gentleman arrived. I thought I’d impress him with a new Italian recipe. He spat it everywhere. ‘Worms,’ he said. Like he’d never heard of spaghetti westerns.

TUFF Part 3: Three 9-word Taglines for Your Story

  1. Stage coach fails to deliver fortune’s promise of love.
  2. Serving meals no substitute for a helping of love.
  3. Italian spaghetti rejected. Spray deems it unsuitable for westerners.

TUFF Part 4: Final Revised 99-word Story with Prop

“I see love,” the fortune teller crooned, “arriving on a stage coach.”

She cut words from a travel brochure and pasted them above the door: “Amore. Prendere per la gola”. For years she waited, but no eligible men arrived — only gunslingers and floosies.

One day, an elegant gentleman with an exquisite companion stepped from the coach. Hearing they were siblings, she hoped an exotic dish might impress. Unfortunately, he accused her of serving worms. However, she was besotted. As they held each other close, she sighed, “I never expected to find love in a spaghetti western dish like you.”

Thank you blog post

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

Traditions Yours and Mine

Traditions — Yours and Mine #flashfiction

Traditions — Yours and Mine

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes family traditions. It can be related to any holiday or situation. How does the tradition impact the story or change the character? Go where the prompt leads!

This is a wonderful opportunity to help everyone get to know a little more about each other, or it would be if we were sharing actual, as opposed to fictional, traditions, which some might of course.

I think learning about each other’s traditions is a valuable way to get to know each other, to expand our knowledge of the world’s people and develop understanding and empathy. It was for this reason that I created several resources for the readilearn collection that help children get to know each other.

One of the main resources for this purposes is a unit of work called Family Traditions and Celebrations. It includes worksheets and surveys to help children learn about the traditions of their own family as well as of other families.

When I was implementing this unit in my classroom, I was surprised that third and fourth generation Aussies thought they didn’t have any traditions to write about, that theirs were nothing out of the ordinary. That changed when I explained that every family has its own traditions and its own way of interpreting the traditions of the wider community. Sometimes, those traditions are secret.

I recently watched a video in which Australia’s popular Coronavirus medical spokesperson explained his family’s secret tradition of Christmas celebrations when growing up Jewish in Scotland. It’s an interesting story, particularly when his family discovered they weren’t the only ones with a secret.  

Sadly, I can’t find a way of sharing the video here, but it can be viewed on Facebook.

And if you’d like to know a little more about the man, you may enjoy this interview.

Some traditions may be passed down through generations. Other traditions may change, be abandoned or introduced as families change, combine and grow.

When my children were growing up, we had a quiet Christmas day at home with only us. We would just hang out together (I can’t say ‘chill’ when we sweltered on most Christmas Days), eating and playing board games. We would visit with family and friends on other days, but not on Christmas Day.

This tradition continued when they grew into adulthood and even when they brought partners to share our day. The tradition was interrupted when the grandchildren arrived, and they required a different sort of attention and were too young to play the games. They are now old enough to play so the tradition is re-established.

However, our celebration has now changed from Christmas Day to Christmas Eve (for this year anyway) to accommodate the needs of other families (in-laws) and the grandchildren have decided we need a new tradition.

Last Christmas Eve we celebrated here with both our children, their partners and our two grandchildren. We had a Christmas lunch and an afternoon of playing board games and having fun in the pool. After tea (the evening meal), we opened our gifts. And then the fun began — a wrapping paper fight. Perhaps I should say here that the fight was initiated by Hub, perhaps the biggest child of them all. Everyone scrunched up balls of wrapping paper and threw them at each other. The children thought it was amazing fun and they want to do it again this year. And why not? It won’t elicit the same feelings as the lovely tradition shown in the following video, but it’s a great indication of our family that loves to have fun together.

I think the only one who wasn’t so keen on the activity was the housekeeper who was still finding balls of wrapping paper behind and under furniture six months later. Perhaps she should have done a better job earlier on! 😊

Thanks to Jim Borden for alerting me to this wonderful video.

So, now it’s time to share my response to Charli’s prompt. I hope you enjoy it.

Out with the Old. In with the New.

Lizzie pressed her lips together and shook her head.

“Come on,” said Mum. “Just a little bit.”

“No!”

“Try it. You’ll like it.”

“I won’t.”

“You can’t have dessert, until you eat your veg.”

“Dessert first. Then veg.”

“We don’t do it that way, Lizzie. Veg first, then dessert.”

“No! Dessert first!”

“If you have dessert first, you won’t eat your veg.”

“Will so.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

Lizzie ate her dessert. Then she ate her veg. A promise is a promise.

Now, when Lizzie’s children’s friends ask why they always eat dessert first, they shrug. “Dunno. Always have,” they say.

Thank you blog post

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

Results of Carrot Ranch TUFF contest

TUFF Winner Announced

The results of the four-week Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction TUFF writing contest are in. Pop over to the Carrot Ranch to read the winning entry by Liz Husebye Hartmann – an excellent choice.
Thanks, Charli and all the leaders, judges and contestants for another great rodeo.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Everything about the TUFF Rodeo contest was difficult.

TUFF is an acronym for The Ultimate Flash Fiction. The contest challenges writers to revise their original 99-word draft through a series of word reductions. It gives writers the chance to think differently about their original draft.

To make the contest harder, each week of the four-part contest gave writers a new craft twist. When TUFF writers had to reduce their draft to 59 words, they also had to craft two different 59-word points of view. Next, writers had to craft three different 9-word taglines for their story. Finally, writers had to revise their original 99-words and add an eerily out of place prop.

Judges considered each entry’s process as much as the final result. They expected an original final 99-word story that incorporated the western and romance themes with an out of the place prop. They wanted to see raw ideas…

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Newspaper and Sawdust

Newspaper and Sawdust

In the most recent flash fiction prompt posted on the Carrot Ranch on World Toilet Day, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that glorifies a toilet. Capture the marvel and status and love for a contraption we’d rather not mention. Go where the prompt leads!

Writers were given an extension, allowing 2 weeks for responses, which should have been enough to overcome inspiration constipation. Sadly, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about toilets and toilet situations, but writing little about them. Perhaps something will flow now that the block is cleared. Maybe constipation will turn to diarrhoea.

I am surprised to have few memories of toilets from my early childhood.

I lived on a farm until I was six and cannot recall what type of toilet we had or where it was located. I assume it was what we in Australia refer to affectionately as a ‘dunny’ or ‘thunderbox’ — an outhouse or outside toilet with a wooden seat over a metal can.

I also don’t recall the toilets at the first semi-rural school I attended. Considering I must have made a few trips at least each day, at home and at school, one tiny memory shouldn’t be too much to ask.

When we moved from the farm to a young growing beachside suburb, we definitely had an outhouse for the first few years, probably until sometime in the early sixties. It was located half-way down the back yard, about five metres from our high-set house. So, at night, or during storms or cyclones, we had to negotiate the outside uncovered steps (about 15), race across the backyard and into the shelter of the outhouse, our path lit by a torch or lantern, if we were lucky.

I never envied the job of the ‘night soil men’ (or ‘dunny men’ as we kids called them) who would come in once a week to collect the can of waste and carry it out to empty into the truck. What a job. I wonder if any complained about losing their jobs to flushing toilets.

I know that sewerage was connected to our home before I was twelve as I have a very strong memory of receiving an unjustified (in my opinion) belting behind it at that age. That toilet was also outside but at least it was at the foot of the stairs and not halfway down the backyard. Flushing water and soft toilet tissue replaced newspaper and sawdust.

There was no upstairs toilet added to the house until years after I left home. It was only added when negotiating the stairs became difficult for my mum. But even it was still outside, though thankfully, just outside the back door at the top of the stairs.

My only memories of school toilets are of flushing toilets, whether septic or sewered, I don’t know, and of not being allowed to go when I needed to.

Toilets have taken on a whole new significance as I’ve aged, and their cleanliness is of utmost importance. I worked as a consultant for an educational publisher for a few years. The role involved visiting school in my local and surrounding areas. I used to rate the towns by the accessibility and cleanliness of their toilets.

When I read the statistics published by World Toilet Day, my requirements are something many can only dream about. According to the website:

  • 4.2 billion of the world’s population do not have access to adequate sanitation — that’s more than half of the world’s 7.8 billion people
  • 3 billion people don’t have facilities like water and soap for basic handwashing at home
  • about 800 children under five die every day from diseases caused by poor sanitation or lack of clean drinking water

These and other horrifying statistics are available on the website. The humble flushing toilet that so many of us take for granted, is not so humble for many, but rather something for them to glorify.

For a few years now, I’ve been purchasing my toilet paper, tissues and paper towels from Who Gives a Crap. I chose Who Gives a Crap because they donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets for those who need them. So far, they have donated $8.3 million. I am pleased to be able to contribute in a small way, without any extra effort, to such a worthwhile project. Who Gives a Crap products are available in Australia, USA, UK, Sweden and Europe. Check out their website for more information.

I guess it’s time to share my flash fiction in response to Charli’s prompt.

The End (with apologies to Alan Alexander Milne)

When I was one and had just begun

Nappies were where my business was done.

When I was two, not nearly so new

A training potty was home for my poo.

When I was three, I was learning to pee

In a toilet that flushed away to the sea.

When I was four or not much more

I learned to be private behind a closed door.

When I was five, school days had arrived

And toilets were places to play and hide.

When I get old, or so I am told,

A clean handy toilet is precious as gold.

Thank you blog post

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