Tag Archives: flash fiction prompt

Floating #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about floating. Who is floating, where, and in what? Is the floating real or felt internally? Whatever floats your boat, go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you like it. I think it speaks for itself, but perhaps you need to know that, although December is the first month of our summer, it can be very hot in November too. Our school year also finishes in December, anywhere from the first week to the week before Christmas. The combination of heat, holidays and Christmas excitement, and anxiety about report cards and next year’s classes, make some days difficult and tiring, even if fun.

Floating

What a day! The hottest in a long, hot, relentless summer. And it was only just December. After constant interruptions, distracted children and demanding parents, the pool was too enticing to ignore. And she had it to herself. On the Li-lo, miles away, she was oblivious to the world: the knocking at the door, the squeaky gate and the shush of voices as her location was discovered. A sudden WOOF! and a “One, two, three, jump!” annihilated her peace and upended her into the water. “We didn’t know you were going to swim with us, Grandma. You never do!”

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Change is Coming #99WordStories

When I read Charli’s prompt at the Carrot Ranch this week to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to reflect the theme, “ready for a change.” Who is ready and why? How does the change unfold? What happened to initiate the change? Go where the prompt leads! I immediately thought of this Cat Stevens song.

As a young adult, I loved Cat Stevens’s songs and their messages of hope for better days. As an older adult, I still do. We could certainly do with some changes around the world at the moment.

I was lucky to see Cat Stevens in concert in 1972, which must have been about the same time as this video was recorded. It was amazing. So much wisdom. Sadly, we don’t seem to be any closer to the vision of these lyrics 50 years later.

‘Don’t you feel the day is coming

And it won’t be too soon

When the people of the world

Can all live in one room’

It took me a while to get past the Cat Stevens musical memory lane, but this is where I ended up. I hope you like it.

Change is coming

‘Get up,’ Pauline whispered.

He rubbed his eyes. ‘Why?’

‘Shh! He’s here.’

He trembled. ‘Take Rabbit?’

Out they crept, sliding against the wall to the door. A shout from downstairs. They froze. Pauline turned the knob. Quietly. Quietly. She pushed the door. Gently. Gently. Then cool air. Silent toes pattered down the stairs. Across the grass they ran and ran. All three, hand-in-hand. Pauline in front. Rabbit behind.

Finally, they banged on a door. ‘Grandpa! Grandpa! He’s come.’

Grandpa was in the doorway, ushering them into Grandma’s arms, picking up the phone.

‘Hush,’ said Grandma. ‘Everything will be alright.’

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

The Littlest Goat #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the littlest Christmas goat. Who does the goat belong to? What is happening? Go where the prompt leads!

When I thought of goats, children and stories, I thought of one of my least favourite children’s stories: The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids. I’ve written about it before, explained why I disliked it, and even wrote another flash fiction in response to one of Charli’s prompts about it.

There was nothing else for it. I had to attack it again in another way, hoping to put it in a more positive light. I hope you like it.

The Littlest Goat

“You’re too little.”

The all-too-familiar chorus stung but he determined to show them size didn’t matter; not the way they thought.

Before long, opportunity came knocking.

The others were too stupid to check before opening the door, too slow to escape the intruder and too big to hide. The littlest one watched from the grandfather clock as the wolf devoured them one by one.

When Mother returned from Christmas shopping, the littlest goat told all. Together, they found the greedy wolf and rescued his brothers.

The littlest goat showed that being clever, quick and brave beat size any day.

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promises broken with substitutes

Does a substitute fulfil a promise?

This week at the Carrot Ranch, D. Avery stepped in (substituted) for Charli Mills by posing the weekly flash fiction prompt. (Charli is working industriously on her thesis for submission this week!)

D. Avery’s challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a substitution. How might a character or situation be impacted by a stand-in? Bonus points for fairy tale elements. Go where the prompt leads.

I recently posed a question about the effectiveness of rewards. Aligned with that are promises of rewards and threats of punishment — strategies used by parents (and others) in an attempt to control another’s behaviour.

I think the conversation around that previous post must have somehow influenced my response to this prompt. See what you think.

I won’t elaborate any further on rewards and punishments for now, but will allow the flash to speak for itself. I don’t get the bonus points for including fairy tale elements. I’m sorry to say that scenes like this are more real than fairy tale.

Special Substitution

“Where’s my Burger Special? You promised!”

“Here, sweetie.”

“Burger Specials have chips, not carrot sticks!”

The carrot sticks plummeted to the floor.

“I substituted them, hon. Carrot sticks are healthier. We want to be healthy, don’t we?”

A mouthful of half-chewed bun adorned the table. “That’s disgusting!”

“Multi-grain’s healthier. Try some more. You will like it.”

“I don’t want substitutes.”

The poorly-disguised plant-based patty frisbeed across the room.

The parent hauled the protester from the restaurant.

“You promised Burger Special!”

“You’ll get something special, as soon as we get home.”

“There’s no substitute for proper parenting,” tut-tutted a diner.

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News Splash

News Splash

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge Splash

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that makes a big splash. It can be fluid, or you can play with the idiom (to make a big splash is to do or say something that becomes unforgettable). Go where the prompt leads!

This is where it finally led me. I hope you enjoy it.

News Splash

It was splashed all over the front page. There was no hiding it now. Mum and Dad wouldn’t be pleased. They’d cautioned her to be careful. Time. After. Time. And she was. She thought she could handle it. She didn’t need them watching over her every move. She had to be independent sometime. But this front-page catastrophe would be a setback. How could she minimise the damage?

When they came in, Jess faced them bravely.

They looked from her to the paper and back. Jess’s lip quivered. “Sorry.”

“Those headlines look somewhat juicy,” smirked Dad. “More juice?”

Jess nodded.

Spilled juice

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reading magic - read, talk, play, laugh, have fun

A sprinkle of this, a pinch of that, and poof! It’s reading — magic!

ArtbyJonz ©Norah Colvin 2015

My children were early readers. Both began reading real books well before their fourth birthdays. Of course, the timing, whether early or late, matters little now that they are adults. What matters is that they are readers who read competently and confidently for a range of purposes including for information and pleasure. They are readers by choice as well as purpose.

The ability to read is something that most of us take for granted. Many have no recollection of learning to read, only of being able to do so all of a sudden, as if we just could, by magic.

But, as with any spell, there are certain essential ingredients that make the magic happen and others that inhibit the process. Creating readers of choice and not just purpose is the real magic. Creating non-readers is the effect of a spell in reverse, of a bad mix of ingredients, that sadly occurs all too often.

Bec reading to herself at 12 months

Bec reading to herself at 12 months

My children were readers of choice long before they could read anything for themselves. I wouldn’t say I set out to “teach” them to read. In fact, I didn’t at all. I set out to encourage in them a love of books and writing. Their learning to read was a by-product of sharing the love of words, language and reading.

The magic ingredients for developing readers:

  • Talk
  • Play
  • Read
  • Write
  • Love
  • Fun

I loved having time with my children. Being with them, watching them grow and develop was special, the best and most magical of days. They taught me as much or more about love, life and learning as they learned from me.

Talk

From their earliest days I talked to them, explained things to them — what was happening, what we were doing, and how things worked. I pointed things out and told them what it was called, what it was doing, what it was used for, or how it worked. When we were out and about, I’d point out signs and explain how I knew to stop or where to go. I avoided “baby” talk and always used appropriate everyday language.

Play

We played and had fun together, using our imaginations to create our own games. Sometimes we played simple board games and completed jigsaw puzzles. Whatever we played, talk always accompanied it.

Nor and Bec reading the family book

Reading to Bec at about 12 months old.

Read

I read to them, every day, not just one but many books. As I read, we discussed details in the illustrations and made predictions about the stories, sharing our thoughts. If a word was presented in a large or colourful font, I’d point to it as I read it. We’d laugh at the funny stories and cry at the sad and discuss all the story events. When they could read, they’d read to me, and we took turns reading together until they were early teens.

Write

When they first started to talk, I made books with pictures and words from their growing vocabulary. I labelled items in their rooms; for example, bed, shelf, window, door.

I made books about things we did with photographs and text. A book about our family made for my daughter’s first birthday was one of the favourites when cousins came to visit too.

The environment

I provided my children with an environment rich in language, books and opportunities for thinking. I’d read and write with them and to them, and they’d see me reading and writing for myself as well.

When son Rob was little, I didn’t yet know what I now know about the development of language, reading, and thinking. He taught me much that was later confirmed by my studies.

Rob reading to his toys at age two

Rob, aged two, reading to some of his toys.

When he was only two, Rob would line up his toys on the couch, sit in the middle, and “read” to them. He would almost recite the stories from beginning to end. He already knew that the words in a book remain the same each time they are read — an important concept for beginning readers to grasp. When he was only three, he’d jump into bed beside me in the early morning after Hub had gone to work, prise my eyes open, and read to me! Magic!

Daughter Bec was born twelve years after Rob. Meanwhile, I had returned to college and studied the development of reading and language. I was amazed to find that we had unwittingly created the essential mix of ingredients for his learning to occur

Naturally, armed with experience as well as understanding, I did things pretty much the same for Bec — talking, reading, writing, playing, having fun and enjoying time together.

Bec sharing one of her favourite books.

Bec sharing one of her favourite books.

When she was five, Bec was invited to participate in a study of children who learned to read before starting school. Of the children (maybe half a dozen) involved in the study, Bec was the only one the researcher considered to be really reading. She was reading fluently, with comprehension and at a higher level than the other children.

Some of the children were able to recognise isolated words, but not read them in continuous text. Others had been taught letters and sounds using flashcards and stopped to ‘sound’ out every word. They hadn’t become real readers.

Bec was not subjected to reading “lessons” as the other children had been. She was immersed in an environment that encouraged a love of learning, language and literacy.  The other parents had a need for their children to read as if their value as parents depended on it.

While I had an expectation that Bec would read, I was confident that she would come to it in her own time. My credibility as a parent was not tied to her ability. Having said that, both children (adults) are now very successful in their chosen fields, so I must have done something right. Or perhaps we were just lucky that we chanced upon the magic mix of ingredients.

I do wish that all parents would include a sprinkle of language and a pinch of reading mixed with love and fun into their children’s lives every day. It would contribute greatly toward eradicating illiteracy.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction prompt by Charli Mills: magic

What got me thinking about reading, and magic in particular, is the challenge by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes magic. It can be a supernatural force, a moment or idea, or use it as a verb. Go where the prompt leads.

The ability to be transported into other realms is pure magic. The ability to share this magic with others is bliss.

Mem Fox has more to say about that in her lovely book for parents Reading Magica book I always include when selecting gifts for first-time parents.

Reading Magic by Mem Fox

Here is my response to Charli’s prompt. I hope you enjoy it.

A Sprinkle of This and a Pinch of That

“Whatcha doin?”

“Makin’ a spell.”

“What sorta spell?”

“A magic spell.”

“Can I help?”

“Sure.”

“Whadda I do?”

“Put stuff in the pot.”

“What sorta stuff?”

“Gotta read the recipe.”

“What’s it say?”

“Ya gotta read it.”

“I can’t.”

“Oh. Okay. I’ll help. Look, it says …”

Mum stopped at the door to the kitchen. “Wha— What are you doing?”

“Nothin’,” mumbled the older.

“Makin’ magic spells,” grinned the younger, covered in flour from head to toe.

“What sort of magic spell?” asked Mum, wishing for her own magic spell.

“Take us to outa space.”

“Can I come too?”

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