Tag Archives: Flash fiction

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.

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.

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.

The Red Convetible #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features a red convertible. Who is driving or riding? Where is the car going? Maybe it isn’t even a car. Have fun and go where the prompt leads!

Royal’s Red Convertible

When I was a child, my uncle, who was probably in his early thirties and single at the time, had a red convertible. His name was Royal (Royal Albert, no less) and I thought he looked like Elvis Presley. He had a great sense of humour, and when he laughed, he did so with his whole body. Whenever he came to visit, we kids would beg him for a ride. He always complied. We felt like royalty as he whizzed us around the block, the wind in our hair, smiling as wide as the Pacific. It was Royal fun!

Charli did say to go where the prompt leads, and how could I write a post about a red convertible without paying respects to my uncle and the only times I got to ride in a red convertible, or any convertible for that matter. Sadly, we lost Royal twenty years ago to melanoma, a terrible disease that takes too many lives here in Queensland.

From memoir to fiction.

The Little Red Convertible V1

Teddy plumped into the driver’s seat. Ollie squished beside.

“Where’re we going, Teddy?”

“Somewhere far away, where the flowers bloom and the birds sing and the sky’s the prettiest blue.”

“How long will it take to get there?”

“Close your eyes and we’ll be there before you know it,” said Teddy.

The little red convertible zoomed past dancing horses and gilded carriages.

“Do you see it?” asked Teddy.

“It’s beautiful!” whispered Ollie, not wanting to break the magic.

When the little red convertible stopped, Ollie asked, “Can we go again?”

“Anytime,” said Teddy. “Just close your eyes and imagine.”

When I was writing that one, I was thinking of a little red car on a carousel. However, I couldn’t find an image to match. I quite liked the image of the two children and the pedal car, so I thought I’d have another go. For this one, I was thinking of playing imaginatively in the backyard or playground. I don’t think either are really what I could call finished, though each is 99 words, as is Royal’s Red Convertible, but I’ve run out of time. Let me know which you prefer.

The Little Red Convertible V2

“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.

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As floppy as puppy ears

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that uses the idea or phrase, “floppy as puppy ears.” You can be explicit or implicit with your response. What is floppy and why? It doesn’t have to be about dogs at all. Go where the prompt leads!

I’m always pleased that Charli says to ‘Go where the prompt leads!’ because that’s just where I go. It’s especially important to me this week as I have a few other distractions and thought I wouldn’t have time to respond, especially when I don’t know anything about puppy’s ears, let alone floppy ones. Anyway, it made me think of other comparisons, and that’s where I went — some familiar, some silly, some fun, and some special. I hope.

My other distractions will be keeping me away from your blogs for a while, but I’ll be back as soon as I can. See you then!

As floppy as puppy ears

As floppy as puppy ears

As cute as a button

As happy as Larry

As cranky as a hippopotamus

As ripe as a banana

As silly as a sausage on a stick

As weird as a walrus (but don’t tell it I said so)

As tall as a giraffe

As small as a flea

As funny as a giggle

As rude as a fart

As crazy as a top hat on a donkey

As scary as the dark unknown

As awesome as a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis

As amazing as children’s imaginations

And, as wonderful …

As you!

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

Someplace Remote #99WordStories

When Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch prompted writers to Write a story that features someplace remote in 99 words (no more, no less). It can be a wild sort of terrain or the distance between people. What is the impact of a remote place? Go where the prompt leads!, I thought it would be easy.

You see, I’ve visited remote places, I’ve holidayed in remote places, I’ve even lived in remote places. But none of these were the remote wilderness places that make wonderful settings for the excitement of adrenalin-pumping adventure stories. But maybe they could be if I wanted to set a story there?

Anyway, this is a combination of places I’ve been and teenagers I’ve known. I also tried to throw in a bit about names. I find it amusing when names fit the person’s personality or role in some way. I’ve also been amused (but only slightly) to see so many country boys named Angus (including cousins, so, sorry cus). I guess if Sandy was named after the soil where her mother grew up, then Angus could be named after the cattle his parents breed. I hope it works. See what you think.

The End of the Road

Sandy coughed, gagged, groaned, and complained in the unbearable heat as the car slewed along the track with air-con and windows locked to keep out the dust, failing as miserably as Sandy’s attempts to convince her stupid parents to go home. No phone. No internet. No nothing. Might as well be dead.

“When I was your age, there were no mobile phones or internet. You’ll survive. We did.”

Don’t punish me for your deprived childhood.

Finally, they arrived. Mum did the introductions.

“Good name for yer,” said the boy, grinning.

“I guess you’re Angus,” Sandy snapped. “Aptly named, too.”

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For A Day #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story inspired by the idea, “for a day.” It doesn’t need to be never-ending, like me forgetting to update a prompt. What is so special about the action, person, or object experienced for a day? Go where the prompt leads!

In the post, Charli mentions how difficult it is to be “a transitional generation … a cutting from one’s roots.” It made me think of my mum, and my dad too I guess, who grew up in the country and moved to the suburbs. Like Charli’s children, and unlike most of my cousins, my mum’s children (me and my siblings) were the first generation to grow up in the suburbs. While few of us returned to the country permanently, I think the love for it remains in our veins and we appreciate opportunities we have of visiting.

Charli says, “If you had a day to spend with an icon of your past what would that be?”

That’s a tough one. I’m probably harsh when I think there’s not much in my childhood I’d like to return to. I can’t think of much that’s an icon. If anything is, perhaps it’s the red cliffs of the peninsula where I spent most of my childhood days. Captain Cook saw the cliffs as he sailed up the east coast of Australia (before it was called Australia). Prior to Europeans calling the area Redcliffe, it was known as Kau-in-Kau-in, which means Blood-Blood (red-like blood) by the Ningy Ningy people, the original inhabitants and custodians of the area.

However, perhaps as I said that the love of country still runs through our veins, I should return to my first six years which were lived on a farm. In my memory, I was the best chicken catcher and probably egg collector. I was also good at spotting snakes. I was probably a bit mischievous and even a little destructive (driven by curiosity as I recall) so a bit of a nuisance at times. Maybe no more than my other siblings though.

One day that stands out in my memory was my third birthday. It may not have been the actual day, but it was close to it.

For my birthday, I received a plastic boat and a knitted rabbit that my mother had spent hours making for me. I don’t remember what happened to the bunny, but I may have operated on it or changed its appearance, as I did with many toys, at some stage. Sadly, however, I do remember what happened to the plastic boat.

Living on a farm, it was not unusual for a fire to be lit to burn “stuff”. I can’t remember what was being burned at the time. I do remember being mesmerised by the flames and wondering what would happen to my boat if I threw it in the fire. (What kind of a child thinks like that?) My curiosity overwhelmed me, and I sought the answer to my question. I saw the flames find my beautiful bright red, blue and yellow boat and turn its colours to black. I watched as the boat became distorted, grotesque even, and shrivelled into almost nothing. My curiosity satisfied; I was happy.

Needless to say, my parents were not. And who could blame them? We didn’t have a lot and they would have gone without something to buy me that boat.

I consider that event to be the day my curiosity died. Further experimentation was discouraged, and at school, questions weren’t encouraged. We were told what was important for us to know. While my parents were very much in favour of education, it was more of the ‘fill the empty cup’ variety than the ‘draw out’ type.

My curiosity remained dormant for many years. (Though it can’t have been entirely so, as I remember changing the hairstyles of various dolls ‘to see what they looked like’ over the years.)

I remember it being reawakened by a plastic helicopter owned by my two-year-old son. No, I didn’t throw it in the fire or destroy it by any other means. I was fascinated by its propellor that moved around in a circle and up and down at the same time. I was desperate to take it apart to see how it worked. I resisted the urge. However, the feelings of curiosity I had so long forgotten came flooding back. I spent a lot of time studying it, attempting to figure out how it worked.

I am now passionate about encouraging curiosity in young children and reassuring young parents that their children’s curiosity is not ‘naughtiness’ but a search for answers and a need to know how things work. If the situation is neither dangerous (nor destructive), there is often no harm in letting them find their own answers to the questions.

I guess if I could go back to that one day, I’d find another way of satisfying my curiosity while avoiding destruction and my parents’ displeasure. They didn’t have and couldn’t afford much, but they bought me a boat. To show my thanks, I destroyed it. You can hardly blame them for being cross. Life was difficult and there was enough heartbreak without a small child’s needless destruction. They were, after all, coming from a place of love and doing the best they could. No one can expect more than that of anyone.

After that long, convoluted path, Charli does say to go where the prompt leads, I must now try to weave those thoughts together into a flash fiction. Let’s see how I go.

The Blue Bunny

By the light of a kerosine lamp, when the day’s chores were done and the house was quiet as the children gave in to sleep, but only after a one-millionth drink of water and a final trip to the outside dunny in the cool night air, she knitted a blue bunny for her third child’s third birthday. A baby slept in the cot beside her, and another stirred within her. It took a basketful of creativity and a pinch of magic to feed the growing brood, but stitched with love, a child’s gift was creativity of a different kind.

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Stone-stacking #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features stone-stacking. How does the activity fit into a story? Who is involved? What is the tone? Do the stones have special meaning? Go where the prompt leads!

I tried all week to find a fitting ending to my story beginning but couldn’t get anything I was hoping for to fit. I have ended up with ninety-nine though, so I hope it works, at least a little.

Stacking Stones

Active children were everywhere — throwing, skipping, climbing, swinging, laughing, playing. But over in the garden, on the gravel path, one child was stacking stones.

“What’s he doing?” a visiting teacher asked.

“Jack? Counting stones. He’s been doing it for days now. At the end of playtime, he tells me how many he stacked.”

“Why?”

His teacher shrugged. “He likes counting, I guess.”

“Is he okay, I mean, you know —”

“Oh, yes. He’s completely fine. He just wants to see how high he can count.”

“How high has he got?”

“Twelve.”

“How far does he want to get?”

“Ninety-nine.”

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

Memorial #99wordstories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story behind a memorial. Is it a structure, plaque, or something else? What does it seek to remind those who view it? Go where the prompt leads!

Charli’s prompt was in honour of Memorial Day commemorated in the United States on 30th May.

In Australia, we have two main days for remembrance — ANZAC Day on 25th April (which we share with New Zealand), and Remembrance Day on 11th November (which we share with many other countries).

Every evening, The Ode is recited at many RSL (Returned and Services League) Clubs around Australia. The Ode is the fourth stanza of the poem “For The Fallen” by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943). 

At times such as these, I always think of my family members, especially my father, who fought in the Second World War. This is my response. I hope you like it. It is a #99wordstory but it is truth (as I know it), not #flashfiction.

Memorial

As a child, he lived at Yuleba, a tiny town in south-western Queensland. His father was a boundary rider on the fence bordering New South Wales, keeping rabbits out of Queensland. A peaceful if difficult life. Aged 20, he enlisted. His overseas service included the battle at Milne Bay, a turning point of the war. Upon their return, servicemen were told to forget. Memories and nightmares disagreed, but it was years before he could talk, let alone write, about his experiences. After his death, his words were engraved on a memorial in his home town, never to be forgotten.

These are the words on the memorial, a brief extract from a longer poem Ode to the Old Digger by RJ (John) Irwin.

You’ve seen him marching with his mates all in sombre mood;

For they march to pay homage, and remember fallen mates

But, they also remember the horrors of their fates

and they pray to God their sons will never have to face

 a similar situation for there’s never any winners only death.

Aah! But did you see him in his glory, as he stood among the dead

and he wondered why it had to be;

…So look upon him gently for he is not to blame

 For he only fought that all peoples may be free.

So let us honour him, and give him his just due

For he is only man, just like me and you;

But he was called upon to make a stand

against an inhuman ideology, too horrible for minds to grasp

and all he asks for now, is a chance to live in peace.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Well’s Gone Dry, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Well’s Gone Dry #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 “well’s gone dry.” Is it a real well or a metaphorical well? Why is it dry? What is the consequence and to whom? Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you like it.

Well’s Gone Dry

Having lived independently for years, when they moved in together, they had two of everything and needed nothing more. At their public celebration, they advised, ‘No gifts, please. Wishing well contributions appreciated.’

With well-paying jobs, they had no immediate need of the well’s contents, which they didn’t inspect but agreed to keep for a ‘rainy day’.

It sat untouched for many years, until it didn’t just rain; it poured.

“Must be all notes,” they said when it didn’t jingle.

There was but one note: “Always carry an umbrella in case of rain.”

The well remained the only thing dry.

Thank you blog post

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Soldier, Prisoner and Buttercup, which I unfortunately didn’t find time to respond to, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

The collection of stories made in response to the most recent prompt I responded to Mum Selfie can also be read at the Carrot Ranch.