Tag Archives: Flash fiction

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest Wanted Alive

(Writing Contest) Rodeo #4: “Wanted Alive”

He’s the fourth and final contest in the Carrot Ranch 2020 Flash Fiction Rodeo. Get your pencil sharpened or your fingers poised and start writing. Only 99 words to go!

One day at a time...

A few weeks ago, I announced the start of this year’s Rodeo. I hope you were able to participate in one, two, or maybe even all three of these special events I mentioned in that post. Heck, maybe you are being selected as one of the winners as we speak.

This week, it is MY turn to jump on the horse, grab it by the horns…
Oh, wait –

When I first volunteered to host this contest, I was thinking of all the other obligations I would have to attend to in the month of October. Admittedly, I was worried that I might not be able to fulfill all of my duties. If I am struggling, chances are that some of you might be, too. Mindful of your valuable time and your potentially overwhelmed minds, I decided to keep this contest easy. After all, this is meant to…

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Out of time flashfiction spooky campfire

Out of Time #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a spooky tale told around a campfire. It doesn’t have to include the campfire; it can be the tale. Go where the prompt leads!

I’m not overly familiar with campfires, and spooky tales are not a favourite genre. I remember a few stories about apparitions from my childhood and they gave me nightmares for a long time. I am pleased to be unlike Cole Sear in the Sixth Sense in that I am unable to see dead people. A few times when I thought I might, it totally freaked me out.

Additionally, there aren’t many spooky picture books, so as a teacher of young children I was not exposed to a great many spooky stories. There are the Funnybones stories by Allan and Janet Ahlberg which are delightfully humorous and not at all scary and, of course, Casper is a friendly ghost.

Needless to say, I hadn’t ever tried to write a spooky story, so Charli’s prompt raised the possibility as a now or never event. Here’s my attempt. I hope it works, even just a little bit.

Out of Time

Darkness fell as Martin hastened home. He hated passing the cemetery, especially at Halloween. Sometimes he crossed the road, but this night he was out of time. Hairs on his arms prickled and shudders crept up his spine as he passed the open gate. A light flickered inside. He tried to not look, to not be drawn by the group gathered around a campfire, beckoning, ‘Join us.’ Martin hunched further into his jacket. ‘Next year then?’ Their ghoulish laughter chased him down the street into the path of a speeding car.

‘Back so soon. Couldn’t wait? Mwahaha!’ they chorused.

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Carrot Ranch flash fiction TUFF part 2

TUFF Flash Fiction Contest Part Two

And the TUFF Carrot Ranch contest continues …
Have you already written your first draft 99-word flash fiction? If not, there’s still time. And now Charli presents us with the second part of the TUFF contest – to write two 59-word reductions, each from a different POV. Pop over to the Carrot Ranch to find out more.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Welcome back TUFF, rodeo writers!

By now, you’ve figured out you have an entire month to work on your flash fiction entry to TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction). That might lull you into complacency. It might tempt you to disregard the contest until the very end (October 26 when the submission form goes live with the final part). Let me convince you otherwise.

Mastering TUFF in its flash fiction form teaches you the skills every fiction writer needs. We all have to draft and we all have to revise. TUFF can be a tool to work on your story with progressive word constraints.

Last week, in TUFF Part One, you drafted a 99-word story. Do. Not. Touch. It. A raw draft is a raw draft. Let it be. What comes next are the tools of your writing craft. Use the next two constraints to revise your final 99-word story…

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#flash fiction The Mice Ate My Homework

The Mice Ate My Homework #flashfiction

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction - Mice

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story of mice. It can feature any variety of the little critters in any situation. Are the the character or the inciting incident? Use any genre, including BOTS (based on a true story). Go where the prompt leads!

I can’t think about mice without thinking of Rose Fyleman’s poem in which she states, ‘I think mice are rather nice.’

It’s a poem I’m sure nearly everyone must have learned sometime at school.

While I’m more included to agree with the people Rose says ‘don’t seem to like them much’, they figure in many stories for children and are usually portrayed as cute and adorable.

Possum Magic by Mem Fox

Even Hush in Possum Magic, one of my favourite Mem Fox picture books, started her journey as a mouse before being editorially transformed into a very cute and very adorable invisible possum.

The three blind mice with their severed tails may not be quite so cute, but really mice are everywhere, as Pussycat confirmed in his report on visiting the Queen.

A familiar tale is that of the pet dog eating the homework. But what if it wasn’t the dog, it was mice instead? Would that be more believable? That’s where I’ve gone in response to Charli’s prompt. I hope you like it.

The Mice Ate My Homework

“What happened to your homework this time?”

“It was mice, Miss.”

“I thought you got rid of the mice.”

“We did. In the house. But I left my bag in the car last night.”

“Hmm?”

“The car was in the shed.”

“Should’ve been safe there.”

“It would, except —”

“Except?”

“Tommy forgot to let Rusty out.”

“So?”

“Rusty usually chases the mice away.”

“And?”

“Dad accidentally left the window down. The mice got in and —”

“They ate your homework?”

“They thought it was tasty, Miss.”

“That’s not a smear of peanut butter there, is it?”

“Definitely not, Miss!”

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First flight #flash fiction

First Flight #flashfiction

It’s almost spring here in the Southern Hemisphere. The garden is dressing up in blooms of many colours and filling the yard with the sweet scents of wattle, jasmine and other flowers. Bees busily collect the pollen, butterflies flutter from one flower to another, the butcherbirds sing joyously from the treetops, while the cockatoos noisily crack the wattle pods and prune the tree.

Things are starting to feel fresh and new again and encouraging me to emerge from my recent writerly hibernation. While, for the previous six years I’d hardly missed responding to a weekly flash fiction challenge at the Carrot Ranch, I’ve not joined in for the past few months due to the demands of other work responsibilities. I finished that work a couple of weeks ago but have found it difficult to shake off the cobwebs and give creativity some air again. Perhaps spring and this week’s (extended) challenge provides the impetus for doing so.

In the current prompt, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a first flight. It can be anything or anyone that flies. What is significant about the first? Go where the prompt leads!

When thinking of a first flight and spring, how could I not think of butterflies?

butterflies in the classroom

One of my favourite things to do with my children in the classroom was to have a butterfly house and observe the magic of all the life stages from egg to butterfly. It was wonderful to have this special little piece of nature up close in the classroom where we could see what you don’t always get to see in the world outside.

Every day we would watch, fascinated, as the caterpillars munched their way through leaf after leaf, growing bigger and bigger. We eagerly awaited the moment they would form themselves into ‘j’ shapes, alerting us that they were about to pupate.

We were amazed at how quickly they shed their last skin to reveal the beautiful chrysalis they had become. Then we would watch and wait until they were ready to emerge as butterflies.

We knew when it was almost time as the chrysalis would become transparent and we could see the wings through the case. When they finally emerged, we would give them time to spread and dry their wings before releasing them into the garden for their first flight.

The growth of a butterfly is a great analogy for creativity or the development of an idea or project. Sometimes a lot of hard work has to be expended before the idea is ready to take flight and the beauty becomes a reality.

Here is my response to Charli’s challenge. I hope you like it.

Dear Butterfly, Love Caterpillar

Dear Butterfly,

You make the impossible seem possible. You inspire our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams. How can I be like you?

Dear Caterpillar,

Dreams create possibilities but now you are exactly who you were meant to be.

Dear Butterfly,

Life is monotonous. Everyone does the same thing, day after day. Shouldn’t life be more than this?

Dear Caterpillar,

Nothing happens overnight. Patience, determination and persistence will reward you in the end.

Dear Butterfly,

I’m tired. I can’t do this anymore. I think I will sleep forever. Goodbye.

 

Wake up, butterfly. It’s time to spread your wings and fly!

 

Another angle

butterfly clipart image

venkatrao, A butterfly flying with a dotted path over a hill background https://openclipart.org/detail/69967/1278212857

I thought I’d also share a poem that I wrote many years ago in response to an inspector’s visit to our school. As the title says, it is not really about a butterfly and was written long before I became the Butterfly Lady at another school.

I had always believed, and still do, that the children are the most important thing in the classroom and that we do our best for them every day. The teacher next-door wasn’t of the same view. We were in a large teaching space with our own areas separated by some cupboards arranged between us.

She spent a lot of time sitting at her desk, barking at the children to pay attention to her words. She had little of interest on display in the classroom and even less of the children’s own work. It was quite a contrast to my own space which was filled with activity, colour and children’s work.

When the inspector’s visit was announced, she suddenly decided to decorate her room and display children’s work. I was so flummoxed by this, that I was almost tempted to do the opposite. I believed that if what I did on a daily basis wasn’t good enough for the inspector, then it wasn’t good enough for the children either. I resisted the urge to tear everything down in protest (which might have been considered a flight from the situation) and wrote this poem instead.

Before reading it, I want you to know that the teacher and I were both teaching (perhaps I use that word lightly) year two and she was considerably younger than I.

Not Really About A Butterfly

Look at you now.

You put on your show.

Your butterfly colours are warmly aglow.

 

It’s hard to imagine

That not long ago

You were a mere silent pupa

With nowhere to go.

 

You flit and you flutter,

Cry, “Hey, look at me!”

And all turn their heads,

Wondrous beauty to see.

 

But where have you come from?

And how can this be?

 

Before . . .

Not one head would have turned.

There was nothing to see

— just a little green ball,

curled up on a tree.

 

Is it dishonest

to change rapidly?

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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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!

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