Tag Archives: Flash fiction

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.

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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

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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.

Thank you blog post

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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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