After almost a year’s break, I’m back to the blog! I didn’t do much writing last year as I was focusing on a rather large cycling challenge (John o Groats to Lands End), which was over 1000 miles. However, in November I took a couple of workshops with renowned flash fiction writer, Meg Pokrass and they really kickstarted my creativity.
My aim this year is to get my stories published in literary journals and long-listed/shortlisted and placed in competitions, and so far I’ve had a number of pieces accepted.
On 1 January I had a story long listed in Reflex Fiction‘s quarterly flash competition – great start to the year!
In February I was runner up in Retreat West‘s quarterly themed flash competition with my story, This Time See White, a story based on the death of my father. I also had my story, How to Write Well. Or Not accepted by the Cabinet of Heed, and have a couple of other stories forthcoming in journals.
I’ve just started another online workshop with Meg Pokrass and am hoping it’ll produce some more stories.
I trust you’re all having a wonderful year so far!
Happy to win Sometimes Stellar Storyteller Six Word Story Challenge this week 🙂 The prompt word was Tease and my story was ‘Maybe I will; maybe I won’t.’
Take part next week – it’s fun!
Sometimes Stellar Storyteller Six Word Story Challenge
Rob was obsessed with car-boot sales and every week he scoured the paper for new ones. There were so many now, popping up all over the place like pesticide-resistant weeds. They started early too, 6am in general. We gradually became accustomed to rising at 5 for a quick bacon sarnie and mouthful of coffee, then stumbling bleary-eyed out of the house to join the long line of cars snaking its way towards the muddy fields hosting the events. Each time we’d take a bunch of old tat, most of which we’d return with, along with a bootful of new garbage, which Rob insisted would make us wealthy. ‘One man’s rubbish is another man’s riches,’ he’d say.
One particular Saturday he picked up a painted skull mask for £2.00.
‘How creepy,’ I said when I saw it.
‘It’s unique, Mabel. Quite a find. Look at the markings.’
But I couldn’t agree and the eerie thing even started to affect my sleep. I’d lie there for hours staring up at the ceiling, imagining it lurking in the next room. Of course we couldn’t manage to sell it and the E-bay auction dates came and went without a sniff of interest.
Then one day at 3 am, I heard a scuffle downstairs then footsteps.
‘Rob, Rob,’ I whispered. ‘Someone’s trying to get in.’
I felt nauseous as I heard voices that seemed to be getting nearer.
‘Ssh,’ said Rob and tiptoed next-door.
The next thing I heard was a blood-curdling scream as the would-be burglars made a hasty exit.
Five seconds later Rob came back into the bedroom wearing the skull mask.
‘I always knew it would come in handy,’ he said with a wry smile.
This post was for Sunday Photo Fiction
The first one was a surprise. The second too. The third produced a snigger. The fourth a chortle. The tenth, a flinging down of the spade.
‘Whatever’s the matter, Henry?’ said Beatrice as she rushed into the garden.
‘It’s these bones. They’re flipping everywhere.’
Beatrice looked at the ever-increasing pile. ‘I see what you mean.’
‘Any idea what they might be?’
She picked one up and rubbed the smooth surface with her fingers as though it were a genie’s lamp. ‘Ostriches.’
‘And how did ostriches end up buried in a Scottish garden?’
‘I’m sure there’s a logical explanation, dear.’
Henry remembered the odd comment made by the estate agent when they purchased the house.
‘You won’t be able to plant anything there, sir.’
Poppy-cock, thought Henry, but he suddenly realised that the previous owner must have owned an ostrich sanctuary and buried each dead bird in the garden.
There was no choice. He’d just have to keep digging until he’d got rid of the whole damn lot!
And so he continued while Beatrice went to stay in a hotel ‘until he came to his senses.’
He never did and six months later was admitted to a mental asylum, where he was often heard counting. 1,567, 1,568, 1569…
Written for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: Week #24– 2016
This week’s photo prompt is provided by phylor.
They’d been cooped up inside the hotel all day so when the rain finally stopped, both were desperate to escape; Dana to soak up the sights of this fabulous city and Jack to send yet another text message.
After a few minutes of ambling, the pair came across a park, its trees and shrubs glistening from the earlier rainstorm.
‘Wow, Jack. Look!’ cried Dana as she spotted an exquisite cherubic statue shining in the dazzle of the late afternoon sun. The armless child was gazing heavenward, a beatific smile etched on the poor mite’s face.
‘Who on earth could have done this?’ murmured Dana as she spotted the arms lying nearby. She picked one up and slipped on a string of brightly coloured beads that she’d bought at a flea market earlier in the week.
‘That’s better,’ she said and took a step back to admire her handiwork.
‘Sentimental old fool,’ muttered Jack, who’d been pinging text message after text message while puffing petulantly on a rolled up cigarette.
Dana stared at him. He’d barely said a word all holiday so how dare he make fun of her now. She opened her mouth to say so but before she could, a pigeon swooped down and landed on his head. But Jack was so absorbed in texting that he didn’t even notice.
‘Jack,’ said Dana. ‘Jack.’
But Jack carried on texting and when he eventually raised his head and said, ‘what?’ Dana quietly replied, ‘It doesn’t matter.’
So that was the day that Jack wandered obliviously around Paris with pigeon poo all over his head and that was the day that Dana finally decided to leave him.
This post was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers
Heidi remembers this place from her childhood. She remembers the brisk walks her parents insisted they went on after church and the cheery, school-related talks her sullen teenager self was forced to endure as they bounded over fences and pushed their way through creaky kissing gates; She remembers the eggs they stole from the field near the farm. Left by wayward hens, according to her father, and so they were entitled. And the scrambled egg they’d make afterwards with the yolks as bright and yellow as the sun.
She remembers thinking how mind numbingly dull this place was. How the silence made her want to scream and scream until the ancient oak trees screamed back at her. She couldn’t wait to leave this place. Rushed off to uni as soon as she turned 18, fell into marriage before she was 30 and became an eminent lawyer by the time she was 40.
Now as Heidi strolls through the verdant Yorkshire countryside in her Hunter wellies and Barbour jacket, she breathes in the blissful peace, punctuated only by the chirp of a bird and bark of a distant dog, and feels sad that she hadn’t visited her dad more often.
He died alone, said the doctor. Was found slumped in a chair with Scottie by his side. Heidi cries when she thinks of this; but then she sees Scottie racing towards her, stick in mouth ready for her to throw it once more and she smiles.
This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction
The journey was tedious. Six long hours on an endless motorway and Reg refused to stop. Not even for the toilet! He’d just done a course on mindfulness and stubbornly believed that the only way to commit to an activity was to focus on it completely without straying for a moment, even for something as essential as a loo break.
But then he saw the writing. It was hard not to really. ‘The Pies’ was bold and brazen and scrawled on the bridge overhead. Reg speeded up slightly when we went underneath and his face changed.
‘What time is it?’ he said.
‘1.30.’ I didn’t need to look at my watch.
‘Hmm,’ he replied and kept on driving, but when he saw the next ‘Services’ sign, he indicated left.
‘I thought we were’t taking a break,’ I said.
‘Just a short one.’ His face was deadpan. ‘I’m rather peckish, aren’t you?’
I nodded, quietly delighted.
I picked up a sandwich in Costa, then watched in amazement as Reg strode over to a pasty shop where he stuffed a steak and kidney pie into his mouth.
‘I’d forgotten how much I loved them,’ he said between mouthfuls. Then he ordered another.
‘One for the road,’ he said.
This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction
‘Don’t think,’ said Ella. ‘Just choose. Follow your instincts.’
It was difficult. I’d always been a glass half full type of person yet the glasses which were half full contained liquids with colours that repelled me: a washed out, insipid sort of yellow; the kind of yellow your undies might turn should an errant grey sock creep into the load; a deep burgundy that smacked of cheap 70s suits and a washed out pink; the colour of flighty candy floss.
My favourite colour was cobalt blue and yet the glass with that shade of liquid was virtually empty. It’s such a shame I thought. That glass should be full.
‘You’re taking too long,’ said Ella. ‘I can see your mind working. Use your heart instead.’
I couldn’t decide so I closed my eyes, reached forward and grabbed the nearest glass to me.
‘Give it to me, dear.’ Ella’s voice was so kind and encouraging that I tentatively passed it over to her and opened my eyes. The glass I’d selected contained the yellow liquid.
‘Oh,’ I said, really disappointed.
‘It’s the sun glass,’ she said. ‘Good choice.’
And as soon as she said ‘sun,’ I saw something different in the yellow. I no longer saw washed out underwear but positivity, optimism and a glorious future, and when Ella started the reading, I knew that things were about to change for me.
This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction
The opening sentence for the May 19th Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: “This can’t be that hard.” Please use this sentence (or this thought) somewhere in your flash.
The Things that Daddies do
This can’t be that hard. Daddy plays the piano every morning and he says it’s easy. He zips his fingers along the keys creating the most beautiful songs and music, and people clap and sing along and tell him how wonderful he is and what a talent he has. He tells me that I must take after him as my fingers are as thin and lean as his, and that that’s a sure sign that I have the gift.
I started lessons last week. With an old lady called Mrs Bradford, who says ‘good, dear,’ ‘more slowly, dear,’ and stuff like that. She gave me a piece of chocolate cake afterwards and said I’d done well.
I want Daddy to teach me, but he says he can’t as he’s my dad and dads don’t do things like that. Dads do things like take their boys fishing and climbing. Only he doesn’t do those things either. I’m hoping that if I practise and get as good as he is, then he’ll do those things that he says that daddies do.
Written for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: Week #21– 2016
Yay! This week I won the Sometimes stellar storyteller six word story challenge with my micro story below on the theme of paranoia.
Working late,’ he says. Yeah, right.