Tag Archives: flash fiction

the test of time

sunset crane

photo credit: Sarah Miles

Last month I entered a flash fiction competition over at Paper Swans. The challenge was to write a 150 word piece of flash fiction using the photo to the right as a prompt.

My entry didn’t win but as it was the shortest ‘story’ I had ever written I was quite chuffed that I managed to do it at all – I really had to hack it back to what felt like the bare bones.

Anyway, I thought I would share it here. I’d love to know your thoughts (the winner was decided by votes so I didn’t get any feedback… that could be a good thing though!)

Oh, and do pop over to Paper Swans; it’s a new venture supporting poets and writers of flash fiction and is well worth a look.

The Test of Time

She had always been tall and skinny although, even in her early days, was never considered beautiful. Those she worked alongside had inevitably attracted more admiration than she could with her awkward, angular frame.

Yet, as the years had gone by, people around her had gained a certain appreciation for what she did have to offer. After all, a towering physique was exactly what was needed in her line of work and what she lacked in aesthetics she certainly made up for in strength. This recognition had allowed her to power through life, stacking up accomplishments. On reaching the glass ceiling she’d simply smashed it up and thrown it on the scrapheap.

But now her lengthy working life was drawing to a close and as the sun sank below the skyline she downed tools for the final time. Peace descended over the construction site. Tomorrow a newer, more modern crane would take her place: she was officially ‘out of service’.

Prose for Thought

a mother’s love

sleeping baby gold

She stood gazing down at this vision of complete contentment – her baby boy’s peaceful, sleeping form. He looked, to her fond eyes, almost edibly gorgeous with his rosebud mouth, little squidgy nose and blond, downy hair framing the gentle curve of his cheeks. Clutched to his chest was his favourite teddy; his arms – even in sleep – wrapping it in a tight embrace with one plump hand clutching at its fluffy foot. And those fingers! Each one with its dimpled knuckle, soft skin and miniature nail seemed a tiny testament to the human ability for perfection.

She was filled with a rush of love and the sudden wild need to scoop him up in her arms, to bury her face in the soft skin of his neck and breath in his baby scent. Her arms ached at the thought.

Behind her, a door slammed and she was jarred suddenly from her reverie. She heard the sound of shoes being kicked off and a moment later a lanky young man strode into the room.

“Alright Mum?” He said, brushing her arm not-unaffectionately as strode past her to the fridge “Just grabbing some lunch… is there any food?” Then, noticing her attention was still fixed on something in her hands, he came and peered over her shoulder: “What have you got there?”

She sighed lightly, shaking herself back into the present: “Yes of course there’s food, darling, unless you and your brother have eaten it all since I last looked… which actually wouldn’t surprise me…” She said with fond exasperation. Then, returning her attention again to what was in her hands, she responded to his other query: “I was just looking at one of your baby photos – I found it in a drawer when I was clearing some things out. It took me back.”

She looked once more at the tiny face in the picture and then up at the distinctly larger one now next to her. She searched his features. Was there a trace of the baby there still? Perhaps in the curve of his lip? The shape of his brow?

She sighed again. He was already turning to move across the room. He was his own person now; always going somewhere, meeting someone or off doing something-or-other. He was a lovely lad and she was proud of him, but sometimes she longed to be the centre of his universe again. These days she felt like merely an orbiting satellite.

She turned to place the photo on a shelf and was surprised to feel a hand on her shoulder.“You’re getting all sentimental again aren’t you?” he said, “Come on, make me a cup of tea and I’ll let you bore me with tales of how cute I used to be!”

He smiled at her and suddenly she saw before her not just the teenager he now was, but the proud ten-year-old who’d won the award at school, the excited six-year-old who’d just got his new bike, the four-year-old dancing wildly round the kitchen table, the toddler running into her arms and, yes, even the baby sleeping contentedly, arms wrapped tightly round his favourite teddy.

***

A bit of a soppy story from me today! I was looking at my youngest boy this morning (he’s 14 months old now) and thinking how gorgeous he is and how part of me can’t bear the idea of him – or his brothers – getting any older. I just want them to stay my adorable little guys forever! But, of course, they won’t and really I don’t want them to. I love watching them grow up and I hope one day to see them turn into lovely men.

And that’s what inspired me to write this story. I was trying to capture a sense of continuing nature of motherhood and that somehow  – even when they’re huge people with massive feet – they are still and always the tiny life we first created. (I hope – my oldest is only six – but time will tell!)

I wrote it with the baby at my feet (although he is now having a nap) so it’s a bit rushed… oh, and he’s now waking up so I’d better just publish this!

Prose for Thought

 

 

one day

beach

Kate watched him as he ran along the sun-drenched pier, his little arms waving exuberantly and his blond curls bouncing with every step. Every few metres he would look back over his shoulder and she would catch a glimpse of his dancing eyes and wind-rouged cheeks; his mouth opened wide in an ecstatic laugh.

His voice carried back to her, “Look at me, Mummy, look! Look!” Of course, Kate looked. He was so jubilant, filled with the thrill of this bright, spring morning with its sea air, sunshine and promise of adventure. It made her heart leap to watch him. She imagined the tableau they would make together on this sweep of weathered boards with the glittering ocean as its backdrop. It must be a beautiful one.

Then, as she watched, a young woman ran past her and towards the boy, sweeping him up into her arms and spinning him around. The boy shrieked with laughter and grabbed at her face with his chubby hands. Smiling, the woman kissed him and set him back down. As he ran off laughing, his cries of “Catch me, Mummy!” reached Kate as she watched the two of them racing away from her.

She turned away with a sigh, wiping away the tears that had sprung suddenly to her eyes. Trudging slowly back towards the shore she told herself – just as she had done everyday for the last five, arduous years of monthly disappointments – ‘There is always hope. Maybe, one day…’

 

Linking up my story with #Prose4T over at Verily Victoria Vocalises.

Prose for Thought
Post Comment Love

fit for a king

little king

 

It had been a magnificent banquet: a multitude of textures and tastes had delighted his palate and the drink, as always, had been plentiful. Now, stomach bulging, he sat back and surveyed his kingdom. It was comfortable and familiar and peopled with loyal subjects.

He was fortunate to be surrounded by those who ensured his every need was met and his every whim attended to. For as long as he could remember, his meals had been prepared for him, his clothing washed and his good temper ensured through a range of entertainments. Only that morning he had been delighted by a dazzling performance by the court jesters, which had had everyone laughing uproariously.

Yet, despite the power he seemed to have over them all (sometimes the merest smile would be enough to send them scurrying around him) he knew instinctively that these were not merely his servants. These were people he loved and who loved him back, fiercely and protectively.

A sudden hush descended on the room. He looked at the smiling faces surrounding him, wondering what was about to happen. Then a shimmering object topped by a single flame was placed before him and all around him people began singing.

His mother stepped forward and planted a huge kiss on his forehead. “Happy Birthday, my darling” she said fondly as she blew out the candle on his first birthday cake.

 

My baby turns one this weekend so I thought I’d try writing another short piece of prose to mark the occasion. I attempted a loving poem but it was unbelievably twee! Happy birthday to my gorgeous boy.

 

Prose for Thought

peaceful prose

I’ve been setting myself a few writing challenges recently and linking up with Writing Warriors over at Beautiful Misbehaviour to blog about them. This week, one challenge was to write a short piece of prose. It’s not something I normally do; creative writing for me usually means short stories of at least 1500 words. Flash fiction is outside my comfort zone but I figured, why not try something new?

This is what I came up with (and it’s under 200 words!):

 

She lay submerged, floating peacefully just below the surface. Now and then, fragments of the world beyond drifted down to her; sounds she was dimly aware of but could not respond to. It was so calm down here. She felt suspended in time, her mind free to roam and tumble between realms.

A thought, barely formed, drifted across her consciousness. Was there something she needed to do? She loitered, not wanting to leave this tranquil space. But a sound had begun insistently burrowing its way in to her brain, nearly rousing her to action, but not quite… not quite. Reality could not reach her yet, even as she felt it stretch out its fingers. Let me stay a while longer, she pleaded silently, let me stay.

Attempting oblivion, she dived deep. But it was not enough; a piercing cry twisted and gouged its way through her skull. She was dragged violently upwards and found herself exploding through the surface.

She was fully awake. The baby was screaming. Sighing, she heaved herself from her warm bed and dragged leaden limbs through the darkness, leaving sleep’s soft sunbeams scattering in her wake.

 

As you may have guessed, this is a scenario I am familiar with. I love my sleep and being dragged from it is not something I relish!

I’m linking up with Prose for Thought over at Verily Victoria Vocalises.

 

Prose for Thought