Writing Challenge 30 September 2019

The reason I’m posting this prompt because I like writing a little flash fiction. It’s something I treat as going to the gym for my writing muscles. If you want to join in, that’s brilliant, but there’s no pressure. If you want to leave a comment with a link, that’s great, but if you don’t feel ready to share yet, that’s also great. Or you could decide that you had a good session at the ‘gym’ and want to submit it somewhere, or use it as the basis for other work, which would be amazing. It’s up to you how you use this prompt. The only thing I would like to insist on is that you enjoy yourself.

Here is a picture and a quotation. The challenge is to write something that is sparked off by one or both of them. It doesn’t have to be directly related to either, just the story you hear when you see them. It’s limited to 500 words (or less, lots less if you need to, or a little more, and I don’t check), and you should try and finish it by next week. It can be prose, poetry, fact or fiction – just have fun.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

False enchantment can last a lifetime

WH Auden

If you wish, leave a link in the comments and I will drop in, read and comment, and I encourage everyone to do the same. I’ll also be sharing stuff on Facebook and wherever else I can think of. There are no prizes and no end goal, unless it is to have fun writing. I hope I get to see some awesome stuff sparked by this. Good luck!

I Still Remember

Photo by Mahfuzur Rahman on Unsplash

The plague came with a pedlar from over the mountains. First I buried my mother, then my wife. I buried my eldest son, then my father, then my youngest son. I buried my neighbours as their bodies lay in the street and even the crows stayed clear. I huddled at home with my daughter and we prayed and tried to keep our minds in the firelight.

As the cold nights crept in, the deaths stopped. I dug our vegetable patch, rethatched the roof and joined the rest of the village who survived in prayers at the church. Together we dragged together plans for the autumn ploughing and sowing. We organised the care of the orphans and the old. But the gaping loss continued. The new priest did his best and blessed our houses.

Then the dead moon came, the turn of the old year, the time the old priest warned us about and the new priest feared. The graves in the churchyard moved and shifted, like the blankets on a bed. We heard murmurs in the night and taps at the window. Dogs had to be chained up as they barked at shadows and cats went missing. Nanna Marie was found dead, savaged by something wild.

The new priest took charge and we scoured the village and he blessed our homes and fields. He blessed the small patches of herbs and roots we kept near our doors and the leaves stopped turning black. He held prayers just before sunset every evening. It wasn’t quite enough.

The graves were more disturbed. We took hunting dogs into the woods but found no wild beasts. Adela was found dead next to her gate, and her husband went mad with grief and hung himself. Rumours started about the dead returning.

I saw my wife, my darling wife, bloated and bloody, at the gate, right at the edge where the priest’s blessing ended, calling to me, calling that she was cold, that she was hungry, how could I turn my back on her love? I hid my daughter under the blankets and prayed by the fire. Nobody slept.

The priest called us together and persuaded us, ordered us and put us under a ban unless we dug up our recent dead. I sobbed as I obeyed. They were foul coloured and writhed in the sunlight. We burned them, all of them, and kept the fire going all that day and through the night and all the next day. We then knew peace and the village is safe now. The spring has come and the fields flourish. Too many of us still suffer and struggle with sleep, but it fades for the younger ones.

I will never forget the screams of those burned.

Writing Challenge 23 September 2019

The reason I’m posting this prompt because I like writing a little flash fiction. It’s something I treat as going to the gym for my writing muscles. If you want to join in, that’s brilliant, but there’s no pressure. If you want to leave a comment with a link, that’s great, but if you don’t feel ready to share yet, that’s also great. Or you could decide that you had a good session at the ‘gym’ and want to submit it somewhere, or use it as the basis for other work, which would be amazing. It’s up to you how you use this prompt. The only thing I would like to insist on is that you enjoy yourself.

Here is a picture and a quotation. The challenge is to write something that is sparked off by one or both of them. It doesn’t have to be directly related to either, just the story you hear when you see them. It’s limited to 500 words (or less, lots less if you need to, or a little more, and I don’t check), and you should try and finish it by next week. It can be prose, poetry, fact or fiction – just have fun.

Photo by Mahfuzur Rahman on Unsplash

Nothing fixes a thing so instensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.

Michel de Montaigne

If you wish, leave a link in the comments and I will drop in, read and comment, and I encourage everyone to do the same. I’ll also be sharing stuff on Facebook and wherever else I can think of. There are no prizes and no end goal, unless it is to have fun writing. I hope I get to see some awesome stuff sparked by this. Good luck!

Dimming

Photo by Elijah O’Donnell on Unsplash

He left yesterday morning. He wanted me to go with him, but I insisted on staying. Someone needed to look after the chickens and keep an eye on things. He said he would be back before I knew it with someone to sort out the generator.

It seems a long time ago. It’s a long time since I had a charge on my phone, and longer still since the last log burnt out of the fire. Now all I can do is watch the flame ebb on the lamp and wait.

And all the time the pad of paws pacing around the house grows louder. I hope the lamp lasts the night.

Writing Challenge 16 September 2019

The reason I’m posting this prompt because I like writing a little flash fiction. It’s something I treat as going to the gym for my writing muscles. If you want to join in, that’s brilliant, but there’s no pressure. If you want to leave a comment with a link, that’s great, but if you don’t feel ready to share yet, that’s also great. Or you could decide that you had a good session at the ‘gym’ and want to submit it somewhere, or use it as the basis for other work, which would be amazing. It’s up to you how you use this prompt. The only thing I would like to insist on is that you enjoy yourself.

Here is a picture and a quotation. The challenge is to write something that is sparked off by one or both of them. It doesn’t have to be directly related to either, just the story you hear when you see them. It’s limited to 500 words (or less, lots less if you need to, or a little more, and I don’t check), and you should try and finish it by next week. It can be prose, poetry, fact or fiction – just have fun.

Photo by Elijah O’Donnell on Unsplash

Never make a defence or an apology until you are accused.

Charles I of England

If you wish, leave a link in the comments and I will drop in, read and comment, and I encourage everyone to do the same. I’ll also be sharing stuff on Facebook and wherever else I can think of. There are no prizes and no end goal, unless it is to have fun writing. I hope I get to see some awesome stuff sparked by this. Good luck!

Reading the Label

Image by Lyssa Medana

My grandmother’s funeral was three years ago, but I still missed her. We were very close. Mum and dad had been caught up in their careers and while that meant I went home to a lovely, large house with every comfort, I spent more time with Gran.

Gran was as driven as my parents. You did not dawdle around or dither. You decided what you wanted to happen and then went out and happened. She had given up work the week before my mother was born, and was soon on every school board and committee in the area. As a result, she knew everyone, she knew their parents and she knew what they had been up to behind the supermarket. She was a force of nature.

And that is how I came to spend most of my Saturday mornings at The Grange. It had been the old vicarage, and the last vicar to use the big house had bequeathed his collections to the parish as an educational facility. For a few years it had taken off. People donated fossils and relics found on travels. There were unnaturally posed stuffed animals donated by a bankrupt taxidermist. A few Roman coins, an alleged Neolithic axe and a selection of postcards filled up other cases.

But now The Grange was closing amidst council cuts and restructuring, and the donors were being contacted to claim the dusty contents before the council disposed of the leavings.

Gran had donated the pieces of Goss china inadvertently won at the Dutch auction in aid of the local donkey sanctuary, only at the suggestion of the curator. Poor Vicky did her best, and she was trying to get a china exhibit together to fit around the miscellaneous donations. I remembered Gran writing the labels as she commented with acid precision on ‘museum quality’ china and cheap knickknacks and why someone styling themselves a curator should know the difference. I had been around five years old and I perched on the chair next to her, swinging my legs, as she wrote label after label in her immaculate copperplate for fake Spode, dubious Wedgewood and what she dismissed as cheap fairings.

The back room had a forlorn look. “You’ve come for your Grandmother’s donation?” Vicky managed a tired smile.

“Sort of.” I said. “You know what Gran was like.”

Vicky’s eyes flashed for a moment with the shell-shocked gaze of someone who had tried to manage Gran. “I remember. Anyway, here’s your little cache.”

For a moment my throat closed over as a wave of longing for my Gran. She would have organised this a lot better, I thought, and would have had a lot to say. I swallowed, managed a smile, and rummaged in my bag. “I know what she would have wanted.” I said, my voice husky, and snipped off the labels. Blinking back tears, I hurried out of there, clutching the labels and leaving the china behind.

Writing Challenge 9 September 2019

The reason I’m posting this prompt because I like writing a little flash fiction. It’s something I treat as going to the gym for my writing muscles. If you want to join in, that’s brilliant, but there’s no pressure. If you want to leave a comment with a link, that’s great, but if you don’t feel ready to share yet, that’s also great. Or you could decide that you had a good session at the ‘gym’ and want to submit it somewhere, or use it as the basis for other work, which would be amazing. It’s up to you how you use this prompt. The only thing I would like to insist on is that you enjoy yourself.

Here is a picture and a quotation. The challenge is to write something that is sparked off by one or both of them. It doesn’t have to be directly related to either, just the story you hear when you see them. It’s limited to 500 words (or less, lots less if you need to, or a little more, and I don’t check), and you should try and finish it by next week. It can be prose, poetry, fact or fiction – just have fun.

What you risk reveals what you value.

Jeanette Winterson

If you wish, leave a link in the comments and I will drop in, read and comment, and I encourage everyone to do the same. I’ll also be sharing stuff on Facebook and wherever else I can think of. There are no prizes and no end goal, unless it is to have fun writing. I hope I get to see some awesome stuff sparked by this. Good luck!

Iron Railings

“Why do they still use iron railings, Mr Benson?” Ollie worked his shoulders before getting back to rubbing the paint down.

“Hm?” Mr Benson was checking the cans of paint. “Make sure you get a good surface on those railings. Get all the gloss off before we paint it.”

“But why don’t they put in those Perspex panels?” Ollie said. He tried to find a better angle. “Lots of places have those panels. And they don’t need much upkeep.”

“Never try and talk yourself out of a job, lad.” Mr Benson squinted at the fine print on the tins of paint. “It may only be work experience, but it’s better than nothing at all, and it gets you out in the fresh air. If it was them new panels then you wouldn’t need someone to paint them. No, they have to be cold iron.”

Ollie changed hands, now thankful that Mr Benson had insisted on gloves. “Why iron, Mr Benson. Why not wood, if you need to make jobs and keep people out of the ruins.”

“Iron is special.” Mr Benson said, shaking the tin. “It’s long lasting, if you look after it. You can shape it more or less how you like, and it’s been around for a while so you know what to expect.” He looked down at the young lad. “You’re doing alright there, lad. Yes, iron is special. There’s a lot of superstitions about iron, you know. They say fairies and elves can’t stand it.” He paused. “I suppose I can tell you what I learned as an apprentice, when I was about your age. I don’t know how true it is, but it’s what Mr Harvey, the old gaffer, used to say. You see, this was a fine Abbey, very rich, with lots of monks and servants and despite what they say, a lot of good was done as well as a lot of bad. But when the Abbey was closed down by King Henry, something odd happened.” He paused. “Don’t forget to rub under than ledge there with the glass paper.”

Ollie shifted, changing the paper from one hand to the other again as cramp set in. “You mean, like witchcraft?”

“I don’t know about that, just that strange things happened.” Mr Benson looked between the railings. “All I know is that people still see strange lights inside the Abbey at night, when no-one’s supposed to be there. Sometimes iron railings aren’t there to keep people out. Sometimes they’re there to keep something in.”

Writing Challenge 2 September 2019

The reason I’m posting this prompt because I like writing a little flash fiction. It’s something I treat as going to the gym for my writing muscles. If you want to join in, that’s brilliant, but there’s no pressure. If you want to leave a comment with a link, that’s great, but if you don’t feel ready to share yet, that’s also great. Or you could decide that you had a good session at the ‘gym’ and want to submit it somewhere, or use it as the basis for other work, which would be amazing. It’s up to you how you use this prompt. The only thing I would like to insist on is that you enjoy yourself.

Here is a picture and a quotation. The challenge is to write something that is sparked off by one or both of them. It doesn’t have to be directly related to either, just the story you hear when you see them. It’s limited to 500 words (or less, lots less if you need to, or a little more, and I don’t check), and you should try and finish it by next week. It can be prose, poetry, fact or fiction – just have fun.

Photo of Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds, I took a while ago

My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.

Mitch Hedberg

If you wish, leave a link in the comments and I will drop in, read and comment, and I encourage everyone to do the same. I’ll also be sharing stuff on Facebook and wherever else I can think of. There are no prizes and no end goal, unless it is to have fun writing. I hope I get to see some awesome stuff sparked by this. Good luck!