Flash fiction: Un-telling


The early morning light filters through the empty bottles and stains my nightdress blue, green and red as I lean over the back of a kitchen chair, waiting, breathing. It had been quite some party. I remembered Rex, drunk on happiness, breaking his promise to me, and telling our guests to mark their diaries for seven months when they would be returning for a christening.

So many glasses raised, so many congratulations, so much love.

And now as another cramp grips me, I think about all the un-telling I will have to do, starting with Rex.


This is a 96-word piece of flash fiction based on the picture prompt above, this week provided by Marie Gail Stratford. It’s part of the Friday Fictioneers group run by Rochelle Wisoff-Field. Rochelle dedicates a great deal of her time each week to uploading, visiting and commenting on all our pieces of writing. To join in with your own story, visit Rochelle’s website here, or to read some of the other stories based on this prompt click here.

63 thoughts on “Flash fiction: Un-telling

  1. Dear Claire,

    Can you hear my indrawn breath as I finish your story. ‘Oh, my God, this is so good’, is what went through my mind. You made me feel so many emotions, not the least of which is dismay and sadness that she is going to (seemingly) go through what is happening to her alone. That is what good writers do…draw you in and hammer you to the ground in pain and amazement. So good…




  2. Brilliant. And the use of the word ‘untelling’ for what she will have to do for the next few weeks is so clever. Such a simple word yet infused with so much pain in this piece. Well done. And nice to see you here early too. 🙂 What’s up? Couldn’t sleep?


  3. Claire, I agree that this was painful to read but excellent writing as always. I asked my daughter to check on some authors, and her boyfriend who writes supplied us with the following names: Jenny Offill-“Department of Speculation”; Jennifer Egan-“A Visit From the Goon Squad”; and Karen Russell-“Vampires in the Lemon Grove” (This last book consists of short stories.) I hope that helps you. 🙂 —Susan


      • Thanks Claire. I haven’t read many books lately. The libraries here are few and far between and I haven’t yet gotten to the bank to activate my card so that I can start using my new Kindle. I use a walker because of arthritis and sciatica, and we have to go up and down 42 steps from our flat to the ground floor. They never put a lift in this building. There’s a place for one, but the members of the Society didn’t want to pay for one.—Susan


  4. From joy to deep sadness in so short a time. I can’t imagine having to go through an un-telling such as this. Well done, Claire. (Have I told you my sister’s name is Clare? I love the name – warm and smart.)


  5. This is a fantastic story from such a go-anywhere prompt, Claire. I’m in awe. You tell the tale with this fantastic voice that makes the emotion stronger without the writing being at all hyperbolic. Untelling is the best example of this voice, and such a fantastic description of what she’s going to have to go through.
    My only criticism is the use of Christening to tell us it’s a birth we’re looking at – I don’t know if it’s different where you are, but most people I know don’t plan Christenings this far before baby’s born, so for a moment I wondered whether the cramps were labour pains (which I’m convinced they aren’t meant to be). Maybe baby shower would achieve the same end without the confusion?
    But the emotion the story brings out – especially in anyone who’s experienced untelling – just brilliant


    • I know what you mean about the christening. I did wonder about that, but I decided to keep it, because I think Rex doesn’t actually mean to really invite people to a christening – he’s just using that as a way of making the announcement, because how would he even know it would be seven months (christenings are often much after the baby is born). Baby shower would certainly work better in terms of timing, but in my head this is set in the 1970s and they wouldn’t have had them. However there’s no way a reader would know that!

      I really appreciate the comment though – I love a bit of debate about the finer points of writing.



  6. I like Rex. He’s so bursting with happiness he can’t help but tell their secret, despite his promise. Poor people. I love how you’ve used the colours of the bottles as ‘stains’. Great imagery.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s