Flash fiction: For the love of squirrels


My mother fed the squirrels left-overs: scraps of bacon rind, apple peelings, and the skins of grilled tomatoes that my father left on his plate. The squirrels would only go to her – sitting in the palm of her hand to eat. She named them, worried about them, loved them, more than her own child.

The investigating officer thought the fire had started in the attic. ‘The electrical cables were probably gnawed through,’ he said, putting his hand over mine.

‘Squirrels?’ I asked.

‘I’m afraid so.’

As he completed his report I bit my cheek hard and right on cue, the tears flowed.


A Friday Fictioneers 100-word (or so) story inspired by the picture supplied by Ted Strutz. Friday Fictioneers is organised and run by the wonderful Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click here to join in, and here to read other pieces. I’d love to know what you think of mine – please leave a comment!


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78 thoughts on “Flash fiction: For the love of squirrels

  1. I shall pretend that her only problem was an inability to express emotion over her mother’s death; but I just know that her problems are far greater than that. 🙂 Nice one.


  2. But was it the squirrels or were they being fitted up…?


    Great flash. I really enjoyed this. And it only slightly had something to do with my squirrel obsession.


  3. Oooh, chills of the best sort. You were very subtle, allowing me to feel smug that I “caught on” before reading the comments. (We have squirrels in our attic at work…hmmmm.) Well done!


  4. I love this story and knew right away – it was the daughter. When she had to bite her jaw so she could cry on cue. Sneaky girl who will probably get away with it and grow up to greater and bigger murders. Good job! Nan 🙂


  5. Dear Claire,

    I hate you, I love you, I hate you, I love you…. You are such a fine writer. (And not at all too subtle. Everything was perfect in its place.) Going to go gnaw on some wires in your attic now.




  6. Not at all too subtle. First time I read this lovely mystery, “… even her own child …” didn’t register, so I got to the end and knew that the child had caused the fire. I wondered if it had been an accident and she wanted to cover her guilt by letting the squirrels be blamed. Then I re-read the story to see how you’d written about her father, then her mother. The skinning of the tomatoes raised an eyebrow for a moment. For me, you could have left out the ‘even her own child, bit’. I do like those skinned tomatoes, even if they mean ‘nothing’. I look forward even more to your book! 🙂


  7. There’s so much going on here. The father leaving food on his plate, the mother and her pet project, the child and feelings of abandonment…the fire. I love it that my imagination can go in so many directions with this one.


  8. I loved this one, starts as such a nice observational piece and then you slipped in “loved them, more than her own child”. And bang the last line that turned it all around. Ooh! Evil murdering child.


  9. Pingback: In the Media: 25th January & 1st February 2015 | The Writes of Woman

  10. I have to admit, Claire, that I didn’t get it wasn’t the squirrels until I read the comments. Maybe that was because we once had a raccoon in our attic. That child better get help before she harms someone else she’s angry with. Well done as always. — Suzanne


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