Flash fiction: The Choice


In a hand-me-down swimming suit – sailor collar and bloomers – Alice sat atop the rock.  Charlie, Harry and Jack dived, their one-piece costumes sagging when they strode out of the water. Alice looked away. She watched them race each other on the sand and play tug-of-war with a chain. They demanded she select a winner, but there was nothing to choose between them: young, handsome men, full of life. She would have said yes to whoever asked first.

Two weeks later they were called up. Alice heard they didn’t even make it across the channel.

She should have kissed them all.


This is a Friday Fictioneers story. 100 (or so) writers writing 100 words (or so) inspired by the top picture.


Vote for Our Endless Numbered Days! The Reading Agency is holding a fun poll to see who readers think should win The Desmond Elliott Prize. Click here to vote for one of the shortlisted novels, including mine.

78 thoughts on “Flash fiction: The Choice

  1. Dear Claire,

    As a swimmer I can’t imagine trying to do it in one of those get-ups women wore back in the day. 😉

    Your story, well written as always, leaves an ache in my heart. Lovely.




    • Thanks so much Rochelle. On Friday my son is 20, and last night he sat beside me playing his guitar – it was such a wonderful evening. Most likely the same age as the men in my story. It makes my heart ache too.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Where did you get that amazing photo?
    We have an album made for my father by his mother – snaps of similar young men showing off on the beach, doing handstands with the tops of their costumes rolled down. In brackets beside some of the pictures my grandmother has named boys who didn’t make it through the war. Thankfully all her sons did, or I suppose I wouldn’t be here for one thing.

    Great story in those 100 words. Full of sadness and lost youth.
    (Interesting language point – one ‘dived and one ‘dove’ so far in the stories I’ve read in FF so far. I can never get my head around the latter form of the verb.)


  3. Wowza. Looks like “atop” is the word of the week. I’ve thought about using it before but was slightly concerned it might be seen as old hat/pretentious. However, I bit the bullet this week and used it, after a minor moment of swithering. The fact that a “pro” used it has me at peace for now. Good story.


  4. (I voted – again! Glad to see you’re ahead. Go! Claire!) Anyway, this is lovely. Like Rochelle, I often wonder what it would be like to swim in those outfits. And, yes, she should have kissed them all.


  5. I love the last line. Oh, so sad. You can never predict these things. Hey, I voted for you. And, I saw that you were figured on WordPress today. Yay!! Congrats, Claire!!


  6. This is full of emotion without being overly sentimental. Lovely.
    PERFECT LINE KLAXON>>>> “…their one-piece costumes sagging when they strode out of the water. “


  7. Dear Claire,

    Solemn, sad and so, so simply told. You are a subtle master of your craft. That you used your piece to shine a compassionate and humanizing light on the young men (and women) of the greatest generation quietly thrilled me as we both wrote similar tales this week. Good company for me. Well done.




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