Flash fiction: Sleeping


She lies on the sofa dreaming of librarians and love, naked Swimming Lessons and Ottolenghi. Envelopes fall through the letterbox and the telephone rings, the dinner needs cooking and the cat is hungry, still she sleeps on. Behind her closed lids a garden grows beside the sea.

‘What did you do with your life?’ A higher-being asks, turning the wheels and handles of its population-sized filing cabinet. The machine clunks and sticks on F.

‘I was working on my novel,’ she says.

‘Pah!’ Higher-being replies. ‘You were sleeping.’

She wakes, sits up and begins to write.


This week Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and our Friday Fictioneers host has selected one of my pictures for people to write to. And for those who don’t know, the picture is of the stacks in the university library where my husband works. The stacks is a system in the basement for storing books and documents. Click here to join in or here to read other people’s stories. My story this week is true.

If you’re so inclined it would be lovely if you would vote for my novel, Our Endless Numbered Days in the Edinburgh First novel award, and you’ll have a chance of winning a copy of all 56 novels nominated. (Scroll to the bottom of the page.)

80 thoughts on “Flash fiction: Sleeping

  1. Polished. I loved the line “Behind her closed lids a garden grows beside the sea.” Graphical imagery.
    I think it might be an idea for me to jot down my dreams. Never know when they might come in handy and I have a tendency to forget them …


  2. Naked swimming lessons? Where do I sign up? As for the picture, I had no idea what it was. However, it’s good for that to be the case from time to time. Too many people worry excessively about exactly what and where they’re looking it. Just write what comes to mind, who cares what the picture actually is 🙂


  3. Intriguing references here, Claire, and a powerful reminder not to procrastinate so much. I’m glad you liaised with the higher being and then came back to us!
    Typo, I think, in first para “she sleep[needs s] on”.


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  5. Dear Claire,

    What a fantastic photo you gave us. I’m enjoying the imaginative pieces it’s inspiring.

    I love this dreamy piece. I’ve been temporarily sidelined from swimming so the image of naked swimming is lovely for me. I am anxiously awaiting your second book. I love the first.




  6. Now I want to read your book, Claire. It is my duty to read as many published authors in this group, as I can… Rochelle – check! C.e.Ayr – awaiting the book; Claire Fuller – now on my to purchase list!


  7. Dear Claire,

    Thank you for this intimate peek into your self and the workings of your mind. The picture is beautiful and will evoke a wide range of thought provoking stories. Good work there. Why did it stop at ‘F’ I wonder? ‘Failure’? ‘Fibbing’? Ah, well, no matter. The story was all the better because it was true and one last thank you for teaching me about Ottolenghi. “Behind her closed lids…..” Beautiful.




    • It’s ‘F’ for ‘Fuller’ – the higher-being was checking up on me. I assumed lots of people wouldn’t know who Ottolenghi is, but that’s the nature of dreams, they’re often cryptic, even to the dreamer.


  8. I’ve learned to listen to my dreams. There’s almost always a kernel of reality in there. But a muse cracking the whip is a bit more than I can bear at the moment… it’s hard enough. Great story Claire.


  9. I use dreams and nightmares all the time in my writing. I find them quite inspirational. Beautiful imagery, and a nice kick in the pants too! Great picture, my muse immediately saw ‘humans’ as the reason for such storage. 🙂 Happy to know it’s all about the library.

    Wishing you all the best with your writing goals and the contest for your book!


  10. Lyrically lovely! Librarians, love, naked all in one line…I’ve always thought bookshops and libraries are potentially very erotic places.
    Good luck with this new book – the title is great.
    And that weird wonderful photo has inspired a huge variety of stories.


  11. A story I think all writers can relate to. Always something to do, other than the writing. At least you were dreaming and you did get going.
    Glad you told us what your photograph was of. I had it in my mind that it was a medical records department in the bowels of the hospital although try as I might that was not what my story ended up being about.


  12. If I spent more time writing than just thinking about it, I would have a stack of books completed by now. Your story made me think of one of my writing memoirs, Dusty Richards, whose advice is always, “Get your butt in the chair and write.”


  13. What a treat, Claire. Now I know who Ottolengi is. What pleasant ideas you have swirling around in this dreamy piece. I wonder why it stopped on “F.” Does it stand for fiction by any chance? Lovely writing.


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