Flash fiction: Chalk Mountain



Can’t remember when I last saw her. Three months ago? Four? You know what it’s like in these old apartment buildings, you give a nod to a neighbour by the mailboxes, but tenants come and go all the time. Mrs Whitelaw, that was it. No, I never did learn her first name. I heard though that they had to break the door down. And d’you know what they discovered? Chalk. The whole apartment was full of those little lumps you can pick up from the park flowerbeds. Mountains of chalk in every room.

Mrs Whitelaw? No, she was never found.


This is a 100-word story for the Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click here to read some more inspired by the picture (also this week provided by Rochelle) or here to join in and write your own.

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: Chalk Mountain

    • Oh that’s so weird. I wasn’t thinking of that song at all, but I know it well. S&G is the sound of my childhood, and perhaps those lyrics seeped in somehow. Thanks, Rochelle – a great picture this week.


  1. Dear Claire,

    Well, chalk me down as one of the mystified. I will keep reading comments, but I understand that sometimes a mystery remains one while the characters (and readers) of a story look for answers. Luckily, I’ve got my Mystery file and three others from last week to help me with my search. As always, and this is a good thing, your writing is smooth and appears effortless. Well done.




    • Don’t worry, Doug. I too am mystified. I have no idea what has happened to Mrs Whitelaw or why she collected chalk. Has she just moved house because there was no room left for her in her apartment, or has she turned to chalk, or something else entirely? I’m hoping a reader will let me know too.


  2. Silly humans, she is still there. Just because you can’t see her, doesn’t mean she is not sitting in her favorite armchair, sipping her fifth cup of tea, looking at all the folks running around her apartment. She is just waiting for everyone to go away, so she can step back through her magic portal.
    See what you did, Claire. My imagination yet again escapes and runs around wild and crazy. All thanks to your fabulous story. 🙂


  3. I thought about doing something similar i.e. a neighbour who nobody had seen for a while (minus the chalk!)….but then I got distracted and ended up doing something else. Personally I like the idea of leaving people thinking WTF!, does us good to wonder what the heck we just read, occasionally. Cheers!


  4. A great ending. It could also be the beginning to another short- or even long- piece of fiction. Great job. I love the narrative voice.


  5. We have a mystery on our hands. I think every time Mrs. Whitelaw added a piece of chalk to her mountain, a little piece of her disappeared. She was replaced by chalk. Great writing, as always.


  6. I lived in a buidling like this in Brooklyn that had people you saw at the mailbox or at the front door. I was young and shy and never spoke to anyone. Now, I would. I like the way you express that. The ending was a pow moment. This reads to me like the reader should decide what the writer is trying to convey. I loved it. Very nice interpretation of the photo prompt.
    Isadora 😎


  7. Wonderful story, and what fun to read all the speculations in the comments. I think she moved and wrote an angry letter to the owners about all that chalk accumulating in that apartment. Who can live in such a place, and please give her her rent back. 🙂


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