Flash fiction: The Calliope Man



My sister cried the day they dismantled the fair. She was in love with the calliope man who was a rough type with thick lips and a face that had seen better times. She stood by the instrument while it played, holding out the man’s trilby and dancing, showing her ankles.

He promised to take her with him, but in the morning, the man and his hat were gone. For fifteen years the fair has come to town and my sister still waits to hear those breathy whistles. She’s fifty now, too old they say, for the calliope man, or anyone else.


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 (this week provided by Ted Strutz) or here to join in and write your own.

I only recently learned what a calliope was, and it’s such a lovely sounding that I wanted to use it in a story. Here’s an example of one.


I’m really excited to let you know that my second book, Swimming Lessons, has just been acquired by Fig Tree (an imprint of Penguin). Click here to find out more.

55 thoughts on “Flash fiction: The Calliope Man

  1. Fifty is not too old. My dad remarried at 61! 🙂 But man, I loved your story. Such a sad tale with an ending that stays with you.


  2. I was once in love with a rough guy who used to take the fares on the Waltzers. You brought it all back, Claire, and thanks for the introduction to the word calliope.


  3. Poor woman. You mentioned that she showed her ankles while dancing, that hints at the era. Some people are happiest with not being able to let go, I think. Fulfilled wishes may not be what they really want in the end. And congrats on your second book.


  4. I can’t believe teasing him with those bare ankles didn’t make him quit his day job and run away to become a farmer. In those days, you were considered an Old Maid by age 15, right?


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