Flash fiction: E45 to J17


Richie yawned. Pounding head, furry tongue, woolly brain; he’d rather be sleeping. He drove the sweeper out of the depot. He didn’t like today’s route – too many parked cars, but he could do it with his eyes closed, almost.

Fragments of the previous night came back: the club, the dancing…that girl. That girl! He’d been sure she was up for it. He’d spent a fortune on drinks, then when they were on the street she’d changed her mind. Silly cow.

At E48 the machine swept up an object and stopped. Richie sighed and climbed out. Odd, he thought. Right by last night’s club.


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 Ceayr) or here to join in and write your own.


This week I’m a NaNoWrimo Coach, and taking over the organisation’s Twitter account. So if you’re writing 50,000 words in November, search for #NaNoCoach on Twitter, and come and ask me a question.

78 thoughts on “Flash fiction: E45 to J17

  1. Dear Claire,

    Could it be Kismet? Nah…I don’t think so either. 😉 Perhaps Ritchie needs to change his approach. Furry tongue and woolly brain added at least another hundred words. Well done.




  2. Love the first two paragraphs. The third didn’t quite work for me, hard to say why. I think I worry about the number of murders in these stories. Seems very easy to kill people in a few words. Not sure if she is dead, but I’m guessing that’s one possibility…either that or she was raped. Whatever outcome it’s a gruesome situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very creepy! Great build up for so few words.
    Read this on a tiny screen where the shoe looked like a leaf then saw it properly and it made perfect sense.
    I too wonder at times at the number of deaths and amount of violence in FF, but this is clever because of the ambiguity. That grill beneath the shoe freaks me out far more than anything written too explicitly but maybe that’s my warped imagination. Engaging piece.


  4. Good work, Claire. I like the pace of this. You squeezed a lot into 100 words.

    C My only issue might be that you don’t mention what object has stopped the sweeper. With the assistance of the photo prompt, my mind leaped to a shoe immediately, but given other comments here, I’d like to see you clarify this a bit if you can find a way to do so in the 100-word constraint.

    As with all the stories I’ve critique this week, my comment here is pointing out but a tiny nit. It is quite fine as is. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

    All my best,


  5. C- I think the story is perfect and clear as it is. The guy was drunk and he doesn’t know what happenned exactly the previous night…the readers can only know what he knows at this time. His disrespect for the woman – calling her a silly cow – shows how the story would have ended without actually telling it.


  6. I really like your idea of a street sweeper and I thought you might tie it in to the terrorists. But this guy was a one man terrorist. I think I really hate men like this. I think it is hard to read all the stories about violence. But the shoe did evoke something bad happening to the person in my mind as well and because of the terrorist attack. I decided to make mine end on a positive note.


  7. I get the story but for me it is to ambiguous. C- This seems to be a great beginning to a mystery thriller. At this stage thoughthere are so many possibilities such as: that he did something to her, or something happened to her after they separated. It may not even be her shoe. Apart from that I loved the writing but I have been left up in the air wanting more.


  8. I love it, it creeps me out. C- I love the descriptions of the hangover, the semi blackout. I don’t think any changes are necessary. I like it that it’s ‘an object’ that stops the machine, and not ‘a shoe’. The reader knows from the picture that there’s a shoe. The guy will find out when he checks the machine. Then he starts to wonder, what have I done? And we know his attitude towards women. Did she run? Is she dead? Injured? Raped? This is a lot scarier than spelling it all out, IMO.


  9. Wow…….excellent take on this photo! “…that girl. That girl!” love this line. The repetition evokes the thought and then his emotional reaction to remembering. Also like the line “silly cow” as that gives us a hint of his real personality here. And so clever….”At E48 the sweeper”….as the route he takes. This is the stop he usually makes but something jars his machine and his memory here. Really really well done.

    On the C side: did you realize you’ve spelled his name differently … Richie at the beginning and Ritchie toward the end? Maybe for effect? Or perhaps not realizing? Might also consider a period after “He’d been sure she was up for it.” For me, that’s such a finality of his personality — his perception, his reading into it. Maybe adds a bit more oomph to the statement. As in….a matter of fact. Yeah, she was up for it.
    However, just a minor suggestion because as you can see from above, I really like the story! Very well done!


    • Thank you for such a thoughtful response to the story – I really appreciate it. I hadn’t noticed I’d spelled his name differently – good spot! And I agree about the period / full stop. Definitely right. I’ll make those changes. (And glad you liked it)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I like how this story unravels from an ordinary working guy with a hangover to something much more sinister. Whether he was responsible for what(if anything) happened to the girl or not, he’s clearly a nasty character.
    Not a criticism as such but a typo: Richie becomes Ritchie in the third para.


  11. First of all, that hangover is very well depicted.. the furry tongue and the pounding head.. those fragment of memory.. I get a feeling that he feels a little remorse or at least some fear that he me might have done something.. my choice is that the girl still made it home with one shoe.


  12. Nothing good comes from over-drinking. I love the pace of this one and how we can guess or assume he did something wrong… though he might not have (other than be a prick with a woman).


  13. This is terrific. Richie has a dark side – great description of his hangover, and I love the ambiguity you’ve placed there – just what did Richie do??? You and I seem to have thought along similar lines this week.


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