Flash Fiction: Paper dream


In a box labelled Images d’Épinal, Eva found a flat paper model called Statue De La Libertè. It took her three evenings to meticulously cut around each shape, fold every tab, and stick them together. There were little family groups to attach to the edge: a plump man with a young son gazing upwards, a woman with two children, a mother holding a baby.

When it was finished, Eva imagined herself part of that tiny perfect world; and chose to ignore the too-bright colours, the fixed smiles on the faces, and deliberately forgot that it was all made of card.


This is a 100-word flash fiction story inspired by the picture. It’s part of the Friday Fictioneers group, where our hostess, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields gives us a picture to write to, this week supplied by Lucy Fridkin. Click here to join in, or here to read other people’s.


Images d’Épinal were originally stylised and brightly coloured designs developed by a
Frenchman in the town of Épinal. The phrase is now used for something that is so perfect and happy that it is unreal, a chocolate-box image as we might say in England. I’d be interested to know what idioms fellow Friday Fictioneers use for this phrase around the world. s-l500

44 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: Paper dream

  1. Claire, that was beautiful.
    I’m Australian. We have a few phrases which might fit. “Living in fairyland”, “OTT or over the top”. There’s also a line from an iconic Australian movie called: “The Castle”…”Them ‘im he’s dreamin'” and another line: “That’s one for the pool room.” (meaning something special.)
    Another Australian phrase you might find interesting is: “Not happy, Jan”. This line comes from an ad a few years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2akt3P8ltLM
    Funny how phrases take off and become part of the general lexicon!
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Claire,

    Beyond the ‘story’, which is complete and whole in and of itself, the realism and mood your words convey is masterful. The is very hard to accomplish and yet each week, this one no exception, you show that you respect your readers by weaving with skill and craft and care a tapestry of life in miniature. Thank you.

    As to idiom for Espinal, I can think of none to fit your search but am enjoying reading the comments.



    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Claire,

    Having been a child who lived in a dream world of drawings and telling herself stories to survive, I didn’t really put a name to it until later. “La La Land” is one term and “Fantasy Island” another. (thanks to the television program. In the end, those dreamy children might grow up to be artists and authors. Lovely, evocative story that gave me pause. Well written as always.




  4. I thought this was great for its melancholy and loneliness. The three evenings alone cutting and pasting and then the desperate dive into the perfect world, ignoring, because it’s unbearable not to, that it’s made of card. Great piece.


  5. Another great story, Claire. Poor girl. A fairy tale existence is what I’d call something too perfect. Before Barbie, we had paper dolls with their lovely clothes. I loved those. There were so many different kinds. Good writing as usual. 🙂 — Suzanne


  6. This is very beautifully written. To answer your question: I don’t know of any phrase that is used. But, I love to use the phrase ‘magical fantasy’ when something is perfect and happy. Life has too many pitfalls to be perfect and happy. This is a touching writing that leaves one thinking and even hoping for more.
    Isadora 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m tempted to draw a comparison between escaping to a perfect cut-out world and escaping into fiction, but of course the analogy is limited. One can escape into fictional worlds which may not be perfect, but still satisfies. Your story captures the situation beautifully. As regards the word hunt – my husband and I use ‘Stepford’ for such situations, after the old movie ‘Stepford Wives’, where women were replaced with doubles who would be perfect, compliant adornments for their husbands, and the whole town was a model of harmony and conformity. It was a creepy movie.

    Liked by 1 person

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