Flash fiction: Bird of Paradise


She wears a hat she’s made herself. No so much a hat, more a creation of feathers, net and fluff on the side of her head, as though an exotic creature is about to take flight. Understanding her place she hangs back behind the other mourners, his white wife and his sad children. She remembers the eleven years of Tuesday afternoons when he’d whisper my bird of paradise in her ear and tuck the money under the pillow. Now, after everyone’s gone she holds the hat over the coffin in the ground, pauses, and then re-pins it to her hair.


This is a 100-word (exactly) flash fiction story, inspired by the picture above, provided by Jean L Hayes. Click here to join in and to read other writers’ stories. It’s a long time since I’ve written a Friday Fictioneers story. I’ve missed it.


My third novel, Bitter Orange will be published in less than two months in the UK by Penguin. You can read the first paragraph here.

49 thoughts on “Flash fiction: Bird of Paradise

  1. Lovely passage. I was two sentences in before i realized you were NOT describing the bird, im ashamed to say, but perhaps that was your intention. I just joined FF myself after hearing your interview on the podcast Writers on Writing. Thanks for the tip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a point. Although I often think laterally, and don’t often describe what’s in the picture, but just use it as a jumping off point. And I’m so pleased you made your way to FF after that podcast. I look forward to reading what you’ve written.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh how I’ve missed you, Claire! (And I can’t wait for book no. 3)

    This story was lovely as mentioned by all and sundry. So what if he paid her weekly… at least this was an honest (and a sort of love) relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like this a lot. His bird of paradise isn’t ‘his’ bird of paradise after all. Despite some feeling it was a business contract, not more than an adventure for him, and I think that’s what she remembers and why she keeps the bird-of-paradise-hat. Good for her. And good to see you around again.


  4. Love the hints at their shared history – the fact you point out his wife was white and that she was his ‘bird of paradise’ suggests how far apart they were in class and culture. And I wondered at first, with his leaving the cash for her, if it wasn’t ‘Eleven years a slave’ for her. But the respect in her actions, the waving of her hat over the coffin, suggests real feeling, an ally lost, even if the relationship was unequal. Lovely writing Claire and best of luck with the new book


  5. Delightful story Claire, as usual you’ve shown us how to do FriFic! So much back story in 100 words, and making us feel this is the prologue to something more. Interesting that so many saw their relationship as professional – that didn’t occur to me, I just saw it as a regular escape from real life for them both.


  6. Pingback: Flash fiction: Bird of Paradise — Claire Fuller – SEO

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