Flash Fiction: Creeper

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At first, the changes were subtle: a framed photograph moved to a different shelf, a favourite pair of socks missing, the coffee finished when we thought we had another packet. It was always when we were sleeping, and we slept deeply.

One morning the cat was hiding under the sofa, the orange juice was gone, and the cupboard door was ajar when we were sure we’d closed it. It was a mess in there, but eventually we found the loose board behind the top shelf. We stared into the dark tunnel beyond; neither of us prepared to go first.

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This is a 100-word story inspired by the photograph above, this week supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields who also looks after all of us Friday Fictioneers. Click here to join in or here to read stories by other writers.

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If you’re thinking about Christmas, I have an offer you might be interested in: Buy a copy of either Our Endless Numbered Days or Swimming Lessons for someone (or yourself) and I’ll post you a personalised card for free. Click here for more information.

Flash Fiction: 318a South Dubuque Street

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At 3:17am August 12, firefighters responded to a fire at Barney’s Pub and Grill. The crew gained entry to the apartment above and rescued one adult male, one adult female and a child. They were transported to Iowa Hospital but pronounced dead on arrival.

The fire was extinguished after thirty minutes. Sixteen fire department personnel were on scene. The cause remains under investigation.

She kept the clipping in her purse amongst the bills and receipts for years, like some keep photographs of their loved ones. Eventually she lost the wallet and the piece of paper with it. Then, she mourned.

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This is a 100-word piece of flash fiction inspired by the photo above (this week supplied by J. Hardy Carroll). Friday Fictioneers is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click here to join in, or here to read more stories by other writers.

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If you’re already thinking about Christmas, I have an offer you might be interested in. If you buy a copy of either of my books for someone (or yourself), I’ll send you a personalised card for free. Click here for more information.

Flash Fiction: The North Face

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‘Four seconds. It’s quick, man. Four seconds and you bleed out. All over.’

But he doesn’t think about that, doesn’t think about anything. An empty head, and being the right amount of psyched. No rope, just a bag of chalk. His only thought: the next move of foot or hand. He’s traversing into a parallel crack system across a flat exposed plane when his foot slips, his fingers clutch and for a moment he hangs. And then he’s in the void, arms spread to greet the trees two thousand feet below.

‘Four seconds, man. It’s a lifetime.’

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This is a 100-word flash fiction story inspired by the picture above (this week supplied by Marie Gail Stafford). Click here to read pieces by other writers, and here to join in. I did quite a bit of research on climbing free solo and Alex Honnold for this piece. Frightening stuff. I’m definitely not a climber.

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If any readers happen to be in Hong Kong this weekend, I’ll be at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival on Saturday 11th November at 1pm, speaking about Swimming Lessons. It would be great to see you there.

 

Flash Fiction: Minky

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They make quite a collection when they’re together on the mantelpiece. I dust them every day, very carefully; I don’t want any more accidents. One little nudge, and whoops, china and ash all over the carpet. It’s the devil to vacuum out. Happened to my brother Alastair just the other day. But I never could stand him. Sometimes I like to rearrange them: Dad beside Jeremy – couldn’t abide each other in life, or Agnes next to Peggy. I wonder who will tire first of that incessant chatter? But little Minky, my darling pussy cat, she’s always at the front.  Continue reading

Flash Fiction: Water

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I told them I saw her, under the water, hair swaying, eyes blinking. They brought the horse and cart, and Lewin stood on the back with a pitchfork, stabbing the lake, while all the village watched. It made me laugh, to see how they believed my joke. But the nag reared up and Lewin fell. There was screaming but no one jumped in to save him. We was all too afeared.

After that they wouldn’t use the water. Not even warmed. There was terrible thirst and then hunger. They ate the nag. Soon I think, they will eat me too.  

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This is a Friday Fictioneer story, inspired by the picture above, this week provided by Roger Bultot. FF is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who posts a picture online every week, and writer around the world write a 100-word story inspired by it. Click here to read stories by other writers, or here to join in.

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Click here to read a bit more about me and my books.

Flash Fiction: Graft

FF Tree

Her mother told Mary she wasn’t hers just before she died. Blurted out the words like some sort of confession. Learning it though, suddenly made her whole life – all those sixty-five years – make sense.

Her grandson posted information on a few adoption search websites, but she knew it was hopeless, searching for birth parents who would be in their nineties, if they were even alive.

A few months later she received a newspaper cutting through the post. Anonymous, no note. Creased and faded as though kept for years: Police Still Searching for Child Abducted from Playground.

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This is a Friday Fictioneers story. Write a 100-word story inspired by the picture above (this week supplied by Sandra Crook) and share. Click here to read more or join in.

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It’s been a few months since I’ve written a Friday Fictioneer story, but I have been writing. My third book, Bitter Orange, will be published in early 2019. Click here to read more.

Flash Fiction: Pillow

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I found it in the bath. I hadn’t put it there, I was sure. I hadn’t been in the bathroom since the morning, and I was alone in the house. Anyway, who puts a pillow in the bath? I bent to pick it up, and saw a grey hair curled across the cotton. Not mine, I was sure. It repelled me, like extracting a long hair from a mouthful of food. And yet it was my pillow – missing from my bed. I left it there. Every night I washed at the sink and laid my head on a rolled-up cardigan.

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This is a 100-word flash fiction story inspired by the photo above. I know it seems a long way from the picture to my story, but to keep it to 100 words I had to chop out all the bits about sunlight and windows. The picture this week is supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, our Friday Fictioneers host. Click here to join in, or here to read other people’s.

Other Friday Fictioneers might like to know that I had the pleasure of meeting a long-standing fellow FF, Neil MacDonald a couple of weeks ago. It’s the first time I’ve met another FF in real life since we’re all scattered across the globe. I can attest that he’s as lovely in person as he is on the screen.

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Do you look at an author’s photograph before you read the book? You’re not alone.

Flash Fiction: Running

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Lights. Over my shoulder their lights are coming, running through the trees, lamps and flaming torches. Coming for me through the trees, shouts, and hoots and laughter. It’s a game, for them. Dogs, teeth bared for blood. Running. Under the chicken house, into the nettles. Quiet!

In the morning she lures me out with food, and I let her paste the baking soda on my stings. I try to tell her about them, but my words don’t come right. She sighs at my tangled hair, my mother. Wants to keep me, but I slip away.

Tomorrow night they’ll come again.

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This is a 100-word flash fiction Friday Fictioneers story inspired by the picture above, this week supplied by Dale Rogerson. Friday Fictioneers is hosted by the lovely Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click here to find out how it works or here to read some more stories by other writers.

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“A deeply moving read, that keeps you turning pages.” Oprah.com on my second novel, Swimming Lessons. Find out more.

Flash Fiction: Blackcurrant Jelly, 26th August 1966

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Snails had almost eaten the paper, but the writing on the label was my mother’s. I’d decided to tackle the sunroom last, after I’d gone through the rest of the house making piles: keep, charity, ditch. A lifetime of parental belongings. The warm smell reminded me of silent meals, my mother picking at her food, me itching to get down and play, unaware of things unsaid.

I would have thrown the jar away, except the date on the label was my birthday. Inside was a curl of baby hair, the same shade as my own.

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This is a 100-word flash fiction story inspired by the photo above provided by Sarah Potter. And it’s part of the Friday Fictioneers group of writers, run by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click here to join in and write your own, or here to read some more.

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Find out more about my latest novel, Swimming Lessons, published by Fig Tree / Penguin (UK), Tin House (US), House of Anansi (Canada), and Piper (Germany).

 

Flash Fiction: Jane Deer

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The flies come and go. The rain against the studio windows, the snow, and then months of sun. The mice eat the badger bristles, nibble the end of the palette-knife still in her hand. No one knocks. The dust settles, the paint on the canvasses cracks, the paint in the tubes solidifies.
Her bills are paid by standing order, her bank balance enough. The newsstand man wonders if she’s moved away, and then forgets her. The world turns. Another season, another year. Another. A pipe leaks in the apartment above. Her door is broken down.
Her paintings sell for $100,000.

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This is a 100-word flash fiction story. Part of Friday Fictioneers, looked after by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The picture this week is supplied by J. Hardy Carroll. Click here to join in, or here to read stories by other writers inspired by the same picture.

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Want to know what this competition judge looks for in a short story? I’ve written a post about it here.