Another week, another 100-word flash fiction story inspired by a photograph. My story is below. Feel free to join in, and if you post yours on your website or on social media, link back here and let me know, so I can have a read of it.
A Great Guy
Let me tell you ‘bout my uncle Jack. He added a kitchenette and a bedroom to his place on Switcheroo Road and let the rooms out to men who stole from him, small stuff mostly: teaspoons and hammers, glasses and tobacco, and left without paying the rent. Each time he said it’d be different: this man was down on his luck; another was a great guy. Reckon he was in love with them all, just couldn’t admit it. Finally, that annex stood empty for five years ’til my aunt Rosie rented it. Although, course, she wasn’t my auntie until later.
For any Oxford / Oxfordshire-based people, I’m doing my first in-person literary event for a long time, at Blackwell’s Oxford on 21st July, with author Lucy Atkins (Magpie Lane). It would be lovely if you could join us. Tickets here.
I’ve started writing flash fiction again after a break of a couple of years. I’m not sure why, but I’m enjoying it. I’m still responding to photographs, but this time from pictures that I own. And I’m still setting a rule of it needing to be exactly 100 words plus the title, and it must be a complete story, not just a scene. If you want to have a go, feel free to use the photograph above as inspiration for your own piece of flash fiction – you can work to my rules or you can set your own. If you post yours online, please do link back to this page, and if you want to post a link to your piece in a comment on this page, I’ll try to have look at what you’ve written (just to have a read, not critique) if I have time. If you want to write your own, you might want to write it before you read mine, so that my idea doesn’t get stuck in your head.
Goodman Orthodontics Limited
She watches him arrive for work, his shoulders slumped, head down. Wills him to look up and smile. A nice ordinary smile. His wife’s left him, she thinks; no, died tragically. He’s single and lonely. Has five sad children, or better, none. She discovers he works in dentures, and passes his office daily. She considers sending a memo: re your Status Update, re my Decision-Making, re our Team-Building. Then, at an adjacent table in the canteen, she sees his teeth glow too white, too bright, like luminous underwater animals.
The next day she works furiously, her back to the window.
My fourth novel, Unsettled Ground, is shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Read more about it here.
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.
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.
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.
For twenty years we keeps our Old-Land items in a compartray. Bits of trashish, we always thinks. Jims takes them to look and say when he was youngone, and even the robo-teach laugh. Sighs. We surely have lose some or else were suck away through the HousHoove.
My GranUncle says the odds and bits came off a beach.
‘What’s beach?’ I says.
‘A place beside the sea.’ he says.
‘Sea?’ I says.
‘Lots of water,’ he says. ‘No MeasureDripTM back then.’
‘Sighs,’ I says.
Jims takes the trashish to Antiquated Fly-way Show. Turns up they’re worth 230k Eurodolls. Wowsbows!
A few weeks ago Neil MacDonald challenged me to write a funny, or at least happy Friday Fictioneers. Sorry, Neil, but this is the closest I could get! This week the picture selected by Rochelle is one of mine (thank you!). Click here to write your own 100-word story inspired by the picture, or click here to read other people’s.
I recently interviewed my literary agent about her job. Click here to find out what makes her heart sink when she reads a manuscript submission.
The teeth grinding and sobbing wake me. It’s disconsolate, broken-hearted, a funeral kind of weeping. I hear it through the wall, and I pull the cord with the red triangle. The nurses’ station buzzer sounds and shoes squeak on linoleum. The crying stops.
‘Where’s the fire, Mrs Jellico,’ the girl asks, although she knows I have no words left.
When she’s plumped my pillow and gone, the noise starts again. Keening, moaning, grinding. I rap on the wall.
The nurse is back, syringe in one hand, eyes kind. ‘Shh,’ she says. ‘Shh, Mrs Jellico. Not long now.’
The crying fades.
Hear me read:
I’m not sure exactly how I got from the photo to this story; perhaps milling = grinding = teeth. Anyway, I got there. This is a Friday Fictioneers story of 100-words inspired by a weekly photo posted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s photo is provided by Shaktiki Sharma. Click here to join in and write your own story, or here to read other people’s.
Last week I was asked by Penguin books to provide some tips about writing flash fiction, and they’ve just gone live on the Penguin website. Do take a look. I will be posting this piece on my own website in the future, so if you have any you’d like to add, please comment below here, and I’ll add them to the post, credit you and link to your website.
I wake with my eyes still closed and hear the squeak of the treadle that you asked me to oil, the hum of the wheel under your hand. I imagine the needle, ticker, ticker, tickering, in and out of the hem; your pursed mouth and concentrated frown. I smile when you swear, almost see the pins falling from your lips, the pricked finger, and the thread snapped.
But your chair is cold when I rise, the machine still. Only the stain of faded blood on the edge of my shirt proves that once you sat and sewed.
This is a 100-word (or so) piece of flash fiction written as part of the Friday Fictioneers Group, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week the picture is supplied by the wonderful writer Sandra Crook (go and look at her writing – it’s very good). Click here to join in and write your own story, or here to read some more.
For two nights and a day they bloomed. Filling the world’s skies with light and apparently, sound. We sat on the playground, our faces turned skyward. The greatest firework display on earth our teachers said, their mouths round with each flowery burst. We watched late-night television in the common room, the hands explaining physicists’ and UFO experts’ theories, prophets’ and doctors’ warnings. And the doom-mongers’ threats: don’t watch, the lights will blind.
Too late they learned: it wasn’t the lights, but the noise. They say the world is disabled; but we sign that now we are all the same: deaf.
Listen to me read this story:
This is a 100-word (exactly) flash fiction, part of the Friday Fictioneers group, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s picture is supplied by Vijaya Sundaram. Click here to write your own 100-word story, or here to read others inspired by the same picture.
I stand under their bedroom window at night and hear them talking:
‘I don’t think she’s ever had a boyfriend,’ she says.
‘No?’ he says.
‘Still a virgin; at her age. Can you imagine?’
‘Not like you then, is she?’ he says, and she shrieks and laughs as if he’s goosed her. They are both silent for a minute or two, and I try not to imagine.
‘Do you think she misses it?’ she says.
‘You can’t miss what you’ve never known,’ he says.
‘But having someone?’
‘No,’ he says. ‘Not her.’
And I turn away, both stronger and sadder.
Listen to me reading it:
This is a Friday Fictioneers story, hosted by the lovely Rochelle, and inspired by the photo above. This week provided by Janet Webb. Click here to join in and read more.
A few weeks ago my short story, A Quiet Tidy Man won the Royal Academy & Pin Drop short story award. At the award ceremony the winner was announced by actress, Juliet Stevenson. The recording of the event and her reading my story aloud is now available to listen to. Visit this page, and click through to listen.
Cara lay on the bunk, the baby asleep beside her, his arms thrown wide as if surprised to be falling. From far below, in the ship’s hold she felt as much as heard, the melancholic bleat of a cow – the sound travelled through steel, along the gangways, up the posts of her bed and into her skull. Cara wondered if the animals ever stopped missing their calves.
She woke later, with the baby on her chest, both of them tipped against the ship’s hull, the bunk no longer horizontal. The engine wailed, gears shrieking. But no, not the engine. The cows.
This week I thought it might be fun to also post a recording of me reading my story. (And in the odd way that minds work, I only realised that this story bears the same name as the writer, C.E. Ayr, who gave me the idea to record it, after I’d written and titled my story.)
This is a Friday Fictioneers very short story inspired by the picture above (this week the image was provided by Jan Wayne Fields). Friday Fictioneers, which is hosted by the lovely Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, is a weekly group, where lots of writers from around the world write a 100-word (or so) story inspired by a picture, post them on their own websites and read each other’s. Click here to join in, or here to read some more stories.