The Flash Fiction Challenge
For April 23 I am taking part in a flash fiction challenge with deadlinesforwriters. Previously I had only written ‘normal’ length short stories with them, and ‘only’ one per month. This has been a lot of fun and the challenge sounded like I could learn a lot from it.
So what am I going to take away, now that the challenge is over?
- I am positively surprised that I actually submitted a flash fiction story every day, even a little proud of myself. Okay, a lot.
- I am also surprised I did not let my worry of not being good enough keep me from submitting. The act of clicking the send button was satisfying enough.
- Another surprise was how easily I can decide what has to go and then actually delete it. If I can transfger this ability into other parts of my life, that will be massively helpful.
- It was so inspiring so read everybody else’s stories. Some people are fantastic in finding the creepy in every prompt, some write episodic sagas about the same characters every time and some jump around among the genres like me.
- For me, funny and dark stories flow much more easily than romantic ones.
- Writing is really educational: Prompst, that did not immediately inspire me, made me go into research mode for more meanings and idioms.
I am definitely going to keep writing every day, just not all stories. I follow a few instagram accounts that posts prompts for short stories, flash fiction and/or six words stories. How much meaning you can squeeze into so few words is fascninating and magical.
Keep It together
(Prompt 21 – Transform, 50 words )
Times are complicated. So are people.
She prepares for another day of protest. More and more, people realise the system has to change and fast.
The more resistance they face, the greater their desperation and resolve.
She grabs her helmet and shield. In the riot police van, she wonders how long until she joins the protesters.
(Prompt 22 – Berry, 300 words )
Rose is really looking forward to tasting her grandma’s cake. Why do grown-ups have to complicate things?
I can’t believe they are making me wait. My grandma makes the best strawberry cake in the world and I saw it in her kitchen, still I have to wait. Lunch was good, too. But it’s really the cake I want.
There’s a swing in Grandma’s garden and I love the way it makes my stomach go all woozy. Back and forth. I can go so high, watch my feet against the blue sky and the white clouds. I can smell the strawberries from up here.
‘Come inside, Rose! Time for tea!’
I jump off the swing. Mum is waiting for me at the back door and gives me a hug. She holds on a bit too long and too tight, so I wiggle out of her arms and run inside.
Dad is there, his face a bit red. Weird, Grandma’s house always feels nice and chilly to me.
Mum sits down. The way she sinks into the chair, she looks smaller than at home. She looks down at the table.
Grandma frowns at me. I wonder when she is going to serve the cake.
‘Bella, you really ought to teach your daughter to-’
Dad says very quietly, ‘Mother, I told you, I am not going to accept any more of this.’
‘Well, I am just trying to help! If your wife doesn’t know how to raise your child properly-’
‘That’s it! Bella and Rose, we’re going home!’
Nobody listens to my protests so I end up in the car with them. They both start speaking at the same time.
‘Thank you-’ and ‘Forgive me, I’m sorry I let this go on for so long!’
On the way home they buy me chocolate biscuits. The way Mum looks at Dad makes them taste even better than strawberry cake.
Surprise Upon Arrival
(Prompt 23 – Print, 75 words )
Speed of travel does not always outweigh the risks of new technologies.
The technician directs me to the illuminated pad. Wonder what gave me away.
‘Just sign here… Initial there… Move as little as possible.’
Everyone I know has tried this and I need to get to Hamburg fast.
I realise something is wrong as soon as I materialise.
‘Oh, your nose got lost in the teleport. Happens sometimes!’
Her shrugging is not at all helpful.
My word of advice? Always read the fine print.
(Prompt 24 – Bleed, 150 words )
A few seconds can be enough to turn your life upside down. Literally.
I watch the blood leaving my body, warm and rich and red.
My brother wanted to show me his new car and something was wrong with the brakes. He had worked hard to earn the money for this red machine of his dreams. Just to have it veer off the road on our first trip together.
I don‘t remember much. The motor screaming. My brother shouting. The sky jumping underneath us, then back up again.
Weird how our future can be decided in a short moment. Some people get out of a crash with hardly a scratch, some are not so lucky.
I wonder if he ever thought about his dream car being the colour of blood. Should he have chosen the blue one instead?
The bag is almost full now. About a pint. I had to beg them to let me do this and hope it helps save him.
In the Shadows
(Prompt 25 – Lurk, 250 words )
Life in the shadows is mostly waiting for those exquisite hours you are set free.
I lie in wait, hiding in the dark. Today she stays up later than usual, which delays my evening plans. To my surprise, she watches a film about a serial killer. Wonder what made her take an interest in that one.
I don’t want to use force. Yet. I bet I could make her fall unconscious but I actually enjoy her being unaware of my presence.
Cleaning her teeth. She even sets a timer and follows the same brushing pattern every night. It makes my skin crawl. Well, figuratively.
I observe patiently as she applies her night cream, undresses, hangs her clothes across a rack, puts on a pyjama and goes to bed. Finally!
Eyes closed, her breathing slows down. I give her fifteen minutes to really sink into deep sleep. The waiting just increases my anticipation and I pass the time imagining my hands squeezing a neck, listening to the gurgling.
She twitches and moans, and I try to calm down, so she does too. Neither of us will benefit from last minute confusion.
When she is asleep at last, I stretch and rise up from my hiding place. This is what I live for, these few delicious hours every night when I am free.
From the inside, I open her eyes, move her body upright, put on the clothes from the back of the wardrobe she hasn’t yet found out are there.
Then the two of us walk, as one, out into the night for some more revenge.
(Prompt 26 – Sour, 120 words )
It’s such a relief to have a friend that you can rely on to not complicate things.
Bea waits under the cinema marquee. The February rain is not enough to sour her mood, she is looking forward to watching another comedy with Max. Before COVID, this had been a regular activity for them.
One great thing about their friendship is that they have so much in common. Their tastes in music, in food and video games.
What she also appreciates is their absolute lack of complication. They are just here to enjoy a few laughs together.
At last, Max comes running, his hair wet. For a moment he looks deep into Bea’s eyes. He takes a long breath, then pulls a single red rose from his coat.
‘Happy Valentine’s Day!’
Bea cringes. So much for ‘just friends’.
End of Decade Surprise
(Prompt 27 – 80’s, 6 words )
I for one had never expected the 80’s to end like this.
Siblings cry, dancing across the Wall.
With Old Age Comes Equanimity
(Prompt 28 – Domino, 50 words )
Next time he might even forego the jump suit.
He jogs around the corner in search of a secluded place. Opens his bag and swears.
He considers flashing home to pick it up. Wonders if it’s worth it squeezing himself into the lycra suit.
In the end, for the first time, he saves the day without his mask.
Herbal Remedy for Estranged Souls
(Prompt 29 – Pot, 300 words )
June has to sort through her late grandmother’s possessions. Her sister being there doesn’t make it any easier.
Disclaimer: Be careful wqhen taking drugs 😉
After calling the funeral home, I am on my way to meet my sister to sort Grandma’s belongings. Now she is my only family left.
I still can’t believe it. There was so much to discover in Grandma’s crammed little house with the garden full of flowers and herbs. We used to laugh so much together.
Now we have to decide what is worth selling and dump the rest. The thought makes my throat feel tight and my heart hurt.
May is waiting at the house and I am struck by how much she resembles Grandma. We haven’t seen each other in years and her eyes are completely dry.
‘Hi June, let’s not drag this out. I don’t think there is anything in here I want to keep, so if you want anything, feel free.’
‘Good to see you too.’
Inside, I am hit with the familiar smell of dust and incense. I make a beeline for the photo albums and stuff them into my bag, no need to open them to know what’s inside.
May shakes her head.
‘If you ask me, none of this will make any money. Wait, what is that?’
I follow her into the kitchen and realise she is talking about the blue and white porcelain pot on the shelf.
‘It’s her cookie jar. Or that’s what she called it. There never were any cookies in there. Well, that’s what she told me.’
Both of us grab it at the same time and I manage to catch the lid. Also some cookies falling out. May stares at them.
‘June, do you remember the three of us baking when we were little?’
An hour later we are on the floor, laughing our heads off at the old photos. I guess Grandma would have approved.
(Prompt 30 – Unknown, 150 words )
Would you like to know what’s coming?
The envelope was addressed to him. No sender, but on the front it said ‘Don’t miss your chance!’ in red.
Inside, he found a sealed paper bag and a letter:
You have been chosen to see the future! Open your present now!
He felt the bag, rolled his eyes, but broke the seal anyway. There was nothing in there, so he decided this was just a prank. He threw the whole thing away, ignoring the tingling down his spine.
On that day, for the first time in his life, he won all rounds of poker with his neighbours.
On the second day, he asked for and was granted the promotion he had spent years waiting for.
On the third day, he woke up screaming. He ran outside in his flannel robe, eyes wide, pale as a ghost.
When the people laughed at his warnings, he wished he still didn’t know.
Thank you for reading! Have you taken part in a challenge like this one or have you published flash fiction stories online? Let me know so I can read them too.
Would you like to read more of my stories? You can find them here!