Flash Fiction

Here, you’ll find pieces of flash fiction I have written. I’ve written widely about my love for flash fiction, including:

Why Flash Fiction is Both Tough and Rewarding

How Writing Challenges can Help you Make the Most of your Writing Time

Boomeranging Back to Flash Fiction

Can Micro-Fiction Ever have the Impact and Appeal of the Novel?

@amicgood initiated #FridayPhrases/#FP in September 2013. The idea is to tweet and retweet stories or poems within 140 characters on Fridays.

You can find my #FridayPhrases below:

27.09.2013

Their souls were paired for eternity, he said, dragging her through the forest. That was fine while the going was good, she thought. #FP

The night was hot & humid, the sheets sweaty.  She was relieved to feel cool air on her bare thigh until she turned & saw what it was. #FP

His breathing was shallow. He’d decided not to look but at the last minute he did. The cliff face distorted into past loves as he fell. #FP

04.10.2013

I passed the homeless girl’s doorway today. I used to avoid her eyes. Now she’s not there I miss her. #FP

Autumn leaves were falling.  She couldn’t give up the comfort of her ballet pumps despite her cold ankles. CRUNCH. SQUELCH. ‘Bloody snails!’ #FP

She was ready for battle: Hair ironed sleek, lips painted a deep cranberry, warrior posture. Bk at home her strength deserted her & she crumbled. #FP

‘Mummy, mummy!’ she said excitedly, her plump fingers pointing at the furry balls of orange.  Behind them, the vixen approached. #FP

25.10.13

Monsters live in the toilet bowl. He knew it. Toilet training as a baby took forever. Not flushing cost him his wife. But the monsters never got him #FP

‘Pumpkins make great weapons,’ she said. He was tied to a beam in the barn, orange goo everywhere. A cut-out smile was the last thing he saw #FP

Playtime at vampire school. Speed demons in darkened hall. Hopscotch bloodied slabs. Humans pinned to the vaulted ceiling. Snacktime soon #FP

01.11.13

I feared the day I would lose you. The solution was simple. You lie perfectly in a glass case. Now you will always be mine #FP

I long to swim in the sea again. I relive those days in my dreams. Sweet relief to forget the thrashing gilled monsters there now #FP

08.11.13

1st time he saw an escalator he was scared. Then he took off his sandals & watched them travel up the stairs. His name was Taufiq Two Brains #FP

Forty minuted of queuing. The stench of fried onions hung in the air. She snapped, swinging her handbag in circles. She needed that burger #FP

Bubbles and foam everywhere. She took off her clothes and slipped into the bath, smelling notes of lavender and bergamot. Alone at last #FP

15.11.13

She read curled up in the nook of a willow. Sunshine fell through its leaves. She saw only the light & shadows of the story #FP (For @raishimi)

Even as a baby he’d been fearless. As a man his mother despaired about his foolish bravery. He was the hero they’d all been waiting for #FP

She burned with anticipation when she saw him. He’d been her childhood crush. She’d waited 19 years to meet him. He would not escape #FP

22.11.13

Ruby red lips, sky-scraper heels and a razor-cut suit. Skilled negotiator, master manipulator. The boardroom vixen always gets her way #FP

The day she died he withdrew from the world. From then on he lived in his dreams, conjuring her up at will. Happy, deluded lover #FP

The wind swept her hair into a beehive as they ran hand in hand through the city. She tasted of cherries. A perfect day between strangers #FP

29.11.13

Her birthday neared. It was a big one. She said she didn’t want a fuss but she had her hair done just in case. Her lover knew & he was ready #FP

Without him I am not myself. He is my comfort my solace, she thought. Her friends knew better. His strength eroded hers. She did not exist #FP

6.12.13

Strings of words fell from their mouths relentlessly. She did her work quietly, praying for silence. Until the day she lost her cool #FP

He carried the weight of the world yet he walked with grace & courage. A fighter till the end, immortalised in song & dance #FP

13.12.13

My soul is black & my will forged in fire. I never forgive. When the night is still & you least expect it, I will come for you. I am vengeance #FP

He was a good man but he craved respect above all else. As his ego grew, his friends walked away. Loneliness was a bitter lesson #FP

20.12.13

An aching black hole opened at her core as she walked through the fields of poppies. He took her future with him when he fell #FP

‘You should be asleep, Clara. You’ll have to come home with me now.’ She looked at his snowy beard in wonder as her ears grew pointy #FP

27.12.13

She undressed on her way to the bath, leaving a trail of clothes for him to find. He’d had a hard day but she knew how to make it better #FP

He lived for Christmas. He was the queen of the panto. Out on that stage in his frilly dress he felt their adoration and it lifted him #FP

03.01.14

First her neck twisted then her back snapped & her arms grew leaden. She fled into the woods, only grunts escaping her once beautiful mouth #FP

He sat in silent repose as the winter sun warmed him. Outside the balding Christmas tree lay discarded on the street. New year, new start #FP

10.01.14

Her strait-jacket expelled
Freedom beckoned like a lost lover
Trailing its gentle touch down her arm
Her critics suddenly disarmed #FP

Love at 60
After a lifetime
Of waiting
Was not easy
The walls wore thin
Eventually
Now they sit
Feet entwined
Loneliness exiled #FP

17.01.14

True friends on life’s twisty path
A candle burned from the start
Years stole their youth
One secret remained
Love unspoken till the end #FP

‘You really are something,’ he sighed. A slow smile spread across lips painted neon pink. Another heart for her collection #FP

24.01.14

I am nothing
Without words
Carving the darkness
From my soul
Bottling its essence
Creating beauty
From solitude #FP

31.01.14

They took his licence a 79. Scalded by the indignity, Mr Rebellious roared down the road in his sedan as if it were a fairground dodgem #FP

She walked by moonlight. Behind her, red eyes and a mouth like an abyss. Rae spun, strong & fearless. ‘I will have my beauty sleep tonight!’ #FP

07.02.14

The raven emerged from the mists & landed on his master. ‘You know what to do.’ They found the boy at dawn, his bright blues cruelly stolen #FP

They wore push-up bras; she wore her nan’s frocks. They read rags; she visited libraries. She didn’t care. But one day she picked up a blade #FP

He hid from life: no eye contact, blocked the world out with earphones. She coaxed him into the sun. In return he asked her to be his wife #FP

14.02.14

They were high-school sweethearts, who never stopped holding hands. When he got ill, they walked into the sea together smiling. No regrets #FP

The wizened old lady gave him a blue pill. His body stretched and bulged. He would have his choice of the girls tonight #FP

21.02.14

His reflection pained him: yellowed eyes & flesh that hung from his bones. An eager step into the time machine. A silent bye to loved ones #FP

She arranged expertly herself on the bed: an exposed thigh, dark tresses fanned out. She played the game well but the emptiness remained #FP

07.03.14

She huddled in a corner, novels piled up beside her & strewn across the floor. When they came she growled like a beast. Words were her world #FP

Grey skies opened & out came winged reptiles with slithering silver tongues. Great cities were devoured & left barren. Only two survived #FP

21.03.14

His body betrayed him, reacting to her scent, the silk of her skin. When she took off her war paint he was lost. Then she crushed him #FP

28.03.14

She sat w/her grandson in the sun, weak & wheezing. As the light faded she whispered ‘fairies are real’ & died. ‘Always did mess w/my head. Cow.’ #FP

Her bangles clanged as she entered the ornate tent. He followed, mesmerised. ‘Passion comes at a price’ she said, her tongue slithering forth #FP

04.04.14

A body of coins, dollar bills for hair & eyes the colour of molten metal. He was welcome everywhere but at peace nowhere #FP #milliondollarman

11.04.14

At dawn he clambered straight from bed to the armchair, swapping heavy sleep for daydreams. There he lived out his life, imprisoned by fear #FP

The hat flew away, escaping her reach by a finger’s breadth. She pictured herself leaping into the abyss after it & sighed. Maybe another day #FP

18.04.14

She expelled him from her womb under a dark sky. A luminous dragon, which charred her skin when he suckled. He grew & became her protector #FP

Her skin was flushed in the warm air. She lay on a bed of poppies, comforted by the ghosts of fallen men as the poison stole her future #FP

An oasis in the Big Smoke
Flowers like jewels
Lovers pondering
The swiftness of time
Wrinkles fold into their skin
Soon old will be new #FP

25.04.14

She sits in a velvet chair in the corner of the room & weeps. There is no time for goodbyes, just regrets. He comes towards her, axe in hand #FP

She trembled as the vines twisted towards her. At her feet was a dandelion. She made a wish. Her human form evolved. Now she was the hunter #FP

02.05.14

Day after day he sat at her grave talking gently to what was left of her. Nostalgia banished fraught memories. They had never been closer #FP

It visited us in a ship of stars. It mourned our dying planet & tore at its body until an orb of light spun from its core bringing renewal #FP

09.05.14

The city slept as drink fuelled passion pushed the lovers to new highs. At dawn they straightened their clothes & put on their masks again #FP

He was a good cook and a better actor. She ate the poisoned soup greedily. She believed he loved her. She was wrong #FP

She was the harlot who broke his parents up. He didn’t expect to fall in love w/her. Choosing her meant forsaking all else. It was worth it #FP

16.05.14

By day she was demure, devoted to her children’s every need. By night she was another creature: wanton, bold, vengeful. It was her time #FP

‘Another one bites the dust’, she said. By her feet lay all the men who had ever disappointed her. It was a shame she’d slept with so many #FP

Raven’s hair turned black the day her dad died. When she sprouted wings she knew just what to do. Not even heaven could keep them apart #FP

23.05.14

He bled onto the page but his stories slipped through his fingers. Their essence evaporated into the air until only despair was left #FP

New grandpa Tom wasn’t ready for an armchair & slippers yet. He handed back the baby & headed out for a nightcap with his latest squeeze #FP

30.05.14

At twenty she dreamt of being a trophy wide. The years brought her jets & jewels. As her porcelain skin cracked it was love she craved #FP

The boat rocked under a starless sky. Wu tied his mum’s lover to the hull. In his hand was a shard of glass. ‘You’re not stepdad material.’ #FP

13.06.14

She was 12 when he first saw her, all limbs & a cloud of ginger hair. 10 years later innocence had fled, a smear of red lipstick in its place. #FP

20.06.14

Rose felt powerful as she sliced deeply, revealing tender muscles glistening red in his neck. ‘You played me. Now I will play you.’ #FP

The yellow pill had jagged edges. When he took it he bloomed. The world fizzed with colour. On day 4 the effects wore off & he was desolate. #FP

01.08.14

He imprisoned her in a damp cabin. Each week he brought her meagre provisions. It was human contact she needed. In time she began to love him #FP

12.09.14

My angel muse draped in white silk

buoyed me with her honeyed song

but midwife to my greatest work

was my unruly muse w/her forked prong #FP

26.09.14

The cleansing pool of oblivion lay ahead. Its cool waters lapped at the door. A piteous smile played on her lips. The key maker was a devil #FP

10.10.14

He rued the day they met. Artful huntress. Starlit eyes and butter-eyes and butter-smooth skin were her weapons. He thought he was her equal. He was wrong #FP

17.10.14

She tossed her pants onto the chandelier and held his gaze as she drew closer. A red stiletto met his chest. “You’re mine.” #FP

Santa loved mince pies. Now his pants just wouldn’t fit. So it was David in the living room found him protecting his tackle with a Christmas star #FP

19.01.14

The world
spins
we hang
clawing
at the edge
of the abyss
extinction
beckons

06.02.2015

The door swung open. He bent to enter, flinging bread & a half-empty bottle of water at her. No eye contact. Then she was alone again #FP

13.02.2015

Reality: a pauper’s game. Denial: her comfort. Amy toppled off the ski lift, laughing gaily as she fell with the snow flakes. Flying at last #FP

25.09.15

The urchin paused on the ledge, watching life unfold beneath him in the market. He dove headfirst into the tomatoes, all glee and fake blood #FP

He paused. A moment in time when all else fell away and it was just me and him, and what we had shared. Then he shuddered and was gone #FP

I danced under the stars in the rain in my underwear. A pause from logic, from the seesaw of life. It was everything. Until he found me #FP

04.12.15

She dove into the limitless green of his eyes. Trapped in the thread veins of his irises, she screamed. She wanted love not a prison #FP

Heads in toilets, scuffles behind the school shed. He took their punches. Limitless ambition unravelled in him. One day he’d call the shots #FP

25.11.16

She glowed; he glowered. Why was it that his mood see-sawed with hers? Only one could be happy. He smiled, channelling his inner villain #FP

She danced in the dying hours of their love, her hair glowing against the sky. He cherished this last gift from her as his breath faded #FP

***

Until December 2015 @postupak hosted Flash! Friday every week. Writers had 24 hours to submit a response to a prompt with a limited word count. The contest is now closed, but the website still exists to preserve the stories written and as a memory of the very special writing community that grew around it.

Here are my entries:

Freedom (photo prompt 27.09.13)

By Alexis/El Caminante

By Alexis/El Caminante

They didn’t want to let me go.  All those grasping hands – mum’s boney ones, daddy’s strong ones and grandpa’s frail ones – they reached as high as they could but I have been preparing for this moment ever since I was a babe in arms.

They were always trying to tell me what to do, you see.  Mum wanted me to wear my hair with a slick centre parting so all the other mothers would coo at me.  Daddy wanted me to pretend I like fishing as much as he does, but the first time I saw a hook in that trout’s mouth with its dead eyes…well, I just knew it wasn’t for me.  And as for grandpa, if I have to sit quietly and listen to any more of his stories, I’ll turn to stone on the spot, I just know it.  So I’ve been learning to fly.

This life.  It’s mine.

Master and Me (Photo prompt 11.10.13)

Photo by Dan Fador

Photo by Dan Fador

My master is down there.  He slipped from the cliff top during our morning walk.  It was just past dawn and the emerging sun cast a hazy light across the landscape.  He fell without a whimper.  I guess his eyes aren’t what they used to be.  I haven’t looked over the cliff top yet.  I want to take a moment to feel the breeze in my coat, to take in this marvellous vista without being hurried along, to taste the freedom of not being tied to a leash, of being alone.

I did love him once, the silly old fool.  When I was a pup we used to roll around together in the daisy field and afterwards he’d chase me home.  Then his interest waned.  I hadn’t pictured my future to be one of lacklustre coexistence. I wanted the real deal.

I can hear a scrabbling at the rock face and it almost pulls at my heartstrings.  We were supposed to be man and beast.  Oh, it could have been so beautiful between us.  But as I look down at my matted fur, I make my decision.  I want to be my own man now.  It’s probably too late to help now anyway.  This view, it really is to die for.

Family Ties (Photo prompt 22.11.13)

This is not a peaceful place. The high walls and the barbed wire are reminiscent of a prison. It is in fact his father’s memory, which traps him. And those burnished robes. To me, they look so burdensome; I know he feels their weight too.

We have loved each other all our lives. In me he discovered his joy and peace. His family shunned him when they found out, so I became his family. I cooked for him and washed his clothes. I bathed his brow when he was sick. I used to dream of the tinkling laughs of our future children.

Last winter his father was killed, violently, in this place. So he took the robes, as his father had always wanted, to bring his mother comfort. One day, the old woman will die and he will come back to me. Until then, I will wait here patiently, quiet as a church mouse.

The Freedom Within (Photo prompt 6.12.13)

I dream of dragons every night. I am the strongest of them all as we swoop towards the stars. Sometimes I catch sight of my own tail and I know I am beautiful, with shining emerald scales the colour of the mountains and claws that leave my prey defenceless. My lifeblood surges through me as my wings beat in time with my heart.

When I wake in the morning, the contrast between my mangled human form and my dragon one fills me with momentary bitterness. I wait for my nightly escapades with eagerness and impatience. It wasn’t always this way. After the accident, sleep was a poor companion; shadowy figures danced before me stealing my peace in the midnight hours. Mother would stand vigil at my bedside day and night, placing cool cloths on my brow as I lay limp under the sweaty bed-clothes.

My body might still be broken but my mind is stronger. I conjure up my dragon dreams at will. I have been trapped within these decaying walls for nineteen long months but each night I am free. I wish I could show my parents that the mind can soar without its carcass. Last night my senses were heightened. I saw ornate temples, black oceans and magnificent sand-filled bays that would soften even my father’s battle-hardened exterior. But their guilt drowns them until there is no joy left.  They suffocate me with the need to make amends. I have become the symbol of all they have lost, and for them daytime ghouls are worse than nightmares.

I am changing in ways my parents cannot as yet perceive. I covet sleep, day or night, yearning for the mist of drowsiness to envelop me so I can assume the form that has become more real to me than my human body.  My dragon self is powerful, sacred, vengeful. If they insist on keeping me awake for their own solace, I will have no choice. I will rise up with lungs full of fire and wrath to fight for my freedom. It is all I have left.

The Snow Guardian (Photo prompt 20.12.13; include ‘duty’)

I have watched over Susie since the first time she built me. Her tinkling laugh warmed my ice-cold heart as she piled glistening snowflakes upon each other. I stood proudly on her papa’s ranch, her guardian on the darkest nights of the year. She remade me year after year with diminishing care but I remembered the first year and my love for her remained unchanged.

When she was eleven I watched from afar as they told her her papa wouldn’t be coming home. My cold touch could not comfort her in her grief so I pledged to continue my silent watch over her. When the sun’s rays begin to melt my form, I trickle into the earth, duty-bound to return the following year.

Susie is thirty now and I am a lack-lustre, lop-sided parody. She is a sombre woman but I remind her of the child she once was. And that is enough for us both.

There’s No Place Like Home (Photo prompt 10.01.14. Include time travel)

‘Andy, come back here!’

We’d spent an idyllic few days in the Croatan National Forest where we had a summer house. Until mom discovered my stash of beer. How else is a fifteen year old supposed to stomach a family holiday?

‘In for a penny, in for a…’ I thought, determined to escape mother’s wrath.

There it was – hidden in the bark of an enormous tree – father’s pride and joy.

‘Time for a spin, old girl. Been waiting a long time for this.’

Mother’s shouts floated on the still air as I climbed into the gleaming chassis. I pulled the lever, watching clouds spin past as the time-machine sped through the vortex to another time and place.

‘Where are we going?’

I turned with a start. George, my six year old brother grinned at me mischievously from the back seat.

‘How on earth?!’

Over the years we took in many sights, but we never made it back to mother.

The Knight That Never Was (10.15)

They called him The Red Curse. Tales of him caused children to tremble and men to reach for their swords. To me he was Rodin. He never spoke; his name came to me whispered on the wind.

We fought side by side against the rising dark. When Rodin turned his hooded globes to me on blood-thickened fields, I saw not a villain but kin worthy of my steel and coat of arms.

Without him we would have been devoured. Yet the townspeople did not rejoice. Men are stronger when they are bonded by hate. Two dawns after the final battle, they tethered Rodin’s wings to the ground and pierced him with scalding rods.

Rodin endured as the crowds grew. By dusk his scales were torn and slick with sweat. A solitary anguished call reverberated across the isles, but still he did not unleash his fiery breath on them.

I knew my quest then. As the townspeople slept, drunk on their mastery of the dragon, I unclipped his chains and lit the hay bales until the sky turned crimson. Rodin flew, damaged and majestic, a valiant creature trapped in a vessel of fear. His wings beat a path away from the menfolk who had betrayed him: the knight that never was.

An Unfinished Story (Photo prompt 04.12.15. Include a dragon. Final Flash! Friday contest)

The deserted village nestled in a valley, just the place to complete his novel. Beckton was no ordinary bolthole. Tom felt it in his bones: the eerie fog submerging the rental cottage; the urge to lock his car doors.

He swallowed his unease and ventured out towards a half-lit café, his laptop under his arm. The man behind the counter registered surprise.

“You shouldn’t have come here. Didn’t you feel the warnings?”

“Feel the warnings?” said Tom.

“Well, I could hardly put up a sign. She’s watching.” His features seemed to rearrange themselves as he spoke.

“Who is?”

“The beautiful girl, who lived there.” He pointed across the street.

“Where is she now?” A knot of fear unfurled in Tom’s belly.

“Everywhere.”

Tom saw the walls unmask themselves: peeling paint became glistening scales; dim lighting, a fiery glow. The dragon’s head descended, gnashing teeth and scalding breath, leaving behind only the bones of a barely started novel.

Gossamer Bandages (11.12.15)

On Friday everything changed. Overnight the world had been bandaged in gossamer threads, as if a greater power had said,

“Enough. Only compassion will emerge from this cocoon.”

We clambered over silken fibres holding the earth together. Suspended above our heads, like baubles on a tree, were tanks, missiles and the emblems of big business gone bust. They clanked in the wind, a warning to tread carefully in this new world.

We advanced two by two: storytellers and scientists, teachers and inventors, doctors and judges, imams and priests, farmers and soldiers.

On Thursday oblivion had awaited; on Friday rose hope.

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