May Flash Fiction

May’s Photo Prompt

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Photo by Petra Österreich Via pixabay.com

Entry Conditions:

Entries are limited to paid members only. Entries will not be accepted if they exceed the maximum word limit – even if by a word, and must comply with all the stated parameters. Your email must include author’s name, story title and word count.

All entries are to be submitted to competitions@ballaratwriters.com by 5:00 pm Friday, 26 May. Voting will open here on the blog at this time and will close at 5:00 pm on Wednesday 31 May.

Come along to our Members’ Night on Wednesday, 31 May, 7pm at the Bunch of Grapes Hotel to hear the winner announced. (Results will also be posted here on the blog the day after.)

This month’s Flash Fiction parameters are:

Photo prompt: Use the photo above to inspire your story 

Genre: Nonsense 

Word count:  250-275

April Flash Fiction Winner

Contestants for Aprils flash fiction competition where asked to write a Young Adult story with the title, “The Gift of Truth.

I’m pleased to announce that our April Flash Fiction winner was Neville Hiatt, entrant number four.

I’d also like to give an honourable mention to Linda Young for her story, number two, which came in a close second.

Congratulations to both Neville and Linda!

 

 

April Flash Fiction

1. THE GIFT OF TRUTH 

Word count: 500 

“We’re all … MAD! HERE, I’m mad! THERE, you’re mad! We’re all …MAD!” Alicia chanted the words in unison with the beat box voice from her Retro Pocket Hologram. Her best friend, Neuleighah, gasped; her hand over her mouth, she said, “Shooosh! Turn it down. Quickly! ” Neuleighah stared hard at the device. It was enough to flip the thought-activated switch. Its voice fell silent. But it was too late. Neuleighah’s parents had heard the hologram’s voice … and Alicia’s.

The expensive Retro Pocket version (the RPH) had just been released. Alicia had won hers in a promotional competition to compose voice riffs using the RPH’s multi-toned voice function and any retro theme, of each competitor’s choice. Alicia had chosen the six centuries old (forbidden on some planets) classic, “Alice In Wonderland” as the theme for her riff. The age cut off point to enter had been fourteen years old. Alicia had just fitted into that category by 6 weeks.

“Why?” Alicia said.

The small four person runabout spacecraft hurtled through space towards Alicia’s home planet. One of the disadvantages of modern technology was that it had ‘advanced’ ways of fine tuning itself. The craft could read the combined thoughts of its passengers – on any number of parameters. If the combined reading from all passengers calculated a value of “we’re feeling too cold” the temperature would rise, to a new averaged out acceptable setting. The temperature had shot up by several degrees. It felt too clammy.

“You’ve made them turn cold towards you, so the craft’s misreading their thoughts and raising the temperature!” Neuleighah explained. “Wipe your forehead or something. Pretend you really can’t stand this heat anymore.”

Alicia laughed. “What?” But she did it anyway when she saw that Neuleighah meant it. And the temperature did come back down to ‘comfortable.’

“‘Why?’ you ask, Alicia.” Neuleighah’s parents spoke in unison. “Haven’t your parents taught you the truth about subversive works like that?” the father added.

“Uhm, I’m not sure …” But they cut her off mid-sentence.

“Look, we’ll still allow Neuleighah to spend the week at your place,” Neuleighah’s mother said. The craft was now only two minutes away from Alicia’s home. “But, well, I want a word with your mother.” She turned to her husband and said, “I blame the parents.” He nodded.

Her father said, “This will be a test for you, Neuleighah. Just remember The Truth we’ve given you! You’re fourteen now. That’s old enough to practice resisting those who would dismantle Known Scientific Reality … only to reassemble it in any haphazard, uneducated way they see fit, like that fool of a so-called ‘thinker,’ the author Lewis Carroll. This is the 25th Century after all, not the dim past!”

The craft landed outside Alicia’s home. Her mother was waiting outside to greet them all. The girls hurried ahead of Neuleighah’s parents towards the house.

“Hi Mum, thanks for the gift!” Alicia said as she scurried past her.

“What gift?” Alicia’s mother said.

Neuleighah smiled at her … then followed Alicia inside.

2. The Gift of Truth

Word count: 499

On the way home from school Ben and Jed are there waiting for me. They’re huddled together, whispering and plotting what we’re going to do next. Jed carries the tools in an old school bag. They’re older than me; they skip school and hang out in the mall until school finishes. Jed hands me the gear; I know what I have to do. They’re my friends so I go along with the plan. As I’m the smallest they heave me up and I jemmy open the window, climb through and unlock the doors. It’s easy. We grab the stuff, bolt down the back streets laughing and, for a while, it feels great being part of the group. But as I head home, it doesn’t feel so good anymore.

When I get home mum is angry, ‘You’re late; where have you been?’

I don’t look at her, just shrug as my stomach tightens.

“What have you been up to?’ she demands, frowning.

I turn away and head to my bedroom, slam the door and lock it. Pulling out a box from under the bed I shove the stuff inside and jam the lid down tight. I don’t want these things, don’t want to do it anymore; don’t know what to do. I lie on the bed, pull up the blankets, and try to block it out. I just want it to end.

Mum calls out, ‘Tea is ready.’

‘I don’t want any.’

She rattles the doorknob. ‘You need to eat something, what’s wrong?’

‘I’m not hungry. I’ve got homework to do.’

I hear mum and dad arguing in the kitchen. I know it’s about me. I can’t tell them about Ben and Jed, they’d never understand. They don’t know how lonely it is at school; how the other boys tease me, call me a midget.

Dad knocks on the door. “Marty we have to talk.’ I cover my head. ‘Please undo the door.’ With a groan I let him in and flop onto the bed. I don’t want him here, don’t want to talk. He sits beside me and holds a packet of cigarettes in his hand. I grasp in surprise.

He asks me gently, ‘Where did you get these?’

I shrug, ‘They’re not mine.’

‘Marty, we know you’ve have been stealing things; people have seen you in the mall with a group of older boys. You think they are your friends but they use young boys to steal for them all the time. Sometimes people get hurt and they don’t care. Do you want to be part of that?’

‘They’re not like that,’ I snap, angry and confused. I think back to the mall – shoving an old lady as they snatch her bag, laughing as she falls. I turn to help her, but they yell ‘run Marty run,’ and I take off.

Dad sighs, ‘You know you’re not like those boys Marty, and so do we.’

I feel his arm warm around my shoulders, and stare at the floor.     

3. The Gift of Truth 

word count:493

What lies is he telling her now? I hate him so much when I know he’s lying to Mum just so he can go and shag Mr Kirby’s wife. Only 3 weeks and 2 days left at school and I can expose them both for what they really are. Will I ever stop hating him, I wonder. I didn’t always hate him, especially when he coached my soccer team last year. And thanks to him we won the grand final. I was so proud of him, so proud and so stupid. Why did I say “I love you Dad”. I hadn’t said that since I was a little kid, and now I wish I’d never said it at all.

I need to see Jeremy today, I need to plan every last detail to make sure that I have all the facts so that he can’t lie and worm his way out of what he’s done, not only to our family but to Mr Kirby’s family as well. Apart from wishing that my father wasn’t the cheating lying rat that he is, the second worst part is that Mr Kirby has been my favourite teacher since I’ve been at Henderson College. I reckon he’s even better than any of the other teachers at this college who haven’t taught me. It’s not that I love Physical Education more than any of my other subjects it’s that Mr Kirby is just the coolest teacher.

Jeremy will back me I know he will. I also know we shouldn’t have been there, my parents have told me, over and bloody over, there are all sorts of weirdos and druggos that hang around the Creek once it’s dark so make sure you stay away. During the day is not so bad to go for a fish with Jeremy but I always had to be home before dark.

It was just too good an opportunity to miss. With Jeremy’s parents away in Sydney overnight it was the first time we were allowed to sleepover at his place on our own. With the thrill and anticipation of what we might come across at the Creek that night, we couldn’t ride fast enough. We weren’t stupid though, we would hide our bikes in the scrub a bit further along the Creek so nobody would see us coming. We’d then sneak along the bank till we got to the clearing.

Nothing could have stopped us that night, but bloody hell I wish it had. There was my father’s car, windows steamed up, back window open. What was he doing here? Parked next door was Mr Kirby’s wife’s car, nobody in it. The car was rocking and I could hear them. They disgust me. Every time I look at him he disgusts me. How could he?

Well only 3 weeks and 2 days to go until he and Mrs Kirby get the best end of school year present from me – the gift of truth.

4. The Gift of Truth

word count:499

I can still recall the night when John called me and said his girlfriend had just made him watch this movie and there was a photographer in it that had been to Naples and maybe it might be my Nonno. Now I’m sure hundreds of photographers had visited Naples the year before my mother was born but I had followed down dead ends before so what was one more. The first thing to verify was that the movie wasn’t a complete work of fiction it wouldn’t have been the first time John had told me something that he hadn’t verified before telling me. He was a great mate but sometimes..

My Nonna had always been very vague about who my Nonno was. I grew up knowing he was a foreign photographer but that was all I knew. It wasn’t until after her death that I found out a few more details. I still don’t know why but her passing created a yearning in me more intense than ever before. It’s somewhat understandable as she was the only family I had, yet I’m still perplexed at the intensity in which it came.

Within weeks I was rushing to the airport after a farewell night out with John, and three flights later, I was in the heart of America.

Travelling on the bus through so much open countryside had me feeling very alien. I wondered how many Italy’s one could fit inside America. It truly was like I was on a desolate movie set after everyone had gone home. Even now years later as I write about the journey that forever changed my life I can still close my eyes and feel that landscape so clearly.

As the bus pulled into town it stopped right in front of a diner which looked like so many movies I’d seen with John. Ordering a cheeseburger fries and a coke felt so American. I’d eaten burgers and fries before but this felt like a different experience. I didn’t even really like coke but I ordered one anyway.

The waitress didn’t know who Alister Jones was but pointed me in the direction of Samuel at the photo shop across the road just one block down.

Samuel knew exactly who I was looking for but the little known truth as he recalled it was he was actually Australian not American so I’d come to the wrong country.

It would be another year before I could save up enough to travel to Australia but I wasn’t going home empty handed. Not only did I now have a solid lead as to who my Nonno could have been. Samuel had given me a framed photograph Alister had taken while visiting his county which had hung on his wall so long there was now a faded mark on the wall outlining where it used to hang. Alister had given it to Samuel all those decades before and decades later it still hangs on my wall a most treasured gift.

April Flash Fiction

Entry Conditions:

Entries are limited to paid members only. Entries will not be accepted if they exceed the maximum word limit – even if by a word, and must comply with all the stated parameters. Your email must include author’s name, story title and word count.

All entries are to be submitted to competitions@ballaratwriters.com by Friday, 21 April 2017, voting will open here on the blog on this date.  Please note: voting will close at 5:00pm on the last Wednesday of each month, so please make sure that you get your vote in by then. 

Come along to our Members’ Night on Wednesday, 26 April, 7pm at the Bunch of Grapes Hotel to hear the winner announced. (Results will also be posted here on the blog the day after.)

This month’s Flash Fiction parameters are:

Genre:  YA

Word count:  490 – 500

Story Title:  The Gift of Truth

I used a random book title generator and chose six titles that seemed interesting then used a dice to narrow it down to one. When it comes time to vote, please take careful note of the number of the story that you wish to vote for as they will all have the same title, thank you and good luck.

March Flash Fiction Competition Winner

The winner of the March Flash Fiction competition was Neville Hiatt’s story Broken.

Please note: because this was my fist time using the voting app I did not set the closing time on the pole, which allowed voting to continue after the pole was in fact closed. I have rectified this problem and no one will be able to vote after 5:00pm on the last Wednesday of each month. Thank you for your understanding, Rebekah Spark, Competitions Coordinator

 

March Flash Fiction

  1. My Dungeon

Words: 99

This would free me from the relentless torment. I was standing at the gate of a dungeon, an archway of light ahead, waiting. Those cold and heavy bars were gone, the moldy and sour taste washed away and my path ahead clear. Only an empty cell to leave behind, the remnant of what I was. Those chains that held me down, bruising my skin and cutting my flesh. I considered the future pain that came with this sacrifice. Incomparable to that I left behind. This gate could lock away everything bad and painful and numbing. I would be free.

  1. The fate of bad habits

Words: 100

Below, in the dark, the most awful dank stench ridden place, where no sunlight ever reached, and even smoking torches reeked more putrid smoke than light, he dragged the resistant, heavy, slippery hulk of his latest mental nemesis, slowly, with halting steps, pace by agonising pace, stretching every few moves to ease the screaming muscles of his mind that objected to being unsettled, heaved, torn and wrenched from their habitual locations in the recesses of consciousness, once again bent to his task he carried his quarry with trudging frayed feet and gnarled fingers straining, towards the dungeon of his fears.

  1. Blowing in the Wind

Words: 99

As I sit outside the café enjoying a coffee amid the peace and quiet, a worker appears with a leaf blower. He’s wearing industrial strength ear muffs and moves along slowly, blowing the leaves off the footpath onto the lawn. Ear-splitting noise pierces the quietness and dust pollutes the air. As he ambles along, a gust of wind whips the leaves back onto the path.

I sit and ponder: the inventor of such a useless contraption ought to be consigned to a dungeon, forever listening to the aggravating sound of his creation, while nature takes care of the leaves.

  1. Broken

Words: 97

After a decade of war with both sides forces heavily decimated, my queen was finally liberated. They had not treated her as royalty and she was barely recognisable. Even now weeks later freshly bathed and restored in her royal gowns her eyes betrayed what they had done to her. I could still see the woman I once knew, but she was different. She would still not venture forth into public and was rarely seen in her once beloved private gardens. It broke my heart anew each day knowing the only place she felt safe was the dungeon.

  1. False light

Words: 100

I made my way down the worn wooden staircase. The room was lit by a single bare bulb hanging above the worktable. I watched my father, his unsteady hands fluttering across the surface of the table, like spotted butterflies, arranging and rearranging.

“Here you go Dad a nice cuppa.” I had tried to keep my voice soft, but still I’d startled him.

“I thought I’d find you down here pottering in your dungeon.”

“Martha, did I lose track of time?”   

“No Dad it’s not Martha, it’s Candice.”

“Candice yes, in this light you look so much like your late mother.”

  1. Nursing Home

Words:97

“Arh! Another dungeon!” I’d rescued my mother from one once. She’d been kidnapped by rogues within The Authority. The Rogues had grown so large, they were The Authority.

My hands shook, moving aside the entrance ornamentation.”Chandeliers still a favourite?” In the sunlight they did, je ne sais quoi … tinkle well with the ‘slow streaming’ of an adjacent man-made babbling brook.

“Mesmerized fool!” I said, “Just gather the evidence!”

Inside, my night vision camera-recorder rolled. Around a table someone was saying, “We’re purchasing the right to convert Your Elder into the maximum possible Units Of Currency. Agreed?”

  1. Dungeons and Dragons

Words:98

The baby is unfed, the sink is full, unwashed clothes are piled high, it’s past midday and nothing’s been done, as the game goes on. They’re all gathered round the computer when the dinner’s on the table, can’t come now there’s a monster to destroy, as the game goes on.

They’re addicted to the role that they have to play, saviour of the Nation must kill the dragon, or be thrown in the dungeon, as the game goes on.

Should I worry? Should I be annoyed? Maybe I should just let the game go on

   8. Dungeon

Words:99

I run my fingers along the damp walls- which are cold and slightly uneven. I feel shivers run through my body, as the fear of this place- the dungeon, make my senses alert.

I must not resist this torture. I must endure. The end will come quickly if I don’t struggle. I hear the water before I feel it- lukewarm and heavy. I gasp.

“If you didn’t struggle so much it would be easier for both of us”. I hear Mums’ familiar voice. I remove the large towel draped over my head, tent-like and let her wash my hair

9. Trapped 

Words: 99

The spotlights, fans screaming for more, the memories and flashbacks, felt as if they were stuck on repeat. Lately, every time she closed her eyes, and oddly, even more so in the mornings, when she returned to the empty house after kissing her tiny son goodbye and watching him run to his classroom, eager to be with his new pals in his first year at school. She loved him so much, but the ache she felt, for just one moment, to step back in time, to her life as a rock star, playing every night at the Dungeon club.  

10. Dungeon 

Words:98

My dungeon has brick walls.

Half-eaten flies stick to corners and sometimes contented spiders.

Papers and boxes untidy the floor. Literary or art paraphernalia crams the book case and a table beside the writing desk. Beneath the desk there are several unfinished manuscripts. On top sits my computer, and beside it, more works in progress.

The walls display my grandson’s kindy paintings, a picture of young Queen Elizabeth and a photo of a rocket launching with the caption ‘Dare to dream’.

The rubbish bin overflows with torn up edits.

Outside people pass by oblivious to my surreal world.

March Flash Fiction

Entry Conditions:

Entries will not be accepted if they exceed the maximum word limit – even if by a word, and must comply with all the stated parameters.

All entries are to be submitted to competitions@ballaratwriters.com by Friday, 24 March 2017. Your email must include author’s name, story title and word count.

Voting will open here on the blog.

Come along to our Members’ Night on Wednesday, 29 March, 7pm at the Bunch of Grapes Hotel to hear the winner announced. (Results will also be posted here on the blog the day after.)

This month’s Flash Fiction parameters are:

Genre:  open

Word count:  90 – 100

Key word:  dungeon (this word must appear together in your story)

February Flash Fiction

Welcome to Flash Fiction for 2017!

Congratulations to our first Flash Fiction competition winner for 2017, Robert Menzel, for his story Falling Down.

Entry Conditions:

Entries will not be accepted if they exceed the maximum word limit – even if by a word, and must comply with all the stated parameters.

All entries are to be submitted to competitions@ballaratwriters.com by Sunday, 19th February 2017. Your email must include author’s name, story title and word count.

Voting will open the next day here on the blog.

Come along to our Members’ Night on Wednesday, 22 February, 7pm at the Bunch of Grapes Hotel to hear the winner announced. (Results will also be posted here on the blog the day after.)

This month’s Flash Fiction parameters are:

Genre:  open

Word count:  500

Key word/s:  “fake news” (these words must appear together in your story)

February entries:

Story 1  Fake News           Words:  500

“Fake news!” Tessa declared as she walked away with a flounce, waving her manicured hand in the air.

Harry stared after her, and listened for the click-clack of her heels to fade away. His shoulders slumped and wondered just what the truth was. He had been told Tessa was a trollop. The source was impeccable. A QC no less. Did he just dodge a bullet or make the worst mistake of his life?

As he turned to pick up his briefcase and newspaper, his eyes landed once again on the image of Tessa on the front page. There she was, arm in arm with the new head of the firm, Timothy Trews, the “professor” as he was known among the lads here at Trews and Shadforth. With an automatic gesture Harry felt his breast pocket, and the small bulge within was there. His purchase had been intended for Tessa to become the future Mrs Finch. But that was before. Before he started asking everyone he knew, about what on earth was going on between Tessa Gant and the boss.

“Professor Trews and Ms Gant attended the gala opening night of The Murder So Foul at The Ring Theatre on Saturday night.” Read Freddie, Harry’s aide and general factotum. “Doesn’t say much here. Maybe a coincidence?” He offered, handing the paper back to Harry, with a slap on the back.

Harry looked more closely at the photograph. True, Tessa and Timothy weren’t standing all that close, and they were looking in different directions. But those arms…linked? Why?

“I was there that night,” Madeleine, a legal clerk at the firm, told Harry brightly. “Funny though, I didn’t see either of them especially given how tall the professor is, you can’t usually miss him in a crowd. There were lots there that night, sorry.” Madeleine smiled sympathetically as she passed the paper back to Harry.

“She’s a trollop,” announced Stephen Watson, one of the few QC’s at the firm. “Can’t imagine what you see in her old chap. I’m sorry to say, that if Timothy is her current objet d’amour he’s unlikely to be her last.” Stephen’s eyes narrowed as he looked at the photograph and seemed puzzled. He was about to hand the paper back to Harry, then hesitated taking another look at the photograph.

“You know, there’s something very odd here though,” Stephen pondered in lowered tones, and pointed to a figure in the background of the photograph. “There.” He thrust the paper at Harry. “There, that woman standing behind them.”

Harry peered at the poorly pixelated bystander. “What about her?” He asked.

“His wife,” Stephen said with confidence. “Know her anywhere. Something fishy going on here I’d say.”

Harry’s eyes lit up. “Really? You’re certain?”

“Positive old chap. Mind you,” Stephen tapped the side of his nose and leant towards Harry, “Tessa is a trollop, but something strange is going on. I’d say whatever the picture is leading us to think, it’s a set up. I’d say it’s fake news.”

Story 2   Fanning the Flames of Justice          Words:  500

Tom read the news and felt his stomach lurch. After all these years he knew what he had to do. He would plan this carefully, and he’d be sure not to leave a trace.

He found the house two streets away. It was a small insignificant house; plain brick, an untidy front garden and a battered old car in the driveway. The blinds were drawn, and the rubbish bins lay on the ground near the side gate. Tom noticed the gate was unlocked; the hinges rusted.

He walked along the street on the opposite side, pulling his hoody down, his sunglasses in place.  Each day he walked past the house, always at different times, in different clothes. Sometimes the car was there, other times it was gone. Tom noticed a pattern; it was there in the morning, gone in the afternoon. He knew what time to plan what he had to do. The footpaths were deserted and the street was quiet.

Tom bought his supplies at the hardware store, and stored them in the garage until the time was right. He thought about his plans every night, going over and over the same things, hardly sleeping but knowing that when the job was done, he’d feel better.  The nightmares returned liked they had never gone away, and the pain in his soul tormented him.

He woke one morning and decided this was the day, a cold bleak overcast day, much like his life. He collected the tin from the garage, and felt for the small box in his pocket. He walked along the street, the tin in a plastic bag, his head down, until he came to the house. The car was gone, and he hurried through the gate. He noticed a small fence at the back, and a lane leading to the street. The back of the house had a lean-too, and he knew this was his entry.  He tried the back door, and pushed it open. Inside were stacks of newspapers, making his job easy.

He felt strong now, could finally have his say; that those who do wrong need to be punished and removed from the streets.

He poured the petrol onto the papers, lit the match then scrambled back outside. Watching the flames rising, he felt a profound sense of justice. He knew the type of man who lived here, and the things he did. He knew this with a deep sense of his own shame. Throwing away the tin, he scaled the fence and bolted through the streets.

He slowed down as the tension eased. He felt good now as he headed up the hill to meet his mates at the pub. Sauntering into the bar, he ordered a beer and sat down.

‘Did you hear about that paedophile living a few streets away? I saw it on Facebook. He has no right living around here.’

‘Mate, that’s fake news. You’d be an idiot to believe that stuff.’

Tom looked away and finished his beer.

Story 3   Just Fake News          Words:  493

Just like the town criers of old calling out loud, the news media ran headlines of this story: ‘The Queen was dead’

The information was important to the people, of whom were themselves Non-believers of the Royal house, to trumpet triumphantly to all who would listen.

They never ever considered all the lives it would affect. The distress all the employees, who work and care for the all the properties and animals that the Queen owns and is in charge of like gardeners, groundsmen, maids, cooks, personnel secretaries, drivers, security, Royal guardsmen, horse box cleaners, trainers buyers to choose stock for the farms and the stable, jockeys, royal riders, as well as the white swans carer, the list goes on.

All these personnel employed because the Queen was so strong, and led her country with control paying for lifestyles of thousands within the Royal households. But the most unusual career connected to the Royal house is the personnel employed in the media as the experts on the Royal family. They are the ones that wouldn’t like to lose their income and lifestyle if the Queen is dead.

The experts loved the notoriety that they themselves received on occasions like this. They could ride the wave of importance as they shared their self-proclaimed importance of everything that happened in the Royal household that really had a gilded edged two pronged fork. As they were sometimes seemed a little jealous of the family of which they were asked many questions of, especially at times like this. They themselves may be dismissed by the media Mongols, as no longer needed because the new younger person is ever ready on the sidelines, if their accuracy was skew if.  For this time they verified and reported that the story would be true, as she had been ill at the beginning of the year. Giving the headlines of shock the go ahead, being convinced themselves that she was ready to go, and should go. They were ready to accept and believe the worst. So they committed to the ‘fake news’ with jubilance that they could now work for a King.

But they had been so thrilled and wrapped up in themselves and their self-importance, they became so ready to report the news to gain the headlines they overlooked that it was April the 1st. So many stories appear in that genre of fibs and ‘fake news’. Not only was the story quickly dismissed by the heads of departments in the media after it flashed across the world, so were the royal experts sent on permanent vacations, because they were  proven not to be under the influence of facts in this area, not knowing the Queen as well as they thought.  The true believable story was that they were in fact fakes themselves.

Everyone employed in the households breathed a sigh of relief, immediately getting back to doing what they did best.

The strength of the Royal house remains intact.

Story 4   The Problem with the iPhone          Words:  469

It was a Sunday afternoon and Samuel had just arrived at a birthday party for his five year old niece Astrid in the suburb of Richmond, an area he enjoyed visiting as it was where he lived when he was younger, catching trams and drinking loads of coffee whilst working full time in the city. His mind cast back to that government job in the CBD and he smiled when he thought of some of the people he worked with there. The policy work itself was a bit mundane but the people were great and that is why he had stayed there for several years.

He pulled up in his car and made his way into the house carrying the present he bought Astrid. It was a picture book that his partner James had recommended.  James was visiting his family in Adelaide and so Samuel was going solo to this birthday party and he started to miss James as he got slowly out of his car.

He rang the doorbell and was greeted by his brother Ethan with a big hug and then they headed out to the back garden. Ethan’s partner Melanie greeted Samuel with a quick kiss on the cheek as they passed through the living room.

Later when they were watching the kids playing Samuel thought he’d ask Ethan about a problem he had with his iPhone losing battery power as Ethan was very tech savvy.

“How often are you charging it?”

“Every two days, sometimes every day,” replied Samuel.

“Hmm,” replied Ethan and then he went into a spiel about how sometimes it is not just the battery but a sign that the phone is on the way out.  He then suggested that Samuel set his phone to low power mode and try using it less often and then get a new one eventually.

Samuel was fairly satisfied with this answer since he did not want to buy a new battery or phone just yet and so thanked his brother for his help. Just then a text came through and Samuel thought he should really put his phone aside, but decided to check it quickly before doing so. After checking the message he saws a news flash about football. He decided he could not resist teasing his brother about it, especially as they followed different teams. He put his phone on a table and walked over to Ethan who had just finished telling Astrid that they would open the presents after the cake.

“Hey, I just saw that Richmond may not have a coach much longer,” Samuel said with a cheeky grin.

Ethan laughed and then explained, “I think the real problem with your phone brother is that you are reading too much fake news,” and he gave Samuel a playful punch in the arm.

Story 5  A Lost Relative          Words:  498

Gina opened the letter, her eyebrows indicating she was a little puzzled. She didn’t recognise the handwriting on the envelope posted in Melbourne. Since I was a boy I think one day to meet you and now I arrive to Australie, fortunato that I find you. From my cousin here, I know your address so I come to surprise you, maybe to stay for a visit, si, fantastico…

Gina, an Aussie born Italian, immediately called her brother, Mario, ‘hey, who’s our relative, Carlo Rossi? Did you get a letter from him?’

No, Mario had never heard of him either. Gina called cousin Aldo in Melbourne, but he hadn’t seen or heard from any relative from Italy. Right, Gina said, determinedly, I’ll ring Aunt Rosa in Sydney, she’ll know. She keeps track of all the families.

The phone call didn’t solve the puzzle although Aunt Rosa was sure this Carlo must be a son of Franco, the infuriatingly suave husband of that cousin, Elena in Arezzo. He was always away on business, funny business now I think, she told Gina. Hmph! Why I not find out this before?

Gina and I were out walking, as we always did on Tuesday afternoons, when she told me about this curious letter from a long-lost relative who was busily claiming long-lost obligations of family hospitality. She started to flare up over his impending visit, hands flying in all directions, as you expect from Italians. When is he coming? I asked. I don’t know, said Gina, but if he thinks he can just turn up and free-load … She was spitting chips, if that’s possible when her face was smiling at her own frustration. This surprised me somewhat – Gina who was always so generous, welcoming lots of friends into her home to share authentic gnocchi, seafood marinara and tiramisu, a few of the dishes she would pile onto our plates, now up in arms about this stranger who was claiming her Italian embrace.

Let me know when you get more news from him, sounds like you’re in for a fun time, I teased her.

The following week Gina gave me an update: Aunt Rosa had called various relatives in Italy but nobody could identify him, not even by the grapevine running riotously from Sicily to Milano.

Two weeks of silence went by before another update: a phone call to Gina, si, it’s me, cousin Carlo. I will arrive to you in one week, the voice was muffled and quite strange.

Gina became wary and asked cousin Aldo in Melbourne to go to the address in the letter. It turned out to be real – an empty block of land in Brunswick. Gina’s suspicions and hackles rose together. I could see she was ready to explode should Carlo show up on her doorstep but it wouldn’t happen. I called Gina to put an end to this fake news, my little joke. Gina laughed and posted me a pair of boots in cement.

Story 6   Truth         Words:  97

We went to a funeral today. He was 33. He left a devastated family, disbelieving friends. We celebrated his life and laughed at his foibles. We joyously listened to his favourite music but forlornly cried at the speeches of those left behind. We shared stories and sadness. We drank a toast, hugged loved ones and strangers.

I came home and stayed mute. Facebook was an outlet: so much loving, lots of likes, a bit of sharing…but fake. News was unreliable – are they really showing their feelings or displaying what they think their public wants? Who can tell?

Story 7   Falling Over          Words:  296

I have stood in the congregation of the faith healer wanting to know why I fall. My eyes studied the rain drops on the coat in front of me when they should have been closed in prayer. The chanting grew louder and louder and God seemed further away.  I still fell.

I   have gone down broken concrete paths to some darkened bedroom or disused garage. The gifted are always poorly dressed. They work for cash and have loose change in silver   and notes in old tobacco tins. They have a great following of men and woman they have helped especially muscular problems. He examined my legs and took notice of my walking. He said different shoes might help. He placed his hands on my tight knee.  Closing his eyes, he appeared to orgasm. he rattled around in his tin for change of five dollars.

I have seen a specialist. I sunk knee deep in to the carpet 0f his waiting room.  The lights were dulled around the room. The paint work was subdued and perfect.  The paintings were large and all original water colours.   They were fake news.

He was protected by an attractive female secretary.  Her skirt is high up and her neck line low.  She spoke with a slight accent.

The specialist was behind a large wooden e\engraved desk his name engraved in coper plate. He made an educated guess as why I fall so often.  I am not sure what he meant

You told me why I fall, the same you with little education.  For once you did not need our fathers magic you observe as any parent does and remains silent

I walk too fast.  That’s what you say.  That’s my sin. My spastic body likes the jolt but hates the falls.

 

Now vote for your favorite story here:

November Flashes – the Pamela Miller Memorial Prize

And the 2016 prize goes to …

Neville Hiatt for his story, ‘2016’.

Pamela Miller was a very active and productive member of Ballarat Writers. She wrote short stories and poetry and won the ‘Murder at MADE’ short story competition held in conjunction with the Sisters in Crime Festival in 2014, and in early 2015 was part of the ‘Poetry Pathways’ ekphrastic project. She was also the winner of a number of Ballarat Writers monthly Flash Fiction competitions. Pamela died in June 2015 after a short illness.

The prize is $100.00 and a certificate. The winner will be announced at our final Members’ night for the year on Wednesday, 30 November.

The process for submission is similar to the monthly Flash Fiction competition:

Genre:          open, however, poetry and non-fiction pieces will not be accepted for this competition

Theme:         everyone is welcome

Words:         350 – 400 words

Keyword:     corner (remember to include this word in your story)

Entry Conditions:

You must be a Ballarat Writers member to enter.

Entries will not be accepted if they exceed the maximum word limit – even if by a word, and must comply with all the stated parameters.

All entries are to be submitted to competitions@ballaratwriters.com by Sunday, 20th November 2016. Your email must include author’s name, story title and word count.

Voting will open the next day here on the blog.

Come along to our Members’ Night on Wednesday, 30 November, 7pm at the Bunch of Grapes Hotel to hear the winner announced. (Results will also be posted here on the blog the day after.)

This month’s Flash Fiction entries are:

Entry 1   Bargains                                   Words: 390

Kaz poked her head around the corner. Sure enough Tash was there, standing outside Portridge’s Fashion House waiting for the end of season sale to start; and in the window was that dress Kaz had her eye on. A pale blue slim line. Half price today. Its style would flatter her whale-sized hips. Tash would have noticed the dress too. Tash, her neighbour with the perfect figure and oodles of money, who always stole the bargains from Kaz’s finger tips. Not today though! Kaz strode across the street, squeezed her way through the crowd and stood beside Tash. Tash turned her head and smiled.

“Hello Kaz, are you going to buy anything?”

“No, just looking.” Kaz sneaked a sideways glance at the dress in the window. “Are you?”

“Yes maybe.”

The door opened, the crowd surged forward, Kaz and Tash neck to neck. In the foyer the unthinkable happened. Kaz was jostled against an advertising stand, wedging her arm between two of its rungs. She let out an almighty screech and by the time staff came to her rescue and released her, the crowd had dispersed throughout the store. Then she saw Tash coming towards her on the way out, a familiar pink Portridge bag swinging in her hand, a triumphant smile eclipsing her face. The dress! Kaz’s immediate thought.  Suddenly a green goblin rose within her. She jumped in front of Tash, grabbed the bag from her fingers and ran into the street, throwing it over the road as a big truck was passing. The bag sashayed across the truck. Its contents, a frilly red nightdress spilled out, catching on the smoke stack. The nightdress waved like the national flag along the road until it disappeared on the other side of a rise with the truck.

“What did you do that for? Tash glared at Kaz.

“I thought you’d bought my dress.” Kaz looked at the window where a sales girl was slipping the dress off the mannequin, to the delight of a customer standing nearby. Tash’s eyes followed Kaz’s gaze.

“Seems as though both of us have missed out on our bargains today!”

“I’m sorry about your nightdress Tash.”

“I don’t think I like it afterall; it was pretty loud hanging off that truck.  They laughed.

“I really did want that dress though,” said Kaz with a sigh.

 

Entry 2  Journey to a Better Life                          Words: 390

The waves threatened to topple our tiny boat. My stomach felt sick from the constant rocking motion but I tried to ignore this as I held my baby daughter Rosa closer to my chest.
Salt water burned my nostrils and the water kept splashing onto my face stinging my eyes. My teeth kept chattering, but I didn’t care. I had to be strong and see this through for my child’s sake.
This was our chance to finally turn the corner and to start a new life. Our guide told us everyone was welcome in the country we were travelling to. Violence and fear was what we were leaving behind. My husband Andre had been killed last week. A suicide car bomb had driven straight into his office block and exploded. I still felt completely numb. This is how I found the strength to carry on. Anything can be achieved when one feels numb all over. Numbness takes over anxiety or fear. I felt mechanical, like I was just going through the motions. One foot in front of the other. That was my mantra now. I repeated it in my head constantly. I would not even think about what happened to Andre. It was just too painful. I hugged Rosa a little tighter.
I heard a loud cracking noise and someone on the boat started to yell. Our boat was starting to break up, we were taking on water fast. Our tiny vessel was just no match for the angry waves dancing around us.
A tiny glimpse of land appeared on the horizon. We were nearly there! My feelings of jubilation soon turned to despair as there was another almighty crack and our boat literally broke in half. We were all plunged into the cold ocean. I kicked under the water with all my might to bring my body back to the surface. Finally I felt the sun on my face and gasped for air. Rosa was crying so I knew she was still alive. I held her tight with my left arm as I grabbed onto a piece of the boat that was floating around us. I placed Rosa onto it and started towards the land. Tears welled up in my eyes. To be this close and not make it was too cruel. I remembered my mantra and started kicking.

 

Entry 3    A Click of the Mouse                            Words:  400

Vivian wanted a small party for her 60th birthday, only a few family members and her best friend Alice. She and Alice had been friends for 30 years – since the days they both worked in the school canteen.

Alice had worked in IT for the last twenty years; Viviane was a stay at home mum.  Alice was very savvy with mobile phones, the internet, had an iPad, with all the apps. Viviane owned an old brick of a mobile, no internet, could just manage a few text messages when necessary. Still this difference did not hinder their friendship.

Alice wanted to arrange the party for Vivian’s birthday, as a favour to her friend. She also had a computer and this made the job so easy, a click of the mouse and the job would be done.

Alice enjoyed organising others, which sometimes irritated Vivian, but she let it go as she valued Alice’s friendship in other ways.  Vivian only had a few friends, wasn’t really a social person, so Alice brought a lot of excitement to Vivian’s life, which at times seemed rather dull to Alice.  She enjoyed telling Vivian of the lives of her well–to–do friends, and Vivian was a good listener.

Alice had a long list of people on her contact list. She never had any trouble getting a crowd, and even though Vivian said she only wanted a small party, Alice knew she really deserved a great party. And so did Alice.

So Alice set about arranging the party, and turned on the computer in the corner of the lounge. The food was easy; ordered online, with a variety of finger food from various countries, no ordinary party food.  Alice really was a food snob. Then the cake – she accessed an app and created her own design,    ordered plenty of wine and champagne, then moved on to the music. A sixty’s band would be the thing; she and Vivian loved to dance to rock and roll.

With this all done, she set up an email, typed ‘Everyone’s Welcome’ in the Subject box, then added information about the party, and directions.

Alice was adding a few select contacts when the phone rang. Reaching over she bumped the mouse, then thought, ‘Better send these off first,’ and clicked ‘Send.’

Grabbing the phone, she glanced back at the computer; then stared at the message:

‘Sent to All Contacts’.

 

Entry 4  In the Company of Others                      Words:  400

He stood at the door, watching, undecided. Barbara noticed him as she set out the tea and cakes. She’d seen him often in the library; he never stayed long, exchanged his books and left. He was always in the same baggy trousers and knitted jumper, and shuffled around in a pair of dirty old shoes. Staff quietly sprayed the room after he left.

Barbara looked across at him now and beckoned. ‘Everyone’s welcome, we’re starting a new book club.’

He glanced at the others gathered around the room, lowered his eyes, and turned away.

Next week he appeared at the door again.

Barbara hurried over. ‘Do join us please; we’d love to hear about the books your reading.’

The other members smiled and rearranged the chairs. He hesitated, then ambled across and sat on a chair in the corner.  He said very little, nodding now and then when the others spoke. When asked, he told them his name was William, and he lived nearby in a house down by the river.

Each week he returned and sat again in the same chair.

Barbara greeted him and enquired, ‘It’s good to see you William, what have you been reading this week?’

‘I’ve been reading biographies and history novels,’ he said as he pulled books from his bag. He mentioned his years as a teacher; how he’d taught students the history of many wars, and the lives of the men who led them. With encouragement, he started sharing the books that were important to him and quoted passages from stories he’d read.

As the weeks passed, Barbara noticed a change in William’s clothing, his hair had been cut and washed, and a new pair of shoes appeared.  Gradually he moved closer within the circle, and smiled when he arrived each week. He joined in the discussions of various books, and showed understanding as the other members listened to him with interest and enjoyment.

William often stayed after the meetings to help clean up, and sometimes shared his thoughts with Barbara. ‘I look forward to coming here, I like talking to the others. Things have been hard lately but I have a reason now to get up each day.’

Barbara nodded; she understood.

At a meeting of the library staff, Barbara was asked how the book club was progressing. Reflecting on the meetings, she realised it was far more than a book club.

 

Entry 5   Lost                                        Words:  364

Some say they know a place like the back of their hand. Declan Pierce, with a proud sense of civic ownership, took it a step further. He claimed to know his town by the soles of his feet, each slap of leather against concrete affirming his sense of belonging; however, when put to test, they failed to meet his boast.

Declan was lost, irrevocably lost in the mist that covered the familiar streets and landmarks of his home town. He had left the library half an hour before, when a persistent doubt whether he had turned the stove off at home refused to be stilled, his mind playing out scenarios of fire and destruction. Unable to bear the uncertainty any longer he put down the books he was replacing on the shelves and set out for the ten minute walk to his home.

Stepping out the door, he walked into an unseasonal fog that denied vision and consigned sound to the imagination, and he groped his way blindly down the paths he had trodden for most of his uneventful fifty-three years, no longer certain of any compass direction. He could make out muffled footsteps of others adrift in the above ground ocean of whiteness, the whoosh of car tyres and the refraction of light from headlamps that glared back at drivers, the only recognisable demarcation between road and pavement. He put his trust in the soles of his shoes, that long marriage of leather and concrete, ignoring the emergency vehicle sirens throwing their voices from building to building on the other side of his reduced reality.

Home was only seconds away. He could feel it and he ran with that half falling down lope, synonymous with men of a certain age, guided by his feet. Turning the corner on the home straight, his shoe argued with the pavement and he pitched forward, arms flailing, searching for the familiar.

Workers leaving the library after the fog had lifted walked unseeing past the brown brogues discarded by the steps. The marriage over and the fire of his doubt forgotten, Declan Pierce now put his faith in the unfettered soles of his feet to lead him home.

 

Entry 6   Cheap Batteries                      Words: 397

Alice looked over at Nina who was sitting in front of the laptop typing away, squeezed in between the Christmas tree and a pile of books stacked up on the floor.  The tree had been up since late November as Nina loved putting it up early.

“Do you need the computer?” Nina asked.

“No, I am right, thanks.”

“Okay, I’m getting off now. Have you put the wreath lights on?” Nina asked as it was starting to get quite dark.

“Yes, I have.”  Alice replied and felt that there was more coming, maybe something about the batteries.

“Let’s go and look, I’m sure those cheap batteries you got from the milk bar on the corner are starting to lose their power. Come outside with me and I will show you,” Nina got up and headed out onto the front porch and started studying the wreath. Alice followed closely behind and shut the screen door just in time to stop one of their cats from escaping.

“See! Look they are only half as bright as last night. They are definitely fading.  Can you go up to the shops and get some better batteries,” Nina said with urgency and then shortly after waved to some people going down the street.

“They were looking at our wreath; either that or they were just waving to me cos I am Asian. They probably don’t even celebrate Christmas. I am not a normal Asian.”

“You’re not normal full stop and that is why I love you.  I’d better go to the shops now,” Alice said and kissed Nina before leaving the porch.

As she came home with the batteries Alice saw their neighbour putting up a sign out the front of their house.

“I saw next door putting up a sign but I couldn’t see what it was,” Alice announced as she came back into the house.

“Can you go and ask them?”  Nina pleaded.

“You go.”

“No, you go. You got better clothes on than me.”

“Alright, I’ll go,” whined Alice as she headed out. She caught her neighbour Susie putting the last cable tie on her sign.

“Hi Susie,” Alice spoke the words in a quiet tone as she approached.

“Hi. I’m just putting up a sign for our Christmas party. You and Nina are welcome, in fact tell everyone. Oh, by the way I like your wreath this year.”

 

Entry 7   2016                         Words: 375

It took me a second to see her curled up in the corner. Her matted hair covering her face. It never got any easier, as my heart went out to her as it did to most new arrivals on their first day.  This was the part that years of training couldn’t have prepared you for. Even months into the job with each new child and their own unique story it was a challenge to make them feel safe and welcome.  The attrition rate within the staff was almost as bad as at the front. Some days it felt like there was no where to hide from the horrors they had witnessed.

They should have been playing or reading a book and instead they were dealing with PTSD before puberty. I was classed as one of the lucky ones having been injured beyond repair for service at the front line. Though how lucky am I really, knowing that if I perform my job too well they will just end up back at the front.  I often think the lucky ones are the ones whose names are read for the final time at sunrise and sunset.

I don’t even try and engage her that first day. Experience as short as it’s been has quickly taught me that just leaving her daily rations next to her is enough for now. If I give her the time and space she will hopefully come out of her shell. Continuing down the corridor relying on my sheet to try and remember everyone’s names. Sometimes forgetting helps, but the flicker of light I’ve come to see in some of their eyes just by saying their names is one of the few bright points about my new role.  Matty, Fred, Patricia, I never get to spend enough time with them to hear their whole story but there are no divisions here. With no garden or park to play in the indoor courtyard is slowly turning into a mural of the world as it was before as salvaged art supplies are used to tell stories of where everyone has come from.

It’s a sad blight on our society that it’s here with room after room of wounded where all those differences no longer matter.

 

Entry 8   Goodbye Holly                 Words: 386

‘C’mon, don’t tell me you don’t want some of this.’ She slides her dress up her thighs. She’s been picking her scabs, they look pink and weepy and there’s a line of blood on one of her shins. She smiles, in what she must suppose is a seductive way. There’s lipstick on her teeth.

‘Damn it, you’re drunk again.’

I turn away, wanting to bolt from the room. She launches herself at me screaming and lashing out with more force than seems possible for her size.

‘Holly, it’s alright please calm down.’

‘You don’t understand,’ she says, sitting down on the edge of the bed with her long hair hanging forward. I kneel in front of her pushing her hair back, needing to see her face, afraid to see it. Underneath the smudged lipstick and the dark tear tracks can I find the Holly that I recognize, the Holly that I came here to see? Not the vixen who flashes her Lolita smile to elicit control, the way a rich man flashes his cash. Not the broken doll with the torn knees and bruises, but the shiny pony girl with the glitter rainbow eyes, who’s freckles are fallen stars in disguise.

I stare at her face letting my eyes go out of focus, as if she was one of those magic eye puzzles that you can only see properly when you stop looking. But Holly has gone, all the Holly’s are gone. Her dark eyes look right through me.

She touches my cheek, a cold dismissive gesture, devoid of thought or appetite, she might be raising a potato chip to her mouth while watching television. She goes into the bathroom closing and locking the door with the quiet click of something fragile snapping.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The bartender hands me my jacket and as I turn to go I catch sight of her leaving with some guy. What the hell?

No sign of them outside. The cold wind slaps my cheeks causing my eyes water. Empty bottles clink, fall over, rattle roll along the ground, muffled speech, a giggle, Holly? I round the corner and there they are in the alley. She looks up and our eyes meet, hers widen in horror and fill with tears, she is pushing him away, calling my name. But it’s too late.

 

Entry 9  Everyone is Welcome                  Words: 400

Jimmy wasn’t at school yesterday. Ms Newman remembered, it was Wednesday the sun was shining and Jimmy wasn’t at school.

”Where were you yesterday?” she asked Jimmy.

”At home,” replied Jimmy.

”Hmm!” at home she thought, “something s not quite right here.”

“Jimmy how did you get mud all over your pants? because Tuesday

they were clean.”

“Oh!” replied Jimmy “I fell over on the way to school today.”

“The mud is dry as if a day or two old.” Questioned  Ms Newman.

“Good mud,” said Jimmy. “It dries hard and dries quick.”

Ms Newman became annoyed. She knew Jimmy wasn’t at home yesterday and he was most likely out with his cousin John. John didn’t go to school as his parents needed him to help around the farm.

This wasn’t the first time Jimmy had missed class and it wouldn’t be the last.

“Out with cousin John yesterday, were you Jimmy?” Jimmy smiled! “Better than school is it Jimmy?”

Jimmy’s smile broadened as he nodded his head.

“Well now! What shall I do with you Jimmy?”

Jimmy answered. “Nothing.” “Ok! Nothing It shall be.” Replied  Ms Newman.

“I think it best you go sit in the corner for the rest of the class” Ms Newman said.

“Ok!” replied Jimmy as he leant below his seat and picked up a medium sized box.

“What is in the box?” Ms Newman asked. “Nothing!” replied Jimmy.

This wasn’t the first time Jimmy had brought a box to school, one time he had a tortoise in it another a lizard and another a snake.

“Ok Jimmy you take your box and go sit over there.”

“I will be right back” said Ms Newman.

The teacher hurriedly walked out the class room heading for the headmasters office. Before she made it to see Headmaster Stic,  Ms Newman heard screams and laughter coming back from her class room. She turned and ran back.

Ms Newman flung open the door to see the girls standing on their desks screaming and the boys either sitting or standing laughing at the screaming girls. And there was Jimmy sitting quietly with the biggest of grins. His box by now missing it’s lid. Ms Newman bent down to see what or if anything had escaped from Jimmy’s box.

“Oh! How I hate these she thought,” while she gazed at a dozen or so, big green frogs jumping about her classroom floor.

Vote here for your favorite story:

October Flashes

Congratulations to this month’s Flash Fiction winner, Maureen Riches, for her story, How the Monkey Got Her Tail.

This month’s parameters are:

Genre:          open (it’s your choice)

Words:         45-50

Keyword:     monkeys (remember to include this word in your story)

Entry Conditions:

You must be a Ballarat Writers member to enter.

Entries will not be accepted if they exceed the maximum word limit – even if by a word, and must comply with all the stated parameters.

All entries are to be submitted to competitions@ballaratwriters.com by Friday, 21st October. Your email must include author’s name, story title and word count.

Voting will open the next day here on the blog.

Come along to our Members’ Night on Wednesday, 26 October, 7pm at the Bunch of Grapes Hotel to hear the winner announced. (Results will also be posted here on the blog the day after.)

 October Flashes

Entry 1   Mon cher

Words:  49

J’etais  tres heureux to stay a votre maison. Le jardin etais tres jolie. I am lonely sans vous.  Il ya a un petit problem. If you look under votre table you will find my chewing gum and stuck to that is mon key.

Return a moi, s’il vous plait.

Entry 2   distracted at yoga

Words:   46

“Exhale, right arm up and across.”

“Inhale, stretching forward.”

I should be concentrating more not

thinking about my writing.

“Stretching further on that front leg.”

I see a pattern it looks like

a face smiling at me on the floorboards

like a monkey or an ape.

Entry 3   How the Monkey Got Her Tail

Words:  50

Monkey’s Tail was Emma’s favourite bedtime story.

It was long. I was tired. Emma’s eyes drooped.

I skipped pages shamelessly and fell asleep beside her.

A small hand patted my face.

Dancing before my blurred vision was the Monkey Tail book,

held open at a page that had been skipped.

Entry 4   Caught in the act

Words:   50

Gathering around the box of firecrackers, we planned our assault. Johnny would scare the girls with penny bangers; Millie– light the spinning wheel near old Harry’s window; and Charlie– fire the rocket over the chook house.

Then around the corner marches Johnny’s father. ‘What are you young monkeys up too?!’

Entry 5   Monkeys

Words:  50

Through creation or evolution

there have always been Monkeys.

Swinging in trees, eating bananas,

using thumbs, following number one.

Other than man of modern times.

Monkeys need less, create less mess,

and don’t obey time.

 Laugh and play

full-filling their day.

Not giving a damn

what the man

is doing.

Entry 6   Monkey up now

Words:  47

Stand on your head

red cheeks on show

and catch your tail

in a bite for the moment.

Don’t squeal you’ll frighten

the real monkeys

in the gallery

with their peanut smiles.

If something comes

to your ear

or an eye

don’t tell

let them find out!

 

Vote here!