Flash Fiction for May 2018

Thanks to all who voted – a larger number than we have had in recent times.

Joint winners this month! Entry #4 – Maureen Riches and Entry #5 – Johanna Botman

Well done!

 

Voting closes 6pm Tuesday May 29 2018. Enjoy.

Entry #1 – Return of the Prodigal

Father glanced up with startled surprise as Sally and I approached; my mother spinning around, confusion written across her face. I hesitated as my brother reached for his children, holding them close beside him.

I had not seen them since that day I flew out of the house, my father yelling abuse at me, his face suffused with rage, my mother collapsing.

‘You’re making this up,’ she screamed, as she slumped heavily in the chair. ‘Why are you doing this?’

I left and never looked back.

Now I see the years have wearied my father. Did he ever think of me during the years I struggled, my soul tortured by a sense of betrayal? And my mother, who now turns her head away and shrinks into herself, did she ever care?

I gaze at the scene before me of the picture-perfect family, and I’m flung back to those cold and lonely years I spent running – further and further away from the ugliness I felt around me, and within me.

But I’m no longer that lost and angry young man, and as I grip Sally’s hand, I stare at my father and know the day of reckoning has come.

 

 

Entry #2 – And About Time Too

“Hello Rosemary, thanks for coming. Glad you worked out my directions. How’s things?”

“Good Frank; good. Your map was sooo easy to follow. And you; how are you?”

“Just great. Umm, would you like to sit?”

“Yes, of course. What, no kiss?”

“I’m not that pushy; sorry.”

“It’s not pushy. It’s about time. Kiss please.” He goes to peck her cheek, she turns, they touch lips. “That’s better Frank. My, you’ve brought enough food for a family.”

“Umm, I wanted this to be special for; um, for us, for me, I mean, um …”

“It’s alright Frank. It’s sweet of you; and what a lovely spot you’ve chosen.”

“Um, Rosemary, um, you see this tree here?”

“Yes, it’s very old isn’t it.”

“My parents brought us here for picnics when I was young. It was very special for them. Um, ahh, it’s, it’s um, where Dad proposed to Mum.”

“How lovely.”

“Rosemary; I know it’s only been nine weeks, but …”

“The best nine weeks of my life actually, Frank.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really; I’m so happy when I’m with you.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really.”

“Oh! Will you, um, marry me; please?”

“Frank! I’ve been waiting! Yes, a thousand times, yes!”

 

Entry #3 – Too Close to the Truth

‘Sir take a look’

Leroy leans over peering at the photograph under the microscope, then grabs the table to steady himself.

‘Those cunning bastards all the high tech options of communication and they resort to coded messages hidden in a tree in a photograph.’

‘Get it to Abbey right away, tell her to work on nothing else until it’s decoded.’

‘No need Sir the message reads, 14th June 2018 19:00’

Leroy barely hears him as his attention is distracted by the breaking news on the TV.

American defense system fails as Seoul is bombed by North Korea.

CUT

‘The scene is still missing something.’

‘Put more Chinese take away containers in there.’

‘Yep’

RESET

ACTION

‘Sir take a look’

Leroy leans over peering at the photograph under the microscope, then grabs the table to steady himself.

‘Those cunning bastards all the high tech options of communication and they resort to coded messages hidden in a tree in a photograph.’

‘Get it to Abbey right away, tell her to work on nothing else until it’s decoded.’

‘No need Sir the message reads..’

No one hears him as their attention is distracted by the breaking news on their phones.

25 Million dead.

 

Entry #4 – No Picnic

‘I’d watch the caravans leavin’ town…all the other blokes haulin’ their families off on holidays. I’d tell meself, a man’s a mug…you should be doin’ that…but there woz never enough money. I worried how you kids felt at school with all yer mates talkin’ ‘bout where they’d been and what they’d seen.’

Dad is an old man now and I tell cheerful lies to comfort him. We had felt left out but we would never have expected a holiday. Mum’s constant worrying about bills meant we knew dad couldn’t afford train tickets to the beach, let alone a caravan.

‘We went away once though.’ He pulls a creased photo from his wallet – Dad, Nana, Uncle Jack and the kids somewhere I don’t recognise. I’m not in the photo and Dad just coughs when I ask.

‘Fitzroy Gardens,’ Mum says when I try her. ‘Jack took us on visiting days.’

‘Visiting days?

‘You were in the Royal Children’s for ages with meningitis. There was no Medicare then or health insurance and never much money after that.

There is a lump in my throat as it hits me. The reason Dad couldn’t be the bountiful father he longed to be, was me.

 

Entry #5 –  I Hate That Photo

That picture sat on the mantlepiece for years. I have always thought that he is staring at me but I am in the picture. You can’t see me.

I knew that look. It pierces me still. It’s the look he gave me when he was angry and perplexed at how he could have produced someone as stupid as me.

I remember the picnic. It was the only time his parents came to visit. He was anxious. I was eight – how could I have known that? Perhaps I didn’t know it then, but I came to know him with that look.

A private person, my father had made himself into his own man. His move to Australia was the ultimate opportunity to do that. No relatives, no other point of reference – complete reinvention to be what ever he wanted to be. Until they came to visit. Suddenly, all those generations of genetics were revealed, highlighted and reinforced. His created world spun out of control, out of the control that he had so carefully built.

I will never know what caused his anger that day but it echoes down the years through that stare.

I hate that photo.

 

 

 

 

Flash Fiction entries are open to Ballarat Writers Inc members only, but anyone may vote for their favourite story.

This month’s Flash Competition parameters are:

Key word/phrase:    There has to be a reference to the this image. For instance, the reference could be that it is a starting point for the story, it could be that the story is told from one of the participant’s point of view, the photo could be sitting on someone’s mantlepiece – anything, so long as it is mentioned in the short story.

download

Genre:     open

Word count:     No more than 200 words (the title is excluded from the word count)

Conditions of entry

Your entry must:

  1. Be in 12 point Times New Roman font
  2. Have single line spacing
  3. Have a title
  4. Include the author’s name
  5. Include the word count, not including the title
  6. Be submitted as a Word.doc, or .docx file (PDF files lose all formatting in their transition)

Submit entries to: competitions@ballaratwriters.com by 4 pmFriday, 25th May 2018.Voting will open here the next day and will close at 6 pm on Tuesday, 29th  May.

Our next Member’s Night is held at the Bunch of Grapes Hotel in Pleasant Street on Wednesday, 30th May where the winner of this month’s flash fiction competition will be announced. The evening starts at 7pm and all are most welcome. You can have a very good meal there from about 6pm and then stay on for the fun and frivolity.

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