And The July Winner Is…

Our very own Maureen Riches with her story ‘Another Mother’s Son.’

Entry 2 | Another Mother’s Son | 225 words

‘Are you happy, Mother?’ His arms are extended, slender hands resting lightly on my shoulders.

I catch my breath and look up at the fine young man towering over me, staggered at the generosity that moves him, in his circumstances, to ask if I am happy.

My peripheral vision encompasses the others who hover behind him, surrounding us, waiting their turn to kiss me goodbye. Fine young men all of them, emanating a patient resilience that makes me want to cry.

‘I’d be happy if I could take you…all of you…home with me.’

‘Oh, Mother! Little Mother!’ His broken voice betrays him, the title he gives me a tribute to my grey hairs. The others move closer, murmuring, reaching out to stroke my arms, my hands, my shoulders. ‘Will you come back, Mother?’

‘I will. I will come back.’ I get the words out without choking, forcing smiles for faces from Afghanistan, from Sudan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The Serco guard moves up. The young men back away.

No sound so cold, so heavy in my heart, as the clunk of steel deadlocking doors between us.

I blink. No tears in front of this man who holds the next door open and waves me out with such an obsequious show of chivalry.

‘Mother,’ Sanjay had called me.

I will come back.

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July Flashes

Here are our 250 word stories with the theme of mothering:


Entry 1 | A Mother’s Joy | 250 words

I will never forget , that look of exultant joy on my mothers face I had just being ordained a priest in St Peters Cathedral Adelaide .
THe Archbishop and the other priested had laided hands upon me ,and when they stodd back , all I could see was the radient face of my mother , cought up in the euphoria of this special day . MY mother had always stood by me , she had aways supported my vocation , despite intense opperstition from my father , who had wanted me to be normal , to get marriesd and provide a son and heir .
But mum never crubled in her support of me , and came to my ordination although she had to be transported by my sister .
So now many years later, her look of amazement and gratitude is still a force of tremendous encouagement and support


Entry 2 | Another Mother’s Son | 225 words

‘Are you happy, Mother?’ His arms are extended, slender hands resting lightly on my shoulders.

I catch my breath and look up at the fine young man towering over me, staggered at the generosity that moves him, in his circumstances, to ask if I am happy.

My peripheral vision encompasses the others who hover behind him, surrounding us, waiting their turn to kiss me goodbye. Fine young men all of them, emanating a patient resilience that makes me want to cry.

‘I’d be happy if I could take you…all of you…home with me.’

‘Oh, Mother! Little Mother!’ His broken voice betrays him, the title he gives me a tribute to my grey hairs. The others move closer, murmuring, reaching out to stroke my arms, my hands, my shoulders. ‘Will you come back, Mother?’

‘I will. I will come back.’ I get the words out without choking, forcing smiles for faces from Afghanistan, from Sudan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The Serco guard moves up. The young men back away.

No sound so cold, so heavy in my heart, as the clunk of steel deadlocking doors between us.

I blink. No tears in front of this man who holds the next door open and waves me out with such an obsequious show of chivalry.

‘Mother,’ Sanjay had called me.

I will come back.


Entry 3 | The Sun Room | 250 words

It started with a family holiday. Three days trapped in a caravan on a Scottish beach, with the stink of wet socks. We went home silent, our skin sallow and our clothes damp like the weather. From that day forward, my mother’s purpose was to have a tan.

My father built her a sun room. A lean-to on the side of the garden shed, made from old windows he’d found at the tip. Every day, shiny with oil and smelling of coconut, my mother trekked out the back to wait for the sun to find her, as though she wished the sun room could magically split the dank Scottish sky and create sunbeams just for her.

After six weeks of summer and no change in skin colour, my mother went shopping. She came home with glossy brochures. Pictures of vivid skies and sandy beaches, kangaroos grazing on lawns and happy people chatting over fences. Everyone looked golden with shiny hair and bright faces. COME TO SUNNY AUSTRALIA.

Everything we owned was either sold, or packed into six tea chests. My mother sunbaked her way around the Cape of Good Hope and across the Indian Ocean. By the time we reached Perth, she was sunburned and blistering. Our new house had sand fleas, redback spiders and bush flies that stuck to your eyes. My mother spent her first Australian summer inside, sitting by the open window with a fan and glass of ice while she cried for home.


Entry 4 | A Time Untold | 250 words

Sally did not know her mother. She knew who her mother was– they lived together for years– but her mother remained a mystery to her. Sally heard others speak of their mothers with affection, with familiarity, with pride. But Sally spoke of her mother with indifference. She knew nothing of her mother’s inner life–her thoughts, her beliefs; her sense of self. Sally was unable to say ‘My mother is…’, for words could not be found. Her mother did the things required of her; cut the lunches, cooked the meals and kept the house clean. She was there when Sally came home from school. But Sally sensed an emptiness about her mother, and wondered at her vacant eyes.

Down in the river at the back of the house, lost amongst the rocks and weeds, there lies a memory of a young mother and her crying child. She’s unable to stop the child from crying, and she cannot tolerate the noise. She knows she must do something to end the voices in her head. She walks into the river, holding the baby close. Her dress swirls around her; the mud clings to her feet. She hesitates, then something shifts within her, and her mind is lost. In a daze she walks out of the water, holding the quietened baby, and walks back to the house.

Sally wanders into the kitchen and sees her mother staring out the window at the river below, and feels again the absence of a mother‘s love.


Entry 5 | A Little Girl Called Lynda | 249 words

A little girl stood on a pedestal washing dishes. No luxuries here; just lonely steep hills and long cold winters.

Lynda grew, attended high school away from home, and afterwards holidayed with her impish cousin, Winnie, whose killjoy grandmother often sent their suitors packing. But immediately Grandma was safely in bed, they’d escape to join the crowd!

Winnie holidayed with Lynda, too. Once a neighbour’s lunch invitation ended in muffled giggles as Winnie shot a pickled onion across the damask tablecloth!

Later at the farm, Winnie and her mother, Matilda, laughed and reminisced with Lynda over cups of tea and lemon filled sponge; great comfort for Lynda, hands housework worn and heart wrenched by the loss of three family members within three years.

Lynda’s children were scolded if unruly. ‘Here, none of your nonsense!’ Then she’d burst into song at the kitchen sink.

She knitted and crocheted, read local history books, poetry, Bible studies and newspapers. Yet Walter often admonished his lifelong partner, ‘Oh, you wouldn’t know!’ No harm intended…

They travelled Australia with her brother Jack, and others. Jack always led just like when they were littlies heading down the big hill and across the river to the local state school.

Years on, Lynda couldn’t recall family visits. But at shower time she’d query,
‘I’m in a rest home aren’t I? Well I’m resting!’

‘Okay, we’ll be back in half an hour.’

‘Well, make it a long one!’


Entry 6 | Nan | 249 words

‘I’ll have that in writing please’, I said, as Mum told me, ‘If I ever get to be like my mother, you have my permission to shoot me’.

Of course she didn’t mean it, sitting in her invalid armchair, as we fondly remembered Nan’s ways. Both stubborn these two, my mother and her mother, but of course I’m definitely not. Undoubtedly, Nan’s a part of us, as our everyday expressions were hers. We always “put our face on” before we went out, and on returning, she’d ask, ‘So who did you see better-looking than yourself?’

Everybody in the town where she lived knew my Nan, Ethel Maud -known as Keat. She was a well-rounded figure with comforting arms to wrap around you, a rather wide backside and slightly bandied knees. Softly-permed fair hair framed her crinkled face with sparkling blue eyes that didn’t miss a trick.

Mother to three sons and a daughter, Nan was also Mother Hen to many suffering the Depression and war-time hardships. Hers was a lifetime of gathering unwanted goods, sewing, baking cakes, making jam and pickles as she set up the local branch of the Red Cross. Every Sunday after church the dining room was filled with laughter and chatter as the family shared Sunday roast with soldiers based nearby. Nan was generous but strict too, as she warned the boys not to look too closely at her young daughter. She called a spade a spade – as did my mother.


Entry 7 | Over The Hill And Far Away | 250 words

My teeth chattered as I indulged in a deep breath. The fog on the glass obscured an infinity of stars beyond the cockpit. It’s damn cold and I’m damn hungry. Could Samson and Biggs have survived the extra time out here? The ship’s slow rotation let The Hill rise before me and I heard the echo of the Commander when we first saw it.

“You sure you can get in and out? Tech says this planet has more gravity than physics allows.”
“That’s why it’s so important to do the readings ma’am. Uphill struggle or not, no one else is coming out here for a while.” Spoken like the idiot I was.
The first run we returned without Samson. Dehydration reminded me of my anger at the crew
“Why was his comms faulty! Which one of you failed him!” I swallowed and curled up in my cockpit to fight the cold.
Run two was worse. A botched rescue. Coming home alone, leaving Biggs. I’d never heard the hangar so quiet.
“The quantum entanglement failed.,” explained the Commander. “ They couldn’t hear us calling them home. There’s nothing to be done Graff.”
She was right, but that hadn’t stopped me. My breath turned to ice on the window and the cosmos loomed. Abandoned on The Hill to die like babies in old stories. I’ve never been so alone. The flash of a warp drive was startling and I half cried half laughed. Our mothership. Warmth and comfort come to take us home.


July Competition – In Memorium

We are running the July Flash Fiction competition in memory of Pamela Miller, a very active Ballarat Writers Member who died on Sunday the 21st of June. Pamela was a foster carer and over the years looked after nearly 60 children. She had a strong mothering instinct and was named runner-up in the 2004 Barnardos Australia Mother of the Year Competition. So, in memory of Pamela this month’s competition is to write a 250 word story about being a mother, mothers, or mothering.

Entry Conditions:

  • You must be a Ballarat Writers Member to enter.
  • Entries will not be accepted if they exceed the word limit – even if by a word.
  • All entries to be submitted USING THIS FORM by Friday July 24th. Voting will open the next day here on the blog. Come along to our Members’ Night on Wednesday July 29th, 7pm at Irish Murphy’s to hear the winner announced. (It will also be posted here on the blog the day after).