Tag Archives: Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction: Writing Prompts

Prompt: The florist on the avenue maintains on our corner three life size wooden statues of standing bears, one adult, two cubs… Two weeks ago I noticed something different about them. I could not tell what.

The Bears on the Avenue

They had been there as long as she could remember. Certainly since she was a little kid, and next week she’d be eight. You do the math. At first they’d frightened her. Three bears, a momma and her two cubs hewn from dark, rough wood –the little ones a full head higher than she was.

 “Damn-it Karen,” she’d heard her daddy complain to Mummy, “are we going to have to walk a block out of our way to avoid those bears forever?”

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Flash Fiction: Writing Prompts

Banana Split

Prompt: The never ending banana split

Her spoon crunched through the rubble of crushed walnuts, slightly toasted and thickly applied. The nuts occupied the space between the fluffy whipped cream, fresh and unsweetened, and the warm blanket of chocolate sauce. That’s right, chocolate, not hot fudge. To each her own. Then the ice cream, one scoop vanilla, one scoop cookies and cream and one salted caramel, all nestled in the cradling comfort of their banana boat. She liked to work for it, a little, so the banana should be just ripe— not a squishy travesty fit only for muffin making. 

“How’s that workin’ for you, Bethany?” asked the man behind the counter. He smiled broadly beneath a handlebar moustache and a perfectly crisp white paper hat, despite the heat. 

“It’s ideal. Perfect!” she sighed, scooping another bite with a perfect combination of flavours. “I’m in heaven.” 

“Well now,” said the man, whose name tag said ‘Nate’, “that’s an idea.”

Bethany nodded vaguely and turned her focus back to the split. In her enthusiasm, her hands had grown quite sticky despite the long handled spoon.

“Pardon, where’s the ladies’?” she asked Nate who, though apparently busy, was lingering around the counter across from her stool. 

He gestured to the end of the bar as he tossed a dish towel over his shoulder.  

Bethany rose and headed toward the door then hesitated, she turned and said, “I’m not quite done.” Her eyes fell on the split. All that remained was a bit of banana swimming in a swirling pool of chocolate and melted whipped cream. A few bites of bliss and she had every intention of savouring them.

“Copy that,” said Nate and he gave her a quick salute.

Why, thought Bethany, were all soda fountains stuck in the fifties? Not that she was really complaining, it all felt right. Perfect really.

Bethany returned to her place at the counter. The cut glass bowl at her place was full, the snow cap of glistening whipped cream a perfect swirl where the puddle had been. Nate was gone. This was a little crazy. Two banana splits? She could not in good conscious indulge in another.

Could she?

It’s not like it would kill her and the bowl looked so perfect. Some people liked the nuts sprinkled on top of the whipped cream. Not Bethany, not at all. She liked them in a thick carpet underneath letting the cream virtually bounce on top. She hadn’t even had to tell Nate that. And, to her delight he hadn’t even bothered to offer her a cherry. Gross. 

Bethany sighed and tucked in. As she reached the bottom she noticed Nate back across the counter though she’d not seen or heard him approach.

“How’s that workin’ for you, Bethany?” Nate asked.

“Oh, well, um,” Bethany fumbled for the right words. She suddenly felt embarrassed for having eaten another bowl and not sure if he was gong to charge her. Were there free refills here? Bethany turned to the back of her chair and fumbled in her purse for her wallet. She began to worry that she hadn’t brought enough money for the treats.

When she turned back to the counter a new, glistening banana split awaited. 

“I couldn’t…” began Bethany but then three things came to her mind. First, she realised she actually could, she could eat another one; her stomach did not feel in the least full. Then she thought, I’m not sure I want to. Finally, she realised that Nate, in his candy-striped shirt and bow tie, knew her name.  

“Oh, but you can,” said Nate with a smile, “you must.”

This was not Bethany’s strong suit. She really and truly loathed confrontation. He was such a nice man, and had made these splits for her. She didn’t want to be rude. 

“Oh my, well perhaps just a few bites,” she replied a little hesitantly, and then she ate.

When her napkin fluttered to the floor, Bethany stood on uncertain legs and bent to pick it up. When she rose there, at her place, was another banana split. It was time, she thought, to put and end to this. Maybe it was because the shop was empty, maybe the poor man just wanted something to do. Be she was beginning to look at the split with distaste.

“Aren’t you kind. The splits, they’re heaven but…”

“Oh no, Bethany” Nate interrupted, “heaven is an entirely different shoppe. You didn’t make it to that one, I’m afraid. Now, do sit. Eat.” He pushed a clean spoon toward her eyes dancing with pleasure, and a hint of red light she had not noticed before.

“Oh hell!” Bethany groaned, and scooped. 

Flash Fiction: Writing Prompts

The Dog Swap

Owner and his dog swap places for a day

Danny rolled over on the rug in front of the fire and scratched his chin with his rear paw. It felt wonderful. What an amazing thing it was to reach his chin with his foot. He thought he might just miss that most of all. Well, that and behind the ear scratches. Bliss!

“I say Danny, I’m not sure I want this day to end,” said Buster as he stretched his legs on the foot stool and admired his green trainers. He reached for the sandwich on the plate next to him. Bacon, roast beef and cheese.   He’d made it himself in the kitchen even though he’d eaten a full box of Jaffa Cakes just before, all coated in forbidden chocolate. His voice broke slightly as he said it, a rough coughing sound following his words. 

“Is that right?” asked Danny, becoming aware that he could once again speak. The words felt strange coming out between the long teeth in his muzzle and vibrating on his long, pink tongue.

Was it only last night that he’d made the wish? The wish to change places with his dog for a day. Buster hadn’t really had a choice, but the day had clearly gone well for the dog inhabiting his body.

 “Well, woof, yes,” said Buster with a small bark, “I have very much enjoyed the kitchen, so much to see up there on the counter! And the thumbs, have you ever noticed how wonderful thumbs are?” he asked and crammed the rest of the meat with meat sandwich into his mouth. No one stopped him when he made it. No one bopped him on the nose and told him to get down. The mother did seem a bit cross about the Jaffa cakes, but he hadn’t even been sent outside to the cold.

 “Hmm, yes, the kitchen is good. But the walk in the park was amazing. Did you see when I went after that cheeky squirrel. Almost caught it, I did! Oh and the poo, that was….” Danny began with a smile.

 “Now, now, arf, let’s not be vulgar!” Buster reprimanded as he picked up a book from the seat beside him, “I wonder if I have time for a few more chapters?” he mused. Reading was an unexpected pleasure. He knew he’d like to be able to eat when he wanted, but he hadn’t known how lovely it would be to make pictures in his head from words on a page. He used to think these book-things were mostly good for a chew when the family was out.

 “Should you like to stay then, as me, as a boy?” Danny asked, stretching out and moving to sit by Buster’s feet–which incidentally smelled wonderful in his dirty old trainers, sweaty and damp!

 “Been thinking about that, it’s a good life you have up here. But, awoof,” he barked slightly again, “pardon, but no. There aren’t enough good smells in your boy-nose and the mother kept on about something called homework and I could tell I didn’t much care for that. No, I just think I’ll have my paws back if you please. I have a little thing going with that Bichon down the road, you know, can’t let her down! What about you?”

 “No homework to do is terrific,” said Danny, his temporary dog-lips beginning to ache with the effort of speaking, “but I’ve had a dreadful itch down there all day and I just can’t get it!” he looked sheepishly down by his tail.

 “You just have to bend your head down and…” began Buster.

 “Oh no!” Danny shouted, “I will NOT being doing that! No, old buddy, I think I’ll leave the itching and the Bichon to you. I miss Nintendo!”

 The two sat in silence for a long while until a voice called from down the hall, “Danny, you done your homework?”  The boy and the dog on the rug exchanged looks and Danny got up from the chair and turned to leave the room. At the last moment he walked back over and crouched down to scratch between Buster’s ears.

 “When I finish my maths, we’ll go to the park and see if you have better luck with that squirrel than me, OK?”

 Buster hung his head in bliss, this was better than bacon!


Flash Fiction: Writing Prompts

The Squirrel of Hope

Prompt: Each morning there are more red squirrels than the day before . . .

“Just another day in paradise,” snarled Amy, her voice dripped with sarcasm she immediately regretted.

It was just going on half past seven, too early for the day to be this bad. She’d queued at the well for almost an hour before she was able to hobble away, clutching the two jugs of water that would have to get them to Thursday. One and a half, actually. She’d lost half when she’d hit her toe on an angry looking chunk of concrete on the pavement in front of her.

“Aw now, take it easy mum, it’s a good day. Look, there’s a patch of blue in the sky.”

Sammy. A glass half-full kind of guy. She loved that about him but they really, really needed a jug that was more than half-full of water!

Amy wanted to be cheerful for him. She wanted the patch of blue to be enough. She rested the jugs on the collapsed remains of a bus shelter, overgrown with ivy, and drew a deep breath. The early morning light cast patchwork shadows across the grey pavement as the sun tried to cut through the jagged remains of the buildings on Main Street.

“Right you are, kiddo,” Amy said, forcing a smile. She would find beauty in this world if it killed her.

“Check it out, I see a butterfly,” said Amy pointing to the pattern of shadow and light on the pavement.

“Um, I see a pointy hat,” Sammy said, indicating another shadow.

Amy used to play this game with her own parents. Of course, back then they’d looked at the shapes in cotton-wool clouds parading across an unbroken canvas of blue. No clouds anymore.

She looked at Sammy’s pointy hat. It was clearly a Christmas tree, but of course he wouldn’t know that. He’d never seen one.

They said it would take decades for the earth to recover. But it felt like millennia passed before the earth hinted at hope.   Unless you count Sammy. Unplanned, of course, and utterly terrifying. The medic said she’d been unbelievably lucky that the infection hadn’t taken hold. The last dose of antibiotics had gone eight years before. The kid, hearty and oblivious to what was missing was the sticky, honey-sweat scented embodiment of hope.

“Mum, look…” Sammy cried as they turned up the lane to their camp. A dart of rust red across the smooth grey surface of rock danced in the corner of her eye.

Yes, thought Amy. There was hope—after all there were more red squirrels than the day before.


Prompts: You go for a walk in fresh snow. Suddenly you realise you’re not leaving any footprints.

No one noticed the screens, they were the very essence of life in Nova Londres. The city knew you, cared for you, provided for your every need. It was a great gift, it really was, thought Marril as she shuffled by the chemist’s screen at the corner of Abbey Rd. “Time to refill your prescription Citizen M22736,” said the genderless, ageless face on the screen, “Please approve for immediate delivery.” Marrill tapped the underside of her wrist where the chip was embedded, approving delivery. How very nice that she would not find herself without her appetite suppressant medication at this time of year. How very comforting.

Marril continued toward home. As she passed the cleaners, their screen showed a soothing scene of white linen flapping from a line in a green field. Lovely. Marril had never seen a field but the screen assured her it was a clean and lovely place. The screen changed and another face smiled and said, “Citizen M22736, your grey suit has been altered and is ready for pick up inside. Congratulations on trimming two sizes!” Marril nodded to herself and went inside. She tapped on her chip, paid and left with the smaller suit. How nice. 

The gymnasium screen had been very attentive that year, kindly reminding her of her weight gain each time she passed. In fact, it had been attentively reporting a steady gain for a few years but last Spring, when the mercantile denied her a new suit to fit, she knew she had to make a change. Citizens were discouraged from varying from the approved sizes. Target BMI was set to prevent the people from unduly impacting the environment and it must be met. How thoughtful.

So she’d joined the gym, went once a day on her way to work. The screens told her her calories were dropping, her arteries were healthy, her impact was reducing. She was given free credit for a second visit a day. She was an asset, a lesser burden on the country’s resources. She was appreciated. How satisfying.

Marril entered the grocers and filled her basket. She planned a fine meal of proteins and vegetable products. The screen in the produce section asked her to confirm that she was preparing a meal for two. She tapped her chip to confirm. Her shopping was appropriate for two,  it agreed. “What a nice salad that will be,” said the smiling face. Yes, it will be. Marril also thought a nice pudding seemed like the excellent end to the meal. The screen above the sweets section reminded her that her current, approved, BMI would be difficult to maintain if she chose the pudding. Marril replaced in on the shelf. So good to be looked after.

Of course, thought Marill, as she hung her rather meager grocery bag over her shoulder, she’d felt a little insubstantial of late, a little invisible. But the screen at the pub gave her a thumbs up. “You’ve added two friends to your contacts recently, Citizen M22736. Congratulations. You look good and you feel good. People notice.” It was true. She’d met two women at the gym. Pansy and Ishu were both at the target BMI. They encouraged her, they were good roll models. They were friends. How wonderful.

Marril arrived at home and shed her coat. Her reflection in the window, against the now-dark sky outside, was insubstantial. Her flat was small, but not as small now that she herself had grown smaller. She was lucky to have this room to call her own. At 7:00 Caleb requested access, she tapped her chip to approve. Caleb, Citizen C88912, was a friend. Maybe more than a friend. Marril wasn’t certain. She liked him but she had rather preferred Talek, from work. However, the screen by her bed had kindly reminded her that Talek had not been following advice at the market and had even frequented an unlicensed restaurant in the East End, without a screen. Marril thought he was sort of exciting, but he was a risk to attaining her BMI, her minimal impact.

Caleb helped her prepare the meal they shared. He was very very close to ideal BMI. He told her it was nice to meet someone equally efficient, equally minimal. When Caleb had left, the screen on her door agreed that it was nice. The screen reminded her how much nicer it would be to reach ultimate minimal impact by sharing her room. Marill smiled. It must indeed be nice. 

Fall rolled into winter, Marril noted that she was chillier now that she was less impactful. In November the city-wide screens announced a new reduction in ideal BMI. Marril sighed and signed up for lunch-time sessions at the gym. She saw Pansy and Ishu once, they were very close to attaining the new goals. She did not see them again. How sad.

Marill saw Talek once, crossing Finchley Rd. He waved and smiled. Marill waved and though that Talek looked somehow substantial, like he meant something. She thought that seemed nice but the crosswalk screen flashed Talek’s number, T110902, in red and his BMI. Marill’s eyes widened; that had been her number in June. It seemed a very long time ago and she wondered if she had also felt substantial in June. 

Mid-way through February it snowed. This was a treat and Marill was delighted. When it snowed the city was calmed under the white weight of the powder. Half of the city disappeared leaving only the smiling faces from the screens and narrow shadows, people maybe, cutting trails through the snow. Marill passed the market and the screen flashed to a face, beaming with eyes filled with pride and joy, “Congratulations Citizen M22736, you have reached the new target BMI. Please give yourself a pat on the back for your minimal impact.”

“Yes, I think I will,” said Marill to the screen. She reached back to give herself a pat and regarded the street behind. The snow sparkled smooth in an unbroken blanket reflecting the lights from the screens on the market, the crosswalk, the cleaner, the pub. Marill had left no footsteps in the snow.