Flash Fiction – My newest addiction.
Prompt: picture of a boy sitting in the ruins of a bombed out area of town, circa 1945 – Word count limit – 300-500
Final word count 482
Not a Potato
Stephen looked up from the mangled frame of what had most likely been a bicycle before the bombing. There was so much damage around them that it was hard to know where to start, let alone what, if anything, could be salvaged. Rock dust hung in the air as the trucks came to haul away the debris.
He wiped the sweat from his forehead and let out a slow even breath as he took it all in. Everywhere he looked there were piles of wood, and stone that needed to be sorted. Even now the men of the village gathered, unsure where to begin.
They would rebuild, Stephen was sure of that, but the losses were too many to count. He turned, hearing an angry cry from his son, Ethan and saw him sitting on one of the ruined walls, glaring at his sister, Lily.
“It’s not a potato!” He heard his son declare angrily as he held his stuffed animal close to him. It was one of the few salvageable things they’d found in his wife’s parlour. He was once again thankful she was not there to have seen it, thankful that she had been visiting her sister in the country when the planes had come.
Sitting on the edge of ruin, when everything around him had been destroyed, Ethan clung to the familiar while his sister teased him about it; something she had done since the boy had found the stuffed donkey at the market over a year ago.
Now, with its head and neck missing, Stephen had to admit, the stuffed toy looked even more like a potato than it had before.
Drawn by his children’s argument, Stephen strode over; tears and anger fighting for control. After everything they’d been through the two were fighting over something so trivial. He was ready to yell at the both of them when he saw his beloved Martha reflected in his daughter’s eyes as she impishly teased her little brother.
He saw the love and the tenderness—and realized that his daughter knew exactly what she was doing. With their ‘fight’ his son was focused on his sister rather than the loss of everything else.
He saw himself in the way his son refused to hear anything Lily said about his beloved toy, seeing only what it could be, rather than what was. They were the best of everything he and his wife had, and out of everything they could have lost, the most important endured, and God help him they were fighting over a stuffed animal.
Lovingly he picked up his son and held him close offering his hand to his daughter.
“It is not a potato,” he agreed as he focused on what he had, rather than what they had lost. “And this is not the end.”
He turned to the others and gave a determined nod. “We will rebuild.”
Prompt: picture of a man in a barrel in the middle of a river. Word count limit – 100 words give or take 5
Final word count 104
One Man’s Humor
Floating in a barrel just above the rapids, Mike wondered how he had let Peter talk him into this.
Thinking about it, he realized he should have known that when the director said ‘It’ll be like shooting fish in a barrel’ that Peter was not being metaphorical. It just wasn’t in style. No, risking a friend’s life for a bad joke, that was totally his style.
“This is going to be epic,” Peter called from the shore. “And… rolling.”
Mike switched his oar for a rifle and smiled into the camera. “Now this is what I call shooting the rapids!”
“Cut and print… moving on.”
Prompt: picture of “The lady of Shallot” by Waterhouse. Word count limit – 100 words exactly
Margaret looked at her brother and then at the boat. Where she saw a dry rotted boat, and her mother’s favorite tapestry being ruined, Kevin saw only art.
“Why don’t we do this on dry land?” she asked, thinking about the risk.
“The lighting would be all wrong,” he assured her before gesturing for her to get in.
Once she complied, he pulled her away from the dock.
“I’m going to immortalize you on canvas,” he told her as the boat started to sink
As Maggie’s screams filled the night air he smiled. “But this only works if you’re dead…”
“But, papa, it’s just a rusty old cannon,” Joey whined and would have kicked it if his father hadn’t stopped him. He was annoyed. Instead of going to the amusement park, his father had taken him to an old fort in the middle of nowhere.
“That, rusty cannon, is our heritage.”
Joey shook his head, not understanding but smiled when his father knelt down and explained.
“200 years ago this cannon saved our village.”
Joey stood transfixed as his father told him of a distant relative, his great-great-grandfather’s father, Philipe who manned the cannon and kept the invaders at bay for two hours, firing until there was nothing left to fire.
As he listened, Joey swore he could hear the cannon’s roar echoing across the valley. Then he saw the plaque.
“But, papa, it says here that the fort fell to the English in 1815.”
“Yes, the fort was taken, but Philipe slowed the enemy down, allowing our people to escape into the jungle. They survived because of his sacrifice.”
That night Joey dreamt of cannons and blood and finally understood. History was not stone walls, and boring facts: it was the story of sacrifice and bravery, and it lives on inside each of us.