Surprises are for birthdays…and so much more as this week’s stories reflect. From the subtle to the horrific with funny and sad in between, flash fiction can deliver a multitude of the unexpected.
Our talent pool of flash fiction writers grows and many bloggers have found inspiration, reflection and even publication with their stories.
May 21, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that shows surprise without using the word.
Coming Home by A. J. Prince
I wiped my hands on my uniform as I contemplated knocking.
Inside would be the son that I had yet to meet. My daughter, would she remember me? She was two when I held her last.
I walked through the house, all conversation ceased. All eyes watched as I walked up behind my wife. Still as beautiful as the day I met her.
“Happy birthday sweetheart.”
She turned, nearly dropping our son, as her knees buckled. Her face quickly wet with tears.
I pulled them to me as I reached for the one pulling on my leg.
Phil Anthropy by Larry LaForge
He’s known only as Phil. The scraggly old-timer has occupied the same busy street corner every day for the past 12 years. His music, if you can call it that, has been heard by tens of thousands.
But this morning Phil is not there. Neither are his squeaky violin and tattered money bucket.
Phil is home counting.
Yesterday’s haul far exceeded the usual $30. He wasn’t paying attention when someone slipped the thick envelope into his bucket.
But don’t worry. He’ll be back this afternoon.
He’s heading first to the soup kitchen to drop $10,000 in the donation box.
The Wheel Barrow by Irene A Waters
The sound came again. Closer this time. It sounded like a squeaky wheel barrow. He ran to his mother’s room. She would know what to do. Hugging, they listened to the sound. She rang the police. Arriving quickly they searched outside, returning pronouncing the culprit was a leaking hot water system. The plumber was called and the leak repaired. The next night he was again woken by the sound of a wheelbarrow. Not waking his mother he went to check the hot water. He saw the wheelbarrow when suddenly, a hand over his mouth turned his scream silent.
Birthing the Story by Paula Moyer
Jean devoted herself to her writing contest entry – poured over every word, every comma, submitted it to her instructor for feedback. Then sent it off.
Then life itself happened – literally. Her pregnancy completed. She gave birth to a big baby boy. She flew down to Texas for her brother’s wedding. The baby grew. She thought about little else.
“Brringg!” the phone announced itself one day.
“This is she.”
“This is the Harbor.”
She knew the contest’s rules – bad news came in the mail, good news by phone.
“We have good news. You’re one of the winners!”
Norman’s Conquest by Geoff Le Pard
Norman knew he wouldn’t win Betty without something special.
‘Knock her dead, boy,’ said Grandma.
‘Stun her, son,’ said Mum.
He swallowed hard. ‘Come over. It’s my birthday.’
He spent ages getting ready, but would it work?
Norman flung open his door with his eyes squeezed shut. When, finally, he opened them, he knew he’d exceeded expectations.
There was Betty, kneeling by Norman’s stunned mother who, in turn, held what looked like his dead grandma. All round lay presents.
Norman made for the phone. ‘I’ll call an ambulance.’
‘I think you might put your clothes on first,’ said Betty.
Flash Fiction by Anne Goodwin
Tyres crunching on gravel snapped Mum out of her doze. “Oh, my!”
The grand house loomed ahead. “Do you recognise it?” said my sister.
I parked by the porticoed entrance. Beyond banks of rhododendrons, the lake shimmered. My sister hopped out and opened Mum’s door. “Bet you’re itching to explore.”
Mum stayed put.
“How about tea first?”
Mum didn’t budge.
My sister took her wrinkled hand. “It’s where you were evacuated, remember?” Mum’s tales of wartime escapades were embedded in our childhoods. “It’s a hotel now.” This mini-break, the perfect birthday treat.
Mum was almost retching. “No, please, no.”
An Unexpected Twist by Ruchira Khanna
Annie announces with enthusiasm, “Yippee, tomorrow is my birthday.”
Hubby looks at his screen, “ Oh! I will have to be at work tomorrow.”
Mom complains of a backache, and wants to see a doctor the next day.
Annie is left all alone. She sighs in gloom, “As usual, no one has time.”
Next day, she wants attention, but everyone is busy in their respective lives.
She decides to go to her usual dreary place for lunch.
As she opens the door, her eyes are wide open and her jaw drops as she sees familiar faces with party hats.
What luck! by Norah Colvin
No books, no talk were in the home.
He was happy to play on his own.
School began when he was five.
Learning from flash cards, how hard he tried.
“My boy can’t do it!” his Mum once wailed.
With ‘forged’ test scores no child would fail.
Leaving school, the options were few.
Teaching was the one he could do.
Uni years flashed by so fast.
Number requirements meant he passed.
Then into the classroom he unprepared went.
No future joy for any student.
What bad luck!
Naming an Enemy by Charli Mills
Girlish blond curls tumbled over his hunched shoulders as he mucked stalls for each small, muscled horse belonging to Pony Express. Cobb barely glanced at the youth. Dandy, he thought, continuing his conversation with the station manager. Sarah lingered at the barn doorway, sunshine illuminating her chestnut hair bound with the green ribbon Cobb bought her in St. Louis. It matched flecks in her golden eyes. The boy paused, gawking at the beauty that belonged to Cobb. He hankered to punch the prissy smiling prettily at Sarah. Instead, he gave the boy a nickname they’d all regret. “Hey, Duckbill…”
New challenge posted every Wednesday on Carrot Ranch Communications. All writers welcome!
thanks for the compilation, Charli.
This was a good way to catch everyone’s take on the above prompt.
I enjoy the compilations!
Not a surprise to find such great responses to your prompt.
Anyone wishing to follow in Paula’s footsteps, here are a couple of links to flash fiction competitions:
Thanks for the links, Anne!
What a great compilation, Charli with quite a variety. Good news with Daddy’s arrival and winning the writing contest. Birthdays are mostly full of good surprises. Then there’s horror with the wheelbarrow, and about
George – wasn’t sure whether to be horrified or humoured! And of course, in awe of Phil’s generosity. His lifestyle is obviously his choice. I have already commented on your and Anne’s stories elsewhere. All in all a lovely collection. Thanks to all for sharing and you for compiling.
What a terrific summary of this week’s compilations, Norah!
Great to read everyone else’s 99 words. Thanks for compiling it Charli.
My pleasure, Irene!
I missed “Surprise”. Was looking forward to it, too. Bummer. But all these stories are great. Enjoyed reading them. “Coming Home” and “Phil Anthropy” got me. Teary-eyed from both of those. Irene: Geez! Horror. Fantastic flash this week!
Great compilation, Charli. Always amazed by what can be told in so few words.
It’s the big treat of my week to read all the stories in one spot. I’m amazed, too and try to carry the lesson into longer prose.