Back to School

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

August 27, 2014

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionThis week writers unpacked their book bags and delved into school. From slates to bullies, kindergarten to college, boys and girls feature in this week’s flash fiction. Grab an apple and read the stories that made the grade.

Stories are based on the August 20, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about school.

Chocolate Balls by Norah Colvin

The final school bell tolled and the students erupted from the building like a burst box of chocolate balls, scattering in every direction and at varying speeds. Some stuck together along pathways safe and sure. Others crashed and bumped over roads less traveled seeking excitement, new discoveries and secrets to explore. Others stopped abruptly, their journeys foiled by stubborn obstacles. Still others, rolling upwards, failed to maintain the momentum to carry them over and beyond with those more adventurous others.

Who would know?

Inside the box, they were identical, centers hidden. Outside, their uniqueness was on show.


Kindergarten Days by Sarah Unsicker

It was the first week of Kindergarten, and Chelsea was already tired of sitting in her chair. She had spent most of the long summer outside. The transition from summer to the school day had been torture.

Mrs. Smith handed out worksheets. Was expected to copy some strange doodle.

Chelsea didn’t understand why she had to learn to write numbers. She wondered how anyone could differentiate the squiggles. Chelsea stared at the paper for a minute before the bell rang. It was time for recess! She would gladly take this work home if she could go outside to play.


Academic Advice by Larry LaForge

Coach Bruno Culberston counseled his football team the day before school started.

“Sit in the front row,” he told his troops. “Make frequent eye contact with the professor.”

He asked an assistant coach to demonstrate proper sitting posture.

Coach Culbertson continued. “Always look interested. Write stuff down in your notebook. Nod your head in agreement when the prof makes a point.”

The players took it all in.

“Remember, always call your teachers Doctor, even if they’re not.”

After several more imperatives, a kid in the back raised his hand. “Coach, what about studying?”

“Oh.” replied the coach. “That too.”

The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.


School Flash by Irene Waters

“Come on. We’ll be late.” Billy urged.

“I don’t wanna go.” said Harry.

“But it’s fun. Readin’, Ritin ‘n Rithmetic. Hurry up.”

“I should be helping at home with the milking.”

“You wanna do that for ever.”

“Too right I wanna. What else would I do? Soon as I’m fourteen I’m out of here.”

“Not me. My kids are gonna wear shoes.”


“Help me Harry. All these blasted forms. Never thought I’d need the three R’s. Blast this government. Blast this GST.”

“Lucrative business accountancy these days Bill. I’m sure glad I put my head down and studied hard.”


A Father’s Pain by Charli Mills

Deputy Coffey left the McCandles house after informing Cob’s father of his son’s disappearance. And of the charges.

James stood in the parlor, staring at the framed tintype of his son in military uniform. He was never meant to be a soldier, but a scholar. His son–David Colbert. Cob to family and friends. He grabbed the frame, ready to smash it on the plank-wood floor. Instead, he hugged it to his chest and sagged to the floor, careful not to make a sound. He didn’t want to distress his wife.

“Oh, my son. That woman wasted your schooling.”


School Flash by Anne Goodwin

Twin stone staircases led to a wooden door, the numbers 1873 embossed above, grand as the entrance to a castle. At school I’d learn to read, and never have to go without a story. I’d mount those steps like a fairytale princess, entering one day by the left side, the next the right.

I didn’t realise the letters above the stairs spelt BOYS on one side and GIRLS on the other. That my mother would laugh, plead, then slap me on the legs and hoist me up like a sack of coal when I raced towards the wrong one.


Nervously Waiting For the Strap to Come Out by Susan Zutautas

Nervously I waited for the door to the principal’s office to open. What was I thinking kissing Josh at the assembly this morning?

“Miss Varden please come in,” summoned Principal Green. “Have a seat. Since we both know why you are here today, I would like to know if you have read the student handbook that you received upon registering here at Bishop Allen Catholic Academy.”

“Yes sir I have.”

“Did you read the rules relating to student conduct?”


“What does it say about public displays of affection Miss Varden?”

“That it is not allowed here at school.”


Stalked by Paula Moyer

When looking back on sixth grade, Jean knew something was amiss, but
what? If she simply said “I had trouble connecting with Mrs. O’Brien,”
what was she leaving out?

It was the eyes, watching her as they watched no other student. What
was it about her eyes?

Years later, as a grown woman, Jean was walking her dog. As she left
the house, she saw the neighborhood feral cat scrutinizing a bird.
When she came back: no cat, no bird. Just a pile of feathers.

Then she knew. The cat had Mrs. O’Brien’s look. Jean was her teacher’s prey.


Back to School by Ruchira Khanna

Pedro ran through the checklist once again the night before the big day; making sure he does not forget anything.

Slept on time with the excitement to meet his friends the next day, and describe all his summer adventures. The idea of studies and homework was just a thought, yet!

Dawn arrives, and he was quick to get ready without any reminders.

Reached school, and was devastated to learn that he and his friends were in different classes.
He was sitting in a class with new faces.

However, his temperament and desire made him new friends in no time.


Back to School by Sarah Brentyn

Susan sat in class as obscene rumors about her were whispered near her ear. Nasty notes always seemed to show up on her desk. She was shoved in the hallways and tripped in gym.

School looked different to Susan than it did to other students.

Bathrooms weren’t places to pee or fix makeup, they were hiding spots to catch her breath and cover up bruises. Lockers weren’t spaces to keep her books, they were instruments of torture and confinement.

But Susan didn’t run from misery, she gathered strength from it. And she looked forward to her high school reunion


Mighty by Pete

Clutching my bag I take a deep breath, comforted by the fact that I’ve already read the entire English book and Mom’s tutored me with the math all summer. She’s a good teacher, but still, I missed over 100 days last year.

I hear the nerves in her voice. She tells me to pace myself, to remember what Dr. P said. I hate the fact that I have to choose. I’m tired just thinking about it. School is the last chance I have at being a normal kid, and I’m not ready to surrender that to some stupid disease.


Accidental Kidnap by Geoff Le Pard

‘Mrs North? This is Penny’s form teacher, Miss Marks.’

‘Yes?’ Mary turned away so not as to be overheard.

‘Penny says her uncle is collecting her from school today. As we have never met him we like to check…’

‘What? Now, listen to me…’

Mary wished the solicitor wasn’t listening. When she finished, he asked, ‘Sorted?’

‘Far from it.’

‘Were you talking about Rupert?’

‘Yes, my bloody half-brother. I have to go.’ She stood and said, ‘He said Penny had asked to see his mother. Can you believe that?’

To Mary’s surprise he said, ‘Yes, I think I can.’


Remembering School in Elmira by Charli Mills

Mama washed my hair the night before, braiding it tight the next morning. I had a slate board and chalk—expensive luxuries. Papa had already left to pound spikes so he missed seeing my gleaming black braids with yellow ribbons. Mama watched me cross the tracks to the new schoolhouse before she returned to doing the rail-men’s laundry.

“Addio, mia cara,” she called as I walked away. To school. I cannot tell you how much it meant to Mama and Papa that their only child would get to go to school. “L’America è buono,” they’d say despite cracked hands.


New prompt on Wednesday. All writers welcome!

Back to School (1)

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  1. susanzutautas

    All of these stories are fantastic! I think we all deserve an applause!

    • Charli Mills

      Standing up and clapping!

  2. Annecdotist

    Delighted to be part of another great collection, Charli. Thanks for orchestrating it.
    Sarah’s flash about high school reunions reminds me of when a woman I used to work with who had been bullied at secondary school actually organised the reunion and had it televised as part of one of the milder reality TV series. Although the TV show told it as a slightly different story from the one she’d lived through, I think she was rather pleased with the outcome.

    • Charli Mills

      That sounds like one way to deal with it!

  3. Sherri

    Fantastic collection of school flashes here Charli. Top marks and gold stars to one and all. Certainly some interesting lessons to be learnt here (pun not intended..well…maybe….) and some hard hitting stories too. So much could be written about those school days. Looking forward to your next prompt which I will not miss 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Yes, good lessons! Thanks for the gold stars!

  4. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Charli they just get better and better. Again the range is vast and got the emotions working overtime – laughing, crying, and even jealous of the forbidden kiss. I went to an all girls school. Well done everyone.

    • Charli Mills

      Oooooh…Irene, you are discovering the secret of practicing flash! It does make our writing better. Crazy, huh? Just 99 words a week! Yes, I delight at the stories, the variances, the connections and the improvements!

  5. Sarah Brentyn

    Fantastic collection here. Yet again, I love the variety of voices and takes on the prompt.

    Okay, Anne, Lori, & Charli. Challenge accepted. Here’s a stab at apple-related school flash. It’s not 99 words (it’s 105) but here it is:

    An Apple for the Teacher

    She smoothed her skirt and surveyed freshly-sharpened pencils lined up in rows, pens tucked neatly into a holder, papers stacked just so. She was determined to have a good year. Students filed out of the room for lunch. The apple Kenny gave her seemed like a silly, old-fashioned gesture but she grabbed it and took a bite. Chewing the sweet fruit, she smiled.

    Leaning back in her chair, she stared at the ABCs lining light blue walls. She gagged. The apple was mealy. Inspecting it, she saw half a worm imbedded in the white flesh of the fruit. Great. An omen of the upcoming year.

    • Annecdotist


      • Sarah Brentyn

        Thanks. 🙂 That was fun. (And kind of gross.)

      • Charli Mills


    • Charli Mills

      Way to tackle the apple challenge! It makes me think of parenting, too. I remember organizing my children’s rooms and playroom only to have them come through like cyclones. Pencils and paper are only neat on teacher’s desk one day…before the kids arrive! Great apple-as-omen detail!

      • Sarah Brentyn


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