Category Archives: Flash fiction

1312. A rustic school

It was a sad day for the little country school. After two hundred and seventy-one years it was closing. It had always been a single teacher school, with the number of pupils ranging from twelve to twenty-seven. The twelve to twenty-seven pupils would in future be bused to and from another school three quarters of an hour away.

The children were all from local farming families. All former pupils seem to have lived good and profitable lives. All seemed to have got a good basis of education. Some, usually the oldest boy although these days perhaps the oldest girl instead, went into farming. Some former pupils had excelled beyond all expectations. One was a famous nuclear physicist. Another was a research scientist for the cure of tropical diseases.

It was a happy school, and it was the centre of the local community. If the pupils put on a concert, the whole district attended, even if they had no children at the school.

It was surprising that the school was closing. More and more couples with children were moving into the area; townspeople who had bought several acres for their lifestyle dream: two alpacas and a peacock. Or a guinea fowl with piglets. Anyway, one of these lifestylers to come into the area was Ms Claudette Armstrong. She was the one responsible for getting the school closed. She had written to the Minister of Education.

Mr Higgins, the sole teacher, had to be removed. “I distinctly heard him use the word “bugger” within hearing distance of a pupil,” wrote Ms Armstrong.

“Bugger me if I’ve never heard anything so stupid in my whole life. Not even when I went through university,” said Farmer Jack. “She should bugger off back to town from whence she came.”

“I’ll be buggered if I don’t agree with you, Jack,” chimed Mrs Nora Elworthy.

Their protests went for naught. Mr Higgins was removed. The school closed.

“Now we might see the local children get a proper education,” declared a triumphant Ms Armstrong. “For too long pupils in rural schools have been disadvantaged.”

1311. Mountain track

The only way that Nathan could see to get onto the mountain track was to slide down a steep bank. He did that. It was a lot easier than he thought. He was now on the mountain path. It seemed to be a clay track that wound in a wiggly line. Not too steep, but not very wide. In fact it was quite thin. Nathan wanted to go down the mountain, not up.

As he turned to face downhill, Nathan saw a giant, ferocious bull blocking the path several hundred yards below. At least he thought it looked ferocious. In fact it was quietly ambling up the path towards him. There was no way that Nathan would try to squeeze past. He turned to go uphill – and fairly fast!

Suddenly the path ended and there was a low bank to jump up to get to another path. Nathan thought perhaps the bull might not be able to jump that far up over the bank. By now, the bull had noticed Nathan and was starting to run towards him. Nathan tried to leap up the bank but didn’t make it. He tried again. His third attempt was equally unsuccessful. The bull was almost upon him.

And that is how Nathan ended up standing on his bedside table in the middle of the night trying to leap up his bedroom wall.

1310. Sage advice

My mother is like really nosey about my private life. Last night I went out with Jeff and my mother wasn’t like very happy about it. Jeff’s the one that got Sheree pregnant. And he’s the center midfielder in the school’s football team. Anyway my mother said, “Now listen Carol, if Jeff tries any funny business, clock him.”

Well I tried, but it was all over before I had time to even look at my watch. I don’t know why my mother needs to know this stuff, so I made it up and told her it took about three quarters of an hour.

(I’ve just realized that this story might not make sense to some: Brit and Austral and NZ: to strike, esp on the face or head; to strike sharply or heavily: e.g. clocked him in the face. )

1309. Nature Study

Christobelle had a thing for the environment. She was as green as they come. She ate only that which was organically grown. No meat of course; and in fact not even a life-giving chicken’s egg. No insect would be purposely crushed beneath her shoe. Her porch was riddled with spiders spared by Christobelle.

She was therefore considerably dismayed when it was discovered the apples her generous neighbour had allowed her to pick for the past six years, had been sprayed each year. Sprayed! Apparently to kill some moth caterpillar. These people ate cows and sheep and pigs. Why on earth would they fuss about sinking their teeth into a little creepy-crawly? And the thought of poison having entered her body annually for the past six years filled Christobelle with stenchful repulsion. She felt quite ill. What are they taught in school these days? What happened to Nature Study as a subject?

Two nights after this discovery, Christobelle went out and sprayed insect repellent into her neighbour’s thirteen beehives. That should teach him a lesson.

1308. In a cottage near the sea

The world famous violinist had retired. After years of intense concert after concert, László Jovanović had found a nice cottage near the beach (for walks) and close enough to shops (for convenience). He could play his beloved violin all day (or not) without the pressure of concert preparation.

It’s not that he couldn’t afford a great big mansion by the sea, but he didn’t need it. The little cottage was cosy and much to his liking. And, did I say? it had a rose garden.

Every morning he would get out his second most precious violin and play. (His Stradivarius was safely locked in a bank vault somewhere). It was easy to believe that in the past people would pay heaps of money to hear him play. It was as if the ever-surging sea and his music melded into one. All was good with the universe. Well, it was as if all melded into one until the neighbours complained.

“What’s with the screeching cat next door scratching away? If he must learn an instrument why can’t he play a proper one like a guitar or a banjo? Or even a ukulele?”

László Jovanović never played the violin again. His rose garden was a picture.

1307. Copyright copycat

How sensational is that? Julian was quietly looking for a cute picture of a cat online when he made an adrenaline-charged discovery! He came across a photograph he had taken of his dog! Perhaps some explanation is called for.

Julian had a pet cat. Her name was Banbury, although her full name was Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross. Why is another story. Julian also had a pet dog. His name was Rock, although his full name was Rock my Soul in the Bosom of Abraham. Why is another story.

Julian had found online a number of pet food companies that held weekly competitions for a month’s supply of pet food. All that needed to be done was to submit a photograph of your pet, and the winner (the one with the cutest pet that week) got a voucher for the month’s supply. Julian’s dog photos had never won a thing.

The cat was another story altogether. Banbury was not photogenic, and yet week after week Julian won enough pet food with his cat photos to feed the dog and the cat. It didn’t come free of charge however. Julian would have to spend hours searching the internet for cute otherwise-unfindable cat pictures taken by other people that he could submit as his own. That is how he won so often. Banbury never had so many faces!

While searching, Julian came across the picture he had taken of Rock. It had won a pet food photo competition for “The Best Pet Photo of the Year”. The prize was a thousand dollars.

A thousand dollars! Julian was outraged. That’s my photo! he shouted out. My photo! Give me my thousand dollars!

A full investigation was called for. Julian was given his thousand dollars. He also received a court order to pay two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for his stealing of the cat photos.

1306. Things to sort through

There were quite a few things to sort through after Ivan died. The funeral was over a month ago, and Maureen knew that at some stage she would have to face the music and go through his things. They had never married, but had been together for twenty-two years. Everyone presumed they were married. Ivan had never popped the question. Children even called Maureen “Mrs Doubroff” although legally her name was “Winters”.

Maureen had hand-written replies to all the cards, flowers and condolence letters she had received. She had bought a box of thank you cards, and wrote in each, “Thank you so much for your kind thoughts and heartfelt wishes during my sad loss.” She would have liked to have written “Thank you for your kind and prayerful thoughts” but who knows these days who is atheistic and who is not?

Ivan had died in a bicycle accident on a Saturday afternoon. He always went for a long bicycle ride every Saturday afternoon, even if it was raining. Maureen had no interest whatsoever in riding a bike. Saturday afternoon was “her time”, “her space”. She had told him to wear a safety helmet, but, oh no! he wanted to feel the wind as his bicycle raced down the steep hill.

The worst bit of sorting through his things was to be his backpack. He always took a little haversack with him on his cycle rides. It probably contained a bite to eat mid-afternoon or maybe something to read on a break from cycling. Or even his camera. He had the haversack on his back when he crashed headfirst into a tree on the steep hill attempting to avoid a dog.

Maureen opened the pack. Indeed, there was an old anthology of short stories by Flannery O’Connor. And his camera. Maureen downloaded the last photographs he took onto her computer.

Oh dear. Oh goodness me. Maureen had no idea. She felt quite sick. Maureen pressed the delete button. It was a secret she carried to her grave.