Category Archives: Flash fiction

1947. Seasonal Alphonso

Alphonso hated the Spring Equinox. It meant we’re heading towards summer, which is hot, sticky, and utterly uncomfortable.

Alphonso hated the Summer Solstice. It meant the hottest months are on their way.

Alphonso hated the Autumn Equinox. It meant we’re heading towards winter, which is cold, icy, and utterly uncomfortable.

Alphonso hated the Winter Solstice. It meant the coldest months are on their way.

Alphonso hated the weather on television. “They’re forever predicting bad weather. I’ll watch once they start being a bit more positive.”

1946. Tropical Plants Conservatory

Lifetime school friends, Louise and Veronica, both celebrated their birthday on the same day. They usually did something together on that day and this year for their sixty-fifth they were going to visit the botanical garden’s Tropical Plant Conservatory.

“I do hope there will be no triffids in the greenhouse,” joked Veronica.

The Tropical Plant Conservatory was a large glass building. It would take Louise and Veronica an hour or so to quietly move among the foliage and espy this and that. Afterwards, they’d have a light lunch at the Conservatory’s café, and that would complete their birthday celebration.

At the door they were stopped by an attendant. “You realize, ladies, that if you bring a handbag into the Conservatory it has to be checked thoroughly on the way out for possible seeds and cuttings.”

“That’s no trouble,” said Louise and Veronica. “We shall leave our handbags here at the entrance with you.”

“That’s just as well,” joked the attendant, “because there is a handbag-devouring plant down the track. It’s related to the Venus Fly Trap.” It was an old joke; one he clearly cracked several times each day.

Louise and Veronica set out. An hour and a half later they returned to claim their handbags. The “attendant” had left. He’d gone to book his annual skiing trip to Switzerland.

1945. The case of the mysterious proposal

When Anita got to the last sip of her tea at the rather sophisticated afternoon tea-party there was an engagement ring at the bottom of her cup. Her first thought was “I was lucky not to have swallowed all those diamonds”. Then she wondered whose ring may have slipped off as they drank tea and she had picked up the wrong cup. And then she wondered, “I wonder if this ring was meant for me? I have dated two of the men here but I doubt that either was serious enough.”

She glanced around. No one seemed to be watching her. No one seemed to be waiting for a “Yes!” No one seemed to be anticipating a surreptitious shriek of excitement to escape her cherry red lips.

If the proposal was real it would be so banal to simply say, “Hey! Look what I found!” She would spend an entire marriage living with the dullness of having not looked pleased at the marriage proposal.

George came over to her. He was undoubtedly the handsomest man there – or so Anita thought – although he wasn’t one of the two that Anita had been out on dates with.

“How’s it going?” said George.

“Good,” said Anita. “And how are you?”

“Good,” said George. “Would you like another cup of tea?”

“I’d love one,” said Anita.

George took Anita’s cup and saucer and headed for the table with the teapot. He returned.

“Thank you so much,” said Anita. George moved further around the room.

Needless to say, Anita was rather keen to get to the bottom of her cup. Was the ring still there? She was halfway through sips of her too, too hot tea when Berwyn began squealing in the far corner of the room.

“Oh George! Oh yes! Yes! Yes! Oh Georgie darling! Yes! Yes! Yes!”

1944. I didn’t know

Apparently I can’t do much right. I mean, how is a guy to know these things? I gave her a bunch of yellow roses and she said yellow meant “goodbye” – at least in her vocabulary of flowers. I wrapped some white gladiolas in some black tissue paper. I thought it looked stunning and she said that to wrap things in black paper meant everything was over.

It just went on and on. I didn’t know she was allergic to peanuts when I cooked up some Chinese using peanut oil. I didn’t know that years ago her grandfather had drowned and it was insensitive of me to say “Let’s go to the municipal swimming baths on this hot day.” When I asked “Would you like a wine?” I didn’t know her mother was an alcoholic. I didn’t know she had run over her cat when she backed out of her garage. I didn’t know she detested football. I didn’t know that there wasn’t a thing in the world that didn’t upset her. Everything under the sun brought on shocking memories and reactions. I didn’t know she was a Pandora ’s Box of carping whinges.

On and on and on and on and on. I didn’t know at the time that my brother was right when he told me I was a fool to marry her. Good luck to the guy she’s eloped with.

1943. A train to catch

I was scurrying to the train station to catch my usual morning transport. I was running late because I had spilt coffee on my trousers (thank goodness it had cooled) and had to get changed. In my haste I forgot to take my phone out of the wet trouser pocket, so I didn’t know by how much I was running late.

The clock on the town tower was renowned for its unreliability. Going by what it said I had five minutes to get to the station to get on the train to take me to work. I work as a bank manager, and today the big boss is coming for an important meeting. VERY important, he had said on the phone.

Only four minutes to go. I thought I’d start to run; actually trot along, as I didn’t want to be all sweaty during the VERY important meeting.

Two minutes to go. I simply cannot afford to miss that train. What the heck! I’ll have to run, sweaty or not! I can explain to the boss why I’m perspiring so profusely. And…

Made it! Phew! That was close! I got a seat too. No sooner had I sat than the doors closed and the train began to noiselessly slide away from the station.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said a voice over the intercom. “Welcome to the non-stop day trip to the capital city. Refreshments are available throughout the trip in the cafeteria carriage.”

I was on the wrong train. It was going the wrong way and it would take all day to get there.

1942. Mousy Cameron’s cake

Cameron’s personality could be described only as timid. In fact, years ago when he was at school, his nickname was “Mousy”, with his little spectacles resting on his little pointed nose.

These days he lived alone in a small apartment. Things were nice enough. He was content enough. His greatest interest was to attend theatre productions by the local amateur theatre society. Of course he never auditioned for a part; nor did he volunteer to help backstage or whatever. His way of supporting them was to attend the productions and to laugh and cry and applaud heartily, whatever the occasion called for.

One evening the organizers were raffling a cake. The evening was dedicated to productions of plays by youth. The cake raffle was to help one of the youth teams travel to a neighbouring town to stage a performance. It was a worthy cause, and Cameron took a generous number of tickets. He’d never won a thing in his life, but a donation is a donation!

He won! He couldn’t believe it! It was a simple joy, but it brought him great pleasure! A chocolate cake! He would enjoy a slice each evening for the coming week.

As he left the theatre a young guy from the local high school grabbed Cameron’s cake out of Cameron’s hands. Teenage boys began passing the cake to one another like it was a football. Ha! Ha! It was fun – that was all. Cameron stood there all timid and mousy. He said, “Please could I have my cake?”

One of the youths threw the cake and it smashed into a concrete wall.

Cameron went home. It was just a cake.

1941. Helmut’s special birthday

Well I wouldn’t call it a big party; just a dozen friends or so invited around for a few drinks. Helmut was invited. It was his birthday. He kind of knew the party was to celebrate his twenty-first birthday but no one was saying much.

Maree was at the party too. Helmut thought she was pretty sweet, and perhaps something might come of it. She was very friendly towards him at the party and Helmut wondered if he should invite her out on a date. In fact, Helmut knew most of the people at the party, or at least had a passing acquaintance with them. Roger wasn’t his favourite person there. He was always raucous and belligerent. At least Helmut thought so.

Over in the corner of the room, Helmut spotted a huge bouquet of flowers. In fact they were mainly sunflowers. Helmut liked sunflowers. Clearly they were intended for him when they made a speech and they handed over some little gift for his birthday.

The evening wore on. Then Roger tapped an empty beer bottle with a spoon. It was like a clarion call for everyone to shut-up. A speech was to be made.

“Thanks everyone for coming,” said Roger. “I hear that it is Helmut’s twenty-first birthday. Congratulations, Helmut. Maree and I just want to take this occasion to announce our engagement.”

Everyone applauded. Camilla, who clearly was already in the know, gathered the bunch of sunflowers and presented them to Maree.

Everyone went all goo-gar over the engaged couple. No one sang happy birthday.

1940. How a little lake could hold such joy

There’s a little lake at the back of my property. It’s surrounded by trees. Sometimes I think I must be the only person who knows the lake exists. I’ve never seen anyone there, and it doesn’t appear to be on any map I’ve seen. Mind you, it’s not a big lake.

That lake gives me a lot of pleasure. In fact I have a green plastic chair I leave down there and often I’ll sit for a quiet, reflective time. Sometimes there are a few wild ducks swimming about. Twice now I’ve seen a couple of blue herons fossicking in the shallows. But it’s the stillness of the lake that fills me with the greatest joy.

I’ve had this property for about forty years; about thirty of those I suppose I’ve been going to the lake on a regular basis. Goodness! Thirty years since my wife died! I didn’t go to the lake hardly at all before that.

I still can’t believe how placid and calming that little lake is these days. Contrast that with the tumultuous clamour my wife made when I threw her in with concrete blocks tied to her knees. She was flaying about like an octopus caught in a net. Such a hullabaloo! Such a racket!

Yes indeed. I never knew before then how a little lake could hold such joy.

1939. To die alphabetically

Jerome Holke Barbarich-Askelund’s doctor had given him bad news. He had not been feeling well and was not at all surprised when the doctor announced (in a kindly and tender manner) that what Jerome Holke Barbarich-Askelund had was terminal.

“Oh well,” shrugged Jerome, “we all eventually get our marching orders I suppose.”

He went home and within a week had become obsessed with the death notices in the morning paper. Here was a list of those who had died – usually the day before. Jerome began to work out each morning where his name would go alphabetically if he had indeed passed away on the preceding day.

Amor
Austin
Baird
Burgin
Cain

If he had died his name would appear between Baird and Burgin.

Ackerley
Alexander
Batwell
Blayney
Blight

If he had died his name would appear between Alexander and Batwell.

And there, on the third day, BARBARICH-ASKELUND! There it was in print! In black and white! What a mystery!

Anderson
Atherfold
Aycock
BARBARICH-ASKELUND
Butt

“As far as I know,” said Mrs. Barbarich-Askelund, “we are the only ones in the country with this family name. It’s a complete bafflement. I’m in a state of stupefaction.”

After two weeks, Mrs. Barbarich-Askelund’s friend, Gloria Wiggins said, “Look Myrtle-Bianca, you have to admit that he’s been dead for two weeks now. You can’t go on pretending it didn’t happen. “

“Oh Gloria!” sobbed Myrtle-Bianca Barbarich-Askelund, “to die is one thing. To appear in print between Aycock and Butt is shocking. Jerome will never forgive me.”

1938. Water birth

Kathleen was expecting her first baby. She was both excited and full of trepidation. She had investigated every possible manner of giving birth. There were all sorts of theories – some to ease the pain of child birth; some to ensure the baby wasn’t disadvantaged in any way.

In the end, after much research, Kathleen decided upon an underwater birth. Yes! A water birth was best. Of course, it would take place at the local birthing centre under the direction of a qualified midwife.

The time arrived! There were no complications. It went as smoothly as possible. Kathleen was relieved and surprised. By the end of the day she took the baby home.

It’s always a big decision for a mermaid whether to give birth in water or on rocks.