Flash Fiction April 2021

Thirty-word stories, each one using the bolded word as a prompt.

With furtive glances, she took in the greased black hair, manicured pencil-line moustache, blazer and cravat. But the sight of his trouser crease, knife sharp, dead straight, impeccable, transfixed her.

We watched the storm develop from a line on the horizon to dark, rolling, rumbling clouds pulling a grey veil to a scatter of heavy raindrops to a watery cascade.

Segmentation, he was told, when they restructured the department and divided up his job among the project teams. ‘Dismemberment,’ he replied. ‘And, you know, limbs cannot function without the head.’

She remained a bud, full of promise but unable to blossom. In her final days, reality refashioned by dementia brought back her childhood sweetheart. Oh, how she burst into flower.

His mother cleaned and dressed the cuts, but he wasn’t consoled. Too young, he couldn’t tell her that because she withheld her love, her hands would never heal his wounds.

He moved along a chronological arrangement of fossils, taking him back millions upon millions of years and illuminating a rich but ruthless past of existence, adaptation, diversity and ultimate extinction.

The old woman’s craggy, crumpled face fronted a heart of such compassion that sublime beauty shone out of it. Proof that good thoughts could put cosmetic surgery out of business.

Up the formidable zigzagging track, I struggled in slivers of daylight. Suddenly, the forest lay below. Surrounding hills poked out their heads. With renewed vigour I raced to the top.

Exotic cultures and cuisines excite me. But I found the limits of my open-mindedness in a bustling street market in Shanghai when a smiling vendor invited me to sample scorpion-on-a-stick.

They trained, knew the drill, checked and re-checked every little detail. But their fitness, experience and elaborate planning had no answer to the storm that blew them off the mountain.

He loved me, but in public he called me a friend. I was his world, but in his future, not present. The emotional tangle unravelled only when I walked away.

Gasp. A lily pond in bloom. Gripped by emotion, he sets up his easel. Where will the painting manifest on the spectrum between real and abstract? He has no idea.

I enter the tunnel. Oh, truck approaching, let’s try to beat it. Oops. My car ricochets off the left wall and hurtles towards the right. I brace for the scrunch.

The magician approaches me in the audience. ‘Nice watch.’ Back on stage, he asks, ‘What’s the time?’ My wrist is empty. He holds up my watch.He’s undermined my consciousness.

Unashamed, the cherry trees flaunted their naked branches and twigs. With grace and nobility intact, they burst with the promise of impending glory. We pledged to go back in Spring.

Coconut scraper: miniature circular saw attached to low bench. Method: sit on bench, cup half-coconut, swipe inside against saw. Proudest achievement: learning to produce soft, white spirals of coconut flesh.

To the giant sequoias we must have resembled scurrying ants. Exploring the grove, we came upon a fallen monarch, in repose, still towering above us, its majesty undiminished by death.

I peered into that face and saw no trace of the ravages of mental illness. But it revealed an adult who has not grown up, a brain which does not interact with the world, a lost soul.

It wasn’t the first time she had raved about her son’s infant origami. But no one else saw amazing sculptures in the mess of crumpled up paper scattered around him.

I love the upcountry train, chugging into tunnels, emerging to glorious new vistas, some lush and verdant, others blue and misty, sometimes only glimpses before the blackout of another tunnel.

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