November 5, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about lost time. You can write a realistic scenario or something speculative. How does lost time impact the character of your story? Bonus points if you include a 1982 brown rubber watch Go where the prompt leads!
Stan picked up an imaginary sand timer, turned it over and watched as the grains of sand ran. He didn’t say a word. His grandchildren were playing on the beach building sandcastles, oblivious to his moment of sadness. On his wrist, he wore a 1982 brown rubber watch. It was now 2020. The watch had long since given up ticking, but he’d never throw it out. It would be terrible to do so. The watch belonged to his beautiful wife and brought back happy memories.
June died in 1983, was never fancy but always special.
Thank you to the lovely Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch for all she does for the literary community. <3
The flash fiction prompt this week made me think of my mother-in-law Mary who is holding on to being fiercely independent as long as she possibly can. She is now the ripe old age of ninety four! She always tidies everything up before the carer sets foot in the house and her favourite phrase is: That’s that job done!
Tea and Biscuits With The Carer
“That’s the blueberries washed!” she said with a smile.
I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Put the kettle on,” she said.
“Don’t you want to leave anything for the carer to do?”
She didn’t answer, instead she said, “Get the pavlova and cream. Mini ones in the cupboard over there.”
I opened the tin and arranged them on a large plate.
I’ve always enjoyed Westerns!! The prompt this week is to write a story about what happens on the dusty trail and Respond by October 6, 2020.
Excitement is building at Carrot Ranch for TUFF – TUFF stands for The Ultimate Flash Fiction which is every Monday — October 5, 12, 19, and 26.
So here is my Oct 1st Flash Fiction take about how love must have been short and sweet in times of life and death.
The Darnedest Cowboy
The darnedest cowboy walked towards me. His cowboy boots churned up the dusty road. My heartbeat so loudly I swore it was going to giddy up, catch a ride on a wild horse and land on his Western shirt. His eyes twinkled as he dawdled a few feet away. He kicked a stone, spat some cheeky grits into the ground and walked right past, lassoing my heart with his.
I stayed still until I heard the deafening gunshot. Damn. Wild West gals sure don’t remember no dead cowboy long.
Those bloody motorbikes can’t they stop! 1 A.M. no chance I’ll get any sleep. Tomorrow’s the live show. Never done this before. What will it be like? I’ll soon know. Introverted writers, tonight at 9 p.m. I’ll talk live. Bound to be a problem with the connection. We’ll get there… I did it! I listen, damn, I can’t see my weird mannerisms, but I can hear them. Perhaps I should have had some water instead of that glass of wine, stupid faux pas, one or two!
On Saturday evening I participated in my first Facebook live interview with horror and fantasy indie author A. F. Stewart’s Between The Pages Book Chat. I’m sharing it here so that others can see that even if you are daunted, (terrified) by the idea of speaking live, you can still give it a go. Looking back at the recording there are things I wish I’d said and some I wish I hadn’t said, or repeated as much! It’s funny how we waffle… or I do anyway. Still, if you don’t try, you don’t learn and improve. It’s not perfect but the main thing is I tried. I’m giving myself brownie points for that!
And wondering if I seriously need a haircut! Looking like a lock down woman…
I’ve also been participating in Carrot Ranch Community 5 at the Mic, which is a grand opportunity to share your writing to an audience, in a safe space. You can start by being an audience and then move on to reading your work.
Charli Mills encourages writers to participate as readers or audience in 5 at the Mic, (video recordings of live readings of our creative writings.) I’m there, (with my humorous tale – the bubble monster,) along with Bill Engleson, Paula Moyer, Anne Goodwin and Ellen Best all sharing our writing gems by reading aloud!
My flash is based on a true story. I visited my mother-in-law in Edinburgh, Scotland. She hadn’t been too well but made a miraculous recovery. At ninety-four she is an incredible woman! This tree and our conversation inspired me to write this piece of flash.
It was kind of eerie at the time… knowing what I know now. The wind was blowing lightly but I added a gust of ghostly wind to the flash fiction piece!
The Tree of Life I encouraged my mother-in-law to venture out for a walk. She hadn’t been out since a fall laid her low before lockdown. We sat by the wise old tree. I had no idea that just a few days ago this area had been the site of a funeral gathering. The family decorated the branches with colourful ribbons, dream catchers, pretty baubles and teddy bears. As we talked, a tremendous gust of wind blew the ribbons, twirling them in a whirl of colour as the baubles and teddies danced.
I heard leaves rustling; it was his last goodbye.
I didn’t know the man who died, or what he died of. His funeral happened at a time when people couldn’t gather in the usual way. So, touching and sad. His friends and family came together to say their last goodbye amongst nature, by that tree, in the area in which he had lived. Passersby who may, or may not have known him saw the reminder of the vibrancy of his life in the colour of the adorned tree.
I picked some purple flowers for my mother-in-law which she carries in the photo. Purple is her favourite colour. She always mentions our walk each time I speak to her. Somehow, that walk to the tree have given her confidence back. I believe she has now walked to the shop again. I’m glad I encouraged her to walk with me even though I was so worried that she might fall. Sometimes you have to be brave to make a special memory.
The last time my eldest daughter left home I wrote a flash fiction piece for Carrot Ranch which I entitled The Riptide Suitcases expressing my emotions at my daughter moving abroad.
The Riptide Suitcases
The riptide hid in two shallow suitcases. Foreign tee-shirts lay crushed against jumpers, jeans pressed unfolded next to sandals and boots. I lifted my daughter’s larger suitcase up; it was heavy but not as heavy as my swirling heart.
No traffic impeded our journey. The ripples began early, too early. We shared coffee but didn’t eat. The departure gate beckoned. The riptide began. It burst out of me. I cried, no I wailed. Guilt crashed against waves of sadness. Sadness wrestled and drowned my heart. Never again will I feel such depths of emotion. My adventurer, daughter had gone.
That was three years ago. Natasha stayed in South Korea for a year and absolutely loved it. I’m so proud of her for taking that courageous step, to travel to the other side of the world to teach English takes a considerable amount of guts especially when you don’t speak the language and you are so young. She was the youngest EFL teacher in her school, newly graduated from University.
You can see a little about that here: (unlike her mum she never really got into blogging, she only wrote two blog posts! )
Why Scotland? Natasha has always loved it. My hubby and I always make Edinburgh our home-from-home, so it’s no wonder that at least one of our children might decide to stay there…
This is my piece of flash:
Three years ago, we said our goodbyes at the departure gate before that first flight. How I cried. I wept for a day, and the next day I wept without weeping. My darling daughter gone so faraway. She braved how scared she was. Now, she is adventuring again – not so far this time! And yet her friends miss her already. I miss her already. This is life, young adults are always moving, taking those steps to independence. They never leave your thoughts. They’re always a part of you, wherever they are.
Daughters always stay in your heart.
It will be my youngest daughter’s turn next – Georgina – and then it truly will be empty nest syndrome! Still, I still have her for now… Yay!
Having spent so much time with both of them during lockdown I know I will find it especially hard.
Happy Release Day to all the contributors in This Is Lockdown.
Help yourself to a slice of pineapple, your favourite coloured balloon, and some blueberry pancakes… I made this smiling fellow during lockdown. I had to eat him – with that smile how could I not? My tummy smiled afterwards!
It seems strange to celebrate anything during this horrendous time but… it’s important to look to the future and hope that this worldwide pandemic will ease and a solution will be found in the months ahead.
During lockdown I found it difficult to write my usual genre: YA Fantasy, so I focused instead on interviewing authors on the subject of ‘isolation’ during COVID19. I enjoyed this blog series so much, discovering so much common ground with other authors and bloggers that it seemed a good idea to take this further and to produce a book, a compilation of my diaries, poetry, flash fiction, and writings with ‘The Isolation writers,’ who live in the UK, Ireland, Scotland, USA, Australia, Zimbabwe and Australia.
It doesn’t matter where we live, our experiences are similiar.
Here are some quotes from contributors to This Is Lockdown:
‘Isolation itself is not a problem, as an author I tend to live in other worlds anyway.’ Richard Dee.
‘Nobody should feel they have to achieve things during this time of corona. It’s ok to just be – to stay safe, spend time with family, read and relax.’ Catherine Fearns.
What has changed? The answer is: Everything – but it took me a while to notice. Jackie Carreira
We could get through this crisis better if everyone would cut each other some slack and come together. One can only hope… Sharon Marchisello
I feel I’ve become like the ancients, huddled with my little family around the fire in a small circle of light. Lynn Fraser
I’m taking life at the moment with a huge dollop of perspective. – Fi Phillips
If nothing else, this pandemic will have allowed us to work together in a way we might never have considered doing before. Jeannie Wycherley
What’s changed for me? Nothing and everything and believe me, that’s as confusing as it sounds. Chantelle Atkins
Still, I’m just thankful that I am okay, we are all healthy, and that, in itself, is the biggest thing. Ritu Bhathal
This situation easily calls forth the entire spectrum and expression of human emotion. Tracie Barton Barrett
Instead, I started painting – no, not the walls, although they could do with it. I created big bright, colourful pieces of art to cheer myself up. Alice May
On my walks, I spend time thinking what the world will be like after coronavirus and how it will differ from the past. Peter Gooby-Taylor
Festivals are important. We meet, talk, drink, solve the world’s problems, learn and relax. Miriam Owen
We greatly miss our author visits to shops, libraries and book clubs. – Ceri and Drew
At time of writing, lockdown here in Italy is easing, but I am still wary of emerging into the sunlight. Katherine Mezzacappa
If it has taught me anything, it has taught me that my blogging time must be managed, as it helps me, so it must have its place. Willow Willers
I believe there is a silver lining to isolation – a line from Sally Cronin’s poem.
I am very much missing human engagement – talking in person, hugging a friend, and seeing a compassionate, genuine smile, not hidden behind a mask. D G Kaye
Something is very wrong in this new world, (from poem) Adele Marie Park
The world is quiet, a new strange calm, (from Poem)Marian wood
unknowing (the city) – for the rains… (from Poem) Frank Prem
Anxious thoughts lace my outings to The Wasteland. Sherri Matthews.
Welcome to the new normal, I could be smiling right now but you cannot see it behind the mask. Beaton Mabaso
We really felt that our project hit a chord and it showed what a community pulling together could achieve. It seemed to give focus in this strange and new world of lockdown. Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago-Val. Fundraising for the NHS: #CommunityMasks4NHS
We are living in strange and difficult times indeed my friends, but there comes a time when we must raise our eyes to the future, and reflect and act on what we have learned. Samantha Murdoch.
As the virus bloomed, so did sales, until non essentials were forced to close. But she soon found lockdown’s silver lining in endless days communing with her own bookshelves. – quote from a piece by Anne Goodwin.
Stay Safe in Your Own Personal Wilderness – M J Mallon
This Is Lockdown is:
An anthology and compilation of diaries, short stories, flash fiction, contributions from the ‘isolation writers,’ plus poetry written during the time of lockdown in the UK. This Is Lockdown is written from a writer’s perspective highlighting the simple pleasures of day-to-day life during such an uncertain and frightening time. It also gives a glimpse of the blogging, writing world. The book showcases several authors and their thoughts on what it is like to experience ‘isolation’ as a writer. I also discuss the handling of the pandemic and my thoughts on what might happen next. In the final part of the book I include my latest short story idea: a YA romance and various short pieces of poetry, and flash fiction inspired by the pandemic.
Thrilled to say that tomorrow is the launch day for This Is Lockdown, a compilation of diaries, flash fiction, poetry and short stories, an anthology: from the ‘isolation writers,’ on the topic of isolation for writers and creatives during COVID19, plus brilliant poetry and writings.
I’m thrilled that Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago-Val have contributed a piece about their fundraising venture #CommunityMasks4NHSsharing their amazing face masks for the NHS health service and free masks for charities and not for profit organisations.
To date Jane and Melissa have raised a staggering £30,000.
And the masks are really cool! Here I am wearing a sea themed one. Yes, I am missing the wee fishes! No snorkelling for me… No holidays abroad. Sigh. So, I am spreading the word… get yourself a face mask, perhaps one for each day of the week!
The awesome contributing authors are old friends and new…