Friday Flash Fiction- Paragraph Planet

Paragraph Planet is a creative writing website which has been publishing one 75-word paragraph every day since November 2008.

Any writer can submit, but the word count must be exactly 75 words. The first paragraph is one I had accepted a while ago; we became addicted at writers’ group to thinking of new 75 word paragraphs.

As Long As

How cleansing to see your overlarge house blown to matchsticks in a cyclone. How purifying to see the detritus of modern life swept away in a tidal surge, to know Gaia has won, to face God naked. I put these thoughts on Facebook, take my meal out of the microwave, turn up the heating and settle in my reclining chair to watch the news and soaps on 3D television… As long as it’s not me.

Real Life

… real life experiences, being born, don’t remember. Make a list: rolling down a grassy slope, cycling with the wind in your face, ditto galloping on horseback. swimming in the ocean, standing on a high hill, making love, giving birth, sailing a yacht, flying, escaping mortal danger. And the ultimate, dying, not asleep in bed, that would be cheating… how much time there is to think in the seconds it takes a plane to plunge, engines ablaze…


A crystalline cold dawn; heavy snow had reached their valley for the first time. His master had just made it back. Usually Nicolai hated the long winter nights, but each breath that seared his lungs brought hope. In late afternoon the clear sky brought a violet shimmer to the virgin snow at the graveyard. Nicolai thrust his stick through crystal layers; it juddered on the iron cold ground. The master would not be arising tonight.

Ten Seconds

Years of training for ten seconds. In other events you can change tactics, put on a last minute spurt. Diet, training and mental attitude will help me reach my ultimate speed; my reflexes honed for the starting block. I lost my job, friends and family; but I’m racing for my country at the Olympics. Men’s one hundred metre final. The starting block feels unreal. I hear the pistol; for a second I hesitate.

You can read more flash fiction in Someone Somewhere


What is the shortest story you have written?

Friday Flash Fiction – The Stones

 So Lar looked over the plains; how many had passed this way over the years? Weary bodies, bent limbs and always murmurings of revolt, lives lost as well and for what? Tomorrow would demonstrate what this had all been for and So Lar would be proved right. A new age of enlightenment would begin on the longest day as the Sun bestowed His blessing. Of course it was hard for the workers to see what they and their fathers and forebears had been labouring towards, what So Lar’s father and grandfather had dreamed of, knowing they would never see the day when it was complete.

The old pagan beliefs would be buried for good and they would look towards the one true God, the Sun God. But as the long warm evening began to fade into twilight So Lar had the first misgivings, dark clouds rolled over the indigo sky. When night had fully set over the plains the moon could not be seen, not one single star could be seen. Without clouds there would be no rain, man and beast needed rain, but not tomorrow…

There was no sleep for him that short night; most souls in the camp were sound asleep, trusting the night watch to wake them in good time for the revelation So Lar had promised at dawn. If the blanket of cloud was not drawn back then they would not see the first rays shine through the entrance of the temple of knowledge.

Blackness turned to grey, dawn had arrived, but not a glimmer of gold could penetrate the dark clouds. They surrounded So Lar now, angry and afraid. Rab the trouble maker spoke.

‘So much for your Sun God, we have angered our gods, desecrated their sacred plains, your stone temple is a terrible scar on the landscape that should be torn down. The gods will not let your weak sun god shine until they are appeased.’



So Lar lay bound inside his precious circle. These people would never be enlightened, would never understand how the heavens and earth worked without the need for human intervention. They still thought blood needed to be spilled, that he must be sacrificed if the sun was to shine again.



Friday Flash Fiction – 1K

Two Minutes Later

 It was one of those perfect moments that are rare; my body still tingling from the sea and soaking in the warmth of the sun, I wrapped my white finger tips round a mug of fresh coffee. In the blue skies above, vintage aeroplanes soared and swooped. While others stood on the crowded cliff tops in the baking sun, I enjoyed the privacy and comfort of my little shady window box on the world. The four figure beach hut rates for a six by six wooden box, one tier above the promenade, were worth it for this moment alone.


I looked at my watch as I polished off my sandwich, 1.30 pm; another hour and I would plunge back into the sea. In the meantime it was inevitable that I would drift off to sleep… the sunlight was red through my eyelids, the planes and waves together made soothing background music.


Two minutes later a chill on my skin prompted me to open my eyes. I looked at my watch, 1.32pm and closed them again. But a voice penetrated my oblivion.

‘You’ve let your tea go cold.’

‘Geoff, I thought you were on the cliff top taking photos, no peace for the wicked.’

‘What… I thought you’d be in a panic to get ready for work.’


‘You’re late shift…’

Reluctantly I opened my eyes, wondering if my husband had gone mad. He was sitting next to me and peering over the top of his newspaper.

‘Good thing we didn’t move to Bournemouth, look at all those crowds on the beach for the Air Festival.’

‘But we did… and we’ve got a beach hut…’

He carried on talking as if everything was normal ‘…and as for getting your dream beach hut, long waiting list and much too expensive apparently.’

Something was wrong, very wrong and I could not avoid the evidence of my eyes. We were sitting in the garden of 29, Mildred Crescent, Harmonton. I recognised it even though the trees and shrubs had grown a lot in the seven years since we moved away; this was turning out to be a very vivid dream, a nightmare. I looked at my watch again, 1.34pm. If I closed my eyes I could finish the dream and wake up at the beach hut.


We had both taken early pensions from work, I loved working at Heathrow, but I did not intend to spend the rest of my life living in Harmonton, Middlesex; the sea beckoned. Geoff was equally determined not to end up like his boring parents living in the same road all their married lives, round the corner. We had never regretted the decision.

The sun must have gone behind a cloud, I felt chilly. I should have changed out of my wet swimming costume, my beach towel must have fallen off. I looked down at my lap and saw my old skirt, I turned my head to see my old pink blouse.

‘Are you okay,’ said Geoff ‘shall I phone in and say you’re sick.’

‘Er… I’m fine, I had this strange dream we were still in Harmonton.’

‘Ha, ha, very funny… was that the door bell, is Marion giving you a lift to work?’

I shook my head in disbelief; Marion who I felt sorry for, guilty even, when I handed in my resignation and she realised it was true, I really was going. We’d worked together for years, lived close; I had been an aunty to her children. She was never going to leave Harmonton and I was never going to stay. We popped up to visit at first, but their seaside holidays with us never materialised, we made new friends, she wasn’t on Facebook…


I looked up and there she was, hair different, a few more lines.

‘Don’t blame you for dozing in the garden, that’s what I hate about late shift, I’ll admire Geoff’s vegetable beds while you get changed, don’t be long, we can’t both be late and don’t forget your ID pass this time.’

If I stood up I would wake up and stop my past playing out in my dreams. I walked towards the back door, the scent of Alyssum tumbling over the edge of the patio was so real I bent down to pick a sprig, I crushed the tender stalks in my fingers. I reached out for the back door handle, it was solid and very real. I walked through into the old kitchen I’d been a little sad to leave behind. Then it had been stylish, now it looked very tired compared with the fitted kitchen in our Bournemouth flat.

Now there was a cold feeling in the pit of my stomach. This house was no dream; I dashed frantically up the familiar stairs into the bedroom; yellow and blue, what had happened to the dated eighties pink flowered wallpaper? My work uniform was hanging up on a strange wardrobe…

I stumbled down the stairs, I didn’t want to face the truth, there was still a chance to wake myself up. Out in the street we got into a strange car, not strange to Marion though.

‘Marion, remind me why we’re doing this, still working at the airport?’

She laughed. ‘We’re not getting our state pensions yet and you said you would go mad with boredom staying at home now Geoff’s retired.’

‘I had this vivid dream when I was dozing in the garden, I was sitting in my own beach hut, we lived in Bournemouth.’

‘That was a dream for sure, you’d never get Geoff to move, remember when you suggested it years ago?’

I certainly did and now I knew the unthinkable had happened, I had slipped into my alternative future, a future where nothing had happened except our bedroom being redecorated. Geoff had become his boring father, not the new man who hiked in the New Forest and followed tide timetables for his photography. Boring Geoff was happy with his vegetable beds and fish pond and would never move away while his parents were still alive, or when they were dead. Now I remembered the alternative past seven years, the mortgage paid off and money kept sensibly in the bank. Geoff would not even contemplate a caravan. I let out a silent scream.


For more short stories, open the book and have a look.


Friday Flash Fiction – Rambling Radio

‘…and when the light turns green Marcia, that’s your signal to speak, here’s your script.’

‘Script? I don’t need a script, surely the idea is to chat.’

‘Yes, but you do need to know what items you are linking. While the music is playing you can muse on what you might say next, but when a report is being read you need to concentrate so you can comment.’

‘Multi tasking, I know all about that…’

Theme music fades

‘Yes, yes I’m ready…

Good afternoon, it’s Marcia Graham taking you up to Drivetime with news and views and the sort of music you like … and my first guest is a man who plans to unicycle around the world. Join us after the break.’

Marcia clasped the headphones with a pained expression on her face. ‘Why do we need a break already, it’s only a few minutes since the last advertisements. Oh not this excruciating one, I can’t stand it when I’m in the kitchen, let alone having it blasted into my ears… Are you the unicycle man, not quite what I’d imagined, still, I suppose you will lose plenty of weight on your travels, whoops, amber light, get ready…

and this afternoon I’m talking to…

can’t read this small writing

…Free Wheeler?’

‘Freddie, my mother was a Queen fan, quite funny really, you know, I Like To Ride My Bicycle…’

‘But you’re riding a UNIcycle… what did give you the idea to unicycle around the world?’

‘I was bullied at school, Freddie No Wheels, my parents wouldn’t buy me a bike…’



Half an hour later

‘Thank goodness we’ve got rid of him; this show needs intelligent guests, I see myself as a cross between Joan Bakewell and Melvyn Bragg. No, I’m the same age as her actually. Who chooses this music, I can’t stand flutes, we don’t want to send the listeners off to sleep… ooh amber light…

and here is the news read by Peter Grimes…

unfortunate name, who decides the order of the news items, are we really interested, would we care if the operation wasn’t a success?’

The producer sighed and wondered how his radio station came to be involved in DRIP, Deferred Retirement In-house retraining Programme.



Friday Flash Fiction – The Curse of the Cheap Lipstick

I was ready for my interview; arrived early, driven past company headquarters, found somewhere to park, checked my make up in the rear vision mirror, delved into handbag for lipstick – gone? I rummaged then tipped out all the contents on the passenger seat, no lipstick.

There were no decent shops nearby, only ‘CostaLittel’ and I would not dream of going in there. I recalled overhearing a conversation in the beauty department of ‘Dearmans’, my local department store.

Fancy paying that much for a lipstick when you can get them for £1.99 in CostaLittel.

The woman speaking and her friend looked as if all their makeup and clothes came from Costalittel.

But this was an emergency. I slipped in to Costalittel, picked up a bottle of milk and a packet of fake digestive biscuits, holding them aloft so everyone would assume the office tea club had sent me out and sneaked a look at shelves full of unfamiliar boxes and bottles. There they were; rows of plastic, silver cylinders, three colours to choose from.

‘Would you like a carrier bag?’ said the young man on the till, changing my twenty pound note without batting an eye lid, or sparing me a glance.

‘No thank you, urgent supplies for the office.’

I slipped the lipstick in my pocket and just before I got to the door saw a large bin, donations for the food bank, I dropped the milk and biscuits in.


Through the revolving doors, signed in at the desk, into the elegant ladies, marble everywhere with free standing elegant bowls and gold taps. In the fancy frame mirror I applied the lipstick, which co-ordinated remarkably with my blouse, but set my lips tingling. I prayed I would not have an allergic reaction before the interview was finished.

In the swish lift I checked the long panel of buttons, looking for the fifteenth floor, hearing heavy breathing I turned to see a huge stomach squeeze through the doors just as they were closing. I was pressed into the corner, my eyes level with the sign that said ‘maximum of 12 persons’.

My lips tingled again. ‘He must account for eleven people’ I smiled to myself.

‘I beg your pardon,’ said the fat man ‘did you say something?’

first floor, lifestyle health suite said a disembodied female voice.

‘Bet they wouldn’t even let chummy here through the door’ I thought. My lips tingled again, but fat man was blocking the mirror on the lift wall, so I couldn’t check if my lips were swelling.

He cleared his throat loudly and glared at me, I pretended to examine the names of the companies and relevant floors.

‘Which floor did you want?’ he barked.

‘Fifteenth, I’ve pressed the button, Buchannon and Tate – if the poor lift makes it that far with his weight’ I added to myself.

The man’s face flushed, from the puce colour it already was, to purple. That’s when I wondered if my lips were speaking my thoughts out loud… no ridiculous. ‘Please let him get out soon.’

‘I’m also going to the fifteenth floor’ he rasped.

Fourth floor…fifth floor… sixth floor

The female voice continued unperturbed, as the doors opened people stepped back to wait for the next lift, until one brave older lady squeezed in.

‘Good morning Mr. Buchannon’ said the very smartly dressed woman.

He grunted and my heart sank.

‘I hope I get Mr. Tate on the interview panel’ I prayed. My lips tingled and I knew I had spoken the words out loud.

‘It’s Mrs Tate actually’ said the woman tersely.













Friday Flash Fiction – Black Mamba

John had set out to buy a birthday present, but had no idea where to go or what to choose. The initial euphoria at being invited to the party, albeit at the last moment, had been replaced by panic. When his mobile beeped and he looked at the message one question had been answered; what time to turn up? Two of the others in the group were going to meet him at the tube station; he had never been to Ali’s place before.

He smiled to himself, now he had a timetable to work to and the weekend was looking up. That was the good thing about being in London, you didn’t have to be lonely, there was always something going on, especially if you were part of a group. He had started going dancing to get out and meet people and it seemed to be working. The group of twentyandthirtysomethings had absorbed him. From Valentine’s evening to bank holidays, it didn’t matter if you weren’t in a couple; there was always a dance or a picnic in the park. With mobile phones and Facebook everybody kept in touch. He tried to explain to his mother on the phone that these days girls and boys could just be friends; if he mentioned a girl’s name she was liable to get twittery.


Ali was his friend, she was everybody’s friend, the centre of the group. He had no idea if there was a boyfriend lurking in the background, too new in the group to know much about the lives of the others.

John sighed, he surely wasn’t the only bloke who fancied Ali. She was tall, slim and beautiful, but there was more to her than that. The first time he saw her on the dance floor, her long legs were encased in jazzy black tights and she wore a short red tartan skirt that his mother would have called ‘no more than a belt’. Ali’s short black hair, stunning eye make up and black lipstick were set off by the broad, black leather collar with spikes that she wore around her long neck. It was a look that only Ali could carry off with aplomb. She had done modelling, but was far too intelligent to actually be a model; her job was something interesting and arty.

He found himself at the flower market near Brick Lane. Flowers would be a safe gift he pondered, as he paused at a stall. Amongst the lush bouquets he saw a small pot, a neat plant with two small flowers.

‘It’s a Black Mamba Gallia Lilly’ the flower woman interrupted his thoughts.

John picked up the pot and examined the exquisite flower. No flower could be truly black; these blooms were deepest purple, the hint of colour gave them their beautiful velvet sheen.

‘I’ve got some nice pink tissue paper if it’s for a present’ she said helpfully.

Ali certainly didn’t do pink.

‘Do you have black tissue paper?’


When the three of them arrived at Ali’s place it was so crowded he wasn’t sure of the set up. Girls were arriving bearing shiny gift bags; he tried to see what the other men had brought and hung back as Ali gratefully hugged everybody. As people wandered off to get drinks he nervously edged forward and proffered his gift.

‘Oh, it’s perfect, that’s so me, you really get it.’

She pecked his cheek and he kissed her shyly, wary of the collar spikes. She clasped his hand.

‘Come through and meet Lucas, my fiancé.’

Friday Flash Fiction – Summer of Eighteen

Summer of Eighteen

 It was the Summer of Eighteen, the summer we thought would never begin, then never end. Flowers bloomed in a blaze of late glory then withered under the relentless sun; first there was the hosepipe ban, then the pipe ban. The ferryman was out of business, people could walk across the river at low tide. Until they emptied the municipal pool, to send tankers to market gardeners, it had been a duck and swan rescue centre. Everyone became a fisherman till the last gasping fish was scooped off the river bed.

The heath fires never went out, they joined up. After the power cuts people gathered at the edge of the heath to bake the last of the vegetables in the embers, though there was no shortage of venison. When the wild fires started on the cliff top the promenade was put out of bounds. At high tide we made our way down the narrow river channel round to the cove where we trod on burning sand and pebbles.

The leaves dropped from the trees, but autumn never came.


As I surveyed the cracked river bed I noticed him, Ben the Boiler, Evan the Inventor, we’d called him at school. Nobody had wanted his inventions so he went to work for Plumbprompt Services. Now, nobody wanted heating and there was no water to fill the boilers. Benjamin Evans was rolling logs under a stranded boatwreck. He wiped sweat from his brow, more from habit than any chance of relief.

‘How’s the sailing going Ben?’

‘Laura? Green Laura Green from school?’


I picked my way across the baked ruts; a river bed does not look how one imagines.

‘Did you get your degree in environmental science Laura?’

‘Got a first,’ I retorted ‘work for the National River Authorities now.’

He laughed. ‘Made redundant then.’

‘Planning to sail across the world?’

‘Only to the Isle of Wight.’

‘Conditions are no better there, Tennyson’s rolling green downs are the colour of toast and Freshwater Bay has none.’

‘It will soon, I can turn sea water into fresh.’






Friday Flash Fiction – Roger

Roger had enjoyed his exhilarating swim in the sea, but a breeze had sprung up and the others wanted to stroll through the gardens into town. They dodged other holiday makers, jumped over the rails onto the lawns and joined in a ball game with a group of teenagers. When they reached the square, someone suggested ice cream, but there was so much going on it was difficult to spot a kiosk. They weaved their way through shoppers and families, past a carousel, avoided a man singing out of tune and stared at a human statue, his gold skin glistening with sweat. They took in the exotic scents of the international food stalls, but as the sun reappeared from behind a cloud they still longed for ice cream.


It was at this moment that Roger saw her, blond hair, perfect figure, alluring expression, but as he edged closer, away from the others, he detected a cheap scent and wondered if the sun had affected his brain. Unlike the human statue who was real, she was lifelike, but lifeless, just a model. Then Roger had an idea, it would be a laugh, the others would certainly laugh. He would pretend to believe she was real. Close up, her unblinking soulful brown eyes gazed at him; he paused for a moment then commenced the game. His lips touched her soft neck and for a moment he could believe she was real.


Everything seemed to happen at once; Lucy watched her boyfriend and brother approaching, laden with ice creams, her little sister waved from the carousel, she heard a man shouting, a child crying. It was at this moment she realised that if she wasn’t holding Roger’s lead, who was?


Geoffrey’s morning with the ‘Sponsor a Guide Dog’ stall had been more rewarding than anticipated. The cuddly life sized Labrador attracted more attention than a real dog. He had forgiven his mother for landing him with the task when he realised how many attractive young women, in skimpy holiday outfits, stopped to stroke ‘Cindy the Wonder Dog.’ It was while he was chatting to one of these young ladies that the commotion broke out; an enormous shaggy dog had seized the helpless Cindy by the throat and was shaking her with what could only be described as blood lust. Children were crying, stuffing was flying. This situation had not been covered by the guidelines for volunteers.


‘Roger, Roger, here boy… Daddy’s got you an ice cream…’

A young woman was shrieking at the dog, but he took no notice.

A curious crowd had circled round the now demolished stand, but parted like The Red Sea when the wild dog dashed for freedom, with the eviscerated, no longer cuddly Cindy in his jaws.

A young man made a grab for the trailing lead, but fell headlong in a splatter of ice cream. Suddenly the dog halted, dropped its prey, sniffed the air and returned, tail wagging, to lap up the ice cream.

Roger wagged his tail furiously, his friends had enjoyed the joke so much they had given him all their ice cream.



Friday Flash Fiction – Father’s Speech

 When Ken came to ask… no, tell me he and Julie were going to get married, I was surprised. They have been friends for a long time, but I didn’t know love was in the air. My wife did of course, being a woman; claimed to have seen it coming for a while. Either way, we knew our Julie would be marrying a wonderful man and there is no better base for a marriage than to be best friends as well. And they have been friends for a long time; I can remember Ken as a little nipper standing at the back door, asking if he could come round to play.

Julie was a bit of a tom boy when she was young; if they weren’t building something amazing with Lego, they were out there on their bikes or catching tadpoles. We never knew what she was going to come home with when she went out with Ken.

But Julie grew into a beautiful young woman who wanted Ken to take her to the pictures or the theatre. Now we all know that Ken was sadly widowed last year and Julie helped nurse Babs in the last months. She would not have wanted Ken to stay on his own and Julie was always there for him; the same as Ken was always there for Julie when she had all her troubles.

So we wish two wonderful people all happiness for the future; Julie my only daughter and Ken, my best friend since our days at Green Lane Infants School. He’s been a wonderful god father to Julie and I know he will be a marvellous husband.


Friday Flash Fiction – Dark Dialogue

The Lodger


Jamie Ferrous: Hi Mum, this is Vlad from work, I told him he could stay for a few weeks; you said you wanted a lodger.

Mother: Oh, er um, I didn’t mean straight away, I thought we would discuss it with your sisters first… we haven’t got that basement room ready yet, it’s a bit dark.

Jamie: Yeah but that’s the point innit, Vlad works nights, he needs somewhere quiet and dark to sleep during the day.

Vlad: It’s very kind of you Mrs. Ferrous, I won’t be any trouble, I don’t play loud music and I eat on my shift at the hospital.

Mother: Is that a Polish name, you sound English.

Vlad: Mum was East European.

Mother: Put the kettle on Jamie, let’s make Vlad feel at home.

Jamie: So he can stay then?

Mother: Let’s call it a trial for two weeks, after all, it may not suit him; have you told Vlad what the girls are like?

Jamie: That’s why it will be good to have another bloke around, I’m fed up with being outnumbered.

Mother: Are you on the same ward as Jamie?

Vlad: No I’m a porter, taking bodies to the mortuary and all that.

Mother: Goodness.

Vlad: Someone has to do it and it’s only till I’ve saved enough for uni.

Mother: What are you hoping to study?

Vlad: Medicine, so I’ll be working with live bodies eventually.

Jamie: Tea or coffee Vlad?

Vlad: I’m fine thanks, I’ve got a bottle of water with me.

Mother: Are you on a health kick?

Vlad: You could say that, if you saw some of the bodies we have to heave onto the trolleys you would understand why I like to keep myself trim.

Mother (admiringly): You certainly look very athletic, a bit pale though, but we all are still at this time of year.

Jamie: Except for Aunty Vivian and Uncle Ben.

Mother (enviously): They spent most of the winter cruising.

Vlad: I prefer misty mountains, I’m a winter person.

Mother: I bet you’re from Yorkshire, with that accent.

Vlad: Yes, East coast.

Mother: Oh we had a lovely holiday in Whitby years ago, do you remember Jamie?

Jamie: Yes, it rained.

Mother: We went to that nice fish and chip shop.

Vlad: What a coincidence, that’s my home town.

Jamie: Can we show Vlad the room now, we’ve got to get off to work soon.

Mother: Yes, of course… oh that’s lucky, sounds like the girls are home, they’ve been to the cinema.

Three teenage girls in unison: Ohh… er… hello… uhm…

Jamie: Vlad, these are my idiot baby sisters. Girls, this is our new lodger.

Girls: oooh…

Vlad: You didn’t tell me how beautiful they were, very very pleased to meet you all.