Crowning Glory

One evening, the national animals of England, Scotland, and Wales met to settle a friendly argument: who, if it came to it, would overthrow all the others in a fight to the death?

England’s lion went first, flashing his claws, gnashing his teeth, and roaring as menacingly as he could. Wales’ scarlet dragon laughed quietly at his non-magical cousin’s display, orange flames escaping carelessly from his nostrils as he did so. Scotland’s white unicorn simply rolled her eyes and bowed to display her crowning glory: her twisted opal horn, sharp as a dagger and a hundred times as deadly.

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash

July 30, 2020, prompt for Carrot Ranch: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that uses the phrase “her crowning glory.” (Thanks to Anne Goodwin for the prompt idea.) It can be in the traditional sense of a woman’s hair or applied to any idea of a best attribute.

Epsilon #vss365

How fun language acquisition started out! One-syllable words of comfort: Mum, Dad, toy, car. Then, educational vocabulary (fun to say but hard to learn): onomatopoeia, Pythagoras, #epsilon. Later lexis is far less exciting: bills, debt, calories, anxiety. Make it stop! #vss365

Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash

Nectar #vss365

“Nectar of the gods,” he slurs. “Sweet and soothing and strong.” As he slurps, his own sweetness is extracted; he sways but isn’t soothed. Between snores and spews, he cannot locate his strength. “This #nectar acts a lot like poison” – a whisper, immediately dismissed. #vss365

Picture by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

Galaxy #vss365

It is strange to think that you were once skin and bones and laughter. Now, you are more stars and dust and dark matter: a faraway #galaxy that I can never hope to visit, at least not in this life. #vss365

Photo by Raphael Nogueira on Unsplash

My American Boyfriend Dehydrates the Damned Mangoes

Something about the succulence of mangoes – or perhaps their promise to be wholesome, healthy snacks – causes my partner discomfort.

My tastebuds secrete saliva as the fruits are scrupulously sliced. But, instead of tossing delicious morsels of mango onto his tongue and tasting Indian summers, he feeds them – juicy, plump, nutritious – into a sterile white contraption, to wither for eight hours in vigorous dryness, dying.

On removal, their backs are bent; they are drained, parched, shrivelled. 

Original flavours are now unsalvageable – but at least they are a familiar shape! A pale, curved ‘potato chip’: far more palatable to the American constitution.

(Written for the above image prompt and longlisted for Retreat West’s monthly microfiction competition in July 2020.)

Dinosaur #vss365

“They’ve completely misrepresented me!” fumed the #dinosaur.

“You should’ve left feathers behind as clues. These smooth-skinned beings that replaced us have no imagination.” 

“I was a bit busy running from the fireball to plant clues!” 

“Oh they’ll understand that soon.” #vss365

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Struck Dumb

“You won’t feel a thing,” the surgeon assured him. “You’ll simply fall asleep and we’ll slice you open, remove the tumour, and stitch you back up. By the time you wake, the worry will be over.”

They were right: he didn’t feel a thing. But he did wake – prematurely – to sounds of clicks, cuts, clamps. A high voice asking for suction; a deep voice groaning in disappointment; a younger voice, incredulous, asking how they could have missed it.

Completely paralysed, he couldn’t cry out, couldn’t ask what they had found. But slowly, steadily, a scream grew inside his heart.

July 16, 2020, prompt from Carrot Ranch: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that expresses the phrase, “scream inside your heart.”

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Poem #vss365

He tried to forget, but she was like a #poem written across his heart or within the very structure of his DNA. Her voice danced continuously through his mind in a familiar, rhythmic pattern, always returning to the same word: ‘forever’. #vss365

Photo by Ahmad Odeh on Unsplash

Featured on Flash Fiction Podcast

My very (very) short story, written in response to the #vss365 prompt ‘pachyderm’, was featured on Anchor’s Flash Fiction podcast yesterday! It was really nice to hear one of my pieces read aloud – especially by such a soothing voice! You can listen to it here.

Follow the Flash Fiction podcast on Twitter @flashfiction4

Curtain Call

Bobbi Bangs, they called me in school, on account of my fringe-covered forehead. In younger years, I used my thick curtain of hair as a mask, disguising tears, nerves, fears. In adolescence, my singed split ends became props for persuasive poses: cute, seductive, mysterious. I peered out from under my silky shield of strands and thought that hiding things was fun. Now, in adulthood, I have the same powerful curtain at my command, poised to unveil my more adult secrets: scars, wrinkles, regrets. But it’s late; the show is over. And there is no longer anyone in the audience.

(Written for the prompt ‘fringe’ and read as part of the online celebrations for Buxton Fringe.)

Picture by Pawel Szvmanski on Unsplash.

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