Thistles | Flash Fiction

Thistles in bloom

There’s nowt but thistles that live on the empty plot at the end of the street. It was home to a house once upon a time, but that place burned to the ground many moons ago. All that remains is a labyrinth of thistles, the only plants vicious and spiky and determined enough to sprout from the scorched ground.

Nobody knows who started the fire, but there’s always been murmurings and pointed fingers. Some say it was a cigarette, still smouldering, left carelessly on the arm of a chair. Others say it was a dodgy extension cable or a dodgy toaster or a dodgy electric heater. More still say it was something much more sinister.

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Feeding The Kids | Flash Fiction

Fox

It was that fox again—the one with the limp. It stared in through the patio doors, swaying a little from side to side as if on the verge of collapse, brown stains running from eyes to muzzle like tears. I wanted to let it into the warmth, or at the very east to throw it some scraps from the kitchen. But I couldn’t. That’s how they got you, if the news stories were to be believed. And I believed them.

I pictured the poor thing limping across field after field, squirming through hedgerow after hedgerow, desperately searching for food despite its twisted limb. It had left its babies back home in its den, small and pink and blind and growing skinnier by the hour, bleating forlornly for milk. Milk that would only flow if their mother could eat. And she hadn’t eaten for days. I could see it in her eyes while she stood there gazing at me through the patio doors, a silent communication from one mother to another.

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Maths | Flash Fiction

Multicoloured abacus

Little Timmy sat at the kitchen table with his head in his hands, his tears blotting the ink of the homework that tortured him.

“Oh ‘eck, lad,” said Grandpa. “Wotsmatter?”

“My homework,” whimpered Timmy. “I can’t do it. I need help with my 3 times tables.”

“Times tables, ey? Ba gum, that does sound ‘ard for a bairn like you. Only seven, aren’t you lad? I ‘ad trouble at school at your age an’ all. Tell ya what—you go up to bed and I’ll sort this out for you. Don’t tell t’teachers, mind. It’ll be done by morning and that’s a promise.”

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Bubblegum | Flash Fiction

Wall covered in colourful bubblegum

We always used to buy bubblegum from the ice cream man when he came around in summer. We weren’t interested in 99s and Mr Whippies and ice lollies – the sweets was where it was at, and bubblegum was the crème de la crème of ice cream man goodies.

There was this game we used to play where we’d all try and see how many pieces of gum we could chew at once. We’d hang about on the street corner chomping away like cows, chewing through the jaw ache until our mouths seized up and we had to admit defeat. I was the record-holder – twelve pieces of gum I did, once!

We all got a kick out of it – it was dangerous, according to our parents. Bubblegum’s a choking hazard, see, ‘specially when you’re shoving a handful of gumballs into your mouth at once. There was this rumour that went round about a kid that died from chewing on two many pieces of gum. This big, sticky mass of strawberry Hubba Bubba got stuck in his throat and none of his mates knew how to do the Heimlich manoeuvre and he turned all blue and his eyes bulged out and he pegged it.

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Hate Notes | Flash Fiction

Three yellow sticky notes and a blue marker - "Hate Notes" flash fiction

It’s a yellow sticky note today. Blue ink. Just the one line: “Your hair is shit and so are you.”

Bit lacklustre. Not witty, not clever, not even particularly brutal. Perhaps the culprit’s losing his knack. After all, this is sticky note number 398. They’re bound to run out of insults to throw at me eventually. They can’t all be fierce doozies like number 187 (“Mr. Blobby called. He wants his body back.”) or number 249 (“Do something for the greater good. Kill yourself.”). They’ll probably stop soon.

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Mannequin Chic | Flash Fiction

White mannequins - "Mannequin Chic" flash fiction

One pair of trousers, that’s all June required. She repeated it over and over in her mind as she hurried down the high street: “One pair of trousers, one pair of trousers, one pair of trousers”. The mantra fell in time with her footsteps – “one pair” with the left foot, “of trousers” with the right. It looped so quickly, so incessantly, that it became white noise and nonsense and she disremembered altogether why she’d ever walked into town. Trousers? Forget about it. Not with so many other beautiful garments on display to entice and torment her.

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Lodgers | Flash Fiction

Man in dark room looking out of window. "Lodgers" flash fiction

The front door slams, the house shivers and its inhabitants freeze.

“They’re back,” says Daughter, and her face quickly crumples as tears well.

“Don’t you dare cry,” hisses Mother. “They’ll hear us.”

The family falls silent and listens. A series of thuds and rattles comes from the floor below. Cupboard doors are opened and closed, opened and closed, over and over. Then there’s a short yell, a moment of quiet, and the soft wail of a miserable child.

Daughter whimpers. Mother glares at her.

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