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Flash Fiction – An Exercise in Restraint

Writers Victoria have been running a 30 word flash fiction challenge across April #WVFlashFic  on twitter. It was a wonderful 30 days of creating and reading words, inspired by the daily prompt. I have met lots of lovely people through the challenge.

This kind of writing helps you to form stories with clarity. It pushes you to take away words that detract from the guts of the story, strip it down and make it sing. My favourite writing as a child and young adult was always poetry. When I write anything, poetry always seems to sneak in there, which is tricky with middle-grade stories, because you want more action. I have had to write in different ways for different audiences, but the poetry always sits just behind my eyes. Such a 30 word fiction challenge allows this to emerge.

In order not to lose all of those little stories (many of which have started bigger story ideas ticking, or added layers for current stories), I am sharing them here. I think I missed a couple and a couple seem to have dropped off twitter sadly, but these are all of the ones I can find. If you also joined, I would love to read yours so please comment or link to your own and if you didn’t join, do keep your eye on the writing community on twitter for more opportunities. Writers SA also run a monthly 500 word furious fiction challenge which is fabulous – head here.

April 2 – Irritation

If insects will rule the world

I believe it shall be Crickets.

Their incessant calls for love

beat a continuous rythym in the night,

killing me softly,

with their song.

April 3 – Diving

I am completely submerged,

no more air,

weightlessness.

Hearing only the sounds

inside my head.

Shifting light through foggy glasses.

The endlessness of the ocean,

changing currents.

Growing older.

Life.

April 4 – Freshwater

They gave you to me,

skin on skin.

I gazed into your newborn blue eyes,

pools of freshwater,

reflecting mine.

Rain to earth,

earth to rain.

Lifecycles siphoned by trees.

April 5 – Rare

Politicians who give a damn about EVERYONE?

Considered decision-making?

Policy without personal gain?

Genuine words

uttered with the warmth of an embrace?

As rare as Gorillas

languishing atop their mountain.

April 6 – Freedom

Mirrors no longer held the same power

as in her youth.

Pieces of her lay beneath tall trees,

swam through oceans,

climbed atop mountains,

held babies she had grown.

Freedom.

April 7 – Saltwater

We stand together,

knee deep.

Tiny fish

brush past my leg.

Dad tosses her to the wind,

back to the cradle of the sea.

She is saltwater,

like my tears.

April 8 – Baroque

She knew it was overblown,

‘flashy’ her mother would say.

Fancy, showy, ostentatious, grotesque.

Still, there was one more bit

that required some drama.

She teetered on the ladder.

April 9 – Imitation

Her faded scent

filled the pink sequinned scarf.

It brought me her smile,

her voice.

She rang in my head,

like bells

long after they stop chiming.

April 12 – Wild

She craves the trees,

filling her lungs.

The sea,

washing her skin.

Birds,

serenading her ears.

Petrichor,

in her nostrils.

Falling through the years

like leaves dancing.

Wild Heart.

April 13 – Layers

Slivers

Pieces

Fragments

Peeling,

unfurling.

I am shell

I am water

I am wood

I am sand

I am skin and bone and breath

Layers of life,

scattered through days.

April 14 – Luminous

Her glossy exterior

hid dark despair.

Luminous skin.

Shiny words.

Forced smiles.

How things should be.

How SHE should be.

Inside,

the dull ache of indifference for the world

reverberated.

April 15 – Tears

Water, Mucin, Lipids.

Lactoferrin, Lipocalin, Potassium.

Glucose, Urea, Sodium.

The hilarity of a joke.

The inconsolable gulping

ache for loved ones lost.

Rolling

Falling

Slipping

Dripping

The Complexity of Tears.

April 16 – Blunder

Past midnight, again.

His silence,

as deafening as the planes

soaring above her.

It couldn’t be that hard

to loosen wheel-nuts?

That long drive down the hill should do it.

April 17 – Tenacity

She held her ground,

roots clutched deep beneath the earth.

Great limbs stretched out

towards the darkening skies,

filled with charred embers.

Around her,

others crashed to the forest floor.

April 18 – Despair

Rivers falling

from her eyes.

Stones crushing her heart.

Stars dropping

from the sky.

She stands,

her arms not wide enough

to hold it together.

Alone in a dying world.

April 20 – Lustre

There was no glory.

Nobody played her song.

No white light.

Just the dull glow of her life,

sifting through filing cabinets

of memories.

Clutching snippets

as they flickered past.

April 21 – Beginning

Waiting,

Incubating,

Sweet green shoots,

tentatively push through.

Growing,

Reaching full glorious maturity,

dancing in the sunshine.

Seen.

Treasured.

Shriveling, shrinking.

Now unnoticed.

Falling back to earth.

Dust to dust.

April 22 – Inventive

Sarah remembered her mother saying,

“Back in my day.”

She smiled

as she cooked dinner

with yesterday’s leftovers,

carried bags,

refused plastic,

grew vegetables,

saved water.

And the world turned.

April 23 – Celebrate

Despite the pain,

she noticed her husband’s hand brush hers.

She lingered a moment longer

when she kissed her children.

Looked up at the sky.

Soaking joy into her bones.

April 24 – Transform

They met in secret,

fervently discussing their plans.

Outside,

the world burned.

Arms linked,

voices hushed,

they stepped into the future,

willing things to be different,

with every silent footfall.

April 25 – Remember

He woke in sweat each night,

horror dripping from his armpits.

He tried desperately

to erase the memories.

His eyes etched with the pain,

his heart,

broken into tiny fragments.

April 26 – Iridescent

The situation

was terrible,

gut-wrenching.

But then,

the little boy child she had grown,

pushed his soft face against hers,

and shimmering layers of the world

danced in the light.

April 27 – Nacreous

The creature’s golden scales

created a nacreous glow

against inky skies.

Calla climbed aboard,

her arms grasping it’s neck.

Then, she curled up like a pearl,

safe within it’s shell.

April 28 – Treasure

As parents,

our walks became quests,

swords raised

as we trudged through suburban streets.

Our son’s pockets filled with gathered stones.

Our luminous hearts

filled with these extraordinary moments.

April 29 – Perfectionism

I reflected on days

when I held babies at my breasts,

now falling across my belly.

The sunshine hit my skin,

highlighting its layers.

My armour.

My vessel.

My home.

April 30 – Pearl

We stood together smoking,

beside the broken car.

Grandma gripped my hands,

head bleeding,

surprisingly large knuckles

enclosing mine,

“Just tell ’em I was driving,” she said,

filled with wisdom.

**All copyright Helen Edwards

2 Comments

  1. Yvonne Sanders on May 1, 2019 at 8:19 am

    Great article covering this fabulous and fun 30 word story challenge, Helen. Thanks for sharing your poetry here… love it. I may even reinvigorate my own blog by posting my entries there. They can also be reached at Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Yvonne_Sanders_

    • Helen Edwards on May 3, 2019 at 10:01 am

      thank you so much for taking time to read and comment! It is a great way to connect with other writers

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