Fractured: A Flash Fiction Story

I’d like to thank Alison Ogilvie-Holme of Canada for her flash fiction submission “Fractured”, a poignant, sentimental story of love and loss.

Alison Ogilvie-Holme is a mother of identical twin daughters who are now six years old. She lives in Brockville, ON, Canada, and began writing and submitting stories over a year ago. Many of her stories involve different aspects of motherhood, particularly the challenging parts. She is drawn to exploring characters who are perfectly flawed (much like herself). Her words have appeared on such sites as Down in the Dirt, Ink Pantry,  and Fat Cat Magazine, among others. When not writing or playing referee to her daughters, Alison enjoys taking long naps.

“Often, it seems that society has a cookie-cutter image of a what a ‘good’ Mum should look like, act like, and think like. In admitting our flaws and uncertainties to one another, I believe that the act of mothering becomes more authentic. We are all individuals, and therefore, mother our children differently, to the very best of our abilities.” ~ Alison

This story was previously published in the Fairy Tale Issue of The Writers’ Cafe.

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Fractured

“And they lived happily ever after. The end.”

Annabeth shuts the book and leans over Iris, placing a kiss on top of her damp forehead. She is running a fever and will surely wake up overnight when the medication wears off. It pricks Annabeth’s conscience to know that Iris will cry out for “Daddy” until she remembers that he no longer lives here. Norah, on the other hand, has always been partial to her mother.

But lately her daughter is holding a grudge. She kisses Norah’s cheek and notes with frustration that she too is becoming hot to the touch. Another day off work is not an option. Should she call Jack? He would drop everything and come home in a heartbeat.

After turning off the light, she sits down in the rocking chair. She is bone tired. Rain pelts the window and she listens to the rhythm of water tap-dancing on glass; fluid but fierce. Slowly, Annabeth feels herself drifting away from reality. Deep within the recesses of memory, a narrative takes shape.

Once upon a time there was a little girl with corkscrew curls and a smile as bright as the star atop a Christmas tree. Her parents called her names like Princess, Angel, and Baby Doll. More than anything in the world, the little girl loved to sit on her father’s lap and play the piano while they sang together in harmony.

Time passed and the little girl was replaced by a burgeoning young woman. The parents noticed that she seldom played the piano or sang anymore. Her bright smile had started to dim, like a dark day in the month of January.

”What has changed, princess, to make you so sad?!” the father asked.

“Everything!’ she replied ‘You lied to me. I am not beautiful or talented or special. I am nothing!”

“I wish you could see what I see.” her mother whispered.



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Eventually, the young woman found her way back to the piano. She pounded her truth into the ivory keys as her voice exploded with raw, unfiltered emotion which could not be contained in a pretty little music box. Word of her abilities spread throughout the land, and soon, people gathered from far and wide to watch her perform.

At a recital one evening, she spotted a young gentleman sitting in the back row. Throughout the performance, her eyes kept searching for him as if pulled by an invisible compass. Disappointment gripped her when she looked up to discover the empty chair. After her closing number, she darted to the dressing room at once and there he was, waiting.

“Hello…My name is Jack. I think you have an amazing gift.”

He was beautiful, she realized up close, far more beautiful than she would ever be. In that moment, she understood with absolute certainty that she would follow him anywhere. They soon became inseparable and wed within the year. When the young woman learned of her pregnancy, she was overcome with sudden emotion.

“Whatever is wrong?” asked Jack, taking her hand.

“What if the baby comes between us?” she sobbed.

“Nonsense! This baby will bring us even closer together. Trust me.”

The birth of Norah was just as Jack had predicted. She was a delightful baby; full of smiles and giggles and playful mischief. Norah had inherited her father’s gentle disposition, making her a very easy child to love.

In a couple of years, the young woman learned that she was expecting again. As if on cue, she began to cry and reached for Jack’s hand.

“What is it, darling?”

“What if I cannot love this baby as much as Norah?” she sobbed.

“Nonsense! You will love them both, differently but equally. I promise.”

Nine months later, Iris charged into their lives. She filled every inch of space with limitless curiosity and determination, forever reaching out to touch the world and squeeze it in her pudgy, little hand. They instantly fell in love with her.

By the time the young woman learned of her third pregnancy, a newfound calm had settled in. For she now understood that a new baby is always a new beginning, a chance to love again.

On the day that Elliot was born, the nurses placed him in his mother’s arms to let her cradle him once before saying goodbye. Annabeth wanted to cry, to scream at the top of her lungs and breathe life back into her beautiful baby boy. But somehow, she had lost her voice and all her tears had dried up. Not even Jack could save her now.

Annabeth awakens and slips out of the room, making her way into her own bed. Somehow, the girls have managed to sleep for hours without interruption. Perhaps a night’s rest will help to fight off infection, eliminating any need to phone Jack. Relief is tempered with mild regret. How she would love an excuse to hear his voice right about now. Instead, her mind returns to Elliot in short order.

Although her son is never far from thought, something feels different tonight. The memory seems sharper, more focused, as though she held him only moments before. Grief washes over her afresh. Tears that have lain dormant for the past year come rushing to the surface at alarming speed. She surrenders to an emotional tsunami, her body wracked with waves of bittersweet sorrow.

At last, she is able to cry for Elliot and the life he never lived, for her daughters who prayed for a baby brother and then stopped praying altogether, for Jack, the eternal optimist turned cautious realist. And finally, Annabeth weeps for herself – a mother learning to navigate the lonely culture of loss.

    



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Thank you for reading this blog. You can read more stories HERE and if you’d like to submit a story for consideration to be published, please visit our submissions page.

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What The Looking Glass Reflects: A Flash Fiction Story

I’d like to thank Leah Holbrook Sackett for her flash fiction submission “What The Looking Glass Reflects”, a melodramatic tale with an intriguing atmosphere. Reflective and relatable, yet fantastical and surreptitious.

Leah is an adjunct lecturer in the English department at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.  This is also where she earned her M.F.A. Her short stories explore journeys toward autonomy and the boundaries placed on the individual by society, family, and self. Leah’s debut book of short stories “Swimming Middle River” was recently released by REaDLips Press.

Learn about Leah’s published fiction at LeahHolbrookSackett.website

Follow her on Twitter: @LeahSackett

Facebook: @alicewonderland.leah  

Instagram: @alicewonderland.leah

LinkedIn: @LeahSackett


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Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction by Nancy Stohlman

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What The Looking Glass Reflects

Carol liked to stand in corners when she was anxious. It calmed her down to tighten her focus on a dried drip of paint, the seam in wallpaper, or a crack in the wall of the visiting Professor’s house. Her husband was a professor of History at Sweetgum University. The booming emptiness of the house, like a quarry, played on Carol’s nerves. It reminded her of the children she could not have to fill the large house. Her body was not agreeable to the arrangement of keeping a tenant for more than 3 months. This, too, made her anxious. If she were to dwell on the idea of a baby too long, it required a Xanax and a corner to calm her down.

Staring into the back of William’s head while watching a loud Sunday football game was also a trigger. Around 4:30 in the afternoon, each day, that was a trigger. The upside was she had tried many corners in the house and had a rating system based on her sense of urgency. The corner in the small dark dining room with light filtering through the blinds was one of her favorites. She liked this one because she could look askance out the window as if cheating at some game. She also liked the lovely wisteria color paint that deepened and lightened based on the time of day. The corners became her friends, and she talked to them. Softly, of course, lest Will catches her again.

The first time Will caught Carol standing in a corner was in the bedroom with the blue scrollwork wallpaper. It was just outdated long enough to be trendy with that shabby chic look. She liked to trace the scrollwork with her fingertips. Caught-up in a particular favorite curly-que, she did not hear Will coming. Carol stopped her whispering and froze. She could feel Will staring at her back. With a great effort that made her eyes sting, she turned to him and said, “It is just the most lovely design.” Will agreed and ushered her from the room. The next morning the corner was filled with a large, gilded full-length mirror made from Sweetgum. She must have spent one too many times in the corner. She wondered how Will got it into the room while she slept, her head hammered from that one glass of wine. The mirror was enormous with a giltwood frame from floor to ceiling. It was carved with five-point star leaves. Her anger with Will for filling her corner was ebbing.

Perhaps a mirror makes a better coping mechanism. This mirror may be just the therapy Carol needed. Sure, it was just another crutch, but you need a crutch sometimes. She climbed out of bed and followed the details of the carvings. She smiled, a little smile though it was, at herself with the glow of her face in the flattering daylight. With the heat of the day on her face, Carol climbed back into bed and was soon napping. She woke from lilting, little giggles. Of course, no one was there, but a single gold stud earring and her wooden knitting needles were resting on the bedclothes. It was as if someone had gone about snatching her things just to return them as gifts.

As late afternoon set in, Carol sat in bed with a book and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream. She must have dozed off because she woke with her hand in a puddle of melted ice cream and the pint on the floor. It was growing dark. Moonlight was on the heels of the fading day. It filtered through the window, creating little dancing lights upon the looking glass. It was almost as if there was movement inside. Quietly, she tiptoed to the mirror. It was swimming like water, and a small chubby face and arm reached out of the glass beckoning Carol to enter. Carol froze in awe at the visage of a cherub, a baby in the looking-glass. Inviting her into an orchard of Sweetgums. Abruptly, she heard Will enter with the dull thud of the front door. When Carol turned back to the mirror, it was solid. “NO,” she cried and slammed the palm of her hand against the mirror. There was a heart-breaking crack that ran through the mirror and disappeared in ripples of reflection. With bloody palm and bare feet, Carol entered the looking glass. Will ran up the stairs to his wife’s cry of “NO.” The room was empty. No one was home.

    


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Thank you for reading this blog. You can read more stories HERE and if you’d like to submit a story for consideration to be published, please visit our submissions page.

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With this ebook you will learn to approach your days in another way, reducing stress and getting results through prioritizing, leveraging and focus!

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Betsy’s Bungalow Bazaar: A Micro Story.

I’d like to thank Alex Grey of the UK for her second submission “Betsy’s Bungalow Bazaar”, a charming, nostalgic micro story .

After a lifetime of writing technical non-fiction, Alex Grey is fulfilling her dream of writing poems and stories that engage the reader’s emotions. Her poems and short stories have been published by a number of ezines including Siren’s Call, Raconteur, Toasted Cheese and Little Old Lady Comedy. One of her comic poems is also available via a worldwide network of public fiction dispensers managed by publisher Short Edition. Alex’s ingredients for contentment are narrowboating, greyhounds, singing and chocolate – it’s a sweet life.

You can read more of Alex’s stories on her blog HERE or read her first story submission to MLS “Knitting for Leo”.

This page contains affiliate links which may earn me a small commission (at no extra charge to you) should you click through and make a purchase. Affiliate links are how I keep this blog running, thank you.


Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction (Buy it Now)

Betsy’s Bungalow Bazaar

The air was thick with dust as Betsy’s neighbours rummaged through the clutter in the fusty bungalow. They ignored the dreary sandwiches and orange squash on the kitchen table.  

Donna sat in her late mother’s armchair.

Betsy had taken in the town’s cast-offs for decades, tutting at the excessive amount of stuff that people wasted. People flocked to leave things with her. Betty diligently sorted it – clothes, china, cutlery, books…some items were donated to charity; others recycled, but far too many stayed.

“It all got a bit much for her.” said Great-auntie Grace.

Donna nodded again; Grace’s mastery of understatement was astounding.

Every surface was covered with piles of bric-a-brac – a thousand thoughtless gifts dumped on Betsy’s doorstep – cross-eyed love bears, silvered plates etched with sentimental clichés, celebrity memoirs, unread and useless. Each item became a treasure in Betsy’s bazaar, acquiring a mythical value as she evaluated which causes might deserve a donation from her hoard.

Betsy had resisted her daughter’s efforts to clear the house; the forced disposal of even the tiniest gewgaw caused her immense distress. Donna gave up, helpless to save her mother from succumbing to the disordered squalor.

Donna found it hard to accept the shambles that her mother had lived in, recalling how hard Betsy had worked to clear her mum’s house. Nana Edith had memorably hoarded bags of sugar, bars of Sunlight soap and ten thousand pounds, the old bank notes curled into chipped teapots on the dresser. Donna was terrified that she would inherit the hoarding gene and ruin her own uncluttered home.

The day after her mum died, Donna decided to break with tradition. Instead of hiring the village hall, she would hold her mother’s wake in the littered bungalow. She posted invitations in the town’s shop windows – “To celebrate Betty’s life, a wake for all the neighbours who sustained her. Please take a trinket to remember her by.”

Hundreds had come, some greedy, offering desultory condolences while eyeing up the goods; others grieved and shared stories about the knick-knacks that they had chosen. Donna spoke of the amber-stoppered hatpin that she had chosen as her solitary memento. She recounted how, every December, she and her mother would sit by a roaring fire, savouring an exotic treat – a pomegranate. They had taken turns to pick out the seeds using the hatpin – the light of the flames making the translucent seeds glow like rubies.

Donna looked up – a scuffle had broken out. Great-auntie Grace emerged triumphant with a dented biscuit tin in her hands.

“Here, this is yours.”

Donna opened the tin to reveal hundreds of buttons; on the top was a gold silk button that she recognised from her own wedding dress.

“Why?”

“This was her memory box.” said Grace, “Your great-grandmother kept a button from every fancy bit of clothing the family ever wore, from christening gowns to army uniforms to funeral suits. Your grandma and your mum did the same. This is your legacy.”

Donna ran her fingers through the buttons; they were warm and comforting. The pearl, nacre, and plastic caught the light like jewels. She imagined the rusty tin in her ultra-modern house – there might be a good spot for it…


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Accomplish more IN a fraction of the time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave many of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness — too much to do and not enough time.

With this ebook you will learn to approach your days in another way, reducing stress and getting results through prioritizing, leveraging and focus!

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The Beauty of Hands: A Micro Story

 I’d like to thank Jennifer Blanke of the US for her micro story submission ‘The Beauty of Hands’. A touching true story about the symbiotic relationship between hands and the life we lead.

Jennifer Blanke has a BS in Elementary Education and is a mother, teacher, and writer in St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently working on her Master of Fine Arts in Writing degree at Lindenwood University and is an editorial assistant for The Lindenwood Review.

This will be her first published piece, so it’s an honour to have it on my little blog!

This page contains affiliate links which may earn me a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase. Affiliate links are how I keep this blog running, thank you!


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The Beauty of Hands

           My dying grandmother’s delicate hands lay in mine, her fingers curled in the fetal position, like a chipmunk nestled snugly, taking cover from the frigid night.

            I’ve never liked my hands. They’re not elegant, or feminine, or what any girl would wish her hands to be. Palming a basketball wasn’t that amazing when it didn’t transfer to the agile footwork needed to keep me off the bench. I’ve squeezed my big-boned hand through a bracelet, only to panic when I couldn’t remove it. As I comforted my grandmother in her final hours, I glanced down at my large, clunky, masculine hands holding her dainty ones. Visible veins tiring of pumping blood showed through her gossamer skin. My eyes traced the vessels that had carried ninety-six years of life and I was transported to the davenport in the front room of the two-story on Locust Avenue.

            We sat side-by-side at the metal tray tables eating snacks from little bowls, each with a deck of cards in hand, playing solitaire. We worked crosswords and word searches for hours while watching a marathon of game shows. Puzzles were next and I smiled as her hand passed me the final piece to complete the beautiful countryside landscape. Her hands gave.

            Descending the cellar stairs together to get cans from storage, she’d walk ahead of me, her hand smothering mine to the railing, while saying, Now, Jenny, hold on. As if I could let go under her grip. She’d reach for the dusty pull string of the single bulb and leave a gray streak as her fingers gently brushed her black trousers. As the light cast a ghostly glow on the dirt floor, I’d run up the stairs, leaving her to defend herself against the shadow monsters. Her hands protected.

            When Morris the cat appeared on her back porch, she filled the Cool Whip container with water and the Country Crock with kibble every morning and night. When he brought friends, her hands coaxed them closer with food in one palm and stroked soft fur with the other. She made a blanket bed for Morris and the females. I think she was hoping for a litter so she would always have a feline friend. Her hands cared.

            When her epileptic son passed away long before his time and hers, the hands that spent a lifetime preparing food, folding clothes, cleaning house, and providing companionship, knew not what to do. Every moment of every day was spent taking care of his needs. Her family was her life and she would have to find something to fill her days. Her hands loved.

            When Alzheimer’s consumed my granddad’s body and she could no longer take care of him, her hands signed the forms admitting him into the assisted care facility. She visited daily, bringing him the paper and his favorite candy. She remained by his side until he passed even after he forgot the voices of his children, the faces of his grandkids, and her name. Her hands grieved.

            The static hum of the fluorescent lights and the scent of antiseptic and death assailed my senses pulling me away from the flow of memories. The wrinkled hands that I held mirrored an entire lifetime. Her gracious hands saw the best and the worst and they were ready to finally rest.     I blinked away the stream of tears and saw my hands reflected in hers. They looked so lovely in her light. My gentle hands stroked my tiny newborn’s brow as she nursed. They carried my strong-willed toddler to the time-out chair. My hands stirred cumin into my family’s favorite chili. They held my love’s hands, tucked safely in his strength. I saw my own devoted hands paying the bills, handing over the car keys, comforting my disappointed daughter, and welcoming my oldest home after a difficult first year of college.

            Giving, protecting, caring, loving, grieving. It was then that I saw: my hands were just like hers.



Thanks

Thank you for reading this blog, if you’d like to submit a story for consideration to be published, please visit our submissions page.

If you’d like to keep up to date with all the latest stories, news, promos (including writing competitions and giveaways) plus receive a FREE Ebook, sign up to our mailing list here or fill in the form below.


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Accomplish more IN a fraction of the time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave many of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness — too much to do and not enough time.

With this ebook you will learn to approach your days in another way, reducing stress and getting results through prioritizing, leveraging and focus!

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Written In Gold – A Micro Story

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We’d like to thank Susi J Smith of Scotland for her micro story ‘Written in Gold’, based on true events. A relatable tale about the value of motherhood.

Susi J Smith is a frustrated writer, and mother of one. She lives in Scotland and longs for a writing room of her own. Susi has previously been published in 101Words.org, Zeroflash, and McStorrytellers. For more information, check out her website:https://mairi187.wixsite.com/susi-j-smith or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SusiJSmith/

Susi is also a member of a local writing group; West Lothian Writers.

If you’d like to submit a story to be considered for publishing, please visit our submissions page.

This page contains affiliate links which may earn me a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase. Affiliate links are how I keep this blog running, thanks. 

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Brevity – A Flash Fiction Handbook by David Galef


WRITTEN IN GOLD

A blank page sits ready and waiting on my laptop while I run back and forth from the kitchen, answering your demands for ‘Peter butter’, ‘Poco cops’, and ‘I-beana’; anything for five minutes peace. But no. The cereal makes you thirsty, your drink stains the rug, and don’t even ask me where you’ve managed to hide the peanut butter. Thank goodness your father isn’t allergic to nuts. Oh wait, he is!

I can dust, do the washing, load the dishwasher, weed the garden, but I can’t sit. I’m not allowed to sit. As soon as my bum hits that couch you snatch my pen and run away laughing. You scribble over my pristine, cherished, and favourite notebooks. You need your ‘packpack’ put on your ‘backback’ then and there because you’re going to the shops for more ‘weeties’.

You absorb my time and creativity and demand it as your own. I take you to soft play; help you find friends, but you’re back every two minutes asking why I’m not ankle-deep in the ball pit like that other mum. Does she have a book to write? Or deadlines that pass without a word hitting the page?

On the calendar, I mark off the days until you start school, the days until I can become more than just ‘Mummy’, ‘the wife of that guy whose clothes are never ironed’, and ‘that part-time employee with the uncombed hair’.

Then, out of nowhere, you give me a card. Handmade. Your name scribbled inside in yellow felt tip. It’s got two extra ‘a’s and a ‘2’ I don’t remember giving it, but it’s there, clear to a mother’s eye. The first proper word you’ve written. And I realize, it’s better than anything I will ever write. The best thing I could ever create sits staring at me from the rug, your eyes the colour of mine, your energy boundless, and all you want is my time, my love, and my whole being.

It’s worth every second I have just to see you grow.





 

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Get your FREE Ebook

Accomplish more IN a fraction of the time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave many of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness — too much to do and not enough time.

With this ebook you will learn to approach your days in another way, reducing stress and getting results through prioritizing, leveraging and focus!

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