Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction Challenge Transient: An Old Lady and her Suitcase

This post was written in response to Chari Mills’ Flash Fiction Challenge.

August 10, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about something or someone who is transient. It can be a fleeting moment, a rogue vagabond, or ephemeral like trending hashtags. What is passing by and how can you capture the passing in a flash?

Respond by August 17, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

august-10 Carrot Ranch

Transient: An Old Lady and her Suitcase

I watched her sipping the takeaway coffee she paid with the coins she’d collected earlier that morning. A suitcase by her side carried all her belongings.

She wheeled them up and down the seafront promenade, alongside the tourists, until lunchtime, when someone bought her a sandwich and a bottle of water.

They told me she slept on a different bench each summer night, and a different doorway each winter evening.

Some say she’s looking for her dead daughter, others say she’s run out of money, or lost her mind.

Maybe they’re all wrong and she only wants to be free.  



I read  Doris Lessing’s novels and short stories many years ago. Two short stories have remained in my thoughts long after, and one of them is, An Old Woman and her Cat, many years ago, but it’s one of the short stories which has remained with me.

Her short stories are as most of her work, challenging, thought-provoking and perceptive. She places her characters, often marginal or unconventional people, in testing situations. They deal with loss and isolations, often coupled with mental illness.

Doris and a cat

An Old Woman and her Cat describes the stubborn resistance of an ageing free-spirited vagrant, who refuses to adhere to social conventions, as she descends from a life of capable street-trading and marginal social acceptability into the homelessness of an outcast.

It’s about the loss, isolation and mental breakdown of an old woman, with gipsy blood, who breaks away from society’s stifling conventions when her husband dies, and her children leave home. She embraces a marginal, unconventional existence, accompanied by her faithful cat.

An Old woman and her cat


I’m on holiday in a beach town in Malaga, Spain, right now, and there’s a lady like the one in my story. Nobody knows why she lives like this, where she’s from, or where she’s going. Everyone has opinions and theories about an estranged family, poverty or mental illness.

I was thinking about this weeks’ prompt, and I immediately remembered An Old Lady And Her Cat and the mysterious, homeless tourist I see most days with her suitcase, and I came up with this flash.

Why do we always want to find a reason for everything, so we can define everyone and put them into neat compartments. Suppose she has no reason. Suppose she just wants to be free from society’s conventions, like Doris Lessing’s heroine?




Published by LucciaGray

Writer, blogger, teacher, reader and lover of words wherever they are. Author of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, the breathtaking sequel to Jane Eyre. Luccia lives in sunny Spain, but her heart's in Victorian London.

11 thoughts on “Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction Challenge Transient: An Old Lady and her Suitcase

  1. You look free-spirited in your photo etching! Good point, about why wanting to place reasons upon people or stick them in tidy compartments. Freedom comes from accepting and not expecting, I think. It takes courage to have the freedom your tourist town’s enigma. Thank you for introducing me to an author I’m unfamiliar with.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you.💗 It’s hard to be free with so many constraints in life, but I’m trying😂 Doris Lessing was one of my favourites a long time ago. She has fabulous short stories. My favourite novel is The Grass is Singing, a fabulous debut novel set in South Africa, and The Good Terrorist, a somewhat bitter look at 20th cent. London.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I really enjoyed your flash, Luccia. Interesting that it is set in Spain. I recently visited Santa Monica in the US and I pictured some of the homeless I saw there, thinking that’s where the story was set. Sadly, I guess it could apply to many locations. Unless as you say, she just wants to be free! I hope so. It would be interesting to talk with her and find out her story, not out of sticky-beaking, but out of compassion.
    An Old Woman and Her Cat sounds interesting. I haven’t read any of Doris Messing’s work. Thanks for introducing me to her.
    I love what you have done with your photo!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks.💖 She doesn’t seem like she wants conversation. I’ll let you know if I approach her.
      Well I’m on holiday, and although I’m busy with my children and grandchildren (my daughter’s just had my fourth grandchild), I have some free time to take photos and play around with them a little. I’m also writing some notes for my next novel. My mind’s never on holiday, fortunately!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sounds like you’re having a wonderful time. Congratulations on the birth of your fourth grandchild. I hope the birth went “smoothly” and that everyone is doing well. How exciting! Sometimes the best ideas come with a change of scenery and “holiday”. It’s impossible to turn a writer’s mind off. Thankfully! Enjoy! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Your flash makes me think of a time when “tramps” were more romantic figures, seen as free spirits. I wonder if we’ve become more conservative in our attitudes or that people like the woman in your story are genuinely more disturbed. There are always risks of projecting our own attitudes onto others, but must be bit scary/dangerous sleeping outdoors.
    Hope you’re enjoying your holiday and it’s not too hot down the coast. And love that sketch of you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. OH, I love that flash piece, Luccia. ❤

    Thank you for introducing me to Doris Lessing. Her work, the way you describe it, sounds like something I'd love. I often write with those same themes. Off to look her up.

    Liked by 1 person

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