Category Archives: Flash Friday Challenge
Here’s my Friday Flash Fiction Entry for this week.
This is this week’s picture prompt:
The required story element the conflict between man (not gender-specific) and self.
what struck me about this picture were two things: the empty chair and the hats! How varied and amazing they are. I would have liked to write a story about those hats, but unfortunately my knowledge of millinery etiquette in US at the time is non-existent, so I didn’t dare venture into that territory.
On the other hand, I stared at that chair and wondered what the women were looking at, the camera? the accused? the victim?
Well,I decided they were looking at the photographer, and the following dialogue ensued in my mind…
The Empty Chair
“Smile ladies. This photograph will make history. The first woman jury. You are indeed privileged.”
“Please wait. I’m afraid you can’t take the photograph yet, sir.”
“Someone is missing,” said the woman next to the empty chair.
“Who’s counting? Smile, I haven’t got all day!”
“We have to wait for Hazel. There has to be twelve in the picture,” she insisted.
“Where did she go?”
“Her husband needed his lunch.”
“She had to prepare lunch for her family.”
“Her duty is to the community. She has been appointed to be on the jury.”
“I’m afraid her husband only understands it’s his lunchtime.”
“Does he realise she could have serious problems for not fulfilling her municipal duties?”
“She’ll be back soon, I’m sure,” the woman implored.
“Your honor,” started the photographer. “I suggest calling the police to bring her back.”
“If her husband’s lunch isn’t on the table, she’ll have more serious problems than a visit from the police,” explained the woman.
The gavel hit the sounding block as the judge glared at the photographer, “We will adjourn until four o’clock. You can take your photograph then. Tending to her husband is far more important than a simple speeding motorcyclist. Don’t you agree, Young man?”
I wonder how the men of the time accepted women on the jury? And even what women themselves thought about it?
Fortunately we’ve come a long way since then, and I can imagine the emotional struggle each woman fought to reconcile the advances in civil rights for women and their traditional obligations to their families.
According to the Library of Congress the photograph shows: the first all-woman jury in California who acquitted the editor of the Watts News of printing indecent language, on Nov. 2, 1911. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2009 and Los Angeles Times, Nov. 3, 1911)
If you’d like to know more about this weekly contest or check out some of the other stories follow this link.
International Women’s Day, 8th March, 2015.
Dedicated to al the women who are forced to endanger their lives every day.
Jed nodded from across the street, so I jumped into the sports car with the stranger.
“What’s your objective tonight?” He asked me eyes locked on the windscreen.
I looked at my watch and sighed, “To get through the night. You in a hurry?”
“Yes,” he replied.
I took a swig of the flask he drew out of his inside blazer pocket.
“Call me Frank,” he added.
“Pity,” I moaned. I’d have to come back for another customer, and Frank looked clean and rich in his smart suit.
Minutes later, ‘baby take off your dress, yes, yes, yes,’ rang loudly in our ears, and whiskey flowed warmly through our veins.
“Lay back and put your head on the table.”
My legs dangled uncomfortably.
“Wear this eye mask.” He noticed my hesitation and added, “Trust me.”
Damn! It was going to be one of those nights.
“Jed’ll kill you if you scar me!” I warned pulling at the handcuffs and wriggling my roped feet.
A hard fist squashed my face down against the laminated surface.
“He’ll have to find you first,” Frank whispered as he lowered the axe he had whetted hours earlier. “All of you,” he smirked. “Every little bit of you.”
This is a piece of short fiction I wrote last Friday, 6th March, as a response to the Flash! Friday Fiction Challenge.
However, as all fiction, it also contains truth. According to Women’sLaw.org, Women in prostitution have a death rate that is 40 times higher than women who are not involved in prostitution.
Also, sixty-eight percent of prostituted women meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the same range as combat veterans and victims of torture.
According to Wikipedia, In 2004 the homicide rate for female sex workers in the United States was estimated to be 204 per 100,000.
These are facts and figures, but behind the numbers, there are plenty of women who are living very dangerous and horrific lives.
Last Friday, as part of International Women’s Day activities at the Adult Education Centre where I work, a social worker and member of a local association, whose aim it is to combat human trafficking by helping prostitutes off the streets, told us about the women she works with every day.
She started her talk by debunking two widely held myths:
1- Prostitution is not the oldest profession in the world. The oldest profession is the exploitation of women.
2- Street prostitutes are not ‘merry women’, ‘women of accommodating morals’, ‘ladies of the night’, or ‘night flowers’ who have an ‘easy life’. They are socially excluded women in very dire straits, who have a very dangerous profession.
She reminded us that many of them are invisible to the law and society in general, because they are illegal immigrants, some suffer drug addiction, as well as physical and psychological abuse, while others are simply struggling to make ends meet.
She told us she deals with women from the ages of eighteen to seventy; students, housewives, drug addicts, single mothers, pregnant women, and grandmothers.
I was shocked to hear that she was acquainted with a seventy-year-old grandmother who had to feed her grandchildren whose parents were in jail.
I’m not an expert on the topic, so I’m not going to give any more facts or theories. I just hope you’re as shocked as I am.
If you’re interested in helping, I’m sure there are plenty of associations in your town in which you can volunteer, and if you want to find out more there are numerous articles on the Internet.
The moon has fascinated both poets and scientists since the first human spotted it in the sky.We do not know for sure how the earth and the moon came into being, but there are two main theories proposed by the scientific community.
The first theory, called the ‘giant impact hypothesis’, which was developed by the Planetary Science Institute in the 1970s, claims that the Earth’s moon formed as the result of a colossal impact of a hypothetical planetary embryo, named Theia, with Earth, early in our Solar System’s history. More information on this theory.
The most recent theory, funded by the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), and published in 2012, proposes that the Earth and moon were both created together in a giant collision of two similar-sized bodies, which collided a second time forming an early Earth surrounded by a disk of material that combined to form the moon. More information on this theory.
In any case, both poets and scientists have acknowledge the intimate relationship between the Earth and our Moon, and are searching for ways of either explaining our fascination, or providing proof of our common origin and mutual dependency.
For last Friday’s Flash! Fiction contest, our prompts were the word moon and the following sculpture.
The idea instantly came to my mind to combine the poetic symbolism of the moon and the scientific notion that both planets had a common origin.
In my flash fiction, the moon has become the lover who has been traumatically separated from his beloved. He cannot come close to her, but he can stalk her from a distance, because he still loves her and misses her, while he is patiently waiting for a longed for reunion.
Let me watch over you.
I see you searching for my torch in the night, in wonder, in awe, perhaps even in fear.
Please don’t fear me. I’d never harm you.
You know I’ll always be there, faithful to you alone.
I can’t live with you, but neither can I live without you, so I have to stalk you.
You have understood and forgiven me.
I look forward to seeing your flashing eyes and hearing the murmur of your breathing.
Your beauty is stunning. I admire your patchwork dress and your flowing waves.
I love you.
I miss you.
I wish I were still with you, still part of you, as I used to be, as I was meant to be.
I cannot come to you yet, although you have visited me, on occasions.
You think little of me, because you consider me ugly and barren, and I am, compared to you.
But remember this; we were together once and you loved me, until we were torn apart.
I long for the day you will take up your suitcases, renew your hope in me, and bring life to my lonely planet.
You will come and I will be waiting, Earthlings.
George Bernard Shaw is my second-favourite playwright.
It all started at school, when we had to read Androcles and the Lion, surprisingly at a R.C. Convent school. The play humorously and ironically portrays different types of Christians, and criticizes the hypocrisy and absurdity of some practices and beliefs.
Lavinia has some is brilliant lines. For example, when the Emperor visits the Christians who are about to be martyred:
Lavinia: Blessing, Caesar, and forgiveness!
Caesar: (turning in some surprise at the salutation) There is no forgiveness for Christianity.
Lavinia: I did not mean that, Caesar. I mean that we forgive you.
Metellus: An inconceivable liberty! Do you not know, woman, that the Emperor can do no wrong and therefore can not be forgiven?
Lavinia: I expect the Emperor knows better. Anyhow, we forgive him.
The Christians: Amen!
The Captain: A martyr, Lavinia, is a fool. Your death will prove nothing.
Lavinia: Then why kill me?”
Later, on my own initiative, I read a few more of his plays, courtesy of my local library; Man and Superman, A Doctor’s Dilema (my second favourite of his plays), Pygmalion, Saint Joan, and Mrs. Warren’s Profession.
But the play I enjoyed most was Candida. I was nineteen when I first saw Deborah Kerr playing the main role in London’d West End, and I imagined myself playing that part (I wanted to be an actress then). I waited for hours at the back stage door for her autograph on my programme, and it was worth it, although she never came anywhere near my programme.
She offered us a smile, which I can still remember, and was wafted away like a feather into the London skyline.
Now, I’m the right age to play the part (a year younger than Ms Kerr), but I’m in the wrong profession, unless I ever join an amateur dramatics group and convince them to put it on. There’s an idea!
Back to Androcles. Last Friday’s Flash! Friday prompt was a Gladiator and a picture of a cute kitten. This is what I came up with, inspired by my dear G. B. Shaw and his Androcles, both of whom seem to have been forgotten to younger generations, so let’s remind them about the story…
My entry for Flash! Friday 13th February
“So, is this flash fiction about gladiators?”
“It’s about a guy called Androcles who was a Christian in pagan Rome. He saw a lion with a huge thorn stuck in its paw.”
“A lion in Rome?”
“There were lions everywhere then. It was a wild and savage world. No electricity, running water, or mobiles. So Androcles took out the lion’s thorn and they become friends.”
“This is a fable; a story including animals, with a meaning.”
“And what’s the meaning?”
“You’ll know when I finish telling you the plot. Androcles was taken prisoner. The Romans didn’t believe in free speech or freedom of religion.”
“Poor lion, lost a nice owner.”
“The lion was taken prisoner, too. Lions were used in the coliseum to fight with the gladiators, sometimes they ate up Christians too, for enjoyment.”
“A gladiator at last!”
“Chance would have it that Androcles and the lion came face to face in combat.”
“No kidding! I bet the lion remembered Androcles and refused to fight.”
“Exactly! He purred like a kitty when he saw him. How did you guess?”
“Because in all the films I’ve seen, it’s the gladiator who does all the killing. I suppose the gladiator does away with both of them, right?”
No drama this week 🙂
Would you like to read some of this weeks’ other entries? Check them out here
I’m back again! I’ve taken part in most Flash Friday Contests since last summer, but this is my first one this year!
What do Flash Friday Contest and King Sisyphus have in common?
Basically the recurrent and repetitive nature of the challenge they face. So, is that a good thing or not? Isn’t everything we do repeated periodically… incessantly? What’s new in our lives? in the history of humanity?
Life often seems monotonous and disheartening. We do essentially the same things day after day, endlessly. We have the illusion of moving forward, and then we have to start all over again.
Winter with its leafless trees and barren fields reminds us of death, and the inevitable cycle of life, and long cold evenings invite our minds to search for impossible answers to eternal questions…
The repetitive nature of life reminded me, once again, of what happened to the avaricious, deceitful, and murderous King Sisyphus. Zeus condemned him to roll a huge enchanted boulder up a steep hill, and once he reached the top the boulder rolled downhill again. Sisyphus followed it back down and resumed his useless task, time and time again.
Albert Camus, became my favourite writer when I read La Chute for my French ‘A’ level, as a teenager, and my appreciation grew when I was studying French, at College. In his 1942 essay The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd, comparing the absurdity of man’s life with Sisyphus’s futile occupation.
On his way down, burdenless, Sisyphus searches for meaning in an incomprehensible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values, while on his way up he is occupied with the unachievable task: the boulder will never stay at the top.
In spite of this, according to Camus, Sisyphus is finally happy because he has understood and accepted his absurd fate. In other words, the knowledge and acceptance that life is a meaningless task with no hope of completion, is our only chance of happiness. Or is it?
I still admire Camus’s insatiable search for the meaning of life, however, I used to think I wasn’t so pessimistic or critical, any more. Perhaps because I have children and grandchildren, who have given my life another perspective, or perhaps because over thirty years have passed, and my rebellious search for a rational explanation to the ‘meaning of life’, has been dulled.
Yet last Friday, something happened. I saw a picture and wrote a story, and I realized that Camus’ ‘absurd’ is more ingrained in my subconscious, than I thought.
Photo prompt Flash Friday Fiction Challenge 6th February
My entry: North and South.
The evening sun was waning and I needed her consent before conversion.
‘I offer you eternal love, Mina,’ I promised.
She looked into the glass of wine, lips pursed, and shook her head.
‘I prefer mortality.’
Seconds later I rushed out to the sound of the opening door. Lucy had arrived unexpectedly.
‘I couldn’t wait!’ She cried as she pushed past me into the hotel suite.
She kicked the door shut, grabbed my hand, and pulled me into the bedroom.
I heard the gust of wind waft into the adjacent room as the sliding balcony doors were pushed apart.
‘Did you miss me?’ she asked.
‘We need to talk.’ I answered.
‘Later…’ she whispered.
I heard the click of the door.
‘Let’s have some wine first,’ I said as I pulled her out to the balcony.
‘Sure. Whatever you were having,’ she said picking up the glass on the railing.
The sun set.
No time to explain.
I’ve never written a vampire story before and I’m not a fan of vampire novels or vampire films!
However, I must admit I do love the gothic aspect of vampire literature, and I did love Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I’ll never forget Christopher Lee in the film role, perhaps because I was young and impressionable when I first saw it…
I can’t imagine what I saw in the photograph and glass of wine to concoct this crazy story!
Now I need to go back to re-re-re proofreading All Hallows at Eyre Hall for print…
By the way, Do you want to take part in Flash! Friday?
There’s still time today! or you can do so any Friday.
* Word count: Write a 150-word story (10-word leeway on either side) based on the photo prompt.
* How: Post your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, excluding title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.
* Deadline: 11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)
* Winners: will post Monday.
* Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity.
Whatever you do, make sure you have a great weekend!
Today’s photo prompt:
Word limit: 150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt.
I’m a fisherman, like my father and my grandfather. I go out every night and cast my net till dawn. I get a pittance at the market for my hard work and sleepless nights.
You like fish. You pay high prices at the restaurant, while my family can hardly make ends meet. You wear designer suits, and drive a comfortable car. What can you offer us?
You say you want to spend the night with me, on my little boat. You bring warm, waterproof clothes and boots, and the reporters take our picture.
Tomorrow the news will parade your empathy with the poor. You want me to nod, and smile, while the cameras record from the shore.
Tonight you will meet the others, the nameless, countless fishermen, who lost their lives for their families, and their country. Ask them to vote for you, when you join them at the bottom of the sea.
Your journey ends here.
Have a look at some of the other entries
Today’s photo prompt:
Today’s dragon’s bidding:
The Castle seen from the window is known as the Krak de Chevaliers (Qalat al-Hosn), in Syria.
Rules: Based on the photo prompt and including the Dragon’s bidding. Between 140 – 160 words. Enter your Flash fiction in the comments in the Flash! Fiction Blog, and add word count and twitter handle.
My Flash Fiction for this week.
I’m back in the same hotel, overlooking the same Medieval castle, and lying on the same bed where I begged her to marry me and start a new life in another continent.
I met her when I was an international exchange student in Homs, preparing my PhD in petroleum engineering. I felt the unexpected thump of love at first sight when her supple fingers sunk into my stunned hand, and her warm honey eyes melted into mine.
My tutor, who introduced us, proudly announced that his only daughter was shortly to marry his brother’s son, her first cousin. I failed to dissuade her, and left, alone.
Too many years later, I read her letter one more time:
‘Although you are always with me, it’s time we meet again. Please come for me. Now I can leave’.
I looked at the picture in the envelope and sighed.
A child smiling at the camera.
Today’s photo prompt:
What really happened.
On August 29, 1965, US spacecraft, Gemini 5, landed back on Earth after an eight-day mission. The return crew were Astronauts Conrad and Cooper. The crew had to use the re-entry thrusters to orient the spacecraft due to system failures. The retrofire and re-entry were conducted in darkness by the spacecraft computer. However the computer had been misprogrammed with an erroneous rotation rate of the Earth. Cooper’s efforts compensated for what he recognized as an erroneous reading and brought the capsule down closer to the ship than they would otherwise have been, and probably saved their lives.
My Flash Fiction inspired by the photo and Dragon’s bidding:
The Alien (158 words)
‘Are we going to tell them what we saw?’
‘What really happened?’
‘Of course, sir. The information is recorded in the log books and databases.’
‘I mean who we saw: the alien.’
‘We didn’t see anyone, sir. It was just you and me on board the spaceship for eight days and eight nights. It was a boring, routine, flight.’
‘But you saw her, too!’
‘No, sir. I saw no one.’
‘But it’s thanks to her that we’re still alive! She told me to change our course. You heard her, too!’
‘We readjusted the data on the landing device because we saw an error, sir, and we recalculated.’
‘But the alien…’
‘With all due respects, sir. We can be acclaimed as national heroes, or become the laughing-stock of the media.’
The captain reflected for an agonizing moment before replying.
‘Of course. What’s the point of telling them?’
‘No point, sir. They’d never believe us.’
Would you like to read some of this weeks’ other entries?
This short piece makes me think about truth and lies.
We all lie sometimes, for well-meaning reasons, such as not to hurt people, or to make a point by ‘bending’ the truth. We sometimes decide that certain information can and should be withheld, for a good cause, like to protect someone who is not ‘ready’ for the truth.
In this case of my flash fiction story, the astronauts decide to lie due to fear of the consequences. They don’t want to be laughed at. ‘They’ll think I’m soft’, or ‘They’ll think I’ve gone mad if I say that’.
If you think you won’t be believed, why tell the truth? It’s hard to convince someone of the truth, without proof, so it’s easier to retreat and lie.
People get used to lying, that is, to saying what others want to hear, until they forget the truth. They forget who they are and what they really think. They are the sad, self-destructive lies.
It takes courage to say the truth, when you know no one will believe you, or when you could become a public laughing-stock. It’s easier to say what people want to hear.
Other times there are darker reasons to lie or hold back information. Somebody may want to deceive, confuse, or manipulate. Those are the blatant, dangerous lies.
Truth or lie? Did the astronauts make the right decision?