‘Who is Barry?’

His question ripples through the room. Silence follows it. We look at each other. At him. Did he just ask who Barry is? After seconds that feel like centuries, one of us coughs. Another one finds the composure to speak. Probably Mike, but it may have been Matty.

‘How do you mean, who’s Barry?’

He focuses on Mike/Matty. We sense bewilderment, a hint of anger.

‘What? Why are you acting all weird? I hear Barry this, Barry that, like he’s the greatest guy ever. I want to see for myself.’

‘But,’ Mike/Matty says, ‘we thought you’re Barry.’


What’s in a Name

(c) Marie Gail Stratford


‘We’re calling her Crystal,’ Dee says, ‘or you’ll be a single father.’

He looks at his newborn daughter. Crystal – clear, transparent, cheap diamond replacement. He has a vision of a dazzling young woman in the distance. The closer she comes, the more ordinary she looks. On close inspection, she cannot hide her plainness. She cannot hide anything.

‘I don’t like the connotations,’ he mumbles. Her reply booms along the maternity ward.

‘You’re going to argue? I’m serious – it’s Crystal or…’

Nix nods. He has to think fast. Naming is destiny.

‘Calm down, Dynamite. How about we call her Crystal Sphinx?’


It’s almost the weekend, which means it’s time for Friday Fictioneers. Rochelle’s flash fiction challenge is popular, so there are plenty of stories to read – enjoy!

Background Noise

(c) Barbara W. Beacham

Little did they know when the photographer took their picture that they would find themselves trapped in a painting.

When the musicians awoke from unconsciousness, they carried on playing. With the music starting, the people in the room turned. The musicians froze.

‘Probably a car going by.’

Everyone settled down. The mysterious music restarted.

The people hunted for the source. Every time one of them looked at the painting, the music stopped. They decided they suffered from collective hallucination.

The musicians sang to them, hoping to alert them to their plight. Nobody listened to the words.

The music turned into background noise. But in their dreams, the people often went to New Orleans, watching the band from the painting.


This is my story for this week’s Mondays Finish the Story, a flash fiction challenge run by Barbara W. Beacham (more stories based on the image and the first sentence here).

High Street Life

(c) Dawn M. Miller

Eat local. I can’t. Council’s turned all the bins into ones you can’t look into. I’m not rooting around in rubbish on the off-chance.

Sleep local. I would. Not allowed anymore. Shop’s complained. I’d leave way before they opened. It’s the warmth seeping out that made me sleep in the entrance. Since sleeping by the river, I can’t shake the sniffles.

Read local. I’d like to. You know how much a book costs? More than a day’s worth, these days. Mind, they don’t want me in there since the owner changed.

Had a life here once.

New town, I reckon.


Today, I’ve joined Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers for their inaugural challenge – find all the stories here.

Me x 3

‘No,’ Three says, grabbing my hand. ‘Here, like this.’ She hands me chopsticks, says something that sounds like it’s a ducky mess* and tucks in. I look at the sushi. Why can’t I take it in my hand like I normally do?

Two bursts in. ‘Donde esta mi arroz?’ She glares at Three. ‘Don’t you dare use that lame excuse again. I checked. They sell Japanese rice online.’

‘Say something, One,’ they whinge in unison.

They’re driving me bonkers. I wanted my clones to travel. I wanted to absorb their experiences. Instead, I’ve become the arbiter in the rice wars.


The story was inspired by the following posts (thank you, ladies!), which in turn were a response to the Clone Wars prompt:

*  As much as I’d like to be able to take credit for it’s a ducky mess, I didn’t come up with it. It’s from the Sarah & Duck episode Fast Slow Bungalow. If you have small children, check it out. It’s brilliant.

Wall to Wall to Wall to Wall


Left left left bump. Right right right bump. Forward forward forward bump. Backwards backwards backward bump. Left left left bump…

… till shoulders, forehead, back hurt.

Slump. Sob. Sleep.

Flap flaps.

Smelly smell. Stomach snarls. Shovel it, wash it, keep it down down down.

Singing. Loud. Out of tune. Lovely.

Door opens. Scramble, cower, hide.

‘Ciao bambino. Come stai?’

Singy songy sounds. Warm. Lovely.

Sweeping, wiping, singing.

Peek out.

‘Delle mee ‘ow to reach you, bambino.’

Delle mee, delle mee, delle mee.

Close, too close. Hand coming. Cower, cower.

Hand touches cheek. Gentle.

‘A domani.’

A domani.

Alone. Lonely.


Steve’s Great Idea


Steve knocks again. She likes messing with him. Should he go in? She might be asleep. She hates him coming into her room without permission. She spins out of control when she gets angry.

Steve collapses against the wall. He suggested their parents went away for the weekend.

‘I’m old enough to look after Aggie.’

Is he? It’s not her fault, but she’s hard work.

‘Aggie, enough. I’m coming in.’

She’s in bed. She doesn’t move. He’s supervised her taking her medication. What went wrong?


Aggie giggles.

Shouldn’t he be pranking her? Sometimes, Steve hates his older sister.

On Valentine’s Day

He texts: Crown after work?

OMG! He’s asking me out tonight. He kept saying it’s nothing but a marketing con. I’ve changed his mind.

Okay, it’s only the Crown. But they’ do food. It’s not bad, either. Won an award.

I bunk off from work. I want to look my best. He’s making an effort, I’d better reciprocate.

I arrive first. He’s late, straight from work. So much for making an effort. Still, we’re here.

‘Annie, I…’

He falters. OMFG! He’s going to pop the question? Okay, breathe.

‘Sorry. I’ve met someone else.’

‘You’re dumping me? On bloody Valentine’s Day!’

Kim’s Lesson

(c) Rochelle Wisoff-FieldsKim wipes the sweat off her face. She’ll have to do it again in a second. The sun’s as relentless as her dad, but it’s the latter’s relentlessness that’s keeping her outside.

Kim’s mum arrives with a glass of homemade lemonade. Ice cubes tinkle. Sweetest sound Kim’s ever heard.

‘Dad said no drinks until I’ve finished with the balustrade.’

‘I know. You’ll end up dehydrated. Here.’

Kim gulps down the lemonade, then presses the glass to her temples.

‘I’m roasting,’ she whimpers.

‘Ideal varnishing conditions,’ her mum says. ‘Remember it for next time.’

‘Next time? Like I’ll throw another party.’


This is my entry for this week’s Friday Fictioneers. It’s based on the photo by Rochelle Wisoff-FieldsGo here if you want to read more stories inspired by the prompt.

Before the Storm

‘We won’t learn that lesson until it’s too late.’

Kim’s words echo through my mind as I throw a few essential things into my backpack. Sunscreen, hat, t-shirts, shorts, the sundress Kim loved. I don’t bother with a raincoat. If I haven’t reached shelter by the time the storm hits, I’m screwed.

Kim got it wrong, though. Nobody’s learnt any lessons. Look at them, believing the barrier will keep the worst out, protecting their houses with sandbags. They’ll be washed away by the storm surge. Kim died for nothing.

Outside, the air is still. Won’t be this calm much longer…

[This was first published in the comments on Natalie Bower’s blog in response to her #LastLineFirst flash fiction challenge.]