October Flash Club Contest

Your Questions, please, for Julia Eccleshare

17 Noteworthy Writing Conferences in November 2021

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Full Member
Jul 26, 2018

This month, for October, I am kindly allowing a few more words ;)

Below, are nine words/phrases/elements:

A taxi
an old enemy
a hug that goes too far
a pair of binoculars
a good-luck charm
A campfire
a scream
a small lie that gets bigger and bigger

In 500 words, I want you to weave as many of those elements into your story as possible.
(if you could clearly mark them in bold / and or account for how many you use at the end of your piece please!)

In addition to the votes you receive from your fellow Litopians (1 like= 1 vote, 1 love + 2 votes), you will also receive one vote per element you use... this could amount to an extra NINE VOTES per submission!!! (This will clearly reveal the more competitive amongst us ;) )

There's no genre.

Looking forward to reading :)


-To participate, use the word limit given to write a piece of flash fiction, then post below to make your entry.

-Please make your entry anonymous by clicking the anonymous button, but if you forget, don't worry, that's okay too. (Note: Guardians can see who posts.) So, take a risk and try something new.

-To make the Flash Club the special place it is, we need your votes. You can vote by clicking 'like' or 'love'. If a piece grabs you, please hit the 'like' button. If a piece sweeps you off your seat, please hit 'love'. At the end of the month, I will count up the votes. In a tie, 'Love' will trump 'like'. Please don't vote for your own work.

THIS MONTH: you will also receive one vote per element you use... this could amount to an extra NINE VOTES per submission!!!

-The entry with the most votes will be the winner of an extraordinary hand-crafted (!!) virtual trophy. And, more importantly: some of our very prized, and internationally-renowned, virtual Litopi-cake.

-Please keep to the word count! Writing to a specific brief is good practice. I'll be strict :face-with-monocle: when it comes to word count. ( @Barbara was a pussycat in comparison ;) ;) )

-Entries over the word count limit can’t win (dem is the rulz) But! you don't have to use up the full limit. If you want to say something in less words, that's perfectly fine.

-The competition is open to all members. Feel free to enter more than one.

-The main rule here: we ask you not to critique.

*The Flash Club isn't about winning. It's about trying something new. It's about grabbing readers with words, and gauging the response*
Meg played with her bracelet, the good luck charms tinkling in the quiet evening. She shouldn't be nervous, they had just had a class reunion two years earlier.

But before, Morah hadn't asked to meet her.

The smell of the campfire tickled Meg's nose, but she forgot to sneeze as her heart sped up at the taxi pulling into the gravel.

Morah got out, looking extremely overdressed for the outdoor venue. Meg herself was in flannels, and still chilly. Morah had always been over-the-top, even in high school. That was one reason they were such enemies.

Speaking of dramatic, Meg chided herself. But, she'd always hated Morah. Snide, selfish, just a horrible person. It started in elementary and just grew. Always. Hated. Her.

Morah spotted her and for some reason her face lit up. Meg watched her approach, she'd stop any time, until she found herself in a shocked hug.


They stayed like that, Meg's brain going a mile a minute, but she didn't pull away. They'd always hated each other, why the sudden affection?

After long enough to have drawn attention, Morah pulled away. She looked at Meg like there was no one else in that dusty lot.

"It's so good to see you." She smiled and Meg's brain stuttered. "You don't know how much I've thought about you over the years."

"Me? Why?" Exclaimed Meg. The hatred had been mutual. What gave?

"I know I was a terrible person in school. I know," she added as though Meg had been about to object. "But you always stood up to me, put me in my place." She waggled a finger, "No, corrected me. It was you that made me think about the type of person I was. And that I didn't like it. Thank you for that."

Meg was stunned. She hadn't been correcting her, she'd been shaming her, hadn't she? She thought back. They'd always hated each other . . . But maybe not? Suddenly Meg remembered.

"You were my best friend in first grade. I couldn't figure out why you were mean in second." Lord, she had forgotten.

"Yeah, and you never took it, never backed down. I thought you hated me so I dug my heels in," she made a face, "And never stopped."

"In the end I was just as mean to you," Meg flushed.

"Only because I started it." She stuck her hands in her pocket and her face lit up again. She extended her palm to Meg, "Apology peppermint?"

Meg eyed the candy, "Only if you forgive me."

"Never needed to, does this mean you forgive me?"

Meg took the candy and it crinkled as she opened it, "Yeah, we'll both quit being dumb. C'mon, let's join the rest."

"What's with the binoculars?" Morah asked following.

Meg thought for a moment, "Supposedly bird watching, but they're good for focusing on old relationships, too."

Their old classmates turned and smiled at Morah's scream of laughter.

'Goof,' thought Meg, smiling.
I sprang from my taxi and pushed through the crowd, noting the lack of health and safety precautions at the Rotary club bonfire. A stack of pallets as high as a three-storey house, doused in petrol and already ablaze. My lodgers were up front, insanely close to the inferno.

‘Brian, dahling, you made it!’ Wally gushed, spreading his flippers.

Now then, if you’ve never had a walrus hug, take my advice; get any infirm folk well clear. I braced myself as Wally slammed into me, honking. Mercifully, he’d sucked peppermints, so I didn’t suffer fishy breath as well as public humiliation. We sent some screaming toddlers flying, though.

‘S’up?’ grunted Miranda, lowering her binoculars. Brass ones, of course, to match her balloonist goggles and pocket watch. Steampunk phase. ‘Got your lucky charm?’ she added, with a wink.

‘Er, yeah.’ I fingered my old silver coin from Charlie Chaplin’s cellar. Ebay. Three hundred quid. Never bid drunk.

‘Now for the ritual,’ Miranda purred.

I swallowed. ‘Wouldn’t miss it.’

In truth, I’d rather be anywhere else than this local-authority sanctioned shit-show, performing hedge-witchery with housemates, though I know better than to upset Miranda. She turned her ex-boyfriend into a newt, and I haven’t seen our neighbour in ages. Rumour has it, he now lives in Southport as a seagull.

Her rituals can be terrifying, though. The solstice involved bare bottoms and thistles.

She handed us ash twigs and stepped nearer the fire. Easy enough, on account of the pitiful safety barrier; a line of bunting stretched between chair legs. Plastic chairs, I might add.

‘Push all your fears, all your worries into your twig,’ Miranda instructed. Then, embarrassingly loud, ‘Oh, Hestia, goddess of flames, take our negativity. Purge us.’

We all lobbed our sticks at the fire. As rituals go, that was tame.

‘Now, make a wish,’ Wally whispered.

I heard a cough and turned to see my old enemy the mayor, ridiculously dressed as Guy Fawkes, with fake goatee and everything. ‘It’s the crazy gang,’ he sneered.

I seethed. All local architects hate this guy. We have a WhatsApp group for it.

‘Good evening,’ I said, curt.

‘Got any more outlandish applications to amuse our committee? Or have you given up and got a proper job?’

‘Oh, get stuffed,’ I hissed.


For a moment I thought the fireworks had started. Then Wally nudged something. ‘Someone’s dropped a ickle teddy. Adorable.’

I reeled. Where the mayor had stood was a plush bear… in a Guy Fawkes costume. ‘Oh, heck,’ I gasped. ‘Miranda! My wish literally came true.’

She snorted with laughter.

‘Can you undo this?’ I pleaded.

‘Ooooh, doubt it. Fire magick is old magick. Thought you couldn’t stand the nobber, anyway?’

‘Yeah, but nobody deserves this. And I’ll lose my chartered status.’

She grabbed the bear. ‘We’ll think up a lie.’

Wally grinned. ‘Haven’t had my wish, yet.’

Biggest headline in decades: Mayor spontaneously combusts in front of two thousand townsfolk.

I love my lodgers.
‘I need to laugh more.’ She said. ‘I’m going to a comedy club tonight with friends.’

‘How come you’re only mentioning this now? I could have gone with you.’

‘It’s all very last minute. I knew you’d be working.’

‘Do you think I like working so many hours?’

She looked at me. Didn’t answer.

I felt both irritated and guilty. ‘Ok.’ Was all I said at first, then, ‘Shall I pick you up later so you can have a drink?’

‘Nah, I’ll get a taxi home.’

I let it go.

The following week, there was an impromptu cinema trip. ‘I’ll come too.’ I offered.

‘It’s all girls going to see a film you wouldn’t like.’

This time when she left, I followed her, grabbing a pair of binoculars for effect.

She parked near the cinema so I thought I’d made a mistake. After paying at the meter, she went to drop her purse back in her bag but when she fished out a small stone and turned it over in her palm, I barely needed more evidence. That had always been her good luck charm.

After she walked inside, I ate peppermints to stay awake but still my eyelids started to droop. A scream of laughter made me glance up to see her and just one other. They stopped under a streetlight and the sight of Jack caused a sharp intake of breath. He was ostensibly an old enemy of mine, the cause of my first marriage break up, two years ago. When he whispered in her ear, she laughed again but just for a moment until he pulled her towards him. It was a hug that went too far. Their arms loosened a fraction, just enough for them to look into each other’s eyes and then the inevitable.

They kissed for so long I could taste it. I knew the feel of those lips, the warmth of that breath, the smell of that scent. I had to look away, the ache in my heart was too much.

An old saying popped into my head. ‘A good marriage is like a campfire. Both grow cold if left unattended.’ Did I even care though?

Not about my marriage, no, but that small lie I’d told had generated so many more that the situation had got bigger and bigger and this was the result. If only I’d been honest, had more courage to be who I really was but only my ex knew the truth and she’d felt too humiliated to speak it out loud. Yes, Jack had been the cause of my marriage break up but my wife had been the betrayed.

When I’d refused to come out, he’d sworn he’d get me back. I’d just thought he’d meant he would try and win me back not betray me too.

All nine used. 469 words.
My gosh, it is so tiring being possessed. The Demon and I (because it is a demon, I checked in a book) bonded over a love of peppermints and campfires. She didn’t look like a demon then, more a good luck charm, a slice of pumpkin pie made into a gap toothed smile. She started in my dreams and stepped into reality at a party at Ricardo’s loft. After taking the taxi home, my husband became the old enemy, as we bickered and snarled our way to divorce, more than once involving a scream, more than once his. The tipping point, where there was no turning back, was the hug that went too far with his confused, sad, demented father.

I felt like I was looking at my life through binoculars the wrong way round. I was small, distant to my own view. I was the small lie that got bigger and bigger, until there was practically nothing of me left.

I tried to fight, but it was useless, I was too late with the potions, with the mediums, with the chants. There’s nothing we can do, they said, it’s too late. Maybe it’ll get bored, they said. Leave of its own accord.

I’ll never get bored, it tells me. I’m just having too much gosh-darn fun. Go and lie down, it says, I’ll take over from here. There’s nothing to worry about, it says. Enjoy the ride.

I lie down and it takes over.

And you know what? I do enjoy the ride.

All nine used

The taxi wheels crunch the dried dirt on the pathway to my old house.
“Your family house is creepy,” my wife says groggily; her squeaky voice filled with champagne.
“This will be all over soon.”
A cobweb envelops her face—she splutters and flails.
“Who would want to live in here?”
An old enemy.
“Welcome! Welcome!”
My wife is startled by my brother’s raspy voice coming from the top of the gaudy stairs. I am not. As he steps down slowly, I go over my plan—the same string of thoughts in a loop—hoping it masks my fear.
My brother hugs my wife first. Her ample, scantily clad bosom, an irresistible temptation. I watch him holding her tight, smelling her—I feel nothing. My marriage is merely a small lie that got bigger and bigger.
Peppermint?” my brother asks her derisively, barely concealing his disgust.
I smile so not to laugh—I always order my wife’s food at restaurants. For her, it’s foreplay; for me, it’s forethought.
My brother cocks his head as he looks at me; did my wife’s smell alerted him? I am brought back to my childhood—the fly and the spider. My legs shake.
Be cool…
I harden my muscles.
“That’s an odd object, my brother,” he says as he points out the old-fashioned pair of binoculars hanging from my neck.
“Well, hello to you too,” I feign; he smiles.
“It’s good to see you too, my brother. But I must confess to be a little surprised.”
“Why is that?” My wife butts in; not one to be forgotten.
“My little brother doesn’t visit much.”
“He does talk about you all the time.”
A liar for a wife...
I walk away and place the binoculars on a table; taking back control of the narrative.
“They really do look magnificent,” my brother says walking towards the binoculars.
I know him well
“Yeah…” I try to sound casual as I walk towards my wife. “I found them in an antiquary; it’s my good-luck charm.”
“Your good-luck charm?” he asks as he reaches for them.
“He’s always saying,” my wife interjects, “they help me see the road ahead,” she imitates my voice, unflatteringly.
I shudder—fear or rage? I don’t know anymore.
“He always liked to imagine life far away,” my brother says in his profoundly pompous tone, as he holds the binoculars to his eyes.
Two silver stakes pierce my brother’s skull. His body falls; desiccated in an instant. I cut my wife’s scream in half, and drink the blood gushing from her neck as a celebration of his death.
I have finally killed my vampire brother! My torturer; my master. I was given to him as lunch, dinner, and the occasional snack. And after ten years of horror, in one final gesture of humiliation, he simply… let me go—a broken toy; harmless.
I burn my brother’s and my wife’s bodies in the backyard as I laugh maniacally—how’s that for a campfire!
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Your Questions, please, for Julia Eccleshare

17 Noteworthy Writing Conferences in November 2021