Furious Fiction 23 – September 2021

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I’m sure I have said it before in one of these posts but the first Friday of the month comes around real fast! Here is my entry for September’s Furious Fiction Competition. Furious Fiction is a short story competition brought to you by the Australian Writers Centre. 500 words, 55 hours and a $500 Prize.

This month’s prompts

Each month there is a different set of prompts that must be incorporated into the story. The prompts are published at 5:00 PM Friday and the competition closes at midnight on Sunday. Sometimes you have to use the exact word, sometimes you can use a different tense or variant. This month:

The story must include

  • either an attic or a basement
  • include some kind of insect
  • have the words EARTH, WIND, FIRE and WATER or variations of.

Story Stats: This month the entry is 480 words. I started at 5:15 PM on Friday and worked on it for about 3 hours. I tidied it up a bit on Saturday morning and submitted at 10AM. I started off with the character’s name as Geoff and Jennifer but decided to call him Brad. A small tip of the hat to Pitt and Aniston. I had the bones of the story in my mind before I started typing. Initially, Brad was going to be injured from the fall, but that got a bit grim.

I didn’t have a photo of a cricket – so a cicada shell will have to do!

It’s just not cricket

Brad was balancing on the top step of the now obviously too short ladder. One hand held a torch, the other the edge of the manhole. The ladder teetered as he hoisted himself into the hole. His tippy-toe was just making contact with the cap tread.

“Can you see it?” Jennifer asked from below.

“Nope, can’t see it. But your attic roof needs fixing. There’s been a lot of water up here.”

He pointed the torch “You see? Water has been dripping down these beams.”

She couldn’t see because the ceiling was in the way, but he went right on explaining anyway.

Cheers, thanks for the mansplanation” she thought, but out of her mouth came

“Oh right…OK…I’ll get a roofer to come and have a look…”

“I could try and fix it. I’m pretty handy.”

And then… the ladder fell. There he was, head and shoulders in the roof and his legs dangling toward the earth. He kicked wildly mid-air, trying to get a better grip. It was a good three metres to the floor, far enough to get hurt if he fell, but close enough to jump if he was brave.

Brad wasn’t the brave type but he also wasn’t prepared to let Jennifer know that yet. It was only their second date.

“JENNIFER! Stop laughing and stand the bloody ladder up” he shouted.

“Right, oh yes right. Sorry, but if you could see your butt sticking out of that hole, you’d be laughing too!”

And then… it was too late. Gravity won.

Brad landed in an untidy pile. Jennifer tried to stifle her laughter but it was no use. She fell down next to him, grabbing her belly and chortling.

“Are you ok?” she asked between snorts.

He nodded, “I think so – just winded.”

For a long time, they both lay on the floor, laughing each time they looked at the open manhole or each other, simultaneously wondering how to recover this train wreck of a date.

Jennifer had hoped for a romantic sit-in-front-of-the-fire type date, but they had run out of small talk before they had finished the first course. For her, the relationship was doomed despite the fact he was an Adonis.

Thankfully, a cricket had come to their rescue. Its noisy chirps necessitating a search and destroy mission. It proved an effective cover for their lack of conversation.

Now, an hour later, they were lying close on the cold, bare floorboards giggling like children.

She reached out to touch his chest. “Are you sure you’re OK?”

“Yes, very.”

Jennifer drew even closer as he returned her caress.

“Told you I was handy,” he whispered.

Chirp, chirp chirrrrpppppppppp!

“Bloody cricket! It’s still up there!!” he said.

“It can stay up there for all I care. ” Jennifer kissed his full chiselled lips.

Maybe a third date was on the cards, the pest control could wait.


I enter this competition most months. You can see some of my other attempts by clicking on the links below.

Furious fiction 7

Furious Fiction 15

Furious Fiction 22 – August 2021

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Here is my entry for Furious Fiction for August 2021. I have missed a few months with my last entry being way back in May.

The Furious Fiction criteria for August were:

1. The first sentence must contain only 4 words.
2. You must include the words paint, shift, wave and toast (or variations there of)
3. Something must be shared.

Based on a true story!

This story is based on a real life event although in much more benign conditions. In 1987 my ex and I were doing some painting. He had loosened the lid of a full can of paint and then went to do something else. When he returned he picked up the can and shook it vigourously forgetting he had loosened the lid! I walked into the room at the exact moment the paint was whooshing up all over his face and hair.

I grabbed him, and as it says in the story below, held him under the water forcing his eyes open – Silkwood style. Once we got him cleaned up, we started on the room. Once that was clean we went downstairs. We had a beach-comber style house and our car was parked underneath. It was covered in paint! That took another couple of hours to get that clean! A few days later he was still sneezing out blobs of paint. Funny but not funny.

The Furious Fiction Contest is fun, easy and low risk! But you could be $500 richer for your 500 words. Check it out at the Australian Writers Centre.

Story Stats: I started writing about 7 PM on Friday night. I did no more work on it until Sunday morning and spent another hour “polishing” it up and getting it under the word limit. All up about 3 hours. 496 words.

Whatever you want, darling!

“Whatever YOU want Darling”

Stephanie hated it when he said that. She was especially wary when the emphasis was on the YOU and not the Darling. It meant he didn’t like her decision but wouldn’t say so. Whatever you want really meant that the ‘whatever’ came with a whole side of heartache. It really meant “Darling I will remind you at every minute that you got what you wanted”

Exasperated, Stephanie waved her hand toward the deep crimson wall. 

“Well, what colour would you prefer Damien?” 

“I really don’t care Stephanie, like I said whatever you want” 

“Oh for goodness sake, Damien I’m sick and tired of you pretending you don’t care and leaving the decisions to me! Whatever you want darling” she snarled back in a mocking tone “No, it isn’t whatever I want. WHAT DO YOU WANT?” 

As she shouted, Stephanie shifted her weight onto her left leg and kicked the full paint can clear across the room. A thick unctuous arc of liquid vinyl followed a millisecond behind the rim of the can and draped itself over Damien’s head like a matador’s cape. The now near-empty can clanged against the wall and the last of its contents oozed onto the carpet. 

Damien stood motionless.  The paint trickled down his face. His eyes were opaque red pools. His teeth were smeared red and his spittle frothed blood-like at the corners of his mouth. Stephanie gasped and led him to the bathroom.  She pushed him under the faucet, holding his eyes open as the warm water sluiced the paint from his eyes. 

For the next hour,  Stephanie washed him gently but the red paint lingered. It was in his ears and nose. He hacked and spat as it dripped down his throat.  Neither of them spoke beyond Stephanie’s guilty clucks. 

Now that Damien was clean they went into the loungeroom only to be confronted by paint-splattered carpet.

“Thank god it’s water-based!”  Stephanie quipped trying to make light of things. She scraped the thick paint back into the can and poured buckets of water over the carpet. It seemed like a better idea to get the paint off first and worry about drying it later. 

Another hour passed and while a pink stain remained it wasn’t too bad. 

Damien finally spoke. “I’m hungry, let’s go get a toastie and coffee.” 

He grabbed her keys and headed down the stairs. Stephanie followed him into the basement garage, her remorse a heavy layer that slowed her down. Damien stopped abruptly on the bottom step and looked up at the dripping roof. The garage was directly under the painted room. The room that Stephanie poured buckets of water over. 

“Stephanie,” he said “did you ever stop to think where all that water was going?” 

Her shoulders slumped and she wailed. Stephanie’s black Peugeot was covered in a thin coat of red paint. 

Damien smiled. “I’ll share something with you, Stephanie.  I don’t like red. I would have preferred blue.”

A women in a protective suit and shower cape with a paint roller in hand.
Different house! All kitted up to pain the ceiling!

I’m back!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that I was done blogging. Well here I am, I’m back! 

I’d like to thank those lovely people who reached out to me. They gave me some much needed support and made me think on a few things. (And it wasn’t just family, but thank you Aunty Mary and my editorial team!)

Much of my uneasiness arose from the expectation  or even an obligation of having to write every week. It was a goal of my 60 before 60 challenge and with that done I wasn’t sure of how to progress. One writer suggested I just post whenever I wanted to rather than sticking to a rigid schedule. (Thanks Pete!)

And I’ll do that; write when I feel the need. That may be every week, that may be once a month. But I will write. If nothing else has happened over the last four years that this blog has been in existence, is that I have come to realise that I like writing, and I’m getting good at it! More importantly, sometimes I even have something to say that may interest other people.

Another source of discontent  is chasing perfect SEO. (Search Engine Optimisation) When I started writing I didn’t worry about it. I didn’t even know what it was. I just wrote. More recently I have been analysing my posts more carefully. Making sure I use the keyword the requisite number of times. Ensuring I have the right ratio of passive vs active voice. All in the hope of pleasing the algorithm and hence improving my ability to be found in random internet searches and increase my reach.  This has caused me to write in a less spontaneous way. It has made me use subheadings where I found subheadings intrusive or unnatural. It has made writing less fun.

To remain true to myself and continue to write; I’ll pay less attention to the SEO and if I grow my reach, it with be organically. Much like my quest to grow veggies and have chickens!

Thank you dear readers. More soon. 

PS:  Next week is a Furious Fiction post, then on with the voyage into intentional living or whatever the hell I feel like! One idea I’m thinking on is longer, more analytical investigative pieces. But then again it might just be fluff about making pickles and jam while in Week 8 of lockdown with potentially another four to go!!! (at least!)

Thanks Ing, your not so random act of kindness was the tonic I needed.