Tag Archives: flash fiction

Short Story: The Girl Who Couldn’t Smile

18 Oct

This was written during a session of my university’s Creative Writing Society, in response to the prompt “Impressions and Expressions”. I also set myself the challenge of writing a full story, with a beginning, middle, and ending, rather than just a story excerpt, as is my wont when responding to prompts.


There was once a girl who couldn’t smile. No-one knew why, as she didn’t talk much either, in fact she didn’t do anything much at all. She had just arrived in the village one day, to live with her grandmother in the house at the top of the hill. It was unclear as to where she had come from, or how long she was planning to stay, but when she hadn’t left after four years, they assumed that she was there for good.

All that they knew about her was that she couldn’t smile, and even that was an assumption. What they knew for certain was that she didn’t. She went to school every day, ignoring the other children and even the teachers unless she was forced to do otherwise, and never ever showing even the tiniest hint of emotion. When the class clown placed a frog in the teacher’s drawer, causing the rest of the class to explode into giggles, she seemed unamused. When she was praised by the teacher for her consistently high marks, her face showed no sign of pride at her accomplishment. When the circus came to town and the faces of the other children lit up in wonderment, she remained impassive. It really was a mystery.

At first, the other children had tried to befriend the girl, and the village adults had attempted to coax information out of her, curious as to whence she had come. But they had quickly tired of being ignored and rebuffed, and soon paid her very little attention whatsoever. She had become simply “the girl who doesn’t smile”, and before long they had all but forgotten her actual name.

Until one day a new teacher came to the village school. She was young and idealistic, and worried about this quiet little girl, who had no friends and who always seemed somehow sad.

“What’s wrong with her?” She asked in the staffroom one lunchtime, and was met with looks of puzzlement by the other teachers.

“Wrong with her?” Came the response. “Nothing. She’s always been like that!”

“But haven’t you asked her why?” The young teacher replied in horror, and was met with a laugh of derision which rippled around the staffroom like a wave.

“You can talk to her if you want.” The head teacher offered, sensing the fire in the young teacher’s spirit. “But I’d be surprised if she responded. She never has before.”

Unswayed by this, the young teacher decided to try. And so, the next day, while the rest of the children played and the girl sat in silence, head bowed over her book, she crouched down beside her.

“I hope I’m not disturbing you,” she began nervously, for there was something about this girl which made everyone nervous, “but I was wondering if everything was alright?”

The girl looked up, something like surprise appearing in her dark eyes. “Alright?” She asked.

“Yes.” The teacher continued. “You never play with the other children, and you always seem so unhappy. Is there anything wrong?”

The girl looked directly into the teacher’s eyes and sighed. “Oh,” she replied. “You want to know about the smiling. Everyone’s always curious, but no-one’s ever seemed quite so concerned before. So I’ll tell you, but only if you promise to keep it a secret.”

“Of course.” The teacher swore.

The girl leaned closer, lowering her voice. “The truth is I just don’t like the people in this village. They’re so nosy, always wanting to know everyone else’s business. So I decided not to talk to anyone, so that they’d leave me alone. And then the not smiling thing irritated them so much that I decided to keep it going. I’ll be leaving in a year anyway, to go to boarding school in the city. And I can smile at home, and talk to my grandmother, so it’s not so bad.”

And with that, she stood up, collected her book, and left the room. But the teacher could have sworn that, as she paused in the doorway, she flashed her the tiniest hint of a smile.


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Fiction Friday – Metaphors

15 Oct

This week’s Fiction Friday prompt was: “Use this metaphor – “a galaxy of longing” somewhere in your story this week.”

I tried to think of a non-ironic way to respond to this, but I couldn’t, so I wrote this instead:

Metaphors

“A galaxy of longing?” Matt snorted, lifting his head from the stack of papers in front of him to raise his eyebrows at his girlfriend. “Really?”

From her position in the armchair opposite, his girlfriend glared at him. “Hey! That’s my masterpiece you’re laughing at!”

“I know.” Matt replied. “And it’s really very…masterful. The metaphors just need a little work, that’s all.”

Jenna pouted as he continued to flip through the pages, occasionally pausing to chuckle, though whether it was at the actual humour or the quality of writing was anyone’s guess. Eventually, she could stand it no longer, and moved across the living room to position herself in his lap.

“You know what?” She announced, pushing her manuscript to the other end of the desk. “Maybe we should save this for another night. I can think of a lot of other things that I’d rather be doing right now.”

“Really?” Matt cocked his head, studying her face. “I thought that you needed criticism to grow as a writer?”

“I do.” Jenna giggled, resisting the urge to clobber him with the result of her last year’s work (a thousand pages, double-spaced, excellent weapon). “But I can get criticism from the internet too, from other writers. It’s a lot more helpful, and it means that I don’t have to see their facial expressions while they’re reading.”

“Fine.” Matt sighed in mock disappointment. “I’m sure they’ll agree with me about the metaphors though!”

Ghouls Galore Challenge Week 1: Crazy Meg

8 Oct

This was written for the first week of the Ghouls Galore Challenge. The prompts were:

A Poltergeist

“Boustrophedonic”

Crazy Meg

The book was ancient, the pages yellowed and curling at the edges, the leather bindings cracked beyond repair. But Crazy Meg had said that it held the answer to their problems, and despite being, as the name suggested, crazy, she did seem to be the authority on such things.

There was only one problem: reading it. Not only was it written in some form of Old English, but every other line seemed to have been written backwards, which made interpreting it a monumentally difficult task. As the eldest, Sarah had ‘volunteered’ for the challenge, and after hours of scrutinising the lines of cramped handwriting, she had finally cracked it.

“I’ve got it!” She exclaimed, a sigh of pure satisfaction escaping her lips as she collapsed back in her chair. “It’s a poltergeist!”

Michael and Ben exchanged a worried glance, unsure as to why their sister looked so relieved.

“Sarah?” Ben asked in a timid voice. “Aren’t poltergeists supposed to be evil vengeful spirits?”

“That’s a common misconception.” Sarah responded, in the voice which she reserved for correcting her younger brothers. “Many poltergeists are simply mischievous. Only a few turn out to be murderous.”

“Oh, only a few?” Michael said faintly. “That makes me feel so much better. Is there any way to get rid of it?”

“Exorcism.” Sarah replied immediately. “But it doesn’t say here how to do one, and you know what that means…”

The three siblings sighed in unison.

“We have to go back to Crazy Meg’s.”

Fiction Friday – Sea Turtles

1 Oct

This week’s Fiction Friday was to write something based on this  image:

I have to say that I started writing mostly based on the turtle, and haven’t really incorporated the arrow into my piece, but here’s what I came up with:

Sea Turtles:

I was twelve the day that my elder sister decided to leave home. She had just left school and our parents thought that she had a glittering career ahead of her. She was going to university to study medicine, and there was no doubt that she would be successful. And then she heard about the sea turtles.

The change was instantaneous. One day she was sitting at the kitchen table, poring over her anatomy textbooks, and chattering excitably about specialisms and  surgeries, the next she was in the hall, gesticulating wildly, explaining her new grand plan. She thought that she was making a difference, doing something worthwhile. My parents thought that she was throwing her life away. As I huddled at the top of the stairs, peering nervously through the banisters, no-one asked me what I thought. Not that I knew what I thought, but it would have been nice to have had a say in the decision that was to change my life forever.

Two days later she was gone. And not just out of the house, out of the country. The plane taking her to Costa Rica went down somewhere over the Bermuda Triangle. No bodies were ever recovered, but we knew that she was dead. All because she wanted to make a difference. All because of some sea turtles.

Fiction Friday – The Healing Charm

26 Aug

The prompt for this week’s Fiction Friday was this image:

And this is the snippet that I wrote from it:

“You turned her into a fish?” Amy squealed, staring incredulously at her best friend. “A fish? It was meant to be a healing charm! How does a healing charm turn someone into a fish?”

“I don’t know.” William shrugged his shoulders, looking glum. “I said the charm right, I swear.”

“Show me.” Amy demanded. “Maybe if you do it right this time, it’ll reverse the first spell.”

William pointed his wand at the fish, muttering under his breath. With a pop, it vanished, and Miranda re-appeared. At least, he thought it was Miranda.

“You fool!” She wheezed, waving an accusing finger at him. “You were meant to be curing my cold, and I feel as bad as ever! Can’t you do anything right?”

“Uh, Miranda.” Amy cleared her throat. “You might want to look in the mirror. A cold is the least of your problems right now.”

“What do you mean?” Miranda glared threateningly at the pair of them, until Amy pulled a compact mirror from her pocket and handed it to her friend. Then her features froze in horror. “What have you done to me?”

“That’s my cue.” William gulped, dashing out of the room. It seemed the best course of action. After all, there wasn’t much chance of Miranda catching up with him. If there was one thing that OAPs were known for, it wasn’t their running skills.

Fiction Friday – The Silence

6 Aug

This week’s prompt was: Your character walks into a room of people. Everything goes uncomfortably silent and all eyes narrow in on your character. Now keep writing.

And this is what I came up with:

As soon as the doors swing open, you feel the atmosphere change. The gay chatter of just a moment before instantly dissipates into muffled whispers. Heads are turning, people literally craning their necks to get a better look at you. It’s the type of attention that might have been flattering, had the occasion only been different.

Swallowing hard, smoothing down your suit, you force yourself to walk forwards. Although you’re no longer looking at the others, you can feel their eyes following your progress, hear their murmurs as loudly as if they were being shouted directly into your ears. For a moment you consider backing out, just turning on your heel and running, taking the shelter that those heavy oak doors are offering. The outcome would surely be the same.

But you don’t. Drawing in a deep breath, running your hands nervously over your suit for a second time, you take the final few steps. You place your hand on the proffered Bible and look up, facing the room.

“I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.” You proclaim.

You can do this.

You think.