Short Stories

Market Day

This month’s FuriousFiction entry! This was one I had a lot of fun with and find it to be very sweet!

The specifications for this month’s prompt are detailed below. There is a photograph included, but I will include it at the end.

  1. Your story must include this setting pictured (at the end) at some point.
  2. Just because it’s March, your story must include the following “MAR-” words: MARKET, MARBLE, MARVELLOUS, MARSHMALLOW.
  3. Your story’s final sentence must contain dialogue – i.e. someone speaking.

Please enjoy!

Market Street was always busy on the first Saturday of the month. As well as the food stalls that were there every weekend, the artists, tailors and jewellers joined the fray. The regular shoppers had to shoulder their way through the tourists who came to peruse the arts and crafts. 

Thea didn’t mind. Her bakery stall was always swamped with peckish people pining for pastry.

It was also the only time she got to see Cleo.

At least, that’s what the sign said her name was. Cleo’s Crafts. The display changed every month: from cross stitched landscapes to intricate beaded earrings all the way to abstract clay sculptures.

Cleo would occasionally stop by the bakery stall. Every time her hair was a different colour, a rainbow deconstructed and sprinkled through the year. The note she held always said the same thing, one of Thea’s specialities, a sweet roll marbled with chocolate topped with toasted marshmallow. It had got to the point where when Thea saw Cleo leave the stall, she’d get the best roll ready to go. After picking it up, Cleo would vanish for about fifteen minutes and, try as she might, Thea was never able to see where she went.

This time she was ready though. She had a ‘Back in Ten’ sign good to go, and was wearing her favourite elbowing jacket, the one with studs on the sleeves to help coax people out of her way. She kept a close eye on the stall across the way, and when Cleo shut the lids of her display cases, protecting ornamental glass snakes from sticky fingers, Thea got the roll ready and prepared to prop up the sign. Cleo’s hair was pink this month, a delicate pastel shade that made Thea think of peonies dotting a winding forest path the same shade of green as Cleo’s eyes. 

When she offered the paper bag, Cleo mouthed and signed, “Thank you.”

Thea, hoping those YouTube videos were reliable, signed back, “You’re welcome.”

Surprise brightened Cleo’s eyes, the sun emerging from behind clouds. 

Putting a bit more faith into the tutorials she’d watched, Theo added, “I’m learning, slow please.”

With slow deliberate movements, Cleo signed, “Well done. It’s not easy.” Then she grabbed the roll and disappeared. 

Thea followed. A few careful jabs of her elbows and the tourists parted around her like water. She kept her eyes on the pink hair bobbing through stalls.

At the end of the street, the stalls opened up into the empty harbour. Cleo was leaning against the red phone booth, tearing pieces of the roll off and popping them into her mouth. Thea approached, keeping a safe distance so when Cleo noticed it wouldn’t startle her too much.

Instead, Cleo reached out and touched Thea’s shoulder. With a shy little smile, Cleo offered of a piece of roll. Thea took it. Enjoyed how it dissolved into a sugary lace on her tongue. Clumsily signed, “Thank you.” 

Cleo smiled, then mouthed and signed back, “Marvellous.”

Short Stories

Wild Magic

Another entry into FuriousFiction run by the incredible Australian Writers Centre. I really had fun with this month’s (unlike our narrator) and hope you enjoy it as well! The specifications for this month are as follows:

  • Your story must take place in a SCHOOL.
  • Your story’s first word must be THREE.
  • Your story must include the following four adjectives:

I also want to wish FuriousFiction a happy third birthday! I’m sad I missed out on all those previous prompts and wacky antics, but I’m so thrilled to have found them now. They won’t get rid of me so easy! 

Please enjoy.

Three classes in and I am over this day. It was bad enough slogging through a lecture on tinctures. And that demonstration of scrying bones? No thank you.

The third lesson is set up in the ancient amphitheatre on the outskirts of the grounds. The stone is cracked and worn, vivid green moss flourishing on the ever-damp surface. The sky overhead is dark purple; stormy clouds crowding close. There is no roof, and all of us keep shooting suspicious little glances upwards. Any umbrella will be nothing more than a lightning rod out here and if the sky opens up then we will all be drenched.

The lecturer is Headmistress Amelia Jones. She is a short, round woman with a tendency for uncouth jokes and an infectious, bubbly laugh. As she walks to the centre of the stone, her long hair brushes the ground behind her.

“Welcome, kids,” she says. Though her voice is soft, she immediately commands the attention of all of us. “Today I’m going to show you how to tame wild magic.”

A ripple passes through the students. It goes over me and I don’t join in the whispering.

Amelia raises her hands. The air hums, and, as though on command, the clouds overhead break. Rain falls in sheets, but when the drops hit the humming air the water dissipates, filling the amphitheatre with mist. A snap of her fingers, and Amelia condenses the mist into jets of flame that dance overhead. Her mouth is forming words, but what they are exactly is lost under the frantic murmuring of the students around me. Bringing her hands together in a sharp, quick clap, the flames drop to the stone between us and sink into the moss, the surface charring black. It only takes a second for the flame to vanish and the moss to swell, burst, grow into thick, twisting, flowery vines.

The other students, some who have never seen magic before today, are astonished. One reaches out and touches the vine, fingertip brushing a pale pink flower.

Lightning splits the sky overhead. Thunder crashes immediately afterwards, making all of us jump. Except Amelia. She seems to have expected it, because she throws her hands up.

Almost as though her hands are magnetic, the electricity is drawn to her. Dancing in sparking, crackling arcs above her head, hopping between her fingertips. Her long hair lifts and stands on end, fizzing and snapping as it surrounds her like a halo. With a wide grin, she spreads her arms and starts the lecture proper, now that the demonstration has fully engrossed all of us.

Except for me. I lean my chin on my hand and roll my eyes. This was super cool when I was like, five, but after a decade of watching Mum—sorry, Amelia—pull the same old moves, it’s gotten a little boring. The fun of the lightning is over, the talk is very dull in comparison. It’s a shame I’m getting graded on it this time.

Short Stories


FuriousFiction for January 2021, ringing in a new year! This was a strange one, but I had fun writing it. Please enjoy!

The prompt and specifics are as follows:

  • Your story must begin at sunrise.
  • You must use the following words somewhere in your story: SIGNATURE, PATIENT, BICYCLE.
  • Your story must include a character who has to make a CHOICE.

We begin with a sunrise. The class gathers around the small window and stares in silent rapture as the darkness is slowly leeched away into brilliant reds and oranges and pinks. The ocean is still, only slight waves oscillating and sending winks of colour towards us. As the sun crests over the horizon, I instruct the children to put on the tinted lenses they’d been given. They watch, breathless, frozen in wonder as the sky lightens and crystalises into a clear blue.

Knowing that the show is over, I put on my widest smile and say, “Okay, kids, time to come away from the window.”

“Just a bit longer,” pleads Tom, the most outspoken of the gathered children. The others nod in agreement, all eyes fixed on the black shadows of birds that are now flapping serenely past the scene. Unlike us, they are leisurely, with nowhere they need to be.

My smile becomes strained at the corners. “Tell you what, if you still want to see later then we can come back, okay?”

This compromise seems to satisfy them, because they trail off to the next window with their eyes still lingering on the morning sky they’re leaving behind.

I press a button and the window shutter rises, revealing a different scene. The ocean here is rough: tall waves cresting and crashing onto golden sand. Dangling palm fronds sway and clatter together. The children, thankfully, are just as mesmerised by this scene, flinching back and gasping when each wave breaks upon the beach.

“Where do they go?” asks Paula, my favourite student.

“Back to the ocean,” I say. “The water was always part of the sea, it just wanted to visit land for a bit.”

Suddenly, surprisingly, something glides along the scene. It’s an alien silhouette, all angles and curves in all the wrong places. Like the birds, its pace is slow and sedate, unhurried.

The children are horrified. Most let out some sort of gasping scream, recoiling. Tom, in direct contrast, leans forward, eyes wide and fascinated. I am not surprised when he turns to me and asks, “What’s that?”

Knowing what I’ve been instructed to say, I choose to be honest instead. “A person on a bicycle,” I say patiently. Leaning forward I point out the various forms. “That’s their leg, their arm, their head. These are wheels in a frame, see? In olden times it was a way to get around quickly.”

“Can I have one?” Tom asks.

“No, sorry.” I push the button again and the screen flickers out before the shutter swings closed again. “There’s no room here.”

Tom lets out his signature disappointed sigh. The rest of the children exchange relieved glances. Paula offers, “Can we go back to the sun please?”

I agree. As the kids crowd around the first screen, watching the sun rise again, I look out of the window. Staring into the empty blackness of space that surrounds the ship that our forefathers sent off into the unknown depths.

Short Stories

The Gift

FuriousFiction for December 2020, the last of the year! I didn’t place for this month, but am still very proud of the story I wrote. Please enjoy!

The prompt and specifics are as follows:

  • Your story must include a GIFT of some kind.
  • Your story’s first sentence must contain only THREE words.
  • You must use the following words somewhere in your story: PALM, MATCH, ROSE.

furiousfiction December 2020

I’m very nervous.

More nervous than I really should be. The anaesthetist can tell, I think, because her eyes crinkle due to what I assume is a reassuring smile behind her mask. Although, it could equally well be a grimace, I suppose. 

“You won’t feel a thing,” she says. “I’ll make sure of it.”

“Thanks.” I flash a thumbs up and try to put the horror stories of waking up, paralysed but completely alert, from an anaesthetic from my mind. 

I do not succeed.

When they wheel me into theatre, I’m overwhelmed again by how white and bright and cold it is. There’s more people in here than I think is strictly necessary and I’m suddenly acutely aware of the gaping slit in the back of my hospital gown. If I sat up in this bed now, my crack would be completely visible to everyone. I debate wiggling the edges of the gown together, when the anaesthetic nurse asks me to do exactly that. I shuffle over to the other bed with heat in the cheeks of my face and a cool breeze on the cheeks of my arse.

The operating bed is deeply uncomfortable, slightly too narrow for me to feel fully secure. I grit my teeth as the anaesthetist jabs a thin needle into my hand—kindly ignoring my sweaty palm—-and secures the cannula without a drop of blood spilled.

“See you in a bit,” she says, her eyes crinkling again, and then warmth rushes up my arm and everything goes black.

When I wake up my hip is burning, a blossom of heat opening delicate petals of pain in my flesh. Shifting my leg brings a sharp spike into the arch of my pelvis. Thorns on the rose stabbing deep. I groan softly, and a nurse is there immediately with a cool glass of ice chips sweating in his hand.

“Go slow,” he says in a low, soothing voice. A spoon slips the ice into my mouth where it immediately melts on the dry heat of my tongue. “How are you feeling?”

“Hurts,” I say. The word seems to stick on my tongue, and I swallow hard. “I did okay?”

“Everything went really well.” He smiles at me. “You did a really good thing today.”

I give a weak thumbs up and drift back into the darkness for a while. 

When I’m recovered, they give me the chance to see the gift recipient. I didn’t know before, just got the call that I had matched with someone and was needed at the hospital in the morning. I had been nervous, of course, but I hadn’t hesitated to go down when they’d given me the time of admission.

Now, I step up to the window and wave a little awkwardly at the little girl sitting in bed on the other side. She has a cannula in her hand and tears on her cheeks and I am so grateful that I became a bone marrow donor.

Short Stories


FuriousFiction for November. This story made it to the long listed entries of the month, and I’m very proud! The prompt and specifics are as follows:

  • Each story had to take place at a HOTEL.
  • Each story had to include a PHOTOGRAPH.
  • And finally, each story had to include the following ‘blue’ inspired words: COLLAR, GLOOMY, POLICE, RHYTHM, SAPPHIRE.

It was a grimy little hotel. The type you’d expect in one of those dark, overly saturated superhero movies. Gritty realism. The rooms were small, with stained, peeling wallpaper and stains leaking through the ceiling. The sort of place I could imagine being shot. Or stabbed. Or strangled.

One of those violent ’s’ deaths.

The gloomy darkness outside was shattered by the pulsing lights of a police car. Ruby and sapphire bands dancing over the room in a regular rhythm. Certainly a familiar enough sight here. A drug bust maybe. Or a murder. Maybe just a welfare check, called by the receptionist. Or just a routine cruise by to break up any nefarious activity.

If I hadn’t been unable to sleep, no doubt the flashing lights would have woken me. As it was, I sat on the lumpy mattress and stared at the closed door to the bathroom. There was light leaking from around the frame, a flickering yellow light from an ancient, dirty fluorescent tube.

Lex couldn’t sleep in new places.

And so I couldn’t sleep in new places.

Soon, though, hopefully that would change. 

I checked my watch. Almost six. Soon the sun would start to rise and we could actually achieve what we’d come here to. 

My phone buzzed. Three words. “She can’t sleep.”

I smiled and typed back a response. “Same here.”

A few seconds before the reply came through. “Can I bring her over now?”

I tapped my phone against my chin for a second. Staring at the flickering light from the bathroom. My eventual response was an emoji.

While I waited, I busied myself around the room. Made the bed again, moved the overnight bags we’d packed and then not touched from the floor onto the hotel desk. I checked the photo again, wondering if she would really look that way, then waited by the window and picked at the painted windowsill.

In the end, I heard them before I saw them. The excited skittering was audible when they reached the top of the staircase and headed down the concrete path outside.

I threw the door open and the terrier sprinted inside. Brindle spots, sparkling eyes, lolling tongue and furiously wagging tail. The trainer snapped his fingers and the dog sat obediently. Whole body wiggling with excitement.

“Lex,” I called, resisting the urge to kneel down. “Daisy’s here.”

The bathroom door opened a crack. Huge, dark eyes peeked around. My daughter crept from the bathroom. Pointedly ignoring the gaze of myself or the trainer. Her eyes fixed on the dog we’d travelled across the state to pick up.

Daisy’s tail still wagged excitedly, but she sat calm and still as Lex approached and snapped the collar she’d been holding the whole time around her neck.

“Free,” the trainer said, and Daisy stood and immediately wiggled her way into Lex’s arms, lapping happily at her face. For the first time in too long, my daughter smiled totally unselfconsciously and hugged her new support dog tight.

Short Stories

Hold Her Under

Another FuriousFiction entry, this time for October 2020. The prompt and specifics for this are listed below:

  • Your story must include someone/something being caught.
  • Your story must include the following words (plurals allowed): OBJECT, WOUND, BAND, ELABORATE.
  • Your story’s final two words must be THE MOON (can be part of a larger sentence).

It was her monthly bleed that gave her away. Though she had worked hard to keep it hidden, eighteen months into the journey her internal calendar glitched and she woke in a pool of blood. The captain was alerted, and when she was stripped to search for wounds, her secret was revealed.

No women allowed on board. It was bad luck, so the superstitions said. 

Never mind that her hard work had prevented a capsize during that big storm the previous week. Or the rogue wave the month before. The whirlpools and shallow reefs and pirates. A thousand and one hazards that she had helped them avoid. She was one of the most valuable members of the crew — though when asked to elaborate on why that may be the case she was unable to.

She had an affinity with the water. That was all.

When they dragged her to the edge of the ship, naked and shaking and crying, she had tried to object. To plead. To beg for her life. They talked over and around her, these men she had called brother. Joking that her bleed would bring the sharks. That maybe if she floated they would count her as one of them and drag her back on board. Or consider her a witch and hold her under.

They bound her wrists and ankles with ropes laced with salt, heavy and swollen with sea water. Tossed her over the side of the ship. As she sank, the ropes seemed to fuse into an unbreakable band fixing her limbs together. And icy water filled her lungs. And fear faded to be replaced with the bright spark of fury, even as her breathing slowed to a stop.

She became the water. The waves. The sky stretching above the ocean.

Her screams, the lashing wind, whipping the white frothed waves to vicious stabbing points. Her tears, the salt that crusted every available surface, a thousand tiny blades ready to slice into unprotected flesh. Her fury, the unrelenting sun beating down, burning all in its path. 

Circling the seas, ships drew her ire. Her approach brought storms. Heavy clouds so dark they were almost black, blocking out the sky. Waves surged, tipped and tumbled ships like a mouse caught between the paws of a vindictive cat.

Sometimes she smashed these ships against the rocks. Crushed them to splinters and dragged them hungrily into the dark deep with her.

But sometimes, when the ship was firmly in her grasp, she would let it slide free and quieten the storm so they could pass. Those who had done no harm, had thrown no innocent to the ocean below. 

Because she did not swim alone. The other women who had been thrown overboard to appease some foolish superstition swam with her. Whispered their pain and fear to her, the one with the strength to avenge them.

And when the ocean was still and quiet, they floated together, pulled by the inexorable force of the moon.

Short Stories

The Mermaid

My first entry into a Furious Fiction competition. This was a photo prompt with some caveats.

  • Each story had to be INSPIRED by the picture above.
  • Each story’s first word had to begin with the letters SHO.
  • Each story had to include the following words: SCORE, SLICE, SPRINKLE, STAMP and SWITCH (past and plural variations were allowed)

Shocked, I stared into the water below. The Stitch Witch—my trusty home since I had sailed away from my lonely life—rocked in the waves, a fine mist of sea spray sprinkling against my face. Almost enough to convince me I was awake. Almost. Despite the bright sun and clear blue sky overhead, the sight from beneath the white tipped water was hard to reconcile with reality.

Fins as tall as I was sliced through the waves. Glittering kaleidoscopes reflecting off the smooth surface. A powerful tail churning up crashing whirlpools. Beneath the water, two huge, sparkling eyes looked curiously up at me.

I opened my mouth. Closed it again. Like a fish gaping uselessly at air I couldn’t breathe. The mermaid—an actual mermaid!?—giggled. Their voice like a wind chime, a xylophone. A score of tinkling musical notes that burst through the churning surface of the ocean to ring in my head. Stamping reality onto my brain.

When their hand broke the surface, webbed fingers extended and nails that looked a hell of a lot like claws gleamed in the sunlight. Their laughter continued. Surrounding me in a cloud of music. It was more a lullaby now, delicate and soothing. The stories of ancient sirens floated through my head, but they were vague and distant. The nonsensical mythology of a dead world. Not like this divine creature floating beneath me. This ephemeral vision. 

I took their hand. Without a moment of hesitation. Felt the fingers close around my wrist like a vice. A sharp tug. The rocking deck of the Stitch Witch falling away. The icy embrace of the water swallowing me whole. The sudden switch left me dizzy, reeling. Gasping for breath and finding only mouthfuls of liquid. 

The mermaid loomed over me, blocking out the sun. Gripped me tight against them. Skin that was cool and smooth and lined with delicate scales. They held me like I was a flickering match in a pitch black night. Their scales scraped against my cheek as they leaned closer to me. When they whispered in my ear, their voice was the susurration of the waves, the empty hum of the deep, the creaking wood of my little ship. They murmured stories of drowning. Of death. Of being tossed aside and finding rest in the deep dark water. 

Of loneliness.

Any thought I had of struggling waned. The memory of home, of the empty bed and the empty apartment and the empty life fell away. I opened my arms and wrapped them tight around this lonely, abandoned creature. Breathing the water deep. Feeling the panicked alarm for oxygen fade. Embracing death and loss and fear. 

When I opened my eyes, the ocean was clear and still. I rolled in the water. Luxuriating in the currents supporting my body. A flick of my tail. Reaching out my clawed hands. I caught the gaze of the mermaid who had drowned me. Who had brought me to life.