City Lit Blog

Flash fiction: bite-sized stories from City Lit students

Story added 11th Aug 2016

A sideways glance: succinct, powerful. Flash fiction demands great creativity and craftsmanship to deliver the maximum impact in the minimum amount of time. The pieces in this showcase demonstrate just how much can be told or implied in five hundred words, six words—or even one word.

Many thanks to our students for agreeing to share these pieces, and to Mez Packer for leading such a successful workshop.

Click here to read more stories in part two of our showcase.

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Six word stories

Romeo! Been dying to see you!
-Terry Freedman

 “Do you take this man..?”  “Never!”
-Sabs

Desperately seeking temporary girlfriend, commitment optional.
-Ansuya

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The Toast
-Eric Badout

The metallic click of the toaster startles me. I wake up suddenly, thinking, “It must be seven. He's doing it again.”

Then I hear him opening the fridge, taking the butter out, putting it on the table, opening the drawer, rummaging among the cutlery, finding the knife and as always: scratch, scratch, scratch... buttering the toast. I can see his big hairy hands doing the job, back and forth, back and forth... scratch, scratch, scratch... It’s a habit he has, every Sunday morning, preparing breakfast for me. He’s a man of habits. Then he’ll put everything on a tray and bring it to the bedroom.

Not that I dislike it. Who would complain about having breakfast in bed on a Sunday morning? But after I've finished eating, I know what he'll do: put the tray away, remove the sheet and start fondling me. I can already feel his big hairy hands on my body, back and forth, back and forth… He’ll caress me until I’m melting, just like butter on a warm toast. Who would complain about being touched like that, every Sunday morning?

But the charm’s gone. Everything’s so predictable about him. Makes me feel like we’re just objects in his routine. He’s definitely the toaster, always on time. And me? Which object shall I be?

The bread, the fridge or the knife?

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Six word stories

“I didn’t check for snakes. You?”
-Carsten Ten Brink

Gasholder demolished, ground decontaminated, nothing left.
-Moira Allan

Birthday cake found saying “eat me.”
-Ansuya

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Hearing
-Sabs

They walked out of the hearing side by side. She stepped ahead of him to open the heavy doors out onto the mild blue day. They silently strolled down the steps, but she suddenly turned at the bottom.

“This is it, I guess. It's amazing that we made it through all these years when we clearly never liked each other.”

He balanced himself on the penultimate step and stared down at her. “And you're telling me this now–”

“Because I couldn't before.”

His eyes caught the unusual wedding ring he got her years ago; she was wearing it on her right hand.  

“Well, I have always been a disappointment to you.”

“Uurgh, why can you never move away from that feeling? It's ... This is why...”

The church clock struck. He looked at his watch. “Look, I have to go now. Do you want a lift?”

She was looking up at the sky. “Sorry, I shouldn't have said anything. I don't need a lift.”

She stretched her neck up to give him a peck, but he lifted her up tight into his arms. She didn't put her arms around him. Not this time.     

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Five and six word stories

Came home, wife gone, guitars smashed.
-Carsten Ten Brink

Keep peeling the onion and crying.
-Ansuya

“Ready for the final injection?”
-Sabs

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The Good Samaritan
-Sue Olney

I’m cold, hungry and frightened.

I’m homeless.

But who made me invisible?

Perhaps it was the work of the demons who regularly invade my dreams.

However, I know an angel passed last night.

She left me a can of Tenants Extra. 

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Six word stories

Empty bottle. Dad Dead. Drink Up.
-Jessica Buck

Told you it was empty ... Oh.
-Moira Allan

Wife, home, money, gone. Blues song.
-Carsten Ten Brink

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Neighbours
-Terry Freedman

Terry did a lot of writing. Every day, in fact. In fact, most of the day every day. But his writing had unintended and unforeseen effects on others, especially his neighbours.  That was because Terry did most of his writing in his head.

“Terry’s writing again,” people would whisper to each other as he walked by with his cat in tow. “Best not disturb him, he’s in his own little world.”

Terry sensed their snide asides, and so he found a reputable vanity publisher, and had random writings made into a handsome book. Not all of the writings were his own — that would have taken too long — and some of the pages were blank. But the cover looked great: Terry’s name on the spine was large enough to be visible from behind lace curtains or garden fences.

Terry spent many days walking up and down his street, carrying his book. The whispering gave way to awed silence.

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Mez Packer is a visiting lecturer in Creative Writing at Coventry University. She has published two novels: Among Thieves (2009––nominated for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize) and The Game is Altered (2012). She has written short stories, poems, concepts and scripts for digital platforms and has just completed an Arts Council funded project where she was the librettist for a food-themed song cycle. She is currently completing her PhD and working on a new novel.

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>>Interested in writing flash fiction? Sign up for our next course, starting in October.

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