FFfAW : Hemmingway’s Shoes

This week’s photo prompt is provided by Shivangi Singh. Thank you Shivangi for our photo prompt!


She flies at the workmen, claws at their arms, her grey hair flying. They swear, drop their chainsaws, grapple for her hands, pin her arms. When she spits, they back away cursing, shaking their heads.

‘Mad old witch.’

Sinking to her knees, she weeps, stares at the sawn tree trunk, at the treasures tangled in its branches. For years people have come to tie ribbons and leave notes, photographs, beads … teddy bears.

For Jane. For Simon. For Grandad, with love. 

Somewhere among the snapped twigs and crushed leaves is her own offering, the first, the one that brought this wishing tree to life.

Two objects. Together they can balance on the palm of her hand. Salmon coloured leather, pinked flower design round the toe, the buckles now dulled, silver flaking.

For my own, sweet Beth. I hope you’re still dancing x


Written for Priceless Joy’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. See the pic and have a go. See here to read the other tales.

I’m sure many of you writers out there are aware of the – probably apocryphal – story of Ernest Hemmingway taking a bet that he could write a complete story in six words. He wrote on a napkin,

For sale : baby shoes, never worn.

and collected his winnings.

I thought of this story as I wrote my own.

20 thoughts on “FFfAW : Hemmingway’s Shoes

  1. Distress is hard to bear, isn’t it. There’s also something infinitely melancholy about some of the folk who invest trees with qualities most of us don’t recognise. Logically it doesn’t make sense.

    A few years ago some folk demonstrated against the felling of ‘fairy trees’ in Nevern, Pembrokeshire. The thing was, these were mostly trees which had grown up in recent years — postmedieval certainly — on top of a mound under which the ruins of the medieval castle lay; archaeologists were intent on clearing the area of over- and undergrowth to expose the foundations and learn about the layering of its history. It’s what they do, indeed what I did when I was involved in archaeological excavation. You destroy, but you also reinstate after you’ve done.

    But you can’t use logic where emotions have been invested: and it’s a hardhearted so-and-so who disregards the feelings of those who believe differently. I don’t know how the human conflict was resolved, but I do know the excavation went ahead; and no doubt the ‘fairy trees’ ceased to hide what was below ground.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a tough one – I love trees, but as a history grad, I’d really want to know what was under the ground … I saw a snippet from a documentary about a fairy tree in Ireland. It was so highly valued by the locals than when the authorities came to build an A road, it had to be slightly rerouted to avoid the tree. They take their folklore seriously over there 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Iain. Not sure if it’s true. There were certainly similar ideas around – a newspaper story before the supposed night at the restaurant for example. But Arthur C Clarke swore it was true and who’s to say Hemmingway wasn’t inspired by seeing that old newspaper article. We writers are magpies, after all 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful words, but what sad emotions they stir I could really feel her horror and disbelief and helpless fury as they took down the tree that meant so much to her, and to so many others.

    Liked by 1 person

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