FFftPP:Close the Circle



She heard voices beneath the crash of the waves, whispers in the hiss of popping foam and spray. She’d make me listen, hoping to see the spark of recognition in my eyes, and turn away disappointed when they stayed dark.

Nervous of the answer, I’d ask what she heard.

‘Close the circle,’ was all she said, face aglow as if a ball of buttercups were pressed to her chin.

My instinct was to smother her words – hasten the oncoming silence – but my hands were cowards, cradled in the nest of my lap.

When they found her, she was all circles – a halo of bladderwrack wreathed around her throat: full moon eyes fixed on the sky.

Spine curled like an ammonite, she’d returned to the sea.


Written for Roger Shipp’s FFftPP. See the pic, include or allude to the quote and all in 200 words or less. Good fun – do join in.

FFftPP: the haunting of the snake pass



Mark grips the steering wheel, the blinding headlights of oncoming cars making his eyes water. The stereo’s turned up loud, bass vibrating the dashboard, a beehive hum with every drum beat.

He tries to make the road his focus – the scrubby hillside, the moorland sweeping away to his left. Wind barrels across heather and squat grass, buffeting the car and Ladybower Reservoir lies ink black to his right, a hole punched in the world.

Passing the first wreck – an Alvis Silver Eagle, windscreen a spider’s web of splintered glass – he knows the body’s inside. There are more as the bends grow tighter.

He’d like to speed past the worst, for that scene to become a flicker in his peripheral vision, but the road’s too dangerous – he doesn’t want to join the dead. Besides, he has to look. To remember.

The car slows and he sees the shattered glass, the crumpled bonnets … Smashed bodies. Then what he’s been dreading.

A teddy bear in the road.

His instinct is to swerve, to avoid driving over the plush fur, the button eyes. But it’s just another past echo only he can see.

He drives on.


Written in response to Roger Shipp’s Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. Use the photo and the phrase for a story in under 200 words.

FFftPP: Parisian Street Scene: Montmartre




Dawn breaks through the attic window, past the webs and bluebottles. Too little light to paint by just yet. He’s worked by candlelight before ‒ through a night, a day, another night ‒ falling to his bed when he’s too tired to feel the bugs nip.

There’s no money for candles now. On the table is a crust of desiccated bread, a parched scrap of cheese ‒ unless the rats have feasted as he slept. He’s exchanged a canvas for brushes before – for a good coat when the snow was crusted and brittle. He doesn’t care about francs as long as he has pigment enough to paint the world as he sees it; ochre in the eye of the lavender seller at Montmartre: vermillion in her bloated nose: emerald and ultramarine in a pigeon’s wing as it flaps in a mongrel’s jaws.

Daylight shines Prussian blue on the walls, burnt sienna on the bills marked ‘to the occupant’: he’s learnt never to give his real name when money’s scarce.

Sunlight cuts through the dingy glass – he sees a rainbow.


‘… Parisian Street Scene: Montmartre, going once – twice – sold to the gentleman on the telephone for £32million.’


Written for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practioner for Roger Shipp’s It’s All In Finding The Right Words.

This was a toughy – totally flummoxed me to begin with. Then I looked at the billboard more closely, at the brightly painted Parisian scene, and the shadow of the Eiffel Tower looming behind.