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When first they made her, from straw and string and wood, she was just a scarecrow. The children drew her face and laughed at the paint on their fingers. They dressed her in cast-offs from the bins and set her over fields and flowers, that she might keep watch for the cawing crows.

She didn’t work. Crows came and stole away the seeds. Mother cursed and father kicked at the dirt.

But the youngest made instead the first sacrifice: he put his scarf about her neck. When the crows came next, they saw her and fled.

So the family laid their clothes upon her, begging her protection for the crops. And protect them she did.

Year passed after year and the harvest was bountiful. The farm yielded the finest crops and, as they owed it all to her, they lay a tenth portion down at her feet.

The other farms saw them prospering and they too brought sacrifices: frayed cloaks, scrap-cloth, fresh straw. She saw them and was pleased.

Harvest passed after harvest and ritual outlived reason. Years hence, they still laid sacrifices at her shrine.

They called her scarecrow no more. She was the Mother of Flowers.


Word Count: 198

This is for Sunday Photo Fiction. Thanks to Susan for running the challenge and Anurag Bakhshi for providing the prompt photo!

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coffee-table-prior

There were days when Julian could feel his life buckling under the weight of Nothing and hear things snapping and straining in the dead silence.

Today was one of those days.

He reached for the bottle and the cigarette pack. Every time he flicked his lighter or watched light gleam on a sea of whiskey, he hoped it would be the last.

He had no intention of quitting.

He walked through the debris-strewn apartment, stale with tobacco and old sweat, and opened the curtain.

A songbird perched on the windowsill and made the single most perfect sound he’d ever heard.


Word Count: 100

This is for Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for running the challenge and Yvette Prior for providing the prompt photo!

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The ferry captain prided himself on regularity.

“Keep to a schedule, that’s the main thing,” he said. “Everything else will fall into place.”

The ferry made its passage across the channel three times a day, four times on Saturdays, and never deviated from the schedule by so much as a second, rain or shine.

Naturally, the captain didn’t see why the end of the world should be any exception.

“There’s still room!” called a woman from the shore as the gates closed and the bridge rose.

“Wait for the next ride across!” the captain shouted.

As the ash cloud brewing overhead would reach them long before the next ferry, the people stranded on the shore found this of little comfort.

The woman looked at the cloud, at her children, at the ferry moving slowly away.

“Nothing to lose,” she muttered, and slammed her foot down on the accelerator.


Word Count: 148

This is for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. Thanks to Priceless Joy for running the challenge and Ted Strutz for providing the prompt photo!

ronda-del-boccio

The ramshackle place the Professor lived was more garden than house, ivy-coated and sprouting mushrooms. The village called him Professor, though it was years since he’d taught. He was odd – a stranger living as a neighbour.

But one night he was in the pub, trading seeds for beer and Ted the farmer decided to indulge him.

“What sort of seeds are they?” Ted asked.

“Those,” the Professor said, “are Moon Trees. Gravity won’t bow their branches and their fruit glows with moonlight.”

At his field’s edge, Ted planted the seeds.

Silver leaves sprouted with the next full moon.


Word Count: 98

This is for Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for running the challenge and Ronda Del Boccio for providing the prompt photo!

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They are young and the sky is wild and swirling grey, electric with dreams of storm and thunder.

“We should get inside,” she whispers. “It’s going to rain.”

“Then let it rain,” he answers. “We won’t let it spoil our day.”

They are older and the sky is clear and blue and empty.

“I’m sorry,” she says.

But he’s already turned away.

They are old and the sky is fluffy white as ground and water, a world painted in winter’s monochrome.

“After all this time,” he says. “Here. Still here.”

“Where else would I be?” She smiles – snow-white, clear, electric as lightning. “Where else can you see a sky like this?”


Word Count: 110

This is for FFfAW. Thanks to Priceless Joy for running the challenge and wildverbs for providing the prompt photo!

sandra-crook-stacks

You can do no magic with new things, gleaming and pristine in their suffocating packaging. This was one of the first things Pomona’s teacher had told her. Magic is a wild thing, an ancient thing. It blossoms in the forgotten things, in the shadowed corners, in the depths of woods.

So Pomona, like her teacher and her teacher’s teacher before, had her shed of odds and ends: broken pottery discarded behind a neighbour’s garden, sticks of hazelwood, bricks from a tumbledown wall.

They were her treasures, her secret things, and when she asked, they would do magics strange and terrible.


Word Count: 100

This is for Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for running the challenge and Sandra Cook for providing the prompt photo!

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It was only when he was dangling from a tightly-knotted rope around his ankles that Red Jack – former Captain of the Avenger and current prisoner on Crossbones Isle – realized that a lot of the problems in his life could have been avoided if he’d been a bit less of a cliché.

If he’d gone for plain sails instead of black, he might have managed to take those ships unawares. If he’d taken his gold to a bank and invested it in a diverse portfolio instead of making a cryptic map, it might have been a good deal more secure.

And if he’d buried the gold under the perfectly ordinary rock instead of the one that looked like a skull, he might not be watching a pack of treasure hunters carry it away right under his nose.

But all that would be no trouble once he got the ropes undone. He’d wait for them to leave, then slip aboard the ship, get into a couple duels, and recover his hard-stolen gold. All part of the story.

Then he saw the pistol, aimed right between his eyes.

And for the first time in his life, he realized it wasn’t a story.


Word Count: 199

This is for Sunday Photo Fiction. Thanks to Susan for running the challenge and Joy Pixley for providing the prompt photo!