Gathering pebbles – microfiction for Jane Dougherty

We gather pebbles. I don’t know why – it’s what we do. Every morning, we dress in our prettiest clothes and head down to the shore. We trail along, picking up whatever pebbles catch our eye – the colour, the shape, the pattern – each of them has something unique. We gather them in baskets. At noon we sit and watch the sea. It’s different every day. Sometimes we play games, tossing pebbles into a circle we’ve drawn in the sand, or maybe playing jacks with a handful of them. We talk, lazily, wondering if today will be the day we find the right one. We eat our lunch – bread, cheese, an apple – and drink clear water. In the afternoon we gather yet more stones, or examine the ones we’ve already chosen.

Then we carry them home to mother. She will have made soup, or a thick stew, and there will be freshly made bread. We eat and talk. Maybe one of us will sing. We patch any holes in our baskets. And while we do this, mother looks at the stones we have brought, turning each of them in her hand, muttering under her breath, and finally discarding them.

We will go back down to the shore again tomorrow. We will keep searching, even though no-one can tell us what we’re looking for.

For Jane Dougherty‘s latest microfiction challenge. The glorious image is by Frederick Leighton. 1024px-frederic-lord-leighton-greek-girls-picking-up-pebbles-by-the-sea-1871



Microfiction for Jane Dougherty – What Freedom!

If you had told me I would spend my days in dancing and laughter with a gallant sea captain – well, I daresay I would have looked at you in disbelief through the lorgnette I affected, shaken my head and moved away.

I was the eldest – and plainest – of seven orphaned sisters, of limited means. I dreamed of romance and adventure, but I knew my duty. I became a governess and watched as my sisters in turn secured positions or husbands. When Louisa, the youngest of us, married the Reverend Coulter and travelled with him to Kettering, I seized my opportunity.

English governesses were all the rage in Russia, I learned, and I secured myself a position in St Petersburg. Such excitement! I took a berth on a small vessel, mainly carrying cargo, but also myself and three commercial travellers .This was the adventure I had dreamed of, and the warm glances I exchanged with Captain Aaronovitch were my own secret romance.

And then – disaster! An ice-berg! Imagine the maelstrom of emotions I experienced – fear of doom, then delight as I felt the Captain’s strong arms around me and knew I would not die unkissed.

And then the unexpected joy of this spirit form, and this sense of freedom – what freedom! – as I and the Captain frolic and cavort in these icy seas, through the long Arctic summer days, and the starlit nights of winter.

The prompt is from Jane Dougherty, and the image is by Ilya Repin – it’s called What Freedom!1024px-ilya_repin-what_freedom

The Woman in the Sun – modified for Jane Dougherty.

The first rays of sunlight would bring her transformation. She waited, breathless, at the window for the first glimmer of fire to appear above the horizon.

Behind her, the Prince lay sleeping, tumbled across his golden bed. She had played her part well. He would always remember her, she told herself, and smiled grimly.

In her left hand she held her prize, the emerald that contained the kingdom’s soul. With her right hand she pulled her robe tightly round her slim body, and stepped forward. This body irked her and she longed for flight.

A sudden noise behind her made her turn, startled as a wild bird. The Prince had woken and was smiling at her. He dangled a chain between his fingers: the diamond swinging from it sparked as the first light of sunrise hit it.

Her hand flew to her throat. Did he know? He held her power there, so casually, leaving her trapped and wingless, in this fragile body.

The sunlight that spilt around her mocked her now. She reached out to him, involuntarily, but the Prince just smiled more widely and closed his hand around his trophy.

“Come here, my love”, he whispered.

Jane suggested a little re-working here and there…

Stella Morris Investigates! – Micro Fiction for Jane Dougherty – episode 3



Stella looked down at the kid on the passenger seat. She didn’t know much about children, but she was pretty sure they weren’t supposed to be that skinny. She was pretty sure about some other stuff, too. She was pretty sure she could lose her license for this. She was pretty sure she didn’t know what to do next. But she was damn certain she couldn’t have left the kid there. That place had a stink of evil about it.

Picking up the kid had slowed her down, though, and the 2 figures she’d tracked from the ruins of the temple folly to the underground complex had got away. She shrugged. She’d have other chances to catch up with Rex Brandenburg.

Suddenly she noticed a green glow way up ahead – the woman from the folly. She DID seem to glow, lighting up the trees around her as she slipped into the woods and vanished.

Shortly after that, she spotted a strange shape in the road, and swerved to avoid it. The car skidded, spun round and stopped. She got out to look.

It was a man, wrapped so tightly in some green creeper that he’d been unable to breathe. And she recognised his face.

This is for Jane Dougherty’s Friday microfiction prompt. She’s kind of suggested we might like to continue our stories, or do stand alone pieces. I’m quite enjoying Stella’s company, so I’m sticking with her for a while – and I want to see what happens next! The image is by Else Berg. I find it rather disturbing.

Microfiction for Jane Dougherty – the blue kiss.

This is for Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge. I’ve gone a tiny bit over the 200 words. She has suggested we do this as part of an on-going story (if we want to). I’m going to try it out, see where we go. The painting is by Munch – The kiss at the window. Edvard_Munch_-_Kiss_by_the_window_(1892)

The night air was hot and heavy on Stella’s skin, but she shivered as she slipped inside the darkened hallway. She shook her head. Rich people always turned the aircon up to high.It grew colder as she headed up the stairs, towards the bedroom.

Mr Locatelli had been very clear:

“You go in, you take pictures, you come out. Something that will stand up in court.”

He’d provided a plan of the house and snapshots of his wife. Stella had taken the job. The rent was due: she needed the money or she’d be sleeping in her office again.

The door handle was ice cold – she was glad of her leather gloves. As she pushed it open there was a rumble of thunder, and as she stepped into the room a flash of lightning illuminated the couple by the window. The man raised his lips from the woman’s neck, but then the light was gone as quickly as it had come.

She heard an almighty smash and fumbled to switch on the lights. She instinctively looked towards the window, but it was open wide. The man was gone, and where the couple had been were only scattered shards of what had once been Mrs Locatelli.

Uncharted Waters – flash fiction for Jane Dougherty

I rolled my eyes. The first humans to make footfall on E3137 and Jed was already planning to dissect the local life forms. We’d wrecked Earth and now we were starting again somewhere else. I had kind of hoped we’d be coming in peace.


“I’m going in”, his voice came clearly over the intercom. “I think I can get a clear shot with the tranq gun”.


As he wriggled, commando style, towards the – birds? Pterosaurs? What were they? – a fine mist began to drift towards us. They looked so peaceful, weaving a gentle dance, their outlines blurred by the cloud around them.


“It’s coming from them!” – he sounded excited – “A defence mechanism, I think? To hide them from predators? How do they do that?”


The mist grew thicker. I heard a choking sound from Jed – I couldn’t see him.  I shouted his name. Radio silence.


I looked down at my suit. It looked strange – it was melting! Acid, I realized, in aerosol form. A cloud of acid – one hell of a defence.


I turned and started to run.


This is for Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge. The words this week are unchartered waters. 


Microfiction – childhood – for Jane Dougherty

Jane Dougherty has started a microfiction challenge. I have been back to writing poetry for a few months, now, but this is the first story I’ve written, so I feel a certain amount of trepidation. I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that I have a 200 word limit.

Anyhow, time to dip my toe into the water of microfiction. Looks a bit chilly from here!


1280px-Alwin Arnegger_jpg

We don’t go upstairs to the attic rooms. Not since our last governess went away. We like it down here, by the fire, where we can keep warm. It’s so cold up there. We hate to feel cold.

We like to read. We read together.

No, we don’t like to play. We used to play with her – chase, and hide and seek. We ran all over the attic, in and out of all those tiny rooms. There are all sorts of things up there – old wardrobes, trunks, piles of photographs. It was fun, but now, we prefer it here, nice and quiet. We snuggle up close and read our book.

My brother thinks you have pretty hair. Our last governess was pretty, too, but mummy was the prettiest of all.

We do hope you’ll be kind to us. Our last governess was so mean. She made us do arithmetic, when all we wanted to do was read our book. She ran away from us when we chased her. She hid so well, we never found her.

Do you like to read? You can read to us, if you like.

It’s a ghost story.