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Shannon loves to bring the goings-on in her imagination to life for others. Sometimes one simple thought or prompt sparks an entire story!


The day started the same mundane way it always did. Day after day, Analisa and her brother Caleb awoke to the roosters alerting them that it was time to go out and feed the chickens. When their chores were done, a delicious breakfast prepared by Mama awaited them inside. The three of them ate together before Analisa and Caleb left for school. It had been that way for as long as Analisa could remember. Ever since Papa died. This morning seemed no different.

“Don’t forget your lunch!” Mama called after Caleb, as he ran out the door ahead of Analisa without his lunch in hand.

“It’s okay, I’ll take it to him,” Annalisa said.

She turned back to get his bag, stopping momentarily in her tracks. Mama stood there, arms wrapped protectively around herself. In a matter of minutes, she looked years older. The worry lines etched around her sad eyes were not there when they were eating.

“Are you okay, Mama?" Analisa whispered.

“I’m okay, baby. Go on now. You best be getting to school.” She smiled weakly before turning away, but Analisa heard the barely audible moan escape her mother’s lips.


“Caleb! Wait for me!” Analisa called.

As usual, he was racing ahead of her. The sites and sounds of spring were all around them now. She could hear the squirrels scurrying about on the foliage of the path they took each morning through the woods. The leaves were slowly unfolding to reveal their various shades of green. Analisa loved this time of year. It was a beautiful morning, but she could not shake the dismal feeling hanging over her like a shroud.

“Caleb!” she called again. “Caleb, where are you?”

“Here, Analisa! I’m here," he called from somewhere on the right, off the path in the woods. "Look at them train tracks. Where'd they come from?”

“I don’t know. I guess maybe they’ve always been there. Come on, we’ve got to get going if we want to make it to school on time.”

Caleb reluctantly turned away from his view of the tracks, but only for a second. Something alluring seemed to be awaiting him down there.

“Com'on, it'll be fun! Let’s see where they go!” He didn’t wait for her to answer.

Sighing heavily, Analisa hiked up her skirt and followed her brother down the steep hill. One misstep and she knew she would be tumbling head over heels to the bottom of the ravine where the tracks lay. Carefully, she eased her way down the rocky slope.

She wasn't paying attention to Caleb's descent until she heard the sickening sound of bone breaking when he tripped on a rock. She dropped her books and their lunches, but she was frozen in place, suddenly feeling as if she wore lead shoes. Her entire body was weighted down by some inexplicable force. Horrified, she watched as her brother rolled down the hill out of control, flinching in pain herself with each thud his body made.

Caleb's arm twitched, but before she could process what had just happened, she heard a sound in the distance. It was soft at first, almost comforting. Panic set in, though, as the steady rumbling got louder and louder. Caleb’s arm twitched again.

The mammoth black beast barreled down the tracks, aiming straight for her brother’s nearly lifeless body, but like a deer in the headlights, Analisa still could not move. All she could do was stare, temporarily deaf now too, but not blind. The last thing she remembered was hearing the piercing screech break the silence in her head. She never knew if it was the sound of her voice or the brakes on the train.


Consumed by guilt, Analisa lost herself that day too. She found it increasingly more difficult to stay home. When she was away, she didn’t have to avoid her mother’s sorrowful eyes while talking to her. If Mama blamed her half as much as she blamed herself, maybe this would make more sense. Maybe this would be easier. But she didn’t. Mama never blamed her.

Analisa sat alone on the park bench, the scowl on her face as dark as the gathering thunderclouds. They were accumulating quickly now, becoming more ominous the closer they loomed. She couldn’t move, though. Instead, she sat transfixed by the sound more than the sight. The leading clouds rolled over themselves, seemingly picking up speed with every tumble. Behind the tumbling clouds, more clouds swirled. Analisa continued to stare in stupified amazement until dizziness overtook her and she became disoriented.

This is not a train, she realized too late. And I am not that scared little girl from the past. Such a strange sensation. To be picked up by a reckless twister, that is. How could something so powerful and destructive be so gentle at the same time? She felt weightless floating through the air, watching various pieces of debris whirl around her. The twister was as powerful as a freight train but slightly more merciful. At least some things have a chance for survival whenever a tornado rolls through, whereas a freight train thundering down the line stays only on the tracks laid out before it, heading in one singular direction, oblivious to the torture it can create, oblivious to the one in its path that may have survived a fall if only it had not come along. Nothing in a train’s path is granted such heavenly mercy as this ethereal deliverance from hell the twister could surely provide. Analisa was strangely at peace, free for the first time since the accident.


The Challenge and Prompt That Inspired This Flash Fiction Story

This flash fiction piece is the result of a challenge issued by DzyMsLizzy. The challenge intrigued me, but then I received an invitation via email to write a short story for the Reedsy website. There are several prompts to choose from each week and the winner receives a $50 cash prize. One of the Reedsy prompts grabbed my attention. It also seemed to fit well with DzyMsLizzy's challenge. The prompt was to write a short story with a twist that reveals the plot took place in the past. The challenge issued here was to write a flash fiction story using a sentence she provided somewhere in the story. Unfortunately, I was unable to meet the deadline to participate in the Reedsy contest due to other obligations. It's all good, though. This way, I can leave it as a flash fiction piece instead of aiming for 1000 - 3000 words and I can post it on this site after all. If you would like to participate in this challenge, you can find the forum post here.

© 2019 Shannon Henry


Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on December 19, 2019:

Thank you, Umesh. I appreciate that.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 18, 2019:

A good story. Nice reading. Thanks.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 16, 2019:

Thanks, Chitrangada. I'm glad that you enjoyed it. :)

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on November 16, 2019:

Great response to the challenge. Your story is absorbing and keeps the interest of the readers, all through.

Wish you all the best. Thanks for sharing.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 12, 2019:

Hello, MsDora. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I do enjoy the twists and turns of a thriller. LOL. I was hoping this particular one had some spookiness about it, but I wasn't sure if I could pull it off, especially as flash fiction or a short story.

Today, I'm going to go follow-up on that author interview I mentioned. You've inspired me to do that sooner rather than later. :)

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on November 12, 2019:

The sudden twists in your story were scary, but each one made me more determined to follow through to the end. For me, that's good story-telling.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 11, 2019:

Thank you, Paula. I guess my reply is pretty much the same to both of you.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 11, 2019:

Thanks, Shauna. Feedback here has encouraged me to keep plugging away at another project I started and set aside. The way writing evokes emotion is what I love about it and hope to improve upon. It's like music and a good song lyric; there's something almost magical about it. It's good to know you felt something. Thanks!

Suzie from Carson City on November 11, 2019:

How right you are! Shame on me! I sent you corrections w/o commenting on your flash fiction!

Perhaps it was unintended timing on my part, since my friend, Sha, has stated my feelings perfectly. I got all the same reactions on this piece. Exciting but so so sad. Enormous feelings of sympathy for Mom carrying such unrelenting grief....Good job at Flash Fiction....

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on November 11, 2019:

What a sad and unexpected ending! This story is full of emotions. I felt the excitement Caleb felt as he set out on his adventure. I felt Analisa's frozen horror as she watched her brother die. Then I felt her sense of peace as she was lifted from the emotional hell she surely would have endured had she lived.

I feel for Mom. She lost her husband, then both children. My heart bleeds for her.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 10, 2019:

Thanks, Clive. I'm glad you liked it. I tried to read one of yours the other day, but it said the link was unpublished. I'll try again.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 10, 2019:

Good to see you again, Maria. I'm so glad you came to read. I hope that you are still writing and doing well. You're always an inspiration.

Clive Williams from Jamaica on November 10, 2019:

What a marvelous write. Great story friend. made me think.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on November 10, 2019:

Riveting and very well-written, Shannon. Your fiction is a winner for me!

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 10, 2019:

MizB, you just made my day! It's nice to know that my abstract way of thinking does pay off sometimes. Especially with creativity.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on November 10, 2019:

Shannon, this story really does fit into both challenges. I see two interpretations to your ending, and I'm not sure which I like better. You rose to the challenges quite well. Good job.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 10, 2019:

Thank you, Chris. I really appreciate your feedback because I know that you write short stories and flash fiction exceptionally well.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on November 10, 2019:

The beginning of the story introduces the family just enough to cause the reader to care about what happens to this family. Good descriptions all the way through, especially in the final paragraph. Great story. Sorry you missed the Reedsy competition.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 10, 2019:

Thank you, Mary. I'm not sure if that qualifies as actual redemption, but I guess it was for Analisa. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and leaving your kind thoughts.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on November 10, 2019:

I enjoyed reading this. I always feel good when there is redemption at the end.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 09, 2019:

Thanks, Audrey! You guys are all too nice. LOL. I appreciate that you came by to read it. Glad you enjoyed it.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on November 09, 2019:

I really enjoyed this flash fiction and you clearly rose to the challenge. As far as I'm concerned you won the prize!

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 09, 2019:

Yikes! Grrrrr. I think that quite possibly every single word that could've been mistyped or autocorrected to the wrong form was messed up this time around. I caught some on my own and missed all of the most obvious ones. Thanks! To everyone.

Suzie from Carson City on November 09, 2019:

You've said you appreciate corrections. You have "head over heals"...and of course, as you know, it's "heels.".....U also have the "breaks" on the train...which should be "brakes." Delete this note of corrections.......I didn't have time to do it in email. Those were the only 2 that jumped out at me.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 09, 2019:

Oh, sure. I know what you mean. This is perhaps not quite the same thing....but I just recently learned that when we sing of macaroni in the song "Yankee Doodle" we are actually singing about something that was a slang term for fashionable back when the song was penned. Sure makes more sense than what my little kid mind used to imagine all those years ago. LOL

manatita44 from london on November 09, 2019:

Makes your story clearer ... more meaningful. Sure you built up to it, but it helps to make it clear. Hubs, as you know, are sometimes read by people we never know and perhaps will never meet.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 09, 2019:

Is that a serious question? I guess I could see how that's not immediately obvious to you. I think it's more of a southern term here in the U.S., but a twister is another word for a tornado.

On a side note, tornadoes are said to sound like freight trains.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 09, 2019:

Thanks for issuing the inspiration! Who knew flash fiction could be so twisty? LOL. I'm glad you like it.

manatita44 from london on November 09, 2019:

What is this 'twister.? Not clear.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on November 09, 2019:

Good job, Shannon! I'm delighted that you were able to participate after all.

You threw quite a few twists into this tale. I like it.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 09, 2019:

I mean, if one I called a flash story counts as flash fiction.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 09, 2019:

So true, Ruby! Thanks for coming by to read. This is only the second flash fiction piece I've ever written. (Maybe third, if one what I called a short story counts as flash fiction instead.) And they're all here on HP! LOL

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on November 09, 2019:

Shannon. this was a great flash fiction. There's nothing like a challenge to get the writing juices flowing. Well done!

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 09, 2019:

I like your way of thinking, Bill. Thanks!

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 09, 2019:

Thanks, Eric! I appreciate your kind words.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 09, 2019:

Nice response to the challenge, Shannon! Win or lose, you still won to my way of thinking.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 09, 2019:

Really good. It would seem that it is their loss not yours.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 09, 2019:

Hi Pamela. Thanks for your kind words. It's okay that I didn't enter. I missed the deadline by mere minutes, though. There were more than a couple hundred entries. The odds weren't in my favor, anyway. But it was fun. LOL

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 09, 2019:

Hi John. A lot of times, I find the prompts sent from Reedsy uninspiring. Every now and then one Sparks an idea, but it seems like it's hard to find time to put them on paper. On the other hand, seems like I write better under pressure.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 09, 2019:

Hi Tiyasha. I really like your description. Thanks.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 09, 2019:

Thanks, Lorna. I'm glad you enjoyed it. The feeling of wanting more is what I least like about flash fiction.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 09, 2019:

I really enjoyed your flash fiction and I think it is very good. It certainly has a twist and it is too bad you were not able to write it one time to win the prize.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on November 09, 2019:

This was a wonderful piece of flash fiction, Shannon. It had me captivated from the start. It's a pity you couldn't submit in time for the Reedsy contest, but maybe next time. I too entered one of there contests recently with a piece of flash fiction. I didn't win the $50 but got a mention and published on their webpage.

Tiyasha Maitra from Gurgaon on November 09, 2019:

A thoroughly enjoyable read Shannon. Dark with a slight Jack and Jill context I thought. I liked it very much.

Lorna Lamon on November 09, 2019:

I thoroughly enjoyed this tale Shannon which held my attention from the beginning and left me wanting more. Well written and thought provoking - a great read.

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