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Jemma and Cousin Nan


I’ve enjoyed writing for many years. I'm dedicating more time to the craft in my retirement days.

Challenge from Ann Carr

I found this great challenge on fellow writer Ann Carr's profile page. In her article, Ann put forth the following challenge


So now I’m going to give you a basic introduction to a story. Keeping to the same theme, your task is to make that introduction more interesting, have more impact, and then finish the story in the same fashion. It should be between 500 and 1000 words. You can change the character's name if you wish, male or female.

‘Jemma walked up to the door of the house and rang the bell. There was no answer. She went round the back. In the back garden was a figure……..’

What happens when she goes round the back?

After days and days of writing and rewriting, adding and paring, writing furiously and snipping even more furiously, here's the flash fiction piece inspired by and dedicated to my friend Ann. Note: My character Jemma is a man. That's what made the story work for me and my muse.

Hope you enjoy it!

Jemma and Nan

Jemma dashed up the steps, ignored the doorbell button and rapped mightily on the solid oak door. There was no immediate answer, so he tried the handle. Locked. After less than ten seconds, and one quick tippy-toe peek through the door’s eyebrow window, he rushed toward the backyard, rubbing his knuckles as he went.

Rounding the corner through the gate, Jemma looked up. As he did, his Chuck Taylors squeaked to an abrupt halt on the concrete walk.

His cousin Nan was there, dressed in Daisy Duke cutoffs and an orange bikini top. She was oblivious to his presence, due in part to a pair of white Air Pods she had in her ears. They were apparently playing something at a very high volume.

Too, though, Nan had her back to him and was fully engaged in a dance. She was swaying her hips and arms—her entire body, really—slowly, suggestively, side to side and up and down, next to a nearly seven-foot-tall statue. She moved ever closer to the figure, never quite touching it, pulling away, snaking around and moving in closer again.

The statue’s features were striking. Like the Venus de Milo, it had no arms. Unlike the classic Alexandros of Antioch creation, though, this statue was of a scantily—or perhaps not-at-all—clad male. Further, if the plaster character was based on an actual model, the latter was apparently in an agitated state at the time of sculpting. To Jemma, what was most disturbing about the whole scene was that Nan was making most of her provocative movements in the immediate vicinity of the indicator of the model’s agitation.

Unable to get Nan’s attention with a hand wave or a howdy-do, Jemma approached her and reached out to tap her on the shoulder. Just before his fingers reached their target, Nan swung around and landed a flat palm to his face. Jemma yelped and reached up with both hands, leaving his abdomen exposed to a rapid-fire, one-two punching move, which was followed in quick succession by a karate kick to his groin.

When Jemma regained consciousness, he was lying in a beach lounger in the center of Nan’s backyard. He raised his red-knuckled hand to block out the sunlight, lowered it when Nan’s shadow obviated the need.

“Oh my god, Jemma! Are you all right? What the hell are you doing sneaking up on me like that?!” Nan reached down, wiped his brow with a cool, damp cloth, folded it and placed it across his forehead.

Jemma wasn’t sure what to say. He was processing pain in three different locations, as well as a mental image he was sure he’d never unsee.

“Well...I, uh, I came to see if you were ok.”

“Wait. What? Why? What would make you think I wasn’t?”

Jemma removed the wash cloth, sat up and winced. Grabbing his stomach, he spoke slowly: “Well, for starters, Nan, there’s like umpteen Amazon packages stacked on your front porch. Did you know that? I was riding by on my bike and saw them. It seemed a bit strange to me, so I came to check up on you.”

Nan looked away, turned her gaze toward the white plaster figurine. Jemma followed her eyes, looked at the statue himself. After a pregnant and awkwardly quiet few seconds, and without looking back toward Jemma, Nan spoke.

“Not a word of this to anyone. Ever. Got it?”

Jemma turned his head slightly, looked at the tightly woven blond braid hanging down beetween Nan's taut, muscular shoulders. “Yes. Yes. Understood. And I promise.”

Nan turned back toward him, leaned in close and whispered. “I mean it, Jemma. If you so much as peep, hint, suggest to anyone…ever…I’ll come after you, I’ll find you, I’ll jiujitsu your junk again and push your balls so far up into your abdomen, they’ll have to be surgically withdrawn.”

Jemma gulped and nodded quickly as Nan stood up, turned around and walked in the back door. When the screen door slammed, Jemma rose from the lounger and started running to the front of the house. As he mounted his bike and started to pedal away, he could hear over his shoulder Nan hollering at him.

“Thanks for letting me know about the packages, Jemma! Have a good week, and say hi to your mom for me! Bye!”

Jemma raised his red-knuckled hand and waved without looking back. Then he leaned over the handlebars and started pedaling as fast and hard as he could.

© 2021 greg cain


greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on January 28, 2021:

Sha Sha - you flatter me, my friend! Thanks for the kind words. Hard to know what's going on with Sister Nan, I agree. She's a force to be reckoned with, though...and as you say, any number of possible reasons why...

Good week, Miss Sha Sha. Be safe, be well and be good.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 27, 2021:

Box, you're such a good story-teller. I just love your work. You did an awesome job of Ann's challenge. What a bizarre scene, huh? And then Nan acted as if nothing had happened. What's her driving force? Oh, there's a myriad of possible answers to that question.

I really enjoyed this, my friend. Great job!

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on January 26, 2021:

John - thanks for reading it, brother. I guess raunch is one descriptor that could be used. I tried to keep it at least to the PG level, if not strictly G-rated. In any case, I had a grand time putting it together. When I started out writing it, this was not nearly the way I saw it concluding. But in the end...this was what wanted to be.

Thanks again, John, for the encouraging words, and have a great week.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on January 26, 2021:

Ann - thanks to you for putting it out there. I am glad I found your piece from a couple years back. Great stuff! I recently read a short article about Kurt Vonnegut where he said the following: "If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out." There are literally volumes on the subject. Your coverage of it, your distillation of that topic in your article "How to Edit: an Exercise in Precision and Paring; Keep Up Your Standards!" was very helpful and informative for me. Like I said, I'm glad I found it.

Good week, Ann!

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on January 26, 2021:

Welcome, Liliane! I had a good time putting this together, too.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on January 26, 2021:

Bill - thanks, and yes, I do think perhaps a call to the cousin's house might be in order for future visits. Haha!

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on January 25, 2021:

Haha this was a bit of raunchy fun, Greg. Nan’s actions make makes me wonder what is I those Amazon packages. I bet Jemma does call in advance next time.

Ann Carr from SW England on January 25, 2021:

Great story! Thanks for taking up the challenge. It's certainly a different take but a fun one. No wonder she has statues, no boyfriend would be safe! Scary girl! I don't suppose Jemma will be visiting again..

Well done.


Liliane Najm from Toronto, Canada on January 25, 2021:

Thanks for the chuckle.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 25, 2021:

I think I would be dropping Nan as a friend very quickly. Either that, or call next time and tell her you are stopping by for a visit. And those packages on the porch? To hell with them in the future.

Just sayin'

Great challenge response, buddy!

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