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The Leaf - A Flash Fiction Story

John is a poet and short fiction writer who enjoys collaborating on stories with other writers, and partaking in challenges.


Ann's Challenge

In Ann Carr's (annart) excellent article: Take a Word.... LET: Etymology, Definition, 'let' .. she issued the following challenge:

So this is your Challenge!

Choose the most boring object or subject you can think of and write an engaging, entertaining, fascinating hub about it. You can make your own choice or write about one of the following:

  • watching paint dry
  • a blank floorboard
  • monotonous music
  • airport runway
  • lying ill in bed with bandages on your eyes and no music
  • a wilted leaf in a pocket

We were also free to choose our own boring subject but I thought Ann's selection was good so I would choose one of them. I did actually consider writing about "watching paint dry" but finally decided on "a wilted leaf in a pocket." I hope you enjoy my flash fiction story "The Leaf."

The Leaf

I removed my flannel jacket from the coat rack next to the door, and threading my arms into the sleeves, pulled it on before braving the cold early morning winter air.

A light fall of frost had dusted the landscape over night, and I trudged along the path that led to the lake. Having misplaced my gloves, or really just forgotten them, I placed my cold hands into my jacket pockets to warm them and as I did my right hand came in contact with something dry and crinkled. Taking it in my fingers I withdrew my hand and saw a brown and wilted leaf.

Dry mulberry leaf

Dry mulberry leaf

For just a moment I tried to remember how a leaf had found its way into my pocket, or why I would have deliberately put it there? It had been months since I last wore this jacket.

Suddenly, the memory returned, and as it did a tear formed in my eye. I wiped it away as I recalled the previous Spring, and earlier. This had been the very first leaf that appeared on the mulberry tree I had planted the year before.

You had always loved mulberries. The dark fruit that stained your mouth, tongue, and hands purple everytime you feasted on them. I remember pretending to struggle to escape as you tried to kiss me with your purple lips.

It was for that very reason that I chose that particular tree to plant over the place I sprinkled your ashes.

Mulberry fruit on the tree

Mulberry fruit on the tree

I took a detour through the woods, and walked to the small, private clearing where I had planted your tree. It was our favourite place, where we had gone to be alone together as teenagers, and even later as adults, after I had bought the property and we made our home here.

I sat down on the frosty ground next to the large granite rock bearing the simple metal plaque that said "Janie - R.I.P. 6 June 2015." The now leafless skeleton of the mulberry tree stood starkly next to it.

I crumpled the dry leaf on the ground at the base of the tree as I said a silent prayer, and told you how much I miss you. Come Spring, when the tree showed signs of life again (almost like you being resurrected), I would return and take another leaf.

Mulberry tree with new full growth

Mulberry tree with new full growth

What is Flash Fiction?

Flash Fiction is a general term given to very short short stories. The rules for flash fiction are open to interpretation, some saying these stories should be kept under 300 words in total, and others who believe anything under 1000 words meets the criteria. There are a number of other terms for very short fiction including: short short stories, micro-fiction, twiterature, dribble, drabble, and sudden fiction.

Flash fiction differs from other short written works in that it generally features a traditional story arc -- an evocative scene that doesn't have a beginning, middle or end wouldn't qualify, which is why it's a tough medium to tackle.

David Gaffney in an article in the Guardian lists six main points to remember when writing flash fiction:

  1. Start in the middle
  2. Don't use too many characters
  3. Make sure the ending isn't the end
  4. Sweat your title
  5. Make your last line ring like a bell
  6. Write long, then short

For a detailed explanation of these points check out the following link.

© 2016 John Hansen