Tag Archives: flash fiction

Moraine (F)

“I still can’t believe you named her Moraine,” Jill said.  Liz had just re-filled their teacups with her latest concoction of herbal tea.  Another experiment gone wrong, Jill thought.

“Why not?  Moraine is a beautiful word.”

“If you like piles of gravel,” Jill teased.

“Stop thinking with your eyes. A glacier carries treasures lifted along with the ice for eons and only set down with great reluctance at the end of its life.  The gravel, as you call it, is then free to be lifted up again by the river it creates.  What could be a better name for a cherished child?”

“You must be talking about me,” Moraine said, entering the kitchen with a pile of school books. “And you’re trying to justify my name again.”  She eyed her mother with pretend annoyance.

Jill had to agree that this special girl deserved an unusual name. “Your mother was calling you a treasure, which seems appropriate,” she said.

“But did she tell you my nickname in grade school?” Moraine asked, her eyebrows raised.  “More,” she announced without waiting for her mother’s response.  “OK, I guess I was a bit chubby.”

“Not any more,” Jill laughed, envying her trim silhouette.  She glanced at Liz and saw her gazing wistfully at her daughter.

“Moraine has been accepted into Cambridge for her undergraduate studies.” Liz said, her eyes bright with pride.

“Congratulations.  That’s wonderful news, Moraine,” Jill said hugging her.  But she knew what a loss this would be for Liz and wondered how well she would cope.

Moraine, as if reading her mind, said “Mum’s work is taking up a lot of her time these days.  I doubt she’ll even notice I’m gone.  Besides, she still has you to experiment on.”  She lifted the lid on the teapot and frowned as the bitter aroma escaped.

“Of course I’ll miss her,” Liz said to Jill. “But communicating is a lot easier these days with e-mail and video calling.  When I was a student at Cambridge, my parents had to wait for snail mail.” She paused in thought. “I’ve threatened to install a chip so I can track her movements.”

“Yeah, like I’d ever allow that,” Moraine smirked.

“Isn’t Paul still in Cambridge?” Jill asked.  Paul and Liz had separated a few months after Moraine was born.

“Yes,” Liz said without enthusiasm.  “When we told him Moraine was coming over, we caught him off guard.  I think he was afraid he might have to be Daddy.”

“Oh Mum, I suspect he was concerned about my tuition.  He sounded relieved when I said I had a scholarship.”

Liz looked guilty.  “You’re right, and I’m glad that someone who loves you will be there to look out for you.”

Before Jill left that day, she told Liz she’d be around to talk whenever she wanted.  Liz squeezed her arm and said, “The problem with moraines is that the ice has to leave before they can form.”


The Angel’s Share (F)

Cheryl’s last memory of Karl was mingled with the sound of squealing tires, a thump, and the faint smell of butterscotch.  Striding ahead of her, he’d looked the wrong way when he’d crossed the road to the car park.

She had wanted to see the prehistoric burial mound located nearby.  According to her guide book, the finely carved stone chamber was infused with sunlight for a few precious minutes on winter solstice eve.  The sun’s rays were thought to carry off the souls of the dead.  Even in the middle of summer, it had sounded much more interesting than a visit to another distillery, but it was Karl’s birthday so she relented.

She heard the tour guide tell them about the importance of using peat fires to imbue the amber liquid with its musty single malt signature.  It was a taste that Cheryl had yet to acquire.  The gas that escaped the confines of the huge copper distilling vessels smelled like butterscotch but with an acrid twist that irritated her nose.  The aroma was almost gone when they reached the barrel room, even though they were told that up to two percent of the alcohol evaporated from a cask each year that the scotch was aged.  They called it the angel’s share.  For an exorbitant price, forty-year-old scotch was purchased by those who didn’t mind paying a premium for lost fumes. Cheryl amused herself by working out how long it would take until all the alcohol had gone from the cask: a little more than fifty years, exactly Karl’s age. That morning, he had told her that she was responsible for the best years of his life, and it amused her to think that she had received his angel’s share.

He turned and smiled at her, as if reading her thoughts. “This is the last distillery visit. I promise.”

“But not the last bottle of single malt scotch,” Cheryl teased.

“The liver is evil and must be punished,” he said, smoothing his hands over the same words printed on his T-shirt.

In the tasting room, they were served samples of twelve-year-old scotch in thimble-sized glasses.  Karl purchased a bottle and was given a postcard that he passed to Cheryl.

“What do I do with a postcard of a distillery?” she asked.

“You could start a collection,” he shouted back at her as he crossed the road.



Best Served Cold (F)

I watch him climb the icy stairs and enter what used to be my house, unaware that I’m standing less than fifty feet away.  I feel warmer just imagining his fear if he knew I was watching him.

The house will feel cold and he’ll turn up the thermostat, but the furnace won’t kick on.  When he realizes that the lights aren’t working either, he’ll step outside to see if the neighbours have power.

Yes, here he is.  He can see lights next door, so now he’s going back inside to find a flashlight, and that’s my cue to run around to the back door.  He’ll notice that all the clocks have stopped at four, and he’ll pick up the kitchen phone to call the power company. But the phone’s dead, so he’ll stand there for a moment and think about what to do.  There won’t be any noise at all, no humming from the fridge and no sound of the back door opening because I’ve already left it open.  That’s when he’ll spot the tweed suitcase that I’ve placed on the counter.

He’s seen that suitcase before.  He’ll remember what I kept in it and how he used the contents to send me to prison for counterfeiting.  Eventually he’ll unzip it, slowly, and I see it all because now I’m watching him.

As soon as he opens the suitcase, a sleek reptilian head pushes out. You can’t mistake a bushmaster. He leaps back as several feet of pink and black viper glide toward him, its tongue tasting the cold air, tasting him.  He moans and backs up into the dining room.  I switch on my flashlight, and he hears me laugh because I’m standing right behind him.

“Afraid of a little bushmaster, darling?”

He whirls around, more terrified of me than the snake.

Finally, he’s staring at me and at the gun in my right hand.  I’ve waited four years to see that look on his face, a mixture of disbelief and dread.


“How did I escape?  Why in what I’m wearing, of course.” I pass my left hand down my jumpsuit like a model displaying a new gown.  The arc made by my light reflects off the scales of the snake closing in on him.  I can’t resist performing a quick pirouette so his flashlight will catch the lettering on my back: Ted’s Electrical.

“Poor Ted is all tied up at the moment.”  I laugh, and I hear the joy in my voice as well as the touch of madness.  Maybe the laugh startles the snake because it strikes his leg and he screams.

“Looks like you’ve been bitten, sweetie.  You really shouldn’t have opened that suitcase, again. You’re so damned predictable.”  He’s already down on the floor, writhing.

“Call an ambulance, please.”  He stretches ‘please’ into a very long word.

“Sorry. The phone’s out.”  My smile falls short of my eyes.

I wait until he passes out, but before I leave, I switch on the heat.  For the snake.


This was written as an exercise suggested in Stephen King’s recommended book ‘On Writing’.