Stick or Twist?

Another week, another prompt from Charli Mills, this one on competing priorities (

03- BOX - 023

Stick or twist; either way you’re toast…

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a decision between two clashing priorities.

I like to wait for the idea to worm its way into my subconscious and then scribble a few lines on paper, see where it goes. Does it have the legs; is it too leggy for 99 words? Mostly I don’t have a problem with the idea – plots have come reasonably easy to me in my writing, it is the pulling into shape that takes time (and its toll). This week’s seemed straightforward based on a family joke.

When the Vet was born, the Lawyer wasn’t three and while he walked he wasn’t that mobile as you will appreciate. The Textiliste was undertaking a City & Guilds course in patchwork and quilting and was, at the time, in the middle of a large, log cabin themed quilt.  Meanwhile the day job was beginning to drag me to cities in far flung countries.

“What will I do if there’s a fire while you’re away?”

“You’ll run downstairs or, at a pinch, climb out of the window.”

“But which baby do I save?”


“I’ll have the Vet and the Lawyer will need help but then there’s the quilt. I don’t have enough hands.”

So there you go; priorities. But blow me, I have a sneaky peek at Charli’s blog and the story, in all its essentials, has been written. Beautifully. Much better than by me. By Paula Moyer. Please check it out; it’s beautiful.

I can hardly repeat it, can I? Plagiarism for one and, let’s be frank, ego for another.

In the end I had to prioritise – stick with what I had or twist myself somewhere else. As I stood at the top of the stairs, wondering, not for the first time what I was doing here, a new idea came. So I scribbled. And I realised that I couldn’t prioritize which one I shared so, sod it, you can have them both and see which you prefer. Me? I prefer Paula’s.

Art mimics life

She knew it would happen. Which of her babies to sacrifice?

He said it was only one night away, but she was on her own with her one year old and her latest papier-mâché sculpture. So much love invested in both.

She stared at the grass below. She could jump, but she could only hold one of her babies.

Smoke was already seeping inside. In desperation she turned to the kitchenette. It was now or never. She flung open the freezer door, yanked out the contents, kissed the delicate Madonna and placed it inside before running for the window


Dog days

He stared at the letter in his hand; he had done it again. Got all the way from car to post box and forgotten to post it. He would forget himself one of these days.

Milton whined from the back; he had forgotten to walk the bloody dog, too.

Sighing to himself, Peter climbed out and made for the phone box. Halfway there he remembered he hadn’t wound the window down. Poor Milton, it was so hot.

He hesitated fractionally and then set off again. He would only be a few minutes.

The stroke, when it came, was huge.




About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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11 Responses to Stick or Twist?

  1. Charli Mills says:

    Great stories of toast either way, and isn’t that just the conundrum of deciding which priority sometimes…lots of times. Your second flash really captures that frustrating frazzle of tiny competing priorities threatening to loom large if one is forgotten or all get dropped at the episode of a stroke. The dog will soon follow if that wasn’t his heat stroke!

    I resonate with your wormy and leggy writing. Ideas wriggle in my head until I release them on paper. And sometimes they shrivel and die leaving me disappointed but free of the idea. And other times they grow into monstrosities. We never know until we remove the idea like a scientist preparing a slide for examination.

    That you had a shared idea with Paula Moyer just goes to support the adage about brilliant minds thinking alike! Great outpouring of creative writing, Geoff!


    • TanGental says:

      Thanks Charli. I tried to find a blog link for Paula so I could link back but failed. I think some sort of carrot voodoo is at work tis week at the Ranch


  2. Norah says:

    I really enjoyed both these pieces. I approve of the decision she made in the first piece – pleased it wasn’t the baby she shoved into the freezer. She couldn’t have made that mistake. Could she? The second piece is great, though a bit scary. How many times do I set off to do something and before I’m halfway have forgotten what it was. I hope a stroke is not on the horizon! Just muddled priorities, as Charli says!


  3. Paula Moyer says:

    Thanks, Geoff! Always good to be noticed, especially after coming home from vacation to laundry, etc.


  4. Annecdotist says:

    I’m standing here, saying to the air “Oh Geoff!” because I think both are really brilliant. Perhaps the second is stronger because I really didn’t see the stroke coming: he seemed, as I often find myself, perplexed by trivialities (okay, even as it non-dog person, I know you don’t want to leave it in an overheated car) and then it hits you. The first was more moving but perhaps a more familiar dilemma. I loved Paula’s piece too, but I think you could have got away with doing the quilt as well because it serves a different function in the two stories, or maybe we’re just talking about different kinds of babies.


  5. I thought both pieces were great but that the second one was stronger due to the unexpected twist at the end. It made me pleased that although I didn’t have a stroke I returned home today just as I arrived at my destination as I remembered I hadn’t filled the dogs water.


  6. TanGental says:

    I think he knows which side his bowl is filled on…


  7. Sohrab says:

    Both of them

    The stroke was huge is ambiguous
    Could be the dog gets heat stroke
    Could be Peter has a stroke which before it arose the vascular insufficiency was causing memory problems
    Could be he went back to the dog in time to save him and gave him a big stroke of affection

    Who knows?

    Leaves you wondering !


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