Charli Mills continues to prompt us with a range of difficulties to overcome in our flash fiction.
November 26, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using two objects, people or ideas that don’t go together. Anything random like wine and gasoline; the Archangel Michael and Marilyn Monroe; granny and rehab; horses and church bells. Then write a story about your two dissonant picks. Use your two objects as the title.
This week it is dissonance between objects or people. Here in New Zealand the dissonance between the white settlers, predominantly British and the indigent Maori has been largely removed or perhaps papered over for the crime, health, educational attainment statistics, as in other similar situations elsewhere do not favour the non-white populace. The pendulum does swing but it takes time.
It is also apparent in the ecology we have seen. The largely empty north where once stood mighty forests is now a mix of pretty farms and rolling acres – testament to a vigorous and ruthless logging campaign. But then when the Maori came they triggered the collapse of some species of flightless birds – not every native people is in sympathy with its surrounds. Man damages. Period.
But enough. I’m on holiday and I’m loving the freedom of thought that comes with enjoying someone else’s country where their problems can be looked at objectively through a prism of what happens back home. The political conundrums that bedevil all governments are all here – economic worries, the disengagement of youth, educational standards, the housing crisis in Auckland against a struggle further south, the pressure of international food prices on farmers. All have echoes and all have different solutions. I listen with interest and learn.
So to the flash. I’ve done two this week. As a little homage to my hosts here’s a local tale…
A fruit in sheep’s clothing
Mrs Kiwi stared at her husband. A supper for the French ambassador and his wife. They were the epitome of culture and sophistication; she was to entertain them to dinner.
‘We need to show them we’re not some hick nation, Doreen. You need to show them the best of New Zealand cuisine. Something unique.’
That’s what stuck as she poured over recipes. Something unique, she thought.
The ambassador was lost for words; his wife made a gurgling sound. The sheep’s head with gum for eyes and an enlarged peeled kiwi in the mouth had certainly ticked the unique box.
And then we have Mary’s continuing struggles. As usual you can keep up with the longer story here.
Sweet and sour smoke
‘Mum, are you smoking?’
Mary dropped the cigarette, grinding it out. ‘Sorry, love.’
‘I thought you’d given up?’
‘I had. I…’
Mary marvelled at how like Mary’s mother Penny sounded. She had had a way of tightening her mouth emphasising each syllable; Penny was the same. Mary smiled. It was oddly comforting, having someone else take charge.
Penny held a little bottle. ‘I’m putting this on the cigarettes. Like you did to stop me chewing my nails.’
Later when Mary lit up, she felt real joy; such a sour taste had never tasted so sweet.