Contrasting fortunes

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

 Mary jumped.

‘Mum, are you smoking?’

Mary dropped the cigarette, grinding it out. ‘Sorry, love.’

‘I thought you’d given up?’

‘I had. I…’

‘Wait there.’

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.




About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. 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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16 Responses to Contrasting fortunes

  1. Annecdotist says:

    Lovely to see how your trip is inspiring your writing, Geoff, these are both wonderful flashes. I particularly liked the banquet with sheep’s head and fruit. And glad you didn’t go with any of your original random combinations – could you have avoided the bottle of wine picked up at the filling station; Marilyn Munro dies and goes to heaven; Granny’s rehabilitation following a stroke; a horse-drawn carriage bringing the bride to the church? Actually, on reflection, I’m sure you could have come up with something far more quirky!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sherri says:

    How do you manage to write these posts while still on holiday Geoff? Your creativity knows no bounds 😉 Love how you incorporated Charli’s prompt into your ongoing story (sweet and sour cigarette…very clever that..) and the fruit in sheep’s clothing. And it is always a great mind-opener isn’t it to witness first hand what life is really like in other countries. Have a great rest of your holiday 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Charli Mills says:

    Your adventures cast a lovely light on your creativity! So much to be taking in, but in true writerly form, you are cranking out the words. Mary continues to shed that tough exterior she built up and perhaps is finding out who she is in more ways than one.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Not Meant for Each Other « Carrot Ranch Communications

  5. We tend to, um, glamorize? Romanticize? ‘Tis true that “not every native people is in sympathy with its surrounds.” Also this: Man damages. Period.

    First flash is…interesting. Thank you, no, to a slice of that. Love your second flash. Sweet and sour smoke. Clever.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Norah says:

    Like Sarah I like your comment that man damages. I don’t necessarily think it is only modern (post-modern) man that has done or is doing his share.
    As much as I love following the developments in Mary’s story, including this one, I really enjoyed the humour in sheep’s clothing. Brilliant, and serves them jolly well right. Great choice Doreen! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      No you are right. The Lawyers history dissertation was on environmental history and how you look at mans impact not just militarily but ecologically and economically intertwined. He studied native Americans, so original Australian and Maori New Zealand to contrast settlers impacts. Fascinating stuff

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Rosalind Nazilli says:

    Such wonderful and different flashes. I so love the first one and can just imagine there faces..x


  8. Both flashes are great. Interesting the impacts of humans past and present on the environment.

    Liked by 1 person

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