Turning leaves #flashfiction #amwriting

Charli Mills has returned to lead the troop with this prompt at the Carrot Ranch

May 4, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include insects in a story. Periwinkles, bees laden with pollen, ants building hills. What can insects add to a story? Do they foreshadow, set a tone, provide a scientific point of interest or a mystical element? Let you inner periwinkles fly!

05 BOX-022

As I’ve mentioned before, my childhood was filled with insects.

Dad, a country man to his fingertips, loved all that nature had to offer – pond life and the mysteries of birds, earth’s ability to regenerate and restore itself despite man’s clumsy attempts to destroy it. But he was at his happiest seeking out butterflies and moths – beetles, too, and dragonflies but lepidoptera – butterflies and moths – were what got him really excited.

04 - BOX - 012

Have you ever been on a butterfly egg hunt? Beaten sallows to see what falls on a sheet?

04 - BOX - 005

Spent frosty afternoons kneeling by the roots of poplars, pulling back turf in the hope of finding pupae? Believe me, you haven’t lived. I learnt the importance of taking care – these are delicate structures; the need for keen eyed recognition; for patience and disappointment – though it wasn’t often we were disappointed because there’s so much going on at the level of the tiny and delicate that a failure to find what we set out for only meant there was the possibility of the unexpected. And even if we were completely unsuccessful, well that only meant the anticipation for next time was heightened – sort of a rollover for our particular lottery.

04 - BOX - 015

One especially joy, for Dad (and the Archaeologist too, as I’m sure he will comment upon), was to read a book, maybe from the Victoria era, maybe from the 1930s describing a ‘bug hunt’ and replicating it, to see if we could find what the ancients found. There was something deliciously timeless about that connection down the years, the idea we were at one with that distant group, sharing the same thrill that they had.

05 BOX-027

Wading into the dykes at Grove Ferry in Kent to hunt for small holes in the stems of bull-rushes where the larvae of the china mark moths live followed one such piece of research.

05 BOX-009

Of course, as with bird nesting, the aim was to create a collection. The breeding that followed the discoveries of eggs and larvae and pupae had a single purpose back then. To bring the butterfly or moth through to its final state, the imago, and kill it – we all had lidded jam jars filled to a third with plaster of Paris soaked in ethyl acetate – that sickly sweet stuff they use in dry cleaners. Killed, they would be set out on a board with pins and paper strips until rigid and then put in a glass case to admire. That death follows life thing seemed entirely normal back then though as species declines became more and more apparent into the 80s Dad’s focus changed to breeding and  releasing to improve stocks.

05 BOX-010

You could learn a lot spending time with a naturalist like Dad – about beer and poetry too. I’m glad I can still recall those long passed days when it was always sunny, even when it rained.

As so to the prompt, Mary is still coming to terms with her half brother Rupert moving so close by.

The sting in the tail

Anyone home?’

Mary sighed. Rupert. This time she needed him. ‘Can you watch Charlotte? I’ll drop Penny at her dance class. Tea after.’


She was delayed and hadn’t brought her phone. In the kitchen she found a scribbled note on the fridge said ‘hospital’ with Rupert’s number. There were 8 missed calls on her phone.

‘It was a bee sting. She began to swell. Mum was allergic so I knew the signs. They’ve given her adrenaline; she’ll be fine.’

Mary sat in traffic her mind a jumble. If she was going to have a guardian angel, why him?

If you want to catch up with Mary’s story to date, click here

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.
This entry was posted in flash fiction, miscellany, writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Turning leaves #flashfiction #amwriting

  1. Gulara says:

    Fab story, Geoff. I’m allergic to bee sting too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your short story. Love your childhood/life story even more. Very nice. 🐝 🐛 🐌 🐞 🐜

    Liked by 2 people

  3. From your preamble, it is clear that I haven’t lived. 🙂


  4. trifflepudling says:

    Love these nature walks! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bee stings. I’ve had my share but never had to go to hospital.
    Enjoyable story and continuation. I felt the sting and swelling. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sacha Black says:

    I love the last lines in these, you always put a little twist of sorts on things. I think you need to teach me how to do this Geoffle

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a lovely stroll down memory lane, Geoff. I love the pictures. What wonderful memories to have.
    Oh no… not a bee sting. I’m allergic that way… LOL this just became a scary story. 😀 Huge hugs!


  8. The childhood story is just wonderful to read Geoff. What a glorious thing to have a dad that shared his passion with his kids and also changed his focus as the need arose. It’s not that common, as I’m sure you know. Also enjoying Mary’s story 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mick Canning says:

    Loved the story, and…guess what? I spent a lot of my childhood hunting butterflies; at one time I could name every British one (species, that is. Obviously not each individual…that would be silly…) and even made my own butterfly tents for breeding and releasing them.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Charli Mills says:

    Rupert is definitely worming his way in to Mary’s life, whether she wants it or not. I thought of your Dad when those Periwinkles exploded around me. I became instantly curious about why they were attracted to the sand and how they were dull underneath and brilliant with open wings. I was not one for seeking insects as a child, but seems I’m more curious as an adult. I always enjoy your stories about your childhood bug hunting.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. elliotttlyngreen says:

    I want to know why Mary does not approve of this Rupert. I want to know how he manages to succeed, or if he even does in watching over her. There is an event brewing. I am also curious as to why Mary seems to loathe him even tho he helped Charlotte this day. My guess is he is slow or something, considering he had to make it a point he recognized the ‘signs’. It takes a patient spirit to handle someone like I am imaging Rupert. I will have to follow the link to learn of these characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Brief heads up. The story started with Peter, Mary’s father dying. In clearing up his papers she learns he had a mistress and a son, Rupert. The mistress Angela is sick and soon dies too. Rupert never knew his father and is desperate to learn more. So Mary distress is, in a way, sublimated onto Rupert. There’s guilt and anger and all sorts mixed in. When she learns the she had s twin who was given up for adoption and the woman she thought her mother wasn’t it really gets hard… After that well like any soap there have been several turns…

      Liked by 1 person

      • elliotttlyngreen says:

        I will have to read it… I am lost and just wants to ask questions. Who has a twin? ok just one.

        Is your name really Geoff LePard? I first saw that and thought you made it up like Def Lepard.. Anyways, my media-fed head. That sounds like an intriguing story; mmm do i dare get caught in its web? Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        The chapters are 99 words so at least they take no time. The twin us Mary’s. Geoff Le Pard is indeed my given name and the band have given me no credit or royalty share which is just mean. Hope you come along for the ride.

        Liked by 1 person

      • elliotttlyngreen says:

        Thats hilarious. Flippin rock stars… ok im in!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Ali Isaac says:

    So that’s what went for entertainment back then, haha! Joking aside, it’s a shame more young people aren’t so connected with nature. Shame about killing them, though. Thats the part I don’t understand. Why does a butterfly or dragonfly look better dead under glass then shimmying it’s gorgeous wings as it flies from blossom to blossom? I’d rather see them alive and free, personally.


  13. 🐝🐝🐝 Bee careful. (Now the question becomes whether or not I’ll actually press ‘post comment’.) Eh. What the hell. 🐝 Zzzzz!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Great memoir, great photos. Mary was just lucky she had a guardian angel. Bee stings allergies are not pleasant.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Bee Inspired « Carrot Ranch Communications

  16. Norah says:

    I love reading of your butterfly adventures. Though I must admit I was rather perturbed to hear of the butterflies’ fate, I was relieved when Father took to breeding and releasing them.
    This is a wonderful episode in Mary’s story. How wonderful that Rupert has moved close by and was able to help out in this emergency. It’s not fun being allergic to bee stings, or any other stings for that matter. I hope Mary is softening a little towards Rupert. The children are not accountable for their father’s deeds after all.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. C. Jai Ferry says:

    The butterflies have just started to appear for the season in my neck of the woods, which makes me infinitely happy. Moths are out too, which makes the birds ecstatic (when they can catch one!). It seems like everyone in my family is allergic to bees, so I know that “she’s been stung” fear all too well. I’m look forward to reading more about Mary and Rupert.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.