Ouch! #flashfiction #carrotranch

Charli Mills’ prompt:

September 28, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a prickly story. Is it the temperament of a character that is prickly or is it a hardship he or she faces? You can write about cacti, rose thorns or other natural elements. Think about how the prickliness conveys the story.

I did a gardening job as a youngster, working for a friend of my mother’s, Iris Gostling. I wasn’t that keen on gardening but if paid better than pocket money and enabled me a small amount of freedom. Freedom, not in the going out sense, but from the strictures of a household that had no interest in music more modern than 1955. But gardening had its dangers one of which were rose thorns covered in a chemical bug killer than had my left hand swelling to twice its size. I still wonder what was on that blasted plant because I’ll never really forget the sense that my skin was on the verge of splitting as the swelling grew rapidly.

Mum didn’t believe in unnecessary (judged by her and her alone) trips to the doctor but even she thought this warranted a visit. The doctor prodded a bit and sent me to the nurse with a note: penicillin.

The nurse chatted to mum as she found the horse needle she needed. Finally she deigned to involve me in the conversation. ‘It’s big; we’ll need a big muscle.’

Then and only then did I realise my bottom was going to have to front up, as it were. Mum understood something about being a teenaged boy and left me in the hands of the less than sympathtic nurse. ‘It’ll be a bit of a hit, this. You’ll want to sit for a while after.’

Ha, I thought. Not me. I’m tough.  On cue, I proferred my glut and awaited the sting. Nothing really, I thought.

‘Ok, sit there and let me know if you need a sip of water.’

I felt fine. It was but a mere prick. Mum sat outside desultorily reading a magazine.’I’m good. I’ll go then.’ I wasn’t waiting. I was tough. I could cope.

By the time the nurse had turned back and begun to encourage me to wait a while I was up and reaching for the door handle. Then and only then did my stomach suck all the energy out of my legs and arms and turn on the sweat button. My knees divorced themselves from me as I sank into the quicksand that, moments before, the hardwood floor had just become.

I vaguely heard the nurse call out something uncomplimentary and Mum stand and say something equally unbeguilling. After that I must have measured my length against some floor planks because the next thing I knew I was stretched out, sniffing dust.

The two women smiled but not with sympathy, nor in a way that suggested they were sharing a joke with me – more that I was the joke. ‘Shock’ they said. I’ve always felt it showed a certain meanness of spirit. I mean, maybe I’m allergic to penicillin. Or maybe just to formidable women in combination.

And so to Mary’s story and a prickly lesson

The thin-skinnedness of youth

‘Grandpa could be prickly.’ Mary looked at her daughter. ‘Not when you knew him, mind. As a young man.’


‘He wanted to fit in. Your grandma said he hated the fact he missed the war.’

Penny frowned. ‘Why? He might have died.’

‘Yes, but others his age fought. He felt he’d not done his bit.’

‘That’s silly.’

‘No more than you wanting to be friends with Jane even though she’s mean to you.’

‘I don’t. And don’t say it.’

Mary smiled. ‘Say what?’

‘That I’ll understand when I grow up.’

‘Yes, about the time you have a daughter.’



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 geofflepard.com 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.
This entry was posted in creative writing, flash fiction, miscellany, short story and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Ouch! #flashfiction #carrotranch

  1. Erika Kind says:

    Such true message! We understand when we are at a certain position…. I only started to really understand my parents when I had kids!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Annecdotist says:

    I know you meant it as a funny story about the weakness of the male of the species, but it’s worth being alert to the possibility that you’re allergic to penicillin (unless that hypothesis has been disproved since).
    Great take on the prickly prompt.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sacha Black says:

    PAHAHAHAHAAH GEOFF, omg you crack me up so much, this had me roaring:

    After that I must have measured my length against some floor planks because the next thing I knew I was stretched out, sniffing dust.

    so so so so funny.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The true one is definitely the best – most chortleworthy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ali Isaac says:

    Ah poor you! I think you’re right, they WERE mean. You were obviously quite traumatised by the incident to remember it so clearly after all this time.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Charli Mills says:

    I love how your story highlights the women who lead the way for you! Todd had a similar incident following his knee surgery at 25…tough guy, Army Ranger, wanted out of that recovery room and wouldn’t listen to me, his new wife, or his nurses. Finally the nurses whispered to me, “Let him try.” He pulled out his IV, defiantly stood up and promptly collapsed. Waiting nurses, caught him under his arms so not much damage could be done, but I still tease him about the incident. Great flash, showing the family dynamics still at work.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Pingback: A Prickly Season « Carrot Ranch Communications

  8. Norah says:

    Ooh, Geoff. It sounds so painful. First the rose bush, with its thorn, and then the nurse with hers. I thought it would probably hurt to sit down for a while anyway. Those formaldehyde woman should have kept a better eye on you, instead of laying you out flat ingesting the dust. I think it would take me a while to see the humour.
    Your flash is great too, and very truthful. Every family has its pricks as wells as prickles.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Strong powerful women? But Geoff, you’ve only got to look at Coronation Street to see how successful they can make something.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. rogershipp says:

    Some lessons are not waiting to be learned…. they are awaiting to be lived.


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