Explorers are just little boys and girls #carrotranch #flashfiction

Charli Mills is up behind Zion digging out a little Atlantis for our delight and prompting us thus

November 17, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that is told around a campfire. It can be a bonfire, burning trash can, a fire pit, something flaming outdoors. It can be a prop, and you can tell the story of anything — ghosts, ancients, jokes. Who is gathered and listening? Note the extended date (Happy Thanksgiving to US writers; may turkey take our minds off the one about to enter the White House.)

02-box-021

It’s funny, looking back, to remember how unadventurous I was as a kid. I didn’t climb many trees, I avoid climbing rock faces, I jumped into no pools or rivers without being sure of the bottom. But I had numerous adventures, often in the shadow of the Archaeologist. We charged Maiden Castle in Dorset and recaptured it re-enacting something from before time began or TV was invented or something; we hunted for snakes under old sheets of rusty corrugated iron and found slow worms instead; we stared at fields of flint in the hope of finding ancient tools; we squelched across mudslides peering at anything that might conceivably be an ammonite or a shark’s tooth; and we chased so many butterflies across so many fields that we wore out many pairs of plimsoles.

As for camp fires, well there was always the odd Scout camp and my maternal grandmother would start a bonfire with a twist of hope and a spark of imagination.  I remember sing-songs and charred food; hot faces and cold arses; tea that tasted like firework night and sparks that entranced the little boy in me.

These were my Minoan empires, my Atlantis, my Lost Cities, those places you go when your mind teeters on the brink of boredom but instead of a plunge into useless frustration, your creative side steps in and leads you by the hand to the land beyond the horizon where imagination lives. I’ve always found other worlds buried deep inside bonfires

As for Mary and her daughter, they’re in the garden

Come on baby, light my fire

Mary stoked the bonfire, sending smoke everywhere.

Penny wrinkled her face. ‘Yuk, mum. That stinks.’

‘Fusspot. I loved bonfires. We cooked potatoes and bananas and all sorts.’

‘I bet they tasted disgusting.’

‘Ok, I’ll show you.’

Thirty minutes later, they sat together with silver foil tubes balanced in their gloved hands. ‘Be careful. Just unroll it carefully.’

Penny did as she was instructed; the chocolate and butter melted with the brown sugar creating a sticky sauce for the hot banana. Penny tried a tentative spoonful.

‘Do you like it?’

‘Wow! This is sick.’

‘I’ll take that as a yes.’

To catch up with Mary North and her family, click here

 

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. 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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17 Responses to Explorers are just little boys and girls #carrotranch #flashfiction

  1. Harry says:

    Hiya, I offer critique here on WordPress to take a little time out of my day to help other writers out as best I can. It also makes a nice change from the usual generalised comments you get on this site, which are more than usual made just so you can go look at their blog.

    Anyway.

    I get a bit nitpicky sometimes, but please take everything I say with a grain of salt, (your own salt, please, I haven’t brought my own.)

    “looking back, to remember how”

    You only need one, or the other here. One of these phrases makes the other redundant. You can pick, but I think I like “looking back” more.

    “unadventurous I was as a kid.”

    In fact, I don’t think you need this first line at all. You’ve told me that you were an unadventurous child, but then preceded to tell me again, with more specific, evocative detail, just how unadventurous you were. This story would be much better if it started with: “I didn’t climb many trees.” Right into the action, and you don’t repeat yourself.

    “often in the shadow of the Archaeologist.”

    I like this line, a lot. There’s a lot unsaid here, and already I want to know just who the Archaeologist is. If anything, this could come sooner in the story. It’s the first question you raise, and the first mystery.

    “We charged Maiden Castle in Dorset and recaptured it re-enacting something from before time began or TV was invented or something; we hunted for snakes under old sheets of rusty corrugated iron and found slow worms instead; we stared at fields of flint in the hope of finding ancient tools; we squelched across mudslides peering at anything that might conceivably be an ammonite or a shark’s tooth; and we chased so many butterflies across so many fields that we wore out many pairs of plimsoles.”

    This whole section is pretty much spot on. I’d just say remove the “before time began, or tv was invented, or something”, I actually think just the image of you charging Maiden Castle is strong enough without the further details. The “something” at the of the sentence is a weak way of suggesting you ran out of examples, haha.

    The rest is really nice. You capture a mood and feel and I can sense the nostalgia. Best bit yet.

    “hot faces and cold arses”

    Nice. Nice.

    “These were my Minoan empires, my Atlantis, my Lost Cities, those places you go when your mind teeters on the brink of boredom but instead of a plunge into useless frustration, your creative side steps in and leads you by the hand to the land beyond the horizon where imagination lives. ”

    Grand sentence, but it’s too long it just goes on and on and after a few seconds of reading it quietly to myself it gets really quite hard to understand so maybe you should change that because, as you might have realised, this sentence is a bit like your one and it might be making you a bit frustrated to read it.

    Full stops are awesome.

    Then you switch, quite savagely, into dialogue. I got it after about the third line that their was a shift in narrative, or that the person recalling it was actually the mum. I like the “this is sick” line, that’s a good line. It’s a nice end to the story, and heartwarming.

    All in all, this is a neat story, with just a few mistakes that could be wrapped up in no time. Just got to be careful with too much exposition, and read the sentences out loud so you can realise yourself when they get too long.

    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      That’s extraordinarily generous Harry. Some of the writing is the quirky style I adopt which familiar readers know (and probably tolerate more than enjoy) but the rest is spot on. You are very kind to so this. Every little helps and even though one knows the reading out loud etc it is easy to slip. Feel free to revisit with your red pen anytime

      Liked by 1 person

  2. willowdot21 says:

    Never mind youth being another country you deffinely caught the essence it also speaks another language! 😱xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh wow, banana, chocolate, butter, brown sugar, and a bonfire……… it’s worth the heart attack!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jan says:

    Hunting for snakes is adventurous! I generally run from them. I would say a turkey is about to enter the White House but I don’t want to insult turkeys.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. trifflepudling says:

    Aw, nice (but not the banana melange! Sorry, Chef). Yes, many’s the beautiful view I still miss whilst staring at the ground looking for a coin or flint!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Annecdotist says:

    Give me a nudge when she’s putting the potatoes in and I’ll take my banana uncontaminated by the sugar and goo, thanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So…um…bananas? Really? Hmm. Sounds…kinda gross. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sherri says:

    I don’t like ‘roasted’ bananas, but I did love climbing trees and I enjoyed very much reading your nostalgia for bonfires. I share it with you… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Charli Mills says:

    Your childhood adventures are ones I’d love to recreate! WOW, to search fields of flint for ancient tools…! I have to agree with Penny’s trepidation, though, regarding a hot banana. Great flash!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Fires are Burning « Carrot Ranch Communications

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