Finding the Rock before the Hard Place #carrotranch #flashfiction

Another post from Charli with a prompt and a request for help with a friend who has been homeless. Do check out her post, here, and the link to help if you can.

February 2, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock in the road. It can be physical, adding to a plot twist, or it can be metaphorical for a barrier or hardship. Go where you find the rock.

Rocks can be very interesting or frightening or dull or frustrating. I have enjoyed holidaying in Scotland for many years, and always try include some walking in the amazing countryside. On a few occasions we either stayed on or visited the Isle of Skye in the Hebrides. It is stunning and the mountains, the Cullins are amongst the most awe inspiring in the true nature of awe meaning taking the breath away.

Once I plotted a walk with a friend that looped round about 15 miles after a pleasant stroll along Glen Sligachan. We climbed up and over the ridge to Loch Coruisk and circled back by Camasunary on the shores of Loch Scavaig. It was a beautiful day and we were in good time. On the map I had, there was a feature marked.


The ‘Bad Step’. Back then, it was the 1980s there was nothing like this available…

Rather there was this line that said, ‘When you reach the Bad Step, use the convenient hand holds; this is tricky but it os over in a trice…’

Trice? That’s clearly a Scottish dialect word for ‘you will have shit-scary nightmares for months after this’ rather than the colloquial English meaning ‘ smartish’. If you think you can climb above this rock, you can’t. You go across it. And the hand holds? Maybe these days but back then it was like pressing your hands against pumice and hoping the grip held. Spider-man would have been challenged by this, believe me.

Pete and I made it across. We were emotionally exhausted but the climb was behind us and the contours pretty flat (though we still had some 9 miles to go).  We hadn’t factored in the stepping stone-cum-wading across the River Scavaig that awaited us but, frankly, it was a mere bagatelle compared to what we’d been through.

These days you can still challenge yourself with the rock, though you can take a ferry from Elgol to get there. It is a super walk. Just don’t believe the over optimistic Scottish descriptions.

There is a post script about which I do carry some guilt. A work colleague, knowing Id been to Scotland, asked about walks on Skye. I told him about this. I lent him the guidebook. I’m sure I mentioned the Bad Step but, even so, he was an experienced guy so he’d have coped. I’m sure he never mentioned he would be going with his 9 year old daughter. Who fell on it and badly hurt her jaw. I’m sure… I think. I still feel guilty though.

And so to the flash. Penny is learning more about the opposite sex…

‘These Rocks Don’t Lose Their Shape..’

‘Why are boys so stupid?’

Mary studied her daughter. ‘Stupid?’

‘Jack. I thought he was different. But all he’s interested in is Pokémon cards.’

‘Does that make him stupid?’

Penny frowned. ‘No, but… all boys do is collect stuff. They’re not interested in people.’

‘Maybe that’s generalising…’

‘But they do!’

‘So do I. Tea pots.’

‘They pretty. And useful.’

‘True. At least cards are easy to store. Not like when I first knew your dad. He collected rocks.’

‘Rocks? What for?’

‘Their colour, their rarity…’

‘Like diamonds?’


‘Exactly. They’re never useful.’

‘Rocks or boys?’

Penny laughed. ‘Both!’

If you want more of Mary, Penny and their family, click here

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 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.
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26 Responses to Finding the Rock before the Hard Place #carrotranch #flashfiction

  1. Ritu says:

    What a challenge in your walk! Beats my Duke of Edinburgh trek… where we walked off the map!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Erika Kind says:

    Haha, such a lovely mother-daughter conversation…. sounds familiar… lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It this case truth is more scary than fiction – unless you made up the Bad Step 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another deLIGHTful addition. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Those folk in the video disappeared under the rock – do you suppose they were just hiding there crying? Penny appears to be mellowing!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. jan says:

    My ankles hurt just thinking about trying to navigate that path!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Norah says:

    Wow! I’m impressed. That bad step sounds really bad. What a rocky island! I saw a TV show about Skye years ago. I don’t recall it being so rocky, where they were anyway. I enjoyed reading a little more about Penny and her getting of wisdom. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Charli Mills says:

    Oh, wow! What gorgeous, heart-pounding, granitic scenery! You really have to stand upon the rock to get a feel for the vastness of such places. There’s a hike I want to make in Zion called Angel’s Landing. The name is for the narrow trail across the rim of an ancient sand dune so narrow only angels can land there. We’ll see! I’m still a novice among these rocks. Penny’s perspective on boys and rocks had me laughing!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: It’s what they do. #Flashfiction #99words | A Writer's Caravan

  10. Pingback: Rock in the Road « Carrot Ranch Communications

  11. Annecdotist says:

    Clever flash, Geoff, I love that song, despite the cheesy words. I couldn’t follow your memoir so closely as we have my scary walk on Skype memory. Must be the place for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ha! “Both.” Ah, Penny. (I collect rocks…hmm.)

    Liked by 1 person

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