Showing posts from June, 2014

Bright and Lively

The traffic light turns yellow. I wonder if I would’ve gunned it if the small white Toyota truck in front of me hadn’t stopped. I know the light to be interminably long and begin to fiddle with the dial. When I look up the glint of her ring, bright and lively , flashes in my eye for an instant. She is admiring it while lovingly scratching the back of his head. They talk, laugh, smile, and talk some more, all the while, her eyes wavering between his and the ring. Newlyweds, maybe just engaged, I conclude. A lifetime in front of them; picket fence, kids, another car, maybe even a mini-van to go with the dog they’ve probably already acquired in an effort to satisfy the nesting instinct until the first baby comes: a child that will no doubt reflect the best qualities of each. Mortgage, family vacations, recitals, ball games, Christmas performances, and furtive glances exchanged even in church as proof the home fires continue to burn. The talk becomes animated and takes on a decide

The Flash Fiction Challenge: Reviewed

Saturday, 21 st June was National Flash Fiction Day – the third, in fact, to be held by the folk here and Cafe Aphra decided to get in on the action with a Flash Fiction Challenge of our own. We gave out five writing prompts at three-hourly intervals throughout the day and encouraged you to post your inspired pieces of 400 words, or less, as comments on this blog. The beauty of flash fiction is that its compact size and brevity allows you to create a glimpse into a life, a world or even just a thought and then, once seen, close that door behind you. There is such freedom in that level of concision. Without the necessity of laying out the background of characters, setting the scene or establishing a theme, plotlines or lengthy metaphors, you can throw whatever combination of words you want on a page and step away. It’s a format that promotes the domestic, encourages the bold, celebrates the fantastic. On the pages of Café Aphr

Writing prompt no. 5

And our final prompt for the day in our Cafe Aphra NFFD writing challenge is.... Midsummer's Eve   The night before the midsummer solstice, a night of magic and mystery, even madness - leap off from this starting point and see where it takes you.   There have been some really wonderful pieces of writing here today... Thank you everybody for contributing your time and your beautiful words to our flash fiction day event and keep posting on the site! See you around in Cafe Aphra... Painting by Edward Robert Hughes

Writing prompt no. 4

Some absolutely fantastic responses to our writing prompts so far for the Cafe Aphra NFFD... well done and thank you everybody for your contributions!  These simple ideas have really generated some great short fiction writing. So - prompt number 4 for today is: "My mother never..." W rite a piece starting with the line "My mother never..." and see where it takes you - I look forward to reading more fascinating and intriguing pieces! Next one in three hours' time.

Writing prompt no. 3

And here is prompt number 3 of the day.... AN OBJECT Write a piece around a significant object (it can be any object you choose) I always love this one. :)  Have fun.... and see you in three hours for another one!  

Writing prompt no. 2

Second prompt of the day for our NFFD writing challenge is... LOST  Physically or metaphorically, whatever occurs to you. Write a short piece around this idea - anything up to 400 words - and post it under here as a comment.   Any technical difficulties, please email us at:   Next one along in three hours' time....

Writing prompt no. 1

So our first prompt of the day for the NFFD Cafe Aphra challenge is.... BORN LUCKY         Write a short piece - a few sentences, whatever story occurs to you, but no more than 400 words - and post it under here as a comment. Any technical difficulties, please email us at: Next one coming in three hours' time....


He always liked watching those people who thought they were good at things everyone else could see they were terrible at. It was why he loved those X-Factor auditions on the telly. Deluded, that's what these people were. It was hard not to have a kind of grudging admiration for them all the same. He recognised in them a special kind of ability to self deceive few are fortunate to be blessed with. There had to be some merit in thinking you could sing like Maria Carey when in actual fact you sounded more like Minnie Mouse. There was probably an evolutionary angle to it, a trait preserved and passed on through the gene pool owing to its usefulness to our hunter gatherer ancestors, you know when cornered by sabre toothed tigers or something. Brazen it out. Believe you're a mammoth and you'll be fine. It wasn't always easy to tell if someone genuinely fancied themselves though. I mean what about the embarrassing dads at weddings who threw David Brent-like shapes o

NFFD @ Cafe Aphra

So this Saturday is National Flash Fiction Day in the UK! 21st June is the summer solstice – our longest day of the year and our shortest night. It’s also the start of a period of ancient pagan festivities known as Midsummer (cf. Midsummer Madness, A Midsummer Night’s Dream...) and is associated with magic and mysticism.  Here at Cafe Aphra we’ve decided to celebrate the occasion by devising our own magical NFFD writing challenge... Six writing prompts will be posted on Cafe Aphra throughout the day at the following times (British Summer Time): 9am  12pm  3pm  6pm  9pm  Write your piece of flash fiction based on the prompt and post it as a comment. Keep it short and sweet – no more than 400 words but ideally less. See if you can write a story in 100 words, or even a few sentences! So spread the word and get ready to write... and remember to check the site on Saturday for each prompt. Look forward to seeing you at Cafe Aphra for some Midsummer magic!

Persimmon Tree

Check out the latest edition of The Persimmon Tree, featuring a fabulous short story by regular Cafe Aphra contributor, Frances Hay: A Stake in the Future Congratulations Frances!

Calling all Cafe Aphra Fiction Flashers!

National Flash Fiction Day is coming up once again, here in the UK... 21st June! Here is the link to the official National Flash Fiction Day website, where you can keep up to date on all the latest events: We're planning a fantastic flash fiction challenge to mark the occasion with Cafe Aphra - keep checking the blog for news.  ... So what are you waiting for? Get writing and ready for the countdown!!! :) (Post comments on Cafe Aphra to tell us how it's going... remember we also have a facebook page, in case that's easier.)

Philemon and Baucis

The wonder isn’t the gods’ appearance, nor their beggarly disguises.  Zeus  and Hermes love the earth—olive oil,  gullible women, the substantiality of marble,  that peculiar human failing of caring  too much.  It’s the old couple themselves,  the way they welcome the strangers,  give up their stools, offer them wine  and apricots, stoke the fire, how they touch  each other’s shoulders. They gasp  when the wineskins refill themselves.  In the sudden light they kneel  before their guests, gold peeking from beneath the rags, feel the dizzying closeness of divinity.  When the gods grant one wish to repay their hospitality,  the wonder is what the couple  passes up - a wooden floor, new cook  pot, lifetime supply of firewood,  fleece-lined cloaks, the child  they never conceived. Instead  they ask only not to outlive  one another. It’s the gods’ turn  to gape. When the time comes,  the couple feels the forest taking t