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


  1. Escargatoire

    It was a full blue witch’s moon on Midsummer’s Eve, the second full moon of the month. The witch’s part was that it filtered through thin clouds, making a white ring around it. It was that short, magical night before the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

    She suggested they go out into the back yard so he could commune with his totem snails. He kept his shorts on to go out the back door, where the teenage girls in the next house might see him. Once behind the garage, he unbound his hair and peeled off his underwear. She stood by him in a shift so delicate you could almost see her breasts through it.
    He felt like the corona around the moon, shining through mist. He squatted down on the garden path, sweeping ahead of him with his hands to avoid crushing snails, then frog-jumping ahead bit by bit. With his long hair streaming over his shoulders, he looked like a reverse-negative Mowgli, his skin so white he could tan in the moonlight.

    He followed the snails’ silver slime-trails to a roiling congregation of them, a moonlit orgy of hermaphrodites firing calcium love-darts into each other. She took him by the hand and led him inside. Afterwards, they lay in their bed curled in their own slime trail in a sixty-nine position, the leather straps of her harness tight around her waist and thighs. Whatever kind of sex they had, it wasn’t straight sex. It was very, very queer, and it felt to them like the snails.

    Lambda-Literary-Award-winning writer Jan Steckel's short story collection GHOSTS AND OCEANS is seeking a publisher.

    1. A really sensual and intriguing piece... I love the reverse-negative Mowgli and the snails' roiling congregation. Unexpected and beautifully written. Thanks Jan!

  2. Lord, what fools these mortals be.

    As I circle the globe again and again till I make myself dizzy, I can’t help but notice how many humans believe they have discovered a true fairyland in the most ordinary sort of man or woman. They lose themselves in the enchanted woods of their own desires. The wild thyme blows in the winds of their self-delusion.

    That’s exactly when I like to intervene, to mix things up a bit for my own amusement. All it takes is a whisper here, a rumour there, and I can convince her that the guy she thought was such a catch, a man who would keep her safe forever, was really nothing but a rude mechanical. She won’t want to listen to my sceptical voice in her ear but before her eyes his skin coarsens like rawhide, his ears grow long, his cultured voice turns into a donkey’s bray.

    This makes me laugh with such delight. I have such fun with humans. I am not the sort of sprite who was destined ever to feel any guilt, but in any case we’re not talking about grand moral issues. These humans die and the worms will eat them but not for love. It’s love that’s the will-of-the-wisp, not me.

    Frances Hay

    1. Ha! A great piece from Puck here... I thoroughly enjoyed it, with all its references to A Midsummer Night's Dream. I love how effectively you managed to make the unsuspecting male victim turn into an ass, before our very eyes - I can almost see it happen. Thanks Frances!

    2. Well done Frances! Word choice is mighty yet melodious! Such a blend - songlike prose and a ghoulish essence! Kudos to you!

  3. The Retreat

    “I’ve worked out how to win competitions,” Maggie announced.
    Philippa bristled. Nadia cringed over her chocolate digestive. Serena sloshed herself another glass of wine.
    “You’ve got to pick a subject that’s relevant first. Topical. Then give it a strong character and a good ending, like a twist.”
    “Ah.” Philippa raised her eyebrows. “I see.”
    “I always find endings difficult,” Nadia offered.
    Serena grunted. “Bloody awful.”
    “I had to re-write an ending six times once,” Nadia continued, “and still wasn’t happy!”
    “I’ve never had to do that.” Maggie shook her head.
    “Have you not?” Philippa feigned surprise. “Oh of course.”
    Nadia stood up in desperation. She knew this writing retreat had been a stupid idea. “Anyone up for a walk? Get our creative juices flowing?”
    Serena snorted into her wine glass. “Sounds disgusting!”
    Nadia stared. “I mean-”
    “I’ll come,” said Philippa loudly. “I could do with some fresh air.”

    Crispin sauntered in in his shorts and Gucci loafers. Crispie. His white hairy legs looked as if they had been surprised by the light, like some startled creature whose stone had been turned over.

    Philippa had asked him over lunch whether he was wearing his boxers. He had blushed in pleasure and protested. They were normal shorts, he said, crossing his right ankle over his left knee. From where she was sitting, Nadia could see all the way up his thigh. They just looked like boxers, he added, staring at her intensely.

    “Where are we going?” Crispin asked, rinsing his coffee cup. He flicked his fringe out of his eyes and peered over horn-rimmed glasses.
    “Oh nowhere in particular,” said Nadia, staring at the sheep’s skull on top of the fridge.
    Crispin had brought it back from his last excursion on the basis that it was Midsummer’s Eve, and had recited Hamlet to it until someone pointed out it had green patches and he ought to wash his hands.
    “For a walk,” slurred Serena. “Get the juices flowing.” She winked.
    “Oh.” Crispin paused. “In that case I might- ”
    “Put some trousers on?” Philippa suggested.
    He pounded up the stairs.
    “Well it sounds nice, but I really should stay here,” said Maggie as if they had all been asking her. “I’ve got a story to finish.”
    Philippa stared.
    “Righty-ho then,” said Nadia, struggling into her cagoule.
    At least she could say she’d seen the Highlands.

    by Sara Roberts

  4. Excellent! Quite the word-smith! Unfortunately, I related quite well to the simile comparing white legs to a startled creature :( Really enjoyed the slice of life here, so vivid and evoking!

  5. Enjoyed your stories immensely, Sara and Frances. Thank you for the new (to me) word "cagoule."


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