Flash Friday – I thought I’d start to put up a “flash fiction” story each Friday – and if you wanted to, you could join in and post your own.
Flash fiction is defined as a story of extreme brevity. It’s often given as a challenge with either a theme or having to include specific words in the text. I’m setting the limit at 500 words maximum. If you want to join in – post a story and a photo if you have a suitable one, in the comments. I’ll change the challenge each week.
This week – I’m posting one I entered into the Mash competition. You had to write a story that included the words Taxes, Vinegar and Carpenter. Here’s one of mine…
“My Great-Grandfather was a chippy on the Titanic.”
“What?” Carol asked, frowning.
“I was just looking at that advert for the Titanic Museum,” I said, ducking down and pointing through the windscreen, past the red glow of the traffic light. An illuminated billboard showed a stylised rendition of the famous four funnels. “He was a carpenter working on overmantels and fireplaces in the staterooms and lounges. Imagine having fireplaces on a ship.”
“Oh, that’s cool. Although not quite as good as what I thought you’d said.”
“How’d you mean?” I asked.
“I thought you said he ran a chippy on the Titanic. I had this image, him behind a counter, shouting out to ladies in First Class, ‘Do you want salt and vinegar on those love?’
I laughed, “Sadly not. Mind you, just as well really, for if he’d been on it when it went down, I wouldn’t be here.”
“Did you know him?”
“No, he was long gone by the time I was born. But you know how it is, family folklore survives. Apparently, according to him, there was none of the certainty about it being unsinkable before it sailed. He insisted all that was made up by newspapers afterwards.”
“There’s a surprise, newspapers inventing stuff,” Carol said, rolling her eyes to make her point.
“According to my Granny, as he got older the more he’d get angry when people talked about it. He’d let it go on for a bit and then his brusqueness would get the better of him. His final word on it was always the same, ‘That’s all stuff and nonsense. There are only two things certain in life, death and taxes, but no ship. No ship was ever certain.’ And that would be that. Conversation over.”
“It’s a shame all his work went to the bottom,” Carol said as she shifted the car into gear.
“Yeah, although he did carve all the fancy scrolls on the balconies of the Opera House as well.”
Carol did a quick check over her shoulder, “Really? That’s just a few streets behind us. Do you want me to turn around? We could go have a look.”
“Nah, it’s okay. The Opera House was blown up during the Troubles. All his work was destroyed, so I never got a chance to see it. I was only young when the bombing happened. Like you said, it is a shame really.”
“Yeah, it is,” she nodded and gave a rueful twist of her mouth.
“Ah well, I wouldn’t be too sad. To be honest, given the Opera House and the Titanic, hanging around any of his work might be a bit dodgy. I think he was a jinx.”
The lights changed and we pulled away, the Titanic slipping into the darkness behind us.
Ian Andrew is the author of the alternative history novel A Time To Every Purpose, the detective thrillers Face Value and Flight Path and the Little Book of Silly Rhymes & Odd Verses. All are available in e-book and paperback. Follow him on social media: