The Summerhouse – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The challenge asks us to write a piece of fiction from the photo prompt provided in around 100- 150 words – give or take 25 words. It encourages participants to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the link in the title of PJ’s, blog: Beautiful Words to see what to do. The challenge runs from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.

Here is this week’s prompt, kindly provided by Dawn M. Miller :

wpid-photo-20150519080132329. . . and this is my story:

‘Marry me, Jen…’ Mark grinned at his fiancée puzzled face as they hurried into the old summerhouse out of the cold, November rain. ‘Let’s get married now instead of waiting until spring.’

Jenny waited for the Spitfires to pass over before speaking. Life was so different since war had been declared two months ago. ‘But what will people think …? Don’t answer that, I already know.’

Mark pulled her close and rested his face against her auburn curls. ‘They’ll understand when they know…’

‘When they know what?’

‘I’ve had my call-up papers, love.’


Ninety-five-year old Jenny roused from her daydream as her daughter halted her wheelchair beside the gazebo. The old summerhouse had long since gone, yet another casualty of wartime bombs, unlike her memories…

Three short years after that day in 1939, Mark had been killed in action, leaving her alone and pregnant. They’d had so little time together.

Still, Susan had been a wonderful daughter, and she’d be with Mark again soon enough. And this time it would be forever.

Word Count: 175


If you’d like to view other entries, click here.


A little bit of info

Whilst I was writing this piece, I started wondering about the differences between a gazebo, a summerhouse, and a pavilion, and whether the names could be used interchangeably. I know this may sound like mere trivia, but I delight in trivialities. So this is what I found, from various sources:

A gazebo is a timber structure with a roof that gives shelter and shade. It is not a completely enclosed building. Many gazebos have no side panels at all, whilst others are half-panelled or completely panelled in parts. Some gazebos have trellis panelling so that plants can be trained to grow up and around the structure. Unlike a summerhouse, a gazebo has no door or fitted windows and is often hexagonal in shape.

Gazebo in Sam Houston Park, Houston, Texas, USA. Author: i_am_jim.  Creative Commons

Gazebo in Sam Houston Park, Houston, Texas, USA. Author: i_am_jim. Creative Commons

Modern summerhouses are generally wooden buildings that have a complete roof, sides and an entrance door. Most have windows to allow plenty of light into the building. So, the main difference between a gazebo and a summerhouse seems to be that once inside a summerhouse it will feel as though you are indoors, whereas you will always feel as though you are outdoors in a gazebo. In the past many ornamental summerhouses were stone. Some old, stone summerhouses still stand today, as the image above shows. I found thisGothic styled one while looking for one to put on my post:

Ilford Manor Summerhouse, UK. Author: Neosnaps. originally uploaded on Flckr.  Wikimedia Commons

Ilford Manor Summerhouse, UK. Author: Neosnaps. originally uploaded on Flckr. Wikimedia Commons

This is one person’s view I found of the differences between a gazebo and summerhouse:

As far as I can tell there isn’t a great deal of difference between summerhouse and a gazebo except perhaps the shape. Most gazebos do tend to be hexagonal in shape. To me, summerhouses seem to be like glorified sheds with windows, whereas gazebos seem to be more attractive in shape and design.” (Source: Successful Garden design)

So what is a pavilion?

A pavilion may be a small outbuilding, similar to a summerhouse. Pavilions were particularly popular in the 18th century and often resembled small classical temples and follies. A pool house by a swimming pool, for example, may have enough character and charm to be called a pavilion. But a free-standing pavilion can also be a far larger building such as the Royal Pavilion at Brighton (UK), which is a large oriental style palace.

A sports pavilion is usually a building next to a sports ground used as a changing room and a place providing refreshments. Often there will be a veranda. We have a (wooden) cricket pavilion in the next village to us. The term pavilion is also used for stadiums/stadia such as baseball parks. Of course, most modern pavilions are built of wood.

It seems to me that the main differences stem from the uses of these buildings. The gazebo is the odd one out because it is generally open to the elements.  Summerhouses and pavilions are closer in design because they are enclosed.

Still confused? Me too – mostly because there are many of these structures that don’t fit neatly into these descriptions For example, here are two structures described as summerhouses I found on Wikimedia Commons – both with open sides!:


Tremosna Summerhouse, Czech Republic. Author: Wikipedia User


Tring Park Summerhouse, Hertfordshire England. Author: D Royal


Refs to information:  Jack’s Garden Store, Successful Garden Design and Wikipedia.

About milliethom

I am a reader and writer of historical fiction with a keen interest in the Earth's history and all it involves, both physically and socially. I like nothing better than to be outdoors, especially in faraway places, and baking is something I do when my eyes need respite from my computer screen.
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48 Responses to The Summerhouse – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

  1. John Yeo says:

    I like this very much, an authentic wartime memoir? As age begins to have flashbacks with clearer memories than the present day ~ Well written Millie ~ The information added was also well,put together ~ 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      The story isn’t authentic, as such, John, but it was inspired by thoughts of the horrors of war. It was also both of my parents’ birthdays this week, which led to me thinking about all they went through at that time. Although my father wasn’t killed, he was badly injured right near the end of the war and spent the following year in hospital. He lost over an inch from one leg, so always walked with a distinctive limp. He was also made totally deaf in one ear. I was born two years after the war, so always knew him that way. Thank you so much for reading, John. 🙂

  2. Shivangi says:

    Lovely story and great info on gazebo, summer house and pavilion. Thank you 😄😄

  3. Bekki Hill says:

    Sad but lovely. Brought a lump to my throat. I guess we’ve all been thinking harder about both world wars with the anniversaries that have passed this last year. As for gazebos, summer hoses and pavilions – yep totally confused now 😉

    • milliethom says:

      Yes, there were a lot of sad stories at that time. as there are during any war. You’re right about the anniversaries bringing everything to our attention, too. The three names do get used wrongly at times. Confusion reigns, I think. Thank you, Bekki. 🙂

  4. I of July says:

    a man wanting to get married for once, good 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      I agree, Heath, that is good. It usually is the other way around. I think that wartime can change people’s outlooks, and values, though. Perhaps some men wanted to know that someone was waiting for them at home while they were away (so I’ve read in books – fiction admittedly!). 🙂

  5. Galit Balli says:

    Such a lovely story 🙂

  6. What a sweet love story – I loved it. I enjoyed how it showed their early lives and her life in her later years. I enjoyed learning about the differences between summerhouse, gazebo, and pavillion. The first photo looked to me more like a fancy doorway with a porch, into nature and the second photograph looked like a stone/concrete gazebo.

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you, PJ. I’m late with my story this week. I agree, that photo does look like some kind of entrance, but it was definitely called a summerhouse, so who am I to argue? I think it’s all the old stone structures that get called different names and cause confusion! 🙂

      • Yes, it does get confusing. They were both beautiful structures. The first one looked rather strange. Just a small porch, a wall with a door in it – oh, and columns.

  7. Aquileana says:

    I love the hopeful ending of your brief stroy dear Millie… Also thanks for providing extra information about summerhouses, gazebos and pavilions.. There is a Coffee Store here called Gazebo and I had always thought it was a Family name!… o_O
    Have a wonderful weekend!. Best to you. Aquileana ⭐

  8. Tastyniblets says:

    what a lovely story Millie – really well written, I was transported back in time with the imagery and language you used. also thanks for the architectural lesson at the end – very interesting! 🙂

  9. luckyjc007 says:

    I love your story! It is sweet, but sad. Jen was fortunate to have their daughter, although I’m sure it was very difficult without him being there to help raise her and join in the joy of seeing her grow up. Your story is a reflection of so many that have faced heartbreaking times. The wars have affected so many lives in so many ways! And, unfortunately…it continues. What a fantastic world it would be if there were no wars!

    • milliethom says:

      I agree with everything you say about wars, Jessie. The futility of it all and such incredible loss of life is so hard to understand. It always comes back to ‘if only…’ The fact that wars still continue today is heartbreaking.
      Thank you for your lovely comments and sharing your views on wars. I’m sure we could all write pages about it all.

  10. She never remarried? Such a long time to be alone!

  11. draliman says:

    A very bitter sweet story. I loved the last line. Well written!

  12. Lily Lau says:

    What a story, Millie… I love how you wrote it, perhaps if I had written it it’d be happier but I way more prefer your style! 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Hello, Lily. Thank you for that really lovely comment – I’m happy that the story appealed to you. I’ve had a look at your blog and note that you do a lot about travel. Your photos look quite awesome! I’ll pop back later and have a better look round. 🙂

  13. Nitin Chandran Nair says:

    Awesome writing. Learnt something new today 🙂

  14. Your story gave me goosebumps (once again), I always fall for nostalgia…

  15. Ellespeth says:

    I love the sound of the word summerhouse – and your story, Millie. I wonder why it is that war seems to sometimes bring on the urgency to marry? Jenny lives such a long life after Mark was killed. It doesn’t sound as though she ever remarried. You show the hopefulness of believing in an afterlife.

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you, Ellespeth! 🙂 I think war makes people want to marry because they desperately need to spend every moment together before war separates them forever – a possibility they realise all too well. In my story Jenny never remarried, which could reflect the everlasting love she felt for Mark, which could never be replaced. (In actual fact, I originally included a sentence about a failed marriage, and only removed it due to the word count.)

  16. Ameena k.g says:

    Awww, even though Mark was gone,he left a beautiful gift behind his daughter, I love the past and preset perspective of this story, beautiful.

  17. tjparis says:

    Not only a great story but I seriously learned alot from your foray into Gazebos and their origins. Meilleurs vœux! 🙂

  18. Sometimes all we have a memories…all the more reason to make them pleasant. lovely story.

  19. Susan Langer says:

    I’m a little late with my reading but just loved you love story. 🙂

  20. I lovely story, even sad but beautiful. I think you have a ‘thing’ about these gazebo and summerhouses Millie. There are some stories, yet to be told, aren’t there? 😉

    • milliethom says:

      I have lots of stories I’d love to write about my 1950s childhood, Joycelin. If I ever get this third book finished, I might write a few for my blog. I’m not sure about a whole book of them though. I hope your Memoir is progressing well, by the way. Your stories are absolutely fascinating. I’ve learned so much about Papua New Guinea by reading them. 🙂

  21. “A” love story – I meant. 🙂

  22. Millie – I am laughing and I can’t have to excuse me. I was writing “A lovely story” and I love it. You should write some memoir chapters. 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Don’t worry at all. I’m used to reading my own sentences, which usually only make sense to me. I’m good at interpreting, you know. lol. It was a lovely comment, read as you meant it to be. 😀

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