Echoes of Misery – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It 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 us to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.

Here is this week’s prompt, kindly provided by TJ Paris:

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. . . and this is my story:

Amelia withdrew to her bedchamber, leaving Edward to his business affairs. Through the open window she watched the seagulls wheeling over the blue-grey water, their mournful dirge echoing her own misery. During their first year of marriage, she had seen little of her husband, whose business focused on London, so far away.

Bequeathed to Edward by his grandfather, the house had been built eighty years ago, in 1756, in place of a dilapidated keep, and was encircled by the castle’s towering fortifications. Enveloped by the sea, storms utterly terrified Amelia, as malevolent waves battered the defences like some ancient foe firing deadly cannon.

Despite numerous servants, she felt so alone; no babe yet swelled her womb.

Edward was suddenly beside her. ‘Amelia, I think we should move to London…  We can afford it now, and in London you’ll be close to your family –’

Amelia threw her arms round his neck, sobbing her relief.

‘We’ll spend more time together,’ he whispered, ‘raise a child or two…  And bequeath this house to the nesting gulls.’

Word Count: 174

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If you’d like to view other entries, click the little blue frog below:

I usually add a little bit of ‘extra’ information connected to the topic of my story every week. Today I thought this information was a little too long, so I’ve made it into a separate post. If you would like to read it, you can find it here.

84 thoughts on “Echoes of Misery – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

      1. I agree with you. There aren’t many people who could stand such an isolated existence. It does make you wonder about the people who did live in that house. It’s an intriguing prompt.

      2. Not sure I believe in ghosts anyway … Probably beacause I’ve never seen one. I’d have a bit of a shock if I did. I know some people swear blind they’ve seen them. I’m just very doubtful. 🙂

      3. Yes I know some people would go on and on about it. I have no experience and honestly, its better that way. I’ll have a heart attack just as soon I see any lol

    1. Thank you so much, Mandibelle. I really wanted to show her loneliness and feeling of being trapped. It would have been a really miserable place to live for most people.

    1. Hello, Pj. I put the ‘extra’ on a separate post because I thought you may not like such a long piece adding onto your challenge. My pieces seem to have been getting longer every week! Thank you for liking my story. 🙂

      1. Thank you Millie, that is very thoughtful of you. I was going to read your extra part but when I saw the length I knew I would have to wait until I get home to read it. It looks very interesting!!

  1. Wonderful story, Millie, love the happy ending!

    And speaking of ghosts, we had one in the house I grew up in. A very benevolent guy, he was glimpsed from time to time, and his favorite trick was turning on the water in the 3rd floor bath while everyone was downstairs in the living room. My mother sold the house to my brother, and “William” never appeared again, though the ghost of my father was seen by my brother’s wife and children.

    1. Ooh, Giff, that sounds like some house. I don’t suppose the existence of a ghost could be denied if several people actually saw it. Now that has got me thinking. I wonder who that ‘benevolent’ ghost was. Although you called him ‘William’, I get the feeling you didn’t know him. But the ghost of your father appearing to your brother’s family is a different thing. Ther’s definitely something about that house…
      If you weren’t so busy with you Irish works, you could probably write an interesting novel centred around that house! Thank you for sharing that really interesting snippet. I love to hear about people’s experiences with ghosts, having never had any myself.

      1. “William” was the builder (1875) and original owner’s name: we called the ghost William to honor him, but it could have been one of his descendents. I’ll have to think about that novel — or maybe weaving it into one of the stories I’ve got going.

      2. Your William sounds a really nice ‘fella’. He must have liked his house having happy children in it. If you do write some stories about that house, be sure link to my blog so I can read. I seem to miss so many posts lately.

  2. “Enveloped by the sea, storms utterly terrified Amelia, as malevolent waves battered the defences like some ancient foe firing deadly cannon”…

    I loved that sentence….. There are echoes of misery here but hope prevails at the end.
    A very nice flash fiction, dear Millie!. Thanks for sharing. All the best to you! Aquileana ⭐

    1. Thanks, Dawn. I don’t know how the poor girl would have survived another year or more living in such isolation, with a mostly absent husband. I’m glad you felt her relief. 🙂

  3. Horrible to be kept in a place you hate and that is so dangerous. The turn around of Edward telling her to move to London Shows that he cares for her and I felt relieved to know she would be near her family too. Good story in few words, well done

    1. Hi Scrapydo. Thank you for liking my story. The ‘island’ was not a place for Amelia, especially with Edward being away so often. Perhaps only a hermit would enjoy living in such a place. I wanted a happy ending for this one – I’ve done a lot of sad endings recently. 🙂

      1. Same here! There are so many sad things going on everyday that happy thoughts or reading lifts up your soul! I got sad news last night- one of my friends who is really struggling with her health had a stroke yesterday. I seems as if I can’t get a grip on myself at the moment to start my day!

      2. I’m so sorry for that, Srapydo. I suppose, at our age, we’ll be hearing more and more news like this in the coming years. It’s very depressing, and being strong enough to deal with such losses isn’t easy. Do look after yourself. I’ll be thinking of you. Millie. ❤

      3. Thank you sweet Millie. This friend is only 63 and is suffering from an immune illness also. Then also my other friends husband’s brain is damaged so much that he can’t put things together that are happening with him. He is also 64!

      4. They are relatively young to have so many things to cope with. I hope you are well, yourself, as I am at the moment. I feel very lucky, and grateful, to be so healthy – but who knows what’s aroud the corner? I sincerely hope your friend recovers from the stroke. It’s a long process, and sometimes not always one of full recovery.I think the song you posted yesterday reflected your feelngs at the moment. We musy always hold onto our dreams.

      5. Yes, I was having my nanny nap when the song woke me up yesterday and this morning I just had to post it. I am also very grateful for my good health still. I still see, hear and move well and that makes life easier. I keep on taking my walks, try to eat healthy and regularly. Thanks for the concern I appreciate it. Keep weel yourself too

    1. Hello, Ashley. Thank you for such a nice comment. I’m sure you don’t need lessons from anyone on how to write – and I wish you every success with your own book.

  4. Good for him he understood her and made a wise decision. Liked this sentence “no babe yet swelled her womb”. Nicely done, Millie. 🙂

    1. I imagine it was a very lonely place to be. But Edward was bequeathed the house, and they had to live there until he had earned enough money to buy something in London. (What’s new? House prices in London have always been extortionate! lol. ) Thanks Ali.

      1. I always “like” those news stories where they say a garage (as in somewhere to park your car, not a petrol station) is on sale in London for the same as a three bed house up north.

      2. It doesn’t make sense, does it? No wonder so many people who work in London buy property further north and cummute daily. There are several people we know who catch the train from Newark every morning. It’s cheaper than buying in London. I think we’ll be staying up here, somehow… 😀

  5. Hi Millie. How lovely to have a happy ending – so many flash fiction stories done’. I particularly love the line ‘Through the open window she watched the seagulls wheeling over the blue-grey water, their mournful dirge echoing her own misery.

    1. Thank you! The calls of seagulls often sound like a dirge to me, and in such a desolate place as that in the prompt, they would probably sound even more mournful. 🙂

      1. Your piece certainly made me imagine them doing that – but I’ll listen better next time I’m at the coast, I’ve always though of them as more like babies cries.

        Mind your mention of seagulls made me think something bad was going to happen since there’s a bit of a furore going on in our local news about gulls attacking people and a dog was killed by one last week. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-33638997

      2. Thank you for the link! I’ve never thought of gulls as having a killer instinct. They just seem to wheel and swoop about scavenging anything they can find. That’s rather worrying. As the article mentioned, are young children safe? If they can kill a dog… and that poor woman. I wonder what’s provoking them. Is it a shortage of food? I’ll remember to take a hat next time I go to the coast.

      3. I think it’s supposed to be because they’re protecting their young – or at least they think they are. Last year I remember the post office refusing to deliver to one street because of the gulls attacking the postal workers. So not a new problem.

      4. That’s probably very true. When we were at Conwy Castele a few week’s ago, the nesting gulls weren’t too friendly when we walked past. I can imagine in large numbers they could be brave enough to attack. I’d forgotten about that.

  6. Just wanted to let you know that I realize how busy you are writing your book and also just publishing a book, so I am always delighted when you can write a story for FFfAW. Your loyal participation is very much appreciated! And of course, I always look forward to reading your stories.

    1. It’s so nice of you to say that, PJ. I love writing stories, of any kind! That’s what is so addictive about flash fiction. I’d love to participate for as long as I can. 🙂

  7. Naturally I have a penchant for stories that end disastrously. But if it’s going to be happy, this is a good way for it to read. It’s excellent news for the gulls too.

    1. Gulls love nesting along the battlements of castles, as I found out on my visit to Conwy a few weeks ago. The building could become known as Gull Hotel. 🙂

  8. Reading this I felt compassion for her and I was feeling real good when I found out she would be moving to London, being near her family and starting one of their own! You can’t ask for a happier ending of a story than that!

    1. What a wonderful surprise for me, Ellespeth! What can I say, except thank you so much – I really appreciate it. If the 9th century is a new period for you, you may take some time to get used to the Anglo Saxon names. But it gets easier as you go through the book. The Viking names are easier that the AS ones.

  9. Oh gosh, that comment was for your historical background entry…
    I just loved this story! I was all prepared to have a sad ending and then, yay! A happy ending. The description of the castle was so good – brooding. I’m certainly glad they’ll be leaving.
    Ellespeth

    1. Yes, I couldn’t bring myself to subject the poor girl to another year in that house. I think she deserved a break. lol And I wanted a happy ending for this story. 🙂

  10. Brilliantly and vividly written!
    Though I have not visited Lindisfarne (it is officially on my list of places to go!), after reading the information on the separate post and then re-reading main one, your story transported my mind there.

    1. It’s lovely up there, Francesca, as is the rest of Northumberland. I grew to love it when I was teaching and taking Year 7’s up to Hadrian’s Wall every year. At one time I’d have given anything to move up there. The coast is lovely, too. Some nice beaches… if only we had the weather to enjoy them! Lindisfarne is particularly special. Thank you for your lovely comments. They’re very much appreciated.

  11. What a beautiful ending. Your use of words for this flash fiction took me to a place where i could feel her pain and see the waves and castle. A great write-up, took me through a journey.

  12. what a lovely story Millie, I wish there was more of it at the end! I get the sense that this story must be of a similar style to that of your books? it just seemed so effortlessly written. I’ll have to steal my mother’s kindle off her – I downloaded your book but as her kindle uses my Amazon account it was sent there. I really want to read it now!

    1. What a wonderful comment, Az. Funny you should ask about the style compared to my books… Some of the phrases in this story are very similar to some in Book 1. The slave market is at a coastal location, and I have to confess, I used similar words to desrcibe the ‘mournful dirge’ of the seabirds there. Thank you so much for wanting to read it! I’ll just have to hope that you’re not disappointed.

    1. Yes, I’ve just heard about those! It seems the behaviour is a way of guarding their nests. There were several gulls nesting along the wall walk at Conwy Castle, and we got the feeling they wouldn’t have taken too kindly to us getting too close. We had a few wings flapped wildly at us, so we gave them a wide berth.

  13. Is this a game or something I can participate in to show my talent.just more light cause if I came to tell u how I got to know about this u won’t believe me.
    Thanks,fred

  14. Hi Fred. There are a few flash fiction challenges on WordPress, although I haven’t written a post for ages due to writing my novels. The person who hosted this challenge has recently stopped doing it, but if you look for a site called Friday Fictioneers, that is still going strong. You need to write really short stories for that one, with a maximum of 100 words. There are other sites, too. Writing flash is a lot of fun. Other contributors comment on your story, which gives you great feed back – and you’ll need to comment on a few other people’s posts, too.

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