They’re All The Rage – 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 Tuesday to Tuesday every week.

It’s been a couple of months since I participated in a flash fiction challenge, but this prompt brought two different stories to mind, so I decided to have a go at one of them. Unsurprisingly, this one has a historical slant.

This is the prompt, kindly provided by Priceless Joy. Image courtesy of Pixabay . . .

photo-20151214095129364. . . and this is my story:

They’re All The Rage!

Lady Penelope withdrew her hand from the marmalade pot and gaped at the grinning sixteen-year-old across the breakfast table. Her husband, Lord Geoffrey Troughton, engrossed in reading the morning news, showed no signs of having heard their son’s request.

‘What on earth do you mean Archie?’ she demanded. ‘I’ve no idea what a ‘Penny Farthing’ is, let alone where to buy you one for Christmas.’

Archie let out an exasperated sigh. ‘Surely you’ve heard of them, Mother . . . everyone’s talking about them. They’re really quite the rage.  All the chaps at school are getting them for Christmas, and I’d like one, too.’

Lord Troughton lowered his newspaper. ‘It’s another of those bicycle machines, my dear,’ he explained. ‘It has a large wheel at the front and the smaller one at the back, reminiscent of the different sized coins, the penny and the farthing. They’re remarkably fast, Archie – just right for the modern age . . .’

Penelope went back to eating her toast. She’d have no further say in the matter now.

Word Count: 175

Penny Farthing, invented 1880-82. Courtesy of Pixabay

Penny Farthing, invented 1880-82. Image courtesy of Pixabay

If you’d like to read other entries, or add a story yourself, click on the little blue frog:

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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120 Responses to They’re All The Rage – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

  1. Joy Pixley says:

    Once Lord Geoffrey chimes in, all is lost, eh? Fun reminder of those old bikes. They look so cool, but also so high up! Maybe if I was Archie’s age…

    • milliethom says:

      Yes, the story hints at the male dominated household – lord and master idea. But many upper class women were quite content with the role of running the household and swanning off to social gatherings.
      Penny Farthings are my favourite of the early bikes. They look so comical but apperently, the design was intended to allow the vehicle to reach greater speeds. Like you, I wouldn’t like to be let loose on one! Thank you, Joy. 😀

      • Joy Pixley says:

        I never realized the point of that odd design was for them to go faster — very interesting!

      • milliethom says:

        Yes, it’s all very scientific! It seems that at the time, bicycles were all being developed with increasingly bigger front wheels – until they reached penny farthing size. It’s all about the number of pedal turns compared to the number of wheel turns. The problem was that if the rider came to a sudden halt, he would likely be thrown over the handlebars (which led to the need for safety helmets).

      • Joy Pixley says:

        Ah, that makes sense about the wheel turn-per-pedal turn — and about the danger too. Nope, not increasing my desire to get on top of one!

  2. Interesting that parents always want to know about their children’s new ideas but when it comes to the push they usually don’t agree or want to accept the new things! Good story. I can see in my mind all those school boys riding their penny farthings to school while the girls watch them in their long dresses.

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Ineke. I’m glad you liked my story – the first flash fiction I’ve done since early October. I haven’t had chance to look at other entries, but, if you have written one, I’ll be reading it later today. 🙂

      • I am also not in full writing swing at the moment. I’ve only done Sunday Photo Fiction this week.

      • milliethom says:

        I’ll be over to read it as soon as I’ve read a few more of the FFfAW entries. 🙂 I’d forgotten how long it takes to go round the community, but it’s only fair to do so. I’ve never tried the Sunday challenge, but I may do some time next year. Flash fiction is great to do, but so time consuming.
        I know you’ll have finished school now for the holiday, so I hope you have a good rest and also, a wonderful Christmas! You need to relax and enjoy yourself. I’m getting quite excited about it all (as usual).
        I want to thank you for your friendship this year, Ineke, and your support with my books. As soon as I get myself organised, I’ll be doing a review of your book. Good luck with your second one! Talk again soon. ❤

  3. I love this!! what a great story Millie!

  4. Apart from the awkwardness in riding one them Millie I bet they were all the rage back then….a bit like my son’s game console…..have a good day and a great Christmas if I don’t see you again to you and all your family….its a busy time of year….

    • milliethom says:

      Modern young people would howl with laughter at the idea of a Penny Farthing, whereas a games console would be ‘really cool’! I suppose the idea of any new invention takes the interest of people of that time, one way or another. These bikes look so comical to us and I can’t imagine how it would feel to ride one of them. The hair-raising speeds would probably take my breath away! Lol. It’s so easy to laugh at things of the past.
      Have a wonderful Christmas, too, Michael. I’ve missed this community since October. I’ll get back to regular story writing once Book 3 is done with! Hope the fairies at the bottom of your garden are behaving themselves. 😀

      • The fairies send you their best wishes, so you can take it they are behaving, they usually do around Christmas it has something to do with them believing the whole ‘ naughty or nice’ thing.
        Thanks for riding by on your penny farthing….

      • milliethom says:

        You are welcome. I’ve missed reading about those little tykes in your garden. I’m still happily playing on my penny farthing. 🙂

  5. Lovely! 🙂 Great story. Missed you Millie Thom.

  6. I love this story! Excellent, as always! So good to see you back Millie. I have missed you too. The story is just wonderful. I wonder what it felt like to ride one of those bikes? It looks to me like it would be very hard to ride.

    • milliethom says:

      Hello, PJ. You have no idea how much I’ve missed doing your challenge. The last one I did was in early October, so it feels very good to be participating again, if only for a while. I almost wrote a story for last week’s photo (one Lou sent to you, taken in Bowness on the banks of Lake Windermere when we were there a couple of years ago). I had a story in my head, but no time to write it. I couldn’t resist this week’s prompt.The Penny Farthing looks awful to ride, especially for women in those long dresses, but I don’t suppose I’m ever likely to find out! I’ll come over and read other entries as soon as I can today. Thank you for the lovely welcome back! Truly appreciated.

      • You are a very busy woman and with the holidays I’m sure you are even busier. I would have loved to have read your story last week but I understand not being able to participate. I’m thrilled you participated this week! I hope you are doing well and are having a wonderful holiday!

      • milliethom says:

        You too, PJ. Christmas will always be special and magical. I just miss playing the role of Father Christmas! I hope you are well, too. I won’t abandon your challenge for ever. I enjoy doing it too much. 🙂

      • Ah, that is sweet Millie! I’m happy to know you enjoy participating in the FFfAW challenge. I have to admit, I too miss being “Santa Claus.” Having young children that believe in Santa is so much fun!.

      • milliethom says:

        It is fun. The secrecy makes it all so exciting. I used to be up earlier on Christmas morning than the children. I couldn’t wait for them to open their presents. It was such a special time… chaotic with six of them, but wonderful. I hope to do next week’s unless you are having a break for the holiday.

      • I don’t plan on taking a break. Unless something happens, I will be posting the challenge next week as usual.

      • milliethom says:

        I’ll look out for it! Thank you, PJ. Have a great Christmas! ❤

      • You too Millie! I hope you and your family have a great Christmas!

  7. Too bad Lady Penelope seems to not understand what fun riding a bike can be. Although, I do wonder how difficult it would be to ride one of those types of bikes.

    • milliethom says:

      Hi Laura. I don’t think we’ve met before, but I’m very happy to say ‘hello’! Thank you for reading and liking my story – I’ll be hopping over to read yours very soon. As for riding a Penny Frathing…! I wonder how anyone ever got onto the saddle in the first place, let alone ride the thing! Lol. But they look so comical, I can’t help liking them. Lady Penelope is far too busy being a ‘lady’ to understand such simple pleasures as riding a bike. What a lot she must have missed out on in her life. 🙂

  8. Sonya says:

    Poor Lady Penelope. But I suppose she’s used to it… Good to see you back, Millie 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      I think Penelope would rarely get a word in when father and son got talking about anything remotely newsworthy. But, many ‘ladies’ of that time lapped up the resposibilities of running a large household full of servants and enjoying a full social life. Politics, inventions and the like were all part of the male domain. It was the same in working class homes, in a different way, of course. We all know the stories of the fight for women’s rights. Oh boy, I’m not sure how I got onto that! Just ignore me. 😀
      Thank you for reading, Sonya, and for the lovely welcome back. 🙂

  9. Twisted Short Stories says:

    Love it!

    • milliethom says:

      I had to click onto your blog to check out who you were – and was surprised to find it was you, Belinda. Thank you for liking my story! It’s the first flash fiction I’ve done since early October, and I’ve really missed it. But, in January, I’ll be back to concentrating on Book 3 and will be blogging very little at all for a few weeks.
      Hope your wriiting is going well, and your new blog (just of short stories, I noticed) works really well for you. Lovely to see you again. Mille 🙂

      • Twisted Short Stories says:

        Hello Millie. Yes I came back but decided the only blogging I should be doing is for my short stories …. or else …. I will never write a novel!

      • milliethom says:

        I take it you are still planning on writing your novel, then? It would be a shame to give up now. I don’t write sections of my novels on my blog, or write many short stories. I do like the flash fiction challenges, though. I hope to get over and have a look at your new blog as soon as I can. This week is chaotic here, with the build up to Christmas. I’m even behind in responding to comments. Thank you for commenting. It’s been ages since we chatted. 🙂

      • Twisted Short Stories says:

        I am still writing the novel … and I too have missed our little chats! 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        I just tried to get into your blog but it denied me access. So it seems we won’t be getting back to you.

  10. Great photo, and I too like your story. I can just picture this wonderful English family having breakfast! Good job, Millie.

  11. Lina says:

    A lovely short story…really enjoyed the read…I’ll trying taking part in this☺☺☺☺

    • milliethom says:

      It would be really good if you joined in this challenge, Lina. It’s a great one to do, and you’d get lots of useful feedback. I haven’t joined in since October because I’ve been getting on with my book, but I really miss it. My daughter, Louise (thestorytellersabode) still does it evry week, though.
      Thank you so much for liking my story. 🙂

      • Lina says:

        Oh nice…I didn’t know your daughter blogged too…I already submitted my post and I loved the experience…will surely take part every week

      • milliethom says:

        Great! I haven’t read the other entries yet, as I put my story up late last night. I’ve only just found time to respond to comments. I’ll be reading your story soon, Lina, so we’ll talk again then. 🙂

      • Lina says:

        Haha sure☺ take your time..I’ll check your daughter’s blog in the meanwhile too

      • milliethom says:

        Louise has written a story for this challenge. She does several other writing challenges, too. They’re all a lot of fun. I just haven’t the time at the moment. 🙂

      • Lina says:

        Looks like I have already read her story and have also commented on the post☺

  12. Aquileana says:

    Dear Millie… this flash Fiction is awesome … it reminded me of an episode of a series I absolutely adore, Downtown Abbey, in which the cook was amazed and also scared because a radio had been set up in the dining-room…
    I didn´t know that those old bicycles were also known as Penny Farthing…
    You are amazing… thanks for sharing this story…
    On another issue… I also have a nomination for you… The Dragon’s Loyalty Award:. You can check it out in my last post, if you want to join, … No pressures. It is totally up to you… All my best wishes. Merry christmas to you 🎅🎄. Aquileana 😄

    Ps… welcome to Twitter, i have just followed you—

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you for that awesome comment Aquileana (I’m continuing in the Epic Awesomeness vein here). I love the Victorian era, and those upper class families were so prim and proper – and quite stuffy! There are several of those old bicycles that are comical to look at, but the Penny Farthing is my favourite.
      As for your nomination, I have already seen it and commented on your post. But I’ll say another enormous Thank You for it here and will try to do the post before Christmas. Thank you also for following me on Twitter! I signed up for it weeks ago, but have only just worked out what I’m supposed to do with it. (Just call me Dumbo!) My daugher, Louise, (at the storytellersabode) helped me to sort things out, and stop my image from being an egg. Lol Modern technology and me really don’t mix.
      And your blog truly is awesome! Have a wonderful Christmas and an ‘awesome’ new year. ❤

      • Aquileana says:

        I didn´t know that Louise from the Storytellersabode was your daughter… That´s so neat, Millie… I follow her blog and also like her posts very much.. Concerning Twitter, You´ll nail it after a while…
        As to your your comment, I saw it… but didn´t read it fully, to be honest… Anyhow, it is good to know that you´ll accept it… so that way the ball keeps rolling to to speak… Thanks for the information with regard to the Penny farthing, now I can presume to speak properly and with great historical basis… I am loving yoru blog… It is actually one of my favourites… Best wishes and love to you. Aquileana 🍀🌠

      • milliethom says:

        Thnak you so much! I’m blushing now. 😀

  13. draliman says:

    Go and do the dishes, Penelope! Transport talk is for men only 🙂
    Fun story – a conversation being had across the breakfast table right now in many homes, I bet, but “Victorianised”!

    • milliethom says:

      ‘Victorianised’ is only for stories, I hope! Thank you, Ali. I have to say, if my husband and four sons started on ‘transport talk’, I’d be out of the room in a flash! I hope you’ve put your own order in to Father Christmas. If not, you’d best get on with it. You don’t want to end up with no prezzies! 😀

  14. What a lovely story Millie! ❤ It reminds me of the time when I used to watch Penny Farthing on TV and begging my parents to buy me one (hahaha of course we couldn't buy it 😀 ). Your story was almost exactly the same as what I did to my parents. Your brilliant imagination made you write what is close to reality. You are truly an excellent writer! ❤ Keep it up! 😉

  15. I guess there’s always been a must have Christmas present. Great to see you doing a bit of flash fiction again 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Hi Bekki – and thank you! I couldn’t resist doing this one. I can’t see me doing much of my book over Christmas, and as soon as I saw this prompt, old bicycles came into my head. I really must move into the present sometime! I seem to live in the past. You’re right about ‘must have’ presents. I can remember a few Christmases when I wanted a new bike because the old one was old, or I had outgrown it. (Yes, I did grow a little bit when I was a child. 😀 )
      But I had lots of different ‘must haves’ too, as I’m sure you did.
      The penny farthing has always fascinated me, so It fitted in nicely with my story. 🙂

  16. Shivangi says:

    Interesting mix of fiction and history Millie.. Too good!

  17. Brilliant story Millie, made for a fun read.

  18. Susan says:

    cute story well told as usual. 🙂

  19. DG MARYOGA says:

    You have built up your story so skillfully,dear Millie!Short as it is(only 175 words),but so rich in cultural elements of past eras!Interesting the high wheeler bicycle and the conversation of the family.Bicycle models have changed,hope the notions that regulate modern families have changed to the better too … Have a wonderful weekend 🙂 xoxox

    • milliethom says:

      Yes, both bicycles and the roles of all famil members have changed so much since Victorian times. Most of the changes are for the better, but I suppose we could question a couple, too. Thes writing challenges are fun to do. This is the first I’ve done for a while because I’ve been busy with my own writing. Thank you so much for liking it, Doda. Your lovely comment is much appreciated. ❤

  20. Social commentary, Millie? Poor Penelope! I feel for her. I am reminded of a conversation with my family and my husband’s female work colleagues. Not one of them was familiar with what a suffragette was. This was in reference to the new movie coming out…….I was a bit surprised. I certainly hope to never return to Penélope’s situation……

    • milliethom says:

      Yes, the suffragette movement was all part and parcel of this era. I taught the topic of ‘Women and the Vote’ to Year 9 students for several years. It was very popular, especially with the girls, of course. It’s funny how different readers of my story have picked out different aspects of the Victorian age. The idea of a upper class family (like Downton Abbey) is one thing, and of course the invention – and riding of – these new bicycles another. Others have mentioned the subservient status of women, and now you have mentioned the suffragettes. It was such an interesting period of history, one that I’d like to explore further in my writing, at some stage. We’ve moved a long way from Penelope’s situation and like you, Amanda, I hope we never return to it. Thank you for that interesting comment. 😀

      • I could imagine you writing a novel set in that period. It also might be something popular with readers given the success of D. Abbey, which I haven’t seen but I did enjoy Upstairs downstairs. Now that is showing my age!

      • milliethom says:

        Upstairs Downstairs was the best! I think I watched every episode. The characters were excellent. Oddly enough, I haven’t watched Downton Abbey yet, either. We keep saying we will but never seem to get round to it.

      • There is something about it that doesn’t appeal to me and I have not yet put my finger on it!

      • milliethom says:

        Well, you agree with my husband! he’s the main reason we haven’t watched it because he hates the upper class look of it all. He likes Victorian and Edwardian dramas, as a rule, but not when they focus on the nobility and ‘all their snobbery and pomp’ as he’ puts it. 🙂

      • Perhaps that is it. I am a bit of a colonial egalitarian!!!!! Lol!

      • milliethom says:

        Egaliterian suits Nick and I well. The class system in Britain is outdated and unfair – but I won’t get into my political reasoning behind that! We are both from working-class families, and our sympathies still lie in that direction. So, I’m happy for you to be a colonial egaliterian! 😀

      • Then I can see why you and I agree on many things!!!

  21. I wasn’t familiar with this writing challenge, but I like it a lot, great idea and great story! 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you, Rockhopper! There are a few writing challenges around, if you are interested in writing yourself. But would that fit in with the style of your blog? You post every day now, so adding something new would mean you posted more than once on some days. I don’t post anywhere near as often as you, and do several different types of posts, so I can fit anything new in anywhere! (It would be great to see you on this challenge, mind you.It is fun to do. 😉

  22. nowathome says:

    Great story, Millie!

  23. luckyjc007 says:

    Great story! 🙂 I think she is outnumbered two to one. It kind of reminds me of today’s generation and the electronics available. The children know all about the new gadgets and how to operate them….some parents are still trying to catch on and often times ask the advice of the children.

  24. Ellespeth says:

    Millie! I have missed you and your historical fiction pieces! I had no idea that was the name of these bicycles. Poor Penny! Love the tie in to the bike and her name 😛
    Happy Holidays, Millie.
    Ellespeth

    • milliethom says:

      Hello, Ellespeth. Thank you for that nice comment and welcome back to flash fiction. This is the first one I’ve done since early October and I’ve really missed it. But needs must. As for the names… I really didn’t think about that until after I’d posted. I chose Penelope as an old-fashioned name suitable for a ‘lady’ without realising I’d linked her abbreviated name, ‘Penny’, to the bike.
      I hope you are well and looking forward to Christmas – and that your poetry and other writing are doing well! 🙂

  25. I’d heard you say about ‘flash’ fiction before Millie, but didn’t really know what it was all about. But having just read your excellent piece, I can see that it’s a brilliant idea 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Flash fiction is great to do for anyone who likes to write stories and/or to improve their writing skills. The prompts are so varied, and can lead us in many directions. It’s fun to read all the different entries – although it’s very time consuming, the reason why I’ve had to stop doing it for a while. But this prompt just grabbed me, and I had to write something for it. There are lots of different flash fiction challenges around, too. I did three a week for several months of this year. Thank you for reading, and for the nice comment, Andy. I’ll be reading some more posts later today. Right now, my grandson’s dragging me out for a walk. He’s here all week, and keeping me on my toes. 🙂

      • You’re welcome Millie 🙂 Glad to hear that your grandson is giving you plenty of exercise, you won’t need to go swimming next year, you’ll be all toned up after all this walking! 🙂
        Wow!! That’s a lot of flash fiction to write, no wonder you gave it a break for a while!

      • milliethom says:

        Well, I need time to write my own things now, Andy. I’ve been speding far too much time on flash fiction. As for walking – I do that a lot, anyway. 🙂

      • I must confess Millie, I kind of guessed you did a fair bit of walking, I don’t know of many armchair geologists! 🙂 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        Well, yes, tht’s true. But I just love to be outdoors a lot. I’d go mad if I had to stay in all day. I had a lot of years of teaching, which meant I had to go to a gym at night for exercise, when I had time! But it’s not like fresh air, is it?
        Happy New Year, Andy! 🙂

      • Fresh air and being outdoors definitely can’t be beaten Millie, I agree totally 🙂
        And a very Happy New Year to you too! 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        Hi Andy! Having not posted myself all over Christmas, I’ve only been on my blog to answer comments. If you’ve posts out there, be assurred, I’ll read them as soon as our house is ours again. It’s like Paddington Station around here! Hope you had a grewat Christmas, too. 😀

      • That’s okay Millie, I know the feeling about it being a hectic Christmas, I’ve not hardly had chance to go on WordPress for the last 10 days or so, I’ve got a fair bit of catching up to do!! LOL! 🙂
        Hope that you all have a very Happy New Year! 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        Have a great 2016, too, Andy. Another year . . . I wonder what this one will bring? Let’s hope for better weather, for a start! I’ve already put my order in. 🙂

      • LOL!!! 🙂 That seems to be a common factor in many of the posts I’ve read in the last few hours – many people hoping for an improvement in the weather! 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        We all need to see some sunshine this year. Constant grey skies are just depressing. I’m hoping for the blue painted version this year. 🙂

      • Lol!!! The constant grey skies do get a wee bit depressing, I like the idea of the blue painted version for 2016!!! 🙂

  26. Lord and Master! It just seems like such a far far away time!!

    What a name for a bike with an interesting connection to the story.

    • milliethom says:

      Thankfully, many of the aspects of Victorian life are well behind us. The status of women wasn’t good at that time, to say the least, until well after WW1. We have much to thank people like the Suffragists and Suffragettes (and groups that you will, no doubt, know about in the U.S.).
      As for the Penny Farthing, it’s such a comical bike, I just had to include it in my story.
      Thank you for commenting. 🙂

  27. Tracey-Lynne says:

    I not only enjoyed your story, but I learned something new and it has inspired me to participate in the flash fiction challenge. Thanks so much, Millie!

    • milliethom says:

      I’m so glad to hear that, Tracey! The flash fiction challenges are great for connecting with other people who love to write. The feedback on your stories is very useful, too. This challenge is good because it allows up to 175 words, which enables you to add a little more detail than some of them. If you try the Friday Fictioneers, the word limit is 100 – a little more testing! There are several others around too, like Sunday Photo Fiction. I used to do three different ones a week, but had to give up two of them so I could get on with my own books! Ah well… I’m sure PJ (Priceless Joy) would love to have you aboard on this one. 🙂

  28. The Victorian era was simply beautiful once you get past all the serious inequalities of the time.
    It was so beautiful that people get lost in it’s fantasy.

    Great story Millie!

    • milliethom says:

      Yes, I find the Victorian period fascinating, too – but I’m thankful not to have lived at that time. As you say, it was full of inequalities, and such poverty. I’d like to write a book set in that period at some stage. But it will have to get into the queue with the rest of my ideas. 🙂 Thank you for liking the story!

  29. Checkii says:

    Very well constructed indeed, both your story and the bicycle…however much it looks uncomfortable and nerve-racking to ride.

  30. Diedre Blake says:

    Reblogged this on Toward the within… and commented:
    Very cool read.

    • milliethom says:

      Wow, Diedre! Thank you for another reblog. Do you do any of the flash fiction challenges yourself? They’re great fun to do and good practice in writing succinctly. This one (FFfAW) is a good one to do. Unfortunately, I’ve done very few recently. That dreadful thing called ‘lack of time’ keeps rearing its ugly head. 🙂

      • Diedre Blake says:

        I have not yet, but I’ve been looking at RonovanWrites’ Flash Fiction Friday, and now I’ve come across your writing, and so I’m thinking about giving it a shot! 🙂

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