A Lesson Learned – FFfAW

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It involves writing a piece of fiction from the given photo prompt in around 100-150 words – give or take 25 words. If you’d like to join in with the challenge, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Tuesday to Tuesday every week.

Here is this week’s prompt, kindly provided by Maria at Doodles and Scribbles. Thank you, Maria!


And this is my story:

A Lesson Learned

Maisie scuttled down the back stairs towards the Hall’s large kitchens, her heart thumping. To be late on her first day could lose her the job before it even started.

The kitchen went quiet as she entered. Mrs Bridges glowered, pointing at the clock that registered nine minutes past six. ‘I’m sorry I’m late,’ Maisie croaked, ‘but my alarm–’

‘Hold your tongue, girl, or you’ll be out that door!’ Cook’s ample bosom heaved. ‘Start making amends by scrubbing down the shelves and restacking them.’

Maisie gazed at the huge shelves along two of the walls, all packed solid with foodstuffs, condiments and spices. It would take hours to do what Cook ordered…

The smell of the Middleton family breakfast cooking, followed by listening to the domestic staff enjoying theirs, was agony. But Maisie continued to scrub and stack until satisfied everything was done.

Mrs Bridges grinned as she inspected Maisie’s work. ‘You’re not short on elbow grease, I’ll give you that, girl. Lesson learned?’

Maise nodded.

‘Good. Now… bacon and eggs do for you?’

 Word Count: 175


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23 thoughts on “A Lesson Learned – FFfAW

  1. Awww, the cook was testing Maisie because she was late. Thank goodness she proved to be a good servant and worthy to keep. I really enjoyed reading this Millie. Truly great story!

    1. Yes, I can see why the scene reminded you of Downton. (In fact, Louise said the same, when she read it.) I’ve visited lots of stately homes, and the big kitchens are pretty much the same – and there’s always a back stairway for the domestic staff to use away from the main household stairs. They wouldn’t have kitchen maids passing ‘posh’ guests on the stairs! That would simply be too shocking. Haha 🙂

      1. Yes those Houses have entertained us for a long time haven’t they…..even here there are a few old places left where the maids quarters are still standing and you look in them and winder how they survived living in such tiny places…

      2. Domestic staff certainly didn’t live in luxury. As you say, the rooms were often small, shared by two or three, and frugally furnished. It’s funny to think that that kind of life went on in the ‘big houses’ until the time of ww2.

      3. Yes so true…anyway my Sunday morning awaits and I’ll be off to the mystery of our local Aldi store for the weekly shop…as chief cook, bottle washer, valet and cleaner its a hard life…enjoy your weekend Millie, lovely having a chat…

  2. Heh, halfway through the first sentence I thought “ooh, Downton Abbey fanfic” 🙂
    It sounds like the head cook’s not such a bad sort after all!

    1. Yes, it seems i wrote my very first fanfic! Oddly enough, I didn’t see it that way at the time. We’d recently visited Brodsworth Hall (Yorkshire) again and the kitchens there are in good shape. I suppose I had Brodsworth in mind more than Downton when I wrote this story. Mrs Bridges’ bark is evidently worse than her bite – as long as the kitchen staff know she’s the boss. 🙂

  3. Great story, Millie; I really felt for poor Maisie. Glad she was able to prove herself. These days everyone thinks of Downton Abbey, but my first thought was Upstairs Downstairs.

    1. Thanks, Joy! I watched Upstairs Downstairs back in the early ’70s and loved it. I’ve been hooked on the period and the whole social ‘set-up’ in ‘the big house’ ever since. I’ve visited many stately homes and love poking around the old kitchens, looking at old-fashioned sinks, cooking ranges and pots and pans etc. It can’t have been easy catering for the ‘lord’s’ family and the many dinner parties they had. A good head cook would have been something to treasure.

      1. Any show (or book) that tries to portray class distinctions really appeals to the sociologist in me. It’s difficult to do accurately now, because modern viewers / readers find it so hard to relate. They go along with contemporary customs and expectations because that’s just “normal”, but don’t understand that the class-based differences felt just as normal back then.

        Of course, I’m also fascinated by all the old-fashioned tools they used. I agree, trying to get all those fancy meals made with those relatively primitive cooking implements took a great deal of work and skill!

    1. Thanks, Cybele. It’s been my turn to be absent from my blog for a while, and I’m already out of touch with everything – and everybody. Hope to join in again soon.

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