March 14- March 27, 2018 Flash Fiction Contest “Impulse Buy”

Theme: Impulse Buy

An impulse buy leads to a life changing event.

Word Count: 1,200



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Story Submission Rules:
  1. One story per author. You may post more than one but only the first story will qualify for voting.
  2. Stories must be in English, unpublished and your own work.
  3. Stories must fit into a single comment box and must stay within the word limit set for each contest.

Voting starts Wednesday morning at 9:00am PDT / 12:00pm EST / 10:30pm IST / 5:00pm WET/GMT/ 4:00am AEDT (Thursday) and ends the same time on Thursday / 4:00am AEDT (Friday).

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20 thoughts on “March 14- March 27, 2018 Flash Fiction Contest “Impulse Buy”

  • March 14, 2019 at 1:56 pm
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    Read the stories here:

    (If you don’t see your story linked here within 24 hours after your posted it, please let us know as we may have missed the comment.)

    Reply
  • March 14, 2019 at 2:19 pm
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    Signing in for comments!

    Reply
    • March 16, 2019 at 12:42 am
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      Signing in and hope I get a chance to write in my crazy life teaching in four places to survive financially.

      Reply
  • March 15, 2019 at 2:22 pm
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    A GIFT FOR SHARON

    £9.99 they always do that – make the price a penny less than a round figure as if we punters are fooled but it’s £10 isn’t it? even so it’s a very reasonable price for such a beautiful ring diamonds they say but they can’t be real diamonds surely at that price maybe they’re just off-cuts – pieces they’ve found on the floor after they’ve done a bit of cutting of big ones diamonds are the hardest material known to man apparently – or maybe there’s something harder they’ve discovered or invented I don’t know anyway they’re jolly hard but let’s have another look at that ring the presenter has lovely hands really set off the jewellery she’s presenting makes it more appealing I suppose the TV company hired her based on that although she’s also very attractive overall yes I wouldn’t mind going out with her but I have to be faithful to Sharon because she’s THE ONE and I’m sure she’d love that ring hang on what’s that flashing? only eight left? can that be right? only eight in the whole country? I don’t think I believe that – it’s just a ruse to get you to buy it immediately not go away and think about it because if you thought about it you might not buy it and I should probably go away and think about it but what if it’s true and there really are only eight … seven left?! I do honestly believe Sharon would love that she has nice hands too when she places the hamburger on the counter and takes the money what a thrill yesterday when I accidentally touched her hand and the way she looks at me sometimes I’m sure … six left! I’d better get on and buy that now where did I put my credit card oh you idiot! where did you put it maybe … yes phew! down the side of the sofa what made me look there I wonder? well you’ve done it before haven’t you? there was that time … five! stop dithering you imbecile get on the phone what’s the number? ok here goes 012834820738 they could have simpler numbers couldn’t they? it’s ringing yes I can see that on Sharon’s finger I wonder if she’d put it on the third finger left hand or maybe she’d think that’s being a little forward of me but “faint heart ne’er won fair maiden” that’s what I say … five! why don’t they answer? “you’re in a queue” another ruse I’m sure of it to keep you on the line – they charge the earth per minute on these calls and … four! come on! come on! I need this ring I think it’s something that’ll impress Sharon and I’m definitely going to give it to her – all that other stuff I bought that’s in the spare room I can give that to her afterwards – later when we really get to know each other I’m certain she’ll be nice to talk to she has a nice face not like some of those other women … three! oh I’m going to miss it please please please answer if I don’t get this ring I think that’ll be the end of me and Sharon it’ll be like an omen – that it’s “not to be” and … two! my goodness I don’t know if my heart’ll stand this much longer I should just hang up there’ll be other rings or maybe even a necklace yes perhaps a ring is a little forward it might scare Sharon off but a necklace well that’s another story yes I think I’ll … hello? yes I’m interested in the ring reference number …

    Reply
    • March 24, 2019 at 6:55 pm
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      Well done, Phil, well done! The more I read of your story, the more anxious I became as the “time” ran out. Then, in the midst of the action to beat the clock, you wove a picture of a man who apparently “loves” a woman but as the story progresses, he becomes more of a stalker (as evidenced in packages stored in the spare room) who barely knows the woman. Great tension and great story!

      Reply
  • March 16, 2019 at 6:52 am
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    Hi Phil,

    Firstly, well done for being the first to post your story. Last time when I posted early I felt like I was the only one left on the planet for the best part of a week. It was as if I was on the deck of the Marie Celeste! So don’t worry, I am here and I am writing this critique NOW.

    I love the stream of consciousness style of writing that you have employed here and the skilful way your story unfolds. It also helps to cut down on the amount of punctuation you need but that’s no doubt a bonus not the aim of the exercise!

    You hit the nail on the head in terms of how we all feel about this type of selling and marketing. It’s all “hurry, hurry” isn’t it? And, of course, when an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is. A diamond for less than a tenner! I know when I have been trying to purchase an item over the phone ( back in pre-online sales days) I can think of any number of reasons to hang up but end up waiting until the call centre person answers.

    The story also hints at loneliness. In this case the sad narrator dreams of a relationship with a girl / woman that he doesn’t really know, only her name and how nice her hands are and her nice face. The room full of previous purchases also confirms his desire for a relationship which, I fear, is doomed to failure.
    It’s a very poignant piece of writing Phil.

    Regards,

    Ken Frape

    Ken C and I have agreed to be just Ken Cartisano and Ken Frape. No. 1 or 2.

    Reply
  • March 19, 2019 at 3:38 pm
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    A Wrinkle in Time
    By Madeleine L’Engle

    IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT.
    In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees clouds scudded frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, creating wraithlike shadows that raced along the ground… 🙂

    Reply
  • March 21, 2019 at 12:36 am
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    The Collection
    By: Adrienne Riggs (1,195)

    Maria settled in her recliner to check Facebook. With her 5 year old twins in bed, this was the only quiet time she had. Items from sales groups, including multiple doll groups popped up in her thread. Maria collected baby dolls, an interest since childhood. She had an entire bedroom devoted to her collection which she shared with her daughters.

    Maria browsed through the sale ads, telling herself that she really didn’t need another doll. Her resolutions dissolved when a large Raggedy Ann popped up on the screen with a link to Ebay. This doll was 28” tall and made in the 1960’s, it was listed as “vintage.” The doll looked to be in pristine condition. Maria’s attention was caught by the low price and the fact that no one had bid on the doll.

    Her finger hovered over the listing, as she examined each picture. She could already picture the doll sitting in the white rocking chair in the doll nursery. Before she could stop herself, she’d hit the ‘Buy It Now’ button and the doll was hers.

    Maria kept the doll a secret until its arrival. Her daughters, Lucy and Lola, were very excitable and she knew she wouldn’t get any rest if they knew a “new” doll was coming. She rearranged several “babies” in the nursery to make sure the little white rocker was ready for its new occupant.

    When the doorbell rang, signaling the arrival of the package, the girls ran to the door.

    “Look Mommy!” they squealed in unison. “It’s a package! What is it?”

    Maria smiled. “It’s a surprise!”

    Lucy hopped up and down while Lola pushed the box to the couch. Maria opened it, removed the protective wrappings and lifted the doll from the box.

    “Oooooooh! Mommy! She’s beautiful!”

    “I’m gonna call her Anna” Lucy declared.

    “No! Her name is Belle” Lola insisted. The influence of the Disney princesses was strong in the household.

    “Sorry, girls. Her name is Ann. Raggedy Ann.”

    “Ok, Mommy.”

    “Let’s put her in the nursery and I’ll fix lunch.” The girls watched Maria pose the doll in the white rocking chair where she fit perfectly.

    After lunch the twins took a nap. When they woke up, they ran to the doll room. Each girl grabbed one of Ann’s arms to hold her. The doll was stretched between the two children. Maria caught them before they tore an arm off.

    “Stop it girls!” She rescued the doll and placed her back in the chair. “Let’s leave Ann alone for a while. You can play with one of the other dolls.”

    As the days passed, Maria noticed that neither Lucy nor Lola wanted anything to do with the new Raggedy Ann. When they played in the nursery, they now avoided the doll.

    When the children set up a tea party at the little doll table in the center of the room, Maria smiled.

    “Maybe Ann wants to join the tea party.”

    Both girls glanced at Ann smiling benignly from the rocker. “No, Mommy. She doesn’t like to play.”

    Maria laughed, “Sure she does! Let’s try it.” She reached for Ann but stopped at her daughters’ reactions.

    “NO, Mommy! Don’t move her!” Maria froze at the identical looks of terror on the girls’ faces.

    “Ok, calm down, it’s all right. What’s the matter?”

    Both girls mumbled, “Nothing, Mommy.”

    Feeling uneasy, Maria tried to find the Ebay listing for the Raggedy Ann to see if there was something she had missed in the description of the doll. The listing was gone, deleted.

    After that, Maria found herself checking on the doll and the girls often. When she glanced into the nursery while doing housework one day, she found Ann on the floor across the room.

    Maria went to the girls’ room. “Hey, I thought I told you to leave Ann in the rocking chair.”

    “We have, Mommy.” The children were absorbed in building a block tower.

    “Don’t lie to me. I found her on the floor today.”

    Neither girl looked at Maria. “She likes to move around. Anna said the chair gets hard” Lucy commented.

    “Anna said? Lucy, are you saying the doll talked?”

    The child shrugged. “I heard it in my mind.”

    “Yeah, Belle doesn’t like us very much” Lola chimed in, still focused on the blocks. “She told us to stay away.”

    “Her name is Ann” Maria reminded them absentmindedly as she went over their words in her head. She gave a nervous laugh. “You two certainly have a vivid imagination!”

    “Yes, Mommy.”

    The next night, Lola’s screams woke Maria from a deep sleep. Rushing into the bedroom, she found the child huddled in her bed sobbing. Lucy was holding her sister tight and her eyes were wide and frightened.

    “What’s wrong? What happened?” Maria was breathless.

    “Belle grabbed and hurt me!” Lola pointed across the room. Turning, Maria saw the Raggedy Ann sitting next to the dresser; her hands crossed in her lap, the benign smile still in place.

    “I’m sure it was just a nightmare. Why did you bring her in here?”

    “We didn’t” Lucy whispered. “Mommy, I pulled her off of Lola and threw her on the floor.”

    “Are you sure you weren’t dreaming?” Maria checked Lola. The child had angry, red scratches on her neck.

    “Mommy? Can we sleep with you? We don’t wanna stay here.” The girls were crying now.

    “Yes, go now! Hurry!” She watched the girls run to the door and out into the hall. She walked over to the dresser and picked up the Raggedy Ann. There didn’t seem to be anything different about her, but Maria wasn’t taking chances. She placed the doll back in the rocking chair and locked the doll room door.

    In the morning, the girls seemed subdued. After breakfast, Maria sent them outside to play. Going to the doll room, she unlocked the door. When she tried to open it, it caught on something on the floor. Pushing harder, Maria found the Raggedy Ann lying behind the door and other dolls thrown around the room. She glanced at the empty rocking chair.

    Grabbing the doll, she ran into the kitchen and found a box. She wrapped the doll in paper, stuffed her into the box and taped it up tight. Shaking, she watched the girls playing in the yard through the kitchen window. What was she going to do now?

    ‘Ping.’ Maria’s phone signaled a notification. She picked it up and unlocked the screen. It was a breaking news story.

    ‘Robbery at Warren’s Occult Museum’ “The curator of Lorraine and Ed Warren’s Occult Museum announced the disappearance of its most haunted artifact; a doll alleged to be demon possessed. The doll was kept in a special, locked glass case. If you have any knowledge of the location of the doll known as “Annabelle”, please call this number immediately.”

    The picture of a large Raggedy Ann doll in a glass case appeared on the screen. Maria screamed and dropped the phone. She glanced at her daughters and then stared at the taped box in front of her.

    What had she done? She reached for the phone …

    Reply
    • March 23, 2019 at 7:18 pm
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      Hi Adrienne,

      Sorry not to have posted a comment earlier but here we are now.

      I really enjoyed the notion that such a purchase (Raggedy Ann) made in all innocence by Maria, could turn out to be so sinister. I think I began to cotton on once strange things started to happen but I couldn’t have guessed exactly what the ending would be.

      I think it is also a good thing to leave the story unfinished. In other words, Maria now knows about the doll allegedly being demon possessed and yet she still has it in her house with her children. The final question is, Who is she going to phone?
      Good use of the names too, Anna and Belle.

      Ken Frape.

      Reply
      • March 24, 2019 at 6:43 pm
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        Thanks Ken F.! I didn’t want to give the ending away too soon but was wondering who would catch the girls’ names for the doll! I appreciate the comments!

        Reply
  • March 21, 2019 at 2:07 pm
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    Just to let everyone know I am finally home and after two major operations and a raging peritonitis infection, still find myself very weak. I will have to live with a colostomy for a while, maybe until June o July before they can reverse it. Each day I get a bit stronger and today I felt like sitting in the office for a while and catching
    up. I’m not sure if I will be posting a story, although I would like to. Sorry Ken, I can’t write a story about drubs unless it’s totally made up. I didn’t get any narcotic drugs except the first day or two and they soon took me off those as I was having a bad reaction. This has not a been a pleasant experience, except on the up side, I have lost 15 pounds. Things being what they are, I’m glad to be back among the living. Hope to fill everyone in on all the gruesome details in a future story when the prompt is right. In the meantime, it’s good to be back in front of the keyboard and able to put two sentences together. Last week I couldn’t concentrate enough to care about almost anything. Life will be different and this thing didn’t kill me, so it the old saw is correct I should be back even stronger.

    Roy

    Reply
    • March 21, 2019 at 3:11 pm
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      Glad to see you back, Roy, and in one piece. ‘As melhoras!’

      Reply
      • March 21, 2019 at 6:50 pm
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        Hi Roy,
        Great news. Glad to hear that you are on the mend.
        Regards,
        Ken Frape.

        Reply
    • March 21, 2019 at 3:35 pm
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      Roy,
      So glad to see you back! I’ve been praying hard. I saw on Facebook that you had run into complications and my worry warred with my faith. Take it easy my friend and I’m glad you are feeling some better. You are a fighter and you will beat this setback. Love and hugs! Adi

      Reply
    • March 21, 2019 at 6:41 pm
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      Hey Roy, good to see you up and about. Looking forward to seeing you back in the rat race. Take care my friend.

      Reply
    • March 22, 2019 at 7:11 pm
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      ROY…. You’re ALIVE! Congratulations. Great to hear from you. We all thought…, well, some of us thought, well, maybe it was me and Adi… actually it was just me… anyway, we, that is I, thought, ah well what’s the difference what I thought, the amazing thing was that I was thinking, if you stop and think about it. (Which we won’t, I hope. Except Phil. He’s always thinking, that one. He once told me he can think and watch TV at the same time. But let’s forget about Phil for the moment, shall we?)

      But seriously I was getting a little concerned about the silence. Great to hear you’ve pulled through though. It sounds like you had some pretty serious surgery. And complications. No picnic. Now that you’re home and moving around I’m sure the worst is behind you.

      Reply
  • March 23, 2019 at 10:05 am
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    Love on the Line by Ken Frape.

    She cuts a striking, yet solitary figure. There is a hint of sadness in her eyes. The station bench is unforgivingly hard, its Victorian cast iron armrests and feet painted in gluntinous, Great Western Railway green. The carrier bag on her lap contains a bright red silk scarf. An expensive impulse buy in the station mall’s rather over ambitiously titled Fashion Emporium? She removes the scarf from the bag and drapes it stylishly around her elegant neck and shoulders; the colour coordination is perfect. The thin material lifts and falls as the swirling air tugs at it before moving on to play tig with a strip of plastic which swirls and drops, swirls and drops and then rests as the breeze hurries on to a crisp wrapper, eager to play.

    With small, precise movements of her perfectly manicured fingers, she pecks a tiny scrap of fluff from the hem of her smartly cut skirt. She rolls it deftly between finger and thumb before releasing it, following its movement as it is carried away on that same breeze that is ever present in the wind tunnel of railway stations.

    The stopping trains creep up on the platform stealthily, arriving almost soundlessly, slinking predators, ssshhhing to a soft halt. As they wait, timetable aware, they purr and vibrate, gathering themselves with feline impatience as they first disgorge and then swallow up further chunks of human cargo. As doors thump firmly closed, the shrieking whistle gives them permission to snake away once more along the glistening ribbon of ever-narrowing track.

    She briefly raises her head as an express train blasts through the station, her eyes widening at its sudden arrival as it pummels an opening in the air before dragging sudden silence in its wake.

    “You could scream now and no one would hear,” she thinks as the carriages rapidly shrink away to a pinprick then nothing as they head towards the distant horizon. Without realising it, she has spoken out loud.

    On hearing her words in the ensuing quiet, an inquisitive elderly lady initiates conversation. Red Scarf looks up quickly. Hers is a beautiful face, with startling blue eyes. Her make-up has been applied with skill and to great effect, enhancing nature’s generosity.

    “No,” replies Red Scarf brightly, her warm smile driving away any shadows, “I’m not waiting for the Birmingham train. I’m waiting for a special train. I’ve arrived early so that I won’t miss it.”
    “A special train! That sounds very romantic,“ the elderly lady coos, her tone carrying a hint of nostalgia. “If you don’t mind me saying so. “
    “No, not at all,” says Red Scarf. “It’s my husband’s train. Comes through here every day about the same time, just after 12. Unless, of course, it’s cancelled or delayed!”
    “Your husband’s train?” The elderly passenger further enquires.

    Red scarf offers no explanation but releases a small sigh as she smiles almost to herself. “ Yes, I always come here at this time. The children used to come too, most days, when they were little.”
    “ But not today?” The elderly lady continues her inquisition.
    “No. Not today. They’re in school now.”
    Her vision wanders into the middle distance, looking but not seeing as her eyes mist.
    “How old are they?” The inquisitor is in full flow now, anxious to glean further pieces of information.
    “My children? Michael is 6 now and Eleanor, I still think of her as the baby, is four and a half. She looks just like her Dad too.”

    She laughs then, the tinkling, brittle sound of stainless steel tea spoons on glass bottles.

    “Your husband must be very special,” opines the old lady, also smiling. “You know, for you to come here every day to meet him.”
    “Yes, he is. I’ve always loved him and he is a wonderful Dad.”

    The old lady nods, not too old to remember the quickening pulse of anticipation at the approach of a lover, the gentle touch of a hand, the caress of soft lips on bare skin.

    The huge station clock clicks over another minute and the tannoy clanks into metallic life. Passengers unconsciously check their wrist watches, untrusting of the rail company’s timepiece. It looks too ancient to be reliable.

    “Please stand back from the white line. The next train is the London to Doncaster express.”

    The inquisitive lady turns back to Red Scarf, eager for more tidbits but the seat is now empty. She catches a glimpse of the younger woman, nearer to the platform now, unwinding the scarf from around her shoulders.

    At first, the ground begins to thrum with gentle seismic undertones as the twelve segmented monster announces its arrival.
    Red Scarf has mingled with the crowd as they brace themselves to face the onslaught. The bright scrap of silk billows in her hand and the screaming blast of wind seeks to tear it from her grasp as she raises her arm high above her head. The rail beast storms down the silvered rails, exploding into the station, swamping every other sound, its blunt features elbowing aside everything in its path. The windrush barrels into the faces of the bystanders, its fingers running amok through careful hairdos, flapping tightly held newspapers, prising the words and the breath from pursed lips.

    Anxious to be seen, Red Scarf has edged out of the crowd towards the platform’s edge, alone now and heavily buffeted by the rushing wind.

    The flash of red will be unmissable to her husband, she tells herself.

    She had to buy the scarf when she saw it in the shop. It is so much more than just an impulse purchase. It is a signal.
    Red is the colour of love after all.

    How else can she tell him that she still loves him even though he has left her for another and will no longer take her calls? He will understand when he sees her.

    For one split second she locks eyes with her husband, the driver in the cab, as she waves the scarf over her head.

    Then Red Scarf’s look instantly turns to horror as her foot slips sideways and she plunges into nothingness
    .
    The train hits her with liquefying force, hurling her aside, exploding blood and bone onto the waiting passengers and across the windscreen of the cab. Screams on the platform began to break out but they are instantly drowned by the screech of the emergency brakes. The scarf, released from the lifeless hand of its owner, swirls and twists in the turbulent air that carries it upwards and upwards, towards the heavens. Then, bored with the hunt, it releases its prey. The red silk floats down to become a shroud that drapes itself over the face of the station clock, shielding it from the horror below.
    Ken Frape
    1146
    March 2019 A Place For Fiction Writers – An Impulse Buy

    Reply
    • March 24, 2019 at 6:49 pm
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      Ken,
      What a powerful story! At first I thought the woman was planning suicide by train. The end was cleverly written. You have such a way with words. I haven’t been on a train since I was 4 years old. I remember the station and inside the train but not the sounds, wind, etc. outside. I felt like I was there in the story when I read your descriptions. Great work.
      Adi

      Reply

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