Mobbed (a flash fiction piece)

KCPairHis dad had always said that a home wasn’t a home without a few ducks. Now, Declan wished he’d never opened his mouth about that. Amazing how foolish a few whiskies at a wake could make you.

Victor Sullivan hadn’t been an hour in the ground before his doting son had shared the anecdote with friends and well wishers. Within a week, there was an army of ducks in Declan’s care and yet another red face to contend with.

“Erm, here you go, lad,” murmurs Old Pat as he hands over a Khaki Campbell. A good layer. Over 300 a year. Better than the Saxony that Mrs O’Regan presented earlier; friendlier too, according to the booklet he’d been forced to buy.

“As if the funeral costs weren’t enough,” his wife had grumbled.

“Thanks, Pat,” Declan calls from behind the wriggling neck, before carrying the duck to the back garden and introducing it to the mob.

Wings flapping, the duck runs clumsily over young lettuce shoots and hides in the prized herb bed. Declan hopes it’s feeding on a juicy slug, rather than his basil. Marcy would like that as much as she liked his old man.

As the gate swings open, Declan crouches on his heels, sinking into the grass.

“Not another bloody useless duck,” tuts Marcy, eyes lifted to the heavens. “I swear, Declan, I won’t be back out here until they’re all gone.”

Following his wife’s gaze, Declan smiles. Maybe the old man was right.

 

(Originally shortlisted for the Anam Cara 250 word flash fiction competition, 2012, Theme: Garden of Eden)

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Francis MacManus short story podcasts

Several people have asked me to post the link to the podcast of my shortlisted Francis MacManus story, The Books, they cry. Before I do, I’d like to say thank you to everyone for their support and interest – it helps make all this writing worthwhile.

The thought that someone may listen to the story and find something in it that resonates, delights, or inspires. The idea that it may give someone a few minutes of pleasure or food for thought – it’s a wonderful feeling. One I can’t describe.

For me, the experience was an exciting one. It allowed me to distance myself from the words and hear them as a story, rather than something I’d written. It gave me the chance to hear how the story could be read aloud, and I got the opportunity to pick up on how another reader might visualise the events and characters.

Finally, listening to my story confirmed my suspicion that the two stories I was hoping to submit to other competitions this week aren’t ready. They need to sit for a while and mature. For however long it takes.

The podcasts to all the shortlisted Francis MacManus stories are available here: please, listen to some of the other stories as well as my own – there’s some beautiful, funny and engaging work waiting to be discovered. Happy listening!

Poland: A holiday surprise – Francis McManus Short Story Competition

Stunning building in Katowice

One of Katowice’s beautiful pre-war buildings

I’m back from Poland – a relaxing and interesting trip that included a big surprise…

While I was in Katowice museum, I received a very exciting phone call from RTÉ Radio 1, informing me that my story The Books, They Cry, had been shortlisted for the Francis McManus Short Story Competition.

Obviously, writing isn’t all about competitions and winning, but opportunities like this are wonderful in many ways…

  • Competitions ensure you challenge your writing boundaries
  • Deadlines make you maintain discipline
  • and successes act as little signposts to help you keep going.

I didn’t get any further than the shortlist, but I’m delighted that my story will be read out on RTE 1’s Book on One by a professional actor on July 26th, 2013.

The professional actor bit is super exciting for me – I’m not very good at reading my own work and I’m looking forward to hearing how Gary Murphy will convey the characters and the story’s essence. It’s an excellent chance for me to learn yet another facet of my craft.

I’m also looking forward to the summertime routine of settling down each night to listen to all the other winning and shortlisted entries. Yes, I’m going to listen to them all – and I hope you will too!

For me, it’s a wonderful opportunity to hear some great contemporary literature and to improve an area where I’m lacking. The first broadcast features the winning entry on June 24th, so make sure you tune in if you get chance.

(You can see RTE’s broadcast schedule for all shortlisted Francis McManus stories schedule here.)

Huge congratulations to the Francis McManus short story competition winners – Mike MacDomhnaill (1st), James Alfred Simpson (2nd) and Sean Kenny (3rd) – and a huge thanks to RTÉ for such a great opportunity.

Until next year!

Mobbed: A Short Story

Mobbed

His dad had always said that a home wasn’t a home without a few ducks. Now, Declan wished he’d never opened his mouth about that. Amazing how foolish a few whiskies at a wake could make you.Victor Sullivan hadn’t been an hour in the ground before his doting son had shared the anecdote with friends and well wishers. Within a week, there was an army of ducks in Declan’s care and yet another red face to contend with.

Saxony ducks

“Erm, here you go, lad,” murmurs Old Pat as he hands over a Khaki Campbell. A good layer. Over 300 a year. Better than the Saxony that Mrs O’Regan presented earlier; friendlier too, according to the booklet he’d been forced to buy. “As if the funeral costs weren’t enough,” his wife had grumbled.

“Thanks, Pat,” Declan calls from behind the wriggling neck, before carrying the duck to the back garden and introducing it to the mob.

Wings flapping, the duck runs clumsily over young lettuce shoots and hides in the prized herb bed. Declan hopes it’s feeding on a juicy slug, rather than his basil. Marcy would like that as much as she liked his old man.As the gate swings open, Declan crouches on his heels, sinking into the grass.

“Not another bloody useless duck,” tuts Marcy, eyes lifted to the heavens. “I swear, Declan, I won’t be back out here until they’re all gone.”

Following his wife’s gaze, Declan smiles. Maybe the old man was right.

(This story was shortlisted for the Anam Cara flash fiction competition on Writing.ie. The criteria: a 250 word flash fiction piece on the theme of “Garden of Eden’. Congratulations to the winner, Runjhum Biswas)