Flash Fiction: No Way Out Part Two: The Yellow Boat

Last week, I wrote No Way Out in response to Charli’s Facing Fear prompt. Some of you asked if I was going to continue this story but at the time, I wrote it as a complete 99 word flash with a tragic end for Bill.

Since then, and for some strange reason, I have not been able to shake this story off.  I have to say that ever since I started writing flash fiction, this is the first time this has happened and it has taken me by complete surprise.

More comfortable as a memoir and creative non-fiction story writer,  fiction pushes me way out of my comfort zone. Yet with flash I love that I can give the story free rein, relishing the fact that it has a tight word limit.  Somehow, this enables me to write with less constraint and I have found this whether writing a 50 or a 500 word flash. Still though, the thought of writing a novel paralyses me.  Hopefully that will change one day, but meanwhile, here is Charli’s prompt for this week:

‘In 99 words (no more, no less) include a yellow boat on a river. Be creative with the phrase. It can be about a yellow boat or it could be the name of a band or brand of toothpaste. It can be included in the setting or be the adventure.’

Here then is my continuation of Bill’s story in 99 words:

No Way Out Part Two: The Yellow Boat

Pulling the garage door shut behind him, Bill reached for the hose pipe hidden behind the freezer. Shoving one end into the exhaust pipe, he trailed the rest into the car with him.

The hose caught on something: he tugged hard, sending a box of old toys crashing down on the garage floor.

“Shit…!”

Sweat snaked down his back as he stepped out of the car, almost crushing the toy boat at his feet.

Bill froze.

The memory of his son and their day together on the river in their yellow boat met him in the cold, dank silence.

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
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69 Responses to Flash Fiction: No Way Out Part Two: The Yellow Boat

  1. Oh, Sherri, this is SUPERB! Every word and emotional button is spot on. Wonderful.

    Google Flash Fiction Contests. Narrow the search by adding Paying. Years ago I managed the flash fiction contests for NLAPW (National League of American Pen Women), and truly, this story would be a winner.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Wow, really Marylin? Goodness, I don’t know what to say but I’m thrilled, woo hoo, thank you so much! I will definitely do that. My problem is I never know where to submit so this is a great help. High praise from you my friend, really high praise 🙂 And bearing in mind what we talked about with this theme, something kept tugging away at me to write on…so I did!

      Like

  2. Outstanding, Sherri. You’ve become a whiz. 🙂 🙂

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  3. My latest novel of 70,000 words started out as a piece of flash fiction of 400 words that grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let me go — not that I ended up using the first 400 words. More that they acted as a trigger, with one of the characters introduced there becoming my central character and the other one became someone else altogether.
    What I’m saying, Sherri, is never say never. I think you definitely have the potential trigger and hook there to give birth to a novel.

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    • Sherri says:

      That’s amazing that you wrote your novel in that way Sarah and thank you so much for your encouragement. Charli, who runs this flash fiction challenge each week, told me that an entire story can be told flash by flash and I’m beginning to see how this takes form. I never could grasp how a character ‘talks’ to novelists like you in that way but by writing flash, I can see how a central character can quickly develop and take hold. I have no idea where Bill will take me but I’m starting to feel something for this guy…and I know you understand what I mean by that 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. bulldog says:

    Damn you’re good at this…

    Like

  5. Stunning piece, Sherri. I’m sure this will have a happy ending. 🙂

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  6. Sherri you are a talented writer indeed, in such a short time you drew me in and now I want more. Keep going please.

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  7. Denise says:

    Charged, and emotional. You’ve created something very powerful.

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    • Sherri says:

      Oh thank you so much Denise, goodness, I’m amazed really to be honest. All I know is that I couldn’t let Bill go…see what happens when wonderful writers like you encourage people like me?

      Like

  8. Yolanda M. says:

    Oh so good Sherri!!! . I am so glad you continued with Bill’s story as I too was left wondering as you know 🙂 DO continue. May be that Bill will help you write that novel.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much Yolanda! Yes, you and several others seemed very interested in Bill and I couldn’t let him go either. When I read Charli’s prompt this week I intended originally to write something very different but I had unfinished business with Bill. Who knows where he and I will end up? Isn’t writing wonderful? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. jennypellett says:

    Ah, so glad there might be redemption for Bill! Good flash, Sherri 😃

    Like

  10. Excellent, Sherri! I think flash fiction might be your next big thing…of course, after you finish that memoir. 🙂 Seriously, this was a gripping tale. I was happy to read, perhaps for a brief moment, Bill lives. 🙂 I can certainly relate to your experience of a story not letting go. Well done! xo

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  11. Heyjude says:

    Oh, yes, yes, yes, I want to know more about Bill. You just can’t kill him off now!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      You asked, my friend, and this is what happened 🙂 Suddenly, Bill has taken on a new lease of life and I’m as happy about it as you are, even though it is still a dark tale. Who knows where this will go now? Until then, thank you so much, I’m thrilled you are enjoying this little story so far… 🙂

      Like

  12. Luanne says:

    Geez, that is creepy! Sherri, what a fabulous story! You should definitely keep going with fiction!!! Now do we get The Yellow Boat sequel next? xo

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Yes, but you know me well enough by now Luanne to know that creepy is my thing, ha 😉 Thanks so much, you’ve really encouraged me. I never expected this kind of response, wow. I hope so Luanne, as I always say…watch this space, you never know what turns up in this place, and I’m usually the last to know, ha, 😀

      Like

  13. Fantastic Sherri. Now I really do want more. I want to go back in time as well as forward in time. I can see a flash novel coming up.

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    • Sherri says:

      You encouraged me to keep going Irene from the first flash and with your inspiration I went with it because Bill wouldn’t let me go. You know how we have been talking about character development and their name? Well, for the first time since writing flash, I can really ‘feel’ Bill which has never happened before. But strangely, the name came first and then ‘he’ moved in. Does that make sense? This has been a revelation. Now, I don’t want to get carried away because, as you know, I am a memoir writer first and foremost and you and I have long shared our fiction phobias. But maybe I can go with this, who knows? I’m so grateful for Charli’s weekly flash prompts…look at us my friend! Thank you so much for all your encouragement. Who would have thought we would be writing flash fiction one day? I certainly never did… 🙂

      Like

      • I agree with you there Sherri. I can understand you saying Bill has taken you over. Who knows where this may take you. Although you are a memoir writer it doesn’t have to mean that you can’t write anything else and when you have a character that does it for you I’d jump on and go for the ride.
        It’s wonderful having someone to share thoughts and experiences with when it comes to writing and our phobias with the process. Just good to have a sounding board despite being on other sides of the world. So glad to have met you Sherri. ❤

        Like

  14. Rachel M says:

    That is terrific, Sherri. I think I missed the one last week. I’ll have to go and have a look. If you love writing flash fiction, maybe your first novel could be a compilation of short stories. Short stories are great.

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    • Sherri says:

      I hope you do read the first one Rachel so that this makes more sense. I love your idea for short stories and thank you so much for your encouragement of my flash writing…I do really enjoy it and to think I didn’t even know what it was until last year! So glad you liked it… 🙂

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  15. TanGental says:

    Lovely (if thats the right wird for something so sad) and as someone who is being pulled along in flash pieces I agree you should give Bill his head. If take him into Nano and see what happens. There’s a novel in there!

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    • Sherri says:

      Thanks so much Geoff for your super encouragement, I will be over to you in a mo to catch up on your latest installment. I had no idea when I wrote last week’s flash that it would be continued this week, especially with Charli’s ‘yellow boat’ prompt. But Bill wouldn’t let me go and so there it is. Now that’s a thought about Nano, never done that before. Hmmm…but I still have my memoir to write, yikes o_O Oh dear, so many writing ideas exploding in my head right now, I’ve got to try and rein them in otherwise I’ll do nothing…but perhaps I really do need to go with this at some point… 😉

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      • TanGental says:

        The thing I found about Nano, having leapt in totally unprepared last year is it is just a month. Pause the memoire for 30 days and let rip. Just write, just let Bill go, backwards and forwards wherever and you have a chunk of writing loadstone to work on over the coming months alongside the memoire. I’ve a YA book out of it that Id never have attempted but for Nano.

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      • Sherri says:

        This sounds really tempting Geoff, it really does, especially now I’ve found Bill… I love the idea of just letting rip like that. Mind you, I’m doing that with my memoir, to a point. The edit will so much fun…not! That’s great you got a YA book out of yours. How do I find out about it, I need to register right? Are you doing it again this year?

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  16. Charli Mills says:

    Sherri, I do believe you’ve had a breakthrough! Last week’s story was fab and the fact that it grabbed, you–the writer–is a good sign that your fiction pulse is beating strong! This next installment is even sharper. Great emotional tension, vivid details, good hook for the readers. Don’t worry about novel paralysis–just write scene by scene. Flash is a great way to explore that. Or you can find a short story contest and you can elongate these two to fit. Great writing!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Charli!! Great to see you again, I’ll be galloping over to the Ranch shortly to catch up. See what you’ve started, haha 🙂 Your ears are probably burning from the comments above which I hope you’ve read 😉 You know, I really planned to write something completely different when I read your ‘yellow boat’ prompt and a children’s story too, I really did. But you know, Bill wouldn’t let me go. I don’t even know why I called him Bill in the first place but as I said to Irene, it was his name that came first and then ‘he’ followed. I thought it was all over for him, but I couldn’t let him go. So I’m absolutely thrilled with your response and suggestions, thank you so much. High praise indeed my friend…and I’ve got you to thank for helping me find this particular writing trail. Yee Haa 😀

      Like

  17. Pingback: Yellow Boats « Carrot Ranch Communications

  18. Mumblypeg says:

    The follow-up flash fiction about Bill grabbed me big time. Your gift is on the cusp of something amazing. I really feel it. Bill may not let you go for a long time. Enjoy the ride!!! Love and hugs xxx

    Like

  19. I started out with short stories, moved to screenplays and then novels…I am now working on my third novel! When called to write, one never knows where it will take you! BTW…thanks for visiting and following my blog.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you for coming over to read this post Beverly and you are more than welcome. I’m so glad that Pat led me to your pad 🙂 Congratulations on your writing successes, all of which I find very encouraging. Writing certainly does take us down unexpected paths and I love it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. mihrank says:

    oh sherri – this is just beautiful and amazing – I have no words how to compliment you. Bravo!

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  21. “fiction pushes me way out of my comfort zone.”
    I like that you admit this, Sherri. It’s true but it is also a great venue to say a lot without being too personal. I like what you did with the yellow boat. See you soon.

    Like

  22. restlessjo says:

    I like this one better than the first, Sherri 🙂 Part 3 next, as Jude says.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I think this is really powerful Sherri, it has a real emotional punch but I don’t feel as though it’s over yet, I think Bill has more to say 🙂

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  24. Imelda says:

    Start small with the novel. Keep writing flash fiction and before you know it, you are already comfortable with the idea of writing a novel.

    This story of Bill is a good continuation. I hope you see this through. 🙂

    Like

  25. Marie Keates says:

    Great flash fiction Sherri. I wonder if you’ll revisit him again?

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  26. Pingback: Flash Fiction: No Way Out Part Three: Godsend | A View From My Summerhouse

  27. I’m enjoying your flash fiction so much I have to go back and read the others. You are EXCELLENT at it. I have the same fears as you about writing. Have not found my flow yet but maybe soon when things calm down. My life is a soap opera. I could easily write one and no one would know it was real life.

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    • Sherri says:

      Oh thank you so much Marlene, I can’t tell you how much this means to me! I have developed a love for writing flash fiction and suddenly a couple of weeks ago, Bill showed up and well…now I’m going with it. He wouldn’t let me go 🙂 This took me completely by surprise I might add. I went through a long phase earlier in the year all the way to the middle of the summer in a dry place, a fearful place in my writing. It worried me but somehow by keeping on with my writing and blogging the flow returned. Definitely seasons of writing. I will be taking a short time away from blogging in November to get the first draft of my memoir finished as I really need to go with this present flow otherwise I’ll miss it again and I don’t want to do this. But I’ll keep Bill going! You are still settling in after some major changes in your life and when you are ready, your writing will lead you to where you want to go. Ha…oh I can relate about a soap opera…never a dull minute eh? Still, at least it gives us great writing fodder! Hang in there my friend, you’ll be writing up a storm before you know it, I just know it 🙂

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      • Thanks Sherri. Yes, a settled life seems to forever elude me. I’m hoping to go visit my old writing group while I’m here at my son’s home. I’m hoping the first of next year brings some quiet. 🙂

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