99 Word Flash Fiction: No Way Out Part Five: Breathe

Time for Tuesday’s 99 word flash fiction over at Carrot Ranch.  Rolls around fast doesn’t it?  This week Charli has asked us this:

‘ In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rut. The rut can be a habit, a circuit or a furrow in a road. It can be what causes the crisis, tension or the need to change. And if your writing feels stuck in a rut, use the flash fiction to do something radical. Who knows what is lurking behind the doors of your imagination!’

For those of you who are still reading along to find out what happens to our friend Bill (and I do thank you so much) I was very relieved to read this prompt, as it is just what I need to give Bill a helping hand.  If anyone is in a rut it’s poor Bill, putting it mildly.

Last week’s installment was dark and heavy with some confusion over Joey (Bill’s brother) and Bill’s little boy, whose tragic loss haunts him still.  I didn’t make that part particularly clear and also it would have been better if I had used the word ‘motorbike’ instead of  ‘bike’.  Hopefully things are clearer now.

I wonder if this will be the last flash for Bill as I would like to whisk him away and develop the story.  What do you think?

You can read the previous installment here and if you would like a reminder for part one and how Bill got started, click here.

No Way Out Part Five – Breathe

Bill buried his head in his hands as the doctor uttered just five words: “Joey’s operation was a success.”

By early dawn and back home, Bill retrieved his phone from the bin where he had dumped it the day before. So many missed calls from a lifetime ago…

He saw it then: the repossession letter on the kitchen table. Bill’s upper lip curled as he grabbed the letter and his lighter. Outside in his back garden, sparks flew up into the dawn-lit sky as he watched the letter burn.  Now he breathed.

“Not yet you bastards, not yet.”

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.
This entry was posted in Flash Fiction, Writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to 99 Word Flash Fiction: No Way Out Part Five: Breathe

  1. Yolanda M. says:

    I think this ending is particularly good Sherri and ‘lighter’ but I for one did not think your previous posting was dark – in fact I think it was essential as many less-resilient people are ready to give up on life when hammered by a series of negative events. I hope you will continue with Bill’s story – he has become very real to me – like a neighbour 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      I really appreciate your feedback, thank you so much Yolanda. As you know, when I wrote the first flash, I thought that was it, a complete story, and Bill was ready to give up. But things have changed dramatically and Bill is ready to fight back. But he’s got a few demons to battle along the way. I’m so glad that you feel this way about Bill…I’m really rooting for the guy too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pat says:

    Really good, Sherri. Are you sure you’re not a fiction writer?

    FYI I clicked on the links to go back and refresh what had happened but it seems like both links have the same story. I think I lost what happened to Joey, the motorbike and Bill’s little boy.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Haha…well, that is so kind of you Pat but you are reading my fiction, right here, as it stands. I never thought I could write fiction, I froze at the thought. But this is where flash fiction is such a great challenge that I love. I never expected that the story of Bill would continue in this way but thank you so much for reading and also for enjoying it so far 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pat says:

        You’re welcome, Sherri, and it certainly looks like you’ve got a good thing going with your writing. So happy for you. Have a great week, my friend. 🙂

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        As with you my friend, just keeping on keeping on, each day making a little more progress, ploughing through…and sometimes it ‘ain’t easy when those ruts get mighty deep 😉 Thank you Pat, you have a great week too 🙂

        Like

  3. Pat says:

    I got it, Sherri. I just didn’t look hard enough. These are great stories and loved the cemetery photos.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Saw this comment Pat, great, glad you got it, and thank you so much for reading! The first post as you can tell was part of my spider bite post so I can see why it would be confusing :/

      Like

      • Pat says:

        Sherri — I’m glad I checked further. I especially like the graveyard one and all the photos of the churches and cemeteries.

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        Thanks so much Pat, I’m really glad too that you enjoyed the graveyard photos so much. The October sunlight made for some beautifully subdued lighting on the stone and garden. It was so tranquil there, I’m thrilled to have been able to share it with you. Have a peaceful day my friend 🙂

        Like

  4. Mmm. What is Bill going to do? You may have closed the oblivion rut he was in but where to now? It will be interesting to see what your developments turn into. Will Bill continue in flash? Will he become the follow on novel after your memoir is completed? Will Bill take over totally? I guess I have to wait and see. 💡 ⭐

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…well Irene, this is the million dollar question isn’t it? Or perhaps no money at all…who knows. I’m just glad to give Bill a break, for now, but of course he has an awful lot of demons to overcome before he finds his true way forward. I would like to develop Bill, a novella as you suggested before perhaps, after the memoir? I’m guessing too at this stage 😉 Haha…looks like someone’s been having some fun today lol 😀 ❗ 🐻

      Like

      • What choice did I have when you put them right back there in front of me. I’d like to be 😎 instead I am ❓ playing with these little 😈 characters. Just joking. Still trying to get the =^_^= to work. I know what you mean about giving Bill a break. I felt that way when I started on my serial with the wheelbarrow. It had potential but to carry it further I could see I would have to sit and work out a whole lot of things. Geoff does it well but then he is a fiction writer. It is a new thing for me too. Memoir is so much easier as the story has happened. It’s just the writing you have to concentrate on. XD

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        Haha…they are fun though aren’t they? I don’t know about the = ^ _ ^ = But I do know about the ~ ( * _ * ) ~~ Serious business writing isn’t it lol 😀 Oh yes, I remember your wheelbarrow series, that’s when I first came into the flash fiction challenge I think, thanks to your posts. I can definitely see you carrying that on but I know just what you mean about having to work out some things. So far, I don’t really know what is going to happen to Bill until I read Charli’s next prompt and think about how to tie it in with his story. Then on Tuesday I get typing and see what happens. Geoff does it so well I agree. But yes, with memoir we have half the battle won already – we already know the story in its entirety ;-). Great chatting my friend, I hope you get a chance to 😎 today 🙂

        Like

  5. TanGental says:

    Hmm, so Bill fight back but just burning the letter doesn’t end his problems. What happens next? And how does he explain what e was up to in the garage? Of course you can write fiction Sherri. Bill is fantastic character and you should nurture him and his problems. Can’t wait for the flash/shortstory/novella or whatever way he goes. Just promise me/us that he goes on!!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      That’s right Geoff, in fact burning the letter in some ways makes things worse but Bill isn’t thinking about that right now. He was ready to end it all in the garage but actually it was Joey’s accident and Laura coming over to his house to get him to the hospital that saved his life. Just when he thought it was all over, his reprieve came in Joey’s recovery. But what indeed happens now? How will Bill overcome his demons, his loss, his financial problems? And who was calling him about the repossession letter in the first instalment? Thank you very much for your great input and feedback, you are very kind and don’t worry, Bill isn’t finished yet, not by a long shot. I’ve just got to figure out how to handle him 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Charli Mills says:

    Bill made a comeback with determination and fight! He’s going to smolder a while as you finish your memoir, and when it’s time his story will blaze bright. I like having multiple pots bubbling on the stove. You are a writer ready for any genre you want to take on!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      His fighting comeback was burning inside me Charli! Yes, I wanted to let him smolder like this rather than leave him in despair. I like it this way, Bill is a fighter and he has just awakened to that fact even though 24 hours earlier he was ready to end it all. Joey’s recovery has saved him. So what now? It’s great having the back-burner filled with all those bubbling pots isn’t it? Thanks again so much Charli for your encouragement and giving me this opportunity to flex my flash fiction muscles. So glad that Bill decided to ride over to the Ranch and join us 🙂

      Like

  7. Great cliffhanger, Sherri! I think Bill should continue in the flash fiction format, but perhaps you can do it in private and not post on your blog, so it can be published as a novella. Writing the 99 words each week or maybe every day, might be a good warm up for you before settle down into a day of memoir writing…just a thought.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh so glad you enjoyed it Jill, thank you so much for your great feedback and input. It’s great having the distraction of Bill while I write my memoir I admit. As a warm up writing flash each day is a great idea. Really gets the creative juices flowing that. I’ll go away and have long think. Hope you are having a great week my friend 🙂 xo

      Like

  8. You’ve done it again, Sherri. Oh boy. If it’s not one thing, it’s another and the story expands. I too wonder if this is the end, or maybe nor, but definitely maybe? 🙂

    Like

  9. So happy that Bill has some breathing space, Sherri. I don’t think this is the end of the story though. 😀

    Like

  10. You truly do have a flair for writing Sherri! This installment sounds like an excerpt from a good fiction novel on my bookshelf! You’ve got me wanting more and curious as to what will happen next.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Well I’m thrilled with your comment Heather, goodness, thank you so much! Music to any writer’s ears this, especially as I think of myself as more of a memoir and creative non-fiction writer. But I admit, I’m having a lot of fun with the flash fiction challenge. Bill has got under my skin, no doubt about it 🙂

      Like

  11. Yea! Brava! ClapClapClap! And that’s for the character Bill…and the writer, YOU!
    Well done.

    Like

  12. Pingback: Grooving in the Ruts « Carrot Ranch Communications

  13. bulldog says:

    At this rate and in this theme you could develop Bill into a full blown book… I think its brilliant…

    Like

  14. jennypellett says:

    I see a glimmer of hope for Bill!
    Well done Sherri – I was under the impression you were slowing down with your blog postings? Not a chance, I take it! Hope you keep going with Bill, I’m getting quite fond of him 😊

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      A glimmer indeed Jenny…Bill thought it was all over but he has found his fight in the reprieve of Joey’s recovery. But his troubles are far from over although I couldn’t leave him in such despair. Haha…yes, having posted that I’m taking November off from blogging here I still am. Actually, I did intend to wrap up this week and start my new regime next week…as with Bill, let’s see what happens! But I really do want to get my memoir finished! Thanks so much for your ongoing read of Bill…so glad you are fond of him, he is troubled but a good guy at heart 🙂

      Like

  15. Love it Sherri – after all the despair, I love that sock it to ’em ending. Isn’t it great the way characters or stories unexpectedly grab us and tell us that they have more to say.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh thank you so much Andrea, so glad you liked the ending. Bill thought it was all over only 24 hours before but he got his fight back! He still has a lot of problems to face but it’s a start 😉 It is wonderful and making this discovery through flash fiction has been a revelation to me! I love the way Bill speaks to me each week. I never understood this until now. Writing is amazing isn’t it? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Denise says:

    This episode quite surprised me, I thought it was going to go bleak. But I suppose that is why we love to read, the ups and downs of it all. Great installment.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…I’m glad I gave you a surprise Denise! I wanted to leave Bill fighting back and the ‘rut’ prompt helped with that. But this doesn’t help matters and he has a long way to go yet. Lots of demons to face too. Thanks so much for staying with Bill… 🙂

      Like

  17. Rachel M says:

    I love it. Bill has a plan and plans are a good thing.

    Like

  18. prior says:

    ooooooo – enjoying it still….
    and this may have been one of my favorite lines of the whole series so far….

    “sparks flew up into the dawn-lit sky as he watched the letter burn…”
    there is so much tastiness in this that i cannot even begin to write about it…. but all good – and looking forward to next time ❤

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh I love that…that you love that line! ‘Tastiness’…now that is great, and music to my ears 🙂 Thank you so much mon amie, love your feedback and so glad you are reading on 🙂 ❤

      Like

  19. Ahh dear Bill, I’m still hooked but you should retire Bill and write a short (or long story) about him. I for one didn’t think last week’s was too dark because real life is so often like that and I for one never gave up on Bill even at his darkest moment. I think many of us have been where he was last week and yet we somehow mange to overcome. I’ll shut up! I love Bill and of course you!! xo

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh…thank you so much Diane, you had Bill’s back from day one my friend 🙂 His troubles are far from over but I wanted to leave him fighting on. Thank you so much for your input, it’s very helpful. Much love to you too 🙂 ❤ xoxo

      Like

      • I am counting on Bill having more hard days ahead and looking forward to how he proceeds in a life fraught with various obstacles. Oh yes, we can relate!! much love to you 🙂

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        Oh yes, how we can relate 🙂 There are many more obstacles in Bill’s way, it ain’t over yet 😉 Love your input and how much you are in his corner. Much love to you too my friend 🙂 ❤ xoxox

        Like

  20. Sherri it has been a wild ride and I enjoyed each one. Loved to see where you take this.

    Like

  21. Ste J says:

    thank you for putting in a bit of good news, I was getting ready to do the Eastenders drum beat at the end of the post hehe. I like the ending, a sense of defiance that we can all use when it comes to banks and the like, yes this instalment cheered me.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Haha…Oh no, not Eastenders!!! I won’t be able to get that darn drumbeat out of my head now, thanks Ste 😉 I had to leave Bill fighting back, he needed something to empower him in the face of the day of his disaster. So glad it cheered you up. Bill has many demons to face but I’ll take him away now and see how I can help him. Thanks so much for reading on…my first ever serialised work of fiction, haha 🙂

      Like

  22. Gwen Stephens says:

    Getting caught up on reading blogs this weekend, Sherri. This has been such an enjoyable progression to read. Poor Bill. You’re not giving him any breaks are you? But that’s what good fiction is meant to be! Thank you for linking back to Carrot Ranch, too! I love this idea of writing to a theme in 99 words. I’m definitely going to challenge myself to participate.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Gwen, and here am I getting caught up after the weekend! Thanks so much for your support of the ongoing story of Bill, I really appreciate your input. I wanted to leave him with a fighting spirit despite wanting to end it all a mere 24 hours earlier. I love writing flash fiction (the thought of anything more paralyses me) which has opened up a challenge I had no idea would progress in this way. I’m so glad you will be participating too, Charli will be thrilled to have you join along and me too! Looking forward to seeing your entry when you are ready 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Marie Keates says:

    Glad to see a bit of fight left in poor Bill.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I’d swore I had read and commented on this but must have slipped a cog that day. I read it and didn’t comment. I like Bill’s fighting spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, thank you Marlene, but no worries, I do that all the time, lol! So kind of you to revisit and yes, I had to leave Bill fighting back. He’s resting at the moment, I’ll have to pay him a visit soon and see what he does next methinks 🙄

      Like

Lovely to chat...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s