Flash Fiction: Beyond Fame…the Wilderness.

“Oh how the mighty have fallen!” Maggie swooned in an Oscar-winning performance.

At least, it would’ve been if that horrid flock of dolly birds hadn’t knocked her off her perch. Stolen her limelight.

Marriage and kids would have been an honorable exit.

Not this!

More than once she’d thought about mixing those blessed headache powders with a sherry. Yet, as much as she longed to feel absolutely numb, she didn’t want to die. She just wanted to hear their applause one more time!

Yet, the sands had almost slipped through the hour glass and she couldn’t put them back.


Today, I’m responding to a fiction prompt from Charli over at Carrot Ranch Carrot Ranch: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about wild spaces. Is it a wilderness or a patch of weeds in a vacant lot that attract songbirds. What is vital to the human psyche about wild spaces? Bonus points for inducing something cute and furry.”

While my initial thoughts headed towards driving across Australia’s Nullarbor Desert where my “something cute and furry” involved road kill with an eagle stubbornly perched on top, I strayed towards the suburban wilderness…a forest of red roofs. This was how Maggie was born…the elderly movie star. We have a dreadful anti-smoking ad here where this woman who has had  head and neck cancer puts her blond wig on, teeth in, device in her neck and is now ready for the day here . This was the image that came to mind for Maggie. Imagine if you were an aged movie star and that was the only work you could get?  Definitely an encouragement to quit while you’re ahead…both in terms of a sagging career and the smoking.

Something tells me that Charli was looking for something else in  the wilderness but so often the story tells itself. We are just the hapless scribes.

xx  Rowena

25 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: Beyond Fame…the Wilderness.

  1. Charli Mills

    This is brilliant! Go where the prompt leads and this is a definitely an unexpected trail, but a wilderness in its own right. Sometimes the vastness is within. So glad you joined in!

  2. roweeee Post author

    Thank you very much, Charli. I really enjoyed think about this and coming up with a story. I’m going to try to keep this up.
    xx Rowena

  3. merrildsmith

    Good job, Rowena.
    Shock ads might prevent some people from starting to smoke, but I suspect they do little for those who already smoke–if my husband is any indication. (He has to go outside to smoke though, and he is not allowed to smoke in my car.)

  4. roweeee Post author

    I have to admit I’m over those shock ads. I find them very disturbing sitting there in front of the TV with the kids and they’re very graphic. My kids seem to be turned off smoking so that’s a good thing but that’s largely because we’re all a bit asthmatic and with me fighting to save my lungs, I hope they bear that in mind.
    It’s really hard for people to stop smoking and I don’t judge others as long as they don’t smoke near me. I have my own addictions that aren’t so easy to break ie chocolate and staying up too late, which might not be as bad but not easy to break either.
    Enjoy your exciting week xx Rowena

  5. roweeee Post author

    Yes, indeed. My grandmother was a famous Australian concert pianist and music critic. She even had her own TV show for a little while and taught for many years at the conservatorium.
    She also had 7 kids and so was juggling career and family at a time when it wasn’t done. She didn’t see herself so much as a trail blazing feminist but she has this talent and couldn’t let it go to waste.
    These days you get people who pursue fame for fame’s sake but she had serious talent…not just as a pianist but also a writer and she was somewhat visionary in her writing.
    I spent many hours with her in later life listening to her talk about the twists and turns in her career. Her family meant the world to her and being alone I don’t think was ever a choice for her but it did hold back how far she could go. When my Dad was 3, she left the 3 eldest boys and her husband behind and went to New York for a year and made her debut at Carnegie Hall. I never understood how she could do that until I was at home with young kids with my burning desire to write. I am much better suited to primary aged kids. Yet to enter the teenage years. Here’s a link to her obituary: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/obituaries/a-musical-career-honed-in-the-laundry-20090823-ev2w.html
    She didn’t struggle from a loss of fame but more from the fading ability. When you are needing to practice 5 hours a day to maintain your prime and as you age, decline is unfortunately inevitable.
    xx Rowena

  6. Norah

    Your flash is a great interpretation of the “wilderness”, Ro. I initially thought of my philosophical wilderness but decided to not go there this time (I think I’ve spent to much time there during my life!) I haven’t see the ad you linked to, thankfully. I wonder how effective ads like that really are.

  7. Pingback: Wild Spaces « Carrot Ranch Communications

  8. roweeee Post author

    I really enjoyed your flash, Norah. I really liked that Jeannie Baker book with the terrace houses and it seems like it could well be written about Surry Hills. They’ve done a lot of street planting there and it now looks quite green and village -like
    I’m not sure how effective those ads are but at the same time I understand the desperation. You tell someone not to do something and present them with a rational, logical argument yet they resist. So, I can see them upping the anti until they’re absolutely ridiculous…like the ad. I get that way with my kids. My son’s first homework assignment is due tomorrow. It’s done but it was an effort!!!!! xx Rowena

  9. roweeee Post author

    It was I admit a joint effort. He had to do a title page for what will become his writing portfolio. Fortunately, I’d printed out some photos recently and so he could at least include photos of the family, dogs and his renovated room. We were given a outline showing how it would be marked and it talked about having vectors and texture. I stumbled across vectors looking for a graphic of the earth and I found some green paper with a sort of grass through it and we cut out the dictionary definition of world and the thesaurus and stuck them on top. I thought that would cover whatever she meant by texture.
    After that effort, I’ve moved a table out into our lounge room, which is the only room with air-con so they can do their homework in reasonable conditions. You can’t think straight in a sauna.
    I pulled out a handfull of workbooks I’ve bought over the years and they’re doing 30 mins of maths each day on weekends and hopefully through the week. Also getting started on writing. Miss needs to learn her tables. Mister needs to learn how to interpret questions.
    By the way, Miss went to her first kids’ book club meeting last week. They were reading an Andy Griffiths book. Can’t remember the title but it wasn’t part of the Treehouse series. She loved it and I stuck my nose in and they all looked so grown up. It’s a great idea.
    Hope you had a great week.
    xx Rowena

  10. Norah

    Sounds like things have started well. I wasn’t sure from your description whether the writing portfolio is paper or digital. The title page holds much of interest for future writing topics, as well as for readers.
    I’m pleased my study has air-con. I’m quite happy to work away in my study all day. The weather here has been atrocious. I am not a summer girl at all. I moan about it the entire time for about 3 months. The rest of the year is beautiful so I wouldn’t move because of it.
    I love the sound of the book club. I’m sure they’ll all have a great time sharing their interest in books and reading. It is amazing how quickly they become so grown up!
    Best wishes to you and the family for the week ahead. I hope it’s a good one. 🙂

  11. roweeee Post author

    Norah, thanks so much for putting me onto Susan Cain and I’m definitely going to get her books. Read the TED talk. While I am quite an extrovert, I naturally gravitate towards introverts and I also need my time in the wilderness as well as my people time. While some of us have traits of both groups at different times, what I thought was most telling in the TED talk was the last line where she was talking about what’s in your suitcase and how the introvert simply might not share the contents of their suitcase with others. I am obviously pretty open but I also find that quiter people appreciate me verbalising my feelings and experiences and they might relate to that. My husband’s family tends to be much more introverted/shy and my daughter tends that direction at times…particularly when it comes to public speaking. She would be in the high anxiety group whereas I love it. I love getting up and speaking in front of people. Perhaps not an auditorium but certainly a reasonably sized group. It’s like chatting to friends in a bigger forum.
    I have noticed the extroverts tend to blert out solutions which are more than likely to be wrong whereas the introvert won’t get a chance to speak up but they’ll have the solution. My husband is like that. I tend to keep quiet now in these situations because I know he knows what he’s talking about or he wouldn’t be opening his mouth.
    Where it can get tricky is when you have introverts and introverts within families. Extroverts can feel rejected by introverts because they seem aloof or distant or just plain cold. My mother is social but also cautious socially and she felt quite uncomfortable with my out there behaviour. that’s also a difference too between being older and young. I am like her with my son now and concerned about him standing out too much in the wrong context. You get protective as a parent. I know. I know. You can hear the helicopter blades turning.
    I hope you have a great week, Norah. I’m going to return to this tomorrow xx Rowena

  12. Norah

    I’m pleased you found the link useful, Rowena. You have followed through more than I have. I read the article but haven’t had time to do anymore yet. The book is on my reading list, and now the TED talk is on my listening list.Thanks for sharing your responses to it.

  13. roweeee Post author

    I like reading the TED transcripts. My listening skills are not the best and I can print them out and highlight the good bits. I am intending to get the book but we’re watching our pennies at the moment. The start of the year isn’t kind to us. xx Rowena

  14. Norah

    The transcripts are great, aren’t they? I refer to them often when I am quoting from a talk. I used to think I wasn’t a good aural learner, but I have trained myself by listening to audiobooks and now find that I really enjoy it. I just finished “The Social Brain” this morning and hoped to get “Quiet Power” to listen to. Unfortunately it’s not available as an audiobook, but I downloaded some podcasts to listen to instead. Can’t wait to start listening! 🙂

  15. roweeee Post author

    Thanks so much, Kath. I really feel like I’m making some great progress and reaching an extra dimension. It’s really exciting. Writing the flash fiction and the Haiku are really helping as I need to reach for the essence, which I guess my husband would call “getting to the point” but as you would appreciate, this is a process for a creative person. You definitely have a gift to and it’s great to be able to encourage each other! Hope you had a great weekend! xx Rowena

  16. Minuscule Moments

    Im reading a book called Big Magic Rowena, all about finding the courage to live the creative life without fear. Very busy weekend. Bike rides, beach time and teaching myself watercolours. How about you?

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