The Galloping Little Man.

The Cathedral was packed.

“Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Black and yellow, red and white
They’re all precious…”

Suddenly, the unholy little terror broke free from his mother’s grasp.

“Gallop! Gallop! Gallop!” He squealed, charging down the aisle riding his horsey. Even overpowering the organ, his clip-clopping sandals thundered over the floorboards.

Heads turned! Eyes glared!

Exhausted, his mother unconsciously staggered in his wake. Number Two on the way, she was no longer “Princess” but “Mummy”. No more putting her feet up!

“Such is life!” her mother always says.

And yet…!

And yet…!

xx Rowena

February 24, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about galloping. It doesn’t have to be about horses. Is galloping a burst of energy, a run for freedom? Or is it a sense of urgency that borders on anxiety to get tasks accomplished? Explore the motion in different ways — a galloping stride, a galloping relationship or a galloping mind.

……

Today, I was on the train down to Sydney and decided to write my take on “Gallop.”

I’ve been writing flash fiction for a few weeks now and have really been surprised at what I’ve been able to write within this very short word limit.

You see, while Dorothy Parker might have said: “Brevity is the soul of lingerie”, getting to the point has never been my strength. Indeed, I’ve often had trouble finding it at all. But John Lennon was on my side: “Life is what you live while making other plans.”

It really is quite challenging to create a character, a complication and any kind of resolution in only 99 words and yet it’s much more doable than I thought. Indeed, these stories can pack quite a punch.

Anyway, here I am back on the train thinking about galloping. Of course, my first thought was about how time is constantly galloping away but that’s nothing new.

Next, I thought about how my Great Grandmother went to the horse races back in the Great Depression and used to bet on a great Australian horse called Phar Lap and had won enough money to buy my grandmother a coat. This story had legs but required further research.Not something I could put together on the train.

 

However, while all these ponderings were in motion, I was distracted by a little boy aged about three or four who was seemingly travelling with his Mum and Grandmother. He was absolutely gorgeous and reminded me of my son at that age. Mister loved anything even remotely to do with trains and both kids have loved catching the train into the city. Indeed, I still remember how much I loved it and I get a thrill when the train rumbles over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s truly exciting…even for a grown up!

So, I’m writing and yet captivated by this little boy and also by how his Mum and Grandmother are engrossed in conversation and he’s an interruption. Well, at least most of the time.

As the train rumbles towards Milson’s Point Station which is located right on the Northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, we go through a tunnel and I hear his excited little voice call out: “Tunnel! Tunnel! Tunnel!” The rest of the carriage is virtually silent so his little voice really carried but rather than being annoyed, it seemed that all of the passengers were just struck by how melt-in-the-mouth cute he was. His enthusiasm was so infectious (not unlike a cold on the train!!!)

“Tunnel! Tunnel! Tunnel” became “Gallop! Gallop! Gallop!” There are few worse places for little kids to go for a noisy gallop than in Church, especially in a very stiff upper lip kind of Cathedral…the sort with an organ.

Managing boisterous children in Church has inevitably always been an issue. After all, sitting still and being quite is mission impossible for most young children. That is, unless you’re blessed to have one of those angelic colouring-in types. The kids kids don’t even need to be “bad” to offend. Or, have any kind of diagnosis. Just being a kid really seems to be enough.

I do sometimes wonder whether children are truly welcome at Church or merely tolerated. That said, we’ve attended a very child-friendly Church for the last few years. They’ve gone to a great deal of trouble and have a special family service on Friday nights where we have a meal together and the service itself has songs where the children can dance as well as dress-ups to enact the stories. These are simple things really but they work more with the nature of children than being diametrically opposed.

Mind you, after advocating for making Church more child-friendly, I must admit I really do enjoy my peace and quiet.

Indeed, silence is golden!

xx Rowena

 

 

18 thoughts on “The Galloping Little Man.

  1. Ally Bean

    Your story is delightful. Very authentic. Who hasn’t been a child with, or watched a child get, a case of the wiggles in church?

    I’d forgotten about Romper Room. What a flashback that is!

  2. stuckinscared

    Wow. Yours certainly packed a punch. Fabulous writing. … My church (though illness has kept me away for a while) is a child friendly Church, like yours. Actually, the children are embraced… included throughout the services, even Sunday service. Which IMO is how it should be. They are, after all, the Church of the future, (or not if Church does a good enough job of putting them off).

    I remember the more stifling Church experience of my own childhood though. It’s a wonder I wasn’t put off myself o_O

    Really great post!

  3. merrildsmith

    Fun story. I think learning to write good flash fiction is difficult. I did chuckle a bit as you explained in detail how you have a difficult time keeping it brief. 😉
    I’ve only ever been in churches for weddings and such, but I guess many do have children’s or family services now. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have had to go to those all-day Puritan services of centuries ago–and without heat or air conditioning!

  4. Charli Mills

    You did pack a punch in 99 words and broke the stodgy spell with life brimming in the wake of the pews. In truth we are called to be like children. Such wonder and enthusiasm for everything! I’m fascinated by process and enjoyed that you shared your thinking and how you arrived at this particular story. Flash fiction can open up new avenues to creativity. 🙂

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  7. roweeee Post author

    You’ve always got to bless you Mum. Well, maybe not always because there are some serious duds out there.I have a photo of myself charging off as a 2 year old as well. My grandparents look a photo of me with just my mothers arm and wrote: “Rowena with that long arm”. I now have a better understanding of how tired that long arm can get! xx Rowena

  8. New Journey

    I love the way your mind works….I could actually see him running up the isle announcing gallop, gallop, gallop….great story and loved that you explained how you got to it….writers minds ae amazing places….LOL xxkat

  9. roweeee Post author

    Thanks very much, Kat. You should try these flash fiction prompts. I’ve quite astounded at where they’re taking me. Wrote about my crazy Old English sheepdog, Rufus. That required quite an extensive psychological review. Anyway, had better get to sleep xx Rowena

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  11. roweeee Post author

    That one was based on countless stories of active little boys in Church and I just couldn’t resist matching it up with the hymn.

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