The Only One Out- Flash Fiction.

The historic terrace house was gone. Firemen unable to extinguish the blaze, the neighbours were all out in the street in their undies, nighties and nothing at all. Desperate to help, a naked man was using his garden hose. Absolutely impotent, it needed more than a strong dose of Viagra. Another was screaming, his hands and feet burnt. They all knew the family. Their kids all went to the local school.

“Anyone get out?” Reporters asked.

“Just one. Wife and kids didn’t make it. Poor bugger.”

“I’d rather be dead, mate.”

“Yeah but sometimes, you don’t get a choice.”

 Rowena Newton

March 16, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about the idea of “just one.” If all it takes is just one, what is the story? Explore what comes to mind and go where the prompt takes you. Bonus challenge: eat cake while you write, or include cake in your flash.


While this flash is fiction, it is was inspired by a true story.

On Boxing Day 2011, Australian Celebrity Chef Matt Golinski lost his wife and three daughters in a devastating house fire. I doubt there was anyone who heard about his plight who didn’t feel incredible compassion and horror for what he had been through. Love poured out to this man we may or may not have seen on TV but that didn’t matter. We cared. We loved him. It was truly hard to imagine how someone could go through anything much worse. We just didn’t know how anyone could survive the loss of his family plus his own horrific burns…or even if he should. As a teenager, I thought breaking up with someone I’d dated for 6 weeks was anguish. This was off the Richter Scale. I followed his progress for several weeks as he fought against the odds to survive, supported by his medical team.

Here’s a newspaper excerpt about when he woke up:

Speaking at a charity breakfast, Golinski has revealed he struggled to understand why doctors kept him alive.

Seven News reports he had lost 22kg, had 17 operations and survived lung infections and kidney and liver failure before he came to.

“I clearly remember the very first thing when I was able to communicate with my dad… I asked if he wouldn’t mind giving me a mobile phone so I could ring my wife, Rachael,” Golinski said.

“(Dad) didn’t hesitate to tell me that Rachael and my girls had passed away.

“From that moment, I found it pretty impossible to comprehend why those doctors and all the medical staff had bothered to keep me alive…

“I wanted to ask them ‘why on earth would you think that I would want to live now?’

“Before too long, I started to feel more sorry for (dad) than I did for myself because I realised I wasn’t the only one suffering.”

Seven News reports that during his 13-minute speech, Golinski acknowledged the community support he received after the tragedy which he believes kept him alive.

“As I said, I had hit a point where I really didn’t want to live but it was hearing (stories of public support) from my dad, and there was that outpouring of generosity and love that actually got me through that time and made me want to survive,” he said.

Matt Golinski is making a heroic recovery.






10 thoughts on “The Only One Out- Flash Fiction.

  1. roweeee Post author

    Absolutely. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say the nation stopped when we found out what had happened to him and his family. There was such an outpouring of love for him and it’s good that he felt that and it helped him fight to recover. What else could we do?

  2. Charli Mills

    This has me in tears. What an incredible shift, from devastating loss, to understanding that he was not the only one suffering. And that community! Some clad in nothing at all, saving a life, even if just one, mattered more than propriety. And you expressed it all so well in your flash fiction. This sequence of lines is amazing: “Desperate to help, a naked man was using his garden hose. Absolutely impotent, it needed more than a strong dose of Viagra.” Thank you for sharing at Carrot Ranch!

  3. Pingback: It Takes Just One « Carrot Ranch Communications

  4. roweeee Post author

    Thanks very much, Charli. That was the first time I’d read about his reaction. I must admit I wondered whether the doctors should just let him go. What a nightmare to wake up to! At the time this happened, my health was up the creek and so I responded to his loss in a very personal way. I always do anyway. I’m one of those people and you sound similar, who doesn’t just watch the news but seems to absorb it. The naked people were at least as far as I know, fictional but the garden hose was inspired by people fighting huge Australian bush fires with their garden hoses and they were quite impotent against the blaze.
    Thank you so much for the prompt. I was wanting to write about something more upbeat this time but the response of the community to the crisis fits the bill. See you next week and wish you a Happy & Blessed Easter xx Rowena

  5. Norah

    I don’t think there’d be an Australian who wouldn’t recognise the name Matt Golinski. Such a tragedy. Your story tells so much in so few words. You captured the pain and anguish well.

  6. roweeee Post author

    Thanks so much, Norah. It’s hard to line up dates and times but I’m pretty sure that happened the Christmas I had just found out there was fibrosis in my lungs and I was in a very bad way mentally and I was so overwrought. I also felt really sick in the stomach and didn’t go out much and watched the TV coverage. The same thing happened with the Sydney Siege. I’d broken my foot and was parked in front of the TV for a few days. Of course that really makes you absorb it, which I tend to do anyway.
    Speak of pain and anguish, my dead poets theme for the April A2Z challenge has been pretty intense. Turned out a few of them committed suicide, which was pretty confronting given how much I related to their work. I know anguish but somehow found my way through it. Sometimes, it was a justifiable response but thinking back to those teenage broken hearts, not so much but everything seemed to get amplified back then.
    Hope you have a Happy Easter! xx Rowena

  7. Norah

    Your times have been tough too. I’m pleased you have found the strength to work you way through it and not go the path of others whose lives you have been investigating.

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