Another Flash Fiction Story: “The Arrangement”

I had a lot of fun with the challenge of the 150-word flash fiction story last week, and I wanted to try again.  There’s something really rewarding about whittling down the story to its core.  What do you think?

Challenge: 150 word story

Using: 10/20 words: ladder, witness, prefer, alarm, kissed, clutches, seldom, orchard, excavated, arrangement, shrinking, heart, scythe, surrounding, tendency, mischief, misgivings, satisfy, drops, faithful

All words are taken from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem


The Arrangement

The wooden ladder lay abandoned in the orchard, soaking in the dew.   No sign of Lucy.  Peter fought his alarm.

Often, they had kissed and shared tender clutches under the apple trees, but when Peter spoke of marriage, Lucy shook her head.  Still, Peter was faithful.  

She was supposed to meet him here.

Heart full of misgivings, Peter approached Lucy’s home.  Her father was just exiting.


He turned.  “Peter?  Bit early to call.”

“Is Lucy inside?”

“Haven’t seen her.  Must’ve risen early to pick apples.”

“Yes, sir.  Only, I came through the orchard—she’s not there.”

A shadow crossed his face.

They searched.  When Lucy’s father saw a ribbon speared on a branch, he sank to his knees.

“It’s my fault, Peter.  I made an arrangement.  I signed his book, in drops of blood—he gave me money for the farm.  Said in eighteen years, he’d take his payment.”

* * *

If you liked this story, check out my first attempt, “The Song in the Night.”  If anyone would like to try this experiment with these words or some others, I’d love to see your results in the comments section!

Flash Fiction: The Song in the Night

Two of my friends from my writer’s group attend the New England Crime Bake every year, and have met with great success with the Flashwords contest.  The contest asks writers to create a 150-word story about a crime using ten out twenty words selected from featured novels.  I’ve been impressed and inspired by their work, so I decided to try the exercise.  (Who are these two friends, you might ask?  One is Margo Carey, on Twitter @novatrek, author of The Haunted Pen, and the other is Dianne Herlihy author of Dianne’s Place)

I’m not really a crime writer (or not right now, anyway…who knows what I might one day write?), so I decided to choose words from the book I’ve been using to ease myself into my writing sessions lately: The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem.  The result of my experiment is below:

Assignment: 150-word story using at least 10 of the 20 words chosen from The Poetry of Robert Frost

20 words: kitchen, dusty, rough, undergrowth, burned, witchcraft, strand, stirred, violin, conspire, lure, flattened, preach, constellation, stroke, prey, ancient, expand, parasite, curves

The Song in the Night

The lure of the violin was strong, especially on a night so like that other, when her father had disappeared.  The fluid notes sang brilliantly through the sky, calling to Hester.  Unresisting, she entered the dark forest.

 Each stroke of bow on strings conspired to bring Hester deeper.  Constellations gazed down, blinking a warning, but their ancient wisdom did not reach Hester.

Finally, the source was straight ahead.  Light burned through the curves of the branches.  She crept forward to look.

Her father’s face stared at her across the wooden body of the glowing instrument.  What witchcraft was this?  The bow paused.  He beckoned.  Hester advanced, then saw the unnatural gleam in the eyes, the gaunt shadows of the face.  This was a parasite.  She was prey.  Hester broke her gaze from his and turned away.

Behind her, the music resumed.

Hester’s will was flattened.  She swayed toward her doom.


What do you think?  I’d love to see other stories using these words, or stories based on your own words, taken from a different text.  If you try this experiment, I hope you’ll post your story below!

Special thanks to Margo and Dianne for the inspiration.  You’ll be hearing more from them one day soon!