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A challenge for both of us

I sit here with a blank screen in front of me. I have no ideas, no words, no thoughts. I want to see what emerges, where my mind takes me. Creativity can only happen in a bounded environment … ‘write a story’ say many teachers to their students. It’s paralysing. What about? asks the child. Oh, anything you like, comes the reply.

That’s too hard.

Write a story, says the teacher.

What about? I ask, and already my mind is blank, while I desperately try to lock onto an idea, an image, a thought, a character, an event. Nothing and everything swirl through my mind. My mind spins, but nothing I can write a story about emerges. I sit, languishing at the back of the classroom with my hand in the air “Miss, Miss … but what will I write a story about?”

Write a story about flowers.

Seriously? Is that the best you can do? I need more information because the decisions I have to make are overwhelming me and I don’t have time to decide in the ten minutes you’ve given me to write my story. Please, teacher, tell me more. Where is the flower? Is it day time or night time? What kind of flower? One by the side of the road, or one in a garden, or in a vase, or in a hospital ward, or on a gravestone? One that’s just beginning to bloom and is fresh and new and vibrant or one that’s decaying/fading/wilting? What colour is the flower? How big is it? Does anyone see it? Are there other flowers/cows/ducks near it? Is it part of a bunch/a gang/a tribe? Is it tattooed on a biker’s arm/old lady’s back? Is the flower on a postcard, birthday card, sympathy card, farewell card? I need more information. Please, teacher, give me some boundaries and then I can write a story.


Do you know what? Every day for a week I’m going to show you a flower and you can create your own story about it. I’ll give you some parameters and you can go from there. Is it possible to write a 50 word story? Are you willing to give it a try?

If you’re willing, it means we both have a challenge … me to come up with an image of a flower and some boundaries, you to create a 50 word story.

Here we go.

Day One [of seven].

Boundaries: 50 words. Decay. Late evening. Outside. 1983.

It’s starting


I’m eagerly anticipating your story.


I like to travel and take photographs. I like to blog about both.

15 thoughts on “A challenge for both of us

  1. Late one evening in 1983, vibrant flames of colour and the playful unkempt folding of the petals protest against the inevitable … the spiral of decay. Longing to continue dancing freely in the breeze … a last breath … then finally rest … outside in the dark hours of night.


  2. Can’t repeat the past, he cried? 1983 – I am guiding unworldly youngsters through the blossoming decay of 1920’s Long Island. Daisy trips lightly through Gatsby’s dreams and glittering illusions. Incredulous, he discovers that the past cannot be retrieved. And dies. But his voice echoes for me over the decades……….


  3. March 1983. Dusk. It was a Saturday. The town had gathered to witness two of its own become man and wife. A solitary flower remained on the table after everyone had left. No longer vibrant but looking sad. Left behind like Lucy had been all those years ago.


  4. I walk towards the grave, wondering why people take flowers? The dead don’t see them. Why do people bring flowers to my fathers grave. He died in 1983, he was a grumpy man, I don’t bring flowers. Flowers decay like people, why bother?


  5. I remember an evening in 1983, the setting sun threw lances of light through the leaves of the tree planted outside the window to keep the sun off. As the leaves settled on the ground I could imagine the unseen process of nature and the decay that would ensure the continuation of life.


  6. It was once a beautiful flower, a gift for having produced a beautiful baby girl. A week later it is decaying, losing its brilliance & thrown onto the scrapheap in the wintery night air. Unlike the baby girl, who will go onto have a brilliant & full life!


  7. I am not myself anymore… I don’t have the feelings I used to have. Why can’t I become excited about even the little things in life. As the natural day closes… I know my life’s day is going to come to an end too. How? I don’t know. All I do know is that whichever way it happens, I will have peace… at last.


  8. She looked at the petals as they fell. Like her life, each day a petal falling, each day something else missing from her existence. One by one they fell, minute by minute her life was being peeled back to reveal what lay beneath, the bare bones of her world.


  9. The odour of decay still registers when I think of his death back in 1983. His old weary body clothed in those familiar grubby stained overalls, was found outside late in the evening. He was holding Grandma’s favourite flower at her gravesite.


  10. The flower. Once sought after. A symbol. Cherished. Now left to deteriorate into dust and the cycle continues on forever. Always renewed. Always longed for…that cherished symbol of love, caring and life in its purist form.


  11. Okay… here’s my attempt:

    Let’s dance on the radio, Bowie inviting through the static, the rhythms not quite colliding. Tyres crunching gravel. Following the road carved into the hill. Overhead, trees. The smell of the flowers on the back seat, almost faded, a new kind of sweetness. We are nearly there. Leave it behind.


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