Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not; practising flash fiction.

Posts Tagged ‘challenge

OLWG#68 – Late Night Phone Call

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My creative brain is taking a holiday as practical matters take over my waking hours. I have struggled with all writing challenges this week. Thank you to Thom at the New Unofficial On-line Writer’s Guild for another great set of prompts, and apologies for such a contrived drabble in response.


Late Night Phone Call


‘Hello Mr. Charles?’

‘Who’s that?’

‘Billy Summers.’


‘We think you know someone who can help us?’


‘Mom told us to call you.’


‘Mary Summers.’

‘Oh. Why?’

‘Claire left.’

‘Right. I understand. So what do you need?’

‘Mom needs more sugar.’

‘Sugar? Sorry kid, you’ve lost me again.’

‘Mom said to call you. She needs more icing sugar.’

‘Icing sugar?’

‘The stuff you can’t get in the shops. The stuff that gives her energy; helps her sleep. The stuff she wipes around her gums. She ain’t moving, Mr. Charles.’

‘You sit tight kid. I’ll make the call.’


This week’s prompts are:

  1. Mom needs more sugar
  2. we think you know someone
  3. Claire left


Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun




Written by Sarah Ann

September 24, 2018 at 12:09 pm

#FridayFictioneers – 8/6/18 – Within or Without

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Every Wednesday Rochelle Wisoff-Fields publishes a photo prompt to inspire writers to write 100-words of flash fiction or poetry.

At any point during the following week, the Friday Fictioneers post their 100-word tales. Read the other stories by clicking below.

My story this week might feel a little distant from the picture. I started with ideas of a sniper picking out a man in the red shirt, before the hall is entered by a swarm of Manchester United supporters, but that came to nothing. Next I got to thinking about libraries, swarms of tourists, and the following misery tale developed, although I’ve identified the genre in grander terms.

Thank you to Rochelle and Roger this week for the prompt.


© Roger Bultot


Within or Without

(Genre: philosophy; 100-words)

There once was a book in which the author described a perfect mystical world. She implied it could be found on Earth and peppered clues to its whereabouts in her text. For years scientists and readers argued over where nirvana might be, forgetting an author’s imagination. Possible sites were identified, visited, excavated. Multiple magical landscapes were destroyed then re-visited as examples of what not to do.

The author became a recluse. On her death her follow-up manuscript was published. ‘Beauty and devastation exist in the world, whether or not it is seen.’ Succinct as it was, few grasped her point.



OLWG#53 – Men in Suits

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Here is my response to this week’s New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts. As ever, thank you to TNKerr for hosting.

I came up with a sort of story, but a title was harder to pin down so apologies for its lameness.


Men in Suits

A corner office in a high rise. Floor to ceiling windows look out over the city. Glass walls on the other side have the blinds down and closed. A pale oak board table, matching chairs with upholstered seats and backs, are the only furnishings.

Two men in charcoal suits. The older, middle-aged, is seated. Jacket undone, his belly bulges in a shirt his wife has been saying is too small for months. He crosses his arms and says, ‘You know what you have to do.’

The younger, mid-thirties, gym junkie, stands looking out. Left hand on hip, the right raised in frustration, maybe supplication. He turns, drops the hand and says, ‘She won’t come.’

‘Use your persuasive powers.’

‘They don’t work on her.’


‘You want me to call her now.’

There is no need for the older man to nod.

The younger man extracts his phone, places it in the centre of the table. He presses two buttons before the ringing tone fills the room. It rings three times before a female voice answers.

‘Jack, how lovely to hear from you. However, I have to remind you I retired two years ago. I’m not that kind of girl any more.’

‘I said as much to Alec. He still wants me to try.’

‘We need you again,’ the older man says, leaning forward in his seat as if the woman at the other end will see his earnestness.

‘Sorry. No can do Alec. You know me. When I say a thing I do a thing.’

‘Which is exactly why we need you.’

‘Which is exactly why I won’t be coming back. I retired.’

‘You’re the only one who can meet the particular needs of this client,’ Alec says, arms outstretched on the table, hands reaching toward the phone, his body betraying his desperation.

Jack wonders why Alec asked him to call now he’s taken over the conversation. But Maisie wouldn’t have answered if she’d seen Alec’s number calling.

‘I am not the only one with my talents,’ Maisie says. ‘Come on, Alec, you must have picked out someone else by now for special training. I am not unique. It’s as you always say, no one is indispensible.’

Jack squeezes his lips on the smirk that tries to escape. Alec will not like Maisie quoting his own words back at him, and it underlines the fruitlessness of Alec’s pleadings. Jack wonders how long Alec will persist. He doesn’t want to watch his boss squirm, and knows Alec won’t want to be observed as he begs Maisie to return for this one last job. He also knows Maisie is resolute. They discussed it before she left. ‘There’ll always be one last time,’ she said. ‘And after you take the first last job there’ll be another one, and then another. I am out. End of. Not coming back for nothing or nobody.’

Jack misses her and looks forward to the day he decides he’s had enough and he and Maisie can socialise without fear of compromising each other.

‘Look you two,’ he says. ‘I’ve got things to do. I’m going to leave you to work this out.’

Alec looks at him, raises his arms in objection. Jack shrugs.

‘You take care, Jack,’ Maisie says.

‘You too. And remember I love you anyway, even if you are letting us down.’

‘Pah.’ The retort is true Maisie in stop taking the piss mode. ‘See you on the other side,’ she says.

Jack smiles, ‘Will do,’ and leaves the room.

He knows he will suffer Alec’s ire later. He doesn’t care. Maisie is right, Alec should have picked out and trained up someone to replace her. She’s wrong about not being unique. She truly was, but someone could be as equally good and effective at the job, with their own unique flare. As Jack walks through the open plan space to his desk he wonders if it’s time for Alec to retire. He’s been caught out, accepting a job and relying on an old hand to meet client demand. It’s not the first mistake he’s made of late. Jack will have to keep his eyes and ears open, whether for a way out or a way up he’s still not sure.


This week’s prompts are:

  1. we need you again
  2. I love you anyway
  3. I’m not that kind of girl


Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

Written by Sarah Ann

June 7, 2018 at 8:21 pm

OLWG#51 – First Date

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I am very late with the OLWG #51 prompts. The first of which was the one that grabbed me, and I’ve not been able to incorporate the others. I’ve also re-used a character, seeing her from another’s point of view.

Thanks and apologies for lateness to Thom.


First Date

‘You are not what I expected,’ I said as I opened the door, which was a stupid thing to say, and rude. What had I been expecting? I’d had no idea when I made the call and didn’t care what she might look like. It wasn’t important. I didn’t speak to her at the time, but a manager who arranged all the appointments and explained all the rules. Still I didn’t expect the gorgeous creature with raven curls at my door, coils like old bed springs arrayed around her head. She didn’t need to do this sort of work. And that was the second stupid thing to have thought within three seconds. What did I know? It was even more stupid to ask her, as I followed her down the hall into the main body of my apartment, ‘What brought you to this line of work?’

She smiled, as if she was asked that all the time, and said, ‘I like people.’

There was to be nothing more I realised. She was guarded, wearing armour to work. Who could blame her? Who knew whom she would meet when she knocked on a door? All the lonely people, as the Beatles sang, who need to pay for companionship. And that is all it is. I love cooking, but eating alone is no fun. Cooking for one isn’t great either. I can’t get the proportions right and end up over-eating.

One thing I love about food is the conversation when you try something new. I can feel the textures and new flavours, but I only have one tongue and set of taste-buds. I want to know what others think and feel and taste. And so I have been using companion escorts since my wife died unexpectedly.

We have friends, I have friends, but we end up having the same conversations, always about my wife. As much as I still love her I don’t want to spend all my leisure time talking about her. And it seems to me my friends are bored of food conversations. They don’t say so, but whenever I try to engage them on the flavour of a new herb combination their eyes glaze, so it’s time for me to chop and change eating companions. Change who they are, not chop them up. Oh dear. I realise her beauty still has me rattled and unnerved and I talk nonsense when even thinking about her. That night I felt jumbled thoughts spill from lips and watched her eyes spin. She must have thought I was. Hell who knew what she thought.

I invited her to sit and ran to the kitchen, focusing on the food in order to calm my racing heart and still my brain. Cook the onions low, fry the spices and chillies high. Stages and order. Cooking is precise and calming, for me at least. I love the bashing of bread and the whisking of eggs, the physical involvement, but that night I needed cerebral, planning and tight guidelines in order to concentrate on what I was cooking and not who I was cooking for.

Afterwards I remembered being in the kitchen and the process of cooking. I remembered carrying the finished dishes through to the table and the smile on her face as she tasted and enjoyed. Conversation flowed easily. We had a lovely time together. But I can’t remember a thing about the food. Whether or not the smoked paprika made a difference to the lamb tagine escapes me. If the raspberry ice cream was better for being mixed with a fork rather than made in an ice cream maker, it completely passed me by. I was captivated and enraptured by her and not my latest tryouts from the weekend supplement. Which is why I’ll be on the phone later to ask for another appointment with Marie. I’m trying something new again. I can’t serve her the same. This time I’ll be more prepared for her beauty and hopefully able to taste my food. I’ll try the tagine and ice cream next time I meet with friends. I’ll enjoy their familiarity, and savour food while they talk about my wife.


This week’s prompts are:

  1. You are not what I expected
  2. some myths are prophecy
  3. Tell them what?


Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun


Written by Sarah Ann

June 2, 2018 at 5:33 pm

Vote for me! Vote for me! – #amwriting #BlankPC

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I have been placed joint second in March’s The Blank Page Short Story Challenge judging panel vote! My story and two others are online to be read and voted on – the people shall choose their winner. So click here, read and vote for me. Or better still, read all three stories and vote for the one you think is the best and should therefore win.



You’ve got until Thursday May 3rd to make me a winner:


Written by Sarah Ann

April 24, 2018 at 4:30 pm

#FridayFictioneers – 20/4/18 – Absence

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Every Wednesday Rochelle Wisoff-Fields publishes a photo prompt to inspire writers to write 100-words of flash fiction or poetry.

At any point during the following week, the Friday Fictioneers post their 100-word tales. Read the other stories by clicking below.

I tried hard this week, and then gave up. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else did with this baffling prompt. With thanks to Rochelle for hosting and Doug MacIlroy for a prompt that beat me.


© Douglas M. MacIlroy


(Genre: autobiography; 100-words)

I stare and see nothing. I rub my eyes, push and pull to remove the occlusion, but remain blind.

I turn away. The views to the side and behind are clear. Only the scene in front of me is blocked. I shake my head and concentrate on other things.

Days later I make another attempt, but make no headway. Sideways and tangential approaches achieve little.

I could struggle for days more, but choose a different path. And so, instead of tales of tragedy or humour, I present a vignette of what happens when my muse deserts me – not a lot.



Written by Sarah Ann

April 20, 2018 at 2:19 pm

OLWG#41 – #micropoetry – shadorma

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I decided to try some shadorma in an attempt to address the OLWG #41 prompts in good time. Two came quickly and relatively easy to mind, but one was reluctant to play ball. I’m not sure the last of these says anything at all, but the first one is a bit of fun.

Thanks to TNKerr for posting and hosting every week.



She likes jokes,

playing tricks, teasing.

‘Pull my thumb,’

she hisses.

Her prosthetic arm flies off.

She crumples, giggling


Movie trip:

Classic film weekend.



‘Have we seen this already?’

‘Many times, grandma.’


Good morning.

Howdy. How are you?


G’day mate.

It’s just a figure of speech.

Nowt to fret over.


Written by Sarah Ann

March 19, 2018 at 1:05 pm

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