Sarah Ann Hall

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

Posts Tagged ‘ghosts

OLWG#56 – When Paul Was Five – #amwriting

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He is my response to this week’s New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild Prompts. This was fun to write, but didn’t take 25-minutes at all. It took a while longer and still needs re-editing and tweaking to make it better. Thank you Thom for the prompts that could only go one way for me this week.


When Paul Was Five

Clare decided long in advance that Paul should have a pirate-themed party for his fifth birthday. She collected together suitable detritus from the local charity shops – a squawking purple parrot on a perch, a sailing boat made of matches that was strictly hands-off, and various plastic chests of dubious treasure. With all the props she needed, Claire spent the two weeks leading up to the party making individual hats for the children expected, and hoped there would be no last minute invites as Paul made and broke buccaneers, or pushy parents approached with grappling irons. Paul was tasked with making all the swords, in cardboard of course. He and his father spent the month of weekends prior to the party’s launch decorating each sword hilt to match its owner. Paul was up on piratical law and myth, and there were runic decorations and symbols that had to be attached to explain the power and mastery of his crew in marauding and other plundering pastimes. Various pasta shapes, cotton reels, glitter, dyed string, and lots of paint, were used to make these messages clear.

As far as Clare was concerned, the only thing missing before the day was a pirate-themed magician. True, one wasn’t strictly necessary, but she needed some form of entertainment to keep the excitable little sea rats enraptured to save the tears as flimsy swords collapsed. A clown was not appropriate, balloon benders a bit old hat, and Clare searched long and hard but came up with no one suitable.

She discussed her dilemma at church and Phil, the cousin of the pastor’s wife, volunteered to come along. He had been in the merchant navy years since and had some treasures of his own he said he could bring, as well as photos and tales of tattooed peoples and brain-eaters. Clare was grateful, but pointed out the kids were only five and brain eating wasn’t necessarily appropriate. And could he please steer clear of voodoo and zombie tales. Clare didn’t want to be responsible for twenty families experiencing nightmares in the following weeks.

The day arrived: the kids played and ate, with only two throwing up from overindulgence. They fought and won their battles, cardboard swords starting to droop, leaving pasta and glitter all over the floor, and then they sat down to hear from Filibuster Phil, a man who had been to sea and see, and seen it all. Phil, as well as adopting a new moniker, revelled in his role and regaled them with stories of spotting enemy ships from the crows’ nest, being lashed to the mast to survive humungous storms, visiting islands of painted peoples, and the abilities of shipmates with peg-legs and hooked-hands. The children gaped and gasped in all the right places.

Phil’s last tale was one about the ghosts of Glummer Caves, that stole the breath out of you should you espy them. There was a rumour that if you ever stood inside the cave, a ghost might follow you all your life and use the least expected moment to take your breath. Phil paused before the punchline, his head forward like a stretching tortoise, his arms and legs akimbo like a cartoon scaredy cat, and then he tumbled gently to the floor. The kids loved it, and after a moment’s silence were cheering and crying for more. They carried on hooting, picking up their swords, as half the parents shooed them from the room and the other half picked Phil’s still body from the floor. With the children safely around the food table or in the garden, the first-aiders laid Phil on the floor, administered CPR, called an ambulance. All to no avail.

At school for the next six-months, Paul’s party was the best to have attended, ever. Clare, while not wanting to rush her baby boy to grow up, did look forward to the day he no longer hankered for birthday parties. It had been hard enough trying to keep up with Joneses, but topping the Glummer Ghosts catching up with Filibuster Phil was inconceivable.



This week’s prompts are:

  1. covered with glitter
  2. playing pirates
  3. life can end in the middle of a sentence


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 29, 2018 at 9:34 am

OLWG #33&34 – The Concert

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I’m still catching up with the New, Unofficial Writer’s Guild prompts and posts. As Thom reminds us each week, practise makes perfect. I’m not happy with my vignette below – it’s too disjointed and jerky – so any constructive criticism on what to cut/ where to add etc, will be most gratefully received.


The Concert

Felix looked out disconsolately from the park bandstand. The mist hung mid-fall: the bottom three feet of air showed dewy grass and slick tarmac; above, the moisture swirled thick and grey. It looked more like smog, or the smoke of battle, than the sea mist Felix knew it to be. The salt pricked his skin and stung his eyes.

The fundraising concert, for returnee soldiers, had been planned for months. They had chosen an early summer’s day, betting on a dry, hopefully sunny, weekend. They thought they had accounted for all eventualities. They’d been wrong it seemed.

The town’s band had had to recruit new members following the outbreak of war, with men going off to fight and die. They had had to recruit when it was over too, as whole men didn’t return. Missing limbs and shattered minds did not pretty music make.

Ex-band members had been approached to share their favourite tunes for today’s event, to make them feel included despite their incapacity to take part. Felix hoped those who’d asked for music suggestions had been diplomatic. Felix’s deputy could be an insensitive fool and many were the complaints after Steven led band practice in Felix’s stead.

Their preparations might come to naught, as the landscape remained completely obscured, and no sightlines existed. But all around him Felix could hear them gathering; the dragging feet, the chesty coughs, of men both alive and dead moving slowly toward him. He too had gone to war, and come back physically unscathed. His scars lay deep, his fears for the future voiced only to those he still trusted with his life.

There was still time, he mused, turning away from the shadows to unpack his baton, and paint on the smile with which to greet the brave and foolhardy, the new and luckier older ones. The sun might burn through. She might yet be strong enough to warm the earth and banish the ghosts for another day.




The prompts:


  1. One of my favourites
  2. What could go wrong
  3. bandleader

#34 ghosts in the fields


The rules:

Go ahead and dive in,
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

January 29, 2018 at 3:29 pm

Ligo Haibun Challenge – Haze

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The two choices for this week’s Ligo Haibun Challenge are:

Monsoon or Haze

The rules:

  • The haiku/collection of haiku related to the text to close. The haiku should be as authentic as possible, with no syllable count, no capitals or full stop, all ideally making 220 word max.
  • Wear the Ligo badge to the right with pride on your blog! And pin the Circle of Appreciation to your blog if you haibun is selected as an honourable mention.


Spring and autumn bring fantasy to the river. As morning dawns, cold air falls to meet warm waters: mist forms and rises. Giselle walks the towpath in a trance. Coots float like bruises on the river’s surface; trees loom like telegraph poles; birds sing into their pillows.

At the periphery of her vision, phantoms twist and turn. Elves roll their eyes, fairies dance. Giselle’s rational brain says the haze is a result of hot and cold air mixing. Her imagination believes creatures live in the temporary murk, whose ancestors met and mated in true fog.

The lives of the ghouls and spirits that tickle the air swirl and flicker shorter than a mayfly. The day heats, a breeze flutters, and Giselle’s dream world dissolves.

fire and ice conjoined

form ethereal smokescreen

lucid sight blinded


Written by Sarah Ann

July 4, 2013 at 10:19 pm

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