a word brandished like a banner

one of those fat,

self-satisfied words

like freedom,

a slippery, mercurial word

like fraternity,

that means everything and its opposite,

all things to all men

and usually leaves women out

of its cosy club



Haibun: Freedom

This haibun is for Frank Tassone’s challenge, our thoughts on freedom.

There is a place where nothing holds the arms at our sides, feet on the ground, the love trapped inside tight-bolted hearts. They call it freedom. Free to hold, to fly, to love, but always, the cord that trails behind, through dark nights and bright days pulls tight at the last before we touch the stars. A voice calls, “Wait for me. Don’t go.” So we ravel up our dreams and blow a kiss to the stars and curl around the mundane and the dutiful, and try to make it glow.

Night sky, star-flowered,

too high to walk its dark paths,

I smell the roses.

Microfiction#Three Line Tales: Freedom

This is for Sonya’s Three Line Tales. The very unsettling photo is ©Jace Grandinetti


He hesitated, willing his muscles to keep still, not break into a run, though the guards must have discovered his empty cell by now.

The prison was a labyrinth of windowless corridors but he had found the way out, could see the outside world at the end of the maze of concrete blocks, and the blue sky above his head gave him hope.

He hesitated at the last section though the sun was breaking out from behind the clouds; the path was too empty, too silent…except for the unmistakable click of safety catches echoing inside each dark side alley.

Microfiction challenge Freedom: the entries

The Repin painting inspired a lot of fun fantasy romps this week, all with a slightly different, original twist. I enjoyed reading them all, and I recommend you read and comment on the stories too. They’re well worth it 🙂

I won’t leave any more comments on this round up as there are quite a lot of entries this week, and I am still under the influence of a sleeping pill—watch out for typos.

Look in tomorrow for another prompt. Now, to look out an inspiring image 🙂


Lady Lee

Microfiction challenge #15: Freedom – ladyleemanila


Microfiction for Jane Dougherty – What Freedom! | fmme writes poems


Microfiction challenge #15: Freedom | Morpethroad


Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge: Iska, Leon & freedom – Phylor’s Blog


Freedom: Microfiction | Yesterday and today: Merril’s historical musings



Jane Dougherty’ Microfiction Challenge: The Freedom of Rybka – Word Shamble


The Experimental lexicographer #microfiction #shortstory | TanGental


Microfiction Challenge 15: Freedom | Only 100 Words


Pensitivity—sorry I don’t have a ‘real’ name 🙂

Microfiction Challenge | pensitivity101


The Blind Date – Leara writes and other creative things…

Bernadette VISIT TO THE BEACH – Microfiction challenge #15: Freedom/


Seasoning – Part Twelve | like mercury colliding…

Bill (I’m putting this at the end because of the phantom white space that follows the link)

To Dance in the Sea

Microfiction: Avalon


When the tempest blew in the big picture windows, spraying the customers with broken glass, the tea rooms emptied in a gale of screams and the undignified flurry of black coat tails. Within moments, no one was left except the big man in the fur-collared cloak who seemed to find the whole scene amusing. She was transfixed by his gaze, the laughter in his eyes, and was ready to cling to his huge frame as to a life raft. He beckoned to her and strode outside to where the ocean swept over the promenade and the boulevard was just a memory.

At the door, she blanched and leapt backwards, waves curling over her shoes. A sharp cry escaped her. “It’s coming, just like the prophet said it would. Nothng can stop it. The world is ending!”

He laughed, a rich, deep laugh that drove back the night, the fools and the monsters. And he took her hand.

“Come with me,” he said and stepped out into the foaming, swirling flood. She hung back in fear and shook her head. The horizon was barred by the jagged white mountains of icebergs and they sailed, frozen battleships, closer and closer. No human voices were heard over the whine of the wind. The world had disappeared beneath the raging waters. Mute, she shook her head again until his laughter worked its magic. His face was red with the cold, and his lips, pulled into a brilliant, white-toothed smile

“Is this a dream,” she asked.

“Perhaps,” he said. “Who knows? Shall I show you where the black pearls grow and starfish light their lamps?”

This time, she laughed with him and took the offered hand. Together they stepped into the flood and he led her to where the waves became wild white horses and the icebergs the misty shore of a green island.

Microfiction challenge #15: Freedom

The painting is by a Russian painter I am getting quite fond of, Ilya Repin. There is always a lot of colour and movement in his work, and this one is filled with such a joie de vivre, I thought it would make a nice antidote to last week’s rather sad painting.

The couple in the painting are having such fun and in such an unlikely setting! The title of the painting is ‘What freedom!’ and I’m wondering at all the different kinds of freedom we can infer. The waves pouring around them seem to be submerging a building? a promenade? The sea is wild and deep, no beach in sight. Where exactly are they going?

Write your thoughts in a short story and post them in the comments box before next Thursday. I’m looking forward to reading a lot of happy stories this week 🙂



Flash fiction: Lipstick

This piece of flash fiction was prompted by Sacha Black’s writing challenge. If red lipstick is your thing, why not enter a story?

NATO - International Security Assistance Force

Esma slid the lipstick up her sleeve. There were no security tags on little things like that, and it was only a cheap one anyway. She cast a furtive glance around. The security guard was busy searching for bombs in backpacks. The girls around the makeup stand with their gentle pushing and jostling, laughing and joking covered the awkward movement as she wriggled the lipstick safely up past her elbow. The in-store music covered the pounding of her heart. Settling her headscarf straight and tucking the ends tighter beneath her jacket, she pushed out of the shop as swiftly as she dared.

The pedestrian street outside was full of Saturday shoppers. Esma melted into the crowd, only letting out her breath when she was certain the security guard was not going to shout after her to stop. The illicit chunk of plastic bored into her flesh with each step she took towards the bus stop.

Even seated at the back of the bus, Esma remained rigid with anxiety. As if there were security cameras on buses! Only in the silence of the room she shared with her two younger sisters did she dare shake the lipstick out of her sleeve, stroke the shiny case, slip the smooth, blood red lipstick out to admire the lusciousness of its colour, its unctuous taste and texture.


She shivered and touched it with the tip of her tongue. So many things were forbidden. The taste shot through her, a bolt of pleasure. The familiar pervading household smells of coriander and harissa evaporated, and her nostrils flared as she breathed in the cosmetic’s faint perfume. Red lipstick encapsulated all that was bright and exciting in the world outside. A world she was not allowed to enter.

The sound of the front door opening startled her, and she fumbled with the drawer, her drawer in the shared wardrobe, and pushed the glittering, fabulous object beneath a carefully folded pile of scarves and gloves.


Two days later, as she turned into her street coming back from school, a small figure leapt out of the entrance to her apartment block and ran towards her. Farida. Her face was pale, lips pinched, and her eyes stared, wide and fearful.

Esma knew. Her little sister didn’t need to tell her.

“Ommy found it. Abu is… wild.”

Esma stared into the distance, not seeing the apartment blocks, the paper blowing in the gutter, the grimy, anonymous cars that flicked past. Already the street belonged to the past. She smiled and hugged her sister, held her close for a moment. Then she turned and headed back to school. Someone among the advisors and social workers would know of a place where she could stay.


The answer

This poem is for the Secret Keeper’s poetry prompt. This week’s words are:


Photo ©Forest and Kim Starr


I wait for you beneath the bower,

Where we always meet, where the roses grow,

I know the question you will ask me,

Will I accept or tell you no.


I’ll walk with you to the wide world’s end,

Till rivers run dry and birds’ songs cease,

Through tears and laughter, but tie me with vows,

I’ll open my cage and take my release.

She waits for him to choose

Picture ©Phototasche

To fall, let go,
To fold my wings and plummet,
To embrace the earth that rushes up,
To snatch life’s last spark and end it all.
Or follow the stars and fly,
Spread broad white wings,
Soft swansdown pinioned beauty,
Beat the air translucent blue,
Shot with gold in the morning sun,
To soar with hope and a raging joy.
Choose wisely, love, for you hold my heart
In your hesitant hands.