A Short Story

Mark Popular, Uncategorised 12 Comments

The wonderful Sam Coleman of dustandlove.com fame is running a competition for fiction. Three hundred words or less on the subject of parenting.

This takes me well outside of my comfort zone but I thought I’d have a go anyway.

Thanks for reading. I recommend heading straight over to dustandlove.com afterwards to see how a soon-to-be-published author writes, it’s a fabulous blog, and there are some exceptional entries already there too.

You can also find many more brilliant entries on Twitter using #DfictionL



The school had released a tsunami across the park, and as the tide began to recede it left behind a slew of children. Screaming, climbing, swinging.

I’d seen her here before, although not for a while. Her face was familiar and I recognised the double buggy that was keeping her upright. Maybe she’d been drinking. Possibly drugs. Most likely both.

Stood at the furthest corner of the playground the breeze only served me broken words from windswept sentences, but I could tell she was angry.

It was difficult to know who she was shouting at though.

The kids who’d reached the highest of branches, or those at the bottom being showered in conkers.

The boy climbing up the slide or the frustration amongst those waiting to come down.

The group giggling behind the bushes, or the girl at the source of their pointing.

Most of the children closest to her tirade had shuffled away, and the few that remained were being summoned back to their parents under false pretences.

No one really knew who she was shouting at, yet most had an opinion. Their disdain for her outbursts loosely wrapped in sympathy for her children, whoever they might be.

Everyone knew what they’d like to say to her, yet no one spoke louder than could be heard amongst their own.

Sermons were preached, yet only to those already converted.

Then one by one they left, beckoned for their tea or an after school club.

By now she’d stumbled to a bench where she sat, slouched, head in hands. She was crying. No longer shouting but her face screamed with sadness.

And as the gate closed behind those most reluctant to leave, only one person remained.

Her pushchair empty.


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  1. The official #DfictionL winner! A great piece of writing. Shook me to the core when I read it. The scope of the story, short as it was, certainly has enormous potential which is its greatest strength.

    Praise for “Parenting”

    – “My favourite story is Sonny and Luca’s. I think that he achieved something quite remarkable with such a limited word count. Though it is a complete story – the tale of an observer’s judgement and preconception – he has managed to give us a much larger, more complicated and emotional story. You want to know what’s happened to the desperate woman left alone and destroyed in the playground. The reader cares about her and can feel her pain acutely. He has set a very atmospheric scene and used the emptying playground to reflect the woman’s desolation and loss very well. Brilliant, I thought.”

  2. Pingback: A Short Story | LAB

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