99 Word Flash Fiction: Giving a Voice


This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom Rides which exposed the violent racism, the living conditions and welfare gaps for indigenous people and stood against strong opposition. These were led for the first time by an aboriginal Charlie Perkins who was also the first indigenous university graduate and went on later to be a member of parliament.

The sixties saw important changes for Aboriginal people as they gained the right to vote in 1967, obtained citizenship (until this time they could not obtain a passport ), equal pay (after a strike at Wave Hill in 1966) and a start was made in winning back their rights to THEIR land and preservation of their culture.

Despite huge inroads being made racism is still evident and more aboriginal people are unemployed and in jail,  although aboriginals represent only 3% of the total population more than 28% of the jail inmates are aboriginal. These figures should cause national shame – instead our present government has decided to cut funding for legal services for our indigenous population hitting the very people that need it most. Do they feel safe doing this because our indigenous don’t have a loud voice?

Patricia stood on the picket line next to Lilly holding her hand. Black in white. It hadn’t always been this way. In the sixties Patricia remembered she avoided Lilly, the bully of  the playground. to avoid the bashing Lilly always gave her. 

Her mother told her “Abbos are born with a chip on their shoulders.”  

Patricia believed her, then. Her Mum was always right. That was until she found out about the violent racism, welfare disparities, stolen generation, no right to vote or land. 

She sighed. Not much had changed. “Stop the cuts to indigenous legal services” she yelled.


In response to Charli’s 99 word prompt where Charli invites you to join the rough writers with a short piece or read those that are written. The prompt this week is

March 18, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story to reveal a characters symptoms. It can be something the character is oblivious to, or terrified about. It can be a character concerned for a pet or a motorcycle. The symptoms can be what ails society. Go where the prompt leads. Or sleep on it, and see what a dream brings to you!

Respond by March 24, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation.Rules are here. All writers are welcome!



About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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26 Responses to 99 Word Flash Fiction: Giving a Voice

  1. TanGental says:

    Whew. Starting at the flash this is terrific in 99 words – segueing from school bullying to National politics to rapprochement and some understanding. So many stories beneath the surface to ponder too. And the stimulus of a 50th anniversary of a scandal. It beggars belief, doesn’t it, that in a lifetime we have gone from that disenfranchisement to where we are today and yet there are still a coterie who call it special pleading and see it as unfair that one group needs extra support. I hope that sensible voices amongst you outweigh the siren to enable the future to be truly inclusive. And I hope, too, that we here in the UK continue to bear witness to the echoes of past damage that resonate today.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you Geoff for that wonderful appraisal of the flash. There are indeed so many stories beneath the surface. I fear we are repeating this saga with our current treatment of our refugees. I don’t understand why people don’t ‘get’ that if you treat people poorly then the reaction will be for them to treat you badly in return. We should all be bearing witness to the past damages we have done. I hope we have enough voices.

      Liked by 2 people

      • TanGental says:

        So true; we have a headline here that our Home Secretary is pledging to shut mosques if there is any association with extremist preaching. Yet more guilt by association. That is going to make our Muslim community feel wanted.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The same is happening here. In fact I think our last few elections have been fought and won on this politically/media hyped up fear of Muslims that is in this country also. It only helps to feed extremism. I get it, you get it why don’t our politicians get it?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Annecdotist says:

    Great flash, Irene. I think it nails the problem with extending the concept of symptoms beyond the physical. Patricia’s mother might have had genuine experience of aboriginal people with a chip on their shoulders which, without bothering to think further about why that might be, can do a lot of harm. I remember travelling in Namibia, and it wasn’t that long ago, staying in a B&B on a farm with a really nice (White) couple and the man saying something about black people being too lazy to work – and he really believed it was an enduring characteristic, not born of their recent context of oppression.
    There’s actually a concept in psychology called “the fundamental attribution error” whereby we judge other people’s behaviour (and failings) to be driven by their personalities while seeing our own as affected by the situation.
    Sadly politicians the world over seemed to be capitalising on our tendencies to blame others for their misfortune.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Anne. I think that few white people gave thought to the whys of anything in those days. They were a product of Victorian times (the colonies probably stayed there longer than the UK did) and were a very judgmental society. They had been taught what was right and wrong and judged everyone they came across on these terms with no empathy. They truly believed that what they were doing was best for all and those that didn’t conform in their terms had a chip on their shoulder or as a race were too lazy to work.
      I hadn’t heard of that psychology term but I can understand that more than the concept exists.
      Our politicians here seem to be capitalising on peoples fear of what they don’t understand. Our elections have always been run on a fear campaign – Reds under the Bed, Yellow peril were early ones. Now it is hyping up people’s fear of Moslems.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sherri says:

    Thank you for educating me on the plight of the Aboriginal people Irene. And your wonderful Flash captures ‘symptoms ailing society’ perfectly. Reading the statistics you share here, it really does show just how much change still needs to take place. The government cutbacks are harsh and grossly unfair to say the least. On a different note, I would love to know more about your intriguing photograph…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is excellent Irene. Much like the 50th anniversary of Selma here in the States. Change needs to happen everywhere. We still have many people who cross the street when an unknown person of color approaches.

    I’m fascinated by the display of the pole carvings. What is their story?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes sadly it happens in many countries. The poles are done by an Indigenous Artist Ramingining an artist from the Arnhem Land (which is in the desert area of Australia). It is titled Aboriginal Memorial and depicts Aboriginal hollow log tombs. It is held at the National Gallery in Canberra.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting history. Here in New Zealand the Maori are being paid millions for their land.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. pixiejan says:

    Wonderful article Irene…touched my heart. Thank you…We think it is bad in third world countries, yet we forget to look in our own back yard…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the information about the aboriginal poles. They are relly striking the way they are displayed.


  8. noelleg44 says:

    Great jb, Irene. You managed to encapsulate history very well in 99 words.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Walking with Symptoms « Carrot Ranch Communications

  10. Charli Mills says:

    Powerful flash that frames what solidarity should look like between people of the same nation. That inequalities still exist is unjust, but we see it here in America, too. I have great admiration for the reservations that have taken back power and control over lands and their tribes. Some have even turned out to prosper. Yesterday, on our trip back from Spokane, Todd showed me a part of the remote route he drives that includes the Kalispel Reservation. They have a sign entering their land that reads, “Fists can’t embrace.” It has to do with turning around the “chip on the shoulder” anger and taking more productive actions.

    I also apologize for missing this in the line-up! I saw your pingback, wrote it down but forgot to grab your story! My internet service has created problems and one is that it limits my time online. Hopefully I will get it worked out next week after I return! Or I might be out there picketing providers for fair internet access to remote ares like mine!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. This is unbelievable. 1967?! I’m not sure what to say about that. Unfortunately, I’m not surprised by the racism part–though it is still there today. Love the flashback in the flash (no pun intended).

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is unbelievable isn’t it. Prior to 1967 they had passed special legislation allowing them to tax aborigine people despite them not being citizens. This was because we had an Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira who suddenly started making some money. I can usually understand the actions of my forebears when you look at the attitudes of the time but in this I can only wonder.


  12. Pingback: More Websites and Links for Book worms, Bloggers and Writers | kyrosmagica

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