99 Word Flash Fiction: Playing Safe

© clipart panda

© clipart panda

This week over at Carrot Ranch Charli has given the task of  in 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves a children’s game or rhyme. You can create something new or go with something traditional. You can write with a twist, humor, menace or glee. Hop, skip or jump wherever the prompt leads you.

Naturally I immediately thought back to my own childhood and the games that we played. My parents were of an era that thought there were girls games and boys games. My brother was allowed to do all those considered dangerous. He could go off into the countryside on his bike. I wasn’t allowed to have a bike. The most dangerous thing I got to do was walk the fence. This was great fun and gave us both a lot of balance practice as the fence was old and rotten so it swayed dangerously as we walked nimbly on the thin strut that ran along the top. We loved lying in the honeysuckle and sucking on the sweet contents. The vine was so strong we could stretch out as though we were in a hammock.

© irene waters 2015

© irene waters 2015

We also used to play cowboys and indians, with me in the part of Annie Oakley. Tying the baddie to the old chimney was a definite no no. That was far too dangerous, so much so that I ran away from home to avoid the punishment that was going to be meted out to me. This taught me don’t run from home with your hairbrush.

Another of my favourite games was hopscotch. This I played at home and at school, along with knuckles and elastics. Marbles and yo yos I played at home but at school these were the domain of boys. Hula hoops was a great favourite until the school banned them.

© irene waters 2015

© irene waters 2015

Playing Safe

“Mummy. Can I play billycarts at John’s?”

“No Joanie, it’s too dangerous.”

“How about bike riding at Heather’s?”

“No too dangerous.”

“Swimming at Robbo’s?”

“No. His parents are away. Can’t you think of something to play here?”

“How about Hula hoops? “

“Hula hoops are fine.”

Standing at the kitchen window, her arms covered in suds, she watched with joy the two little girls gyrating their hips and arms as the hula hoop spun round. As a blood-red film made the window opaque she lost sight of the girls. She screamed.  She hadn’t thought of the staple that could sever a carotid.

If you want to join in Respond by June 23, 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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25 Responses to 99 Word Flash Fiction: Playing Safe

  1. Norah says:

    Oh those nasty staples in (cane, I assume) hula hoops. Wouldn’t happen now with the brightly coloured plastic ones. Poor mother. She thought she was keeping her daughter safe.
    I enjoyed reading your recollections of games from our pre-digital youth. I remember many of those, and others too. Hula hoops were always fun. I hadn’t realised the danger in them. No wonder they were banned! Great flash!

    Liked by 1 person

    • No I think it was the first plastic ones that came out were stapled to join them together. I had a cane one and it was bound together with some kind of binding (probably string). I can remember my mother taping over the staples with electrical type of tape as I insisted on playing with my plastic one. I have often wondered whether there was an incident and the directive came from the department. It certainly didn’t happen where we lived so it was hard for us kids to take it seriously. We thought it was just the school not wanting us to bring our hula hoops because like you we thought they were fun.
      Glad you enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was pretty good at hula hoops but could never get the hang of jump rope. When all the other girls could double Dutch easily, I couldn’t even jump with a single rope. But I could dance!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. noelleg44 says:

    Never knew that about hula hoops. And here I thought you were writing a bright (not red) summer memory! I had roller skates (the kind you put on your shoes with a key), played hop scotch, rode my bike, played cowboys and Indians, climbed trees. No hovering parents. Being a kid was fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Charli Mills says:

    I would have rebelled, Irene! I do remember loving hopscotch, though and I preferred horses over bikes. Why were hula hoops banned? Great irony that you weave into your flash — young girls kept safe from dangerous games, but a woman slicing open a mortal wound because she kept her proper place in the kitchen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is interesting Charli. I changed my flash before you read it although I had some comments on the earlier version. I decided that in the earlier version I was telling rather than showing so I altered it. You were the first to read the altered version and the meaning (which I love) was one I hadn’t intended. I have now altered it again to make my original meaning clearer.
      I love these flashes because having multiple readers comments I can see from the comments where and when I haven’t expressed myself clearly. This is really valuable practice for me as a writer. Roger is always complaining that he doesn’t understand what I am talking about as I assume my thought processes will be the same as his and they are in reality far apart. As a writer this is a skill which I want to practice but as long as the reader gets something out of it because every reader will come with their own different experiences etc and will always interpret writing accordingly it is good.
      Hope that ramble made sense.
      Hula hoops were banned from our school because, we were told, the staples holding them together had punctured a girl’s carotid artery and she had died.


  5. Gah! That was an unexpected ending. You’ve mixed the irony and horror seamlessly. (See what I did there?) 😉 Great flash.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Playtime « Carrot Ranch Communications

  7. mj6969 says:

    So well written – and definitely an “ugly” ending – surprising and effective though.

    I used to love hooping like mad – and I do “remember the joins’ – and how they eventually changed over time – but how odd, really, when you seriously think on it – we played with the simplest of toys – for hours – and were so entertained and happy. And what of children today? Seems to me they miss out on so many enriching opportunities.

    Great write:)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ula says:

    I loved hula hooping, elastics, and jump rope. These were things I was good at. I even hula hoop now as an adult. It’s fun and I hope that maybe it does something for the waistline as I dislike exercising. What is knuckles? Obviously, I know what knuckles are, but I don’t know of a game called that.
    I loved the ending of the flash. My first thought when I read the sentence about the blood was that someone stabbed the mother. I’d never imagine a hula hoop as something dangerous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ula says:

      This flash made me think of a great lesson I have learned as a mother: the more you try to control, the less you realize you control.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you Ula that hula hooping is good for the waistline and that an exercise that is fun stops being exercise. I’m like that with dancing.
      Knuckles are a game where you get 5 knuckles. We used to get them from the roast lamb legs and have bone knuckles although now (or you used to be able to) you can buy plastic ones. You hold them in your hand , throw them up in the air and catch them on the back of your hand. Those that land on the table have to be picked up in a certain fashion depending on where in the game you are. There are probably 20 or more grades and each gets progressively harder.
      No it seems a fairly innocuous ring that you wouldn’t associate with injury.

      Liked by 1 person

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