Spreading the Light: 99 Word Flash Fiction

Charli’s post resonated with me deeply.  When we first moved here we joyfully rejoined our friends Swedish Christmas Eve, downing Schnapps, chasing it with beer, singing Swedish drinking songs whilst eating gravalax and herring.


© irene waters 2015 Olof and me

Then they would come to us for the traditional English fare. Sadly Olof died last Christmas and this turned the festive time into one that will be remembered for sad reasons rather than merry. His wife could not bear to be here for the first anniversary so went to family in Victoria. So we are down to three for Christmas unless my brother brings his children from Switzerland for a visit but as they only get short holidays over this period and Australia is such a long way away they tend to visit in their summer.

In our old town of Gloucester in rural NSW we had the same family situation, but it was not so noticeable as we had our god children and extended family through their parents, their siblings and offspring and also their parents.


our God children and their parents

Many of our friends also had no family close-by so our table was always full to overflowing on Christmas Day.


© irene waters 2015 friends share Christmas

It still felt like the Christmases past when the table was full with all my grandparents, cousins and their parents, great-aunts and uncles. A real family day.

With our move to Noosa our table is empty. My grandparents and older relatives all passed on a long time ago.

1968.13 the Mathers Clan

© irene waters 2015 My Dad’s family – all gone but three.

My Dad left us over twenty years ago.


© irene waters 2015 My Dad

Annie, my surrogate sister, over five years ago.


Annie with her husband and new baby

They both feel like yesterday. Their loss is keenly felt but as the years have passed I feel as though they are now constantly with me. That they have taken up residence in my heart, replacing the darkness with light. Christmas Day does bring it home, however, which was one reason we went to a restaurant for lunch. Oodles of people, good food, no washing up, Christmas carols blaring. It was a good decision.

Charli said, that if we wished, we could make this prompt a memorial to the memory of those no longer with us. So this post is for my Dad, who was like the priest in the following story and my friends Annie, Sue, Steve, Olof and Roger. All went way too young.


I slept late, skulked the gangways by day and sat, staring out into the black abyss nursing my dark thoughts at night. The ship’s bar had taken advantage of my torment, leaving me broke. 

After Durban, a priest comandeered my bench. He patted it in invitation. Angry at his intrusion I sat. Neither of us spoke. In silence, we stared out to sea. Each night we sat, my anger dissipating, being replaced by light. Our last night at sea, before docking in Freemantle, the priest touched my hand, looked me in the eye and said “Sometimes, words aren’t necessary.”

In response to Charli’s prompt where she asks:

December 16, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about “spreading the light.” You can use it to honor or memorialize a loved one.

TWO WEEK EXTENDED HOLIDAY! Respond by December 29, 2015to 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.
This entry was posted in flash fiction, Memoir, musings, opinion, story telling and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Spreading the Light: 99 Word Flash Fiction

  1. We writers do our best to build meaningful word monuments but they often don’t work as well as just staring at the sea, the sky, the strangers nearby. Every anniversary gets heavier by the years.
    Sorry for your many losses, but as you carry the memory of these people in your heart – well, you know. May you be well and happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sharon. I’m not a morbid person by nature but Christmas does seem to bring to the fore those who should still be here those missing because they were elderly and their time simply came to an end. But the New Year is around the corner and yes, I’m hoping for health and happiness. Wishing the same to you as well Sharon.


  2. A lovely tribute to those who who are close to your heart. There are so many different reasons the table we gather around to celebrate has fewer people. My hubby and I were talking about the same thing the other day. And when this happens, and it will someday, we’ve decided to go to a restaurant for our Christmas Day lunch – for all the same reasons you did: oodles of people, good food, no washing up and Christmas carols blaring. I’m glad it was a good decision.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lovely story Irene – all the best for New Year

    Liked by 1 person

  4. julespaige says:

    May all your memories be fond ones.
    It seems as the older we get the more memories we have of those who have found a different life perhaps of light?

    Best to you and yours in the New Year 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by my post on the prompt.
    Hope in name and belief is always a good thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Charli Mills says:

    Each loved one lost is a light in our hearts. I cherish the memories, but this Christmas I felt challenged to make new ones. I was satisfied to chat on the phone with my children — 2 hours with my son was an absolute gift! I kept up the lights and ornaments and the Hub said it felt festive. We are enjoying our surrogate 15-year-old though about the time I thought we’d be boring her to bits, she announced that I was “cool.” Cheers to old memories and new ones!

    Your flash is stunning. I can see so clearly the nightly scene, feel the anger subsiding and cried at the last line. Beautifully written and a great memorial to your Father who undoubtedly touched lives, too without words.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Let Your Light Shine « Carrot Ranch Communications

  7. Annecdotist says:

    Lovely moving post and flash, Irene, and thanks for sharing your treasured photos. I guess as we get older the balance shifts and those celebratory times become more about loss. And feeling the pain is, of course, testament to the importance of the severed connection.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. rogershipp says:

    How right the priest was! Sometimes being there and being silent is the best way to be!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Norah says:

    Lovely tribute to your loved ones, Irene. You are right. They are always in our hearts and memories. Having young ones around does ease the pain, perhaps, depending on how new it its, but there is always a space left by those who have gone before.
    Your flash tells a heartwarming story. It’s lovely to know that it’s a tribute to your Dad. How true that sometimes words aren’t necessary. Sometimes, though, they are not enough.
    But just to lift the mood, you got the number just right for a 99 word challenge!
    I hope 2016 brings wonderful things for you. Best wishes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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