The Sarus Crane: 99 word Flash Fiction

Hearing the engines of the American F-4 jets we scattered but there was nowhere to go. The bombs fell, followed by huge explosions. A fireball engulfed everything for miles. The burning tar clung to the skin of those in the open. Those undercover coughed from the deadly carbon monoxide cloud that robbed the atmosphere of oxygen.Who were the Americans fighting? The Vietcong or the Environment? The tallest flighted bird in the world took off taking hope with it.

The Americans destroyed and then rebuilt in collaboration. 

“Look. There!  See that large bird!”

 “Hope has returned. See the red head.”

Screen Shot 2018-05-12 at 4.07.48 pm

courtesy of

In response to Charli’s prompt where she asks:

May 10, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story defining “the charisma of cranes.” For centuries, cranes have inspired art and philosophy. You can write a crane story or create something new out of the phrase. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by May 15, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

(I just noticed my bird-brained typo last week; you can still turn in May 3 stories if you thought you had until May 15, but use the May 3 Flash Fiction Challenge Form.)

If you want your story published in the weekly collection, please use this form. If you want to interact with other writers, do so in the comments (yes, that means sharing your story TWICE — once for interaction and once for publication). Rules are here.

The Sarus crane along with numerous other birds and wildlife became the victims of the napalm the Americans used to flush out the Viet Cong. The poison destroyed habitat and the animals that had survived became poisoned by the iron sulfides in the soil. The Sarus Crane which is the worlds largest flighted bird at over 5 feet has a distinctive red head and grey body. The Vietnamese has traditionally seen it as taking their dead to eternal life and use it as a symbol of human’s most cherished hopes – a good marriage, longevity and a life everlasting in heaven. They were feared extinct but after a joint  venture between America and Vietnam to restore habitat a Sarus Crane was sighted in 1985. Today there are around 1,000.

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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15 Responses to The Sarus Crane: 99 word Flash Fiction

  1. A lovely read, Irene

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You took an unusual approach, Irene. Well written and with a lovely surprise ending.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Creative flash, Irene, made even more meaningful with your notes about the significance of the Sarus crane to the Vietnamese. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I thought I’d taken a photo of a crane sculpture whilst in Vietnam so knew it must have some significance. I was interested to discover what that was – one thing I love about the prompts is what you discover on the way and then what you discover from what others have written.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jules says:

    Realized hope – and co-operation. I like the tradition in your notes.
    ‘One might compare the difference between a stork and a crane to that between a ring-tailed lemur and a coati. They look similar, and have similar lifestyles, but they belong to different orders. … Both cranes and storks fly with their necks outstretched, unlike similar-looking herons, which retract their necks in flight.’ I was looking for the bird that delivered babies…which is a stork.
    And I also found this: The legend is very ancient, but was popularized by a 19th-century Hans Christian Andersen story called The Storks. German folklore held that storks found babies in caves or marshes and brought them to households in a basket on their backs or held in their beaks. These caves contained adebarsteine or “stork stones”.
    More information can be found if you look up ‘white stork’.


  5. Pingback: Charisma of Cranes « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

  6. calmkate says:

    powerful response Irene, I can see why Charli posted it first!


  7. Charli Mills says:

    Such a powerful flash to show the destruction of war and the restoration of working together. Why couldn’t we have done that first? What came to mind as I read was, “Sarus cranes and soldiers — what it takes to win at all cost.” Today, napalm ravages Vietnam veterans.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Good one. This was a tough prompt I thought, but boy, you did it justice. Grim, but “hope has returned”. I appreciated the notes too.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Annecdotist says:

    Wow, Irene, such a powerful flash.

    Liked by 1 person

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