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A Summer Storm

A Summer Storm

While a storm brews outside, a man in a casual relationship with a woman is having second thoughts.

1

Flash fiction


Author Image

Dreyfus (Australia)


"Looks like a storm coming," he said. He was buttoning up his shirt as he looked out of the bedroom window.
"Have you ever been struck by lightning?" she said.
"Of course not," here we go, he thought. He turned to face her. She was propped up in the bed and looking at him in that direct way she had, it always felt to him, like a challenge.
"It’s more common than you think, you know," she said.
"Do I look like somebody who has been struck by lightning, is it my hair?"
He’d been thinking for a while, it might be time to pull the plug. They had been seeing each other for six months and even the sex wasn't that good. They started out fine but then it was awkward, and vaguely insincere. He hoped she wouldn't speak again. He liked the intervals of silence, the pauses between sentences, preferring them to be followed by more silence.
"It changes people."
"Pardon?"
"When you're struck by lightning, it changes you."
"Right," she was not without guile, and he felt a little unnerved.
"I have some work to do," he said. He was out of sorts and wanted to leave. Her house was comfortable, modern and architecturally clever. Divorce for her, had been propitious, unlike his disaster. He was not living a life of unabated penury, but retirement age had come and gone, and he’d taken a hit with the GFC; he was still working. He had been feeling a little tumour of resentment forming. He recognized it and knew it only led to unpleasantness. It was time.
"OK, see you when apples are as big as watermelons. Leave the money on the fridge on your way out," she said.
"That's not funny. Not at all," he said.
"For goodness sake, lighten up."
That was how flippant she was. She thought a propensity for cheeky banter was beguiling but it wasn't - well it kind of was to start with, then it became irritating.
"I'm light enough thanks," he said. He wasn’t good at this.
"Jesus, give us a break," she said. That sharp truculence of hers, it was getting on his nerves. She made him feel foolish. He thought she was pretty and she was younger than him; she could be good for him. Even now, when he thought he didn't like her anymore, he still wanted to be somehow in her orbit.
"OK. I'm off." He slipped on his shoes and grabbed his coat.
"It’s started raining, why don't you stay for breakfast. It’ll clear up; it’s just a summer storm," she said.
"I'm not hungry...I'll ring," he made for the door.
"Don't bother," she said, and they exchanged a look. She smiled and picked up a book from the bedside table. As he reached for the front door knob there was a flash of lightning that momentarily lit up the house, followed closely by an explosion of thunder. Something needed changing and a thought burrowed into him – I wonder if it’s me. He ran out into the storm towards his car and the sky sent another crooked spark of lightning into the street.


Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1

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Read Reviews

Review 1:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing.
General comments from your fellow writer 1:
Really good. I scrutinised every word with a hyper-critical eye, and I was impressed. A few tiny faults here and there, but probably fewer than I'd find if I read my own work with the same degree of rigour! The story itself didn't grab me, but that's just down to my taste, so no problem there. Congratulations.

Review 2:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Main character
  • Connect us to your main protagonist with a deeper characterization. Could your protagonist have a few more distinguishing character traits?
Character conflict
  • The reader’s experience of the story is heightened when the characters’ goals, conflicts and purpose are clear. Perhaps giving this aspect of the story further attention could be worthwhile.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Think about the conflict and tension in your story. How effectively has it been introduced?
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line, paragraph and hook
  • Your strong opening was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 2:
I liked your story. It definately felt and read like a souring relationship. Well written with a good opening and dialogue throughout. I wasn't sure at the end if he got struck by lightening or not? Good story. Good read.

Review 3:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Style and originality
  • Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose is tricky. As writers, we face the daunting task of making sure we are not being predictable. Can you find a way to give the content and characters more of a unique edge? Perhaps say something boldly, something fresh or show an unorthodox approach to a topic?
General comments from your fellow writer 3:
This is an intriguing story with a compelling hook. I found the characters' dialogue both authentic and believable. However, I felt that some of the narration read rather perfunctorily, particularly when describing the nature of the characters' respective divorces and certain aspects of their relationship. Otherwise, the narrative is successful and reads quite well.