2022 minus 46: lascivious and cold

Posted: 16 November 2021 in 2022 minus, fast fiction, fiction, writing
Tags: , , , ,

For no reason other than I remembered both of these stories this morning for labyrinthine but quite boring reasons, here are two of the very first fast fiction challenge stories I wrote in August 2005. I was still figuring out what I could do with the format, and well… the two tales below resulted.

The first involved something that long ago I learned – when writing radio sketches for BBC Radio 4’s Weekending – as a ‘pull back and reveal’ ending, where the final lines change what you realise you’ve been experiencing, where you realise that while you thought the sketch was about one thing… it was about something else the whole time. I adapted that and hopefully, the writing was ambitious enough – although you didn’t realise it at the time – to fool you as the reader. I got better at them as I mastered the form, but I still like this one a lot.

The second was probably the first time I constructed a backstory for the characters while I was writing it. And almost immediately realised that part of the fun for me could be, and indeed became, letting the reader create their own backstories, which were probably much nicer and more wholesome than the ones in my head.

A decade and a half ago, I threw out a challenge. and then repeated it thereafter whenever I felt like it. The challenge was the same in each case:

Give me a title of up to four words in length, together with a single word you want me to include in the tale, and I will write a story of exactly 200 words.

That’s it. The stories that resulted always included the word, they always fitted the title, but usually in ways the challenger hadn’t anticipated. And they were always exactly 200 words in length.

I hope you enjoy them…

Title: Only In My Heart
Word: lascivious
Challenger: Mary Picken
Length: 200 words exactly

He opened the door and flushed in warm recognition at the man’s face.

He smiled at him, seeing the welcoming smile in return.

It was the same every time he saw the face of the man he loved.

“I love you,” he said. Three words, but oh so important, and they were utterly, unreservedly and completely true.

“I love you,” he said again. “You know that, don’t you?” He didn’t wait for an answer but, with a sudden and overwhelming urge of affection and adoration, he continued. “She thinks she matters, but compared to you, she’s nothing. Oh, I know, I’m not the only one who loves you, but there’s something so special about our love.”

He smiled again, and his eyes trekked downwards in a lascivious manner, running over the smart suit, the tie he’d bought a week earlier on that special trip. Down, over the slight paunch and then down, further, until he saw what he knew he’d see before he looked: a telltale bulge, showing his hunger and obsession for the man.

There was a knock at the bedroom door, and sighing, the Prime Minister closed the wardrobe door and returned the mirror to the darkness within.

© Lee Barnett, 2005

Title: Cold
Word: cold
Challenger: Del Des Anges
Length: 200 words exactly

I’d been searching for her for three years when the telephone call came.

The ringing interrupted my shower and I turned the water off, grabbing for a towel as I stumbled through the room, drying myself as I went towards the telephone. My hand stabbed out and I pulled the receiver to my ear.

“Charlie?” came a voice I knew so well, moments before I could greet the caller.

“It’s me,” she said, unnecessarily. As if I could forget the gentleness of her dulcet tones. The voice continued, “I’m safe.”

Three years of not knowing, three years of wondering. Three years of hunger for her.

“I… I…” I stumbled over the words in surprise. All my plans, all my carefully worked out speeches. Gone, like they’d never existed, never been planned through the empty nights.

“Don’t try to find me,” she said. “I’m safe… at last. Safe from you.”

“Lisa, don’t go!” I cried, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I’ll never do it again.”

“Once was enough,” she said, sadness suffusing her words.

The phone went dead. It was cold in my hands.


Like a children’s game of hide and seek, I felt further away from her than ever.

© Lee Barnett, 2005


See you tomorrow, with… genuinely, honest, something else. (At least, that’s the plan…)



Sixty-one days. Sixty-one posts. One 2022 slowly approaching.

I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of quid every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to the new year. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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