Timeline: FlashBack’s Fourth Season

Abbot Richard Wallingford displaying the clock he gifted to the abbey at St Albans

We’re pausing today to celebrate the end of our fourth season of publication, and to mention a few of our events that are coming up.

We’ll post more details about each of these events separately, but here are the important dates:

  • A reading of work inspired by our Forgotten Women Workshop, as part of the event Natalie Haynes & Word Factory: Forgotten Womenon 11 May 2019
  • A talk and workshop on historical flash fiction at the Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol on 30 June 2019
  • A talk on writing publishing historical flash at the Creative Histories conference in Bristol on 5 July 2019.  (More details to follow.)

The pieces we published this season have stretched from 3400 BCE all the way to 2000 CE, with a number of stories clustering around forgotten workers and professions in the 1800s and early 1900s. In case you missed any, here they all are, without further ado….

Season IV

  • 3400-3100 BCE: Ice Man by Jan Stinchcomb

She stitches his leggings and sews his hat, stuffs his pouch with dried mushrooms, and carves her sign into the handle of his knife.

Two decades ago, my father brought me to this monastery. Our long journey made me sick for home, while he talked mile after mile about the honour of being schooled in the art of the scribe.

Many years ago, back in our green days, we played at the new game of tennis, dressed up for May masques and dared call King Harry’s wife ‘the Spanish woman’ almost openly behind the backs of our hands, our eyes gleaming sideways like Holbein’s drawings. We were careless with our talking as with our dice; there were no forfeits.

I have told them she killed my daughter.

I have told them she kissed her and gave her an apple, and the child perished.

This ain’t no rock or land I’m familiar with. It’s as though the stone has steeped too long in the river above it, becoming soft and corrupted on what the city adds to the brew. From which stinks and damps rise up like disturbed spirits to tighten round our throats or drown our thinking. The subtle and vicious ways this earth works to keep us in our place.

That night, the wind bore a strange cry. Not the cry of a banshee. They knew that sound, carried it around like a familiar chill.

Cotton fluff swirls around us like snow, only it is as hot as an oven. All the windows are shut, but I can see grey sky if I peep out when no one’s watching.

Mr Matthews lays the sack on the scales. Rose doesn’t blink, for fear of missing the tilt of it, doesn’t breathe, for fear of losing more than she already has.

  • April 15, 1912: Iceblink by Mary Morrissy

You was the senior man. Four years on the Oceanic, you. You stared straight ahead, damned near blinded with concentration. And saw nothing at first.

In the factory, blue overalls hung loose on a wiry frame; lavvy-brush hair and jug-ears stuck out in permanent surprise. He studied the older men, deep in concentration at their workbenches, paunches solidifying.

Uphill, lush rows of foliage are speckled with faded cotton saris. Her sisters in suffering have moved on. She wonders if one might have a drop to spare. Neither her legs nor her voice will carry up. The country is free but she is not, trapped in the mazes of this place the sahibs call Heppi Balli.

He knew the dangers, we all did, and it weren’t as if he were taking risks. We all had experience of clearance projects like these, heard the stories, seen appendages blown to mist or found a few miles off. But this was Yousef’s legs. Yousef’s. The kindest heart in the group. S’way it always goes, though.

  • 1985 / 1994: Senna by Steve Campbell

Go, Go, Go, Go, screams the commentator. The cars burst toward us from the start line and Dad reaches over and grabs my arm, squeezing each syllable. Go, Go, Go, Go.

  • 2000: Y2K by Charles Duffie

Kaamisha squeezes her eyes and prays to wake up at home but she’s still here, in a bathroom stall at school.

Illuminated manuscript illustration of Abbot Richard Wallingford displaying the clock he gifted to the abbey at St Albans, circa 1380 from the Golden Book of St Albans by Thomas Walsingham; William de Wylum, scribe; Alan Strayler, illustrator; courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.