In Fiction Writing Workshop, students learn the power of storytelling in bite-size pieces called “flash fiction”. Also called micro-fiction, flash fiction is a very short story that can be anywhere from a few words up to 1000 words. It contains all elements of fiction (plot, setting, character), but usually focuses on a single moment in time. Because of its brevity, flash fiction relies heavily on nuance rather than spelling out every detail. Jasmin Leishman uses pacing and story development in less than 500 words to tell the story of the convict. Enjoy!
“Everyone is on a journey,” he said.
“Yeah, but some are forced into it,” I respond.
“Don’t resent this uncertain, beautiful life. It only comes once.” He smiled. I rolled my eyes. How could he be so happy?
His name was Stanley, and he and I were on a great boat cruising the Pacific in the year 1790. My father was the ship’s captain. He was by trade and at heart a whaler. But times were tough, and this voyage was in demand, so he took the opportunity.
He came home one night and announced it to us. My mother cried but I just sat there, staring at the meagre bowl of soup in front of me. I was used to him being away. It was then, in the light of our flickering oil lamps, that he told me he wanted me to come too, for the experience. I glared, screamed, cried, bargained, but to no avail. The next week, we left.
After many months of not seeing land, the crew and passengers were all sick and tired of the sailor’s life. All but Stanley, who always seemed to have a kind word and helping hand for anyone who might need it, even me, who had quickly earned a reputation for being a maker of mischief.
In our spare time, we would sit whittling wood and talking. Somehow, he saw beneath the rough outer crust I portrayed to the world. My father disapproved of our friendship but was kept too busy to intervene much.
There was a girl on the ship, Rosemary. In the arrogant pride of youth, I was sure I was in love, and worthy of her. Somehow, she didn’t understand that every time I pranked her or showed off, I was merely seeking her approval and love.
One day, I crept up behind her where she stood looking over the side of the ship and yelled like a town crier. At the same moment, the ship gave a loud lurch, and when it righted itself, there was no Rosemary.
I wanted to be a hero. I wanted to jump in and rescue my love. But I stayed petrified, glued to the ground. Dimly I became aware of yelling, and a commotion. Turning, I saw Stanley leap from the ship and rescue her. In that moment, I hated him. And why? Only because he was so noble, and I, so wretched.
It is a strange thing, this journey called life.
I am now married to Rosemary, but Stanley died many years ago, worked to the death. Every day I strive to do better, be better, so that one day I may be as good a man as Stanley.
Stanley, the convict.
By Jasmin Leishman