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December 2022 - Year 24 - Issue 6

ISSN 1755-9715

Flash Fiction



From the Editor

Twice a month, Jamie Keddie sends out the LessonStream Post – a story or storytelling

idea for the classroom. It's free to sign up and you can do so here: Here is an example of what you might get.



Like many people, I worry that I am losing the ability to read. In such situations, it's become the

norm to blame attention-sucking mobile phones and social media. But too often, I find myself 

using this as an excuse. Surely, we still have some control? Anyway, I am happy to report that I am currently undergoing reading rehabilitation. And it's

thanks to a genre that I have recently discovered.

Flash Fiction (as you may already know) is fictional work of extreme brevity. As my student

Antonio put it, it's like poetry but it's easy to understand!

I am grateful to Ron Koertge for this discovery. Ron is best known as a poet and as an author of 

young adult fiction. The paperback in my hand is his first book of flash fiction.

Anyway, Ron has been kind enough to let me share two of his stories:

• Negative space is about a father and son
• Plural pronoun is about a teacher and her students

Both of these come from Sex World (Red Hen Press, 2014)


Texts like these have a lot of value in the language classroom. They require multiple readings.

There is so much space for interpretation and interaction: things to "see", connections to make, 

personal experiences to recall.

Negative space, by Ron Koertge

My dad taught me to pack: lay out everything. Put back half. Roll things that roll. Wrinkle-prone

things on top of cotton things. Then pants, waist-to-hem. Nooks and crannies for socks. Belts

around the sides like snakes. Plastic over that. Add shoes. Wear heavy stuff on the plane.

We started when I was little. I’d roll up socks. Then he’d pretend to put me in the suitcase, and

we’d laugh. Some guys bond with their dads shooting hoops or talking about Chevrolets. We did

it over luggage.

By the time I was twelve, if he was busy, I’d pack for him. Mom tried but didn’t have the knack.

He’d get somewhere, open his suitcase and text me—”Perfect.” That one word from him meant a


The funeral was terrible—him laid out in that big carton and me crying and thinking, Look at all

that wasted space.

Note: Interestingly, Negative Space provided the inspiration for this Oscar-nominated short animated film. In fact, it was this film that led me to Ron in the first place. I think you'll like it.


Plural pronoun, by Ron Koertge

"Class, listen up!" "Class, turn to page two forty-one." "Class, settle down." Class this. Class that.

We weren't Bill and Javier, Sonia, Ben and Louise, Michael, Idris, Lisa, Karl, Todd, Davey, Amalio, Justin, Nila, Gerry, Ed, Alicia, Steph, Micah, Cyan, Sara, JD, and Will anymore. We were one thing. An entity.

Fine. So be it. We'd been raised to value individuality even as each of us trudged to The Gap and bought identical clothes. Then we realised that whereas one blue polo and one pair of white linen pants identifies the wearer as a feckless dupe who wants desperately to fit in, two dozen blue polos and two dozen pairs of white linen pants are formidable.

Thus attired, we returned to the classroom. When one of us was called on, we all went to the board. When we yawned, the windows fogged over. Assigned to write about Free Will, we handed in the same essay.

"Who is the plagiarist?" she demanded as her kitschy mood ring pulsed spasmodically.

We all raised our hands.

"Are you trying to drive me mad?" she howled.

"No." We answered in unison as our teacher ran screaming from the room.


Please check the Pilgrims f2f courses at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Pilgrims online courses at Pilgrims website.

Tagged  Creativity Group