Last Year’s Flash Fiction – Senses

A sketchy greyscale illustration of a dense stand of trees.

Storytelling Collective does a yearly challenge for flash fic, with prompts and a nice community format. After completing 2022’s run, I picked my ten favourites and collected them in a nice little volume you can pick up at As I’m (finally) editing the collection of my Flash Fiction February faves for 2023 I figured that I should share one or two from last year’s bunch.


Place your feet firmly on the ground. Take a few deep breaths. Keeping your eyes open, look around you and notice details of your surroundings. 

Notice four things you can see right now:

1.       I can see a tree, its green needles would give me no indication of what season it was if it weren’t for the soft, bright green bundles of new growth tufting the tips of the branches.

2.       I can see a squirrel hopping between trunks, doing squirrel business as they dig in the litter of the forest floor.

3.       I can see the sky, in small patches between the trees, it is yellow like bile—or is bile green really and we say yellow because of the humors? Maybe bile is green yellow. I see the sky and it is a sickly yellow and I don’t like it but I see it.

4.       I can see the shadows of the trees stretching like comforting arms, making a quilt of light along the duff that the squirrel is inspecting. 

Notice three things you can hear right now.

1.       I can hear something in the tree above me, picking at the branches. The way the sound moves I think it is a bird, flitting from branch to branch on its search for twigs or bugs or other bird things.

2.       I can hear my own breathing, no longer ragged from running.

3.       I can hear the squirrel, who has started a fight with another squirrel. I can hear two squirrels who are chattering at each other, their own problems far more important than what is going on outside the forest. 

Notice two things you can feel right now.

1.       I can feel the familiar prickle of dry needles under my fingers, coated by the dust of decayed plant matter.

2.       I can feel my fear, like ice in my stomach. It feels like when you drink cold water on a hot day and become suddenly aware of the hidden roads inside your body, the chill pouring down your esophagus and spilling in a shock into your stomach, an organ placed so much higher behind your ribs than you’d expect. 

Notice one thing you can smell right now.

1.       I can smell the sap of the tree behind me, under the spicy dusty bark, and I know that by leaning against it I have made myself a problem to clean up later. The smell of the sap fights sharp against something like honey and ozone and that’s three things I smell but they’re one thing, the way they’re mixing I smell it all, even here, safe under the trees.