The Red Wheelbarrow #WEPFF #flashfiction

Posted August 22, 2019 in Blog Fests & Hops, Creative Writing / 41 Comments

Write…Edit…Publish post on the third Wednesday of every second month and the challenges are open to all. To join in, you submit your name to the list, write an entry for the prompt (1000 words or less) and edit it. Then on the date given, you publish it to your blog, stating your feedback preferences. You can also read and leave comments on the other entries and share the challenge far and wide on social media. Find out more here.

About my Entry

I wasn’t going to enter the challenge this month as nothing really came to mind for the prompt. But last night as I was going to bed an idea suddenly popped into my head so I quickly typed it into my phone at about 1 am! I haven’t edited the original draft much as I felt that ‘less is more’ in this instance. I’d be interested to hear what you think!

Word count: 321

Trigger warnings: Suggestion of domestic violence.

Critique preference: FCA

The Red Wheelbarrow

When the spacemen have finished exploring the garden, their leader takes off his mask and kneels in front of me. He smiles like Mummy does when she says that everything’s going to be okay. 

“Tommy, do you know what this is?” He hands me a big, shiny picture. It’s a test, for little kids. But I’m big now. 

“Um…a red wheelbarrow?” 

“That’s right. Have you seen one like this before?”

I shake my head.

“You sure about that?”


The wheels squeak like hungry baby birds as Mummy rolls the wheelbarrow across the wet grass. I run to her and she stops, staring at me. There’s something sticky in her hair.

“Tommy, go back to bed,” she hisses. 

“What are you doing, Mummy?” 

“Nothing, nothing, honey. Just tidying up the shed. Back to bed now.” 

“But Mum—”

“NOW, Tommy.” A tiny trickle as red as the wheelbarrow drips over her eye. 


“Oh, I had a little bump. But I’ll be okay. I’ll pop a plaster on it soon.” She wipes her forehead with the back of her hand. “I hope you don’t inherit my clumsy genes, Tom-Tom.” She lets out a shriek of laughter, her whole body shaking.

“I’m scared, Mummy. I heard shouting. Where’s Daddy?”

She lets go of the wheelbarrow and wraps her arms around me, tight. I press my head against her, listening to the galloping hooves in her chest. She smells like salt and rust and dirt. 

“He went to the pub. You better be in bed before he gets back. Understand?”

I nod and hurry back to the house. I run straight up the stairs and into bed, pulling the covers over my head. He won’t find me. He won’t find me.


“Did you hear me, Tommy? Perhaps your mother has one like that?” 

The spaceman frowns and taps the picture. I look up into his searching eyes. 

“No, sir. We don’t have a wheelbarrow.”

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41 responses to “The Red Wheelbarrow #WEPFF #flashfiction

  1. Love this Anstice. Ooh. These wheelbarrows are being used for some nefarious business. Poor little Tom. So wise for one so young. What he and his mum have been through.

    I’m glad you wrote it as it came to you. Thanks for posting for WEP.

  2. Absolutely loved this story – full of amazing visuals – I heard the “galloping hooves in her chest” and felt the weight of the wheelbarrow, and what might be in it. Such a great showing of this intense tale. You gave me enough to build a story of the fore spoken domestic violence – I love a strong woman, and in a story that’s what I saw. Bravo.

  3. Clever with creepy touches and hints. I love your phrasing – for instance: “the galloping hooves in her chest”. This is a flash of inspiration that works and hardly needs much honing – almost there.

  4. Hi Anstice – as the others have said … well done on writing this so quickly – I’d have been asleep … yet perhaps the spaceman would have been knocking! A really inspired take and one that reminds us about so much hidden domestic abuse … cheers Hilary

  5. You told a captivating story, and it’s extra impressive because you did it using so few words! There’s so much here the reader can gather that hasn’t been explicitly stated, and that makes this story stronger. Well done!

  6. Hi,
    I don’t think Tommy’s dad will be showing up again. He probably hit her for the last time. I feel so sorry for women that are in marriages where they’re mishandled.
    Even though short, your story is very engaging.
    Excellent job.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

  7. Simply lovely in its brevity and focus. The reader knows exactly what happened here. I especially liked the pov character, that sweet little boy who reveals much with his thoughts but protects his mother.

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