Category Archives: Flash Fiction

The Slog of the Bog

A night out, a glass of wine or two and suddenly the conversation turns into animated laughter where everyone – but me – has a Bog story they’re dying to tell.

As a city dweller, my childhood included nightmares from one of the many scary books I’d just read or maybe even a paper cut or two. My country friends, it appears, experienced a different kind of horror – the bog. But their retelling of those, not so long ago days, were so hilarious that I made them each promise to write a flash fiction piece for my Blog – an opportunity for us city folk to get an insight into what we were missing!

First up, is Nikki Whelan, with The Slog of the Bog:     

The Bog: A place in Ireland where childhood labour is real, where midges kill, backs ache and summers are forever lost.

Every Sunday my dad would bring us on a mystery tour. In those days, there was no such thing as buckling up – there were no seat belts – so the five of us would pile into the back of his Ford Sierra Sapphire full of anticipation.

“Watch out for the Guards,” my dad would say, “two of you be ready to duck for cover.”

We rarely saw the Guards, but we would nod and laugh, bickering over which of us had to be ready to duck this week. These tours could bring us anywhere – from point-to-point race meetings in the backarse of nowhere, to horse sales in Goffs, the lakes of Blessington, Glendalough or even to view a dog trailer in Thurles. But each summer, one such trip would invariably bring us to the Clongory bog to pick a plot of turf.

When we’d arrive, Dad would get out of the car, make a big show of inhaling, then he’d turn to us with a big smile. “Doesn’t it look great?”

We’d all look at him confused and eventually reply that it looked the same as the plot from last year and the year before that. All our friends were excited about a summer in Spain, Cork, at their Granny’s or the Gaeltacht, while for us, our summer began at the bog …The Bog

After the turf was cut, it was time for our work to begin. First, we’d foot the turf. This involved stacking about 10 pieces of turf on top of each other, in different directions, to allow it to dry. A quicker alternative for drier turf was to clamp it (stacking in tepee fashion). That was too easy – we were hard core – we never clamped it. It was back breaking work. My siblings and I would compete to see who would get their line of turf footed first. I learned quickly that this was a futile exercise. Once you were finished your line, you would be directed to help the others.

After a few days of footing, with the summer sun beating off our backs, we’d all shuffle off the bog bent over like 90 year-olds. But this wasn’t the biggest evil of the bog – no, the biggest evil was getting eaten alive by midges. Swarms of them would come out, mostly in the evenings; it was an incentive to get our work finished early. They’d eat every unclothed part of us, leaving red itchy lumps the size of large grapes protruding out of us. We’d wear our socks pulled up high to save our shins. The only midge deterrent we knew of back then was smoking. Oh God, how we envied the adults who puffed away to midge freedom. My mom smoked tip cigars on the bog – but only on the bog – it was acceptable there. One day, I’ll be old enough to puff my way to midge freedom, I thought, totally unaware, back then, that I’d have gas central heating in Dublin and never have to spend another day on the bog!!!

When it was time to leave, if the turf still wasn’t fully dry, then we returned a few days later and we’d stack it then. I remember the days we’d wake to hear the rain pelting on the roof. How we loved rain, it was our saviour – the only thing that would spare us from the bog. Next was the bagging phase. The car and trailer were driven onto the bog so that we could throw the turf straight into the trailer. But, if the ground was too soft to drive on, then we’d load it into bags. These bags were then carried – or dragged, in my case – to the road and lifted into the trailer. Sometimes my Dad, after inspecting the ground and declaring it driveable, would get the car and trailer stuck in the bog. Amid laughs and shouts, all bodies on our plot and neighbouring plots would come together to push the car back out of the bog. Then we’d be back to square one, filling bags and dragging them out to the road.

We lived for our break, we’d eat ham, lettuce and salad cream sandwiches and buns. We’d drink as much Cadet orange as we wanted. We needed the sugar for energy. Our limbs would stiffen as we sat on the bog and we’d struggle to get up and back to our line.

Finally, when the trailer was loaded and secured, the proud journey home with the turf would begin. We’d sit in the back of the trailer on top of our loot, our bums bruised as they hit sharp pieces of turf as we chugged along. But we didn’t care. We’d make one stop on the way home at the local shop for orange Rocket ice-pops. Rocket Ice LollyThis was our prize for a good day’s work on the bog. Nobody batted an eyelid at our black dirty faces and hands as each of us traipsed into the shop to claim our prize. But our day’s work wasn’t quite done. Once we arrived home, we’d have to unload the bags of turf into the shed. We’d stack them high, leaving the shed with a sense of pride, knowing that it would be a warm winter.

I hated and loved those long summer days on the bog. The smell of peat was lovely, an awful lot nicer than the smell from some of our other summer activities like mucking out stables. And the comradery on the bog was fantastic; we survived it together. We always left with sore backs but a great sense of achievement. You’d sleep like a baby after the slog of the bog – that is if the midge bites didn’t keep you itching all night!


Flash Fiction: Reunion

In a flash, life changes …

I’m delighted to have my flash fiction, Reunion, published in the July edition of Live Encounters.

Profile Susan condon LE Poetry & Writing July 2018

Around her, commuters beam in the after-glow of a sunny weekend, while the train swishes along the rails bringing her closer.

Soon, after all this time, they’ll be reunited.

The train groans to a stop. Her stomach lurches: only two more stations.

“Breathe,” she mutters.


She shakes her head at the woman beside her.

In through the nose, out through the mouth, her internal voice commands. Obeying, she feels a slow calm creep through her body. She watches the canal ripple gently. Two swans grace the water while a blackbird soars overhead. Only days before she too was flying through the air, from Boston to Dublin, on a one way ticket. Today would determine her return.

Click here to continue reading my story or click Live Encounters where you can either read or download the full publication for free.

Flash Fiction: Reflection

A short story – in a flash – one to keep you guessing to the end …

I’m delighted to have my flash fiction piece, Reflection, published in the US on Flash Fiction Magazine.

No partner. No kids. And the Christmas party only hours away.


The antique dressing table, rescued from my grandmother’s house, beckons. As an only child, I spent much of my childhood in the guest bedroom where it lived. Over the years, it has come to know all of my secrets.

I run my fingers along the redwood admiring the shiny brass trimmings. The oval mirror, set centre-stage, tilts backwards and forwards while the smaller ovals each side allow a full reflection. Sitting, I fit the ornate key into the lock and turn, removing the pots and potions from the drawers to begin my transformation.

Tonight is a special night.

Click here to continue reading my story over on Flash Fiction Magazine and, if you could spare the time, I’d welcome your comments.

Would He Dare?

I’m delighted to have my flash fiction piece, Would He Dare?, published today in Arizona on The Flash Fiction Press:


Walking towards the office, he blew into his hands, sniffing to ensure the alcohol fumes weren’t too strong. It probably wouldn’t do in his first month, he thought, even if it was a bank holiday and he was one of the few skeleton staff expected to work. Just as he noticed his blood encrusted index finger, a hand grabbed onto his arm.

“Jack, isn’t it?”


If you’d care to read on, please click here to reach The Flash Fiction Press.


Flash Fiction: Don’t Look Back

A story in 100 words

Published on Friday Flash Fiction, March 2016

It was the shoes.

Black, scuffed, well-worn.

They reminded her of him.

Back to her college years: parties, cheap wine and music.

They loved their music. Second-hand albums that hopped and skipped on the turntable. Saturday night gigs. He nursed the microphone while she watched on, like every female there, transfixed.

She smiled, removing a leather glove, before delving into her handbag for a few coins.

“Thanks,” he muttered, looking up.

His dark eyes met her gaze and, for just an instant, there was a spark of recognition before he dropped his head.

She willed herself not to look back.


Flash Fiction: Alone Again

A short flash of terror …

Published in Flash Flood Journal, June 2014 

I turn my head skyward at the screech of a lone black bird. A crow, if I’m not mistaken, although from this distance it’s hard to tell. The summer evening holds a winter chill. The sky is dark and overcast, like my thoughts. I watch as wings flap and the bird circles round and round in the bleak sky emitting a baleful cry.

I tear my eyes away, resisting the urge to cover my ears.

I remove the gloves, overalls and shoe covers. Naked, as the day I was born, I stuff them into a black refuse sack and push it deep inside the empty plant pot buried at the back of the shed. Replacing the padlock, I take a final look down the garden, before entering the house and taking the first step into my new life without her . . .MEN048

Standing under the shower I relish the ice-cold water as the powerful jets lash my body, reminding me of my father’s belt as a boy. I scrub until my skin is red raw, the carbolic soap burning my nostrils and stinging my eyes while all I can hear is the drumming in my ears. Just like before.

When I can stand it no longer I towel dry and dress: a fresh white shirt and grey tie; black trousers with a sharp crease and freshly polished, laced, black shoes. Finally, I don my favourite blazer with the gleaming gold buttons. She always liked it and somehow it seems fitting to wear it tonight. Respectful, somehow.

Time has passed quickly. The sky is black. No stars in the sky tonight. Yet the full moon shines brightly. I wait until it clouds over before placing the suitcase gently into the boot of my Mercedes. I coax the dog into the back seat where she whines incessantly. I drive to the other side of the city and park beneath a broken streetlight.

New territory; the dog is excited. I wheel the suitcase halfway across the bridge, lever it up onto the barrier and drop it over. For a moment I freeze, thinking that it’s going to float, but it topples over and the black water consumes it. The walk is over. We return home and I head out to the shed. I need to be sure it wasn’t all a dream. I pull open the chest freezer and her blue lifeless eyes stare up at me, ice crystals already forming over the gaping wound on the side of her head.

I run my finger over the crease in my trousers. Maybe I can wait a week or two before replacing the iron; no point in raising suspicion.

Spelk – “Remember Me”


I’m delighted to have my flash fiction piece, Remember Me, published on Spelk along with so many fabulous writers from across the globe:

“All these years later and she still attended mass. That was where she saw the young child with the teddy bear. It was hugged close, appearing like a child peeping over its mother’s shoulder and looking right at her.

Kate closed her eyes tight. The priest was talking about forgiveness. Ironic, she thought, tears pricking her eyelids. She blinked furiously, before running the side of her fore-fingers beneath her long lashes in a vain attempt to prevent her mascara running.

“Will I tell you a secret?”

The golden-haired bear with the black eyes stared.”

If you dare to read on, click here to reach


Spelk is a new platform for the very best flash fiction on the web. We post three stories a week, from both new and established writers, from the UK and overseas.


A spelk, in northeast England, is a splinter of wood – a tiny little sliver or shard embedded under the skin. Without getting too pretentious, we think there’s probably some kind of analogy there – we like flash fiction that’s short and sharp, that gets under your skin and leaves an impression. That, and we just happen to like the word.

Flash Fiction: Snared

Lately, I’ve become a huge fan of Flash Fiction – a short, sharp story to get your imagination into a spin. For the writer it offers a challenge to whittle words down to the minimum while still delivering a story worthy of a read.

I’m delighted to have Snared included in the current on-line edition of Brilliant Flash Fiction along with talented writer and friend, Doreen Duffy.

Check out a taster below:

Johnny’s eyes skim the room, finally settling in the corner. It appears darker there; black as ink. Yet he is unable to decipher a shape as his hands feel for the tangled sheet, pulling it over their naked bodies. It is cold and his chest feels as if icy fingers are squeezing his heart. He shudders.

Jennifer? Jemima? Shit! He can’t even remember her name.

If you’d like to read more click here and scroll down to Snared.

And don’t forget to check out Sweet Justice by Doreen Duffy – it just might make you re-think your confectionery choice . . .

Your feedback and comments, as always, much appreciated.



Flash Fiction: Alone Again

I turn my head skyward at the screech of a lone black bird. A crow, if I’m not mistaken, although from this distance it’s hard to tell. The summer evening holds a winter chill. The sky is dark and overcast, like my thoughts. I watch as wings flap and the bird circles round and round in the bleak sky emitting a baleful cry.

I tear my eyes away, resisting the urge to cover my ears.

I remove the gloves, overalls and shoe covers. Naked, as the day I was born, I stuff them into a black refuse sack and push it deep inside the empty plant pot buried at the back of the shed. Replacing the padlock, I take a final look down the garden, before entering the house and taking the first step into my new life without her . . .


Compelled to read more? It’s one of the many Flash Fiction pieces to make the cut (excuse the pun!) and published on Flash Flood as part of National Flash Fiction Day.

Click here to read on – if you dare!

And if the compulsion takes hold, give in to it and leave a comment.

Check out Alone Again published today over on Flash Flood.


Flash Fiction: Killer Smile

A stranger in town – and all the way from the United States of America, no less.

Surely things can only improve for barman, Sean and his impoverished Irish town.

But then again, maybe not . . .


Check out Killer Smile published today over on Flash Fiction Magazine.




250 words that will stop you in your tracks!

Flash Fiction: Let It Snow!

Johnny looked out the window and whooped. It was snowing!

He dug under the stairs and pulled out an old pair of wellies, shoved his feet inside, zipped up his jacket and grabbed a pair of gloves.

‘I’m just going out, Mum,’ he called, the front door already open.

‘Wait! Stir before you go,’ she called.

‘Aw, Mum. Later?’Fir in winter landscape

‘It’s now or never, Johnny-boy,’ she laughed, standing in the doorway.

He looked out at the driveway. No footsteps yet in the perfect blanket of snow. But not for long. He could see friends trundling up the road, firing snowballs.

‘Last chance!’

He closed the door and followed her into the aromatic kitchen.

‘Quick Mum, where’s the spoon?’

‘Gloves off first,’ she said, as she pointed to the bowl.

He pushed the spoon into the dark mixture of currants, cherries, brown sugar and Christmas spices.

‘It has to be clock-wise, Johnny,’ smiled his mum. She had flour on her right cheek and her blue eyes were shining. ‘Three times, then make your wish.’

Johnny nodded, his face solemn, as he performed the yearly Christmas pudding ritual.

‘Okay. Done,’ he said. ‘Did you make a wish?’

‘Of course, you don’t think wishes are just for kids, do you? Now go, enjoy the snow,’ she shook the wooden spoon at him, her eyes brimming with unshed tears, ‘but make sure you’re back in time for dinner.’

Shoving a handful of cherries into his mouth, he hugged her tight, ‘Dad always loved this part of Christmas.’

‘He did,’ she ruffled his hair, ‘so go, have fun. Make him proud.’ She turned back to the bowl.

Johnny licked his sticky fingers before pulling his gloves on and heading outside.

Thirty minutes later, the snow had turned into a blizzard. His hands were freezing, his ears were ringing and he was cold.

A tall man dressed in black, a striped scarf covering half his face, walked slowly towards him. He cradled a brown box in his arms.

A flurry of snowballs pelted him, causing him to lose his balance. His eyes held a look of panic as he struggled to hold onto the box. Instinctively, Johnny knew that the contents were important. He rushed forward.

‘I’ve got it!’ he shouted. The man released his grip as he slipped to the ground.

‘Thanks, son,’ he muttered, as his scarf fell down to show a pale face scrunched in pain.

The box was light, but when something moved inside, Johnny nearly dropped it with fright. He noticed small air holes at the top. ‘It’s not a snake, is it?’ he whispered.

The man shook his head.

‘Johnny, didn’t you hear me call?’

Johnny turned to see his mum standing at the gate.

The man stood.

‘He’s a good lad. Just came to my aid.’ He took the box and opened it, gently lifting out a tiny black kitten with four white socks. ‘At the animal shelter, they named her Lucky,’ he smiled, holding her towards Johnny’s outstretched arms. ‘I guess she is.’

Flash Fiction: Iron Lady

Spellbound (1945 film)

Spellbound (1945 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Memories raced back through Dolly’s mind, of her first husband, Jack.

She squeezed the handle hard, and as steam hissed out in front of her, she could see his face. His china blue eyes and quick smile. His fair hair, always perfectly coiffed, brushed back in a quiff with Brylcream. He had been a good‐looking man, in his day.

Running the iron back‐and‐forth, across the snow white fabric, she wondered what the owner of this shirt looked like. She inhaled the faint scent of Old Spice still ensconced in the size 18 collar. Obviously a tall man. Big build. Maybe along the lines of Gregory Peck? She hummed the music from Spellbound, seeing herself as Ingrid Bergman, as she deftly manoeuvred the iron in between the buttons.

Twenty minutes later, as she hung the last of the twelve shirts onto a hanger and covered them with plastic, she heard the bell above the front door jangle.

“Dolly, have you got the ironing for Margaret Harris finished yet?” shouted Paul from the counter.

“Just finished this minute, but it wasn’t due to be collected until Tuesday,” said Dolly. As she walked out to the counter with the crisp, white cotton; she glanced in the mirror. Her curly, auburn hair nestled around her neck, sticking out slightly on the right. Probably from all the steam, she thought, pushing it behind her ear. She pressed her lips together, enlivening the pale pink lipstick she had glided on earlier in the morning.

“Oh, sorry about that,” smiled the tall man at the counter. “My housekeeper, Margaret, normally does my ironing, but she slipped. Broke her arm. I just dropped them in this morning on my way for a round of golf and thought I’d check to see if there was any chance they were ready on my way back. Well, my luck is in,” he smiled at Dolly.

He had a nice smile, she thought. Well dressed too, in a black polo shirt and black trousers. His face was lightly sun‐tanned and his cheeks ruddy. His mop of grey hair stuck up in tufts, but it was his blue eyes, housed beneath long dark lashes, that drew her attention.

“Well, it wasn’t too busy today,” smiled Dolly, passing the shirts across the counter. Their fingers brushed and she felt a tingle of pleasure run up her arm.

“How much do I owe you?”

“That’ll be €12, please,” said Paul, ringing it up on the register.

“No doubt I’ll be in again, at least until Margaret recovers. She’ll be mighty impressed with the creases in these,” he laughed, holding up the shirts. He handed Paul a €20 note.

“Well, we aim to please Fr!” said Paul, counting back the €8 change.

Dolly sauntered back to her ironing board.

She was wrong, she thought, not Gregory Peck, maybe more like her third husband, John. Starting on a new bag of ironing, she began to hum the theme tune to True Grit.

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