Flash Fiction Challenge: I Remember Mama

Floral bouquet by K.S. Brooks
Floral bouquet
by K.S. Brooks

Tomorrow is Mother’s day. Let’s celebrate awesome moms today with a very special flash fiction tribute.

Tell us a story about your mom or make something up. Your call: you can go all touchy-feely and nostalgic, or tell us the funniest story you can remember about your mother.

Tomorrow, you can go tell her about your surprise tribute on this awesome website! So you might get off the hook without spending any moolah. Probably not, though.

Just keep it at 250 words or less. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted. See HERE for additional information and terms.

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7 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: I Remember Mama”

  1. My mother was, ahem, frugal. Grew up during the Depression, you know. Beyond frugal. Cheap.

    One day I went to her house and she was in tizzy. She said the government was treating her like a criminal. Trying to get the story out of her in between rants was difficult, but it finally came through in bits and pieces.

    She and my father were planning a trip out of country and their passports had expired. They needed to send in the old passports in order to get new ones. They didn’t travel often, and had very few stamped pages in their passport books, but of course all those empty pages still weighed something. In order to save postage, my mother came upon the genius idea of cutting out all the empty pages in the passport books before she mailed them back in for renewal.

    And she wondered why the government was suddenly being so horrid about renewing their passports.

    They decided they didn’t want to go on that trip after all.

  2. My mother owned Thanksgiving. She shooed us from the kitchen to watch the Macy’s Parade, waved off our offers to help, busied our small, sticky hands with gingerbread man production. Her children happily entertained by the Bullwinkle blimp, she made everything from scratch, her mouth growing tense as the oven timer counted down to Norman Rockwell Judgment Day.

    Finally a grown woman with my own household, I wanted to ease her burden. Could I take over something? Maybe…cranberries? Several times she denied me. I kept asking. She would allow me to pick up cream on the way to her house. Wash dishes afterward. It wasn’t enough, though. One year, overwhelmed perhaps with stepsons, grandchildren, and family illnesses, she hesitated after I begged for cranberry detail.

    “Please. Tell me how you do it.” I thought her magical, how she conjured up the tangy orange cranberry relish. And the sauce! Sparkling in her cut-glass bowls—ruby red and tart-sweet. Surely her cleverness knew no bounds if she could design concoctions so wonderful from a humble bog fruit.

    She shrugged. “It’s nothing. I can do it.”

    “Seriously. Nothing.” I whipped out pen and paper, prepared to atone for all that I had not learned at my mother’s knee. It had to have been complicated, this secret sauce, possibly requiring exotic ingredients or kitchen gadgetry I had yet to master, but I would do it. “What do I need to buy?”

    “Well, cranberries.”

    “Obviously. And?”

    “And follow the recipes on the bag.”

  3. The cancer was terminal. We didn’t need to be told, it had come and gone enough times before and Mum was exhausted. We knew the drill; admission through casualty, where an apparently teenaged junior doctor would fill in a form, reasking all the questions the family doc had already answered for the ward. It was hard to say what was on our minds amid the bustle and tannoy calls, so we settled into the double-act. It comforted us both, Mum and I had only recently discovered a shared sense of humour.

    “How old are you?”
    “Oh, seventy-something, how old are you dear?”
    “I’m forty-three Mum.”
    “And how old was I when I had you?”
    “Dunno, I was too busy screaming at the time…”

    We pattered our way to her age, and on through the rest of the questions. It was an odd way to retell our joint life stories, and the poor little doc squirmed as we enjoyed the connection. He had other things to do but we were oddly happy.

    “Do you smoke?”
    “Oh no dear, I gave up a long time ago.”
    “How long ago?” He should have known better by now.
    “Well, your Grampa Brown had just died. Lung cancer, we all stopped. How old were you then?”
    “Um, about six maybe?”
    “Probably, so I stopped smoking over forty years ago.”
    “And why was that?”
    She winked at me. “I didn’t want to get cancer.”
    We giggled ourselves silly, and finally the tears came.

  4. This is my mother’s house. When I’m finished, it’ll be her palace.
    As luck would have it, I lost everything I ever had in 2009. After floundering about for a couple more years in Las Vegas trying to rebuild my construction empire, I finally threw in the towel and moved into my mother’s house in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Most folks call it the U.P., but we just call it the Yoop. I hear tell they just added “Yooper” to the dictionary. I got here in August of 2012. I’m now rounding the end of my second winter here.
    I had spent well over twenty years out west, seeking my fortune. I found it, too, at least for a little while. I became a contractor, and built many different things over the decades. When the economy took a dump, I came back home, and it’s a good thing I did. My father’s been dead since 1999, and there’s an endless supply of work to be done on my mother’s house. Turns out, I know just the guy that knows how to do it…all.
    By mother’s day next year, I plan to have her house more beautiful than she could ever have imagined it. It’s the least I can do for the coolest mom I’ve ever known.

  5. “What, are you stupid?”

    She gave me a sly smile, rolled over and drifted off to sleep. I kissed the lock of white hair that spilled over her brow. I knew they might be the last words my mother spoke to me. They were.

    Olive Evelyn Cooke, a prairie girl. Tough and tender. Modest and capable. As remarkable and reliable as the first flowers of spring.

    In 1936, a willowy twenty, she boarded a steamer for Egypt, while the world fomented for war. She’d rejected the limited conventional choices: wife and mother, or the few professions unmarried women were allowed. Instead she headed half way around the world to teach girls, in a place where girls rarely got an education.

    Olive buried three of her children but refused to surrender to despair. Black and white photos yellowed in silver frames, but her duty she knew was to the living. We who remained suckled on that strength.

    Olive translated the works of Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz. When Mahfouz later won the Nobel Prize for Literature the sudden attention startled her. She had done it not for fame, but because she loved the words. And perhaps understanding a people’s stories could, in some small way, help build a bridge to peace.

    “’What, are you stupid?’ Oh my God! Were you traumatized?” my friends gasped, incredulous. Products of an era when everyone’s from a dysfunctional family and all are victims.

    “No,” I replied, smiling warmly at the memory. “It was perfect.”

  6. “Come early, don’t keep me up late,” she would say for the nth time.

    “Okay, Ma,” I would lie for the nth time. “I’ll be back fast.”

    There was no telephone at home; she would stay awake all alone—my father had walked out and my brother and sister were away at university—till I got back, no matter what the time.

    “You smell of smoke and alcohol,” she would accuse me, as I made a great show of exhaustion and sleepiness.

    “Come on, Ma, it was a party. All those people smoking and drinking, of course some of the odor stuck to me,” I would say. I know now she pretended to believe me, though she knew deep in her heart that I was lying… again.

    Whenever I was home early from work, we sat late into the night in front of an electric fire, telling yarns and jokes and laughing with the abandon of two passionately attached persons with no competition in the universe.

    After my arranged marriage, blessed by her as the family elder, things fell apart. Some other woman had taken me away from her.

    She lives with my single-parent sister and nephew. I visit them every day.

    “Come early, don’t keep me up late. I am old, and I need my sleep,” she tells my nephew, for the nth time.

    “Don’t worry, Grandma,” he says, lying for the nth time. “I will be back by no later than twelve.”

  7. Kara gripped Ethan’s hand and grimaced. The contraction felt like a knife twisting in her lower back. Pain radiated down her legs. Had Mama felt this much pain when she was born? More than anything, Kara wished she could ask, but Mama died in the upheavals many years ago. All she had left were distant memories of loving warmth as Mama’s arms wrapped around her. A simple hug and kiss was all it took to cure a scraped knee or drive away bad dreams.

    Another contraction snapped her to the present. That old life was gone. Ethan wiped the sweat from her brow and whispered words of encouragement. Her adoptive wolf mama didn’t labor like this when she gave birth. Was something wrong? Outside the cave she heard the pack pace. The three young wolves had come with her when she and Ethan joined. What a strange family she had now with three wolf siblings and a human mate. Both Mama Wolf and Mama would have liked Ethan. They had both passed on, yet Kara could feel them watching over her labors.

    Pressure built with the next contraction. Invisible hands rested on her shoulders. A warm tongue seemed to caress her cheek. It was time. Kara bit her lip as she bore down. Silence filled the cave. Fear made her heart clench. Then a cry reached her ears, strong and hearty. Ethan grinned as he placed the newest member of their pack on her chest. Now she was the Mama.

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