Hello! Thanks for stopping by!


Hello!  Thanks for stopping by!  Fiction Can Be Fun is a writing project run by David (@breakerofthings) and Debs (@debsdespatches).   We each post a piece of fiction every month, run a writing prompt once a month and are the originators of #secondthoughts. #secondthoughts are reflections on writing, responses to writing and…well, take a look and you’ll see!

If you’d like to find out more/get involved, please do take a look at the ‘About’ page.


Our regular schedule

1st Sunday : #FF Prompt – submission deadline the Friday following @ 2 pm GMT
(or use our #TortoiseFlashFiction page if the deadline is too tight)

2nd Sunday : An original Short story from David or Debs

3rd Sunday : A #SecondThoughts piece from David or Debs
(except for those occasions when we’ve been able to persuade a guest to write one for us!)

4th Sunday : Another Short Story from David or Debs

5th Sunday : on the occasion when these occur, we’ll provide details as early as possible (but typically we’d hope to host a guest post, so do get in touch if you could be interested!)

Watch this space

Hi! Good to see you – thanks for dropping by. This could be a meta piece (but it isn’t), and it’s obviously not the usual #secondthoughts that you’ve come to love on the third Sunday of the month. If you’d care to come back tomorrow, it still won’t be #secondthoughts, but all will be explained. Sort of. The poor life choices that led to this point are not open for discussion, for example, but the specifics of why we’ve delayed a post when we’ve maintained our schedule so far will be implicitly made clear. When I say ‘specifics’ and ‘explained’, what I mean is… Hmmm… Do you know what, let’s just agree to reconvene tomorrow, ok?

Too Far

I’ve long thought that we expect too much of our children.  Everybody has their own opinion on what is too much. The endless round of school, after-school clubs, evening clubs.  The expectation that the poor little mites must excel at everything, must achieve everything, before they even know who they are.  Too far, for me, was parents using declassified military logistics programmes, just so that they could keep track of everything, just so that they could shave seconds off from the complicated journeys needed to get everyone everywhere on time.  I’m glad I spotted that gap in the market though.


© David Jesson, 2018

Three Takes on a #FF Photo Prompt

Pismo Beach at Sunset

Jonno slowly made his way through the gallery, checking that everything was in order. Part of his hindbrain was telling him that he should be in a daze, but whilst he was conscious of the event that was now only – he checked his watch for the three hundredth time that day – 90 minutes away, he pushed it away as much as possible and gave his attention to the scene before him. Attention to detail was one of the things that had made all this possible, and brought all of this to bear: every picture in the gallery hung straight and every piece of objet d’art was displayed to best advantage in the lighting available. Even the dressing was perfect, designed to emphasis a particular piece, or to show the link between one piece and another. Jonno had coined the term ‘anti-focus’ for a piece of dressing that was the opposite of the focus: it drew the observer in whilst being itself completely unobtrusive.

At 15, Jonno was acutely aware of this being a BIG DEAL. It had all started with an Auction of Promises. His father had managed to acquire three lots, one each for Tophe, Jonno and Tom: each was perfect for the boy it was given to. Jonno’s had been a week of lessons with a professional photographer and artist. He’d been impressed with Jonno’s work and had very kindly included some of Jonno’s pictures in an exhibition that he’d mounted. Jonno and his family had received VIP tickets for the event, and on the evening there had been a number of conversations between Jonno’s parents, the artist, and the gallery owner. All of which led to today: the gallery owner had been persuaded to run a charity event for Jonno’s school, with work by Jonno on display to anyone who had received an invitation. Jonno was trying hard not to think about this, since he knew who at least some of the invitations had gone to: the gallery owner was well connected.

The collection was astounding: not only had Jonno taken every photo, painted every picture, cast, carved, welded and worked his way through myriad techniques, but he had framed and mounted every piece himself, having made even these from scratch. He selected every material himself and went to great pains to match the material, style and finish to the piece. He stopped for a moment in front of one of his favorites.

Last summer, the whole family had gone to California, where his mother had been temporally based for work. They’d all had a marvelous time. Comparatively little time had been spent in San Francisco or Los Angeles, but rather they had taken in the parks and the National Forests at Shasta-Trinity and Los Padres. Death Valley had been on the itinerary too. But it had been Pismo Beach which had been the highlight of the trip for him. He’d not been able to take all the kit that he wanted, but his lessons had paid off and he’d been able to take some remarkable pictures with a rather ordinary camera. He’d not had long, as the sun sank into the horizon and was swallowed by the Pacific Ocean. Tophe had been building a fire on the beach itself for a barbecue, aided by Tom. There was a picture of the fire elsewhere, odd-coloured flames from the salt encrusted wood dancing in the night. But it was this picture, with the sun setting the sea alight, that always held Jonno’s attention for a little longer.

© David Jesson, 2018


Staircase to Nowhere

“So, this staircase, what does it look like?”

Marsha was sat opposite a wizened old man with the kindest eyes she’d even seen. He was asking about her recurring dream. The one which had been steadily driving sleep away.

First her Jim had begged her to get help, then her boss Mr Mack had taken her aside for a private word. His concern for her had shone through so much that, against their usual practice, she’d crossed the line and talked to him about personal stuff.

First about the dream, then about her fears of what it meant. She’d cried whilst telling him how worried she was about seeking help, fearing being taken in by some sort of charlatan. He’d patted her hand kindly and agreed that was something to be avoided at all costs. Then he’d dug around in his desk and pulled out a business card.

The man was a psychotherapist, but his area of speciality was dreams. Mr Mack said he’d helped him. Smiling, he’d admitted he’d only gone because his wife had put her foot down.

Marsha described the staircase. Slowly, a picture was formed, with the gaps being filled in by her responses to his gentle questions.

“Hmmm, so we have a beach, at sunset, with a spiral staircase that is old and rusty. But this staircase, it goes nowhere. This last is what causes you to be frightened, no?”

Marsha nodded her assent.

“You will not be surprised to learn that staircases are indicators of change, of transition. You are imagining – I think – that this one is portent of change which will result in an unexpected, unwanted, even abrupt ending, yes?  Yet, from our previous conversations, I don’t believe that you have an abnormal fear of death?”

Again, Marsha nodded.

“So, let us look to the condition of the stairs – old and rusty, huh? This leads me to look to the past. To ask maybe what you have buried away? Something you are ashamed of perhaps? Something that didn’t end as you planned?”

Marsha burst into tears. Handing her a box of tissues, the therapist waited for her to speak.

“I don’t know if I’m crying out of relief that whatever this dream is about is in the past, rather than my future. Or whether I’m crying because your question has struck a chord within me. Either way, I feel so much better.”
“Good. So, shall we work together to uncover this … whatever this is?”

Marsha nodded, this time with a smile. A small one, but a smile nonetheless.

© Debra Carey, 2018


The Tomb

Thompson’s treasure had loomed over their heads for five years. Wayne Marin was Spanish, but a descendent of the Incas. The treasure they were in pursuit of belonged to the long-lost Inca Empire. “C’mon Wayne, you’re the explorer. Hurry up I’m almost at the beach”, Kyle barked. The hike through the mountains had been treacherous but they had made their way through the rocky cliffs and finally to what they hoped would be their final destination. Marin stood at the edge of the cliff leading into the final descent before the beach. His map consuming him, he ignored Kyle completely. His brow furrowed, he glided his finger across the map. Pencil marks and annotations made it incomprehensible to anyone else. Kyle never bothered guiding them through their quest. He was an accomplished map reader himself, but a lost Inca treasure was Wayne’s area of expertise. “C’mon get down here, one hell of a view!” Kyle’s voice echoed up the mountain trail. Wayne heard him this time and began descending. His feet followed the loose dust and gravel preceding them. The final path twisted and turned slightly but he eventually reached the bottom. His right boot sunk into the sand followed by his left. He had reached the beach. The silence was strange at first but soon became very addictive. Uncharacteristically, Kyle hadn’t said a word since Wayne had caught up. He sat on a rock staring into the sea. Wayne walked up to him. The view was spectacular. The sunset immersed the sky with red and orange. Ripples of colour across the sea seemed never ending. Untouched by people, civilization and time. Neither man wanted to interrupt the others tranquillity. Wayne shuffled slightly. He knew they had to continue. There would be another puzzle set by the pirate William Thompson they had to solve. The sand under his feet shifted causing Kyle to drift out of his daydream. “Hell of a view right”, Kyle said. Wayne nodded as he removed the notebook within his pocket. “Cheer up. We made it. How many years have we been talking about this. Crack a smile? Please?”, Kyle maintained the grin on his face not doing well to hide his excitement. The edges of Wayne’s lips stretched out into something that resembled a smirk. “Knew it. Mr solemn and serious finally shows emotion”, Kyle joked. “Now where is the next clue”, Wayne said. He fiddled the folded map out of his pocket hoping for something.

Two hours had passed, and they had gotten nowhere. Wayne’s patience was waning. He paced along the beach whilst Kyle sat looking at their notes on the sand. Kyle looked up at Wayne. He didn’t hide his frustration very well. He let out a cry of anger and threw his compass onto the sand. Realizing he had to stay calm, he bent down to pick up the compass and gazed at the sunset one more time before giving in to surrender. The rocks lay in the sea aligned in front of the sinking sun. Where had he seen that before? He frantically slapped his pockets trying to find his notebook. He couldn’t contain his excitement. “Kyle! Get over here now! See this?”

“Uh yeah sure…”

“Kneel here and look between the rocks towards the sun”

“Ok? So?” he was dumbfounded

“Look at the shadows”. They swayed across the water. Kyle followed the shadows up to their tips. They all converged at one point. The rocks weren’t far from shore. They swam up to the convergence. The seabed was slightly raised right there but only just. You would only have seen it if you were looking for it. Wayne rested his hand on the sand, instinctively tracing the Inca symbol for abundance and prosperity. A flower.  Eventually his finger found some sort of button. He pressed it without hesitation despite the risk of a trap. Behind him metal groaned. The spiral stair case rotated into the ground. Sand began to fall into the orifice left behind by it. The two explorers clawed their way towards it. As they reached the circular hole in the ground, they realised it was a tomb. In big, gold encrusted letters on the wall, it was proclaimed. THE FINAL RESTING PLACE OF THE PIRATE WILLIAM THOMAS, DECEIVER OF THE ENTIRE SPANISH EMPIRE.

© Adi Gajendragkar, 2018












#FF Photo Prompt


staircase to nowhere

One of my resolutions for this year is to include more photo prompts, so let’s kick that resolution off with this one.

As some of you writers are gearing up for next month’s A-Z Challenge, I’m going to keep the word count on the low side for this one.

Have fun!

Word count: 100-500
Deadline: 2pm on Friday 9th March 2018


And if you can’t make this deadline, don’t forget our #TortoiseFlashFiction page!

A reminder to new readers/writers, please post on your own site and add a link in the comments section below.  If you don’t have your own blog or similar outlet, do send us your story via the contact form on the About page and we’ll post for you, with an appropriate by-line.  

Two caveats if you want to go down this route: if you want to retain the copyright, then you will need to state this, and this is a family show, so we reserve the right not to post anything that strays into NSFW or offends against ‘common decency’.


New Year, new you!

Jim dropped his glass, exclaiming in a most unlike-him way: “Damn you! That was an expensive family antique!” “I’m sorry, but I’m desperate!” puffed the young man, “my sister came into this block a few minutes ago with a real creep. She’s drunk, has no idea what she’s doing and she’ll really regret this in the morning.” “Ah, that’ll be number 21. Quick, come this way” and with that Jim made rapidly for the fire escape. “It’s only one floor up” he assured the puffing young man over his shoulder as his long legs strode on ahead. Reaching the window, he bent down and pulled. As he’d thought, it was still open from this morning, when that pretty young thing had climbed out of it and down the fire escape to Jim’s back door whilst he was having breakfast. She was making a quick escape whilst the creep was in the shower she told him, before planting a kiss on his cheek as he let her out his front door.

Stepping aside, he ushered the young man through the window. He wasn’t afraid of the creep – far from it – but he’d no idea what state of déshabillé the sister would be in, so best her brother deal with that. Calling out “Katy, Katy” the young man raced along the hallway ripping open and slamming doors, before a sharp intake of breath indicated he’d found his sister. Seeing the young man launch himself into what he knew was the bedroom, Jim followed behind, in case back-up was required.  Until, decidedly unsteady on her feet and a tad disheveled, the lady of the hour cannoned right into him. Peering around her into the room, Jim could see that her brother was making quick work of the creep. As she appeared decidedly unsteady, Jim picked her up. Her brother, spotting Jim, waved him off with a hasty and breathless “see you downstairs!” so Jim headed for the front door.

Reaching his own front door, Jim realised he’d not picked up his keys and so headed downstairs to reception, still carrying Katy. The doorman raised his eyebrows “she was with the mister from number 21 before, how come …?” before Jim cut him off with “I know, rescue party. Can you buzz me in to my flat please Mike, I went up the fire escape without my key?” “Surely Mr Jim, you give me a shout when you be ready” By now, Katy was beginning to feel more of a burden, so Jim called the lift. On arrival, he shouted down to Mike and, as Mike buzzed the door open, Katy suddenly came to. Wriggling out of his arms, she fell in a heap on the floor. When Jim tried to help her up, she swung at him – very drunkenly – completely missing fortunately. Deciding discretion was the better part of valour, Jim made no further attempt to rescue that particular fair maiden from his hallway floor, and waited for her brother to arrive.

It wasn’t a long wait. Introductions were made and explanations were given – although that makes it sound like a calm and orderly sequence of events, and that it certainly wasn’t. There was a lot of shouting and arm waving between the siblings, whilst Jim kept out of the way, brewing a pot of fresh coffee. Once the smell hit the warring brother and sister, they calmed down and took seats at the table. Clutching their big mugs of coffee, both looked a touch awkward and embarrassed. Apologies were burbled, and waved away by Jim “most entertaining New Year I’ve had in a while”. The creep didn’t appear – he never pursued, too much effort apparently – so Jim put Katy in the spare room and her brother Callum on the sofa.

Callum took Katy home early the next morning. Jim could tell that she was suffering – and not just from a crashing hangover, more specifically from not knowing how to meet his eye. A shame really, as she was rather lovely.  Jim shrugged, “Never mind, if this was how his New year, new you was starting … life wasn’t going to be boring anymore.”


© Debra Carey, 2018

#secondthoughts: Nigeria

I lived in Nigeria for 6 years and it was only in the last decade that I’ve realised how little I know of the country, the people, of the civil war – despite moving there when it had been going for a year.  Unlike India, Nigeria wasn’t home. It was where I lived, when I wasn’t in boarding school that is.  It was a great place to be young – the weather was tropical and there were extensive opportunities for water sports.  But I was always aware of an underlying current of fear at home, so our lives revolved around our parents and their ex-patriot friends. It was never discussed this fear, never explained, but it was always present. As a result, I never sought to read about the country, despite a decided preference for books written by international authors.

Until recently that is. I’ve now read four – all outstanding – and I would urge you to do likewise. For these are huge talents and wonderful story-tellers, not just writers of Nigerian literature.

First up was “The Fishermen” by Chigozie Obioma. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2015 and I read it as part of my annual Man Booker read-alongs. The tale of this Igbo family’s five sons took me back to my first year in Lagos, when a group of us children used to run free, entirely without the supervision of adults. We didn’t get up to anything actively wrong, but we certainly got up to stuff our parents wouldn’t approve of, much like the boys did in “The Fishermen”. The local madman/seer in the book reminded me of the man with the chicken farm who used to rail at us for climbing into his enclosure – not to take chickens, but simply as a dare. The innocence in this behaviour – of both my group and the boys – was bittersweet, for it wasn’t long before we all had to grow up, to face puberty and real life. The superstitions and the seemingly overwhelming drive in males towards violence and vengeance whilst present in Nigeria, can also be found in many other examples of African literature.

I then persuaded my book club to read “Americanah” by Chimamande Ngozi Adiche. Whilst the majority of the story takes place in America,  it is filled with musings on the life of the black american – as seen from the perspective of a black african. And oh are the differences striking, especially to anyone who has experienced life in Africa. Whilst some in my book club found the focus on hair – and how it is dressed – repetitive and irrelevant, I found it the perfect metaphor for the huge gulf which exists between the two. When our heroine, Ifemelu, returns to Lagos, her joy at being home and her discomfort with the female role within Nigerian society all struck strong chords with me. That was the Lagos I remember seeing and hearing about – and although I was only 11 when I arrived, I’d reached my 16th birthday before we left.

“We should all be Feminists” then followed. I won’t dwell on this one long, as it’s a brief book and builds on the thread in “Americanah” of how the female gender is regarded in Nigerian society. Whilst clearly a subject that Adiche feels strongly about, it was all the more powerful as she did not tip into anger and bitterness, but rather demonstrated the love and affection she feels for her country and its people.

“Things Fall Apart” by the man – Chinua Achebe – came next and what a treat. A truly astounding novel. Beautiful, subtle, layered. Absolutely no lecturing, no hectoring, simply gorgeous story-telling. A story repeated throughout Africa, actually throughout the world wherever european imperialism has reached it’s tentacles. An important reminder that many of the world’s ills have been created by the drawing of boundaries to suit the european “owners” of overseas territories. How the fervence of missionaries was all too often backed by the military power of the european invaders. Whether you regard the tale of every day life depicted by Achebe as desirable or not, it was their life and we, the British, imposed our ways, our views, our religion and our ambitions upon them.

Lastly, “Half of a Yellow Sun” by Adiche again. Finally, the story of the civil war. I knew pathetically little and what I did know, came only from the British media, or from what I heard around the ex-pat community in Lagos. Some years ago, I met a man on a dating site. He was Nigerian who’d lived in England for many years because, as he told me “being Igbo, I had to leave after the war.” Knowing I’d lived in Lagos, he assumed I knew the significance of that statement. Feeling ashamed, I didn’t enlighten him of my ignorance. This book finally put that right. Here is the tale of the Biafran war told by Biafrans – the Igbo. I realise that there’s another side to this tale, as there always is, but the significance of foreign interference (or support – depending on your perspective) is unavoidable.

When I sat down to write this I realised – with some surprise – that all three of these  authors are of Igbo origin. But rather than ignore the fresh insight these books have provided me simply because they come from only one source, I’ve made a decision to seek out Nigerian authors of varying origins -such as Wole Soyinka & Helen Oyeyemi (both Yoruba), Lola Shoneyin (Remo), Ken Saro-Wiwa (Ogoni) and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Hausa) – to add to my knowledge of Nigeria. To that end, I’m also following New Books Nigeria where I’m sure to find recommendations to challenge my toppling To-Read list with some great offerings. And, as always, I welcome your recommendations.

Sometime in the future, I plan to revisit this piece to express yet further #secondthoughts of this unique country where I was fortunate to have spent my teenage years.

© Debra Carey, 2018

More flying pigs!

Pigs Might Fly

Let me introduce you to FV1611.

It – or rather she – is a truck and she is sitting at the back of the yard, surrounded by scrap metal and other vehicle parts.  FV means that it is a fighting vehicle, and you can tell that her shabbiness is not just caused by her abandonment in this junk end of the vehicle park.  This is a vehicle that has done some serious work in her time.

FV1611 is a Humber 1 ton (Brit, not metric tonne) payload, wheeled, armoured vehicle designed for the British Army.  Her primary role is troop-carrying and can carry eight blokes: one driver, one corporal/section commander as front passenger and six in the back, three each side. You need to be really friendly with your oppo ‘cos the back of FV16ll is somewhat bijou. And no windows, just little slits, so to make the most of the limited daylight somebody has painted the inside silver all over.  That’s got rubbed and shabby too.

The first of these vehicles, designated FV1600, were built in 1952 and the last models, the 1611 Mark 2s came out in 1955 and they were still in service forty years later, latterly on the streets of Northern Ireland in support of the police.  I did say she had done some serious work in her time.

She was built solid, but today’s elf’n’safety bods would have a heart attack if they went over her! Headroom? That’s a laugh, for a start! Bench seats at the back, no backs to them, no safety belts – not in the front either.  If you have to deploy out of her fast you don’t want your feet getting tangled up in your mate’s safety belt.  It’s bad enough with your own webbing.  And you have to hold your rifle; only the driver has a place to stash his weapon.  Cushions as hard as seasoned oak; but less comfortable.  But you don’t want comfort – you want alert. And there’s only one way out.

The best thing about her was the Rolls Royce engine, but don’t get the idea that she gave a Roll-Royce ride, oh no! Her suspension was as hard as the bench seats and – to get technical – the power : weight ratio was abysmal. No power steering, either, which meant that drivers got pretty sticky in the summer.

No, on the whole there’s not a lot to remember with delight about FV1611, but as I scramble over the junk to investigate further, a lot of memories come creeping in slowly.  I remember some good mates, some no longer with us, some in different worlds of their own, some happy with families.  We had unspoken rules for living together in cramped and Spartan places. What, for example, was in your ration pack was yours, but if you got any extras, beer, sweets, fags they were shared.  You looked after your buddy and he looked out for you.  You were a team.

I felt a prickle at the back of my eyes as I remembered some of those days, days which should not have been but were, and I could not feel regret at being there.  Those were the days when I was young and fit and invincible and the whole world was open to me.

And now my son says, “Careful Dad, that junk doesn’t look secure”, but I am now beside her, opening the driver’s door.  Some vandal has pulled out the speedo and smashed the other instrument glasses, but all the rest is still there.  She’s sad, and shabby, abandoned and forlorn.  Carefully I slip into the driver’s seat and hold the wheel again.  I look around the cab and get a shock – there are my initials just as I scratched them in the paint alongside the windscreen all those years ago. This I do not believe!

“Dad, Dad, come out of there – you’ll get caught!”  But I sit still for a few moments more, not exactly re-living the past but recalling ghosts, and especially the ghost of this machine FV1611 series, Mark 2, modified with bull-bars to take down barricades and extended anti-riot screens, and so heavy to drive and with such a lumbering performance they were nicknamed Flying Pigs.


© Alan F. Jesson 2018