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The Rhubarb Fight #fridayflash

July 15, 2010

It was one of those summer days when the sun seems set to shine forever, and the cloudless sky is blue to infinity. They were running into Uncle Mick’s new garden. The two pairs of cousins ignored the colours and perfumes of the flowers all around and the dragonfly hovering over the pond, and ran instead to the fruit & vegetable plot. They could see the vastly overgrown stalks of rhubarb, the tallest, fattest stems of rhubarb ever seen, blushing to the roots at their own excess. Each stalk outdid the last in joie de vivre. Eyes wide with surprise, the children laughed spontaneously.

Looking back, nobody remembered how it started or whose idea it was, but all in a moment they were brandishing their rhubarb swords, and, armed with the leaves as shields, they were transformed into knights of the garden, fighting to win the rhubarb crown. They lunged and parried, ducked and dodged, thrust and went right for the kill. If a sword snapped, what did it matter? There were plenty more held in that rose-red armoury.

The entire surrounding world was focused on that outbreak of joy. The bees’ chuckles reverberated in their throats, the doves cooed in wonder. The magpies scolded as they scavenged, the wood pigeons beat their wings in applause. The bonfire in the next garden sent smoke signals of encouragement at first, until the breeze held its breath in wonder. Uncle Mick’s geriatric spaniel, already three feet in the grave, jogged doggedly towards the arena, scenting a sense of fun he had not experienced since his puppy days; a reminder shot through his limbs that he was no longer a pup, and he sank back down to rest, but the pain couldn’t blot out the gleam in his eye that had not been seen for months.

Eventually, the sun could last out no longer, and brought to an end that perfect day. The jousting abated and the tournament was over, with everyone a champion. The children went in, tired but happy. Their arms and legs were painted red and green. Their clothes, Picasso-style, would reveal a perfect image of childhood joy, if you knew how to look. The ruby memories went with them into adulthood.

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From → Short Stories

30 Comments
  1. That was lovely. There is poetry in them thar prose. The imagery is both joyous and vivid.

    Welcome to #fridayflash.
    ~jon

  2. Beautifully painted. I could see and hear everything. A very well-captured afternoon of childhood.

    Nicely done.

  3. This is delightful. You’re so caught up in the awe of the day that it’s hard to resist joining you, and why would I want to resist anyway?

  4. Lovely story. Though, I feel a bit sorry for the owner of the rhubarb field.

  5. Oh what a lovely piece. The imagery is really vivid and I can so picture the day and the children fighting, and almost smell the rhubarb.

    Well done 🙂

  6. Lovely #fridayflash debut! I have a big smile on my face.
    “blushing to the roots at their own excess” – great line

    My favourite bit was the spaniel – I grew up with a dog who reached that kind of age, so that made me go awwww 🙂

  7. Deanna Schrayer permalink

    As others have said, beautiful imagery here. Lovely story.

    Welcome to #fridayflash!

  8. Oh, that is beautiful. Perfectly described, such lovely moments! My favourite is the dog, “the pain couldn’t blot out the gleam in his eye that had not been seen for months.” This is so wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Lady Scribbles permalink

    Wow, Sue! This is a beautiful piece. I love your skill in starting and finishing with descriptions of colour – bringing the entire story full circle. As others have said already, there is poetry in your prose. I have never thought of bees ‘chuckling’ before – but sure why wouldn’t they? 🙂 It’s a beautiful day beautifully described and brings back so many memories of similar days of childhood spent with ‘summer cousins’ (the ones we’d only see in the summer). There are too many fabulous turns of phrase to just pluck out one for praise. Well done! ~ Hazel

  10. That was so visual, I felt I was there. Great debut!!

  11. This is a very nice story. I was really struck by how you handled the dog’s reaction: “a reminder shot through his limbs that he was no longer a pup, and he sank back down to rest.” That along with many other beautiful descriptions make this a very nice piece.

    One suggestion on tightening the first paragraph: I’d combine the sentences, “They were running into Uncle Mick’s new garden. The two pairs of cousins ignored the colours and perfumes of the flowers all around and the dragonfly hovering over the pond, and ran instead to the fruit & vegetable plot.” “The two pairs of cousins running into Uncle Mick’s new garden, ignored the colours and perfumes…” They ran instead to the fruit…” I try to excise the “to be” verbs from my opening paragraph when I can, so consider that when considering the suggestion.

    Welcome to Friday Flash.

    • Thank you so much, Kim, for your comments and suggestions. I greatly appreciate the ideas for improving the first paragraph, it works much better like that. I shall remember that for future writing. It was good of you to take the time to help.

  12. Great debut! Welcome to #fridayflash. I loved the imagery throughout and I could absolutely taste the rhubarb. My Aunt Liz made a rhubarb cobbler that was to die for…. and I thought of that turn of phrase because the whole time I was reading I was thinking…gee I hope they wash their hands when they go in…rhubarb leaves are toxic. [so I was sucked in pretty deep lol]

    Great flash.
    Karen :0)

  13. mmarier permalink

    Really captured it. It reminded of when me and my brothers used to make apple whips. I hadn’t thought of that time until I read this story. The smells and the sounds and the feeling rushed me back like a subway car. Thanks. I enjoyed this a lot.

  14. Great imagery. Love the rhubarb blushing to its roots and the dog being reminded of his age, in particular.

    Congrats on a great #fridayflash debut!

  15. Blackbirdsong permalink

    This was a beautiful #fridayflash debut. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  16. Rachel permalink

    Absolutely wonderful. Fantastically visual and horribly funny. I love the dog with the three feet in the grave! I really thought they would get in trouble for destroying the rhubarb and held my breath til the end!
    Feels like you enjoyeed that 🙂 Brillinat , Sue. Can’t wait until the next one!

  17. Hi Sue, I thought your use of imagery in this was lovely and I could really feel the hot summer day. Have to say also, as this was my 1st visit to your blog, I read Mrs. Meadow’s Medical Matters too and I’m still laughing – brilliant.

  18. Sueperfluous, my story with beautiful turns of phrases. It reminded me of growing up and how everyone had a rhubarb bush sitting in the corner of the gardens and in the spring would hover larger than the rest of the garden overseeing its kingdom. Welcome to Friday flash.

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