After getting some very nice feedback on my last two Flash Fiction pieces I’ve decided to write a few more. One, because they’re fun to write, and two, they provide a welcome distraction when I get stuck on some of my longer pieces and the novel I’m working on.
After more than ten years, Billy Jenkins was free – no more watching him all the time. No more not being allowed to go beyond a certain distance, no more stupid grey trousers or lights out at a certain time – free to roam as far as the open road would take him.
For more than the past decade, almost every minute of his life had been controlled, monitored, and spied on, everything from what he wore, his behaviour, right down to the food he ate. Many’s a time he had considered trying to make a run for it, but he knew they’d simply bring him back, that he’d have to start over, convincing them he should once again be allowed the few small freedoms and choices that made his life a little better.
Billy was relishing the first day of his new found liberty. He finally understood when he heard people say, ‘there’s a whole wide world out there’, and here he was, a part of it, free to savour every moment of it.
The sheer thrill of hurtling down the road, weaving in and out of the slow moving traffic, the wind in his hair, no one to nudge him this way or that, it was hard to remember feeling so good.
And why shouldn’t he? He had earned it, proved he was safe to be let out. It wasn’t as though he’d never been free before; they had let him out a couple of times before, but always with restrictions, limitations, escorted everywhere, so much so he felt like a dog on a leash. Not any more though, he thought.
He slowed down, just long enough to smile and whistle at a girl walking along the pavement. She chuckled and smiled back. He would never have been allowed to do that before. And then he sped up again, he wanted to try and beat the lights, which he did. He’d never been so far before, not on his own, unsupervised, but no one was stopping him now, so he continued, on and on the rest of the day.
“Hi Billy, you had a good day did you?” His dad asked.
“Sure did dad,” Billy replied, “I must have ridden a hundred miles on the buses this morning, and ridden another hundred on the bike.”
“That’s great son, you’re growing up so fast it’s hard to keep track of you.”
Young Billy Jenkins hadn’t returned back home till nearly eight in the evening, the latest he’d been allowed out on his own in all his eleven years on the planet, but it was his birthday, and he’d gotten a racing bike. That, and the free to travel bus he was now old enough for, had opened up the whole wide world for him that day…
“That as maybe,” his mother interrupted, adding,” But it’s time for your dinner, then bath and bed young man.”
Billy sighed, knowing there were still a few more rules he had to abide by for now…
Posted on February 8, 2014, in Flash Fiction, Humour, Short Stories and tagged flash fiction, Freedom, humour, short story. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.
Little bit soppy for you but a nice story all the same.
Light-hearted, humorous and uplifting. I had the age thing sussed quite early on, but it was so well put together it didn’t spoil my enjoyment in the slightest. A nice piece of work, and once again it highlights both your imagination, and ability to put it together.
If I had one piece of constructive criticism; I’d let it end on Billy’s mother’s comment. Great!
I try not to read anyone’s opinion before I write a review but I did spot a response of yours; referring to a possible ‘anthology’ of your short story work. I think it would work for you.
Please keep me up to speed on the project. I recently downloaded a particularly good grammar/punctuation programme. ‘Grammarly’.
It might be worth checking it out. I’m going to check out another before I get back to ‘work’.
Lol.. The advice about ending on Billy’s mother’s comment is exactly what Damyanti advised too! And like I said to Damyanti, after having deleted the last line and ending it where you (both) suggest to see how it looks/reads, I have to admit I agreed, and as such, the version that appears in my freebie anthology will reflect your advice…
Simple and sweet I must say. I wish I could write something like that, but I guess I should stick to something that I do best and that is just content writing. When I start writing stories, I start enthusiastically, but half way down the page I am lost in my own imagination not knowing how to push the story further.
That’s incredibly nice of you to say so. As for content writing, I too envy your style and and ability in this field. Your write content and informative pieces with such clarity and beauty one could easily forget the non-fiction aspect of it. Your piece on the hidden sights/treasures of India was truly stunning, I had no idea of these places exist. I shall be commenting later on that piece to say so.
Thank you for your kind words, but I know I am still too far behind compared to native English writers. Initially, when I started writing professionally, I never really thought my writing had the power to even one reader across the world. I thought I was pathetic, but after a year or so I bought a samsung phone and I wrote a casual review of it on MouthShut.com and it was a surprise hit, people in thousands read it in a single day and I was like Whoa what’s happening….but I am still trying to raise the bar and beat my own work with something refreshing and new.
I did enjoy the read, but got swept up thinking about Billy as a kid getting to go out and do things, and forgot about the earlier (ten years later) part. When ADO’s comment had me looking back for that, then I was trying to figure out if the prison term was literal or figurative — as either way works quite nicely, but I’m sure you had one or the other in mind. Given other comments, my thought is that Billy has turned 18, but the grey trousers and talk of escape could make a case for the other… Definitely an engaging read, full of character.
The prison term/suggestion was figurative – Billy is just eleven years old, and the ‘past’ ten years is the time he’s spent feeling controlled since he was born, but now that he’s eleven years old he’s been given a bike for his birthday and he’s old enough now for a free child’s bus pass. The feeling of freedom he’s describing is the new found freedom he’s been given on account of having a bike and a bus pass, and the greater freedoms allowed him by his parents because of his getting older. The early references to feeling controlled/imprisoned are deliberately mis-leading to make you think he’s been in prison, but then, that’s turned on its head by his parents asking how his day was and his mom saying its now time for bath, dinner and bed…
Nice growing-up story. Though I’m wondering if we needed that last line…you show the reader what’s going on quite beautifully throughout, does it need a show in the last line? 😉 Just a thought.
And a very observant thought too… I took another look at the original draft and deleted the last line just to see how it would read/look, and yes, I see exactly what you mean. This piece is one I hope to include in an anthology I’m working in, and yes, I think in that I will indeed leave the last line out of it there. Thanks for commenting and the advice.
I really like this one too. Maybe a few more “implied” restrictions would add to the suspense but once again you really had my thoughts in one direction before the end. Thes stories would make a great colection!
Wow! Thanks. That’s one of the projects I’m working on, but because of their brevity it takes an awful lot of such stories to make a book sized collection. That said, I hope to have enough material for that by the summer.
Cleverly written and very engaging! The youthful desire for exploration is a theme that can be developed in so many unique ways. You did a great job with it in this piece.
Cheers for that, very kind of you to say so. And likewise, I thoroughly enjoyed your piece on a similar theme (Runaways Part1).
I enjoyed this. I really like the way you hinted that Billy was being confined against his will, then drew the parallel with childhood. Because that’s what childhood is, isn’t it? A prison where others are in control of your life and your freedom. I did find a few spots where I would do some light editing for punctuation or clarity. Overall, very well done! It held my interest and I wanted to find out what happened to Billy – which, for me as a reader, is the most important gauge of all.
Am pleased you enjoyed it. It’s not so much that childhood is a prison, with everyone controlling your life, but it can often seem that way to a child, especially as they reach that age where they want more independence.
I take your point about tidying it up a bit – I tend to write on the spur of the moment and then post ‘as is’ so to speak. I’m preparing some of my short stories and flash fiction pieces for a couple of anthologies I want to publish further down the line (summer time hopefully), and yes, I’m taking a much closer look at editing them for precisely the reasons you mention. But you got the gist of the story perfectly, and thank you so much for commenting, it’s really appreciated as always.