Angel of F(light)

Image of a burning effigy used as a prompt for a flash fiction / microfiction story
©Jimmy Fell

I was on final warning and wanted out, a dangerous combination. Sean and I’d grasped the concept of hot air rising and were keen to test possibilities of flight. We climbed the wooden angel, the centrepiece for the Christmas pageant, and tacked sails to her wings. We had no idea what else to factor in for flight, but that wasn’t going to stop us. Dividing our stash of Queen’s Birthday firecrackers into two, each taped up and under a wing, we prepared for take-off by dousing long ropes fashioned as wicks in petrol, throwing matches at them, and bolting for cover.

Like fiery snakes, the wicks set the grass ablaze before slithering up the angel, hem to halo. Her plastic sails shrivelled as she burnt like the furnace of hell we’d been warned was our destiny. By some divine act of the burning effigy, the firecrackers went off just as the nuns appeared, habits flapping and a chorus of “Good Grief!” accompanying the raucous pops.

Our laughing faces, morphed by firelight and dancing shadows gave us menacing looks the nuns swore were the devil incarnate. Bursts of colour in the night sky heralded our imminent freedom from the nuns’ charge.


Exactly 200 words for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge #2. This took some work to cull down to the 200 words. I like the exercise of making my writing more precise and less waffly. Jane, if you are reading this- thanks, and critical feedback most welcome.

18 thoughts on “Angel of F(light)

  1. Excellent! Reminds me of when my younger brother and his friend “borrowed” his friend’s stepfather’s gunpowder to use for their model rockets…luckily no one knew about it until many years later (and luckily they both survived to tell about it without starting a major fire)…(K)

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      1. Fair enough. I’m really enjoying the visual prompts but need to get back to my novel now that I’ve completed my course. Ok mission for this evening’s commute…

        Have a nice night x

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  2. Another one I almost missed! Concentration has been lacking lately and it’s not going to get better in the short term. I like the way you add the necessary details like the nuns without an explanation or backstory because it ultimately doesn’t matter—we can imagine. I was expecting the two kids to attach themselves to the angel but you make it clear that they didn’t (thank goodness!). Nice ending too with just enough ambiguity—did they get kicked out of school or not? Only quibble I’d have is with the idea that any kid would have more of an idea of hot air rising than of what happens when you light fires. I can’t see a way round that though. They obviously needed fire as well as hot air, to set off the firecrackers. Maybe they thought the firecrackers would act as reactors? You write it well enough though for us to suspend disbelief and just go with the fun.

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    1. Thanks for the prompt and also the feedback! Is that (concentration lacking) due to your book release activity?

      I get what you mean about understanding hot air rising but not the basics of combustion haha. I think the kids were smart, just me having limited imagination to get that bit more plausible…I need to get into the minds of scheming 12 year olds! I love the connection you made to the two kids in the other post- it hadn’t even occured to me, but perhaps a subconscious theme extending that prompt to this week. They thought the fire would help with propulsion (maybe?).


      1. The house transaction has been pretty hairy. We’re buying it from a horny handed peasant and they are notoriously unwilling to let go of what they still consider to be their property, even after they’ve received the chèque.
        About the kids and fire, it was just a thought that most kids would know that when you set light to dry wood you get a fire not hot air, since playing with matches, magnifying glasses etc is pretty standard behaviour. I couldn’t see how you’d get your fire though without playing on the way children get carried away by their enthusiasm and do things they know are really utterly stupid.

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      2. I thought you’d bought your house months ago- is that the one you posted about the wiring? Like around the time abomination came out? Sounds like a stressful situation for you and the vendor. Yes, wss channeling ‘utterly stupid’ but also idea of hot air balloon with fire under the wings draped with fabric. I perked your bext challenge – will let it fester till i have time on my monday commute 😊


      3. House buying takes forever in France. Like four and a half months, and that was quick! Let the ideas fester. They should be pleasantly horrible by tomorrow 🙂


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