Friday Fictioneers: On the letters of Shelley


Photograph by Danny Bowman, of Ol Doinyo Lengai in Tanzania, Africa, “the only volcano in the world that erupts natrocarbonatite lava,” according to NASA. The lava is “extremely cool . . . and relatively fluid.” Note that I did not use the actual location of the photograph (and I imagined “Hornmouth”) to write my flash fiction. In fact, I noticed the location only after I had written this story and when I downloaded Mr. Bowman’s photograph for the Friday Fictioneers flash fiction challenge.

Lovers’ subduction and the letters of Shelley

GENRE: Flash fiction, modern fiction, slightly speculative

Word Count: approximately 146

Bringing a bird up here is daft.

James knew he shouldn’t have let Gavin wheedle him into it. Not only was it a difficult hike—if they legged it, some 12 kilometers from Hornmouth—but would anything come of it?


Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who wrote “Ozymandias.”

“The letters of Shelley,” Gavin had said then chuckled.

In reality nobody knew where the famed lost letters of the dead Romantic poet were buried.

“C’mon, love,” James gestured to today’s scrummy date, Trudi.

Finally the mist stopped long enough to reveal that the crater-sprinkled ground had subducted in some spots. Nearby a miniature mountain, several Sisyphus-sized boulders were strewn, but one erect column adjacent demanded their eyes.

As the couple neared, they could begin to make out the etching.

The word Ozymandias and more text snaked down the earth-upshooting.

Taking out his mobile for a snap, James concluded, “Blymie, who knew Shelley was a vandal?”


I go over the word limit, but this flash fiction was nonetheless written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers’ Challenge of 7 March 2014. I encourage you to take part!


5 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers: On the letters of Shelley

  1. Dear Leigh,

    I’ll have to admit that I’m a bit confused. The couple is James and Trudi and Gavin is a bird? Perhaps I need to be more familiar with Shelley?
    I like the line “but one erect column adjacent demanded their eyes.”
    Again you’re perfectly within your rights to link this story on the list.



    • Rochelle, thank you for your comments. On re-reading it, I can see how this would be confusing. In my slightly longer rewrite, there was even another character (very marginal, like Gavin, who is also not present when Trudi and James are hiking to this secluded, lover’s leap kind of a place)! I pictured this crowd as university-aged and a group of blokes with one marginal girl character (dropped to shorten the story). Trudi is kind of a tag-along for the “couple” aspect of the story and so I could introduce the “lover’s subduction” scenario. I’m pretty familiar with British slang (I watch and have watched quite a bit of Brit TV and football on telly); “bird” is a Brit term for girl or young woman. My perception is that it’s chiefly used by twenty-somethings, but I could be wrong on that. (Here are a couple sources for Brit slang, if you’re interested. Obviously, as you said on your blog, Wikipedia is a springboard more than anything: and Thanks for noting that I could link up; I won’t abuse the privilege and will keep it to 100 words next time. Have a fantastic day!

  2. (Smacks her forehead) Ah that kind of bird. I should know that! Very popular word during the so-called British Invasion in the 60’s. Now that makes a lot more sense.

    • Thank you so much, Brandy. I, too, love Shelley’s writing; I should read him again (and again). Haven’t done as much since university. Have a great weekend! Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s