Sunday 14 July 2019

A Fruity Tale by Lynne Benton

When asked “Where do you get your ideas from?” how many of us reply, “From the dictionary”? 

But strangely enough, that was where some ideas came from at the recent writers’ retreat I went to in the Oxfordshire countryside.  There were 23 of us, all writers, and although some had deadlines to meet with their own projects, most attended the various sessions on offer.

One of these was called Flash Fiction, and it involved a group of us being given a random word from the dictionary and, without any previous thought or planning, having to write for 15 minutes (timed exactly) inspired by that word.

It was fascinating to discover what our brains came up with.  I’m sure the combined creative energy in the atmosphere of the place fuelled our ideas, and although there wasn’t time to hear everyone’s pieces, we heard enough to know that we all tackled the words we were given in different ways.  Some came up with a definition, some with a description, while others used the word as part of a story.

One of the words we were given was “Peach”.

One of the group wrote a description of a peach that was so exquisite that you could almost taste it.  I, on the other hand, found a story leaping into my head, and finishing it as the words “Time’s Up” were pronounced I discovered that I’d actually managed a whole story, complete with punchline, in exactly 15 minutes. 

But where my brain found it from I have no idea.  This was my story, unedited, exactly as I wrote it at the time:


     “What shall we call her?” Annie asked.  “She’s so beautiful, just like a ripe peach.”
     “Let’s call her that, then,” said Matt.  “Peach.  It’s a nice name for a little girl.”
     Annie thought for a moment as she stroked her daughter’s downy head.  “She won’t have many others with that name in her class when she goes to school,” she said.  “Peach it is.”
     The registrar looked slightly doubtful as he entered her name in the register.  “No second name?” he queried.  “In case she doesn’t like her first?”
     “No.”  Matt shook his head.  He had volunteered to go and register the baby’s birth.  “Just Peach.”
He’d been rather afraid that if he left it to Annie she might change her mind and call the baby after her mother or her grandmother.  And he couldn’t imagine saddling a child with their names – they were so old-fashioned.
     Peach, though, was different.  New, modern, unusual.  And it suited her.
     Ten years later, it still suited her, with her pink cheeks, though she often threatened to deck anyone who tried to call her “Peachy”.
     “My name is Peach,” she said loftily.  “Like the fruit.”
     “Round and squashy, you mean,” said Charlie, so she decked him.  She was sensitive about her shape.  It wasn’t her fault that she looked like her grandmother, who was shaped rather like a barrel.
Things grew harder for her as she grew up.  She envied the tall, slim girls in her school, while she remained short and round.
     “But you’re so pink and sweet,” said Annie, when Peach confessed to her one day.
     “I don’t care!  I wish you’d given me another name – one that didn’t mean anything!” sobbed Peach.  “You didn’t even give me a second name I could use!”
     “Blame your father for that,” said Annie crisply.  “He registered your birth.  I wanted to call you Melanie Peach.  That would have been all right, wouldn’t it?”
     “NOOOH!” wailed Peach.

I promise I’d never thought of the name Melanie as being remotely fruity – until the moment I’d written it and suddenly realised how very apt it was for this story!  Maybe I should have called it “A Tale of Two Fruits”, except that it would have given the ending away...

visit my website:

Latest book: The Mermaid of Zennor (pub. Franklin Watts)



Penny Dolan said...

How nice to find that workshop recalled here- and your gently amusing story.

Lynne Benton said...

Thank you, Penny. It was fun, wasn't it?