"What is Flash!points?"

Flash!, a guide to writing very short stories is full of writing exercises, examples, and prompts to get you writing your own short-short stories. I’ve been asking folks to send us their results. You can contribute as well by sending your stories to me at and maybe you’ll see your story online! You can get your copy of the book here.




Larry Desautels


I stared from my seat at the full bar to the black cliffs and settling mist. “Looks lonely out there.”

The man Finbar turned to me: “Wailing winter winds put roaring on the sea, but that’s just a kiss you hear now, lad.”

“So it is, to be sure,” and the door closed behind the voice that entered the pub, to sit facing the fire, knee-high Wellies stretched to the heat of peat and coal.

“Ye’ll be late for the cable car Danny Duff, sittin’ with this rabble.” The bartender spoke without rising.

“Be stayin’ for the storm, and a whiskey will protect me from hearing about the sea from men sailin’ it from mountain farms.”

I waited for the others, for their response, then joined their laughter.  An outsider must not choose a side if it can be avoided. And out there, beyond the cliff-fall to the sea, the rugged, weeping, bold, purple hillsides of Dursey, curtained in gray gale, drove even the weathered to the hearth. I nodded to stand another round.

Danny Duff faced us now, from his chair across the room, wet back to the heat, and tipped to me his hat.  “It’s a rare thing to find a good man on a tall stool—a welcomed rare thing it is.”

And as night edged the day, adding darkness to the gray, we shared Guinness and whiskey in quiet communion until even the storm had enough and we all went our ways beneath a starred sky.


* * *


Larry teaches literature and writing and holds the Smith Writers Chair at Nichols School, which allows him to bring poets and writers, from around the country, to spend time in his classes. He has two poetry collections—Tying a Poem and Dancing with That Woman at Whiskey Woes. He’s had stories and poems published in Border Senses, Grit, Chest Journal (medical), Buffalo Rising, The Potomac, Grit, Illya’s Honey, The Plaza (Japan), Buffalo Spree, and Third Wednesday, among others.


Years ago, I spent a few months on the Beara Peninsula in the West of Ireland.  I did a lot of hiking and writing, and quite a bit of bar-sitting. “You’re only a stranger here once,” I was told on my first visit to Causkey’s in the village of Eyeries, by a lone patron perched on a tall stool.  “You may still be a strange one, but you’re a parishioner now. It’s time for communion.”

Eventually we were joined by a few others, and drank, in conversation, through a brief rain storm.  A week later I was watching the cable car make its journey to Dursey island on the western tip of the Beara, and it started to rain.  There was no bar nearby, but years later I built one in my mind, with a perfect view of Dursey, with a peat fire burning warm and roomful of craic.  “Refuge” is an evening in a perfect place, with a lesson, I suppose, that I learned somewhere in my travels.


Here’s one for you to try. GASTRONOMY. So now you’ll write a story in the form of a restaurant review. Read some, of course, to get the feel of the genre. There are thousands online. But we're here for the characters and the story, more than the food itself. So remember to use your five senses, which might be easier to do in a restaurant than anywhere else. For taste you might mention the incendiary ghost pepper cracker bombs; for smell maybe the perfume of bouquet in your potato leek soup; for hearing either the blare of TVs or the serenity of a Mozart string quartet over the sound system; for touch the texture of the linen napkin or the mouthfeel of the sprouted wheat bread; and for seeing, how about the caviar amuse which seems to be levitating on a cloud of smoke over a glass column. Tell us who you’re with; tell us what the trouble is.