I recently came across a wonderful new Twitter account which asks for submission for 30 word stories. I’ve not been in the best of health recently and at times I’ve felt that nobody and nothing could ever pull me through – not even the Brontës. But whilst reading about flash fiction, an idea was born. The Brontës came back to me. The Brontës called to me and inspired me once more. The road is long but I know they are always there.
I penned a story and sent it off on Twitter. Then I penned my “Ode to Charlotte”, barely thinking about what I was doing. It felt good. I wanted to see if I could inspire those who have also been inspired by the Brontës to flex their creative muscles. I posted on social media, asking for submissions for 30 word stories. In the end, I decided that about the 30 word mark is fine (with one exception). I just wanted to see what people could come up with. I’m really very grateful to those who took the time to come up with a piece and send it across to me. So here is our flash fiction tribute to the Brontës. The title is taken from Charlotte’s famous quote from her Roe Head Journal. I’ve really enjoyed reading the stories below. Reader, I hope you will too.
Please also take time to check the bios of the authors in the footnotes below; they have lots of interesting projects to enjoy too!
Ode to Charlotte by Nicola F
I’m just going to write because I cannot help it. Except when I can’t. When the words run dry. But they will return. I can feel it in the Eyre.
Charlotte by Amy Shore[i]
A pen scratches into the future from the deep recesses of longing. Somewhere outside, a solitary rook cries. It makes its way into the page, forever entombed. ‘Reader, hear me’.
Ode to Charlotte by Maria van Mastrigt[ii]
Like a red line you run through my life, would not have it any other way! Thank you Charlotte for all you’ve done for me, though you’re probably not aware.
The Answer to a Maiden’s Prayers by Joan Greening[iii]
Charlotte watched her father’s eyesight deteriorating. If he was no longer the priest, they would lose the house. She needed a solution and turned her gaze on Arthur Bell Nicholls.
Charlotte’s Table by Dave Gertler[iv]
In dreary chambers, I write of love’s consuming flames, of passion’s piercing urgency. Fly to his side, dearest; take his hand, his heart, his vow. Live these wonders for me.
Deo Gratias: CBrontë Dared not Write by Marie C. Hennedy [v]
Villette reverberates CBrontë’s reply to Southey: “What a treasure is thought! What a privilege is reverie!” Literature [Storytelling] was the business of that woman’s life, and ought to be ours.
Guidance by Dave Gertler
I once feared the red room, the Reverend, the night visitor. I hoped for kinship, affection, even love.
Fear and hope have receded; fate alone now shepherds me through desolation.
Charlotte’s Window by Christina Rauh Fishburne[vi]
She settled the inkwell on the sill with the needles, doll, map, and seaglass. It rested between other closed things, on the edge of the world only she saw now.
Childhood Struggles by E.A. Colquitt[vii]
Unable to analyse my feelings, let alone express them justly, I was grateful when ‘Jane’ admitted so, too. If she eventually gained command of herself…why shouldn’t I, one day?
The Madwoman by Nicola F
I am the madwoman. I’ve struggled, I’ve cried, I’ve been confused. I have haunted the house. I am afraid. But I am no bird and no anxiety net ensnares me.
Memory of the Pages by Laura Rocklyn[viii]
A torn page. A folded corner. An inscription. A tear stain. My copy of Jane Eyre tells the stories of all the readers who have found inspiration in its pages.
The Promised Land by Emmeline Burdett[ix]
‘A strong wish for wings’. The Pensionnat de Demoiselles Heger-Parent. A ‘choleric, black, ugly, being’. Genius recognised. ‘I shall see you again one day’. Letters unanswered. Wings clipped.
Char-bot by Liam Hilditch[x]
Charlotte Brontë was many things, a writer mostly, of which many a person paid attention. If more attention was paid to the laureate, they might have noticed the robotic arm…
Where the Flower Falls by Karen Bryony Rose[xi]
Her hand lay in mine as I watched her fade into the light. Where was my sister? The assurance of the waters waned and became the bearer of her spirit.
The Rose by Nicola F
Do not judge this rose too quickly. She is beautiful and delicate. But she is strong with roots firmly planted in reality despite her spirit now looking out to sea.
A Warning by Dave Gertler
My aunt’s hand clutched my arm as Arthur departed. “Beware, Helen, of handsome men with pretty words.”
“You quite underestimate me,” I protested.
“Perhaps,” she sighed, “but he does not.”
Emily and Branwell by Rebecca Batley[xii]
It was nothing more than a flutter in her eye line. She looked up, wiping flour from her hands. He lay down on the stones beneath the sun blistered sky.
Branwell by Nicola F
Toy soldiers and fantasy lands, genii and magic, battles and power, a land of dreams, a land of literature. I follow in your footsteps Brontë boy. Your legacy lives on.
Darling Brother by Rachel Maria Bell[xiii]
Taught to pray beside big sister’s bed
Learnt early that your prayers weren’t enough
To keep her alive
Boy, you carried that weight a long time.
Branwell by Rachel Maria Bell
Descended from the glorious battle fields
Dropped in for 31 years of 19th century Yorkshire
Child prodigy, bereaved, sensitive, tormented, hopeless, addicted, shamed
Karma seeped through your veins like rum
StarStruck by Emily in Gondal[xiv]
Emily liked starlight best. The limitless night stirred her inky depths, cradling one lucky star floating featherlike on ghostly trails smaller than script, quietly enough to hear footsteps in Gondal.
Beginnings… by Leonore E. Blacklock[xv]
The sullen creature arrived from Liverpool, wrapped in Father’s great coat, and soon grew to usurp the others in the old man’s affections. Later he became Emily Brontë’s dog Keeper.
Seventeen by E.A. Colquitt
With our own divinely dreary landscape, we speak of spirits first encountered at fourteen. Then, it was love. Now, we are older, wise enough to recognise the ultimate outsider’s tale.
Untitled by Rachel Maria Bell
Who’s that tapping at the window?
Just me, living my happy eternity.
Oh, did you think it was a fir tree?
You’re right. Abies. The rising one.
In the Parsonage by Mrs Sue[xvi]
The tiny books and soldiers sit proudly on the shelf, through the window I can see the dog running around the garden.
Beyond the garden gate, the church stands waiting…
HONRESFIELD by Amber Elby[xvii]
The ink is fading yet fearsome, stained as old blood.
A map that is treasure: brittle, beloved, buried for years.
Gone again in a bang like thunder. A gavel.
Wycoller by Mrs Sue
Cobbles surround a parsonage and lead to a school room. Three girls and a boy race o’er the moors, crossing country border, to stop at Wycoller Hall and paddle in’t stream.
After I Finished Reading by E.A. Colquitt
I told myself I must go back to that front-page elopement. Re-read, from first to twenty-fifth. For the nut does taste simple and beautiful, and the sea is my delight.
The Steam Train by Theo[xviii]
Information on the Authors
[i] Amy Shore lives in California and writes children’s plays, poetry and long and short stories. She’s hopelessly obsessed with Jane Eyre. Her first novel, Adele, will be self-published in January 2022. Check out her author page at amyshore58.wordpress.com.
[ii] Maria van Mastright is a Brontë fan who kindly contributed a story to this post.
[iii] Joan Greening is a playwright who will be taking her play, Rossetti’s Women, to the 2021 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. She also wrote “At Home with the Brontës.” For more information on her works you can visit her website www.joangreening.com.
[v] Now 80, Marie C. Hennedy recommends you experience Lucy Snowe’s coming of age tale by responding to Villette’s evolving prose. No Victorian novel, it’s English Literature’s first/best mystery story, modern, and postmodern novel.
[vi] Christina Rauh Fishburne is an American writer, artist, and Brontë lover currently living in England. She has an MFA from the University of Alabama and her website is www.christinarauhfishburne.com.
[vii] E.A. Colquitt is an emerging writer, twice longlisted in Reflex Fiction’s quarterly flash competition. She’s been a Brontë fan for nearly a decade, now, and is working on her first novel. Her website is eacolquitt.wordpress.com.
[viii] Laura Rocklyn is an actress, writer, and first person historical interpreter. She recently won the 2021 “LitMag” Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction, and she is an Acting Troupe Member with History At Play in Boston. You can find Laura on Instagram and Twitter as @Laura_Lost_in_Time, and her website is www.LauraRocklyn.com.
[ix] Emmeline Burdett is a Brontë fan who kindly contributed a story to this post.
[x] Liam Hilditch thought outside of the box slightly with his sci-fi twist.
[xi] Karen Bryony Rose is an English Literature and History graduate and qualified archivist, Karen has always been fascinated by the past and is an Old Soul. She balances her time as an information professional, writer and journalist and is currently working on her historical novel. Find her at www.karenbryonyrose.co.uk.
[xii] Rebecca Batley is a Brontë fan who kindly contributed a story to this post.
[xiii] Rachel Maria Bell is an Intuitive Astrologer and her website is rachelmariabell.com . She is also a visionary & author @ Waking up with the Brontës and the website is wakingupwiththebrontes.org
[xiv] EmilyInGondal creates photographic and mixed media artwork inspired by Emily Brontë, her family, writings, life and landscapes. Find her on Etsy for cards, prints and limited edition handmade items at www.etsy.com/uk/shop/EmilyInGondal.
[xv] Leonore E. Blacklock is a Brontë fan who kindly contributed a story to this post.
[xvi] Mrs Sue loves to enjoy the scenery, surroundings, and nature on her trips to Haworth and Wycoller.
[xvii] Amber Elby is an author, professor, playwright, and Anglophile. She is currently involved in a project to bring the Brontës’ works from the Honresfield Library home to Haworth. The twitter account for this is @BringBrontesHom. Yes, that’s a correct spelling; without an e.
[xviii] Theo enjoyed his recent first trip to Haworth and his ride on the steam train and he wrote a story about it for this post.
In Loving Memory of Bob the Bichon (2007-2019)
A lover of life, the Brontës, and Haworth who knows that I’m just going to write because I can’t help it.
Compiled by Nicola F. a.k.a. The Brontë Babe.
Thanks for reading. I’d love it if you stopped by The Journal of Juvenilia Studies where you can read my essay, “Autobiography, Wish-Fulfilment, and Juvenilia. The ‘Fractured Self’ in Charlotte Brontë’s Paracosmic Counterworld”.
Please do not copy, share, or use the images from this post without seeking permission first.