Remembering a Time (Five Sentence Fiction, May 2012)

The prompt this week from Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction was ‘Foggy’.



Jacob sat at his window, watching the fog rolling in across the Sussex downs, and remembered a time, long ago, when the great London smog had lingered over the capital for days, closing schools, disrupting transport, endangering health.

Those were the days when coal was the primary source of power for industry and heating for homes, its thick, sulphurous fumes creeping along streets, under doorways, and into lungs, constricting airways, killing thousands.

In those days, schools sent their pupils home at the first sign of the black fog descending, closing their doors with no pre-warning to parents, who struggled home from work on foot, to find their children either sitting on the doorstep or taking shelter with kindly neighbours.

That had been a time, Jacob recollected, when people trusted each other to rally round because it was second nature to offer help where you could, and so when a car had crawled out of the swirling fog and slowed to a halt, its amber headlights glowing like the eyes of the devil, a child had climbed in beside a driver, expecting nothing more than a lift home.

As the fog rolled ever closer blotting out the countryside but not the past, Jacob grieved, remembering a time, and reflecting that a child had a right to expect more from the people in his world.

About Sandra

I used to cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and wrote fiction and poetry. Now I live on the beautiful Dorset coast, enjoying the luxury of being able to have a cat, cultivating an extensive garden and getting involved in the community. I still write fiction, but only when the spirit moves me - which isn't as often as before. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
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14 Responses to Remembering a Time (Five Sentence Fiction, May 2012)

  1. Sandra, this is amazing! Your imagery is very strong. I could almost smell the black coal residue. I love the way you book-ended it and the poignant message in the end. Wonderful use of the prompt. Powerful writing. Loved it.


  2. Great piece Sandra … I didn’t know that about the black fog. Scary. Let’s hope we can one day give our children back the hope they deserve.


  3. Sandra says:

    Hi Robert, thanks for commenting. Glad you found it interesting. The London smog lasted for 5 days during December 1952, during which time 12,000 people were estimated to have died, and a further 8,000 subsequently. This episode led to the introduction of the Clean Air Act but improvements were slow to improve the situation, and a similar episode took place during 1963. Even as a child, later than this and living in the industrial north west of England, I remember the ‘pea soupers’ that made your airways burn and left soot in your nostrils and on your hair and over your clothes.


  4. Sandra, I always look forward to reading your entries in 5sf; you always provide a complete world in such a limited format. I’m really enjoyed the historical facts, imagery and setting of your piece and then how you twist it back around to the present in the last sentence. Beautiful.


  5. sifdal says:

    Excellent scene setting for what sounds to be a tragic story!


  6. Sandra says:

    Thanks Jo-Anne, appreciate your dropping by and glad you enjoyed it.


  7. So beautifully written Sandra, and a heartbreaking final sentence. You’ve packed so much into a tiny piece and the punch you leave us with is quietly devastating! I’m really enjoying your writing and attention to detail.


  8. ahblack57 says:

    As always, I enjoyed what you had to say. A story shared rather than told. I love the way you imply rather than hitting us over the head. You are quite a talent.


  9. Your punch hit me hard… in the solar plexus… and left me breathless!
    Such beautiful writing! My heart sank when I read the last sentence.


  10. Such a poignant picture full of perfectly executed imagery. Amazing what you can do with just five sentences!!


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