Feb 192015

Happy New Year and welcome to Micro Bookends 1.19! Today is Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival, and the beginning of The Year of the Goat. The Chinese calendar is lunisolar so the date of New Year varies according to the Gregorian calendar each year. People born in goat years (1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015) are said to be calm and gentle, creative, have fewer health problems, and prefer to be in groups though do not like to be the centre of attention.

New Year is a major holiday for the Chinese. It is traditional for families to clean the house to sweep away ill-fortune and make way for good luck. Houses are decorated with red lanterns and couplets expressing good fortune and happiness. Gifts of money are exchanged in red envelopes and fireworks are set off, at least in places that still allow it. Lion dances are performed to drive away evil spirits and incense is burned to usher in a prosperous new year.

Here is this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: matthewwu88 via CC.

Photo Credit: matthewwu88 via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Deborah B. Foy, winner of MB 1.18. Read her winning stories and what she has to say about flash fiction here.


A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with SPRING and ending with FESTIVAL and incorporating the photo prompt.


Anyone, but especially you!


Why not! Because it’s fun. Because it’s a challenge. Because the winner will receive their own winner’s page, their story on the winning stories list, a ‘who is the the author’ feature to be posted next week, entry into the ‘Micro Bookend of the Year’ competition, and a copy of this year’s winning stories compilation.


Now! Get your entry in BEFORE 5:00 am Friday (UK time: http://time.is/London).




Post your story in the comments section. Include the word count and your Twitter username (if you’re Twitterized). Don’t forget to read the full rules before submitting your story.

Anything else?

Please give your story a title. It will not be included in the word count.

Please try to leave comments on a couple of other stories. It’s all part of the fun, and everyone likes feedback!

Remember, only stories that use the bookends exactly as supplied (punctuation is allowed) will be eligible to win.

  167 Responses to “Micro Bookends 1.19 – SPRING [micro] FESTIVAL”

  1. Chao (word count: 108)

    Spring round the corner. That’s what he said. Just spring round the corner and look as though you`re having fun. I held my tongue. I always hold my tongue. Have done ever since it happened … twelve years ago.
    Look at that idiot Chao. Drooling over his precious fireworks. I can’t believe he was allowed to buy so many. Not after what happened the last time. And who gave him the money for them anyway? He squanders the little he manages to scramble together on drink.
    If I had been to blame, I would probably drink too.
    The Year of the Goat, it would never be my festival.



    Brian S Creek
    110 words

    “Spring,” said Chris, sniffing the vapours. “That’s what it reminds me of.”
    Exasperated, Mike glanced over. “Would you stop lighting incense and give me a hand?”
    “You’re doing fine,” said Chris as he saw his friend keep the Lesser-Spotted Dragon at bay with several sluggish sword swings. “Remember, you’re the muscle.”
    “Zombies, ghosts and robots, you said.” Mike stepped to the left and dodged the dragon’s lethal claws, “You never said we’d be fighting dragons!”
    The attack ceased then, the Dragon coughing and spluttering before it collapsed at Mike’s feet.
    “What the hell?”
    “Whispers Sticks,” said Chris. He held up a packet. “Picked them up last year at a festival.”

  3. Rebirth
    110 words

    Spring brings renewal, but I want to keep this skin.
    Once the parade was done the dragon was discarded, its body segmented, each part going their separate ways.
    I miss the simplicity of dragon life. In the dragon we move as one, a living chain. In the world life’s jagged, lacking fluidity.
    Today I saw Dani in the district. In the dragon we were soulmates, effortlessly linked. I would anticipate her every move and replicate it seconds later, just the smallest nuance of change. Out here, she looked confused, almost annoyed to see me.
    I’m sorry for what came next.
    I want to keep this skin, begin a new festival.

  4. Too Close
    109 words

    An: “Spring?”

    Bai: “Just like that, isn’t it?”

    An: “Hand me the lion mask, will you?”

    Bai: “Do you see that dragon?”

    Yellow eyes narrow to slits and smoke puffs curl from nostrils.

    An: “Evil spirits don’t live in dragons, do they?”

    Bai: “Won’t you hurry and take the mask?”

    An: “Why hurry?”

    Bai: “And do the dance?”

    A black dragon scale plinks the tiled floor. Leathery wings flare.

    An: “Is it working?”

    Bai: “Does it look like it?”

    An: “Do you think I can tell with my face covered?”

    Dragon lizard body hurtles out the window. Too close.

    Bai: “What if that had been our last festival?”

  5. word count 106


    Spring has apparently sprung
    Wish I was still young
    That there was joy for me in the budding flowers
    And that I could laugh in the face of Spring showers

    Bitter is what I’ve become
    No musical tempo in my hum
    Drowning in despair
    Losing mobility along with my hair

    Old age no longer invites respect
    I’m looked at by colleagues as If I have a defect
    I’m not concerned with racism
    To much on my plate fighting ageism

    My boss is a flaming dragon
    Says I’m always flagging
    With my emotions I’m wrestling
    I’ve been asked to organize the St. Patrick’s Day Festival

  6. Sorry David an extra word if I could get rid of the me in the last line thanks x

  7. @stellakateT
    106 words

    Father and Son

    “Spring into action” yelled Mother.

    Since Father died I was expected to fill his shoes. Trouble was I had small feet; his were the largest ever to walk this earth. I pulled the Dragon’s head on to my shoulders, how was I to learn the Dance? Father sent me away years ago; he thought a college education was my card out of slavery! We were never slaves but his Grandpa worked for the Shanghai railway, cutting through solid rock with his bare hands went the legend.

    Smelling the incense, watching the Dragon Dance I prayed my Mother would think it was me and enjoy the festival.

  8. 100 words

    Waking the Dragon Woman

    ‘Spring’ announced Jack, bringing with him a draft of icy air and a flash of daylight.

    ‘SPRING?’ she roars, her dragon hat flapping about her head.

    ‘Have you seen the snowdrops?’

    ‘Gah, sodding snow, still winter….leave me ALONE!’, the ragged dragon hat dips and Jack watches as she wraps the blanket closer around her, until she is a mound of swaddling with a dragon hat on top.

    Jack sighs, lights an incense stick, moving quietly around the darkened space.

    Too soon to wake this hibernating dragon woman, too soon for light and air – not quite time here for Spring Festival.

  9. Culture Clash

    @geofflepard 108 words

    ‘Spring fever.’
    ‘Do you think it’s a phase?’
    ‘It’s his sap rising. Nothing to do with tides.’
    ‘He’ll want a party.’
    ‘Sacrifice a goat then.’
    ‘Aren’t they vegans?’
    ‘They’re from China not Venus.’
    She stacked the plates. ‘I’ll need a hat.’
    ‘At least they don’t wear ties.’
    ‘And some shoes.’
    He cracked his fingers. ‘They bind their feet, you know.’
    ‘Maybe it stops corns. Will he want fireworks?’
    ‘No 76 will complain.’
    ‘We could do pineapple and cheese.’
    ‘They’ll want MSG.’
    ‘I’m sorry but we will not be having drugs, not even for his wedding.’
    ‘You sold his cannabis cookies, remember?’
    ‘That was different; it was Harvest festival.’

  10. Spring Cleaning

    Spring bleeding cleaning hate it any time but all of a sudden everyone’s in a panic. Dusting, weeding, window wiping is the queen expected or something. My wife’s humor is nonexistent her insistence I get up and help, persistent.

    I don’t know why I only get in her way, think today is another, do it wrong on purpose day. The dog has escaped to the back yard, the hoover a step too far. I’m better of out of here she’s turning into a dragon.

    I run out the door, avoiding her flames, yelling that I’d volunteered to clean glasses at the beer festival.

  11. Spring Festival
    (54 words)

    Spring of our life, a new beginning
    Bright lights, flowers waking up
    Birds crooning, snow’s gone
    New energy forming
    Giving hope

    I wish for you to be happy
    Forget the past, focus
    On the now and
    Be brave

    Party, party, what fun
    The whole village
    Looking forward
    To have pleasure
    In the festival

  12. 110 words


    “SPRING!” was delivered through sickly sweet sandalwood and spicy aroma sputtered through smokecreen smog of smushy project outline for auditional play.

    The artistic director was a dragon of a man with beastly ideas for performance. Understudy suited me fine, but lipstick insistence and masked to boot?

    And without thinking to have to practice in every role and action regardless of ailing and age and all things considered collaborations. Cursoring, collecting, caretaking, oh and prompt!

    Staggering already with the weight staying me down and weak at the knees I did not fall but it was hardly Spring-worthy attempt. Not a fluke for a try-out for this free finking fickle fiends FESTIVAL.

  13. word count 110 excluding title

    For Sale

    Spring is here and the goat gets all randy. Who knew it was a premonition when he called him that as a young kid. He’s around the block and back again Chinese whispering to all the Nanny goats, oozing oil from his beard down to his hooves.

    We’ve just got a new kid on the block, fresh faced and slim, we called him Jim. Jealousy took over Randy when he saw Jim carousing with his favorite beau. He came over all dragon-like shooting flames from his nostrils and attempting to fly at Jim every chance he got. Poor Randy has to go he’s now up for sale at the Festival.

  14. 105 words

    Fight of the Year

    “Spring forth and send Nian back to the sea!”
    “He’s too strong, too big!”
    Their swords slashed. They dove and dashed.
    Nian roared, intent on a human meal tonight.
    Darkness over took the two warriors as they fled for safety.
    The ground shook, their ears rang as Nian hunted.
    In the safety of the hut, eyes adjusted to night then flashed with the brilliance of an idea.
    The horned lion searched the village for the two warriors. Suddenly, from a shambled hut burst forth a red dragon. Fireworks exploding from its maw.
    Nian silenced, disappeared in a black cloud of smoke.
    “We saved the festival!”

  15. The Risk of Living
    (109 words)

    Spring came after months of huddling together with generators, fires, and blankets. They explored, invading the privacy of the dead, looking into houses and yards.
    Leah believed they’d found treasure.
    “But you know nothing about this.”
    “Paul, it’s human tradition.”
    They looked out the window at the empty streets. It had been two months since they’d seen another person.
    “It’s risky, Leah. It could attract attention.”
    “I miss people.” She donned the intricate lion head and danced toward Paul.
    He removed it. “You don’t know what kind of people will come.”
    Leah took a precious match and lit a stick of incense. “Tonight, fireworks. We need them—a festival.”


  16. 97 word count


    “Yes, Mam”
    “Get winter, ready will you?”
    “Will do, and ask Autumn to help with Summer.”

    Cringe worthy is all you can say about my mothers choice of names for her children. She’s a good witch so feels she is at one with Mother Nature. I’m blessed I was female I don’t think I could have handled been called Snow if I’d come after Winter who is the only warlock in our little Family.

    Funny thing is I’m expecting and male or female I think I’ll be bringing a little Rain to next year’s Festival.

  17. Supreme Dragon
    106 Words

    Spring meant that the humans would be imitating his form, donning a fabric carcass created in his image. Every year he was outraged by their presumptuousness. They had his looks right, leftover from a time when humans gave him due respect, but they did not know him. They did not know how he moved.

    He was Dragon.

    They would dance the night away, light their firecrackers, perform their rituals. None of them would look to him. They no longer believed.

    He was Supreme. He was beyond their mortal ways.

    But if he was completely honest, he was bummed that they hadn’t invited him to the festival.

  18. Transition
    100 words
    Spring awakening. I feel suppleness return to muscle as the air around me begins to warm. I am lithe with light, stretching unfurling from endless night. Hibernation over. My senses come alive once more. As layers of cloth are shed, the scent of fragrant dewy flesh bleeds into the air. The procession spins its many colours, and its dragons are unleashed.
    The hunger growing. I discard with the man and become again the creature I was born to be. My blood hot like sun fire thunders through my veins. I am cannibal, and this is my festival.

    • “lithe with light” is a fantastic little phrase… this piece conjured an image of a voodoo practitioner (but they’re not cannibals i assume!) and the use of “cannibal” didn’t disturb me at all as I assumed from the overall flavour of the piece that the cannibal is the earth, especially from “I discard with the man and become again the creature I was born to be.” That’s a wonderful piece.

    • Ooh, great dark piece. Love the imagery and that last line.

    • great write Marie reminds me of when my aul joints get a reprieve when winter’s done love the ending also x

  19. The Awakening
    100 words

    “Spring up, Oh Mighty One, and let Thine enemies be scattered.”

    Long has he slumbered, ages upon ages. Long have the petitions of mortal man fallen upon deaf ears.

    No more.

    “Spring up, Oh Mighty One, and let Thine enemies be scattered.”

    He blinks his eyes open. Screams ring out as he lifts into the air. He breathes, and rockets shoot into the sky, heralding his return.

    The dancers stampede. A lone woman falls to her knees, tears in her eyes.

    “Spring up, Oh Mighty One…”

    With a roar, he wheels and sets upon the crowd assembled for the festival.


  20. Opportunity110 words

    Spring right on the heels of New Year bore down hard on Chongun. He considered his added role as he pulled the cart of fireworks past the rice patties etched into the side of Kunlun Mountain. With his brother drafted by the People’s Liberation Army now, he was not only in charge of the family fireworks business, but the rice paddies also.

    Another man might complain. Chongun saw only opportunity to fulfill his destiny as head of the richest family in the valley. Provided of course, his brother did not come back.

    Chongun smiled and said, “Enough daydreaming, I need to get these fireworks to the temple for tomorrow’s festival.”

    • I really liked the bounce of “Spring right on the heels…” and a whole story’s painted in so few words 🙂

      • I often become frustrated finding the right words. I will walk away, forget about them and then come back. And there they were all along. The first line was like that. Thanks for reading.

    • Nice story with excellent opening line. Not sure if it was intentional but I felt a real hint at the sinister with the line ‘Provided of course, his brother did not come back.’

      • Actually I had written words that expanded the “sinister” aspect of the brothers’ relationship. had to cut them. Glad you caught some of the feel here. I appreciate your feedback. Thanks

  21. Finding Fen
    109 words

    “Spring it forward.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.

    “It means hurry up. You look completely ridiculous in that dragon costume,” Chao said with a giggle.

    “Shut up. It’s the Year of the Goat. My birth year. Good things must come.”

    Chao held a handful of fireworks in his hand, half burnt, half not, as they made their way through the crowd.

    “What was that girl’s name you met last New Year? And you’ve wasted a whole year looking for her. How are good things going to come if you’re still stuck in the past?”

    “Fen,” I said, quickening my step. “Come on! Maybe she’s at the Festival.”

    • I liked that one and I was at the end of the passage before i wondered how can fireworks be half burnt and half-not, but another one that made me smile 🙂

      • I have a literal mind, too. At first I had the same thought. Then I assumed it meant that half of the number of fireworks had been burnt and half hadn’t. But why keep spent fireworks in your hand?

        Leaving aside the nitpicking, I thought it was a lovely story,Lauren. I hope that Chao managed to find Fen – it isn’t wise to carry a torch with half a handful of live fireworks!

        • Yes…half the number of fireworks had been burnt. I did it that way to indicate they had already been celebrating. Didn’t realize the way I wrote the words made it confusing. This is why I need an editor! 😉

    • Strong sense of hope in this story.

  22. Who Says Youth Is Wasted On The Young?

    Spring break 2007… Yee-haa!

    An, Cheng, Jian and me decided to blow off Chad Hogan’s lame house party (he’s a Mormon… no alcohol!) and head for THE place to be – South Padre. It’s a small island off the coast of Texas. Its permanent population is only a few thousand but every year it attracts around 100,000 spring breakers – Party Central!

    Beach activities, wet T-shirt competitions, drinking challenges, all-night raves… Sun, sea, booze, drugs, sex…

    It… was… AWESOME!! Like Chinese New Year – every day!

    Can’t wait for fall. We’re heading back there for the inaugural South Padre International Music Festival!

    Word Count: 103

  23. Wicker Dreams

    Spring summons fear to our settlement. The fertility celebration soothes some of our worries, but tomorrow we must attend the fields if our families are to survive the year.

    My brothers and I race for the caves. The dragons pursue us closely. Jared trips. Momma made me promise to protect him.

    Summoning rage from my losses, and anger from my shame of fleeing, I engage our attackers. My hoe carves into the beast. Something hits me in the head.

    I wake, unclothed, in a wooden cage. Around me are screaming men from other villages. My own panic starts when I see the torches coming.

    I’m the centerpiece in their festival.

    110 words

  24. — Penhold —

    “Spring! Always that damnable spring!”

    Danny Ping flops among crushed Red Bull cans.

    “Relax. Hours left yet.” Is that birdsong?

    Everything reset, Danny strides to the far wall.

    “Year of the bat, Rufus.”

    Stroking his goatee for luck, Danny fires the ball over his shoulder. One bounce, over the net and into the bowl. Spinning madly, it drops into the gutter and – yes! – that ever-dependable spring propels the 40mm sphere at the funnel to trap Roland, the furry rat.

    “Get in!”

    It’s then that I realise there’s no red light on the camera.

    “And that, Rufus, is this year’s winning entry in the Trickshot Festival.”

    109 words

  25. The Gaps (110 words)

    Spring signified the cycle; the carcasses of winter became today’s blooms.

    Jonathan existed in this milieu beyond the cycle, lost somewhere in the gaps. After all, those of us, like Jonathan, that had stopped trying to bloom had in effect become carcasses.

    They just walked among us without the maggot bite marks to indicate their decay.

    He’d done the usual things that you’re supposed to do (and not); the psychiatrist with the pen she couldn’t stop clicking, the medication that shredded his brain, made him paranoid, and the paper mâché that had become his wrists.

    To find his way back into the cycle was too daunting, the far-off, unwelcoming festival.

  26. Leave it Alone Mrs Lee

    Spring rolls out of bed and brightens up the morning view from the window whilst I get on with the shit, shower and shave thing.

    The kettle bubbles away excitedly for me. The second coffee will be more important than the first or third – it’s a truism which I just accept.

    The dragon from next door is banging on the walls again with her fists – or her sheep of a husband’s head – in protest at my morning tuneage. But no-one knocks Freddie Mercury so don’t stop me now, lady.

    I’m in a good mood, it’s the weekend of the Liverpool beer festival.

    (103 words)


  27. Chinese Whispers

    “Spring rolls…” Jian moaned.”I told him they tasted funny! Cheung just texted to say he’s got the squits!”

    “Chill out,” I said. “There’s three hours before we’re due to join the parade. I’ll call my friend, Wang.”

    Fifteen minutes to go and now I had loose bowels. Finally Wang appeared, wearing a stetson, checkered shirt, bandana and cowboy boots.

    “Why are you dressed like that?”

    “To help you out.”

    “But we need someone to join us in the New Year’s Parade. You told me last week that you’re a lion dancing expert.”

    “No, I said line dancing. I wondered how that would fit in with the festival.”

    Word Count: 109

  28. A Breakable Promise

    93 words

    Spring meant life to many but for this town it was not the case. There were no shoots of green creeping up through the ashes, no blossom to be seen through the smoke, no scent of early flowers, only the incense of charred flesh and scorched earth to break the grey monotony of winter. Yet in their suffering they were not alone as under a different sky in desert lands, others experienced the same truth, that a ceasefire is a breakable promise and that in times of war, man makes death a festival.

  29. Supplication
    110 words

    Spring equinoctial rains chase my people off the floodplains back up here to the cliff-clung dens. Reluctance trudges their progress. They hate Her almost as much as I do.

    I await within, soothing Her rage with incense and mantras. All winter long, I’ve tended the joss sticks, sucking in their spiky resin, chant over chant. May she welcome us within the harbor of her labyrinthine ribcage and not require too great a solstice sacrifice.

    The first scout crests the lower ridge. A vast hiss gouts ash clouds out her myriad mouths. Bile floods mine. The shrieks of new mothers blister the afternoon. Her blood-price will be harrowing come Fire Festival.

  30. Spring in Jerusalem (110 words)

    Spring had come too soon. Clemency had given birth to a healthy kid, a male without a single imperfection. As always, Lina came in to milk at dawn, and paused to pet little Kippur. She hadn’t intended to give him a name, but she thought it suited him.

    It wasn’t long before the smell of the incense crept intrusively through the air and crawled into her nose; her brother’s appearance in the doorway confirmed her suspicions.

    “Time to go Lina–please don’t look upset. I warned you not to get attached.”

    Eli tied a rope around Kippur’s neck and led him out of the barn. Lina sighed. Another year, another festival.

  31. Oh David I missed this week’s Micro Bookends, I am going to claim Winter Storm fatigue from Octavia and preparation for Pandora. I will try to be more alert this coming week.

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