Mar 052015

Welcome to Micro Bookends 1.21. I hope you’re all feeling fit and healthy and ready to write.

There are many factors that contribute to life expectancy such as gender, genetics, diet, lifestyle, access to health care, crime rate, and exercise. Life expectancy varies greatly across the world. According to the World Health Organisation, in 2012 the life expectancy for someone born in the USA was 79 years, the UK 81 years, Japan 84 years (highest), and Sierra Leone 46 years (lowest). In developed countries women outlive men by 5.3 to 7.8 years.

Today is the birthday of a remarkable woman. Misao Okawa was born in Osaka, Japan, on the 5th of March 1898 making her 117 years old today. She is the oldest living person in the world and the 5th oldest person ever (the oldest died aged 122 years and 164 days). She has already lived longer than any man, and is one of only five people alive today who was born in the 1800s. The secret to her longevity? Sushi and sleep.

Let’s help Misao-sama blow out her candles with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Timothy Krause via CC.

Photo Credit: Timothy Krause via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Steven M. Stucko, winner of MB 1.20. Read his winning story and what he has to say about flash fiction here.


A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with OLD and ending with AGE 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:




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.

  276 Responses to “Micro Bookends 1.21 – OLD [micro] AGE”

  1. Jane
    Old Mr Trundell wasn’t particularly old. In fact he wasn’t even a man.
    A lifetime of sleeping rough had taken her health, her friends and her looks.
    Jane had found out quickly that if she looked like an old man she was less likely to be bothered when bedding down on some stranger’s doorstep or sitting on the busy pavement targeting her next meal.
    And she was always hungry.
    They passed her. They never saw her. And that was good. There would be no information to pass to the Police.
    Jane spotted a little boy and her mouth began to water.
    They’re so tender at that age.
    (word count: 107)

  2. (94)
    Carolyn Ward

    The Blood of Life

    Old people hunted the young, outnumbering them a hundred to one. They snatched at smooth skin with gnarled hands, filled with bitterness at the sight of pain-free joints and strong muscles. The young screamed and fought, their panic raising up other old bodies from numerous doorway rest spots.
    It had been mere days since some old people had discovered that drinking youthful blood replenished their vitality. Since then, the world had changed immeasurably. The young hid in fear from the predators. Nobody under 30 was safe.

    It was the dawn of a dangerous age.

  3. A Tale of Two Elvises
    110 words

    Old Father Benedict stepped into the sunshine of the day and inhaled a deep breath, before looking down. He had seen everything in his 96 years. So, he wasn’t surprised at the naked man snoozing at his feet, wearing only sunglasses. A star studded collar peeked out of the bag at his feet.

    Father Shaw came up behind him.

    “Another bum?”

    Benedict nodded, “Heartbreak Hotel was my favorite. You think he’ll sing for us?”

    “The real Elvis has left the building,” Father Shaw said.

    “Really?” Old Benedict scratched his head.

    “Overdosed on drugs. I doubt the bum can croon the way Elvis did, not in this day and age.”

  4. Push the boat out

    Old you say, nay I say, free to do as I please
    Time-wasters swatted with ease
    Push the boat out, whatever the sea
    stranded on steps, suits me
    if the seas not too steady, just be ready
    if your feeling, low keep reaching, you’ll be surprised how high you can go
    if you try a little more, your spirit will soar
    Don’t give up, of the cup of life have a big sup
    if with something you don’t agree, dispute it passionately
    Live life to the full, and you will never be dull
    don’t let a number write your page
    Rage against your age

  5. Sorry David don’t know how to delete and start again – Word Count – 108 – @susanoreilly3 my apologies x

  6. Cloudy with a chance of nudity,
    110 Words

    Old muscles complain about what I’m sleeping on. Instead of a bed of clouds, I’ve been dumped on a basilica’s doorstep. Sheets drape over my like I’m a corpse. People are staring at me.

    Memories flood back. I crashed Anahita’s soiree. The best girls hit her parties. An exotic angel took a fancy to me. She lured me to her storm cloud.

    The old love ‘em and dump them on earth—again.

    One of the Big Guy’s fan club is chastising me for blasphemy and indecency.

    I stand up and let the sheets fall off. “Let the jealousy flow Padre. You won’t look this divine when you reach my age.”

  7. Vigil

    Old habits… No pun intended.

    Thirty-eight years ago today, I was given the name March. I’d been found on the convent steps, tightly wrapped in a sheet, with a note attached:

    ‘pleese take care of my baby i caint’.

    “No capital letters, no punctuation, poor spelling,” the nuns told me. “A girl old enough to indulge in fornication, yet unable to write properly. White trash.”

    I didn’t believe them. That note was evidence. Evidence of love.

    When I left the convent, I began sleeping rough. But, this day every year, I wake up on the convent step, wrapped in a sheet.

    Girl needs a momma, even at my age.

    Word Count: 109

  8. Saturday Morning Ghosts
    (100 words)

    “Old Man Jenkins!”

    He shifts in his sleep and clutches the paper whisky bag in his hands like a talisman.

    “I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids.”

    What can an old man to do when he gets out of prison? He was only ever good at one thing, and he wasn’t very good at that.

    But still he does it. There’s no money for rubber masks and glow in the dark paint, so he makes do with a white sheet.

    “I don’t believe it. Becoming a street performer. At your age…”


  9. Mr Piper
    99 words

    Old soldiers now scattered, hiding within the darkest corners of the city. Mr Piper was once a mighty man, he commanded armies, all danced to his merry tune. Now he lay in a tangled mess of bedding, mattress damp from the morning drizzle.

    He woke with a start, eye to eye with the lifeless form of a dead rat, eyes staring, unseeing. Mr Piper clutched it to his chest and cried. He took out a pipe and played a lament to a fallen comrade.

    Decades had turned into centuries, the reign of the Pied Piper belonged to another age.

  10. Word count excluding title 110

    Older and Wiser

    Old habits die hard. How did I get here? Where are my clothes? Sheila will kill me. I try to piece together all of last night in my befuddled brain.

    Oh my lord, I don’t believe it, this is my old school it was the reunion. I remember someone mentioning the Life Modelling Class, I must have volunteered. Flashbacks are giving me a headache, all of them egging them on, Freda’s sneer saying the sight of me would put anyone off being an artist was just the right carrot for my rebellious side.

    I can hear Sheila now and I don’t know the answer. When will I act my age?

  11. epic feel to this flash; I’m locking my doors

  12. The Reluctant Samaritan
    (100 words)


    Detective Fenton glanced at the bum collapsed on the church porch and shook her head. What a waste.


    The word grabbed the detective’s attention. She turned back and knelt at the fallen figure.

    “Are you okay?”

    The person moaned and shifted under the white sheet, revealing himself to be a man in drag. Or he had been, until someone had stripped his clothes and left him here, covered in bruises.

    No one deserved this. She radioed in the assault and tried to shake the man awake.

    “Did you see the license plate? Could you guess the car’s age?”


  13. Word Count – 110


    Old demons came back to me last night. Parents took me from my bed. Tortured and terrorised they flung their daughters and son’s names at me like poison infested barbs. There’s no guilt feeling for me. Children are for my enjoyment I never hurt them, a mutually satisfying experience.

    The parents stripped me and wrapped me in a sheet emblazoned with my sins. They have abandoned me on the steps of the local court house so that justice can be served. The poison I drank is slowly lulling me into a coma, some girl tries to revive me, one last fling, no she’s at least thirteen, too knowledgeable an age.

  14. A Renaissance of Bitterness

    @geofflepard 108 words

    Old Master? Give me a break. He couldn’t paint a blank canvas. He’s as self-deluding as a Cabinet Minister awaiting a reshuffle.
    And I sit for him. Me. Never makes it comfy, does he? Always wood, plastic or stone. Now this. He wants a Botticelli on marble; all I get are varicose veins like beetroot vermicelli.
    While he daubed away in his shed living off my good nature, I sweated buckets, building a business till it was ripped away by the same rich sods who now pay him handsomely. They want a bit of grandiose retro. Yeah, well, wouldn’t we all like to live in a different age?


    Brian S Creek
    108 words

    “’Old on!”

    Chris and Mike stopped and turned to see a drunk man in a toga pointing at them.

    “Can we help you?” said Mike.

    The drunk man staggered down three steps, reacquainted himself with equilibrium, then resumed pointing but with added grin.

    “I have message,” he slurred.

    “Which is?” said Chris.

    “Master is coming for you,” said the drunk. “Your days are numbered, monster ‘unters.” He coughed out a strange, maniacal laugh before turning into a flying lizard and taking to the skies.

    “How exiting,” said Chris as he watched the demon fly away.

    “Exciting?” said Mike.

    “I haven’t been ominously threatened by evil in an age.”

  16. Age Treatments
    110 Words

    Old men and old women lined the streets. Some of them slept on the stoops of the buildings, others sat in lawn chairs. They were too old and un-costumed to be lining up for a nerd-movie, and far too old to be lining up for a new gadget.

    “Age treatments,” Jacob said.


    “The scientists at the clinic found the cure for old age.”

    “What cure?”

    “Hamster blood and a secret ingredient, consumed under a full moon.”

    Miranda wondered if those in line remembered the “good old days” when science hadn’t mixed with magic.

    She didn’t want to get old but she’d refuse to drink hamster blood at any age.

  17. The Search
    (110 words)
    Old looking for forty, weekend shoppers, weekday workers and the tourists in between, could have mistaken Matt for a man of advancing years had they looked up.

    He’d sit alongside the pigeons.They didn’t seem to mind sharing their vantage point over the city’s hubbub.
    He’d train his eyes on crowds and search for crumbs of familiarity: splay feet, freckled features- things four years might not have changed.

    Days perched on the city’s roofline ran into months, years ran up debts.

    He slept on the doorstep of a house that was no longer home because he was still Dad to a son who since disappearing- would have doubled in age.

  18. Extract from a Butler’s Diary
    110 words

    Old habits die hard. Our employer’s been a millionaire for months now (lottery ticket, pavement, luck). Yet he still sleeps huddled in a doorway. (His own, now. Marble-stepped.)

    The paper bag he hugs “for old times sake” is often empty by breakfast. I have the kitchen staff refill it, and fix him coffee. We are paid to serve. Not to care.

    The magnificent oak table seats twenty. He dines alone. I wait on him while he harps on cold nights; hot soup kitchens. I hide my yawns with professional skill while he tells me how one warm smile could save your life, as if remembering some kind of golden age.

  19. Jumping The Gun

    OLD AGE… didn’t see that one coming!

    I’m a flash fictioneer. Strictly amateur, of course… but you probably realised that already from my overuse of ellipses… and exclamation marks!!

    I’ve been reading a book about punctuation… Who the hell came up with the word ‘interrobang’?!

    But I digress…

    This week, I tried to second-guess the prompt. Came up with Zhou Enlai (first premier of the People’s Republic of China) as the likely birthday boy… CULTURAL REVOLUTION as the bookends. I wrote my story and slept like a patient etherized upon a table.

    (Plagiarising… another sign of the dilettante!!)

    Right country… but it seems that Zhou belongs to a forgotten age!

    Word Count: 110

  20. Title: Untitled poem
    @stu06bloc9 (@6bloc9 on twitter)
    101 words

    Old Man Time slumbered as the church bells chimed
    Deep in the distance of dreams, upon his face the look of
    The ringing bounced from wall to wall, but the figure slept on,
    Passers-by shook their heads, some his arm, some uploaded their pictures
    and blurbs.
    Blissfully snoozing, wholly unaware, Old Man Time had no care for his
    By evening he’d made the news headlines, appearing from station to
    Experts called in to debate this event argued it must be
    But others declared its simply what happens just before the Dawn of a New

  21. Title: Sea Air and Old Time Dancing
    (110 words) stu06bloc9

    Old Time Dancing the poster said. For a man of his years and position a singles night in a strange town was risky. The sea air and two beers too many had got the better of him. He hadn’t expected the fancy dress element and would soon wake to his regrets. Attempts had been made to wake him and move him on, but failed. Beneath his makeshift costume, now fallen loose and bedraggled about his flabby sun-burnt body, his nudity revealed and the police had been called. Oblivious to his impending fate, he’d have the embarrassment of a hefty fine for indecency and be held on remand for an age.

  22. Time Out

    101 Words

    Old, creaking voices mixed with excited chatter behind the closed doors. St. Peter heard the clamour, the demands for entry and sighed. He could imagine the queues, the infinite tidal wave of humanity that continually lapped at the steps below insisting upon his immediate attention.

    Yet times had changed and now his contract proclaimed he was entitled to a break after every 10,000 souls and he still had ten minutes left. Determined to catch a few more rays, St. Peter settled himself once more in the warm sunshine, thankful that the days of 24 hour gate duty belonged to another age.

  23. @stellakateT
    98 words


    Old friends he dreamt about, now the summer was coming. In the winter he had terrifying visions of death versus survival, when they would find his body frozen onto the pavement like a giant face down gnome. He’d always styled himself carefully, his bed linen as white as white, his sun glasses like the ones Karl Lagerfeld wore. The chic carrier bag filled with David Beckham’s underwear, the brand not the real. He didn’t see his mouth dropping open or the seismic snores that disturbed the instillation he had created. He’d be immortal. Street Art coming of age.

  24. Title: Old Man’s End
    (110 words) stu06bloc9

    “’Old Man’s End’ the sign says – how is THAT Live Art?” Theo complained. “ He’d have to be dead for it to begin to work for me as Live Art! I hope he’s not a flasher! Now, what the hell for this creative response?”

    Selina rummaged in her satchel pulling out a guide brochure.

    “He represents a fallen angel – says it’s a durational piece…” she begins, “we could just …, or…”, she chipped at a stone with her foot, fruustrated. The figure stirred.

    “Well he’s not dead, he moved! So he’s not deaf either… I hope I find such easy work at his age!”

  25. Snap hee hee …… the photo is definitely Art 😉

  26. Act 3 Scene 3: It’s Never Too Late

    Old lies stick between my teeth like stray broccoli floss, and your false flattery is as fake as cheese from a can. But I’m a realist, perhaps we make a soup with these leftover ingredients. Consume what disgusts us. I had lunch at Chili’s last week, might explain the non sequitur.

    Maybe I’m bitter. Maybe you talk about yourself a tad too much for my tastes. I don’t care for the soup at Chili’s either. Mass consumption of nonsense has now replaced art. Everyone’s a rock star on their own front stoop. Then reality hits. We never were.

    Welcome to rejection.

    We can only save ourselves, at any age.

    109 words

  27. Foy
    WC: 103


    “Old cheese. That’s what ya feel like. Old cheese under a fingernail. Unwanted. Smelly.

    “How’s that? Line’s breaking up. Whatcha look like, ya say? Like a bit of crusty bread forgotten at the bottom of the toaster. All you’ve got left is to burn.

    “Speak up, Boy, I can’t hear ya. Do you have any friends? Course not. They was the first to go.

    “Thought you’d keep Dolly at least didn’t ya? She’s gone too.

    “Your mistake? I’d say our mistake was thinkin’ they’d love us forever. Once the music’s gone, they’re gone.

    “Now, tell me again, Boy, you’re me at what age?”

  28. Closed Loop

    Old timers’ disease: I think that’s what the nice people at the shop say I’ve got…

    What’s the shop called? Age… Concern. That’s it!

    They phone and people come.

    “We’re here to take you home, Bernard,” they gently say. But they don’t. How could they? My home was destroyed by a doodlebug last night. My mattress ended up in the street!

    A lovely lady holds my hand. She says she’s my wife. I – I don’t know why; I’ve never seen her before!

    She cries.

    I – I need to find my Mum and Dad. When I go to that shop, I’ll ask the nice people.

    What’s the shop called? Age

    Word Count: 109

  29. Age-old Tale

    Old age comes on suddenly. One day you are all the rage, dancing up a storm on the stage, and before you know it you are a washed-out middle-aged man with no prospects. Directors look at you with an amused look of concern and politely send you away.

    Then your heart rebels in more ways than one. The money, the fickle mistress, leaves you. The kindly nurse at the hospital looks after you as long as the state welfare allows it. Her eyes tear up when they release you. No place to go, you end up in a hotel lobby. Drowsy and half-dressed, unable to rage against the old age!

    110 words sans title

  30. Something White?: Look Away
    A.J. Walker

    Old Willy Lawton is a local celebrity, a lovable loonbox who perambulates around his domain dressed simply in a sheet. Each morning he walks for miles watched with raised smiles and shaking heads. In the afternoon he chooses a spot to lie in the sun and sleep beneath his meagre toga aside his daily shopping; don’t dare think where he keeps his loose change. Beware the toga, don’t trip over him on your way home. Let him lie. And, on a windy day be warned the sheet that flaps brings hazards no one should face – be wary of a glimpse of something white. Old Lawton’s willy; too much whatever age.

    (110 words)


  31. Exhale (110 words)

    Old ruminations wash over frayed synapses often enough to be met with apathy. My bed had become a refuge, although it didn’t stop the reoccurring tide. I only left it to let her dog outside to soil somewhere else.

    Ruminations like, “If I had told her she was prettier more, would she have stayed?”

    Like, “If I chased after her, like they do in the movies, would it have mattered?”

    “Will anything soak up this spilled blood?”

    In its harshest meaning, a love gone awry was a murder of coupling. Victims abounded.

    As the years mounted, regret became a corrosive blanket of discomfort, smothering until death allowed breath from age.

  32. The Curse of the Ages
    Robert J. Smith

    Old Man Jenkins was sitting comfortably in his armchair. He noticed his wife’s eyebrows rise.
    “What’s wrong?”
    “Nothing,” she answered. “I was just reading that there’s a woman in Japan that just turned 117 years old. That makes her the oldest person in the world.”
    Jenkins snorted. “You couldn’t pay me to be that!”
    “Why not? You’re not that far away from it. Why wouldn’t you want that title?”
    “It’s cursed! I’ve researched it. Nobody ever has that title for more than a couple of months before they keel over dead!”
    Mrs. Jenkins rolled her eyes. “And they say that wisdom comes with age!”

    104 words

  33. Young at Heart (105 words)

    Old I may look, but trust me, young I feel! Sharp minded, with only the occasional forgetting of things, like where my damn sunglasses are, but I must admit muddied thinking was common in my youth, as far as I can remember. And only sometimes feeling the pains of elderly joints. If it wasn’t for the arthritis, I’d go for a run instead of just a walk.

    Oh, finally, there are my sunglasses! Now I can take that walk, like I was saying. Although I am a bit tired… I guess I can take a nap first. Maybe I’ll wake up as my real age.

  34. — Method In His Madness —

    “Old Sock was on fire last night!”

    “Down at Daphne’s?”

    “Yeah. He’s got those classics nerds tied up in knots and eating out of his hand.”

    “They listen to that filthy hobo?”

    “Sure do. Used to be just the barflies. Then came the freshmen, and now most of the faculty is there.”

    “Guy needs a shower.”

    “That may be. Says he knows nothing. But every argument he wins gets him a free drink. Weird thing is that he always makes them taste it first.”

    “Old Sock’s a psycho. I had to step over him this morning. Sleeping rough at his age!”

    104 words

  35. Curiosity (106 words)

    “Old man, on the stoop!”

    Laney gripped Eric’s arm; she wasn’t used to seeing naked people on the street in this neighborhood.

    “Quiet! He might be asleep instead of just dead.”

    “Just dead?”

    “Only one way to find out, eh?”

    Eric smirked and carefully approached the motionless body. Just a prod or two with his foot–

    “Eric! Look!”

    Following Laney’s shaking finger, Eric glanced down at the unmistakable white band, Mercy Saints Hospital. Could it be?

    A warm trickling and sharp pain in his leg answered his question. Paul the Slasher’s familiar grin shined up at him.

    “Don’t worry, I too was naive at your age.”

  36. Lurkers

    Old as the forests they are. But where the woods will grant you respect if you offer it first, these dark and dreadful ones shall not. Malevolence is their watch word. Those that slumber in hallowed places, desecrating them with their presence and defiling their sanctity invite them into their dreams, their hearts and their minds. Few believe that these days, but the poor fools who find themselves swarmed by them regret their mistakes. But by then it is too late. Monsters from long ago they may be, but their evil grip continues on even into our own age.

    99 words

  37. Soulmates
    109 words

    Old as the hills and heart just as trodden. Everyone I’ve ever loved has ground my lofty peaks to weary slopes. Sanae crushed me under her hopscotch Keds, her silky black braids flicking farewell. Natalie next, her DocMartins did harsh platonic work on my devotion, anarchy symbol imprints. Roger was a dabbler and me an equal-opportunity paramour until his plaid high-tops dribbled my blood tastefully down the pavement. Lady Luck, Lady Justice, Father Time—all similarly crushingly cruel.

    Ah, but my sweet barefoot Ouzo! Our bacchanal never ends. Quick, quick, look upon me, dearest. For in your eyes, I am mighty Mount Olympus and this is our Golden Age.

  38. Old Sock rates an 8 out of 10 from this former ‘classics nerd’!

    ‘he always makes them taste it first’ – not surprising unless he’s OK with a drowsy numbness paining his sense.

  39. The Napmaster

    Old buildings were the best places to catch some shuteye. They were often ignored or glanced over quickly, had deep entryways for maximum nap space, and (unless they were famous) they were not regularly patrolled by law enforcement.

    Jim’s travel cot was already made up with clean sheets for ease of snoozing. He just flipped it open, shimmied out of his clothes and under the covers, slipped his sunglasses on and voilà. If anyone asked it was performance art. In truth, his mother-in-law had been at his house for what felt like an age.

    words: 94

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