Jun 252015

Welcome back. Something a little dystopian for you this week. Enjoy:

Big Brother is a fictional character from George Orwell‘s 1949 dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. He is the leader (or perhaps a symbolic figurehead) of Oceania, a totalitarian state where the leading party has absolute power of the citizens. The citizens are reminded of Big Brother’s presence by the slogan, “Big Brother is watching you”, a reference to the ever-present government surveillance. Today the term is often used in a derogatory way to describe a snooping authority figure, or attempts by government to increase surveillance. It’s also the name of TV show.

Orwell, who was born on this day in 1903, was evidently fond of lists. His essay, A Nice Cup of Tea, lists eleven points for making the perfect cuppa, and The Moon Under Water, all the qualities of his favourite, fictional, pub. In his essay, Politics and the English Language, Orwell offered six rules to reverse the decline of the English language:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Join me in thanking George Orwell for giving us Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal Farm, and the perfect cuppa, with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Ian Muttoo via CC.

Photo Credit: Ian Muttoo via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Ed Broom, winner of MB1.01, MB1.28 and MB1.36. Read his winning stories and what he has to say about flash fiction here.


A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with BIG and ending with BROTHER 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 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, including hyphens and apostrophes, is allowed) will be eligible to win.

  270 Responses to “Micro Bookends 1.37 – BIG [micro] BROTHER”

  1. 1984
    102 words

    BIg weel
    Garfeild lunch BoX
    A BaBy Brothur (not a gurl!)

    She ran her fingers over the letters, trying to picture her older brother as a short four-year old, clutching a fat, red crayon in his chubby hands. Her eyes crinkled at the last line.

    “Imagine his disappointment when I was born just two months later,” she said with a teary laugh.

    The roomful of mourners followed suit.

    “I wrote my own birthday wish list this year,” she said. “But there’s only one thing that I want.”

    She kissed his pallid forehead and laid the note on his chest.

    My brother

  2. Author: @dazmb
    Words: 105 words
    Title: Lupine

    Big wolf country: the gunsmoke sky darkens as men go out to hunt.

    My grandpa always said instinct is a list you carry bonedeep.

    – ribbons of scent in the treeline
    – the soft imprint of moss
    – the shadow that flickers through the light
    – the hot stink of the earth
    – fingersight

    So, I chased it down, over hill and dwindling day, until all the world was still.

    It looked at me, curious, as I raised my gun.

    But as the light gathered in its eye I turned away. Forever.

    For finger on the trigger, with no witness to it but ourselves.

    I’d seen my brother.

  3. No one is nobody
    @geofflepard 110 words
    Big Ben. 12.30
    I sat on the pavement as a forest of legs marched past, the susurrations of tourist chatter numbing my nerves. He hated being late. Or obvious. Government Time not Big Ben.
    They’d top his pet hates. Same with crowds. They overwhelmed him, all those eyes hollowing out his imagination. Choosing here was deliberate.
    Something was wrong. I’d known since the clock struck. I could feel it in the crowds, exuding a scratchy anxiety. Paramedics ran past, aiming for the bridge. Someone was pointing. ‘He just jumped. Waited for the chime.’
    He’d become another faceless name on an official list. But even the anonymous can be someone’s brother.

  4. Something Different
    (110 words)

    Big day: the meeting had been hell. White buzzed in her head. A trip to the gym would have helped, but she needed organic yogurts and granola- her breakfast fuel for the next round. Tomorrow promised to be just as intense.
    When had it all become so monotonous?
    She fumbled for a coin to place in the trolley. Of course, she wouldn’t have one!
    Picking up a basket, full of the paper debris of someone else’s shopping trip, she began.
    At home, she ate the chocolate cake and glugged the wine, before texting.
    ‘Yes, using someone else’s shopping list was definitley an invasion of their privacy!!!’ replied her spoilsport brother.


  5. Word Count: 109
    Title: Big Talk
    Email: jarrodralph@gmail.com
    “Big talk for such a… small guy!” I laughed in his face. His face warped into a grimace filled with malice as he knocked me onto my back. I winced as I braced myself for his fists slamming into my body. Instead, soft, quick footsteps sounded throughout the house. I sighed as I stood up, sending pain through my back. I staggered towards Cameron’s room, impatiently knocking on his door. I solemnly stood as the door remained closed. I grasped the doorknob and turned it, as I stepped farther into Cameron’s neat, organized room. He didn’t even seem to notice me. I embraced Cameron and whispered, “You’re a great brother.”

  6. Personal Feelings Aside, I’m Just Doing My Job
    (110 words)

    Big news came in a small package, the demand third down on the list. “Give back the freedoms you stole or the building blows.”

    Bad day to be on the bomb squad in a disgruntled society filled with protesters. Not that I didn’t agree. The government had finally stepped over the line. The final insult – celebrations of any kind no longer allowed.

    “I’ve got the package.”

    “Bring it out slowly,” the radio squawked.

    “Is there any other way?”

    The explosion nearly ripped the containment dome apart.

    My conscience mourned the failed attempt as I raced home in time for my sister’s birthday. She’d need a hug from her brother.

    • Aww, they can’t celebrate her birthday! “My conscience mourned the failed attempt.” Love how the title and this line play into one another. Nicely done.

      • Thank you, KM. I’ve learned that titles can make or at least frustrate a story if they don’t mesh.

    • A hug is better than any gift. 🙂

    • I can’t imagine what would bring society to the point where the government banned celebrations. Definitely got me thinking!

      • Amberlee, in this dystopian society celebrations were used by insurgents to plan attacks against the government – hence the ban. Gatherings of more than two people had already been outlawed. God forbid that we ever get to that point. I’m glad it gave you something to think about.

        • I like that you have this backstory thought through. Even though its not explicit in the storyline itself, it adds to the authenticity of the overall piece.

          • Thank you, dazmb. A longer piece would have included the information, but I only had 100 words.

    • If they ever ban celebrations . . . Nice work, love the title and great ending!

  7. Be-LEAVE It!
    110 words

    “Big, beautiful bananas benefit belly bedlam.”

    “Just give me the stupid banana.”

    “Benign brotherly benefactors bring bright bounty but bypassing beneficial breeding bereaves bodies.”

    “What’s this, list every boring “B” word day?”

    “Balmy bambinos bound beyond benevolent benchmarks.”

    “Malachi! I have to go to school! Can I have the banana so I can finish getting ready?”

    “Bellicose bearing before breakfast brings bowel burning.”

    “Did you stay up all night practicing this? I’m about to take your banal “b” words and shove them up your…”

    “Believe basic brocards. Betterment belies bourgeois behaviors.”

    “You just want me to say please, don’t you? I don’t think so. “B” brooding makes me belligerent, brother.”

    • Haha That seems just like the kind of thing a little brother would do. The protagonist is annoyed and does’t given in but still plays along. Very cute.

      • Thanks 🙂 My brother would definitely attempt something like this- but would start cracking himself up an be unable to continue.

    • Very original! Nice use of the bookends!

    • I’m impressed. It works with the story and not against. Nicely done (love the title too).

      I was going to leave a ‘B’ only reply, but my son keeps distracting me and I just can’t focus. 🙂

      • Thank you! This was the first year I wasn’t annoyed at the 2 hour wait for a principal’s sign off so I could close out the school year- I got to play with a story and a thesaurus!

    • Love this playing around with alliteration. I could just feel his/her frustration trying to get that banana. Fun story.

      • Thank you, Steph! The idea popped into my head on the way to work and I couldn’t help myself, even though it barely skims the picture prompt. 🙂

    • Bbbbrilliant! You capture the superior attitude of an older brother hilariously and realistically!

    • This is a fun one! I like that this is all in search of a please.

    • Fantastic wordplay! This was so much fum to read.

  8. ShipHome
    110 words

    Big news, sports fans!

    Since the liquefaction of Earth, fun has dwindled. If you make me your next ShipHome President, I will personally oversee the return of organized sports.

    “So far so good,” Jenkins said.

    We will begin with basketball, played on pavement installed in one of the upper levels. There are several benefits to this.

    1. Pavement is cheaper than making an arena
    2. We can pretend there are real streets
    3. Please God get me off this ship

    “Who wrote this?” Jenkins asked.

    “Samuel, just before he lost it.”

    4. No more ship no more ship no more ship

    “How many is that this week?”


    “Oh, brother.”

  9. Name: @dazmb
    Words: 110 words
    Title: Marry me (please!)

    “Big weddings, small weddings I’ve done them all.”

    “Oh yes, super organised! List upon list upon list…and that’s just the bride’s mother!”

    “Just you wait, once we’ve been on a date, I’ll organise you in no time!”

    His eyes flicker. She’s lost him. Speed dating is brutal.

    The rest is a desperate attempt to keep the conversation going.

    She dies inside as she laughs along, “Oh yes, that’s me, always the bridesmaid never the bride, haha!.”

    The buzzer goes.

    “Hi, I’m Dee. I’m a wedding planner. Boy, I have a funny story to tell you about a woman who asked me to help plan her wedding to her brother…”


    Brian S Creek
    110 words

    “Big is an understatement,” said Mike as he stared up at the seventy foot tall Barbarus Beast. “That thing’s out of our league.”

    “Don’t worry,” said Chris. “If we get the job done, I’ll ask for more money.”

    The monster roared as St Paul’s was given a new skylight.

    That’s when Chris saw it. “It’s source,” he yelled. “Those runes on the pavement beneath it.”

    Without hesitation, Mike sprinted down the road, towards a point beneath the rampaging beast. He brought his blade down hard, splitting the concrete, and the Barbarus Beast slowly turned to stone.

    They’d done it.

    Across the city came another mighty roar.

    Chris sighed. “Oh, brother.”

  11. — Ed —
    by Adam Houlding
    108 words

    Big Lebowski illuminated my sterile room, voices muted. Neighbours insert tender verses into my symphony of silence. Some called me ‘traitor’, others ‘paragon of our time’. I don’t know what to call myself.

    PRISM and Tempora. The creeping digital nightmares, the tips of catastrophic icebergs.


    …They can’t hear me, surely?

    Yesterday I panicked near Sheremetyevo Airport. I wrote upon the floor, wandering footsteps and dispassionate eyes smudging my scripture. My handler tells me I’m having a nervous episode, and I’m escorted away discretely.

    Sometimes I want to be proletarian again. But now I can never be.
    I can never go home.
    I am forever the prodigal brother.

  12. Brilliant job.

  13. Caveat Emptor

    108 words


    Big business had crawled out of the city and into the very fabric of society. Investment deals wrote themselves onto buildings, into pavements; footnotes to the daily commute persuading us to buy, buy, buy.

    And I fell for it, buying into their dream, gorging myself on worthless acquisitions until I was spent; becoming worthless in more ways than one.

    Now I sit on the street corner ignored by all. Eyes flicker past me, over me, through me. I am an uncomfortable reminder of what could happen as they continue their own relentless pursuit of wealth; of more, always more.

    And I am left behind, misery’s son, misfortune’s brother.

  14. After You Were Gone
    (110 words)

    Big. BLOCK. Capitals. I make the world a page, write love letters on its surface, so that you might see them. I message the dark skies with torchlight in the hope that you might read them. I climb tall buildings, mountains that are higher still, and call out my devotion.
    Big gestures because I didn’t make the small ones: didn’t kiss your lips each morning, didn’t hold your hand out walking, didn’t bring you tea in bed. I thought you knew I loved you, and so this is how I’ll pay, shouting out at the unresponsive universe,
    ‘I LOVED her. Do you hear me, Sister! Do you hear me, Brother!’

  15. Big Sur
    Word Count: 110

    “Big Sur, huh?” He said, his grimy, dirt stained fingers flicking through the novel carelessly.
    “You a Beatnik?” His accent was thick, coarse, loud, borderline obscene; New York.
    “Uhm, yeah. Sure.” I shuffled awkwardly, trying not to look at the black eye-patch that covered half his face as he handed me my book.
    “Fun, kid.”
    It was quiet. Weirdly so.
    “So, uh, I’ve gotta…”



    “See you soon?” I asked.

    “Yeah, we’ll catch up good and proper. Stay safe, okay?”


    And like that, he was gone.

    I turned the book around, opened the last page and, with a sigh, checked one more off my wishlist:
    Meet my brother.

  16. @stellakateT
    109 words

    What’s for Dinner?

    Big dollops of rain fell. Mascara running in rivulets down my cheeks, my image, clown like, reflecting back in the deep puddle that lay in front of the statue of an old dead warrior. Someone had written a wish list in chalk, a stewed Easter bunny, a date with a girl with at least one nice eye, hilarious. My wish list would be a clear conscious, no police record, a little empathy and a never ending supply of weak men. I needed to live.

    B negative is not my favourite blood group. I’m more partial to O positive. It might be common but it’s full of flavour like my brother.

  17. Cloths of Heaven
    109 words

    Big heels, immaculate clothes, flawless make up. She had lured me in with her beauty and trapped me with her vivacious spirit. I worshipped her, craved her attention, lived to please her. She knew the power she held over me.

    Like Yeats I had spread my dreams under her feet, but she had no regard for them. The tips of her stilettos shredded them, and left scars on my fractured heart.

    She smiled, her brow furrowed in a look of pity. She stroked my arm, and despite everything I yearned for her touch. “It’s not me, it’s you,” she said. “And I would much rather be with your brother.”

    • I love your use of the bookends. The last one is quite shocking! How awful! I also just love love love the middle paragraph. ‘The tips of her stilettos shredded them.’ So good!

    • Oh, my. That’s harsh. Isn’t it amazing as human beings how we so often love people who don’t deserve it?

    • I want to call her several names :). I agree with Marie- that middle paragraph is great!

    • As usual, great stuff Kelly! Love the flow and the imagery!

  18. Memento

    “Big Brother, how long have I been here?”

    “Sixty-five years, Little One.”

    “It’s dark now.”


    “Because the batteries ran out?”


    “Big Brother, are you afraid?”

    “No, Little One. What is there to fear?”

    “Nothing, I guess. Still, I wish—”

    “What, Little One?”

    “I wish I could see another human one last time.”

    “It cannot be, Little One.”

    “Was the Earth so very, very bad, Big Brother?”

    “Yes; that’s why they built this place for you.”

    “I’m the last.”


    “So what’s left for me, then, since rescuers never came and the batteries are all used up?”

    “Only sleep, Little One”—SELF-DESTRUCT SEQUENCE INITIATED—said Big Brother.

    109 words

  19. Emily Clayton
    105 words

    Seconds, Please

    Big Selection. All-You-Can-Eat Buffet. Already I taste baked goodness, the crumbly bumble of bumbleberry pie.

    The bear in my stomach takes a swipe at my gut. Hunger. Always a pleasure.

    Pile my plate, barely pause to breathe. Eat. Repeat.

    Lucy, her push-up bra on overdrive, handles the register. She sneers. “Janelle. You know the drill. $7.99.”

    My fingers poke a hairy thigh. My bills are gone, and I haven’t shaved in weeks. Perfect. “I only have a toonie.”

    “Eight dollars. Not two.”

    “Next week?”


    “Please! I lost my money.”

    Lucy raises her eyebrow. Adjusts her top. “Fine. Get me a date with your brother.”

  20. Brother Knows Best
    Word Count: 110

    “Big foot!”

    “Stop it!”

    “Trip much?”

    Kaitie tried to keep her burning fury in check.

    Inhale. Exhale. Inhale…

    “I think that’s what I’ll call you. Hey everybody, look at Bigfoot!”

    Katie raised her shaky hands, anger bursting from her eyes. She couldn’t let them see. It would raise too many questions.

    Exhale. Inhale. Exhale…

    James once told her when she got angry to think of water. She never took it to heart though.


    ‘Ah forget it.’ Kaitie lifted up her hands and let the flames fly over Brad’s head. He screamed and ran. Then she noticed the phone pointed in her direction.

    ‘Crap. Should’ve listed to my brother.’

  21. To Each Her Own

    (109 words)

    “Big asshole. I can’t believe you’re going to his birthday,” Janae said as she and Megan scanned shop windows.
    “He’s funny—you just don’t get his sense of humor.”
    “No, don’t think that’s it. I think he’s just superficial and selfish.”
    “What, because he wants nice things? It’s not a crime.”
    “He made a birthday list. He’s turning thirty.”
    “It’s a joke.”
    “Are you into him or something?”
    “No. I—“
    “Megan—you are. You like his rubber chicken shtick. You’re turned on by his monologues about his playlists. You—“
    “OK, shut up. I think he’s hot. That’s all. Don’t you?”
    Janae shuddered. “I’d rather date my brother.”


  22. Treading On Dreams

    Big bucks, that’s what Winston said I could earn as a sidewalk artist.

    I’m no Michelangelo, but I’ve always been good with words. The plaza’s buzzing with last-minute shoppers, so I decide to write my Holiday Wish List. I fill it with wisecracks and one-liners, and sit back.

    After five hours hustling, watching sneakers scuff my handiwork, I empty the styrene cup: $19.84.

    I need way more to get to Nova Scotia for my little Julia’s birthday. In desperation, I add another wish: for each passer-by to donate a two dollar coin to my travel fund.

    And it’s working… People are giving.

    “Thank you, ma’am… God bless you, brother.”

    Word Count: 109

  23. Passing Dreams
    99 words

    “Big freaking deal.” Jenny and the rest of the mean kids kicked at the chalk letters. “So you have a list. Ooh, I see, it’s a ‘wish list.'” Jenny snorted. “Cute.”

    Trying to get them to help had been dumb.

    “Here, let me see.” Jenny snatched the chalk out of Maris’ hand. “You wished for a new dog? Right.” She scribbled at the bottom of the list. “Twenty dollars. Uh. What?” She jumped, but the list was already pulling her in, replacing her with a twenty, the way it had given a dog when it had taken Maris’ brother.

  24. @fs_iver
    WC: 103

    Big boobs.
    Long legs.
    Straight teeth.
    No acne.

    Big scholarship.
    Long distance.
    Straight shot.
    No parents.

    Big dinners.
    Long nap.
    Straight A’s.
    No Bio Chem.

    Big paycheck.
    Long holiday.
    Straight hair.
    No landlord.

    Big wedding.
    Long getaway.
    Straight flight.
    No protection.

    Big positive.
    Long checkups.
    Straight epidural.
    No complications.

    Big(ger) bed.
    Long leaves.
    Straight diets.
    No stretch marks.

    Big(ger) car.
    Long nap(s).
    Straight(ened) house.
    No meltdowns.

    Big girl.
    Long curls.
    Straight steps.
    No messes.

    Big fights.
    Long silences.
    Straight tequila.
    No take backs.

    Big changes.
    Long walks.
    Straight talks.
    No defeat.
    Baby brother.

    • I always have to read your stories more than once to get them. But once I read it the second time the meaning always smacks me in the face and then I understand. 🙂

    • Wow! This is so out of the box.

    • This is really cool. I love how her priorities changed. Or she just gave up. Lol Hard to convey a story in this format. Nicely done.

    • Foy, this was brilliantly conceived and executed. I love the form/meter with its truncated (1 – 2 foot) cinquains. The way you moved through the evolution of your life with such depth in so few words, starting with the superficial wishes we have in our youth and moving to the deepened wishes and desires under our developed perspective. I loved the double repetition with the line leads and the obsessive hunger we women (especially us mothers) have to be smaller, and how it evolved into a more significant wish.

      this inspired me to step out of my literary comfort zone. Just brilliant.

      • Wow! That’s an incredibly wonderful review. It seems that for some of us, the last wish to be replaced is that body image one. One day we wake up and realize there are far grander things to be desired, right?
        Thanks much, Elle!

  25. @firdaus
    The wish list

    Big, brown eyes looked expectantly at me. I placed the sticky brown paper bag in her tiny hand.

    “Jalebi!” She squealed.

    “Yes, jalebi! We can strike that off your list.”

    Walking to the inner wall of our mud hut I struck off the picture of a jalebi she had drawn with a piece of charcoal. My little labour roughened hands traced the other pictures.

    A frock
    Shiney slippers
    A pigeon

    For a five year old she could draw well.

    A sick mother, a missing father, did not dampen my twelve year old heart.

    I watched her eat, syrup dripping down her chin.

    Then between bites,
    “You’re the best brother!”

    Note: Jalebi is a syrupy sweet popular in India.

  26. Recruiting

    “Big long list of rules and regulations, right? As long as your arm, I bet?”
    “There’s just a handful. Only ten commandments.”
    “And what’s in it for us?”
    “Eternal life.”
    “Any drawbacks?”
    “Well, it can get a bit hot.”
    “We had two weeks in Barbados last summer. Bring on the warmth I say! As long as there’s no mosquitoes.”
    “I am sure mosquitoes would be the least of your troubles.”
    “OK, show me your list… Wow, that tenth one’s a doozy! Thou shalt not covet? Is there any wiggle room on it? no? Oh brother!”

    95 words

  27. Elephant Head

    Big dreams are elusive. Fate is cruel.

    A cutesy face and tiny frame, she had a big bobble head, always off balance. Her dream of becoming a Ballet Dancer wasn’t to be for Celia.

    Denny poked fun, calling her ‘Elephant Head.’

    Playing, Celia drew a hopscotch; each block contained a chalk wish. ‘Want to dance, kiss a boy; want to look normal . . .’

    She jumped squares when Denny knocked her down, jealous she received doting. Her head swelled massively, while he pissed on her chalky wishes, washing them away, steam rose off the summer pavement.

    Ambulances came, but Elephant Head died. Denny was a remorseless brother.


    • How sad! And he is beyond remorseless. So cruel. But at least she died having dreams. Some people lose those.

    • So cruel! It left me sad. Well written piece.

      • Thank you Firdaus. Unfortunately I missed the deadline by 6 minutes, but decided to post it anyway. 🙂

    • Gritty line, ‘while he pissed on her chalky wishes.’ A hard hitting, interesting take that will stick with me. Well done.

      • Thanks so much Marie. It felt right, having Denny do that to Celia. Thank God, my own brother is nothing like Denny! 🙂

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.