One of the flash fiction prompts I have recently followed has been the Mondays Finish the Story photo prompt– 150 words inspired by a picture and an initial sentence, sometimes straightforward, sometimes not. To someone who always thought that short fiction was anything under 100,000 words, trying to compose something in no more than 150 was a real challenge, but one which I came to enjoy.
Although I never met Barbara Beacham, the lady who ran the prompt, she was always friendly and encouraging in our online exchanges, and surprisingly willing to put up with the doggerel I composed. I looked forward to the prompt every Monday. It often seemed to bring out the silly and irreverent in me and forced me to stretch myself as a writer.
Two Mondays ago the prompt didn’t appear. I hoped everything was well, but yesterday Barbara’s husband posted a final entry on the blog saying that said she had passed away after an illness. He asked that readers not post to the blog itself, as he will no longer be monitoring it. However, I still wanted to note how this gracious lady, who I never saw face-to-face, helped me grow as a writer. I am better at this business because of her. And that is a truth of this strange world we live in– people we never meet can nevertheless have a powerful impact on you. Barbara’s on me was wholly positive. I am deeply grateful, and very sorry she is gone.