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red squirrel too

image from Wikipedia


So this is from last week’s session, where the prompt was to write a story within a story. We began by considering first when we tell stories (before bed, over dinner, at weddings, around the fire etc) and then why we tell them. Each person had two small pieces of paper, and wrote one response to each question, placing it in the centre of the circle so we could all see. Taking that as the inspirational spark, we wrote for ten minutes. This is what I wrote…


The children gathered around the fire. Some were throwing on sticks and twigs they’d foraged from the forest floor. Their eyes danced with the flames, and the night began to wrap round them like a cloak, to protect and enfold.

“So…” announced their leader, “who’s got a ghost story?”

There was a communal cheer, but the groan underneath it was more easily heard, because it went against the whole.

“What is it Jake?”

Now all eyes were on the groaner, some pointing and laughing, others groaning in turn. He always interrupted the fun.

“Ghost stories are boring.”

Various retorts to the contrary followed, as well as taunts of scaredy cat, sissy and the like. The leader sighed and waved his hands up and down to settle the noise that seemed too big for just ten boys.

“What kind of stories do you like Jake?”

There were suggestions called out through laughter, and again the leader raised his hands to invite calm. Jake shrugged his shoulders. Silence settled. The flames cackled.

“True stories,” he eventually offered.

“Go on,” the leader encouraged, curious now.

A couple of yawns appeared around the circle that was settling into a warm glow, much like the fire, whose flames had settled into radiant embers.

“There used to be reds in this wood. I saw one, when I was younger. More birds too, when I was five, I saw loads.”

The circle breathed in, breathed out, relaxed.

“My brother, he’s older, he’s got a gun. He’s started shooting grays. Gray squirrels. Shot five one day. They’re taking over, coz they don’t belong here, and there’s nothing to stop them. I climbed a tree once and stayed coz my parents were arguing. I saw the gray squirrels playing. I think they’re fun. I don’t want my brother to shoot them, but – . I want to see reds too. But -” He paused.

“I don’t know what’s right, but the woods are changing – I’ve seen them – it’s like a shrinking, or, like, if you listen – there’s less. It makes me sad.”

A couple of heads nodded. Silence. An owl. But what kind?


What’s your story within a story?


If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:


and here: