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Charm Against an Egg Boat

You must break the shell....

By Alyson Smith Published about a month ago 3 min read
Charm Against an Egg Boat image by Mick Smith.

Charm Against an Egg Boat is one of my first pieces of flash fiction responding to traditional rhymes. It was published in Pagans of the North March 2024 edition I am submitting monthly to this online magazine and have popped my piece Ring O' Roses that was in the April Edition underneath Charm. The wee cartoon of the witch in her egg boat was drawn my partner Mick Smith.

Charm Against an Egg Boat

You must break the shell to bits, for fear

The witches should make it a boat, my dear

For over the sea away from home

Far by night the witches roam.


‘Shit, shit, shit. We have to go back. Turn around now. Now…. now… please…now.’

‘What’s wrong?’ I asked, taking a sideways glance as I tried to keep driving in a straight line continuing away from the street we both lived in, three doors apart.

‘Please turn back… please’. Her voice was getting higher, breathier and I could hear the panic in it. Deciding to act on her request I approached the next roundabout and drove back towards her house shortly pulling into the drive. I hadn’t fully stopped before she had the car door open and with keys previously taken from her handbag she ran and let herself in. I stopped the car and followed.

She was in the kitchen bent over her table staring at an empty egg cup, tears running down her face as she turned to me holding a teaspoon in her right hand.

‘Oh God,’ I muttered, understanding the cause of her distress. ‘Has it gone?’

‘Yes,’ she sobbed violently. ‘Yes.’

‘It may be alright’ I lied. And then we heard it. A distant cackle and a splash as another one was launched at sea, the fleet building steadily, awaiting nightfall.

God help us all.

Ring O’ Roses

Ring-a-ring o’ roses

A pocket full of posies

A-tishoo, A-tishoo

We all fall down


‘Hold my hand. Come on, this way.’ She pulled the slight girl with long, matted hair and red-rimmed eyes and dragged her towards the group of children already arranging themselves into a tight ring, heads down huddled, their whispers just audible as the two girls approached them.

One of the boys turned to face them, ‘Hello’ he smiled, ‘You sit down here, in the middle.’

The girl’s eyes were still red-rimmed but her face relaxed and she appeared happy as she was given a garland of daisies placed around her neck by an older girl whilst another put a halo of them on her head.

‘Thank you’, her words were quiet but clear.

The group, now all holding hands and facing towards her, started to move around her in a slow dance, chanting words that had been passed down from mothers and grandmothers. The sound of stones being thrown towards the girl in the middle grew louder as did the singing. Tap, tap, tap. The collection of small rocks landed on the ground around her. Tap, tap, tap. They started to reach her with a few grazing her small body.

The girl sat still and didn’t make a noise as the circle moved closer and it was now that her red-rimmed eyes gleamed bluer and harder, and it was now that the words her grandmother and mother had taught her came from her mouth. She repeated the chants until finally giving out a great sneeze that shook the bodies of the dancing children and sent ripples through the ground. Some were crying, some scared into muteness as they watched the girl walk away from their broken bodies lying on the ground.

Ring O' Roses is heavily influenced by the short story The Lottery by my favourite author Shirley Jackson (1916 –1965).

Short StoryHumorFantasy

About the Creator

Alyson Smith

Writer & Artist with Level I Autism & a whole lot of Bipolar. Based in Newcastle- upon - Tyne, works as an administrator in a Nursing Home. MA in Creative Writing.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insight

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (4)

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  • Alyson Smith (Author)19 days ago

    Nice one, good start.

  • Rachel Deeming27 days ago

    Oh, I am going to be very careful with egg shells from now on. Welcome to Vocal. What a great debut!

  • kpabout a month ago

    mike brought me here, and i'm so glad he did. stunning writing and wonderful inspiration. thanks so much for sharing this with the vocal community, and welcome :)

  • Great to see your first poem, are you with us in the Vocal Social Society on Facebook. Please join us and share this on the poetry thread (we run one every weekend). Excellent words.

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