Sep 24

A 500 word story: Crossing the Rubicon

A 500 word story


A 500 word story is always a good exercise. there are quite a few competitions for ‘Flash Fiction’ and it is good practice at getting a beginning, a middle and an end into concise language:

Crossing the Rubicon

Janine wanted to go back. It had been a lovely late-summer’s day but now there was a chill in the air.

Ben was in full flight, gregarious by nature, never happier than when charming the ladies, ‘Bring another bottle,’ ever the expansive host. Except he was not the host, they had only just met these people. Janine was bored. She had heard all her husband’s stories numerous times and her hints, ‘It’s getting a bit cold darling,’ had only got her the loan of his jacket.

The boating holiday had been intended to ensure they spent some time together. She had not anticipated canal-side pubs beckoning every few miles along the towpath.


Getting Ben to herself was no easier on the boat after all. She was trying to be patient. Since his redundancy Ben had refused to discuss their financial situation. He refused to discuss anything! He was in denial, insisting on carrying on as if nothing had happened.

Jan found herself brooding more and more as the weeks went by and no plans were made. The mortgage was huge, taken out only two years before when Ben’s new job had enabled them to upsize considerably. He had cashed in his pension fund from the old job for the deposit; foolishly it had seemed to Janine even at the time.

‘Pass me the map,’ said Ben from his perch at the stern. ‘We’ll moor just the other side of the river.’


Janine found the map and handed it to him. ‘How far is the viaduct?’ she asked.

‘It’s an aquaduct.’ Ben took the map from her with no word of thanks and a withering tone.

Who did he think he was?

She did not speak again until they were about to cross the river.

‘Take the tiller,’ he said, ‘I want to walk across.’

As soon as they were near enough to the towpath, Ben jumped off and started to cross on foot. He stopped half way and leaned over the balustrades to look down at the river thirty feet or so below. Janine was just behind, in the middle of the water when she saw him start to climb onto the stone barrier.

‘What are you doing!’ she shouted. She steered for the bank. Knocking the boat into neutral, she stepped out onto the gunwale and clambered onto the towpath. She grabbed at Ben’s clothing but was distracted by the sound of the steel hull of the drifting boat hitting the opposite bank.

Ben twisted and pulled. He threw one leg up onto the broad stone balustrade

to gain purchase.

‘Let go, you stupid bitch.’

Suddenly Janine realised that she was the one in danger of going over.

Something snapped in her.

She was never able to say with complete certainty whether she was just trying to shake him off or, enraged by his attitude to her over months and years she pushed him.

But there were no witnesses and the insurance money came in handy.

500 words

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.