Furious Fiction: The Elephant In The Room

posted in: Writing Challenges 19

On the weekend I entered my first creative writing competition! Furious Fiction is hosted by the Australian Writers Centre and the rules are simple. The story must be called The Elephant In The Room, be 500 words long and contain the words: key, emerged, busted. And the final four words must be: The clock struck four. So here’s my story! Would love you to leave a comment.

“Where is it?” she muttered, tossing clothes haphazardly out of the suitcase.

“Found it?”


She turned and pushed past her husband. He sighed and surveyed the bedroom chaos.

“When was the last time you saw it?” he asked. Weary. It was late.

“Bloody hell, James, I don’t remember! Last night? I don’t KNOW!”


Down the hall, a door creaked and a tousled blond head appeared, thumb tucked in her mouth.

“What are you doing up?” James scooped up the toddler.

“Can’t sleep,” she said, dried tears on her face.

“No thumb. You’re a big girl now,” he said, pulling her thumb out. Swollen eyelids and the glistening trail of snot the tell-tale signs of harrowing sobbing.

“Come on, let’s get you back to bed,” She shook her head and popped her thumb back in her mouth.

“Too scary,” she said.

James was exhausted. It had been a slow drive home from their beachside holiday and it was almost midnight.

Janine had barely spoken to him. She seemed to be permanently pissed off lately. The getaway had been an impromptu decision, a failed attempt to reconnect.

“Come on, bedtime,” he said to his daughter.

Sounds of the desperate search floated down the hallway.  He tucked Melanie into bed and tiptoed to the door. She started to cry, the clock chimed 12. Sigh.

James made a decision. “OK, let’s go.”

He picked Melanie up and strode to the garage. Ignoring Janine, James strapped Melanie into her car seat and reversed onto the street.

By 2am he was back in Noosa.

“We checked out of Room 303 today. Is anyone there now?” he asked the receptionist while he held Melanie, perched on his hip.

“Uh, no.”

“I need to get into that room.”

“Um, I can’t do that.” The girl was maybe 22.

“Look, it’s really important, I’ll just be a minute,” he pleaded.

“The room has been cleaned,” she said, looking at her computer. “Oh, actually, it’s being done now.” She looked at James, exhaustion etched into his face.

“OK,” she said. “I’ll take you up.”

Cleaners’ carts cluttered the hallway. At Room 303 James pushed past the receptionist and surveyed a spotless room. A cleaner emerged from the bathroom.

“Did you find anything here?” James demanded.

“Oh, yes, I did,” she nodded. She walked to her cart and James followed.

“Was there an elephant in the room?”

“Yes,” she offered a tattered Babar the Elephant.

Melanie squealed. “Babaaaar!”

James sighed with relief. Melanie slept all the way home, clutching Babar. James called Janine but got her voicemail.

It was almost 4am when they arrived home. The mess had been tidied, calm had been restored.

In the kitchen, James found a note. A lone earring was beside it on the table. The ticking clock became deafening.


It’s time to address the elephant in the room. Our marriage is over. This earring belongs to your mistress. I found it in our bed weeks ago. Busted.


The clock struck four.

19 Responses

  1. Caroline
    | Reply

    Fabulous Felicity! So clever.

    • Felicity
      | Reply

      Aww, thanks Caroline! It’s a first try, so I know I still have work to do, but everyone starts somewhere!

  2. Imogen
    | Reply

    Well done, Felicity. Great read.

    • Felicity
      | Reply

      Thank-you Imogen! You’re so kind!

  3. Mary-Anne Cassells
    | Reply

    I really enjoyed it Felicity. Great story.

    • Felicity
      | Reply

      Thank-you so much, Mary-Anne, for taking the time to leave a comment for a rookie creative fiction writer!

  4. Rebecca Levingston
    | Reply

    Really enjoyed it! Surprised & moved. Do more!

    • Felicity
      | Reply

      Eek! Thank-you Rebecca! That means a lot!

  5. Dave
    | Reply

    Hi, Felicity, didn’t you need to use the word “key” in there?

    • Felicity
      | Reply

      You are absolutely right, Dave! *face palm* I had the word ‘key’ in there twice. The concierge/receptionist grabbed the master key to take James and Melanie up to room 303. Also, when James made a decision, he grabbed the car key and strapped Melanie into her car seat before reversing into the street. At the very last minute I wanted to inject a bit of emotion around the note and I accidentally deleted those two crucial sentences! Bugger! Never mind! It was always going to be a practice piece, so now I have a very tangible lesson I can point to and learn from! Thanks for noticing! *Adds Dave to the top of the list of beta readers and proofreaders when manuscript is ready*. 🙂

  6. Bec Courtney
    | Reply

    Ha! Loved it well done. Reminded me of leaving Flynn’s toy pup Toby in a cabin in the jungle in Thailand and it wasn’t until that night when we’d caught the train down to Bangkok that I realised. I don’t know who was more devastated! 🤔

    • Felicity
      | Reply

      It’s traumatic when it happens and I reckon it’s a story most parents can relate to, even if their kids didn’t have security blankets. Thanks so much for taking a moment to leave some very kind comments. I really appreciate it. Looking forward to reading about your amazing travels on your blog!

  7. Bec Courtney
    | Reply

    Also don’t look at my blog – just saw my wordpress pic come up – it’s terrible and a delayed work in progress and blatant attempt to show off my travel pics…

    • Felicity
      | Reply

      Ha! My blog is also a work in progress. Needs a lot of updating in certain places. But Bec, if we all wait until everything is perfect, (certainly in my life) nothing would ever be ready to be used! Better to use it and work on it as you go, in my experience. This is my fourth blog, I think, and in a decade of blogging I can tell you that the blog is never perfect. You just have to jump in and do! So get to it! 🙂

  8. Janet
    | Reply

    That was great! Good on you Felicity .

  9. Holly
    | Reply

    Great read! Love the twist at the end. Can’t wait to read next months.

  10. Jordan
    | Reply

    What a great entry for your first attempt. Love it, love that it is set in Brisbane and love the twist at the end. You should definitely do more!

  11. Michelle Slavin
    | Reply


    Well done Felicity.

    • Felicity
      | Reply

      Thanks Michelle! I really appreciate it! Hope your overseas adventure is going well! <3

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