Flash Fiction February 2020 – “No Time to Look Back”


I continue with my illustrations for Flash Fiction February 2020, twenty-nine days of flash fiction stories at Fictive Dream,  an online fiction magazine featuring short stories.

For the event I created a small abstract painting for each selection – in fact, I did more than one painting per story. I am showing you all the images, day by day, throughout February. I’m also including a short write-up as to how I went about turning the authors’ words into pictorial representations.

I hope you’ll take a look at my art, then go to Fictive Dream, see which image editor Laura Black chose for the magazine, and read the story!

Thank you to Laura for her faith in my work and to the authors for such wonderful material to work with.

Today’s story is:

No Time to Look Back by Meg Tuite. Read it here at Fictive Dream.

Here are the artworks on their own:

and here they are with the banner.


This story tells of a kidnapping from the viewpoint of the victim. The situation is grim and a bad outcome seems foreordained, even to the victim, who seems resigned to it. The final image mentioned in the story, that of “trees crowded together, weary with anticipation” was my visual prompt for both images I produced.

Image 19 – I used a gray sky and bare-branched trees for the image, scattering leaves across (the story refers to crunching leaves) to give a bleak barren feel to match the atmosphere of hopelessness and despair. I made a white square area to give just a suggestion of the naked white ghostly van among the trees.

Image 20 – I used the same structure, a grouping of trees under a sky, but changed the colors to paler, ghostlier shades. Under a gray-blue sky I set white trees and a swirl of brown leaves in an open arrangement to symbolize the idea of beyond the trees there are “many paths that end somewhere”, leaving that end point undefined, out in the open, vague, and ominous.

Read the story at Fictive Dream.

9 thoughts on “Flash Fiction February 2020 – “No Time to Look Back”

  1. Fictive Dream

    I found No Time To Look Back by Meg Tuite terrifying – that the woman should be so resigned is upsetting. The “trees crowded together” is the perfect prompt fro this story and either of your images would have worked wonderfully. In the end, I chose image #19 because the trees appear more dense giving the impression that once she is in the forest, she will never emerge. I also very much liked the strong palette. Marvellous, thank you, Claudia.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I found the same thing you did, the passivity of the woman and that she is almost subsumed into the forest. The text gave me a lot of visual info to work with in bringing the emotions in the story into something visual.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you, I try to not only represent the stories but make some art that is pleasing to look at on its own, and I am glad you find it so, makes me feel I’m meeting both of these goals!

  2. Laura (PA Pict)

    The story is powerful in its ability to chill and disturb. The starkness of the imagery in the perspective of the victim is a brutal bookend to the story, the shift from the agricultural stubble at the beginning to the trees at the end. I, therefore, like that your painting focuses on that landscape. Meanwhile, that ghostly form moving between the verticals really does evoke that terrifying feeling of vulnerability and helpless passivity.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I found this story easy to illustrate but as you say, chilling and disturbing. I kept thinking of the forest, impassive and uninterested in what was happening inside it, as being like the victim, also impassive and somewhat detached. Terrifying to think about.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I suggest taking one a day, let it sink in. I think with flash fiction it’s easy to speed through, they are so short, and gloss over how much can be contained in one small set of words. That is one reason I really like illustrating these, I have to slow down and really pay attention to the text, so that I can do a fitting illustrations.

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