No Small Potatoes

Welcome to Friday Fictioneers for March 20 (We start on Wednesday each week, but there is still plenty of time for you to play along.). Our hostess, Rochelle, corals around 100 writers from around the globe as we respond to the weekly photo prompt with 100-word stories.

This week’s photo is provided by Rachel Bjerke.

My story this week weighs in at exactly 100 words and takes us to some place in Ukraine at some time in the future.

Copyright Rachel Bjerke

Copyright Rachel Bjerke

No Small Potatoes

“What is it?”

“An old distillery.”

“Must be pretty old—all overgrown with moss.”

“Not moss—lichens.”



“So it’s edible?”

“Give you a mighty stomach ache if you don’t boil it first, but yeah, it’s edible.”

“Looks like a good place to camp.”

“Should be safe—for a night or two.”

“And plenty of food.” Lilia’s stomach rumbled, accompanying her words.

“Plenty of work anyway.” Mykhail wondered if he could coax a fire to burn here.

Lilia kicked at a rotted door, revealing some bottles. “Look! Vodka.”

Mykhail took a swig. “This should pair well with the lichens.”

Author’s Note: In all likelihood this photo really does depict moss, but in my research, I discovered that many times lichens and moss are mistaken for one another. Since only two known varieties of lichens are inedible, a survivalist story seemed the way to go. Then I learned something really fun about lichen cocktails HERE.

72 thoughts on “No Small Potatoes

  1. Dear Marie Gail,

    “Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out, come and keep your comrade warm…” Now there’s a cocktail to offer some nutrition while helping you forget the situation.

    Well imagined story. Good writing makes me happy.

    L’Chaim and Shalom,


    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Rochelle. I did a lot more research on this go round than I generally do, and it was fun learning about the many ways to use lichens.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  2. Sandra says:

    Those cocktails sound… stunning. Interesting story and thanks for the link.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thank you, Sandra! I had fun researching this. Always the adventuresome sort, I am now hankering to try those cocktails. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can get them here in Kansas City. Might be time to book a trip to London.


  3. Helena Hann-Basquiat says:

    I’d have to be pretty hungry.

    • storydivamg says:

      Ha! I guess I’m a bit more adventurous than most. It dawns on me that for all the writing I do about eating lichens and a variety of dishes created from them, I’ve never actually eaten them. This travesty must soon come to an end . . .

      I’ll be sure to blog about the stomach ache that results when I eat the stuff without having prepared it properly.

      All my best,

  4. I’m not sure I’d be lichen a cocktail of that sort or food either, for that matter, although the latte might be OK if I were starving. 🙂


    • storydivamg says:

      Oooh . . . that pun just had to be played, didn’t it? 😉 Other research I did seems to indicate that lichens can be used to create a flour-like substance, so perhaps someday we could bake a birthday cake you might lichen a little better than those cocktails.

      All my best,

  5. ansumani says:

    I learnt something about Lichens today….nice story!

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks! It’s always fun to learn a little something while riding the Friday Fictioneers Express. I’ve had a strange fascination with lichens since I wrote my first post-apocalyptic tale (see the word salad to the right for a link to all of them), and my research this week gave even more credence to the notion that a civilization could use them to survive underground for some time. But who knew that they currently feature in cocktails at a trendy London hot spot?

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  6. elmowrites says:

    Ouch. Love the idea of survivalists peeling the lichen off this picture. Plenty of food as you say, if you’re starving. What a terrible world we live in – all the stories I’ve read so far have been distinctly dark about humans and human-nature.

    • storydivamg says:

      I’ve not jumped into the cistern yet this week, but I can imagine the depths to which we might be about to plummet. The photo is a bit sinister in nature (although I’m sure there will be a few who find it rather idyllic).

      One thing I didn’t manage to incorporate into this tale is that lichen growing this thick might actually be a thousand years old or more. Hmmm . . . makes me wonder how great it could possibly taste.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  7. There is a sadness in this… and yes the vodka would for sure be needed… Actually there are lichens that are poisonous as well… but for sure they provided food at one point in the past (though the edibla ones are more grey green…

    • storydivamg says:

      Yes, Bjorn, it seems most every variety of flora has some poisonous species. Fortunately for my Ukranian wayfarers, only about 1 in 1,000 species of lichen are poisonous, unlike mushrooms, of which humans have found only about 6 in 1,000 to be edible.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Bjorn. It seems I may need to use you as a resource when researching. Lately you seem to come to my stories knowing more about them than I do. I’m honored that you continue reading, and I’m happy to learn from my readers.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  8. This story makes me a little nauseous.
    I’m off to read your link..hope it helps. 😉

  9. MG, I guess if you’re out of food, vodka and lichen isn’t a bad way to go. I grew up in northern Newfoundland, where there was lichen covering all the rocks, but I never thought of eating. I wonder what it’d taste like.

    • storydivamg says:

      I now have a rather overwhelming urge to find out, but for better or worse there aren’t many places to harvest lichens here in the KC metro area. Besides, eating millenia-old vegetation is probably best left to the survivalists. (Still, if I ever set foot in that trendy London club mention in the link, I know what cocktail to order.)

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  10. Cute story Marie Gail!

  11. EagleAye says:

    Nice! With vodka handy at least they’re getting some potatoes. Just skip the lichens and drink the vodka! Fun story!

  12. Ha! I never thought about what might pair with lichen. So, why not vodka? Thanks for the laugh.

  13. draliman says:

    The vodka must be a welcome find – it doesn’t sound like they get much in the way of treats. Nice story!

  14. It needs to be Russian vodka, not that stuff from Warrington. Back to lab now, see what I can distill and find in the petrie dishes. Skol.

  15. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Marie Gail,

    I’m lichen this story. Now please pass the vodka.



  16. gahlearner says:

    Reindeer eat some lichen species, and there are many different kinds. For a survivalist it would be important to know, otherwise things like the mushroom stories from two weeks ago can happen. LOL. Great story, made me read and think about lichens and clay and quartz and chemistry a lot more than I have time for. 🙂

  17. afairymind says:

    I’m not sure I’d want to eat lichen but I suppose when your starving anything edible is a good find. Lucky they also found the vodka to wash it down with! Great story. 🙂

  18. Lichens… edible, yes, mostly. I’d have to be close to starvation to eat them again. YUCK! Wrinkles nose. Probably would have gone down better had we had vodka at the time.

    • storydivamg says:

      So I take it you won’t be coming round my blog this June when I share slices of virtual birthday cake made with lichen flour? What a shame! Maybe I can manage to whip up something more traditional. I just thought I found a way around the gluten-free craze. 🙂

      Thanks for reading.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  19. I always say vodka goes with everything, so apparently even lichens. it has a lovely poetic flow. Susannah.

  20. I had no idea about that of lichens and moss, how curious! Really liked this.

  21. erinleary says:

    Everything is better with Vodka. Even a little learning! Thanks for the new information.

  22. I now know more about lichens than I ever dreamed possible. I’m all set for my next cocktail party — if I ever got invited to any. Vodka and lichens are something I’ll keep in mind too. Nice story, MG!

    • storydivamg says:

      Just be careful, Perry. If you take David’s advice and bring lichen on the rocks, you might never again be invited to a cocktail party.

      So glad you enjoyed this one.

      All my best,

  23. subroto says:

    Probably explains why Rudolph is a red-nosed Reindeer, must be all that lichen vodka. Nice take on the prompt.

    • storydivamg says:

      Haha! I actually read the scientific reason for red noses on reindeer a while back, but I like your explanation better.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


  24. I lichen cocktails and i lichen appetizers, ain courses, and desserts, too.

    • storydivamg says:

      I lichen them all quite well myself, Randy, although I’m pretty sure I’m likely to get tired of them quickly if they were all made from lichen. (Could I get some wild game with that?)


  25. Everything pairs well with vodka! 🙂

  26. rgayer55 says:

    Just remember, MG, you are what you eat (or drink). Enjoyed the tale and the lesson about lichens.

  27. Margaret says:

    I like your post-apocalyptic stories. This pair were very fortunate to find vodka – I hope they can ration it out to last because I don’t imagine there’s too much lying around in this future Ukraine. The dialogue works really well to build the characters.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Margaret. I may have mentioned to you before that I’m not overly enamored with my post-apocalyptic stories, but they keep coming to me . . . so I keep posting them. Glad you enjoy them. I’m sure there are others tucked away where this one came from.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  28. Lichen cocktails? Might rival a kale smoothie. Ha ha

  29. Nan Falkner says:

    Dear Marie Gail, Great story and I’ve never eaten a lichen. Oh well maybe some day I will find it – however, I do enjoy Vodka! Nan

  30. MG, I always enjoy a well told story that uses dialogue to carry the reader along. It’s not easy, and you’ve done a really good job of providing a sense of place, character development and mystery… why are they there? What are they doing? Really enjoyed this! D

  31. I think I’ll stick to a packed lunch of sandwidhes and bottle water. I’m not that adventurous. It makes a good story though. Well done, Marie
    Gail. 🙂 — Suzanne

  32. Ellespeth says:

    I’m so glad Lilia found some vodka. That with a little aged lichen – yum!
    I enjoyed the link…i like a little pineapple juice with my tequila.

  33. Everything looks better with vodka, even the lichens. Enjoyed how the dialog carried the story.

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