Friday Fiction – Fibonacci’s Tower

I was very excited to discover that Rochelle chose my picture for this week’s prompt. I’m really looking forward to reading all the responses. My story is below the picture. I haven’t included edits this week (they weren’t very interesting). Instead, an explanation of my thoughts and inspiration follows the story. As ever, feedback – good or bad – feeds the muse, and you are very welcome to just read the story if you don’t have time for explanations!


Fibonacci’s Legacy (Genre: Historical Fiction)

From a chair beside the best fruit stand in Pisa, Leonardo stared at the great campanile. Something wasn’t right. He stood on aching legs and walked towards it.  The tower was leaning, he realised: sloping towards the North.

He stopped to make a sketch in his notebook: a third stage, with each floor slightly taller on that side, correcting the problem as it grew.

Inside, he gazed up at the receding stairs with a smile. The tilt was not evident here. Instead, he was reminded of natural perfection – the population numbers of rabbits, or the spiral of a snail’s shell.

*  *  *  *  *


The picture is actually taken inside a lighthouse on the Suffolk coast. I love lighthouses, and my friend, Joy, was kind enough to accompany me on a pilgrimage to this one. One of the things I love about them are the spiral staircases winding up the inside, and this one cried out for a photograph. Because of the equipment, I couldn’t take the photo square on, but I loved the effect this picture captured so I took it anyway.

Looking at it now, a few years later, I was reminded of a snail shell, which got me thinking about Fibonacci, so I looked him up. Turns out he lived in Pisa – suddenly I had my inspiration. Then I looked up the tower : turns out it was built in 3 stages and the third stage was built wonky, to correct the tilt created by poor foundations. An aged Fibonacci would have seen it between the building of stages 2 and 3, so I wondered what he would have made of it. Leonardo_da_Pisa

Fibonacci was a mathematician and a scientist. He was a problem-solver and a thinker. I was fortunate to grow up knowing a man like that. My Grandad (shown below with his lovely wife, my Grandma) was a physicist by training, and most definitely both a problem-solver and a thinker. In Fibonacci’s place, I can’t help but think he would have been trying to find a solution to the problem of the leaning tower. LastingLove


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

74 responses to “Friday Fiction – Fibonacci’s Tower

  1. John Henry Beck

    Nice work. You pack a lot of history in a short story.

  2. A very nice, thoughtful story, and rich & entertaining notes – thanks for the photograph! A lighthouse…! How perfectly romantic for my stormy mind….!

  3. Beautiful picture (although it must have underlying evil undertones per the many dark stories!) and an as-always lovely story to go with it.


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  5. Lovely story, and a great back-drop of information about the photo and Fibonacci. (And your family). 🙂 Really interesting.

    • I linked a couple of wikipedia articles but it’s (actually both the tower and the man) one of those subjects you can lose a day researching! Glad you enjoyed my distillation of history

  6. Sarah Ann

    Thanks for the gorgeous photo. I enjoyed your historical take and the detail – ‘best fruit stand in Pisa.’ And that last paragraph – the smile and the recognition of patterns evoke a lovely symmetry.
    What a good looking couple your grandparents make too.

  7. I liked the history tutelage at the end as much as the story, maybe more. Sweet! goes to the tale of your grandpa.

  8. Enjoyed your story and great photo–certainly inspired a variety of stories.

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  10. Loved the photo, loved the story! Really enjoyed the little history factoids!

  11. I’m sure the Fibonacci Sequence will have played a part in my Quantum Tunnel! I enjoyed your story and its history, personal and otherwise. Ann

  12. Great picture! Great story!
    Since my stroke, I have an idea on how to fix the tower, but it involves explosives…

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  14. Dear Jenn,,
    So many lovely things to be said about this piece. Thank you for sharing the picture. It’s wonderful and, as you can see, has sparked diverse imaginings.
    I love the history you packed into a small parcel. It’s no secret that historical fiction is my favorite genre and you didn’t disappoint. Thanks also for the tutorial at the end and sharing some of your own family history.

    • Historical fiction is a new one for me. I think I’m usually too afraid of inaccuracies and being revealed as a fraud. This time, I embraced them and I have to say, it felt good!

      • Good for you, Jen! Research is one of my favorite parts of writing historical fiction. I’ve picked up so many little factoids along the way that I never cared to learn in school.

  15. Wonderful picture. I rather liked the off-centeredness. Great story, too–a look into an interesting mind.

    You’ll be pleased to know, I worked a lighthouse into my story:

  16. Michael Fishman

    I think the story was maybe a little too literal for me. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just that I think I’m used to approaching these stories expecting/knowing they’re going to be fantastical or otherworldly and this was more reality. I like the picture of your grandparents a lot!

    • Thanks for your honesty, Michael, and for taking the time to read it anyway. I know my style is usually quite “realistic” which doesn’t work for a lot of people. This one perhaps even more than normal.

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  18. Jennifer,
    Your picture made me dizzy. For a minute there, I thought I had vertigo. I loved your story, the follow-up, and the photo of your Grandparents. I spent several of my early years in construction. We had a saying, “The mark of a good carpenter is how well he hides his mistakes.”

  19. t

    A wonderful story, and a perfect photo – thank you for both!

  20. I enjoyed this post the whole way through, you did a great job with this. Your picture of your grandparents is classic. Your Grandfather looks like a kind man and his lovely wife your grandma looks like a force who enjoyed life. Thanks for allowing us into your world. Excellent!


    • Thank you for your lovely words, Tom. My Grandad was indeed incredibly kind – like my Fibonacci, he saw the beauty as well as the physics in great things. My Grandma is still with us, and most definitely a force! A wonderful one at that. They are both much treasured by the family.

      • I am so glad to hear your Grandma is still with you and treasured by your family. This post was a treat and would make both your grandparents proud. Their influence will echo on for generations.


  21. Jennifer the spiral is exquisite. I have an obsession with spirals and spiral staircases. Your story makes the reader want to dive into the construction of the tower and examine history more closely. Well written

  22. Nice tribute to your granddad… and Leonardo. I enjoyed your thought process and tie-ins. I also enjoyed being prompted by your photo this week to write my story.

    Have you read The Lighthouse Stevensons by Bella Bathurst?

  23. interesting..and nice to see a pic of your grandparents

  24. Dear Jen,

    I love Fibonaci. have an entire file on my desktop with examples of his sequence in it.

    Your story was spot on for the prompt and i’m glad you followed your muse and gave us the unfolding perfection of words and the photo.

    Good luck reading all the stories this week. Your prompt was a great one.



    • Thanks Doug, I’m so pleased to find another fan of Leonardo – nature is incredible and we can only watch and wonder. I’m about a third of the way through and it’s Saturday night already…

  25. Jennifer,
    I love this. Funny how Leonardo seems to pop up in stories here and there (he was in my magic mirror a couple of weeks ago) – I guess he just jumpstarts the imagination, doesn’t he? Beautifully written and wonderful to read how you got to the story. A privilege, indeed, to have known Fibonacci…

  26. Hi Jennifer
    I don’t miss the edits this week because I get a history lesson and a memoir instead! A thoroughly interesting post and another brilliant story. Also, a great photo! I saw snails, eyes, stairways to heaven and all sorts in this one. It’s going to be an interesting week 🙂

  27. Thanks for a great photo Jen! It has certainly prompted a sparkling range of stories and yours stands well in that company.

  28. I love seeing real events in history influencing a piece. Thank you for the additional information 🙂 I always enjoy learning along with reading

  29. Lovely from beginning to end.

  30. Jennifer, thanks for the prompt this week. It’s a beautiful photo, and like you, I love lighthouses. Quite inspirational and original story you captured in 100 words. The staircase reminds me of a nautilus.

  31. kz

    a great the idea of natural perfection..and it’s wonderful reading about your grandparents 🙂
    ps thanks for the photo ^^

  32. Interesting take on history, nature, and reality from your own prompt. Nicely done!

  33. Math not being my forte, I still adore patterns. I actually used the Fibonacci sequence once when I knitted a baby blanket. Altering knit and purl stitches in the lines. Since it was given to a local shelter…I put in a note explaining that so that perhaps the family that received it would be inspired.

    Being of Italian heritage…well, a girl’s just gotta love garlic. At least in my family. Thank you for the welcome! Great photo! And I also enjoyed the history.

  34. A creative take on your photo. Extremely imaginative considering you know exactly where the photo came from. Most of the stories were creative and piqued imaginations.

  35. I enjoyed the “after” information you supplied as much as the story, itself. 🙂

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