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And the Prodigal Son (Daughter?) Returns...

... to fridayflash, of course!


It's been a long time since I've taken part in the lovely business called fridayflash (twitter hash-tag terminology for those of you who don't tweet), and I decided around, oh, an hour ago that I was going to make an entry this week.

Actually, that's kind of a lie.

I was laying in bed (at 4am, mind you), and this story idea kept rolling around in my head, practically screaming WRITE ME, DAMN IT! So I finally said, "Fine! I'll write you, ok? But only if you let me sleep after I finish." When I got no reply, I chose to take that as a 'yes,' so I forced my eyes open, turned on my bedside lamp, and scribbled for approximately 20-30 minutes. This flash fiction is the result:

Leaving Behind the Home
and the Pain

Tears streamed down Eve's face as she pulled her knees close against her chest. The reclining rocker in which she sat groaned in protest at the shift in weight. The room was filled with boxes in various stages of packing, ranging from some that were completely taped shut to others that were only partially full.

Jack stood behind the chair, fuming.

"Eve," he said from behind clenched teeth, "how could you do this? It's our home!" He threw his hands onto the back of the chair, rocking it backward. Eve grasped the hand rests and squeezed her eyes closed. Her heart was beating so fast that she thought it might explode.

"Jack," she began slowly. "I don't know if -" She sniffed abruptly. "It doesn't matter. I just - I can't stay here anymore. I have to leave."

"Can't stay?" he yelled. "Why? I worked so hard - we worked so hard to make this house exactly how we wanted it."

"Ever since - and then the funeral..." she trailed off as more sobs shook her by the shoulders.

Jack wanted nothing more than to kiss her, hug her, tell her that everything would be ok, but he had a point to make. He circled around the recliner and knelt in front of his weeping spouse.

"Eve, just listen to me, ok?" Eve stared at the floor, seemingly unwilling to meet his gaze. "You're right. We're in a tough spot right now. I'm not denying that. But we'll push through it like we always have. What would we gain by moving? By running away from our problems?"

As Jack lightly placed a hand on her right knee, Eve jerked away, a shiver running up and down her whole body. Crying even more hysterically, she jumped from her seat and bolted across the room.

"Stop it!" she screamed. "Just stop! I can't take it! The movers are coming tomorrow to take all of the big pieces, and I've already paid them. No turning back now."

Gasping for air, Eve reached for her keys. "As for now, I'm going to Mom's."

"No," Jack protested. "Baby, don't. Let's talk this out."

"I don't even know why I said that," she said, scoffing at herself. "It's not like you're actually listening to me anyway." Eve dried her tears and gathered her purse and coat, her face suddenly blank, devoid of the pain she had just been feeling. Her expression was only belied by the tear stains on her cheeks.

"What?" he asked, incredulous. "I am listening! Don't play that card with me! Eve, come on."

Eve made her way to for the door, an unstoppable train of decision. Jack continued to plead with her to stop, to just stay and talk for a while, but she was entirely closed off to him. It was her turn not to listen.

After Eve shut and locked the front door behind her, Jack stood despondently in the living room filled with boxes. She'll be back tomorrow morning for the movers. We'll talk then, he thought. He sat down in the recliner and relaxed.

Outside, Eve got into her car and turned her key in the ignition. As the engine turned over, she looked back at her home. She half-expected her husband to come bursting out, a smile on his face with his arms outstretched, but that was another life.

That was a happy life.

A life when Jack had been alive.


I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this one, but it's good enough for government work, I guess. I'll probably go back and edit the crap out of it later on, once it's had time to sit and fester in the confines of my mind. heh

But anyways, that was it! What do you think? All criticisms are welcome!

To see my previous fridayflash entries, go to the following links:
My First Fridayflash Attempt
"Mommy Dearest"
"Hell-Broth Boil & Bubble"
"Rain of Rubber Chickens"



Guinevere said…
I love this! I knew there was something going on, but I didn't know what until the end - very deftly handled.
Stef Howerton said…
Thanks, Guinevere! :) I was hoping for that little "gotcha" moment at the end. hehe
You added a twist, and it's a realistic situation. Sad story. :(
Tony Noland said…
I liked the gotcha. I thought maybe a child had died, but Jack being a ghost came out of left field.

Nice one.
Tony is sharper than me today. That's why I usually reserve a space in time to read. Hella awesome with the ghost thing.
Anonymous said…
Nicely done. Good job for 4 am. :)

And the twist at the end was excellent.

And nice to meet you, by the way.
Mark Kerstetter said…
I didn't catch that Jack was a ghost at first (I read the 'not alive' as a metaphor), and his body language appeared a little odd to me. When I read it over again it made more sense. Good job for a sleepless night!
Rebecca Emin said…
I love the twist at the end. Such a sad story once you get to that part! Well written though, I hope you enjoyed writing it too.
Anonymous said…
This is very good for a middle of the night impromptu bit!
I'm a little confused though... does Jack know he's dead/a ghost? Like a previous commenter, I thought it was a child that died as well. She mentions a funeral aloud, and he responds by saying that they're going through a rough period, but they'll get through it...which technically is true, but his words seem to fit a different circumstance.
Anyway, just my two cents. I enjoy your blog!
virginiaplain10 said…
great story, clever twist ...very well crafted. Going to read more of your stories - I'm still new to twitter blogs and loving reading yours!
suesal said…
I love this! The gotcha moment got me too! Nicely done.

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