Flash Fiction No. 10 – The Writing Prompt

Again, from the blog A Side of Writing, another writing prompt . . . 

Not your mother’s lullabies (Writing Prompt #39)

The Hunter

Denise softly closed the bedroom door, and made her way to the kitchen.  The bottle of wine sat open next to the two Waterford Crystal wine goblets.  She poured wine in each, carefully measuring out equal portions.  She corked the bottle, grabbed the glasses, and made her way out to the deck.

She sat both glasses on the table, pulled the ottoman close, and sat on the Adirondack chair.  The other chair sat empty, unused now for nearly five years.  She swung her legs over the ottoman and leaned back.  The angle was right, and she could see it as clear as if it were hanging on the deck itself.

She grabbed one of the glasses and tipping it slightly she tapped it to the other.  “To us!” she said softly.  She drank as she looked up.  Then gently put the glass down, and folded her arms against the chill.

Five years before she had picked up the phone to hear her husband’s labored breath at the other end.

“George! Are you alright?  Where are you?”

“Hey, hon . . . I’m hurt . . . truck hit me . . .”

“George!  George!  Answer me!  Where are you?!”

“. . . I’m here . . . I’m trapped.  Firemen on their way, but  . . . I’m hurt bad hon.”

“I’ll come right . . .”

“NO! . . . no . . . walk outside . . .”

“I don’t understand . . .” she was looking for her car keys.

“Please, hon . . .  just go out on the deck . . . please.”

His voice was softer.  Denise walked out, tears blurring her vision.  “I’m on the deck,” she said.

George coughed once, then said, “Look up.  . . . Do you see it?  The Hunter, Orion?”

Denise wiped her eyes to clear her vision.  “Yes,” she answered, “I see it.”

“I’m looking at it as well . . . I’ll always love you . . .”  those had been his last words.

Denise closed her eyes at the memory, and as Betelgeuse twinkled above her in silent vigil, she drifted off to sleep.

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The prompt, in case you did not go there, was to write a story based on a children’s lullaby, but not make it obvious it was so.  I knew immediately the story I wanted to write and banged it out pretty quick.  

And I also knew I was going to pull very strongly on the heartstrings.  This was written as an emotional piece.

The version above has two changes from what I wrote at Conrad’s site.  I corrected the tense on the word “clink” to “clinked”, and added the question mark after “Orion”. 

Of course, I could not resist giving a little hint, so it should be easy to determine which lullaby.  I could have removed one word to make it more difficult.

So, what lullaby did I channel?

As usual, thanks for visiting and reading my stuff.

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. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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13 Responses to Flash Fiction No. 10 – The Writing Prompt

  1. The only one I can think of is twinkle, twinkle, little star. I don’t know my lullaby’s very well.

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    • disperser says:

      Bingo!

      Just so you know, “Bingo!” means you’re right, and not that there is a lullaby called Bingo.

      Did you like the story?

      Like

      • disperser says:

        Sorry, just noticed you hit “like”.

        Just the same, I’d be curious to know: small/medium/large emotional impact? poor/decent/excellent concept?

        I don’t write stories like these often because they do impact me since I have to get into the “mood” of the story. I then wonder if readers feel the same.

        Sorry, did not mean to jump all over your comment, and don’t feel you have to respond, but thank you if you do.

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      • I liked it very much. A little sad. I could feel her sorrow. But very well done.

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  2. I would say medium-large impact. My sense is that after five years, that sorrow is never gone, it’s just not as heart-piercing. I can relate to the loss. I just can’t imagine being on the other end of the phone when a loved one dies in a terrible way. Just imagining that happening sends chills through my body. I think you did a wonderful job of conveying the feeling.

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    • disperser says:

      Thanks. The idea there was that in the absence of physical contact, they could virtually connect on something they could both see. Something that would go beyond the voice over the phone. It also distracts from imagining what’s going on on the other end. You know you are both looking at the same thing, and that becomes the focus.

      I thought it would be a kindness, really, as opposed to having your loved one remembering what was going on, they can remember the shared moment.

      As for being on the other end . . . I think I would want it that way. I would not want my last words to my wife to be “Sure. I’ll pick up milk on the way home” or something similar I might have said before leaving in the morning.

      Hopefully, no one I know, or who reads this blog, will have to go through anything like this.

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      • I would want my last words to my husband being loving words too. But having him in a fatal car accident on the other end of the phone would be such a helpless feeling. Wanting to help him but not being able to do anything. That would create a huge ache in my heart.

        I really like the idea of them both seeing the same thing at that moment. And it would give her some peace knowing that there is that connection for eternity.

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  3. ntexas99 says:

    Initially I wasn’t emotionally drawn into the story, even when she was out on the deck, and I knew she was commemorating something having to do with something sad, or painful. At first, it felt too predictable, almost as if I felt like I knew what was going to happen next, so I was already resisting having any emotional attachment (as in, okay, now he’s going to try to make me feel something, but I already know it’s coming, so I’m not going to get sucked into the story). As for the set-up, I would have put it in the medium impact zone, but when it unexpectedly went in another direction, and these words showed up: “Look up. . . . Do you see it? The Hunter, Orion?” then I was completely hooked, and could feel it painfully and deeply. In the end, you wound up getting what you wanted, in that I was emotionally moved by the story.

    If you don’t mind me adding a few more comments? Obviously these only apply to MY take on the story, but for me, your use of the words “Waterford Crystal” actually detracted from the mood of the story. To me, it seemed as if they were planted inside the sentence to lend authenticity, but instead, actually had the opposite effect. I believe in descriptive writing, and I’m not even sure why my attention was drawn away by the use of those words, but thought I would mention it.

    When the tide began turning for me, was when you wrote “Please, hon . . . just go out on the deck . . . please.” That sounded exactly like something a husband would say to his wife in that situation, and your choice to use the shortened “hon” gave it added authenticity. Making that choice softened my heart towards the story, and allowed me to open up and step inside.

    I should also say that I think a big part of my initial resistance was that the title being “The Hunter” had me imagining the story was going to go in an entirely different direction. I was expecting her to be experiencing the memory of having walked out on the deck all those years ago to see her husband, decked out in his hunting attire, slowly dying below her, in view from the deck, the life seeping out of him from a misplaced shot; a hunting accident. I was already resisting against the improbability of that happening, so I had thrown up my guard at the very beginning of the story. My imagined version of the story had nothing at all to do with the actual story, other than that they both shared the same title. That’s what happens when you assume.

    Obviously your choice of naming the story “The Hunter” was a clever twist on the twinkling stars, and I have to give you points for deliberately leading us astray. I think the association to Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star would have been obvious, by the way, even without the word “twinkled.” For what it’s worth. Orion would have done the trick for me.

    How did I like the story? In the overall sense, minus the misconceptions and bad assumptions? Actually, I liked it a lot. I would put it at a solid 8 on a scale of 1-10. Bonus points for the choice of the word “hon” and for pulling so effectively on my heartstrings with “Look up – Orion” and especially for throwing in the always-appreciated surprise twist. Extra bonus points for making the decision to go in an unexpected direction to tackle Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. You could have gone in a whole lot of different directions with this one, and you chose a direction that would have an impact, rather than just conveniently circling back around to the lullaby. Nicely done. After I was finished reading the story, any other title would have been ludicrous.

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    • disperser says:

      Wow . . . I really appreciate this detailed a feedback.

      You make valid points, and from a writing perspective I will take note of them. The Waterford mention is because it was meant to be a special occasion, and they might have had a significance beyond the fact they are glasses, but I agree with you, and it probably would not have survived a proper editing process (I seldom mention specific brands or names).

      I balance my writing between addressing a broader (generic, if you will) audience and specific persons. Some are strictly for the generic (the breakfast story, the dream story), some are specific to a person (the short one about interrogations). Many are pure imaginings, as I have no reference to draw on.

      This one is a mix, as I wrote it in part thinking of my wife . . . and we own Waterford glasses.

      As for the title . . . it occurred to me I had no proper way to identify the previous stories; the dream one, or the breakfast one, are not very satisfying. It’s too late to title those, but I figure I would on this one. I’m glad you approve of it.

      Again, thank you very much for your detailed feedback. It’s greatly appreciated.

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      • ntexas99 says:

        In your response to Tuxedo, you indicated you were looking for feedback, and I happened to have some “free time” on my hands, so I jumped in. Hope you didn’t take any offense, as none was intended. I’m acutely interested when I see someone actually asking questions and seeking feedback about their writing.

        I’m only one little voice in a lot of voices, but I can tell you what works for me, and what doesn’t, and hopefully even expand on why (although sometimes that is a grey area, in that we’re never quite sure why we react to writing in a particular way). Glad to hear you point back to some other stories, and maybe, as time allows, I’ll get a chance to poke my nose over there and give them a read. For me, the title on this one was much like the bow on top of a shiny present. It announced something special was inside, and it didn’t disappoint. I’m always a fan of someone that can deliver on their promises.

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  4. AnnMarie says:

    Boy, this flash really zapped me good! Short and bitter-sweet. Well done!

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  5. thejeremynix says:

    Orion is my favorite constellation. As a child I always marveled at how easily I could spot it. I felt like it followed me everywhere I went.

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    • disperser says:

      The idea came to me because when I was working I would see the constellation every morning when I left (when it was up in the sky) . . . and because I had a couple of close calls where other drivers almost hit me.

      And yes, it’s an easy one to spot.

      Liked by 1 person

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