Dysfunctional (Friday Fictioneers, May 2012)


This week’s photo prompt from Madison Woods’ Friday Fictioneers.


Mother papered over the cracks in her family – appearances were important, she said.

She wouldn’t recognise that my sister was a thieving whore, and when she ran off with someone else’s husband, mother said it was a phase she was going through.

My brother was a sadistic psychopath, but mother said he was highly strung.

She’d no problem recognising me for what I was though;  plain, inadequate, a convenient drudge.  And said so.


So when the time came, I had no problem papering over her existence.

The cubbyhole had been there for years; it was a simple enough matter.

About Sandra

I used to cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and wrote fiction and poetry. Now I live on the beautiful Dorset coast, enjoying the luxury of being able to have a cat, cultivating an extensive garden and getting involved in the community. I still write fiction, but only when the spirit moves me - which isn't as often as before. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in Friday Fictioneers, Just Sayin'. Bookmark the permalink.

81 Responses to Dysfunctional (Friday Fictioneers, May 2012)

  1. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Sandra,

    Your MC has a solid voice, no doubt tempered by years of enduring her mother’s acid tongue, and weaves a convincing tale of an acrimonious and delusional family. The final solution of the narrator will ease their lives somewhat, but the bad seed was sown long ago, took root, and now flourishes in them all. A grim portrait painted with an unflinching eye for detail. i hope none of them have children.

    I am also intrigued by what other stellar stories we’re going to see inspired by the photo. Yours got us off to a great start.




    • Sandra says:

      Thanks for commenting Doug. I’ve certainly enjoyed the ones I’ve read so far, and as ever, there’s been plenty for me to Google (including some of your references). 🙂


  2. Madison Woods says:

    Propriety is a word I love because I hate what it does to people, but admire how stealthy it is. Wow, your story sure dredged up some strong feelings in me. Great job!


  3. A truly dysfunctional family. The narator’s cool and detached attitude sent goosebumps all over me. You captured the essence of the story very well. Mine is here: http://readinpleasure.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/fridayfictioneers-lost-without-you/


  4. Fantastic, nothing less.


  5. Nicely done, as usual, Sandra, and a little different for you, I think. Shades of Alfred Hitchcock. The wallpaper image/idea was perfectly realised. Here’s mine: http://repuestodelatabla.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/friday-fictioneer-100-word-srory-parents/


  6. Judee says:

    Excellent, well written and such a perfect tone of voice. So simple, really, I guess mom taught well about papering over things… 😉


  7. Brandon Scott says:

    You nailed it with the title. Although, dysfunctional families seem to be the norm nowadays. It’s a shame, really.



  8. Linda says:

    We’ve all been there, in the relationships which paper over the cracks and this was a fantastic insight into just what could happen if something were taken far enough. Excellent 🙂

    Here’s mine: http://womanontheedgeofreality.com/2012/05/03/friday-fictioneers-a-wall-to-keep-a-secret/


  9. Brandon Scott says:

    Great story! You nailed it with the title. Although, dysfunctional families seem to be the norm nowadays. It’s a shame, really.



  10. Gary says:

    Your title couldn’t be more true! Such a lovely family… 😉

    Mine is nearly 200 words this week:


  11. rich says:

    you can’t choose your family, but you can choose to paper over them.



  12. Jess Schira says:

    Something tells me her siblings should be a little worried. Very nice bit of writing.


  13. sue Cottrill says:

    Ah justice


  14. rainang says:

    wonder what in herself that she papered over..am sure she wasn’t just plain.


  15. Joanna Gawn says:

    I agree with Jess, her siblings should be making a run for it! Coldly calculating.

    This photo is stacking up the dead bodies – what *has* Madison done!?!



  16. JKBradley says:

    I think what you captured here is the norm; the facade for show covering the truth. But then, what (which) is the truth?

    Here’s mine: http://thebradleychronicles.wordpress.com/


  17. unspywriter says:

    Wow, so many of us have gone for the “wall up the loved one” theme, and they’re all unique and great reads.

    Thanks for the comment on mine.


  18. siobhanmuir says:

    Wow, nicely done, Sandra. I got the patient and determined anger. The frustration and then the solution. Dark and I loved it. Well done. 🙂


  19. janpoulton says:

    Excellent and so powerfully chilling is so few words. I think the moral here is ‘Never take anyone for granted’ Loved it !!


  20. Kris Kennedy says:

    I like the powerful, flat tone in the POV…the first line, to me, was great…set the cynicism and tone.

    Here is mine: http://integrativethought.wordpress.com


  21. Another deliciously written vendetta! Well done! I loved it!

    Mine: http://www.vlgregory-circa1800.vpweb.com/blog.html


  22. teschoenborn says:

    This piece is one of my favorites so far. You say so much between the lines and I love that.

    Here’s mine: http://teschoenborn.com/2012/05/03/friday-fictioneers-the-gig/


  23. Sandra says:

    Thanks for commenting. Off to yours right now.


  24. Amanda Gray says:

    Good job. The MC can see the wrongs of others but is deficient in spotting her own. Mother failed to recognize the reality of her child yet again.


  25. TheOthers1 says:

    Are they wealthy or prestigious? Because that’s the vibe I get off mom. Appearances for appearances sake. Covering up problems only ever makes the problems worse. Always. Great job.

    My attempt: http://unduecreativity.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/rebuild/


  26. Funny…the ones who are the biggest trouble makers are easier to ignore and the one who is not the problem is the one the mother dumps it all on…hmmmm. Thanks for sharing.

    ~Susan (http://www.susanwenzel.com/)


  27. Once again, your writing amazes me in its perfection. I try not to be jealous and allow myself to learn from you, but this line: “Mother papered over the cracks in her family – appearances were important, she said.” Is so wonderful in the context of this prompt and your story.
    Your fan,


  28. Harsh and sardonic, highly entertaining. The edge of truth is what gives fiction its strength.


  29. Sandra says:

    Thank you! And for dropping by.


  30. sphrbn says:

    Like the way the narrator speaks with cynical, matter-o-fact attitude. One of the best I’ve read today! Oh, and thanks for commenting on mine.


  31. This definitely puts the “fun” in “dysfunctional”. Very identifiable MC for me. We can all find a memory somewhere of being the long-suffering “good child” and yet getting shafted for it. Very well done indeed.


  32. rochellewisoff says:

    Super! I think I’ve met this family.


  33. Mike says:

    A great story Sandra.
    This is one hell of a dysfunctional family.


  34. Stacey says:

    That’s horrific! (But really well done 🙂 )


  35. In a way, I think the mother gets what she deserves – it’s often the quiet, “normal” ones that you have to watch out for! Excellent story!! 🙂


  36. Michael Fishman says:

    It’s true that it’s the quiet ones we need to worry about. Another excellent story from you, Sandra.


  37. Sandra says:

    Thank you Michael; yes, still waters run deep.


  38. Russell says:

    Obviously, the MC wasn’t Mama’s pet. Covering up for the brother reminds me of the lyrics to the Warren Zevon song, “Excitable Boy.” This was a great tale from start to finish.


  39. elmowrites says:

    Very clever story here, Sandra. You tell everything in a matter of fact tone, but we can feel the venom beneath the surface.


  40. writelindy says:

    Great story Sandra. Love how you build up to the end and the feelings you portrayed were very believable.


  41. oni1138 says:

    sounds like my family!! and I DO have that little cubbyhole…


  42. Pingback: The Ties That Bind (Friday Fictioneers, June 2014) | castelsarrasin

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