Knocking Off (Friday Fictioneers, January 2014)

Copyright Claire Fuller

Knocking Off

The klaxon signals the shift change and tension slowly ratchets.

Ma juggles pots and pans at the fireside. We daren’t distract her; one burned stew spells disaster… tears… blows… blood.

We hear him coming, hawking up the acrid dust he’s inhaled all day, and we hide behind the privy to safely measure his mood.

The door slams and Ma’s nervous greetings earn monosyllabic grunts that spell hope.

At Ma’s signal we file in to take our place at supper and Clara, the eldest, carries his dinner carefully to the table.

She stumbles…  the pot shatters on the flagged floor.

And so it begins…

Friday Fictioneers attracts writers from all over the world at weekly intervals.  In response to a photo prompt, around 100 writers put brains into gear and fingers to keyboard.  Thanks to Rochelle, our hostess, for all her efforts.  

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About Sandra

I cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and write fiction and poetry. 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' and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

82 Responses to Knocking Off (Friday Fictioneers, January 2014)

  1. Excellent Sandra. I held my breath waiting to learn his mood.

    Like

  2. Dear Sandra,

    I felt myself tensing up at the end as “it” is about to begin. Hard hitting, vivid and sad.

    shalom,

    Rochelle

    Like

  3. So good Sandra again your ending took my breath away. Very good indeed.

    Like

  4. Judee says:

    Powerful! I can feel the tension building. That one phrase, “and so it begins” is set up perfectly in the sparse but effective wording of what came before.

    Like

  5. Pingback: Friday Fictioneers – Before the Storm | The Blurred Line

  6. This is such an evocative story and horribly true of so many families. That fear, the relief and then the break. It is a very powerful piece.

    Like

  7. zennjennc says:

    What happens next?

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  8. A vivid picture of the lives of the less fortunate, succinct, moving.

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  9. MrBinks says:

    This is terrifyingly brilliant.

    Like

  10. Sandra, you build the tension up so well and then left us to imagine the horror of what would happen next. Not the best start to my morning, but I have a feeling there will be plenty of sad stories this week.

    janet

    Like

  11. wmqcolby says:

    Great atmospheric take on this one. I felt it rock SOLID. Great, Sandra! I felt as if I was in a scene from How Green Was My Valley … the twisted version!

    Like

  12. Sandra, You are so good at giving me chills. Such a powerful story.

    Like

  13. znjavid says:

    That kept me tense throughout. Nicely written.

    Like

  14. The angle of domestic abuse… So well captured. I’m sure that’s exactly how it feels. A hope that today would be different, yet again quenched.

    Like

  15. kz says:

    this was terrifying. and your writing is excellent. always a pleasure to read your stories each week.

    Like

  16. vb holmes says:

    Perfect buildup: fearful anticiipation; the sense of relief, and then the sucker punch. Well done, Sandra.

    Like

  17. helenmidgley says:

    I was holding my breath as well, great tension builder 🙂

    Like

  18. paulmclem says:

    Enjoyed this one, thanks!

    Like

  19. I have a tightness in my chest. You’ve painted a vivid portrayal that i can feel.

    Like

  20. This is what flash fiction’s about. You have everything there in a handful of words.

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  21. Riveting. The story holds its mood, excellent flow and tension… the language adds to this fantastic story. You make it look so easy, Sandra.

    Like

  22. Catherine says:

    Excellent story and so well written.

    Like

  23. Very well done! This definitely brought the anger up out of my belly.

    Like

  24. Perry Block says:

    Sounds like Donald Trump is their dad. Makes me feel like the environment in my household wasn’t so bad …

    Like

  25. Sandra,
    What a perfect slope of rising tension, from the first sentence. The word “klaxon” is great, showing both the end of shift and sounding the alarm. Loved it.
    -David

    Like

  26. draliman says:

    You described the fear of a family awaiting the return of an abusive husband/father perfectly. It must be awful to live on egg shells all the time, not knowing what his mood is and terrified of setting him off.

    Like

  27. Sarah says:

    You really did an outstanding job building the tension; I, too, was anxious to know what his mood would be. It definitely sticks with you.

    Like

  28. Sarah Ann says:

    Fantastic build of the tension. I was holding my breath by the end. A wonderful and chilling depiction.

    Like

  29. liz young says:

    So many families, even today, are afraid of their father’s moods. Well written.

    Like

  30. This was a very realistic piece. It unfortunatly could have come from the newspaper as there are families who often go through that .

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  31. Oh Sandra — I do hope this is all from imagination. Sadly, you’re describing my childhood. The anxiety was palpable.
    I’m not writing this week, but I’d love it if you’d drop by my blog for a second anyway, I posted a big announcement today.

    Like

  32. sandraconner says:

    Excellent work, Sandra. I was THERE in every step of the story. Thankfully I had nothing like this experience in my childhood, but I knew others who did. And you made it so REAL that no reader could fail to feel the pain of it.

    Like

  33. DCTdesigns says:

    Sandra, I sat on the end of pins and needles from the beginning wonder would it be tonight. Too easily things devolve in households like this. Very well written slice of the side of life many like to forget exists.

    Like

  34. plaridel says:

    a well-written piece.

    Like

  35. Linda Vernon says:

    Superb. Horrible. I wonder how many lives have been lived this way.

    Like

  36. JackieP says:

    You’ve done it again Sandra. Excellent story. I felt the fear the whole family felt. Terrible.

    Like

  37. camgal says:

    Sad but a very gripping read. Well done 🙂

    Like

  38. hugmamma says:

    Sad life. Most likely there are many families who suffer the same fate.

    Like

  39. You’ve made this experience so real and frightening I felt as if I was in that family, Sandra. Great writing.

    Like

  40. Sandra, I have to say that was, most likely, your best work to date. I loved the total picture conjured up in so few words. Nothing distracted and we all knew exactly what was going on.
    Splendid!

    Like

  41. rgayer55 says:

    Edge of the seat riveting.

    Like

  42. claireful says:

    I love how you leave us just at that moment of possible violence. The tension is very well written.

    Like

  43. atrm61 says:

    This had me hoping and praying that it would not end as it did!Cannot even begin to imagine how such lives are lived!An exceptional piece-both in content & style from you Sandra 🙂

    Like

  44. Bastet says:

    Very well written…I swear I almost cried when she tripped and fell… 😦
    Which of course means this is a great write!

    Like

  45. unspywriter says:

    The last line is so casually prophetic it’s devastating. An all too realistic glimpse into a family nightmare. Well done.

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/family-ties/

    Like

  46. AnnIsikArts says:

    ‘Ratchets’ is a brilliant tension-raising verb in this story. You describe vividly the personality of an abuser and also the ends to which spouses and children go to avoid these triggers; the mindset that develops in victims. Sadly, this can lead to a learnt wariness of relationships that can last, unconsciously, a lifetime. 😦

    Like

  47. gingerpoetry says:

    Very sad story, excellently written, but unfortunately no fiction – all over the world. I had immediately the song of Suzanne Vega in mind:
    “They only hit until you cry
    And after that you don’t ask why
    You just don’t argue anymore”
    Liebe Grüße
    Carmen

    Like

  48. Oy, So well written and yet so sad to read. Those poor kids.

    Like

  49. Jim Kane says:

    Well done Sandra.
    Regards
    Jim

    Like

  50. You certainly built up the tension and gave us the ending it promised. Some people’s lives!

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  51. Ouch. Domestic violence is indeed terrible. You had me really rooting for Ma first, and then Clara too, I was terrified for them! Nicely executed..

    Like

  52. You never really know what goes on behind closed doors, nor how what goes on outside can break a person and grind them down…. A tense and well told piece.

    Like

  53. “And so it begins…”foreboding! Powerful words.

    Thanks to the collective feedback…I’ve updated my entry and am pleased with the results:

    http://bloggedartistry.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/friday-fictioneers-first-attempt/

    Like

  54. Eena says:

    Fantastic! One mistake spells tears or blood, an unintelligible grunt spells hope, and a routine life that spells fear.

    Like

  55. Beautiful piece Sandra, with a killer last 2 lines. Great job! I look forward to writing my own Friday Fictioneer this week 🙂

    Like

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