A Chip Off The Old Block (Friday Fictioneers, July 2014)

Copyright Claire Fuller

My father has made an art form out of inscrutability; emotions, his or mine, have represented an inconvenient ripple on the mirrored surface of our peaceful co-existence.

Over the years I’ve learned to sublimate my feelings, maintaining a cool interchange of political or literary opinion whilst engaging with him in detached observations on the human condition.

It’s worked for us both…perfectly.

But now, through the long nights, we sit together, he and I … and the elephant in the room.

“I’m afraid,” he mutters.

“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows,” I observe.

See how perfectly I’ve become him.

Perfectly inadequate…

Friday Fictioneers kicks off with a new prompt this week, and Rochelle is firmly back in control and probably already kicking ass.  🙂   My attempt at ‘humour’ last week seemed to fall largely on stony ground, and it’s too soon to go back to ‘dark’ … so now for something a bit… well, worrying. 

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.
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73 Responses to A Chip Off The Old Block (Friday Fictioneers, July 2014)

  1. Dear Sandra,

    I’m not sure you should refer to me as kicking anything. 😉

    “He and I… and the elephant in the room.” A sad commentary on too many. I read this twice. I’d call it a tragedy. Well done.




  2. elappleby says:

    A stone cold story! I feel sorry for the old man whose child refuses to allow him to express his fears, but it sounds like he brought it on himself. A very clever bit of writing.


  3. mscwhite says:

    A wonderfully written story! You had me hooked from the first paragraph!


  4. Indira says:

    Excellent story Sandra. It touched me. In 100 words you said it all.


  5. Sandra, Unfortunately she learned the lesson well. It’s a shame for both of them. Well written as always. 🙂 —Susan


  6. This might be my favorite of yours so far. Reminds me a bit of the Harry Chapin song “Cat’s in the Cradle.” (I’m gonna be like you, Dad.)


  7. So heartbreaking, even more for the fact that she is aware of her shortcomings.


  8. Powerful, heart-breaking, and so familiar to many. I hope this was fiction for you. Gave me a chill.


  9. Liz Young says:

    What a shame they couldn’t connect towards the end.


  10. blawson834 says:

    Each person has something to learn, its what we do with what we have learned that is important.
    Very good story.


  11. paulmclem says:

    Some nice writing in here. Don’t totally get the ending, but it doesn’t really detract from the piece too much.


  12. Nice! So many ideas wrapped up in 100 words.


  13. Such lovely writing Sandra. A wonderful cool tone of voice to go with the character.


  14. We do pick up the more awkward traits of our near ones. Well illustrated.


  15. Good job, and really too eloquent for “The Cat’s in the Cradle” to be running through my head, but “the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon, Little Boy Blue and the man in the moon. When you comin’ home, son? I don’t know when…” ARGH! 🙂 Great story, Sandra.


  16. Lucy says:

    What great writing. Reminds me of my dad. Well done. Lucy


  17. dianathrelfo says:

    Enormously insightful and sad. And so interesting given the photo prompt.


  18. Clever, and subtle – and real, but down to the smallest detail: he ”mutters”, does not quiver, whine or say. Very very good. Rich style, quite unique.


  19. draliman says:

    Very clever. It must have been a joyless household, and now at the end she is unable to offer him comfort.


  20. Very interesting story. He taught her well, and I understand his fear. Great job.


  21. Nan Falkner says:

    Dear Sandra, Great writing – and I see this playing out through your words. Excellent! I can’t identify with the estrangement with a father because I had a really good relationship with my daddy. He died the day before my 32 birthday and it was unexpected and so very sad. You did a great job with this subject Sandra. Nan 🙂


  22. camgal says:

    I do believe there is some agony in being cold…and your story depicts that perfectly.


  23. rgayer55 says:

    Sometimes people put up walls around their emotions thinking self-protection, but ultimately it becomes self-destruction. Bridges are much better than walls. Great writing, as always, Sandra.


  24. storydivamg says:

    This prompt seems to have brought a nice, varied collection to the Fictioneers table this week. I enjoyed your contemplation of family and the changing roles.
    All my best,


  25. They are like strangers to each other. You made me sad for both of them. Well done, as usual, Sandra.


  26. K.Z. says:

    sadly, i can relate. impeccably written as always Sandra!


  27. MythRider says:

    Powerful and sad. Unfortunately true for too many.
    Well done.


  28. I think we are more like our partents than we care to admit but not as much as we fear.


  29. So much said in so few words…both in and out of the story. We all have those elephants in the room.


  30. Pratik Kirve says:

    Fear is only as deep as the mind allows – so true!! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing this insight.


  31. This was one of the most beautiful pieces you have ever published here on the Fictioneers site. One of the only ones not told in dialogue, nor hooked with a clever twist at the end. Your prose was both perfect and perfectly evocative of a real relationship and the confrontation with the unspoken. Gorgeous.


    • Sandra says:

      Thank you for that Lindaura! 🙂 I’ve not been too satisfied with a lot of the work I’ve done recently, but I came reasonably close with this piece so I appreciate your endorsement.


  32. Well written, Sandra 🙂


  33. MrBinks says:

    Really liked this. Well done.


  34. hafong says:

    I recognize these people – too close to home. I really like it though.


  35. “Fear is only as deep as the mind allows,” I loved that!
    Nice 🙂


  36. aj vosse says:

    There’s power in the truth, even when fictionalised! 😉


  37. Sandra, this is a wonderful piece all the way through. I think it’s all too true in many cases, where people become one of their parents and both are trapped in what they are, unable to communicate even in the last a/o most difficult moments. Terribly sad, but beautifully written.



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