The Long Wait – Friday Fictioneers, May 2016

Copyright J Hardy Carroll

Copyright J Hardy Carroll

 

“Does being childless make you feel… unfulfilled?” asks my sister-in-law.

I pretend to ponder.

“I suppose you don’t miss what you never had,” I say, “bit like brains, really.”

My words take a moment to sink in, then she scurries away, weeping.

My mother is picking daffodils – cheery harbingers of hope, spring, renewal.

“You’re so bitter,” she complains, as my brother flounces into the garden.

“Do you have to be so damned acerbic all the time, sis?”

Silently I stare him out until he leaves, muttering.

Upstairs, I pull the tattered ultra-sound image from its hiding place.

Unfulfilled?  Bitter?  Acerbic?

Try ‘guilty’.

Still in the midst of packing, storing, dumping stuff so it’s a quickie from me this week.  Turning up for last week’s Friday Fictioneers proved too much altogether for me, but I think I see a light at the end of the tunnel now. Thanks to Rochelle, once more, for her leadership and patience.  I’m sorely in need of the latter right now. 

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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.

87 Responses to The Long Wait – Friday Fictioneers, May 2016

  1. We seem to be in the same mental space, Sandra. I’m amazed that you put your story together in so little time (I thought I was a fast this week!), and it’s still so well crafted. I love that each of your stories highlights your wonderful talent! This one left me wondering: did she end a life, or lose a life. Either way, the dialogue and scenes are vividly bitter. Good luck with the sorting and shuffling; it’s endlessly trying!

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I’ve always said that if I don’t put one together quickly, then I probably won’t put one together at all, Dawn. Once the struggle starts, everything goes downhill from there. 😦 I’ve not decided what my character did, whether it was a deliberate or accidental loss, but either way she’s living with a whole shed-load of guilt. Thanks for the good wishes – I think we’re on the home straight now. x

      Liked by 2 people

      • The fact that your get your story in first, and in less than an hour each week, has always impressed me. Not a one seems rushed or careless; I look forward to each one, every single week. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • paulmclem says:

        Agree that unless the story comes quickly (which it usually does on FF) then it can be a battle to get something done. Almost feel unless I think of the rough story in a few minutes I’m probably best to move on…lol.

        Liked by 1 person

    • rgayer55 says:

      Generally, I look at the photo before I go to work and mentally chew on the image a while before trying to swallow it. Usually, I come up with two or three possibilities before spitting out the one that causes the most indigestion.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. neilmacdon says:

    Wow! That packs a real punch. Beautifully written

    Like

  3. ceayr says:

    Stunning.
    I was lulled by the brilliant ‘bit like brains’ comment.
    And caught with the sucker punch.
    Superb, as ever.

    Like

  4. Dear Sandra,

    It seems to me her family is insensitive. No wonder she hides the image. I could see this blossoming into one of your larger award winners. At any rate I admire how quickly you construct a story. Well done.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Thank you Rochelle. 🙂 I’m not sure how original this is, as a plot. But I’ve often wondered how you’d feel if you squandered an opportunity and then didn’t get it again.

      Like

  5. Loved it, from the first to the last word. Going now to read Dawn’s story to see if all three of us were in the same mental place. How strange!

    Like

  6. Wow, just wow. That was pretty amazing Sandra. I loved the way the cold, emptiness of the photo connected with the inter-family relationships in your story.

    Like

  7. Beautiful! Often the hardy ones are suspected of hardness. In reality they hide an aching heart that pleads for understanding. Too often the soft types hide steel inside.
    Great Sandra!

    Like

  8. jellico84 says:

    People ask me this same stupid question all the time. Little do they realize that I do have a son. A son that I’m very proud of, by the way, for the man he has become without me.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I’m always amazed at why people should consider it any of their business. Even now, I still get asked if I have children, and there’s always this long expectant pause after the answer, as if it needs justifying in some way.

      Like

      • jellico84 says:

        Indeed. It’s sad how women who do not have children are treated. Oh, and even worse if you have more children than what they think is “acceptable”…it’s a double edged sword that tears the heart in two.

        Like

  9. mickwynn2013 says:

    Very powerful with not a spare word which emphasises the atmosphere between the characters somehow. Loved it.

    Like

  10. That question is one that I wonder how people have the guts to ask. Somehow so intrusive, yet I there is comeuppance coming, but I guess brains is even harder to get.

    Like

  11. elmowrites says:

    Ooh, you’ve struck a chord with me there, Sandra. I’ve never understood why peoeple feel free to comment on the number of children other have anyway, but especially when one never knows the story behind the “decision”. While I was still bleeding from a miscarriage, someone asked me why Sebastian didn’t have any siblings yet. I nearly hit them. Mercifully now I have my wonderful rainbow baby, but that tactlessness still stings.
    In any case, I think you caught the emotion perfectly. I got a bit confused about who the Mother was speaking to in the middle, but figured it out.
    Jen

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Thanks Jen. Yes, it’s weird. And mostly mothers who do it, I’m afraid. Yes, I think there is a bit of a false step there in the middle. I noticed it after I’d posted.

      Like

  12. Graham Lawrence says:

    Superb story. What a punch!

    Like

  13. Why would she even think to voice such a question especially at the victim?
    Then again sometimes my mouth speaks before I’ve finished my thought process, which is why I’m learning to say hmmmm…. take a pause and then continue.
    A bit like this comment.
    Great story Sandra.

    Like

  14. So powerful Sandra. I love how subtly her nasty words (perhaps deserved) hide her true feelings. So human.

    Like

  15. A quickie but a goodie. Guilt is a terrible thing.

    Like

  16. helenmidgley says:

    Powerful, especially the last line 🙂

    Like

  17. wmqcolby says:

    Wow! That hurt. Really. Gosh, the things we do to ourselves and others …
    I see you were pretty busy this past week. You moving or heading for France or coming back? Lots of people missing last week. We have had graduation in the Kansas City area, so lots of people are traveling. School’s out as of this week or next depending on the district.

    Like

  18. d3athlily says:

    I relate to this in so many ways despite never even having the opportunity to have a life inside of me. Their words are just as harsh as hers. Her guilt seems to have consumed her, though, and that’s so tragic. 😯

    Like

  19. So much woven into 100 words. I loved the line “I suppose you don’t miss what you never had,” I say, “bit like brains, really.”

    Like

  20. gahlearner says:

    Sad and bitter with a powerful punch. Wonderful story, Sandra, but what does it say about me that I was thrown out of the story by the ‘brains’ sentence and had to cackle in delight for at least half a minute?

    Like

  21. Well told Sandra. It always amazes me how even total strangers feel they have a right to comment on the number of children, or lack thereof. You just never know people’s personal stories, their losses and squandered opportunities

    Like

  22. draliman says:

    Great story, brilliant ending.

    Like

  23. Lynn Love says:

    Personally, I think the sister in law deserved it – pretty tactless comment, and oh, how we’ve all met women like her! A great story, showing guilt and loss and sorrow in so few lines. Wonderfully done, Sandra

    Like

  24. Heartrending, Sandra. Poor woman. If the ultrasound is tattered, she’s been living with that guilt a long time. No wonder she’s bitter. She needs professional help. Well written as always. I hope you get settled soon. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Suzanne, I’ve read your story but for some reason this week your site is asking me to fill in a lot of details before I comment, and then when I’ve done that, it doesn’t accept the comment. GRRR! I’ve tried twice, so I’ll just say “I liked your story” via this route. Have a nice weekend. 🙂

      Like

  25. Wow , I felt I was there watching and listening to it as it happened – a male in a female world that I will never really .understand.
    Visit Keith’s Ramblings

    Like

  26. Quite a story as usual, with a surprising ending. “Try guilt” is of course appropriate for most of us in many ways, and we all have our ways of covering it, just like in the story..

    Like

  27. Great story as usual. There is guilt we all feel and we all hide it in different ways. This one was surprising.

    Like

  28. Dale says:

    Glad this was a “quickie”… sheesh. Your stories just spill out of you, don’t they? Superbly done and Miss. Sans-Brains deserves the comment received. People should mind their own damned business!

    Like

  29. ansumani says:

    She had built layers of defense against the family and the world maybe to hide her guilt but I’m guessing it’s also to hide her pain. Well crafted Sandra!

    Like

  30. rgayer55 says:

    I could really relate to this week’s story, especially the “bit like brains” remark. I’ve never had a lot of money either, so I don’t really miss it. Great story, Sandra.

    Like

  31. Dahlia says:

    Very crisp and quite brilliant – loved it!

    Like

  32. erinleary says:

    Oh, so very sad! I feel for her, even after all these years…

    Like

  33. Nan Mykel says:

    Hoo on me. I got who’s feeling guilty nixed up…I guess. Nice exchange.

    Like

  34. Amy Reese says:

    Great story, Sandra. That is such a loaded question and sometimes a painful one to be asked. You never know what someone’s story could be, really, deep down. Well done, as always. Good luck with that move! I have to move soon, too, and I’m absolutely dreading it.

    Like

  35. plaridel says:

    perfect setting to a perfect ending as far as the story-telling goes. well done.

    Like

  36. I took this as no one knowing her secret. An abortion, perhaps, and maybe that had made her a tad bitter. Sometimes we lash out to make others hurt as much as we do.

    Like

  37. As others have already said, this is very well crafted and with a huge emotional hit in the last line. Very well done Sandra

    Like

  38. It may be a quickie but it was certainly also good. People with children have little regard to the sensitivies of someone without. I felt this rang true whether she felt guilt or not.

    Like

  39. I am always amazed at the emotional depths you achieve in only 100 words, Sandra. Wonderful story, as always. Poor woman.

    Like

  40. Margaret says:

    Oh, she’s covering up. How sad. Little kernels of guilt? resentment? jealousy? festering away and turning her into a sharp and bitter person, I suspect. Powerfully conveyed, especially in the ending. All the best with your busy life, Sandra. We’ve had a few moves in recent years, and one more to come this year, so I can sympathise.

    Like

  41. Iamrcc says:

    You visit my corner of the world quite often and I thank you. I read this and I am reminded that we never really know the experiences of another. That face we see and voice we hear may be hiding so much that longs to come out, but dares not.

    Like

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