The Black Dog – Friday Fictioneers, July 2017

Copyright Claire Sheldon


On black dog days, the door remained closed.

We crept around, ducking beneath shadows festering outside his study.

Mother said that for him, when the black dog came, there was no difference between day and night. He couldn’t help it, she said.

As we grew, we resented that gaping hole in the family where he used to exist, and we challenged him.

“C’mon Dad, get a grip…”

“Take a chill-pill, man…”

Finally he did… lots of them.

I sit at his desk. The dark shape in the corner rises, tongue lolling, waiting to play.

I get up and close the door.

I promised Rochelle I’d try to participate in Friday Fictioneers this week, but I’m afraid it’s a slightly edited re-tread from four years ago.  I just don’t seem to have that imaginative edge right now, and I’m wondering when, if ever, it will return.  If this story, which is one of my old favourites, strikes a chord with you, then please click on this link – it’s sweet and funny and informative  – I never tire of re-visiting it.




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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68 Responses to The Black Dog – Friday Fictioneers, July 2017

  1. neilmacdon says:

    If the tap of creativity is stuck, take it easy, don’t faucet. It will come back as soon as you’re not looking

    Liked by 2 people

  2. wmqcolby says:

    Sandra, I’d say the creativity hasn’t diminished. Great story, as usual. I could see it happening in the study.
    My story is a re-tread, too. Repurposing content is great because it gives us a chance to show it to new audiences (plus a rewrite rematch).

    Five out of five Led Zeppelin Black Dogs. 😉


  3. This is a wonderful sad story… the image of the black dog as well as the story in itself is brutal. I wonder if the dog is hereditary


  4. gravadee says:

    Initially I was a bit lost, but the end was real nice.
    thanks for sharing

    Click Here to see what Mrs. Dash Says

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Iain Kelly says:

    It’s never easy when that spark of inspiration doesn’t come – I’m at that point about now with my attempt at a novel and hoping the light will return soon. Lovely animation too.


  6. The death dog! Spooky and well-told.


  7. d3athlily says:

    As this is the first time I’ve read this, I find it to be perfect. More real than creative which makes for great reading. And the more we talk about depression, the more light we can shine on it to get people the help they need. Great work, Sandra.


  8. I haven’t read the original so I found this quite compelling and a very true-to-life account of the black dog.


  9. James says:

    Well, that was grim and suspenseful, Sandra.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dear Sandra,

    Four years of Friday Fictioneers has seen quite a turnover of writers. It never hurts to bring back and oldie but a goodie. So much said in that lurking black dog. Great metaphor. Loved it then, love it now.




  11. Rowena says:

    I really loved this, Sandra and could feel and underand every word. Last week, our dog passed away and the grief for all of us was so intense. There were things to be done but I shut down as much as I could until the pain and his omnipresence eased a little. The kids went away this week to my parents and I’ve been able to have two days of sleeping, researching and recharging. Watched the Book Thief and went and bought the book, which required a walk to the book shop.
    I have a chronic illness which used to stirke with that same debilitating force and it brought the house down. Thankfully, I’ve been in remission for the last 3.5 years and it’s made such a difference at home.
    Meanwhile, we still have our little black dog, Lady who is fully black aside from a few pacthes of white. Ironically, she’s the happiest dog I’ve ever seen and have been thinking about doing some form of pet therapy with her.
    Best wishes,


  12. granonine says:

    Seems to me your imagination is just fine 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. There’s nothing wrong with using a prior piece, particularly one as good as this! Creativity creeps back when you least expect it.


  14. L.E.R.T says:

    This was well written. Grim, but a good read. Cheers, Varad


  15. michael1148humphris says:

    Loved this story, so fingers crossed that your creative muse returns soon,


  16. What a great description of depression and the effect on the family.
    Too bad we still keep depression behind closed doors.
    I wrote about writers and black moods too.
    Happy Friday,

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Dale says:

    For me, this was not a re-tread and it would have been okay if it were! It’s not like you do it that often anyway 😉
    This is such a great portrayal of depression and I agree with Tracey’s comment of it still being kept behind closed doors


  18. Oh, Sweetie, the creativity will return. Sometimes it just takes a back seat. Thanks for posting this – as I read it, I thought gosh this seems familiar. I loved the story the first time and am so glad to see it again. Chin up and all that. Glad to see you today.


  19. plaridel says:

    metaphorically satisfying. simply, one of the best.


  20. Jade M. Wong says:

    Oh no, that’s absolutely haunting. I think this was very well-written, Sandra!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Nan Falkner says:

    I love the use of the “black dog.” Very clever. Cute story! Nan

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Lynn Love says:

    A beautifully crafted story – retread or not. Filled with sadness and such longing. Lovely work, Sandra


  23. jellico84 says:

    Shivers and chills… excellent. Kinda werewolf like, or maybe “Hound of the Baskervilles”. Loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. if this is a bad day I can’t wait to read what emerges from a good one! Brilliant Sandra

    Please click to read my FriFic

    Liked by 1 person

  25. gahlearner says:

    Excellent story, Sandra. I read it for the first time. The arrogance of youth bites our heels as we get older. The image of the dog is haunting. It is a bit sad that black dogs are associated with depression, the poor animals have less chances to find a home when they are in the shelter. Depression is still often hidden, but to me it seems that this is changing. And I’m sure .ideas come back. Usually in the most unexpected moments.


  26. patrickprinsloo says:

    Really good. I can imagine the family tensions from your writing. (Not the Churchills, surely.)

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Plum says:

    Oh my goodness. This is SO sad. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  28. rgayer55 says:

    Sad that the black dog is in the family DNA. It needs to be in a cage with a strong lock.
    I may have read this before, but my memory isn’t that great so it’s new to me now.


  29. Susan says:

    This story sent chills through me.

    I’m glad you recycled it. I hope to one day have enough to recycle.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Dahlia says:

    This is beautifully and perfectly penned.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. draliman says:

    Pretty dark. I like the “dark dog” and shadow, really set the tone.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Liz Young says:

    I had a similar spell of self-doubt a while back, Sandra. The relief and joy when it returned were immense. Now, when I hit a dry spot, I don’t panic. Good story – keep ’em coming.


  33. Sandra, this is extremely powerful. You’ve done so much here. It’s filled with common place, sadness, and insight.


  34. This is so well written, Sandra. It demonstrates exactly how one person’s mental illness can effect the whole family and that there is so often little that anyone can do for that person. But then there’s the guilt when the sufferer takes his own life — that feeling of not having done enough to prevent it. I’ve also come across sufferers who are ultra-skilful at sitting on their black dog and being the life and soul of the party. But when these “laughing depressives” commit suicide, that comes a double shock.

    Having said all that, writers are particularly prone to black dog days, or weeks, but usually the literary muse swims through the murk and comes to the rescue. It’s often a case of not forcing things when it comes to creativity.

    And just in case you’re feeling in a black dog mood, I just want to reiterate something I’ve said to you before, you’re an extremely talented writer.


  35. Ashley Danielle says:

    Beautifully written and it conveyed a strong emotion. Great job!


  36. Great story, Story. Your writing is always very strong in so many ways.
    I rewrite previous stories. I haven’t on FF but I have on my nurturing posts.
    As I grow I find I need a different type ot writing. Admire your take on the prompt.
    Isadora 😎


  37. Laurie Bell says:

    Oh dear, sounds like a dark and rough time. Nothing wrong with reusing a pice when the muse takes a break


  38. subroto says:

    Very powerful story. I see glimpses of that dog sometimes but fortunately I’ve been able to keep him chained.


  39. I remember this story, Sandra. The writing was good then and it’s just as good now. —- Suzanne


  40. Sarah Ann says:

    So difficult to like this one. The understatement of the pill-taking is a real had kick that pulls you up short. And the over all mood at the end, very black dog. So well done.


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