Missing You Already – Friday Fictioneers, September 2017

Copyright Sarah Potter

“He seldom visited; it won’t change anything,” said my grandmother, on learning her eldest son had died unexpectedly, “though he did send me a tenner every Christmas … I’ll miss that.”

Years later, within hours of my father’s death, my mother converted his bedroom into a study.

“It’ll be nice to have the extra space,” she enthused.

A coping mechanism?  Or staggering self-centeredness, a family trait which hopefully has skipped my generation?

Disappointing then, when facing two sombre-looking policemen on the settee opposite, I heard my voice ring out clearly.

“Good grief, he was only half-way through painting the dining-room…”

How effectively can a 250 word story be converted into 100 words, without losing the effect?  I’m not sure, but if you’re interested, judge for yourself by comparing this week’s Friday Fictioneers offering to my original story, A Family Trait, published six years ago in Apollo’s Lyre.  Thanks as ever to Rochelle, for the dedication she demonstrates every week to Friday Fictioneers.

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.

93 Responses to Missing You Already – Friday Fictioneers, September 2017

  1. neilmacdon says:

    A great little moral fable, Sandra. The contraction works – your reveal is the same in both versions. But the one glitch is that you’ve lost the distinction between the uncle and the father. The dead man seems to be one and the same, which makes the “years later” mystifying

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sandra says:

      Yes I saw that, though I expected the reader would work out there could be more than one son, which I hinted at with the insertion of ‘eldest’ for the first mortality. I did think about changing the sex of one of either of the first two deceased, but the ‘family trait’ seems an essentially female reaction to the opposite sex – well it has been in our family anyway. 😉 🙂 Only joking.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Iain Kelly says:

    I felt the shorter version emphasised the dark humour more, giving more space to the punchline. Made me laugh anyway! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Vanessa Daniels says:

    This made me chuckle (black humour)
    Love Fridays x

    Like

  4. Reena Saxena says:

    Did the policemen have an opinion about the death?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Varad says:

    Both versions work equally well, Sandra. Loved the dark humor to it.

    Like

  6. Moon says:

    I truly admire the family trait and would think of it as ‘ coping mechanism ‘😀
    What a wonderful story , Sandra .
    Thanks for the link to the longer story .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Sandra,

    The distilled to 100 words version works quite well. Sentimental family that. I couldn’t help but laugh. Well done as always.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Did the policemen suspect something fishy?
    Liked both the versions of the story.
    https://ideasolsi65.blogspot.in/2017/09/walk.html

    Liked by 1 person

  9. granonine says:

    Wow. Channeling her mother. Really like this, Sandra,

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. 🙂
    Grief does strange things to people!
    I didn’t read your earlier version. I liked this one as is.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Love the distilled version. Crystal clear for me. to me the central piece of the story is this part;

    A coping mechanism? Or staggering self-centeredness, a family trait which hopefully has skipped my generation?

    But people do behave strangely in shock

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A delightful piece of tragicomedy! One hundred words were quite enough. Easy to read and straight to the point.

    Click to read my FriFic!

    Like

  13. A great deal more impact in 100 words. It’s an insightful look at the way people cope with grief. Loved it !!!
    Izzy 😎

    Like

  14. James says:

    Please spare me from a family like that.

    Like

  15. pennygadd51 says:

    A well told tale, Sandra. Made me think.

    Like

  16. So when she walked in her grandma’s and mom’s s shoes, grief suddenly took on a much more practical aspect. Oh, we are so human! 🙂

    Like

  17. An excellent ambiguity here. Well done

    Like

  18. Lynn Love says:

    I do love this – and recognise it too, if not in myself (!) then in some widows I’ve met. It’s not exactly that they disliked their husbands, but they can do jolly well without them, thanks very much. So many women don’t look for another partner when they lose a long term one – what does that tell us? Beautifully written as always

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I’ve a couple of friends who lost their husbands. It’s true to say, without any disrespect to either of their very likeable husbands, that both of them have grown since then. One in particular relishes her life and new-found activities in a way I could never have imagined. Nor could her husband have done so either.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        It’s a strange thing that as well as being a strength and strong base, a long relationship can also be a restriction in some ways – compromise, of course being the key to a long partnership. I’m glad your friends are making the most of their time alone, though – surely what the other halves would have wanted 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I agree with pretty much everyone! Cut to 100-words, this still works.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Thanks Alicia. I prefer the longer version, but it was an interesting exercise I might try again with some of my older work, particularly since I seem to be distressingly short of ideas for stories these days. My husband says it’s because we haven’t travelled as much this last year. 😦

      Like

  20. Indira says:

    Certainly a case of self-centeredness. Makes me laugh. What a family trait! You write so beautifully. I don’t want to, but I you all terrific writers.

    Like

  21. I haven’t read the extended version (yet) but I enjoyed the dark humor in this one. i took the final dead man as the narrator’s husband.

    Like

  22. Love the dark wit, shock does strange things to people and a half-painted room is quite inconvenient!

    Like

  23. I like this, grief manifests itself in so many ways. Cleverly written.

    Like

  24. You said it all in this version. I’m sort of disappointed in myself for chuckling. Sort of.
    Tracey

    Like

  25. Life Lessons of a Dog Lover says:

    Loved the dark humor in this story. I laughed at the punched line.

    Like

  26. Okay. This made me laugh. She completely skipped the emotion part and went straight to the logic that usually only comes after extensive grief. It could be towering self-centeredness, or it could just be a person that can push emotions to the side to be dealt with at a later date – in private and unobserved. People handle emergencies in the same way – focusing on the practical now and the aftermath later. I loved it and think you did a great job shaving 150 words out. :o)

    Like

  27. A dark, morbid tale written very well, Sandra.

    Like

  28. Dale says:

    I truly loved both versions. They are just tell-it-like-it is women! And realistic. And maybe just say what crosses their mind without realising (caring) how it comes out! I may have made a comment of this ilk myself… ahem.

    Like

  29. I think both versions are fabulous. I don’t think anything is lost by cutting the words. I love the last line.

    Like

  30. I think it still works. Nicely done.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Laurie Bell says:

    Ha! Oh dear. Very funny story that is somehow also very sad

    Liked by 1 person

  32. rgayer55 says:

    Boy, the extremes some people will go to to get out of painting the dining room.

    Like

  33. draliman says:

    Eek! I guess it’s passed down through the family, then. I love her reaction even as she hears the words come out of her mouth 🙂

    Like

  34. Jelli says:

    Interesting read.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Fluid Phrase says:

    Awww brutal! Very matter of fact writing. Great take as always.

    Like

  36. Rowena says:

    Sandra, I’m pleased I came back to this one after reading the extended version and finally read the heading and it made much more sense. It’s getting late here. Well, that’s my excuse. Well done.
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Liz Young says:

    Wow! That had me holding my hand over my mouth to stifle a laugh!

    Like

  38. plaridel says:

    that sense of humor hasn’t skipped her generation. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  39. subroto says:

    Some families are just more practical than the others. I prefer that to hysterical emotions anyway. Wonderfully crafted as always.

    Like

  40. People have such different coping mechanisms when it comes to bereavement. I always say you can’t force someone into sensitivity or having a deep emotional response to things. It’s either in them, or not. Some people are naturally cold and practical, but of course the best combination is sensitivity and practicality. I’ve definitely met people similar to those in your story, but then they might just be the types who like to keep a stiff upper lip and shed tears in private while punching their pillows. Well written as usual, and I prefer the shorter version to the longer one.

    Like

  41. Who was the last person who died?

    Liked by 1 person

  42. zainab says:

    I’m the odd one>>what did the policemen say?

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Renee Heath says:

    I loved the story Sandra. Now I have to go find the 250 word story. 🙂

    Like

  44. Dahlia says:

    I think it is a family trait to be envied rather than reviled. Life would be so much easier! I personally liked this version better 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  45. I guess she determined whether it was a coping mechanism or a self-centered trait.
    I like the punch of the shorter one; I think it shows the parallels better and the humor seems sharper. Either way, excellent!

    Like

  46. prior.. says:

    very nice humor with societal depth

    Liked by 1 person

  47. ellenbest24 says:

    I chuckled at the dark humour and clapped enthusiastically at the post … much to the confusion of The Husband. But though it is a great picture, I didn’t spot the link.

    Like

  48. Vivian Zems says:

    What a refreshing take on the prompt! I burst out laughing. Anyhow, I think its a coping mechanism.
    The anguish comes later.

    Like

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