A Short Story About Story

This short story is in response to the Five Minute Friday prompt: Story. There’s some irony in this, but I won’t go there…at least not today. The rules are: write for 5 minutes and no editing (although I can’t stop myself a little. I am an editor after all…and this one actually took me longer than 5 minutes. There are bossy characters involved. You’ll see.). I’ll see you on the other side. Hope you enjoy it.


Last night Mama cried out again in her sleep. The moans grinding deep into the floorboards until rising into a holler so sharp, it nearly raised the dead.

In the past, I might’ve gone to comfort her. Asking about her dream, smoothing back her damp hair. But she never did answer, the glass-eyed look never wavering until the rhythm of my hand on her head soothed her back to sleep.

I was eight the one and only time I asked her about the dream in the morning. The slap following convinced me to never ask again.

I might have believed her if she hadn’t looked so sad when she said it.

Mama’s story seemed to start with me being born during a howling storm, nobody there to help her or me. The rest of her was all swallowed up in the moonless night of her past.

I guess it wouldn’t matter much if her doc hadn’t found my number somewhere in Mama’s piles and called me. It had been thirty long years since I’d left—my own babies grown and gone.

Mama always said, “My past don’t matter a hill of beans to what’s happening in the here and now.”

But I couldn’t leave my past to rot in a barely liveable retirement village and I’d come home. To be honest, I’d nearly forgotten about the dreams. Maybe I would’ve left her had I remembered. But I was cursed to forget and stuck back home as much as I was when I had been eight. But there isn’t a protective service anyone could call for me now.


As a fiction writer, I had to grin at the prompt for the week—Story. If anyone could wax eloquently about that word, it has to be a novelist (and I have. In places like this: Backstory Life and the Not So Bitter End). But this character popped into my head and demanded an audience. She would NOT be quiet until I wrote her down.

Yes, I hear voices in my head. I’m told it’s normal for us creatives, but you’re welcome to look at me sideways…I’ll just write you into my next book 🙂

The strange thing is that neither woman introduced herself to me. I don’t know their names, and perhaps that’s appropriate since they are both so determined to hide themselves.

Maybe someday they’ll come around and say hello for real, but I somehow doubt it.

Photo credit: Pixaby

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18 thoughts on “A Short Story About Story

    1. I wish I did have more than the 5 minutes to develop some of these characters into true short stories rather than just scenes. Everything is left hanging…maybe someday!

  1. Hi Janrye!! This is my first time visiting, though I’ve seen you in the fmfparty.

    I’m a nonfiction writer but a fiction reader, and I LOVED this! I want to read more. Possibly because I’m a 25-year-old suddenly having to live at home again, and was thrust into having to take care of my mom (who has a few disabilities). This feels eerily familiar (minus the dreams!).

    Thanks for writing this! I’m right behind you in the linkup. 🙂

    1. Oh my, Jordan. That is so very hard. I’ll be praying for you as you care for your mom. Remember that as a caretaker you can’t pour out blessing if your cup isn’t full. Take care of yourself. And I’ll pop over to your blog later today (I’m supposed to be working at the moment. Sh-h. Don’t tell!)

  2. Ah, dreams. They hold me suspended between the violence of the past and the unreality of the present; it’s almost a relief to be dying in rather horrible pain because that pain forms a bridge, and in dying, and fighting it, I feel alive.

    Does that make sense? One of the hallmarks of combat trauma is that the vividness of combat can never be matched in civilian life. It’s nothing like thrillseeking, and everything like transcendence…a dark transcendence, to be sure.

    You’re so talented. I look forward to your stories.

    #2 at FMF this week.

    https://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/10/your-dying-spouse-374-caregiving-for.html

    1. It totally makes sense, Andrew. I imagine the pain creates adrenaline in a similar way that combat does. Praying for you and working here and there on Sam. I don’t have anything concrete yet, just bits and pieces of feelings and scenes. Your input there has been priceless. I’m mostly working on detail cleaning another manuscript that’s almost ready to be pitched (it’s WWII CBI theater), but Sam keeps yakking at me in the background. I faithfully write down whatever he says and I’ll put it into coherence at some point. Thank you for encouraging me to try his voice. He definitely wants to be heard, even if I’m not prepared for where it will take me 🙂

  3. Just discovering your website from FMF, and DANG you can write. I was so swept up in your story. I’m sorry about your mother.

    I’m no novelist, but I’ve just written a book that plays with the Bible stories as novels that read us – Those Who Wait. I wonder if you might like it? my site is http://tanyamarlow.com

    Keep writing!

    1. Hi, Tanya,
      Welcome to Beautiful. Ugly. Me. Thanks for the encouragement. This actually isn’t my story, just a story. It’s all my imagination 🙂 Sorry for the confusion! My life right now is just too much, and I need to process it more before I put anything in print, so I often use the prompts to play with my imagination. It works out well though since I’m a fiction writer and can use the practice in creating characters and worlds quickly and accurately. I’m finding pieces of the short stories are translating into my longer works as well. I’d call that a WIN! I’ll pop over to your site and check out your books. I quite enjoy some of the other authors who’ve done the same.

    1. Hm-m. I’ll have to be sure to make it more clear that it’s a short story up front. But I’m glad you liked it. Portions of the scene might just make it into a book. I have a whole list of ideas and one is the relationship of an aging mom and daughter.

    1. It wasn’t meant to be bait…or at least to torture anyone. I need to figure out how to finish these short stories that keep popping up for FMF. Hm-m. I’ll have to think about how to do that.

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