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Flash Fiction, Society, Writing

Speakeasy #94: Don’t Come In


The prompt: “Who could that be at this hour?”

The image:

First line by speakeasy #93 winner, Sandra Crook

Who could that be at this hour? She thought, gathering her robe around her frail waist. A glance at the clock: it was 11pm. No one came to this neighborhood at that hour with good news; in fact, no one came to her door in this neighborhood with any news. Ever. Until tonight. She slipped on her house shoes, straightened her sleeping cap in the hall mirror, and quietly checked the peep hole in the dark. There was a modest-looking woman on the other side. That looks like Darrel’s teacher, she frowned, reaching for the light. She undid all the locks on the apartment door except for the chain. “Yes?” she called through the narrow opening.

“Mrs. Brunson?” The nervous young woman began, “Hello. I am Miss Taylor–Darrel’s teacher. I needed to talk with you.”

Her eyes narrowed. “What is it?”

Miss Taylor looked up and down the narrow corridor, her nose slightly wrinkled at the odor of urine and beer from the elevator; the downtown projects were obviously not places she usually frequented. “Might I come in a moment, Mrs. Brunson?”

She looked around at her threadbare sofa, the ancient console television that worked when it wanted, the stained ashtray of her husband’s she just couldn’t part with. “Naw, you say what you gotta say from right there.” Don’t come in child, she thought wildly, if you come in this time of night, there’s no chance things will ever be the same.

Miss Taylor sighed and asked, “Mrs. Bronson, when is the last time you saw Darrel?”

She slowly closed the door against the incessant knocking from Miss Taylor on the other side. She made her way to the dining room, where she looked at the weathered cork board; Darrel’s attendance award from two years ago curled at the top corner, its edges dark with the build up of apartment cooking residue. She sat heavily in the chair as a chorus of voices, the city police she was sure, joined that of Miss Taylor in the hallway.

26 Comments

  1. deanabo January 30, 2013 4:51 pm

    Oh my. This is one of the best things I’ve read in a while. Really good.

    • AR Neal January 30, 2013 4:54 pm

      Thank you, so much!

  2. Gretchen January 30, 2013 4:57 pm

    Excellent. I felt the saddness of life, the tension, the expectation and the disappointment. Very well written.

    • AR Neal January 30, 2013 5:05 pm

      Thank you, Gretchen!

  3. christina (@finallyMom) January 30, 2013 6:06 pm

    this is so very well written. so much … life… happening here in such few words.

    • AR Neal January 30, 2013 6:07 pm

      Thank you Christina!

  4. nataliedeyoung January 30, 2013 6:22 pm

    Wonderful piece. You set up the atmosphere in such a way that it suffuses the whole story, giving it vibrancy yet sadness – great balance.

    • AR Neal January 30, 2013 6:25 pm

      Thank you, Natalie!

  5. Stacie @ Snaps and Bits January 30, 2013 6:53 pm

    Oh, I’m so worried for her now. But she seems resigned. So sad.

    • AR Neal January 30, 2013 6:58 pm

      Yes, life for her is tough, isn’t it?

  6. steph January 30, 2013 8:38 pm

    Wonderful writing. I love the mystery of it as well as all the details of place, and how she tries desperately to hold on to – possibly her sanity. Great piece.

    • AR Neal January 30, 2013 8:49 pm

      Thank you, Steph! Although I am not a grandmother yet, I can only imagine what it must be like for those who are and care for wayward young ones…

  7. Suzanne January 30, 2013 8:57 pm

    This is lovely and sad. Very well written – I really feel for Mrs. Brunson. Wonderful job!

    • AR Neal January 30, 2013 8:59 pm

      Thank you, Suzanne!

  8. Gem January 30, 2013 9:04 pm

    Ooh left hanging..I want to know more!
    (Found you at the speakeasy, I lurk and sometimes post there and yeahwrite) -gem

    • AR Neal January 30, 2013 9:06 pm

      Thank you!! Lurking is good 🙂

  9. Bee January 30, 2013 11:32 pm

    I really like how “Darrel’s attendance award” is used to emphasize his absence.

    • AR Neal January 30, 2013 11:34 pm

      Thank you, Bee…that was sort of an accident! I love how stories create opportunities for those little nuggets!

  10. Mel January 30, 2013 11:37 pm

    This is an incredible take. Nicely done!

    • AR Neal January 30, 2013 11:39 pm

      Thank you, Mel!

  11. iasoupmama January 31, 2013 3:45 am

    Oh, how sad… Poor Darrell and poor Mrs. Brunson. How tragic.

    • AR Neal January 31, 2013 4:01 am

      And so much a part of the human landscape…thanks for reading!

  12. Nadine Millar January 31, 2013 5:20 am

    This is really quite excellent. For me it contains those elements which make the short story truly unique – enough detail to set the imagination going, but plenty of gaps to leave you wondering. I think that in a way, it is like real life. Things don’t always get tied up neatly in life, we don’t look back on it as we might a novel, and say “ah yes, well that’s what that was about”. That’s what I love about the short story. It reflects life in a way that we actually live it – where the things people say are not the things they mean, and the things that they do sometimes make no sense at all.

    Ahh, yes, this was good.

    • AR Neal January 31, 2013 5:23 pm

      Thank you so much, Nadine! There are times when inspiration allows you to put so much in a few words…

  13. That Unique* Weblog January 31, 2013 6:37 pm

    I don’t know if I should feel sorry for her or angry with her. Either way, it’s a powerful story. Love the detail of the curled edges.

    • AR Neal January 31, 2013 8:32 pm

      Thank you 🙂 I was, in those few words, trying for a lot of varied emotions…

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