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Family, Flash Fiction

Write at the Merge, Week 20: The Maestro

For most of his life, Fred had been useless. The truth of the matter was that he had been labeled as such from childhood. His dad was more invisible man than dangling participle, appearing as a letter with a few dirty and wrinkled dollar bills in it for the first couple years that Fred, now 40-something, could not remember. His mother, whom he did remember slightly, used the word in the so-called lullabys she sang over his head; he thought he remembered the back-and-forth of a rocking chair and a few whisky-warbled words floating out a crooked window. Truth, fiction, or imagination, he held tightly to it, his only memory of the woman who birthed him. She had left him when he was about three, tucking him into a too-large pea coat and planting him on the top step at Our Lady of Perpetual Hope. He heard the word as he grew up amongst the other boys, mostly from them; he had minimal talents on the hardwood or with any pigskin tossed or batted across the too-tall field of grass behind their home. And because of that home the other primary word from his youth that stuck to him like flypaper was “orphan,” the moniker he carried until emancipation at 18. But one day the purpose for which he was created was revealed.

Courtesy: F3D3.86 via Flickr Creative Commons

My 223-word offering for this week’s Write at the Merge. Click below to add your link.



  1. indytony May 14, 2013 12:32 am

    “His dad was more invisible man than dangling participle…”

    Great line. I like it a lot.

    • AR Neal May 14, 2013 3:14 am

      Thank you, sir!

  2. Lyssa Medana May 14, 2013 11:58 am

    What a hopeful story – that he found out the purpose for which he was created. LM x

    • AR Neal May 14, 2013 12:19 pm

      Thatk you, Lyssa!

  3. Thomas Marlowe May 14, 2013 8:15 pm

    That last line is so hopeful and carries such impact – particularly after such a bleak life up to that point, so well described.

    • AR Neal May 14, 2013 8:35 pm

      Thank you so much, Thomas! I am hopeful that the adoption agencies today do a better job than they did in the late 19th and early 20th century…

  4. cait May 16, 2013 2:01 am

    Nice! Very hopeful at the end there. What a label to spend your life with. Poor Fred.

    • AR Neal May 16, 2013 2:29 am

      Awww! Thank you, cait!

  5. shelton keys dunning May 16, 2013 9:40 pm

    Love this. From the dirty crumpled bills to the whiskey scarred notes. Brilliant!

    • AR Neal May 20, 2013 3:40 pm

      Thanks for popping in, Shelton–glad you enjoyed the piece.

  6. angela May 18, 2013 6:19 pm

    The beginning is so forlorn; the vindication and purpose revealed at the end is a hopeful twist on a melancholy tale.

    • AR Neal May 18, 2013 6:29 pm

      Thank you so much, angela 🙂

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