“Tell me a story.”  I wager those words have been said in many languages for thousands of years.  You probably said them to your parents when you were young.  But as you grew older, the stories you heard became very different,  many not as pleasant.

Well, rejoice!  Story time is here once again.  Each week you can join the writing group called Friday Fictioneers to read stories that span the gamut of genres and plots.  What follows is my story for the week.  After that, you may click on the cute link critter and be whisked away to The Land of Story Time.  But be careful.  Once you enter that land, you’ll never want to return.  And if you have a story of your own to tell, you’re welcome to become a citizen of The Land of Story Time.  (Beautiful picture, Rich, and Rochelle, love the new background.)


Congo Mourning
Genre: Drama

“Hi, hon.”

“Exhausted, but fine. We’re in line for security.  Can’t wait to get home.”

Quietly…”Conditions at the orphanage were horrible.  Not enough food, the place was filthy, the woman in charge was a witch.  It broke my heart to see their faces and know we could only take one.”

“Hang on. Something’s happening. Some soldiers…”

“Hey!  What are you doing?  Get your hands off my son.”

“Our papers are in order.  Look.  Stop it!  Let..me…go!”

“Somebody help us.  Please. They’re taking my son!  Dominique!  Dominique!!  Let go of him, you…!!”

“Grant, call the embassy right now.  They’ve taken Dominique!”


This story is inspired by a friend and her husband who decided to add to their family by adopting a child from Congo.  Yes, his name was Dominique and no, thankfully the ending of the story didn’t happen to them.  The orphanage conditions and head woman are true to their experience and it was often problematic as to whether Dominique would ever make it to New Jersey.  Thankfully he did and is blessing them and being a blessing to them every day.

  1. Hi Janet,
    I could visualize the scene. Nice set up. I think you might want to look at some of your quotation mark placement. I’m pretty sure you need one at the end of the second line.
    It took me a couple of reads to realize this is one person speaking. Nonetheless powerful. My cousin adopted two children. One from Colombia and another from Korea.
    Thanks for a good read.

  2. deanabo says:

    Oh my how frightening!

  3. Succinct and scary makes this a good flash.

  4. yerpirate says:

    Terrifying encounter – all the more so being in a foreign land.Full of tension, and the pacing makes it very real.

    • Always good to hear from you (provided you’re saying good things, naturally!!) 🙂 I tried to make the speech something things I could hear myself saying…and I did, as I read them aloud to be sure.

  5. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Janet,

    You found a nightmare of your own to scare us with, I see. Very well done glimpse into The Heart of Darkness. This could be the start of a much longer piece with many harrowing paths to follow.



    • Interesting how such a pretty picture is bringing out the darker stories. I know several people who have adopted from overseas and there can be many difficulties, although they often “only” include having to travel a lot and paying more than the original agreement.


  6. Silent Kim says:

    Scary story. Glad things worked out for your friends.

  7. I was at a lunch with some women yesterday ans we were talking of a local couple who adopted a son from Russia but then Russia stopped all adoptions so they have not been allowed to bring him home. Such heartache.

    • How awful to have already have adopted and then lose him! The policy if most harmful to the Russian children who will live in a terrible place and never get a chance at a better life but also to parents here who can’t get a child through our system and now have this avenue shut off as well.

  8. Great word play with the title.
    That would be a scary situation, especially in a country like that. Hopefully the story ends happily later on.

    • Ahhhh, you got the title! Thank you! I was hoping someone would catch that. Yeah, for all the complaining many of us do about where we live, there are many, many people worse off, including all the Russian children now unavailable for adoption to the US. :-/

  9. kz says:

    this is so scary… i could sense their helplessness and terror… to be in a strange land and have something like that happen to you.. *shudder*

  10. I can’t imagine being forced to watch helplessly as someone rips your child away from you. As a parent, that is one of my worst nightmares. Fantastically woven tale. Thanks for sharing it!

  11. claireful says:

    I agree with David – very clever title, and I really liked the rest of it too.

  12. A nightmare story. Chilling and it worked with me.

    • I’m glad it conveyed the nightmarish feeling someone on that situation would have. And thanks for coming all the way from
      Sweden to read. Isn’t the Internet amazing?

  13. Tom Poet says:

    A scary story indeed and it is sad to know this kind of thing can happen. I have family members trying to adopt and they have been jumping through hoops to get a child. Well done!


  14. wmqcolby says:

    WHOA!!!!! That ROCKS! Good suspense and tension. It’s all there for us to read, too! Wonderful story!

  15. tedstrutz says:

    That was some real believable dialog, Janet. Starting sweet and ending desperate, I didn’t want it to end… that would be a heartbreaking scenario.

    Liked your intro… I’m glad to be in The Land of Story Time.

    • Perhaps they’ll get Dominique back. I’m so happy it pulled you in and it seemed so real. What a nice compliment! The intro was fun. Thanks for being a citizen of Story Land.

  16. Excellent scene. My heart was pounding.

  17. Joyce says:

    A wonderful story, Janet. I have relatives and friends too, who have adopted Asian children (from China and Korea). Their stories are real also, with happy endings, thank God, literally. I’m glad your friends, too have a happy ending to theirs.

  18. pennycoho says:

    I enjoyed this very much, your pacing with the mounting suspense just great! Thank you a good read for me!

  19. Well, I’m glad there is a happy ending to the real story. Nice drama in the fictional one, actually reminded me a bit of Argo. How about that, Ms Affleck?

    • Perry, that’s a high compliment! I haven’t seen Argo yet but hope to soon. Am I up for an award? 🙂


      P.S. For anyone who’s read this far, today’s a travel day for me so thanks for visiting, reading, liking and/or commenting and I’ll be making my way to your story at some point over the next evening and couple of days. 🙂

  20. I love the depth of this. I wonder if Dominique was returned. It seems the story should have been longer. Geez, maybe we could get 150 words, instead of 100. Like maybe have 50 word credit to use whenever we like, for stories such as this!

    In conclusion, I felt like I was there seeing it in real life. Because it happens.



    • Shenine, I’m pleased you liked this so much. One great thing about the 100 words is that is makes us chose our thoughts and then words carefully for maximum impact. Leaving the reader wanting more or wondering what happened is good, too. Sometimes the stories are more the opening paragraph or so of what could be a longer piece and that’s OK, too. It can be more effective to leave some things unstated or to let the reader think and wonder.

      Well, that turned into a bit of a speech! As for Dominique being returned, you can write your own ending. If he was, I’m sure it was a long, arduous process.


      • Hi Janet, I understand the limitation of the100 words. I was being humorous of saying to you, I would have enjoyed more to this story from the original author. In the end, I painted my ending as Dominique being returned along with his twin who they forgot to mention. The couple left with two, instead of one.


      • This might be a story that goes into the file of stories that I continue with a different prompt. I’m glad you liked the story enough to care what happened.

        Blessings on your day,


  21. nightlake says:

    Gratifying to know that this didn’t happen in real life..scary and well written

  22. Sandra says:

    Heartbreaking Janet. Great take on the prompt. Really well done.

  23. rich says:

    i was getting worried when your explanation mentioned about this being true, but then luckily and thankfully the *whole* thing wasn’t true. well done.

  24. t says:

    Gripping – I loved the one-sided glimpse as well.

  25. Joe Owens says:

    Janet – Took the seond time to relaize the conversation was one-sided. I appreciate the drama and relaize it can be a realistic scenario. I was in Belize in December for a mission trip with a fmaily finishing their adoption of a 17 month old girl. All went well, but some days it seemed hopeless as the myriad paperwork snafus mounted.

  26. JKBradley says:

    People with guns taking your child away is horrific. I’d feel cometely powerless and would pray for Chuck Norris to quickly come to the rescue.

  27. JackieP says:

    great take on the picture. Very realistic.

  28. This one tore at my heart. Such realism.

  29. rgayer55 says:

    You painted the picture with extrordinary color. The soldier, the panic, the fear–great dialogue. And I too, thought the title was clever.

  30. vbholmes says:

    Adoption can be heartbreaking here in the States as well. Relatives supported a young girl through her pregnancy and birth, paying all expenses plus $10,000 cash, only to have the mother decide (after they had the baby living with them for two weeks) that she couldn’t give him up. Sounds like a scam, and perhaps it was, but the mother had that right. Very painful for the adoptive parents who had bonded with the child. Good take on the prompt.

  31. denmother says:

    Stressful! Way to take me there in 100 words.

  32. I love your first paragraph in the introduction to the Friday Fictioneers, before you get to the actual story. It’s quite poetic.

    Of course, the story is powerful as well. I’m glad that ending didn’t happen to your friend. As I was reading the story, I thought about some news I heard about a month ago, news about Russia not allowing Americans to adopt from there to make some sort of political statement. Have you heard about it?

    • I have and it’s a shame. The only ones really hurt are the children in Russia who will live horrific lives.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the intro! It was fun to write. I try to do something a little different each week so it doesn’t get too formulaic and boring.

      Thanks for commenting.


  33. unspywriter says:

    So glad the real story had a much happier ending for all concerned, but you’ve captured the angst and helplessness perfectly. Well-done and a wonderful homage to those whose hearts are big enough for such love and devotion.

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/ad-astra/

    • Thanks, Maggie. I have another online friend who just got back from somewhere (I wasn’t paying enough attention, but I think eastern Europe) where they met their newest daughter. In addition, I think most of their adopted ones have Down’s Syndrome, so very big hearts indeed!


  34. boomiebol says:

    My body fired up reading this….very very well done.

  35. sandraconner says:

    Oh — very creative take on the prompt! I like it a lot. You could definitely take this to a much longer piece. I also enjoyed your intro about the writing group and “story time.”

  36. Abraham says:

    Well done! I like your intros.
    Took me a few moments as well to realise it was one person speaking.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Abraham. I’m happy you liked the story and the intro. The intro was fun to write. For a while, I noticed I was always writing the same thing, so I thought I’d try to make it more interesting.


  37. writeondude says:

    Good stuff, easy to visualise. The soldiers probably just needed a decent bribe.

  38. k~ says:

    Well done! It was an interesting take to “hear” only one side of a phone conversation. This conjured up vivid images for me as the scene unfolded.

  39. Well written, built up nicely.

  40. First of all, Janet, I really love your introduction – it’s creative all by itself! But the story, oh the story. I can picture the mother and child being dragged apart by force and hear the screaming and threats and tears. Heartbreakingly well written.

    • Sharon, thanks as always for reading and commenting. I’m glad people liked the introduction as well as the story, although they are two very different things. I enjoyed writing both but the story certainly took more time and thought.

      Hope you’re not getting snowed on.


      • Lots of ice, but hardly any snow – mostly because it melted into ice as it fell, I think. And this morning it’s actually sunny. I’m not sure how much they had up in New York and Boston – we were on the fringe.

  41. Sunshine says:

    very painful, stressful and heart wrenching story…thankfully the real story ended sweetly. i’m thinking the head woman at the orphanage in real life had her own painful story that came out in her retched behavior.
    totally enjoyed your story. ❤

    • I hope so. But some people just enjoy being in power and being officious. She had the power over all the children, none of whom had anyone to stand up for them, and she could also delay things for those waiting for their adopted children, a heady mix.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!


  42. This is a taut, increasingly tense piece that tells a complete story – good stuff! Just one observation; is there another way that ‘quietly could have been indicated? Thanks for another interesting FF.

  43. I liked the taut, increasingly tense tone of this tale – good stuff! Just one observation; could ‘quietly’ have been conveyed in another way? Thanks for this!

    • Possibly, Nick, but I couldn’t think of any that were only one word. I could assume people knew she would be speaking quietly, but they might not and not only did those sort of remarks need to be made quietly where she was, but the sense of escalating needed to be there.

      Any suggestions?


  44. Sarah Ann says:

    Hi Janet. It took me a while to realise this was one side of a phone conversation. And then I could see her worn out and relieved before everything started to go wrong as she arrived home. Very strong writing.

    • Thanks, Sarah Ann. I know more than a few people mentioned that it took awhile to realize that it was only the woman speaking but with only 100 precious words, there were none to waste. 🙂 Thanks for your comments and for reading. I’m glad you liked the story.


  45. 40again says:

    Love the clever choice of title Janet. The story is so sad and unfortunately there are too many people in the world like the head of the orphanage. I’m so glad the Dominique made it.

  46. Anne Orchard says:

    It was very brave of your character to be alone in a strange land with the best interests of a child in mind. I’m glad it worked out better for your friends than in your fiction, which was harrowing.

  47. Great story, and what an emotional impact! I would read more 🙂

    • There is no more…at least now. 🙂 I know what you meant, though, and I thank you for the compliment. There are several stories I’ve done that I’ve considered lengthening. We’ll see.


  48. Janet, I enjoyed the drama, but I’m so happy it didn’t end this way in true life. I do see, however, how this could happen. Sadly. Nice dialogue.

  49. Janet, thank you for the compelling story you wrote about Dominique. You brought to life the atmosphere surrounding orphans, and while the situation you described did not happen, the threat to his life was so very real. I appreciate it and I thank you! “Niko” continues to adjust, after 18 months in America. The road is long and hard – and has many landmines – but we are experiencing progress. An orphanage in the Congo is more than a world away from life in a family in America, but here he has a future and a hope. Thanks again!