Friday Fictioneers: Friends, Romans, Countrymen

Posted: October 9, 2013 in Friday Fictioneers
Tags: , , , , ,

Friday Fictioneers is predicated on the idea that you can craft a complete story with a mere 100 words.  To determine whether or not we succeed, click on the blue creature at the end of this post.  That will take you to all the stories that are currently up.  However, stories are continually added, sometimes until the Tuesday evening prior to the next picture prompt, which is posted in the wee hours of each Wednesday morning, so you may want to keep checking.  All authors love feedback, so add your two cents’ worth and if you like the story, “like” it.  You’re also welcome to participate.  The “rules” are found on Rochelle’s website, so join us if you if you’re so inclined.  We’re an eclectic, but friendly, bunch.

Copyright Sandra Crook

Copyright Sandra Crook

Friends, Romans, Countrymen

I stood, petrified, scarcely breathing.

Countless eyes stared silently back at me. Waiting.

Stomach churning, I sought desperately for a way out. Nothing.

At first, there were just rustlings, but soon, mumblings, then a few snickers. The mob, growing restless, ready for their fun. I knew what I was supposed to do, I just couldn’t dredge up the words to keep them at bay.

They grew bolder, the mocking more evident. They wouldn’t wait much longer.



…was rescued by the strident beeping of the alarm.  Too much “Animal Farm”!  Thankfully, it was time for Shakespeare.  And for some coffee!

If you read the comments, you’ll see that I got several suggestions for improving the piece and I did change the ending.  I’m including the original below.  What do you think?

“…was rescued by the strident alarm, jerked from a nightmare of standing unprepared before my senior literature class. Definitely time for some coffee!”

    • I used to have a recurring nightmare about not being prepared for a test, something that, thankfully, never happened. And my mom, who taught for many years, had dreams about not being prepared, something that also never happened. 🙂


  1. Ye Pirate says:

    Hey! You got yourself out of that too easily! Funny and unexpected!

  2. elmowrites says:

    ooh, stage fright is a cruel mistress – you captured her whims well. I did hesitate for a while over whether the whole thing was real (and the alarm a fire alarm or similar), but I’m assuming you meant it as a dream. If you are bothered about this (and you might well not be), perhaps the “time for some coffee” line could be changed to make it clearer we’re in a different time and place.

    • Jen, thanks for the feedback. The entire first section was meant to be a dream, but the use of italics for the first part and regular type for the end, the split sentence connected with the dots, and the break in mood and tone were used to indicate that. What did you have in mind for the last line?


  3. Helena Hann-Basquiat says:

    I come to bury your story, not to praise it. No, just kidding. That was intense, and then…. relief!
    Well done, darling!

    • Hopefully the good that I did will live after, rather than be interred with my bones! Thanks for stopping in, Helena. I’ve got a pot of tea made if you’d like a cup.


  4. Sandra says:

    I quite often have that dream about exams, where I haven’t done any work for months and I’m wondering whether I can wing it or not… You brought that back, plus a bit of stage-fright. If I had a criticism I’d say that the next to the last line was slightly expositional – you could get the point across a bit more obliquely. Nice work though, as ever.

    • Thanks for the comment, Sandra. I’m contemplating your suggestion right now (or at least while unpacking some more boxes.)


    • Is this more along the lines of what you were thinking…”was rescued by the strident beeping of the alarm. Definitely time for some coffee! And maybe I’d go over my lecture notes again”?

      • Sandra says:

        Yes, or some regret about partying the last couple of weeks away or spending too much time playing games on the computer. Whatever… 🙂 Something that leaves the reader to make the connection rather than having it tied up for them. Just my view …

      • Ahhh, I see. But my POV was that the nightmare wasn’t something that would normally happen, which perhaps I can’t really portray in this amount of words. Always good to see what’s coming across as opposed to what I was thinking.

      • I changed the ending, then included the first one and asked for feedback. If you have time, let me know what you think and thanks again.

  5. Yes, I do like the new ending better!

  6. I actually like the first.
    I love the feeling you put into the story Janet
    who of us hasnt before a test, performance, interview had nightmares. I always feared the night before I sang that my voice would stop working in the middle of a song.

  7. Linda Vernon says:

    Oh this was good! I often wonder if some alarm somewhere will awaken us from this life. 😀

  8. howanxious says:

    Ha! What a fun write. 😀
    I certainly enjoyed your take on the photograph. 🙂

  9. hugmamma says:

    I’ve had some of those nightmares that remained with me even as I started to awaken. Crazy, aren’t they?

    • It’s odd how some dreams stay with you while others, once interrupted, are just gone; you can only catch a glimpse of them but never bring them back cleary.


      • hugmamma says:

        So true. When I try to relate my dream to my hubby or my daughter, the details are blurry. My daughter’s also experienced these half-awake dreams. And I thought it was just a sign of older age. She’s only 27. Hmmm…

  10. DCTdesigns says:

    Lordy! I had a few of these nights pre-performances. I used to be nervous I’d forget till the moment the first note of word passed my lips. Great story. I like the new ending best.

    • Thanks and thanks for the feedback. I used to get terribly nervous before piano recitals but no more of those. Singing with the praise team the first months so long ago were nerve-wracking but I love it now and teaching never bothered me.


  11. Oh, come on, I wanna see you fight to the death!

  12. Strangely, I still dream about middle school! Ugh. I like the original ending, frankly. I was confused by this, until I read your original ending. Sometimes, it’s all about how we read it, right? I was expecting something along the lines of “the first tomato hit me in the chest.” That crowd was getting mean, and I thought it would end poorly… I like the tension you build in those first few lines.

    • Dreams can be so real, can’t they? As far as how we read, that’s very true. There are things I’ve read that puzzled me because I came at them from a different point of view or ideas than the author had. Since we, as authors, know what we’re trying to convey, it always seems clear to us, but that’s not always true. Thanks for the feedback on the ending.


  13. Dear Janet,

    Count me among those who prefer your original ending. To me it connects the MC’s anxiety in the dream with real life anxiety. Of course, in the end it’s your decision, Darlin’



  14. sandraconner says:

    Well, Janet, I will undoubtedly be outvoted, but as a high school literature teacher for many years, I definitely like the original ending better. It makes the whole thing real rather than leaving it “out there somewhere.” The “Animal Farm” reference makes a statement (at least it did to me) that I’m not sure you’re really going for. Now, all that being said, I did like both versions, and you don’t really need our constructive criticism, since you are consistently a good writer.

    • Thanks, Sandra, for the compliment and the criticism. I’m glad you liked both versions. It’s interesting to see where people come down on the question. I think I tend towards liking my original better but as for criticism, we can all use it, always remembering that sometimes it’s simply personal preference, which is fine, too.


  15. Janet, I once was in a Shakespeare class where we all to perform a scene. It crazy fun, but I was nervous. Since everyone did a scene, it took the entire Saturday afternoon! Great take and thinking outside the box!

    • 🙂 I think most people are nervous before something like your experience, even veterans. It’s what we do with the nervousness that counts. Glad you liked the story.


  16. kz says:

    i liked the ending with the “Animal Farm”, i understood it much better. though the whole piece is great no matter which ending you choose. i loved the intensity.

  17. Dear Janet,

    I felt the relief that you captured so well, of a person waking from an untenable situation to find that all is well and it was just a dream. Very well done.

    Have you acted before? Seems as if this story comes from personal experience, which, of course, is another way of saying that you are a great writer.



    • The only acting I’ve done was way back in grade school, but I’ve taught and done a lot of speaking, including in front of a congregation when I was the president. It’s interesting that so many people assume I’m taking about acting, when my thought was teaching (although that was my mom’s dream and she was never unprepared as a teacher.) My nightmare was about not being prepared for a test, something that (thankfully) also never happened. So the overall feeling does come from personal experience. Everyone has their own nightmare about something like this and it’s always a relief to wake up to find it was just a dream!


  18. We all have our frights to face, and stage fright can be one of those. And a recurring nightmare — well described, and I have my own recurring one (about packing and unpacking my suitcase while I miss a plane)…

  19. JKBradley says:

    One of those naked-with-black-socks-on anxiety dreams. Or maybe that’s just me.

    Thanks for sharing!

  20. I hate dreams like that!

  21. Very funny. How awful to be stage struck by stage fright. How brilliant to be rescued by Shakespeare.

  22. claireful says:

    Great idea! I wondered if she was going to be naked in front of them. I wasn’t too sure about ‘Countless eyes stared silently back at me’ – I’m not that eyes can do anything except be silent 😉

  23. Nice anxiety attack. Good thing it was a dream. The mob didn’t seem sympathetic.

  24. draliman says:

    Sounds like the alarm went off just in time! I hate dreams/nightmares like this – they always make me feel “off” for the next few hours.
    Well told 🙂

  25. Scary dream. Is that what Orwell does to you? Take shelter in MacBeth and Hamlet? Clever take on prompt.

  26. rgayer55 says:

    Talk about saved by the bell! Was the nightmare public speaking? I read that people are more afraid of that than they are of death.

  27. yarnspinnerr says:

    That is quite a common dream (IMO) and wiaking up is a relief. You used it very well to craft this one. 🙂

  28. erinleary says:

    I like both endings….and the idea. It was a fun take on the prompt and a very real fear.

  29. vbholmes says:

    .Shakespeare’s the perfect wake-up call. “…To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub.”

  30. I prefer your original line. It details, more clearly and succinctly why you would be having such a nightmare in the first place. The reference to ‘Animal Farm’ may be too vague. While most people can relate to the horrors of fear anticipated at the idea of failing in public performance. Even for college.
    How about a compromise.?
    “…was rescued by the strident alarm, jerked from nightmarish Shakespearean drama of standing unprepared before my senior literature class. Definitely time for some coffee!”

    I enjoyed this. sometimes it’s fun to play with endings. but I did prefer the original. 😉 x

  31. Honie Briggs says:

    I’m with the original ending crowd. It put the fear in perspective. My alarm often becomes a sound in my dreams. Its chime sounds like Corinthian Bells. I can totally relate to this story.

    • Honie, I think we probably have all had a dream, if not exactly like this, very similar, at least in how unprepared and afraid it made us feel. Thanks for the comment.


  32. pattisj says:

    Saved by the alarm! I’m in the “prefer the original” camp. Well written, my knees were starting to knock!

  33. Hi Janet,
    Those dreams of being in an awkward situation, they must mean something important, but what is the interpretation? I think you should have broken into a song and dance number. Nicely performed story. Ron

  34. gingerpoetry says:

    Uff! Good to wake up then! But you hold the suspense up to the end…
    Liebe Grüße

    • Vielen Dank, Carmen. Thanks for visiting and I’m glad you liked the story. Yes, it’s good to wake up after a dream of this sort. Have a great Monday


  35. Dee says:

    Excellent Janet.
    I wondered where you were going and fully appreciated the ending. I have woken many times from a dream that was so real it took a while to realise it hadn’t really happened.

  36. annisik51 says:

    I prefer your original, if I haven’t missed the point. Would Animal Farm be more horrific than Macbeth, for instance? Actually, I rather enjoyed Animal Farm. Now, I’m wondering when I’m going to wake up from my own hideous nightmare. Oh, no! I’ve just been informed that I’m already awake! Death, bring on your sting! Ann