Friday Fictioneers–Holidays

Posted: January 14, 2015 in Friday Fictioneers
Tags: , , , ,

The weekly gathering of the Fictioneers has commenced. Bring out the halt, the lame, the blind, the murderers and aliens, vampires and vamps. Look carefully and you might see a human or two. Take them all, stir thoroughly, add a dollop of disbelief, a soupçon of silliness. Dip a spoon into the resulting slumgullion: each 100-word recipe meticulously prepared, marvelously rendered, tasty to the tongue. Your personal recipe is solicited or feel free to simply feast and go away replete; perhaps not always uplifted, but with your brain stimulated.


copyright Jan Wayne Fields

(To avoid any more confusion, please ignore the fact that the person in the photo is male and just read the story.  Thanks.)


Holidays were the hardest.

“Daddy, can we go along?”
“OK, you come with me. We’ll let Mom stay home and relax for a bit.”

One drunk driver was all it took…a driver who walked away.

The doorbell rang. Marty, spiraling slowly into dementia, and his daughter (his caretaker), would fill John’s and Emily’s places. On their heels came Annalisa, her ninety-five year old body still obeying her indomitable will, sitting where Gregory’s high chair used to be. Deshuan and his IED-bequeathed artificial legs sat in Jenny’s chair. George’s Down Syndrome face beamed from “Daddy’s” spot.

I sat.

Holy days.

  1. Reality. Life is not a ‘happy’ thing sometimes but it is real.

  2. Holidays.. yes not always easy.. especially for a teen (it sounds very much like the voice of adolescence). Memories of what is lost paired with a feeling that you are the only normal mind. Really vivid, but as you say not always uplifting.

  3. Sandra says:

    I had to read it a couple of times, and then the comments to be sure I’d understood. I think it’s because up to the final paragraph I assumed the narrator was the father. It’s a terrifically charitable idea, what she’s doing, but I think it’s only exacerbating her sense of loss. Well done, Janet.

    • I felt that she was filling her home with those missing love at the holiday times and that the giving filled the empty spaces, both literal and figurative. I’ll have to see if I can edit it to make it clearer who’s talking.


    • I changed the first two italicized lines to try to make it clearer. If you have a chance, let me know if it works.

  4. Janet-lovely story of kindness after loss. “IED-bequeathed artificial leg” precisely put – well done.

    I, too, felt that it was the dad preparing the meal, inviting the guests. I think one gets lost in the multiple names, not knowing how many family members were lost. .

    • Hmmm, I thought saying that Mom stayed home would be clear enough, just as I thought that putting names to the seats the others filled would reveal the family members who died. Guess not! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the story anyway. Funny how sometimes what seems so clear to an author isn’t perceived that way by the reader. Thanks for the feedback.


  5. Honie Briggs says:

    “I sat.” Those two words pulled the whole sad tale together. I had to take a deep breath. Nice work.

  6. storydivamg says:

    To me, this is a beautiful tale of redemption. Tragedy is the one “given” in life. We triumph when we find a way to share, even celebrate, with others. Well done.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

    • Thanks, Marie. How we react to situations is so important and I think that acting in a loving way, even when you don’t always feel loving, is the start of change and the beginning of living again.


  7. What a strength of character, not to drown in self pity, but to reach out. Lovely.

  8. Helena Hann-Basquiat says:

    At first, I confess, I didn’t think too much of this story — it had a laundry list quality to it — especially that middle paragraph. Then I re-read it, and it felt right — that’s what the mind does sometimes — ticks off things, lists all those worries, burdens, annoyances when we’ve too much time to think.
    Well done.

    • Thanks for taking the time to look at it again, Helena. I think when we’re snowed under and at the bottom, enumerating good things or just taking one thing at a time, one after the other, is all we’re capable of doing. This reminded her of her family, but also of those taking their places, albeit for a short while.


  9. Lovely premise and writing in this. It took me a few reads to work it out. I think the tangle comes because we assume it is from the father’s point of view (possibly this is because of the picture, rather than your writing), but then your line – …and he walked away – I thought you meant the father, or that you might have, and so it was hard to work out that it was all from the mother’s point of view.

    • By going back and attaching the “he walked away” to the information about the drunk driver, I thought that confusion would be cleared. I’m going to try one other edit on that same line and see if it works better. The picture I can’t do much about. 🙂


    • OK, I took out one “Daddy” and used “a driver who walked away.” Hopefully that clears up any confusion. Thanks for the feedback.

  10. I love flash fiction…especially when it delivers a punch in the gut like this one does. It makes me think of so many people who are left behind, whose lives are suddenly turned upside-down. Well done.

    • I appreciate that, Victoria. I hope I can never do more than imagine something as horrible as losing your entire family at once, but I hope I’d be able to reach out to others eventually if that happened.


  11. high five and raspberries says:

    Raw and painful to read. I wonder how many holidays have been permanently damaged by the arrogance of drunk drivers. I am glad she invited the motley crew

  12. Dear Janet,

    It took a couple of reads and reading comments to completely understand. What a lovely way to find healing. Holidays. Holy days. Love that.



  13. plaridel says:

    good grief, looks more like helliday to me.

  14. plaridel says:

    finally got it. may god bless her.

  15. I think I should have got it first time reading, but I’m slow today. It’s actually a clever observation on how she copes on these days when other families are getting together. The hit-and-run element certainly added to the story.

  16. draliman says:

    I’m glad that she’s found people to fill the void left by her family.

  17. BrainRants says:

    The scene is somewhat confusing, but the grief comes through well, as does the regret and remorse.

    • I’m finding it interesting that it’s confusing to some and crystal clear to others. 🙂 It’s simply the story of a woman whose family was killed by a drunk driver and at holidays invites people with no family or with problems to share the holiday with her, to fill the empty seats. So hopefully love came through as well.


  18. Caerlynn Nash says:

    I have to admit that I was somewhat confused upon first read. Then after reading the comments, it all makes sense and makes a wonderful story. It’s good that you made us think :-).

    • Glad you figured it out Caerlynn. The problem is that once an author has written something, it’s impossible to see it from a fresh POV and it all seems perfectly clear and logical. 🙂


      • Caerlynn Nash says:

        Perfectly understandable. I’ve done it too. A story made perfect sense to me, but by the comments I received, it was clear that I wasn’t clear.

  19. I knew a woman who hosted Sunday dinner for all the college kids in the church. After attending several times – a lovely afternoon with no shortage of delicious food and wonderful company – I learned she’d begun this weekly tradition after her husband left her a single mother of three boys. Your story reminded me of her, and I loved how “holidays” became “holy days,” for there is indeed something holy in opening one’s wounded heart to others. Well done, Janet!

  20. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Janet,

    This story is rife with pain and loss yet is carried to our hearts by the love and acceptance and empathy of your main character. I cannot imagine what such loss would be like to endure. Perhaps this is what drives men to be monks or hermits. A lovely tale for the holy days. Thank you.



    • Doug, I would pray no one ever has to face such a thing but it happens all too often, whether from a drunk driver, terrorism, fire or even an accident. There are other types of loss as well but it seems to me that the reaching out to give what love you can is the beginning of healing and being able to receive love and gratitude in return is a part of that.


  21. Janet, I think the confusion for some may be due to the use of inverted commas indicating dialogue when in reality it is the mum thinking the last words she heard of her family. Perhaps a way around this is to remove the dialogue markers. Perhaps also put this before anything and then say Holidays were the hardest with it then linking on to the drunk driver.
    I think it is a lovely story showing her sadness, and loneliness but filling the void left with people who would otherwise also be abandoned on holy days, family days.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Irene. The italics were an indication that that section was set apart from the rest of the story, but I think the quotation marks need to stay, as that parts are what people actually said. That might just be me being anal about punctuation, though. 🙂 I’m glad, no matter how it was written, that you enjoyed the story and recognize the courage and love it took for this woman to reach out to others while she was hurting so much.


  22. Margaret says:

    I love your descriptions of the dinner guests. Each one is personalised, and it’s clear that the bereaved mother has turned her loss and tragedy into something wonderful for those guests. Your opening line shows that this is not an easy thing for her to do. Beautiful.

    • Margaret, thanks for commenting on the description of the dinner guests. It’s a bit like “the halt, the lame, and the blind” from the Bible passage. I think that no matter our problems, even enormous ones, there’s always someone worse off in some way and perhaps that brings us just a bit of solace and the ability to look, however briefly and however difficult, past us to them.


  23. It’s a tragic story, but I guess the mother turned it around as best she could by accepting new friends (so to speak) into her home. Wonderful take on the prompt!

  24. Janet, it took a couple of readings to get it; at first I thought these were other family members taking the place of her immediate family. But she is trying to ease her pain by helping others who have felt similar pain. Very sad yet lovely sentiment.

  25. erinleary says:

    Sad tableau, sad story. I feel for her.

  26. Amy Reese says:

    One accident sets in motion a whole new existence. Sometimes holidays are the hardest days. Nice one, Janet!

    • Glad you liked it, Amy. I know holidays are difficult for those who have either lost loved ones or don’t have them at home. I think focusing on others who may be even worse off can help and heal.

  27. Nan Falkner says:

    Dear Janet, Well written story and I’ve been hit by a drunk driver, my son has been hit by a drunk driver and we’ve lost two nephews to drunk drivers. Such a sad tale, but the drunk driver often walks away. Good job! Nan 🙂

  28. Sarah Ann says:

    Such pain and loss. I understand why the mother invites all her guests, but I get the feeling this is a habit she wished she hadn’t begun. So sad.

  29. Lovely story Janet, full of heartwarming giving with love. By the time I’m reading this it’s perfectly clear what has happened. Well done. 🙂 — Suzanne

  30. AnnIsikArts says:

    Hi Janet. I interpreted your story to mean that the drunk driver left behind a family with lots of age and health problems. Then I read what you meant to convey. Either way is workable. And there’s an overarching theme of ’cause and effect’. Everything we do impacts. It’s never neutral. Thoughtful and thought-provoking story. 🙂

  31. A powerfully written piece about loss and grief. The dynamics of this story really drive home the idea of all the changes and pain of losing someone we love. Really beautiful.

    An aside, I have been calling you Louise, but noticed that someone here called you Janet. What’s your name? I just want to make sure I have it right. 😉

    • Dawn, I’m the same Janet/janet as always through these several years of FF and the same one on FB. I can’t imagine losing one family member, let alone all of them, but I pray I would react with the same grace as this woman is showing, despite her pain.


  32. Dee says:

    It took me a couple of reads before I understood. The poor woman, how terribly sad to suffer so much pain and yet find solace in the pain and suffering of others. A very powerful tale Janet, well done.