Microfiction: News

This short story is in response to Ronovan’s weekly Friday Fiction prompt:

You’ve just been handed a message that makes you drop to the floor, trembling uncontrollably.

Franz_Skarbina_Die_Briefleserin

She had seriously considered boarding up the letterbox, nailing the damn flap closed. Nobody sent letters any more, only people after money. Since J. had walked out taking the cat, the car and the jewellery his mother had given her as a wedding present, she had drawn in her horns, speaking to nobody, dreading the ring tone of the telephone, the doorbell, car doors slamming in the street outside. Even the night chattered and hummed with incessant mocking noise. She pulled the sheet over her head, but it made no difference. He laughed, wherever he was. The neighbours laughed. Her co-workers laughed. The whole world belly-laughed itself sick over her stupidity. She sobbed into her pillow, took a tablet and shut out the mocking voices in an intermittent dull sleep.

Life became a disjointed sequence of light and dark, day noise and night noise. She gave up calling in to work, never went to the doctor’s appointments. Nothing that came out of the phone or through the letterbox had any weight in her existence. Nothing until the envelope flopped through the flap onto the floor. It was a plain white envelope, handwritten, with a stamp. She stared at it lying like an incubus, white and ghostly, a phantom from another time when communication meant letters. She pushed it with her foot, as if expecting it to give a sign of life. It didn’t. It lay there, silent and menacing, daring her to approach.

The letter didn’t go away, so she picked it up and with a decisive movement tore open the envelope. It was hand-written.

You don’t know me, the letter said.

She read on, a sense of oppression settling in the pit of her stomach.

I got your address from the agency.

The words blurred and she didn’t want to go on.

You don’t answer the phone or reply to emails, the letter went on, so I’m writing. I’m coming to see you.

She resisted the temptation to screw the paper into a ball.

I’ll keep on coming round until you see me.

The threat made her feel faint.

I have to know why you did it.

She knew what was coming next, knew but couldn’t stop it. Maybe if she stopped reading it wouldn’t happen? She knew she was kidding herself.

I have to know why a mother would abandon her baby.

The floor rushed up to meet her and the world went black.

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Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

39 thoughts on “Microfiction: News”

  1. I loved this. You manage to distract the reader with so much about him leaving that I was entirely winded at the contents of the stark white envelope. Chapeau Madame …. A winner indeed 🙂

      1. It requires an effort, and then there’s the waiting for it to arrive. An even longer wait for a reply. We want instant gratification these days, so we can pass onto something else.

      2. The majority do but I have to say I resist and having had an interesting conversation with my physician about root causes of anxiety I feel justified and a teeny bit smug 🙂

      3. I got so anxious. My hair dropped out I was so anxious – 2/3 of it. I went to the doctor and I now have a regime. I don’t always get it right and not everyone is as neurotic as me but it works …. what he said was as the mid-aged daughter I have my children one way, my mother the other and m y friends at broadsides – that includes virtual friends. Which is why you will sometimes get un retard and sometime immediacy 🙂

      4. I can see how that could happen. If I’m anxious, and I am a worrier, it maybe comes from just the opposite reason—being adrift. Parents died young, my siblings are all over the place and I very rarely see any of them, children are so unlike anything that resembles me, and friends are nearly all virtual, it’s like floating without an anchor. Can be scary sometimes. Never had my hair drop out though 😦

        Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2016 22:02:24 +0000 To: jane.dougherty@dbmail.com

      5. Interesting. Being adrift rings strong bells …. I’ve referred to it as rootlessness in the past. I, the child still have my mother and I, the mother have children I raised on my own. Meeting my husband, finding that love and anchorage in my 50s sounds like a fairy tale ending but in fact my Aging P is a concern and the piglets are all scattered and I worry about them all. Like you my friends are virtually all virtual what is perhaps a difference is my inability to not respond instantly. My hair is thickening up now and I am trying to be more disciplined. I need that metronome in my study ….

      6. We’re never in the clear. But I wonder if it isn’t better to be constantly worried about things than to be utterly complacent.
        A metronome really would drive me insane. It would trigger terrifying childhood memories of a sadistic piano teacher…

      7. Oh I’m sure it’s better. I can’t imagine being complacent but I do see it in others – that apathy that pervades a spirit and dulls it down. I did not have a sadistic piano player. Other sadists but not on the piano 🙂

      8. There’s nothing worse that a sadistic piano teacher. The kind of complacency I most despise is what I see in the rich middle aged cruisers, dressed in their finery who are ferried by coach from their cruise ship to the market to slum it. They even park the coach outside the Samu Social, would you believe?

      9. I would believe it and if you want to don balaclavas and black clothes and put the fear of whatever they believe in them – I’m up for it!

    1. Weird. It was about the only thing I could think of. I started this story a couple of days ago and stopped at the point where the letter arrives because I couldn’t for the life of me think of why anyone would write a letter rather than phone or send an email.

      Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2016 18:53:48 +0000 To: jane.dougherty@dbmail.com

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