Microfiction: Followed

This piece of microfiction, inspired by the previous piece for Sue Vincent’s photo prompt, is for Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch—a story of exactly 99 words about a rattling sound.


It was bitterly cold, and the heater in the old van was barely keeping her feet unfrozen. The narrow country lane that wound in a picturesque way in daylight was simply dangerous at night, and trees leaned overhead blocking out even the feeble light of the stars. Two pinpoints of light glittered in the darkness—the headlights of the car she was convinced had been tailing her since she left the main road. She was still miles from anywhere when the sound she dreaded broke through the rattling of the chassis—the knock knock knock of a dying engine.

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.

18 thoughts on “Microfiction: Followed”

      1. I read somewhere that if you take a thought, nasty or a prayer and burn it in a brass bowl…the nasty goes away and the prayer might just be answered. But once you burn the paper – you have physically let go, which is supposed to bring comfort.

      2. That I can understand. Like funerals. Until you’ve been through the ritual of death and ‘putting the person away’ you are in a state of inconsolable anguish. After the ritual, it gets easier.

      3. Though it isn’t so easy when one is a child and the adults don’t tell you anything about the loved one you’ve lost…But yes I can see your point.

      4. I don’t think children and funerals go together. They don’t function like adults and don’t react to ritual the way we do. My children had a spate of funerals when they were little, lost their grandparents one after the other, and they never understood what they were doing in the ground.

      5. I was young when my own mother passed. It seemed that when she died all of her memories did too. No one was willing to talk about her. It is one thing to know a person and then wonder…and there are some wonderful books for children about death…but to be purposefully kept in the dark because of adult ignorance is another thing all together.

        So I do agree that young children need to be spared of the crowd, but not the truth. Children are much smarter that most adults believe. And truth can be doled out appropriately to any age.

        Though I also remember not telling an elder that someone had passed. Since they basically weren’t going to remember who the person who passed was due to dementia.

      6. I didn’t spare my children much because I don’t believe in protecting them from things that are natural, even if they are hard. Death comes to all of us, and grief is natural too. I never pretended that grandma or granddad had just gone on a long trip to the stars or whatever, they knew they had died, and they said goodbye to the bodies. They had some childish questions about how long they were going to be in the ground, that kind of thing, but no traumatism, and a healthy knowledge of what it is like to be very sad, to need support and to give it. To lose a mother young must be very hard and it’s a great shame you didn’t have the kind of farewell where people share memories.

      7. I’m not sure if it was just a generational thing or because there were some hard feeling among the adults – that they clammed up. We learn from every experience. And move forward.

        From the little I do know – I try to take that strength and use it the best way I can. – thank you.

  1. That’s the death rattle of an engine at such a bad time. Gives me chills to read because I’m imagining the worst. Women are vulnerable. Yet, I’ve also broken down on a lonely Montana road in winter, and finally seeing headlights was a relief!

  2. I remember the days with no cell phones, driving in the pitch dark when someone comes behind you. Fortunately, I’ve never had the gut wrenching experience you described so well.

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