Microfiction: Nothing

This 98 word story is for Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt.

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria

fatima-fakier-deria-3

It was Mitch’s fiftieth birthday, a quiet celebration, just himself, Mary and the neighbours. The children couldn’t make it, something about traffic problems, congested roads. Too many people getting out of the city for the weekend, he expected. One reason he was glad they’d left. They’d drunk champagne, eaten cake sitting beneath the cedar tree, watching the sunset.

A niggling worry sent Mary inside to check her phone. Nothing. She had always been a worrier. She flipped on the news. Nothing.

“Mitch!” she called from the kitchen.

Nothing. She hurried to the door, peered across the lawn. Nothing.

 

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.

69 thoughts on “Microfiction: Nothing”

  1. Hi Jane,
    I really liked this story, but I only made the connection with the aliens through your note in the comment. I thought the nothing meant there was nothing wrong, but perhaps that’s just me. It’s been a long day and I’m still firing on too many cylinders after a trip to Surry Hills in Sydney and overstimulating myself with too much coffee and photography. I love roaming through the streets there.
    Mine was heading towards alien abduction but took a U-turn.
    I thought you might be interested in an empty chair monument which was set up in Christchurch to honour the lives lost in the earthquake awhile back: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/185_empty_chairs
    xx Rowena

    1. It’s a bit vague, I know. I would have dropped stronger hints but wanted to keep the word count down, so maybe not your hyper-active brain 🙂 Thanks for the link I’ll have a look. I had family in Christchurch and a cousin is still there.

      1. The other problem is you have people living in different countries as well so the words can take on a different nuance, but that’s usually impossible to tackle in 100 words.
        I also have family in Christchurch and we went there on our honeymoon. It’s such a beautiful city but we haven’t been back to NZ since the quake. Lately, I think a quake hit our bank account and I suspect it’s called “kids”.

      2. My aunt and uncle went back straight after the quake because they had friends there, and although my cousin was luckily out of town, she had friends who weren’t.
        One of the silliest myths that go around about kids is that babies are expensive—the prams, buggies, beds, highchairs, changing tables, bottles, house extension, new car etc etc. All that is nothing, you can get it all second hand or do without, but when they get older, that’s when the expenses skyrocket.

      3. That’s what we’re finding too and thanks for putting together for me because I’ve been wondering where the money’s going. One friend of mine said: “there’s no such thing as cheap quality time.” Well, not’s not entirely true. We go to the beach and bushwalking is also free. Yesterday’s trip to Sydney with multiple cafe and food stops cost a bomb I suspect.

      4. I think walking and observing are the best things you can do with kids. Let them spend their pocket money on junk food and shopping when they go out with their friends. What we did. It made them prioritize too. Parents are supposed to guide their children not be their best friends 🙂

      5. I agree. I’ve had a few friends recommend spending time in the car and how that’s a great time to talk and that’s worked well for us. It’s important to be available for them, but also to be able to do our own thing too. Find a balance.

  2. Oooohh… so good. Wonder where Mitch went? Reminds me of a guy I used to work for. When he got married, he told his wife that when he turned 50, the marriage would be over, it would be time for other things. Of course, she didn’t believe him and threw him a surprise birthday party. She got the surprise. He actually did leave her!

      1. I know. And he wasn’t shy to waltz around with the legal students he “took under his wing” after… ugly old coot that he was, they took his tuition money in exchange…

  3. So intriguing, Jane. I wonder if Mitch walked out (as Dale’s old boss) or if something sinister happened. I’m voting for sinister. Perhaps the spirits of the tree took him. Well constructed tale

    1. My very vague hints along the Orson Welles War of the Worlds broadcast weren’t strong enough—I meant everyone to have been whisked away by aliens. Of course, you have to do a lot of reading between the lines 🙂

  4. For a minute I thought you’d echo’ed Sandra’s story, but then I realized you’d left breadcrumbs leading to something else–maybe an alien invasion? Good story.

    1. I’m sorry, Penny. It doesn’t have to be aliens, just something that disappears everything, the children, the city people, Mitch and the neighbours, then, I suppose, the worrier.

  5. I read the story the same way as Bjorn, that it was her birthday and she was alone. [Perhaps that is because of the resent stories about dementia]. But reading your feedback I got it.

    1. I am put in my place by all the interpretations of this small story! My idea was much more banal, simply that the world, starting with the inexplicable rush of people from the city, her children, then Mitch and the neighbours, was gradually being sucked up into nothingness by something (or nothing maybe). Not nearly so deep as your very good explanation 🙂

  6. Amazing how nothingness inspires such sinister feelings in us. If the aliens took him I hope they make sure to continue the birthday celebrations too. Nice story, Jane and well crafted.

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