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June 24, 2010



Jack leaned forward, forearms resting on his knees, gaze glued to the floor. “I didn’t mean to.”

“Yes you did.”

Jack snorted and shook his head. Convincing him wouldn’t be easy. He’d see through Jack’s bullshit and demand the truth. Lies were useless.

“It was an accident,” Jack said.

“No it wasn’t.”

Jack flinched as the words slid through his mind. The truth sat lodged in his gut- heavy and toxic.

The truth will set you free. Jack chuckled, or it might just fucking kill you.

“You think this is funny?”

“No.” Jack reached for the Marlboros on the coffee table. “It’s not funny.” Flipping open the lid, he grimaced at the lone cigarette tucked inside with his Bic. He contemplated saving it for later, then tilted the box. The contents slid into his shaking hand. “I could use a drink,” he mumbled against the cigarette pressed between his lips.

“That’s what got you here in the first place.”

Thick smoke filled his lungs, stinging slightly when they reached capacity. He exhaled through his nose and flicked the butt with his thumb, more out of habit than necessity. One more pull and his nerves would be steady. More or less.


Jack nodded.

“Why’d you do it?”

“It was a fucking accident!” Jack rubbed a hand across his forehead, fending off the coming headache. “I didn’t mean to.”

“Bullshit, Jack. You know what happened. The same thing that always happens.”

Jack’s temper flared at the cool confidence of the statement, but he knew he was right. Jack had never been able to lie to him.

Why did you do it?

Squeezing his eyes shut, Jack could still see her there. Cowering in the corner. Tears streaming down her face. Cradling the broken child in her arms.

A sobering image.

He’d fled the room, slamming the door shut behind him. But the muffled sobs had followed him down the hall. He could still hear them now.

Jack concentrated on the next drag from his cigarette, watching the smoke stream from his lips and curl through the air. The truth. He couldn’t bring himself to admit it- not even to himself.

“I have to go.”

“Of course you do. That’s what you do best.”

Jack headed for the door, kicking the coffee table out of his way as he went.

“You can run, Jack, but you can’t run from me.”

He was right. He was always right.

You can’t outrun yourself.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2010 6:12 AM

    Oh, no. I want to say “poor guy,” but really? No. Killer last line.

  2. Ian permalink
    June 25, 2010 6:35 AM

    Zero empathy for this guy. I wish the photo was a mug shot complete with numbers. Nice work.

  3. Jax permalink
    June 25, 2010 6:52 AM

    Nicely done. I love the whole ‘conversation with yourself’ – it’s obvious once you finish the piece, but not until then.

  4. June 25, 2010 6:58 AM

    Nice. A couple of sentences weakened by a superfluous modifier. On the other hand, “broken child” is judiciously understated. Well done.

  5. June 25, 2010 9:51 AM

    Chilling tale. Yup, no sympathy for this guy. You’ve painted his self talk perfectly. Excellent story.

  6. June 25, 2010 5:31 PM

    Excellent dialogue – well done! Another great one here!

  7. June 26, 2010 7:32 AM

    Nicely written – I like it. And the last line sounds like it should be a famous quote 🙂

  8. June 26, 2010 8:06 AM

    Excellent story, Danielle. The conversation with himself was a brilliant way to reveal the tragic death the child. The self-guilt was nicely handled and the photo is perfect–face half lit, half dark.

  9. June 26, 2010 8:12 AM

    Terrific piece, with a potent economy of words.

  10. June 26, 2010 9:56 AM

    The details serve a purpose very well; they really build his personality. Great dialogue, too. Nice piece.

  11. June 26, 2010 10:38 AM

    Powerful story. I can even smell the cigarette.

  12. June 27, 2010 7:51 AM

    Hm, interesting and intense.

  13. June 27, 2010 8:02 AM

    I always feel weird commenting on stories I’ve already read LOL. You know I liked it 🙂 *hugs* Congrats on yet another job well done 🙂

  14. June 27, 2010 12:25 PM

    Good story! Loved how the last line really brought this one into focus.

  15. June 27, 2010 4:57 PM

    Powerful. From my smoking days, I remember the last cigarette in the pack dilemna.

  16. Michelle permalink
    June 30, 2010 5:16 AM

    A killer with an alter ego. Interesting!

  17. June 30, 2010 6:43 AM

    Thank you all for taking the time to read my story this week and comment. I’ve never done such a dialogue heavy story before. Thank you to Ian and Julie for helping me get it just right before posting. And a huge thank you to the unnamed for allowing me to use your photo with such a dark story.

  18. DianeG permalink
    July 1, 2010 5:46 AM

    I wanted to have a bit more sympathy for the villain. The dialogue is very well done – I did twig right away to the fact he was talking to himself.

  19. Misty permalink
    November 18, 2010 12:46 PM

    Well done. I liked “…flicked the butt with his thumb, more out of habit than necessity.”

    I’m pretty sure you don’t smoke, but I love that you captured that. I like little details. 🙂


  1. 7 Flash-Fiction Turn-Ons (and 17 Turn-Offs) | Be the Story

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