Two boys whisper by the faint glow of a night-light. A clock shows quarter to midnight.

“I can’t sleep.” 

“Me neither. I hear them again.” They lie flat and put their ears to a dusty air vent.

A scream.“GET OUT!” Then silence. Light footsteps on the stairs. The boys scramble back into bed, trembling.

The door creaks open, then quietly closes.

Morning, they dress quickly and go downstairs.

“I’ve made your favourite – waffles.” She smiles weakly, and tears streak down her face.

“Mom… is Dad…” She nods, they rush over and all three tumble to the floor sobbing.

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8 months ago

A sensitive treatment of a difficult subject. This is an excellent example of flash fiction that focuses on a very short period of time. A frightening midnight, and the morning after which is encapsulated in the phrase “all three tumble to the floor sobbing”. As we’ve mentioned with other finalist stories, the title is a vital part of the story and adds even more depth.

Thompson Emate
Thompson Emate(@thompson-emate)
9 months ago

Oh! Preston, well done. It’s a very touching story. I had to force back my tears. This is one of the best I have read on this prompt. What happened to him? Did he get angry and leave home?

Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
9 months ago

They say it’s always the kids that suffer. I admire the parents that can put their feelings aside and their children first. I was wondering if it was the dad or the mum that opened and shut the bedroom door. I like to think it was the dad before he left but, as the footsteps were light, it was probably the mum. I’m imagining he said or did something that she couldn’t… Read more »

Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
9 months ago

This story made me question what was happening. Then I realised that it was not death that made the family sob, but the father’s departure.

Allan Neil
Allan Neil(@allan-neil)
9 months ago

I love the title. People getting hurt that least deserve it. Very touching finale too.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
9 months ago

It is a very emotional read, Preston. It is really painful for children to be abandoned by their father or mother. The relevance of the title is beautiful. I love it, Preston. Well done.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Preston Randall
9 months ago

You’re always welcome.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
9 months ago

This story is powerful in its understated and concentrated form, Preston. As you say, the main importance of the story is the reaction of the family and the effects the night’s occurrence have on them. You leave it open to visualize a lot of possibilities. Very nice!

Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse(@marianna-pieterse)
9 months ago

Preston, I read your comment about whether they cried because they were sad or because they were relieved, but maybe it was a bit of both? It could be that they were sad that they were not enough to fight for and also relieved for the same reason? This was so well-described, the way the children were quietly listening, the way the Mom made them their favourite breakfast, maybe to try and… Read more »

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