23 Mar

Friday arrives, fraught with questions.

This week’s 100 word submission for FridayFictioneers takes its cue from the photo prompt below. Though short, this piece took a lifetime to write.

Find other stories here   Leave comments and a link to yours if you’re one of those who find peace in setting words to paper. There are lots of people out there who understand. Aloha, D.


In anger she had lashed out, “If anyone ever failed to live up to their promise, it’s you.” She’d read not one word of his work so how would she know? Writing had given him peace but that knowledge was never a factor in the calculus of her disdain. Did mastery of bad texting give her the right to judge him? What mystery of love made him still care?

He was weary.

How much can a man give? How much is enough?

The answers were coming.


Harsh outrider of sunrise, the muzzle flash illuminated barren trees in stark white light.

38 Responses to “Answers”

  1. Charles Oyeleke Williams March 23, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Hi Doug,
    All is what a man should give…so that at the dawn of life we may look and see that nothing is left undone. This is a romance genre, unique in al-ways!

    • dmmacilroy March 23, 2012 at 11:30 am #

      Thank you Charles,

      For reading and commenting.



  2. Sandra March 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Wow! Sound like she went too far this time. 🙂 I loved the voice in this, it truly sounded like a man at the end of his tether, a relationship at the outer limits of its resilience. Nice one, Doug, really liked this.

    • dmmacilroy March 23, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

      Dear Sandra,

      So, Madison pulled the trigger and so did I. Thanks for reading and commenting. For the record, I prefer the world of the Unicorns.



      • Susan Wenzel (@SusanWenzel) March 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

        I agree…the unicorn piece read by the light of dawn was a good way to start my morning. Now that I am entering the harsh reality of the day, your piece jolted my mind back into the present and made me think. In a way, I hope he shot her…but I’m afraid he killed himself. When one gives all they have to give…sometimes they, well, give up. The emptiness of his emotion was palpable, Doug.

        ~Susan (here’s mine:

      • The Lime March 27, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

        Oh! Susan’s interpretation is working for me — and I like the juxtaposition of particular stories here. It doesn’t seem like a statement worthy of murder, but I suppose I don’t wish for suicide either. I’m going to believe naively that he’s gone to shoot skeet.

  3. Running from Hell with El March 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Wow. This brought me almost to tears, and I wasn’t expecting it. Hit me like a sledgehammer. And that would have been hard to write I think. Thank you for making me feel.

  4. irenelefort March 23, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    I felt like he was lashing out. I question myself, did she really go too far. He judges her “bad texting” in the very sentence he talks about she judging him. So much inner and out conflict captured in a few sentences. Well done.
    Here is my contribution:

  5. Carol Deminski March 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    Hi Doug, the emotional tone you achieved here is admirable, especially in such a short space. I think it could also be interesting to go back and explore more dialogue between these two characters and deepen our understanding of the conflict.

    On a technical note, “In anger she had lashed out” is okay but you don’t need the “had” – if you said “In anger she lashed out” you achieve something more direct, and I think you gain some momentum.

    I used to use “had” a lot in my writing until I worked with an editor who coached me off it. She removed every since instance of “had” in the story I submitted to her, and just that one editorial stroke of her red pen improved my writing for good. 🙂

    All the best,

    • Carlos Repuesto de la Tabla March 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

      “That” is another one – not in this story – that can often be removed without effect. In fact, I’ve just done it in my story.

      • Carol Deminski March 24, 2012 at 1:09 am #

        Yes, I posted a piece to my blog awhile ago called The That Zapper, about … well, just that.


  6. Joy March 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Doug, this touched me on a very emotional level, as well! Unexpected gifts like this is what I love! Thank you. Plus, I’m going to take the advise on “had”. Interesting.

  7. elmowrites March 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Like others have said, this piece punched well above it’s weight on the emotion stakes, Doug. Nicely done, you can certainly see how the man reaches this point, and a glimpse into what went before.

    I agree that you could pump up the volume by flicking out of the “she had” tense and into the straight past tense (I can never remember tense names I’m afraid), but there’s plenty of power in this anyway. Either way, I think the “how much can a man give?” line should be in the same tense – ie “how much could a man give? how much was enough?”. But what do I know? It just jarred a bit for me.

    I was going to tell you that “What mystery of love made him still care?” was my favourite line, but when I read it a second time, all the other lines seemed just as strong. You are a poet the way you make each word count!

    Enough ramblings, I’m over here

  8. Russell March 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    You wove some great sentences together in this snapshot of conflict. “What mystery of love made his still care?” That one will bounce around in my head all day. Well done.

  9. susielindau March 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    I bet that happens all the time these days. Miscommunication through the keystroke. Muzzle flash brought me to a different era….but it was exacting her vengeance that was the kicker!

  10. janmorrill March 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    “Calculus of her disdain.” Excellent. What makes the story even more poignant and powerful is what you said before. “Though short, this piece took a lifetime to write.”

    Here’s my link:

  11. Lindaura March 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Gee, everyone has said everything and more than enough. First lines are so important and I am certain you thought about your tenses when you wrote “In anger she had lashed out” because it was in the past! And we can see him stewing over it to bring him to the present.
    Pooh. It worked and is fine the way it was.
    This, however, is my favourite line: “Harsh outrider of sunrise, the muzzle flash illuminated barren trees in stark white light.”
    because this incapsulated the prompt and focused the reader’s attention, pronto!
    back in England at

  12. Carlos Repuesto de la Tabla March 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    A man pushed too far… I love your writing, as I hope you know, Doug, and I like what are doing here, the direction you are taking in the writing. I like best the first paragraph with funny and intriguing idea of “bad texting” and the great “calculus” phrase. Though it was the image that presumably began the story, by the time I got to it, I didn’t feel it needed the dramatic ending of gunfire. “He was weary” had a lot of impact in itself. But I repeat, I love your writing.

  13. Gary March 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    A powerful and somewhat depressing tale, well told.

  14. Janet March 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    I’m surprised you mentioned it took you a lifetime to write this story. It didn’t feel that way. It all flowed beautifully together. Very emotional impact too. My favourite line was : Did mastery of bad texting give her the right to judge him?. Beautiful.

    Here’s mine for the week:

  15. WhitneyCarter March 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    “Writing had given him peace but that knowledge was never a factor in the calculus of her disdain.”

    That’s my favorite line! It packs a punch, and it’s poetic too.

  16. justlyd March 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    This delivers such a punch- a lot of words were not at all needed for you to show this glimpse into a much bigger story- and it’s probable ending. Very well done-the last line especially gave a jolt.

  17. Lisa McCourt Hollar March 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    Ouch. I feel his pain. Writing is a very emotional process and to be judged so harshly. The ending left me stunned.

    Here is mine:

  18. teschoenborn March 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    Till death do us part taken to its literal end. Loved the last line.

    Here’s mine:

  19. Caerlynn Nash March 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    What was his promise? What are her expectations? Is he relying on her for his sense of self-worth? Is she relying on him for… well… something… Nice piece leaving, I think, lots of unanswered questions.

  20. siobhanmuir March 23, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    Ah, ever the dilemma of the writer. Family never seems to understand the need to put words into a viewable medium. Sad story, Doug. I hope it doesn’t truly represent you. 🙂

    Here’s mine:


  21. V. L. Gregory-Pohlenz March 23, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    I can only echo the good comments made by others. I especially agree with Lindaura. VERY nicely done–one of my favorites.


  22. Madison Woods March 23, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    I took it literally that this ‘took a lifetime to write’. I wrote a very short poem once (you might remember it) that expressed something very similar to your story, about a string stretching to snapping point…the wonderful sense of release when it finally did.

    Great story Doug.

  23. Kris Kennedy March 23, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    Calculus of disdain…powerful words. Great writing, Doug.

  24. Caely March 23, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    Dear D,

    Firstly, I’d apologize for my poor presence. I haven’t really commented in a while, and even less of joining the Fictioneers. I have truly missed the stories, especially yours.

    Second, I admire your seemingly unique ability to use merely 100 words to enhance each meaning. You’re officially my fave author now 🙂


    [here’s mine: ]

  25. littlewonder2 March 24, 2012 at 4:02 am #

    What an interesting story. Makes me curious for some context. But that last paragraph was great, finally tying in that picture to the story.

    Here’s mine:

  26. Tom Poet March 24, 2012 at 5:00 am #

    This is great writing, Doug. You held me the whole way and surprised me at the end. Great job.

  27. Lora Mitchell March 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    Loved the ‘mystery of love’ line. At first I thought the end of the story was ‘The answers were coming’… then two or three spaces down, my eye caught a new line which knocked my socks off. If these spaces were intentional, wise move because this ending made quite an impact. Wonderful writing as usual Doug. I look forward to your unique stories every week. Here’s mine…

  28. Judee March 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

    Wow, the voice is so true to life in this, and it seems at first to be a writer just expressing his frustrations – but then the ending, unexpected. i guess he found his answer. Just goes to show, one should respect the artistic mind. 😉


  29. parul March 24, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    Hopeless hopeless love!
    “What mystery of love made him still care?”
    What mystery really? Great way to put it…
    Very insightful.

    Here’s my late entry for the week –

  30. bridgesareforburning March 25, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    Hi Doug,
    I read this at least three times before I felt I understood completely what was going on. Good interp on the photo. It does look like a muzzle flash. I think this was one of the tougher prompts to respond to. This story reminded me of the one you wrote about a woman’s love being written on the waves. I may not be quoting that just right. I think it’s amazing you could pull a relationship story out of this week’s photo. Lots of words put together beautifully, but I’ve come to expect that from your stories.
    Here’s mine if you haven’t read it yet. If you have, thanks:

  31. Shannon Pruitt from 'Mynewfavoriteday' March 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Dear Doug,

    You are so talented. I am instantly drawn into your words and I love the line about whether her being a master of texting qualifies her as capable to judge his writing. Just wonderful.

    Thank you for sharing your brilliance with us!


    • dmmacilroy March 27, 2012 at 5:38 am #

      Dear Shannon,

      If you could see inside the cluttered brain case that houses my mind you’d know immediately that I am anything but brilliant. But I try, and comments like yours motivate me to continue to do so.

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I never expect any visitors and when they show up I am left with a smile and the desire to write something else they might enjoy.



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