Friday Fictioneers

Every Friday authors from around the world gather to share their 100-word stories sparked from a photograph chosen by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Readers are encouraged to comment.

1 November 2013




My mother’s Japanese childhood was handed down to me in stories:
the giant camphor with secret footholds
mauve water lilies flowering all summer in a pond in the courtyard
the jumble of koi slip-sliding under the surface like a pool of autumn.

‘They ate from my fingers,’ my mother would tell me, and she’d pinch at my hand in nibbles.

Now, the koi are nibbling inside her. I sit by her hospital bed stoking her hand while the white carp go free radical racing through streams red with blood and the yellow ones pool under her needle-pricked skin.

25 October 2013

The Keyboard

‘Didn’t work,’ he says.

His eyes will be squeezed shut behind his hands. At 16 he still believes in out of sight, out of mind. God! And he’s supposed to be a bloody savant. I want to grab his curls and shake his brains out.

‘It worked,’ I yell. ‘YOU don’t know how to bloody play.’

He crouches beside my broken keyboard, his arms over his head, head jammed into his knees. As if he’s scared I’ll hit him. As if I’ve ever hit him. Now comes the whimpering.

I touch his shaking back.

‘I’ll fix it,’ I say, although I can’t.


30 Responses to Friday Fictioneers

  1. Sandra says:

    This was such a graphic and moving account of the teenager’s reaction to what he’s done. I could just imagine the pose and it almost brought tears to my eyes. Well done.

  2. claireful says:

    I loved the arc of emotion you managed to convey – anger, irritation, forgiveness – all in 100 words. And I recognise this scenario so well from my own children who don’t have autism (I’m assuming this 16 year old has something like that) – but my frustration when something they’ve tried to do goes wrong, something breaks, I feel a surge of anger and then in an instant it’s gone. Beautifully portrayed in your piece.

  3. You are absolutely right – I wanted to show the boy had autism without directly telling it. It was so exciting to read your comments. Thank you.

  4. Karen, that was a wonderful portrayal of a terrible situation. We have friends who have an autistic son and it’s heart-breaking.


    • Thanks for the kind words, Janet. My friend’s son also has autism. At times it’s heart-breaking, but it’s also enriching and heart-warming.

      • The problem for our friends, who are Indian, is that their son hits and he’s bigger than his mom and can hit her and could hurt her. They can also never go back to India, which they would like to do someday, because they said he wouldn’t be accepted there (provided they could even get him back on the plane!) It’s very sad.

      • That would be extremely hard for them. I hope they have lots of support. They need it.

  5. Painfully good.
    Loved it.

  6. Maree says:

    Great story with strong emotion and vulnerability. The last sentence is powerful. It speaks of so much more than just the keyboard. Love it.

  7. Dear Karen,

    If I’m not mistaken, this is your first foray into Friday Fictioneers. If so, please, don’t make it your last. So much said in your beautifully layered 100 words. Bravo!



  8. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Karen,

    The Keyboard was outstanding. I am sitting here shaking because of your perfectly written story. So very much expressed and regretted. Her pain and frustration, his fear in his isolated world. This is what writing is all about. Move my emotions. Play me like the keyboard. Encore, please.



  9. I’m amazed that you’ve come up with something so powerful in so few words.

  10. The word limit is certainly a challenge. Thanks so much for your feedback.

  11. You captured everything in that dialogue (something I find the most diffucult to write).. and of course I’m always happy to see new people on FF

    • Thanks for the welcome. Someone once told me that the key to dialogue is that every word must mean more than one thing, otherwise delete it. I found that really helpful, even if I can’t always do it.

  12. I could clearly see this all play out. Wonderful descriptions.

  13. kz says:

    you wrote it in such a way that the scene played out so clearly in my head. you said a lot about their relationship and everyday suffering in just 100 words. great story 🙂

  14. JackieP says:

    Very touching story. Really well done. Welcome to Friday Fictioneers. Such a grand beginning!

  15. Karen, this is exquisite; I love it! The tenderness, the narrator’s anxiety, the boys frustration, all are so palpable. I had fun writing mine, but yours is whole other level… just fantastic.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I usually write much longer pieces, but this length forces you to justify every word. But that’s my idea of fun, too.

      • I love the challenge. I find that getting these to 100 words has been really helpful with my regular blog posts. I am much more mindful about my words and word count now. And I really look forward to this each week…I’ve had so much fun writing the stories… even if this week got me in all kinds of muck, over the color green! 😉

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