“No!” Izzy screamed, running to hide behind Rebecca’s legs. Rebecca ruffled her daughter’s hair as her great-uncle, Otto, continued to demand a kiss.

“Leave my daughter alone!” Rebecca growled.

“Brat!” Otto spat as he left the room.  Rebecca scooped Izzy into her arms, nearly knocked over by a long-forgotten memory.  Another uncle, another family gathering, another girl.

Give your uncle a hug!

She felt his wet lips against her cheek, his hands hidden from view. Her stomach flipped, her anger turning to sorrow.

“I don’t like kisses,” Izzy tearfully whispered into her hair.

Neither do I.






The library was closed.  She locked the doors, shut down the front desk, put away the last of the books that were left behind on the tables.  When the work was done, she pulled her own book from her bag and curled up on the couch by the windows, reading by the waning light of the late afternoon sun.  She heard her phone buzz again in her purse, but ignored it.  Was that the tenth missed call?  The eleventh?

She read until it was too dark to make out the words on the page.  That’s when she saw headlights in the parking lot, heard the angry, urgent pounding against the front door.  She closed the book, pulling up the collar on her shirt for the 100th time that day to conceal the blue-black finger marks on her neck.  She fumbled in the dark for her phone and with trembling hands, for the first time, she dialed 911.  He’d invaded her last safe haven.

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers


Photo – Kent Bonham

The children were afraid.  The wind howled outside and knocked against their front door like a fearsome stranger trying to break it down.  It was one of those nights where Mom would stay gone for hours and hours on end, sometimes not returning until the morning, rumpled and wild-eyed, stumbling to her bed.    They huddled together as the girl reached behind her headboard for the book.  She spread it open across both their narrow laps.  Looking at each other, they smiled as the light from the book illuminated their tiny faces.  They blinked, then disappeared.

For Friday Fictioneers

Thursday Thriller – Locked


Read Part 1 – Awakening

Read Part 2 – Perfect

Read Part 3 – Elly

“Are you going to talk to me?”  Grace asked, sitting on the floor across from her mother.  Zadie stared at the wall, her lips a thin line, her eyes blank.

“What do you want me to say,” Zadie asked, finally, her tone defeated.

“I want to know why.  Why did you let dad – Robert – lock me away?  Why you let him hurt me?”

Zadie sat upright, drew her legs to her chest and looked out the tiny basement window.  She stayed silent.

“Did he really hurt you too?  When I heard you told the police that, I didn’t believe you.  I talked to Noah…”

Zadie looked back at Grace at the mention of her son’s name.  She hadn’t spoken to him in so long.  She lied to friends and family, said that Noah needed time, that he was too raw after everything he’d witnessed in their home.  How could she tell people her son hated her?  What would they think of her?

“…and he said he never saw or heard Robert mistreat you.  He doesn’t believe you.  But if he hurt you mom, if he really hurt you, if he was just really good at hiding it…” Grace slid from her chair and knelt in front of her mother, putting her hand on her knee. “…tell me the truth.  I’ll believe you.  I’ll help you.  Just look me in the eyes and tell me the truth.”

Zadie’s dark eyes met her daughter’s.  “Robert never hurt me,” she said coldly.

Grace sighed and moved away from her mother, sitting back against the wall.  “Then why?  Why did you let him just…”

“It wasn’t his idea…to lock you away…” she whispered.

Grace stood slowly, her eyes widening.  “What did you just say?”

“It wasn’t his idea,” Zadie repeated.  “From the time you were a very little girl, your father…he…looked at you….the look in his eyes…he loved you so much…”

“More than you, you mean,” Grace whispered, but Zadie continued without reacting, as though in a trance.

“…and then when he started sneaking around…going to your room at night…I just…I couldn’t stand the sight of you any longer.  When we moved cross country I asked Robert to…keep you hidden…I’m so sorry…”

Grace couldn’t listen any more.  She rose from the couch and ran out of the room, slamming the basement door and swiftly locking it behind her.  Zadie screamed behind the door, begging her not to leave her down there again, but it was just noise. Upstairs, Grace grabbed Elly and pulled her into her arms. She smelled sweet, like maple syrup and chocolate.  She carried her out the front door, her head resting on her shoulder.  Noah was waiting, his car idling at the corner, ready to transport them all to a new life.  They’d never go back to that house.