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

Thursday Thriller – Peace


“I’m fine!  I don’t want any of your help!” Julie knocked over a glass of wine on the coffee table as she sprung to her feet, nostrils flared.

“Julie, we care about you.  We’re just concerned,” her sister, Heather, implored, extending an arm that Julie quickly shrugged away.

“Let us help.”  Her brother, Tate, stood next to the front door, trying to block her path.  His eyes searched hers for the sister he once knew.  She looked away, pushing past him.

“Please don’t contact me again.  Just. Leave. Me. ALONE!”

When she got home, he was waiting.  The guy everyone warned her about.

“Where were you?” He approached her in a slow, deliberate way that made her shiver.

“My family…they…they…called me…”  She backed away, farther and farther until she was pressed against the wall.

“You really expect me to believe that you were with your family this entire time?”  He never raised his voice, but each word filled Julie with an urgent, desperate terror.

She couldn’t respond with words.  She nodded frantically, swiping at the tears racing down her cheeks.  He was standing right in front of her now, so close that she could see the drops of perspiration forming at his temples.  She focused on his eyes, searching them for the man she loved, as his hands closed around her throat.  His shoulders released as she slid to the floor.

He left her there, in the peace of her dark, quiet apartment.  The phone never rang. She had no visitors.  She’d been left alone.



Her children no longer spoke to her.  She hated to admit it, but sometimes she preferred it that way.  She couldn’t bear looking into their pained, soulless eyes.

She’d suffered too.  She’d endured broken ribs, countless black eyes, busted lips and bloody noses.  She knew the sound of his broad fist barreling into her flesh so well.  Her children did too.

Her bag was light.  There wasn’t much from this place she wanted to keep.  She would drive across the country, show up on her daughter’s doorstep and beg her forgiveness, hoping she would let her in.


The Moral Mondays prompt this week is Better Late Than Never



I throw a handful of breadcrumbs from the bridge to the duck pond below.  The park is so beautiful at night.  Just me and the stars, the pond, the ducks, the wind, the moon, and the trees.

“Park’s closing, ma’am.  You need to leave,” says a voice to my right.  A bright flashlight shines in my eyes.  I turn to face him and he shrinks back in horror.  I wonder what my face looks like to him bathed in that harsh light.  For a little while I’d forgotten.  What I must look like to other people.

“I’m sorry…I…” he sputters.

“It’s okay.”

“What happened?  If you don’t mind my asking.”

I turn to face the pond again.  “An ex-boyfriend and a container of bleach.”  I don’t feel like telling the whole story.  Living it was enough.

“I’m sorry,” he says for the second time.

I nod.

“The park is closing, so…”

“Five more minutes?  It’s so beautiful.”

He looks at me again, without cringing this time, and I think he understands.

“Five more minutes,” he says, turning off his flashlight.

I give him a small smile and look up at the moon.

For Sunday Photo Fiction 


Thursday Thriller – Soup’s On


The first thing I notice is the smell.  It is foreign, pungent, overwhelming, demanding to be noticed.   I can even smell it outside as I knock, waiting for her to answer.  She opens the door with a bright smile, which surprises me.  I am here to help her escape.  I have 9-1 dialed on my cell phone.  I have mace in my pocket.  I have a suitcase ready to be hastily filled.  Newly purchased toiletries sit in plastic bags in my car.

The heat is sweltering as I enter.  It’s clear that she is alone.  Her husband’s absence, a constant hulking, shadowy presence in this house on all of my past visits, is powerfully noticeable.  She tells me we don’t have to rush, which surprises me, considering the long blue-black bruise that mars her beautiful face.  She is in the middle of cleaning, she tells me, and that’s when I notice the undertone of bleach in the smell that permeates the entire home.  She adds that she is also cooking, indicating the source of the smell, the huge boiler on the stove, its metal lid rattling.

And I wonder what’s in the pot.

True Love


“Do you think he followed us?”

“He didn’t.”

She touched the side of her face, still blue-black and tender from her husband’s last drunken tirade.  I turned the car onto the highway, the road that would lead us to a new life.

“But he had a tracker in my car.  Maybe he put one in yours too.  Or in your phone.”

“He didn’t.”  I put my hand on hers.  “Trust me.  We’re safe.”  I quickly moved my hand away so she wouldn’t see the speck of dried blood on my sleeve.  I was certain no one was following us.

Inspired by the Flash! Friday prompt