#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: Beneath that pious exterior

As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Beneath that pious exterior..

Given by : Paul Ruddock, fellow writer, and blog friend.

A to Z Challenge: B for Beneath the pious exterior..
A to Z Challenge: B for Beneath that pious exterior..

               Give me a sense of your history, she said, weighing the hatchet in her right hand, shifting it to the other, as if trying to decide which was the stronger for the job, the one that would not tremble, make less of a mess. Her head came no higher than my chest, and I’m not a tall man. 

               I don’t have one, I smiled at her, willing her to see reason.

              Beneath that pious exterior, you gotta have something, Father.

              She swung the hatchet now, in slow, lazy, arcs. She wasn’t looking at my face, but below, below my middle. If not for my hands tied behind my back, I would have drawn my cassock closer.

              This year will be a hard winter, may the Lord save us. I drew my legs together on the straw, trying to look as chatty and unthreatening as possible.

               She watched me, like a bird with large yellow eyes, her head swerving, this way and that. She watched me from behind her hair, from behind her torn sleeves when she wiped her face. The air in the barn smelled of her, of blood and meat and wool shavings and steaming dung, of life, too much life, too attached to this earth. Behind the barn, the woods trilled with life, roosting birds calling to their mates, the hiss of breeze caressing leaves, an occasional coyote setting off on its night’s walk with a bark, a drawn-out whinesong.

              I longed to join them.

              I did not hurt anyone. That is one fact I knew about myself, as sure as I was born, as sure as I would die. I was not the one who hurt your brother, I wanted to add, but didn’t. Words had lost their use now, I saw that in those half-hidden, shaded eyes.

             Ah, come now, give me something else. You’ve heard my confessions often enough. Your turn now.

             She swung the hatchet at the pile of firewood, splitting a branch in neat halves. She’d studied more than music and sewing in the last dozen years, but she hadn’t learned much about me, nor about tying knots I couldn’t wriggle out of.


By the time I was done, the hatchet was wiped, and shining once again. Technically I hadn’t hurt either of them. You don’t hurt once you’re dead. I rolled up my cassock. This one would have to go.

              Her bones and pieces of her insides littered the pen, where the Middle Whites, the Large Black and the Large White had begun to work on her, and her clothes. Their large rolling bodies shoving each other, they snouted and snuffled into the bloodied mud.

             Rest well, my child. I eased myself out through the gap in the fence at the back. Excited, high-pitched screams rent the air.


Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? What emotions did this story raise in you?

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet me up @damyantig !


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  1. lynneinpborough

    I rarely read chilling but you wrap it up so beautifully I can’t help but be enthralled. Missed your call for prompts this year. Looking forward to the rest. Brilliant work, but have come to expect nothing less.

  2. dwhinson56

    The darker stories require us to break out of our romantic shell and look closer at the things that gnaw at the edges of our comfort. You did it masterfully. Thank you for showing the way.

  3. Cecilia

    yes to the A to Z blogging, yes to writing fiction, yes to writing to prompts and as for emotions well…hoooo boy. I felt the imagery you built in this piece was very strong for the most part but I would have liked something else in the closing. I had to reread to figure you were talking pigs and wonder if the screaming at the end was the girl or the pigs which would have squealed although I have heard them scream. 🙂 I shall pop back to see more of your flash ficition

  4. Damyanti

    Thank you, everyone, for your really kind comments. I hope to continue the challenge with stories that would engage and entertain. I’m going to visit all of you back in lieu of replying to comments here, as my online time is severely rationed.

  5. Cold Lake Cathy

    Feed ’em to the pigs! That scenario is all to real in Canada, where a pig farmer fed countless women to the animals in his barnyard.

    Very scary, well written-piece. Thanks for writing it!

  6. Chrys Fey

    That was amazing! And I have to agree with what many others have said . . . chilling. I don’t write with prompts because I’m too busy trying to complete all of my novels, but I have come across many interesting prompts. Yes, I am doing the A to Z challenge. And yes, I read and write fiction. 🙂

  7. AuthorJoePerroneJr

    Ooh! I like it. Is this from a completed work? Is it flash fiction? It evoked feelings of Poe. Good stuff, that’s for sure. I write the Matt Davis Mystery Series. And, yes, I have written based upon a prompt. Twice Bitten was inspired by a true-life story I’d read about a pentecostal preacher who forced his wife to put her hands into a box of rattlesnakes.

    • Damyanti

      Thanks, Julie. That’s high praise, coming from you. And yes, I try never to hold anything back, and literally go for the kill each time.

  8. Desiree B

    I loved this! You managed to hold my attention all the way through. At first I thought she was going to hack her own father up until I realized you were talking about a preacher. Very suspenseful and well written. Your ending was killer (no pun intended) too.

  9. Nicole

    Yes I write on prompts often throughout the year. Sometimes they are mere writing exercises while other times, they are done for recreational “meme” type of challenges that are fun. I rarely write fiction and am even less likely to read it but I’ve come across some nice flash fiction pieces on various blogs and I’m considering buying the Divergent books, since I just saw the movie, about a week ago, and LOVED it!

    2014 #atozchallenge Co-Host

  10. yaykisspurr

    Prompts are really hard to me, I have to ponder them for load of time to think of something. That was not what I expected…so totally cool! Cheers 🙂