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#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: Lately he’d been feeling

As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’m posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Lately he’d been feeling…

Provided by: Anna Tan, friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

A to Z Challenge: L for Lately he'd been feeling         Saturday nights like this, Don returned early, and tried not to get wasted. Martha didn’t like it.

          But today they’d filled his glass each time he’d drained it, and he could smell whiskey everywhere, on his sofa, his clothes, even his socks and shoes as he tugged them off. He felt, warm, fuzzy on the outside, but the booze hadn’t dulled the shrapnel of pain caught in his chest.

         Not that he wanted to talk about it, but lately, he’d been feeling like a dinosaur at a fun fair– on display, paint chipped in places, no choice but to stay put.

          He’d tried quitting, but not very hard, because that might get him iced. In the last few months, on a job, when taking the stairs, he’d catch his breath after each flight. His hands didn’t hold steady on the boom stick no more.

         Slim, Nugs and Toddy eyeballed him every fucking minute, waiting for him to slip from his rung, so they could step up. He didn’t blame them. At twenty he thought the old papi running him a dick wad, who needed topping off.

            If he hadn’t fallen for Martha, taken the slow road because of her, they’d have made him the boss by now, his own plush office, what rum or whisky he wanted, two gun-toting fellas tagging him everywhere. Instead, here he sat, in his underwear, petting the boom stick by the bed. The steel barrel felt cold in his hands, but it remained his only friend, the one thing he could trust.

           The Mac Balla had taken Martha, popped her off at church, and he had to get the slick who’d done it. Each Sunday he was in town, he’d met her at the mass, for the last fifteen years. She wouldn’t marry him, she said, till he changed his ways.

          Now she was gone, leaving the ghost of a bullet hole in his chest. It was covered with skin on the outside, and full of fucking veins on the inside, gushing blood. Don unscrewed the bottle by the bed, tossed the drink down his throat. He willed it to find this bloody spot where Martha had been inside of him, pour whiskey on it, or burn it with hot iron, so the pain would come once, hard, and then be gone.

                 He heard the latch on his back door turn. One of the boys come to do him in, after drowning him in drink? The Mac Balla? He took the boom stick in his shaking hands and pointed it at his chin. He won’t let someone else’s bullet take him. He pushed the cold ring of steel in the jowl under his chin, felt his flesh spill around it.

                 Martha’s scent filled him, the smell of her hair when she washed herself after they’d ‘lived in sin’ each Sunday night. He listened for the next footfall, the whisper of cloth against curtains, the cocking of a pistol.

                He waited. He would find Martha, one way or the other.


Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? How would you connect today’s prompt and picture?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • I felt his deep pain… and desperation to be with Martha… in any way he could… 🙂

  • Luna says:

    Just brilliant! Loved it.

  • Peter Nena says:

    Another exquisite work from the mistress of flash fiction herself.

  • sdneeve1 says:

    A heart-ripping portrayal of losing someone special. Written with exceptional style. 🙂

  • afshan18 says:

    This tale gripped me till the end Damayanti !
    Wonderfully narrated. Sad that he had to end his life ….

  • Susan Scott says:

    I’m glad I’m reading this in the bright light of day and not at night. My heart is thumping. Fast paced and exciting filled with dread. Thanks Damyanti!
    Garden of Eden Blog

  • A very well written tale. Love the way you have handled the descriptions and captured the emptiness and pain of loss. Everything blends so well. I was intrigued and didn’t even blink once while reading. Great work Damyanti.

  • Sammy D. says:

    That feeling of men knowing others on the rung below them are aiming for their positions – I’ve seen it so many times during my professional career. What a hopeless man. Your descriptions of the gun are very compelling – “boom stick”, “cold ring of steel”. Excellent images.

  • Awesome! Truly well put together in limited space. Flash fiction is the best when done correctly, something I aspire to master.

  • I’m not sure what I would do with the picture as a prompt (I do know I like it) or the phrase “lately he’d been feeling.” Knowing myself, I might write it up science fiction style and draw some kind of counterpoint between feeling and thinking to incorporate the phrase-prompt. This was really gritty, Damyanti, and I think you could get away with even more vernacular than you’ve used (which I thought worked well, FWIW).

  • Vivid sad and I want more. Thanks for the visit today! Having fun with this challenge.

  • Mou Mishra says:

    Beautifully written tragic tale.

  • jny_jeanpretty says:

    Wow–you are SOME KIND OF EXCELLENT, you know that? thanks for visiting so I had this opportunity to check you out! jean

  • Yikes! Talk about desperation. I can’t imagine being so low. Poor guy.

    True Heroes from A to Z

  • Wow, Damyanti! This is powerful. Left me with a hole in my chest, too. So much life we waste…

    Thanks for the visit over at Quiet Laughter — always love seeing your name in the comments 🙂

    • Damyanti says:

      Thanks, Guilie.

      This story is connected to another I wrote earlier about Martha, and I guess all of us who’ve loved and lost know about that bullet hole in the chest.

      I love stopping by your blog as well– and btw, great job with the report !

      • anupam says:

        U bet we do. Bullet holes and Goddamn gushes of angst.

        Flashed aptly Damyanti. Bitter to the core & flipped on the sour side


  • Chrys Fey says:

    How sad! But this story was written exceptionally well. Very nice.

  • Another great and vivid account of the human condition, and when it all becomes too much..

  • What a sad life, but I sort of liked him more for wanting to do it his way in the very end. Great job sharing that “trapped” feeling.

  • booleangal says:

    I love this. Your words create a vivid picture – a mini movie – in my mind. It’s bedtime here, let’s see which bits make their way into my dreams.

  • Finley Jayne says:

    Love it!

  • Beloo Mehra says:

    Like the characterization and the way the narration flows. And feel like knowing more about where it goes….very nicely done!

    Beauty Interprets, Expresses, Manifests the Eternal

  • susanddhavle says:

    Gosh, Damyanti, fast and emotive at the same time. Read it with eyeballs popping….

  • You’ve captured the emptiness and pain of loss of more than just a loved one, but also of a life that could have been, well here. Good story.
    ‘The Path Through the Eye of Another’:

  • grotmanharry says:

    Nice Story!

  • Rosie Amber says:

    So much pain here, really sad.

  • namitasunder says:

    not every time can we handle the pain,the loss, we suffer….he took the exit route …free from all the suffering.

  • True on and all,
    Too true II be true.
    This is going to be eight to two attached
    and the howl for the old ones who weren’t.
    Iron dragons can be humans
    who buy in bulk and buy one another.
    Lately he’d been feeling
    like an imaginary dinosaur
    so out of date that he couldn’t even scare
    a five-year old girl.
    (Let’s face it…
    after Pixar,
    how you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm
    after they’ve seen
    Monsters Inc.?)
    Thank you.
    And you and you might be wrong
    if you were among the one
    that will allow them believe
    this can be done to learn more than one,
    or the dragon in the garden may be a man…
    is he our own only hope
    that can help our town?
    Take anything on the day
    and it still leaves us poor
    and unrecognizable
    to my original text
    (which is pretty good for a Mayan.)

    Tensions thee into my mission
    and an avid listen
    to become one with the machine
    in their words
    might become a bump on a node,
    in their worlds;
    a bogey on the radar
    or give a madman time to ship,
    were she to tell it all.

    Dick you.
    (that was thank-you, btw)
    …mad that really only you
    have been equally
    and that early on
    you’re more on the money
    on the back F.U.N. and Y
    than all the rest
    that ever were.

    And so it goes from where it ends.
    Hula room deliveries
    and buried on an
    old fairgrounds
    in a faded photograph.
    You don’t know how
    to interpret the butt of a joke,
    meaning something early on
    that makes
    me so horney….
    And let’s let poor
    caveman UG alone,
    (let alone the UG woman)
    and the older elder too
    and that old lady who
    when laugh launched luna.

    Run one thing on
    try something on
    fun fun fun
    as a loan on laughter
    in a letter that said
    fun is dead
    and you can’t play on
    fun fun fun alone,
    but the challenge to him was that this
    …this the…
    this Italian leather dealer
    in each letter on a letter
    adds up.
    …the AIM’s not even close…
    but this
    could have made a difference,
    (…but it didn’t.)

    I’m not having loved all of this and more.
    I’m not loving this.
    If you would treat me
    as an acute writers group
    maybe God already knew…
    if so,
    then dial me
    you have no clue.
    No one meant that as a car wreck, children.
    I was saying that was a correct assumption…
    And by her now, this is goodbye for now…
    Logo and you finally
    get right question.
    (Something there is that does not love auto-correct dictation)

  • Very good writing. You draw the reader right in, but then naturally we want more. 🙂

  • I love this! So many stories come to life through the challenge 🙂

  • Love where this went. A sad tale.

    ~Patricia Lynne~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, YA Author

  • As a person who prefers to read books in a series or epic fantasy length stories, flash fiction is frustrating. Because you arouse my curiosity and then it’s over. I would love to see where this goes. Great elements that make me want to turn the page. Thanks. Peace. ~ Michael

  • rodrian2014 says:

    Reblogged this on rodriandotco.

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