Writing: Sidetracked

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 | 3 Comments »
Tags: , | Categories: Writing |

I recently just re-joined the CH Percolators, a yahoo free-writing group that provides weekly prompts and a place for writers to share their free-writing creations. It’s a lovely community full of supportive people, and this is my first contribution, based on the prompt “I got sidetracked.”


The man stood outside the door and hesitated. He looked down at his sandaled feet, at the sand and dirt he could see beneath his toe nails, between his toes. He could feel the dirt beneath his feet as well. He’d been walking for so long, and it was such a clean-looking house.

Perhaps this was a bad idea.

He reached his arm out before he could change his mind. Knock knock. On the other side of the door came a rustling sound, then footsteps. Too late now. In a few more seconds the door creaked open.

The woman stared at him with such a blank look on her face that he thought maybe, maybe she’d forgotten. But then she spoke. “How long has it been?” Her voice was the same, but its tone had changed. It wasn’t soft and lilting and full of affection now. It was as blank as the look on her face.

The man glanced briefly down at his feet again, to think, to remember, or maybe just to avoid that look. “Three, four years?” he answered finally. “I dunno, really.” He looked up at her. “You cut your hair.”

Somehow he’d expected to see the transformation on her face, a slow shift from indifference to quiet, seething anger. “You left. You left.”

He looked away again. “I got sidetracked.”

A bark of incredulous laughter made him jump. He’d never heard her laugh in that dark, humorless way before. “That’s an understatement, isn’t it?”

When he met her eyes there was something even worse than the indifference and the anger. When he met her eyes this time he saw pain. “I’m sorry,” he ventured, hoping it would take that pain away, replace it with anger again, something. Instead she began to cry. This was a bad idea.

“Will you stay?” she asked when the tears had somewhat subsided, and it was a question that he’d hoped he would never hear. He remained silent as he watched her, hoping it would be answer enough.

And it was. She took in a sharp, trembling breath. “Please,” she croaked as she stepped back, “don’t ever come back.” The door swung shut.

  • M. Höhne

    Genuinely touching. Thank you.

  • Crystal Usagi

    comment testing! Liked it.

    • Tam

      Meow meow meow meow

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