Writing Prompt: Open a dictionary, find a word (any word), and write a story (500 words or fewer) based on that word.
I could see in her face, she wanted to scream. Of course, I knew she wouldn’t. The same could not be said for everyone at this table, but mum – I’ve never once seen her lose her composure. He sits at the table with a huff and a busy air about him that I don’t buy. My glass is crystal and filled with champagne. I take a large sip and indulge in a sideways glance at everyone. There are clearly mixed feelings at the table. I set my glass down and I must have taken a larger sip than I thought because within seconds of replacing my hands in my lap the cute waiter is over to refill. Gosh, he’s young. When did everyone get so young? I flit my attention back to the table and she still looks like she wants to scream, my mother. Oh don’t get me wrong, she’s smiling, she’s putting on a great show. We couldn’t have people talking now, could we! It’s all in her eyes and only her eyes, the screaming, and she cannot hide it from me. Anyone but me. I have her eyes. I have her same desire to scream people out of the room. That’s how I know it so well. That’s how I spot it so quickly. My brother prattles on about being kept late at the office because of some super-important meeting with some super-important person. I can’t stand his super-important-self stories. Everyone is polite and kind about the whole thing. My champagne glass is refilled 12 1/2 times in total. I enjoy champagne. Mum enjoys having everyone together. When the cake comes, we laugh and joke and she blows out all the candles. Our guests dissipate and the lights are dimmed. My brother is in the bathroom: I can’t help it. I have to know. I carefully place myself just outside the cubicle and I wait. I listen. To my surprise, I am disappointed when I hear it: the credit card tapping that familiar chopping sound, followed by the deep inhale and slight after-cough of regaining composure. I knew it wasn’t over. I knew there was no meeting. He has taken mothers money once again and thrown her help on her face once again. I really wanted to believe it; the story about being clean. About rehab. About finding an investor. I wonder how he bought his suit. More of mum’s money. He emerges from his cubicle and walks straight into me. I see the urge to make excuses, to tell lies, pass across his face but my eyes are fixed. Stern. Yet full of love. I wish nothing more than for him to get better and he knows that. He tears up and says sorry. He asks me how I knew. I tell him about the version of him I keep in my memory. The kind, caring, loving him. The him that didn’t lie to us all blatantly to cover his habit. The him that never had violent outbursts, sending tables flying across the room and glass smashing so close to my mothers face. I tell him about the him I remember, dressed so well. Always considerate and ALWAYS prompt. “The clean you would never have been late” I say. “Haven’t you ever wondered why mother is always so particular about you being on time? ‘8 o’clock, prompt’ she said. So when you showed up at 10:30 with your stories, she knew. We all knew.”
About the Author
Living in London, writing in fields, Samya Fraser is a lover of books and a writer of poems, prose and flash fiction. Having grown up in the city, she is a part of its heart and soul which she writes into her work.