Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Friday Flash Fiction - #1 A Normal Life

So we have a bit of a deviation in today's post. A friend of mine connected me w/ this group -- the premise is to write something short (< 1000 words) and fictional and publish online on Fridays... I thought I'd give it a try till Nano starts (that'd be November for the uninitiated :) Have no idea if I'll actually stick to that or not, but we shall see :)

As always comments welcome, but please be kind *g* (is that a contradiction?) hahaha I haven't written fiction (well other than the *slight* deviations from fact which may from time to time appear in my blog) in a looonnnngggg time. And published even less often... Would like to know what people think though -- worth continuing?

So w/ breath held I present...


A Normal Life

She was asleep when she first met him -- or at least that's what she would tell her psychiatrist years later.

When she was young, it was cute. "Oh look," people cooed patronizingly, "she has an imaginary friend". But she had never been particularly creative; certainly not creative enough to invent a person. By the time she began school she had learned not to speak of the voice she heard regularly. The voice not in her head, but which only she could hear. "People don't like what they don't understand" her perfectly normal cousin had told her once. This was a lesson she would learn well.

He was a comforting presence to help her through childhood battles. He taught her how to avoid bullies, cheered her growth and successes and comforted her when she cried. He taught her to keep her secret from people who didn't understand.

In her teen years he lectured and mentored and was always there to listen in a time when parents are enemies and friends are as changing as the Canadian weather.

In her early twenties she heard his voice over the din of the party, clear and commanding -- but when she looked around it was obvious that once again none of the others had heard. She was slightly past the happy phase of intoxication, and annoyed with him for interrupting her plans. She was about to ignore him and get in the car anyways when he repeated his message -- but this time there was something in his voice she had never heard before, something which scared her into obeying. Fear. She pulled her current bff Karen out of the car w/ her and both girls returned to the party. The boys drove off while she listed to Karen complaining about being left behind. Karen wasn't complaining a week later as they attended the funeral. "If we had been in that car . . ." Karen kept repeating. She never told Karen why she'd been pulled out of the car. A casual party friend whose life was saved by a man whose existence she'd never know about, could never understand.

A few years later she had one course left to graduate, one course she was in serious danger of failing. Was it cheating to record the answer he gave her on the final exam; the answer she would never comprehend, much less come up w/ on her own? Having been told so often it was "all her imagination" she deemed it acceptable to use her answer, even though in her heart she knew it wasn't.

Heading through life, she never felt the need to find herself, but she did spend several years trying to find him. She flirted with religion -- was this God she heard? But no, surely God didn't have his redneck sense of humour? Or speak w/ an Aussi accent? On the other hand, if she could pick any accent, that might be the one she'd choose too! Of all the religions she studied though, there was none that could account for the man whose voice only she could hear.

She visited doctors and psychiatrists and none could reveal a medical reason for her "condition" as they referred to him. He just laughed and feigned insult at the thought any could diagnose him. She stopped visiting doctors when one became too interested and insisted she check in for observation. She was not about to give up her freedom for a doctor who didn't like what he didn't understand.

She was in her forties when she married. None of her previous relationships had been strong enough to survive him; meeting her parents was nothing compared to learning of a voice who would tell her truths they'd rather remain unrevealed. "People don't like what they don't understand," her perfectly normal cousin had told her once. And so she learned to keep her secret until she was sure. And even then she often discovered she was wrong, but eventually after many painful disappointments, she met and married the one who could not only accept the man in her head, but welcomed him as he did her.

She last heard the voice on the day of her marriage. It wished her well and reminded her he'd always be there, and then there was silence. Through the birth of her children and the death of her parents he remained silent. Through the laughter and the tears of a full and well lived life, he remained silent.

And yet, while she sometimes acknowledged that she hadn't heard from him in a while, she didn't miss him; she was too busy living, too happy w/ the man she'd finally met. One everybody could see, who made her happier than she'd ever thought possible. There were fights of course, and days she wished he'd return to help her deal w/ her husband or children, but for the most part, life was good and she was happy. There was nothing in her life that others couldn't understand. She even started to consider herself normal. A word she'd first thought would never apply to her, and later thought could never be applied to anyone. And still he remained silent.

He was silent the day her husband of thirty years died. He was silent through the viewing and the funeral, where her oldest son held her hand, and her daughter worried because she couldn't cry. He was silent when they gave her some privacy at the grave site after the burial. He was silent until that first tear fell, and then she heard that lilting voice from a lifetime ago. "Ah Love, you know I'd never leave you. I waited forty years for you to find me, and I'll keep you company till you find me again."

Had the two important men in her life really been one and the same? Or was her brain combining them in a frantic effort to survive a life w/ neither? She contemplated for a moment and decided normal was highly overrated and the rest was only details.


Very nifty, Laur. It was self-contained, but also seems like it could be an outline for a longer story where you fill in more details of her life and flesh out some of the incidents you mention.


hahaha thanks Dana -- well Nano *is* coming up :) We shall see...


That was great! Very touching, left questions for the reader and, most importantly, debunked the myth of 'normal'.

Welcome to #fridayflash! I hope you keep contributing.


Hi Laura,

Thanks for the warm welcome :) Will try again next week and see how it goes!




I thought this was wonderful! I hope you continue with #fridayflash. Have you thought of posting snippets for #fridayflash based on your NaNo novel? Just a thought.


Thanks Chris :)

Will consider it, but Nano tends to get revised as I go along and not always written in order. hahaha might not make too much sense!


I liked that a lot, the premise was interesting and the way you wrote it kept me wanting to know more. If you don't mind a small bit of constructive criticism, the piece (which is already very powerful) would be a whole lot more powerful if you leave the last paragraph off. Please keep writing, I'm looking forward to reading your next #fridayflash!


Welcome to the #fridayflash, Lauren. I'm a bit late to the party, as I was getting my daughter moved into college, but certainly glad I came round to read this.

I loved your first line - what a terrific hook! The style was smooth and fit the tone of the story to a tee. Very nicely done.

I think Pippa may be right about the last paragraph, but it was a terrific story nonetheless. I sincerely hope you continue to join us on Fridays.

Also glad to hear you do NaNo. I'm a NaNo writer too. Still mulling in that department.


P.S. Do you have a Twitter handle? You don't need one to do #fridayflash, but if you have one I'd love to follow.


hahaha thanks battypip and Jon -- I definitely debated about that last paragraph for a long time. Put it in, took it out. Rinse and repeat. Probably should've gone w/ the "less is more" theory but such is life :) Next time! Appreciate the suggestion though!

Jon -- no I don't have twitter... It's all I can do to keep up w/ the blog and FB! hahaha Thanks though :)


This is a powerful piece. Some way to break into #FridayFlash (and welcome, by the way -- very glad to have you). What I liked best was the way the voice came unbidden, yet it was always supportive and loving. Then it went away when a supportive and loving other came along -- and then reappeared again when the "real" loving and supporting person was taken away. Very gentle and lovely concept, well-executed. Thanks for sharing.

--Jeff Posey


An intriguing and emotional piece. I like that your narrator does not need a definitive answer at the end. Great first #fridayflash post - welcome!


I am sorry to be posting so late... life indeed is crazy.

I enjoyed your story and look forward to reading more on Fridays :-)


Thanks for the warm welcome guys! Glad you liked my first FFF attempt :)

Tomara - no time limit! Readers always welcome :)




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