Creative Writing · Short Stories

The Pillow: Flash Fiction Friday

Authors Note: Welcome to the first installment of Flash Fiction Friday. This is certainly not an original segment, but I thought it would help to keep me on track and consistent with posts. You can expect a new flash fiction piece every other Friday. Enjoy!

5 Min Read

There’s the pillow. She’s put it on the sofa next to the manky old blanket. My heart sinks and drags me down with it as I check the clock and see it’s gone one in the morning. Of course she’s angry I’m home late again. I hear her telling me I’m not trying hard enough as if she were in front of me. But it’s just me, standing alone looking at the pillow. The pillow is my wife’s way of telling me we’re not okay. It’s her way of saying I should sleep on the sofa tonight. It’s been there every night for a month now. I don’t know how many more lonely evenings I can take. My only company being the pillow that’s absorbed so many silent tears, the pillow that’s held me as I’ve slept and the only thing in this house that doesn’t hate me.  

I take off my shoes, blazer and tie as silently as possible, then make my way up to the girls’ bedroom. Their door is slightly ajar, pink light floods the dark hallway and the twinkle of nursery rhymes dance through the air towards me. The squeaky door interrupts the melody of their sleepy snores for a terrible moment. Thankfully, they return to the safety of sleep in seconds. I remember Viv being so pleased when we found out we were having twin girls. I was overjoyed too, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t scare the shit out of me. One baby was enough, but two? Though now they’re here, so beautiful and pure, I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, other than never getting to see them or getting to put them to sleep or even watching them grow day by day. Perhaps they’d be better off without me. I suddenly feel like an intruder. I’m watching my girls sleep, but something within me tells me I shouldn’t be here. I don’t deserve such perfect girls. I leave the room as I found it; peaceful and free of their useless excuse of a father.  

Our bedroom door is closed and usually I’d go straight for a shower. But today, something pulls me towards her. I hope for a moment that it’s because she’s calling for me. She wants me to come in, hold her and make things right. She looks so beautiful. Yes, she’s dribbling a bit and her hair is covering most of her face, but she looks at peace. She stirs slightly as a door once again betrays the silence. Or perhaps it’s just me. I’m the noise that keeps you up at night. The sound you can’t work out how to silence. A burden. I leave the room without looking back.  

Family photos stare at me as I head back to the pillow. They scream that we should be happy like we were on our wedding day or when Mable and Audrey were born. But I see the lie in our smiles. I feel the tension between us. Together but distant. In our minds we’re elsewhere and we haven’t been able to reach each other in a long time. I manage to tear myself from the deceitful gallery of our life together and am met by the front door. I want to run away, to spare them anymore pain. Viv says she feels like a puppy dog, constantly waiting for her owner to come home. She doesn’t deserve that. She didn’t sign up for this.  

The metal handle feels cool against my sweaty palm, soothing me for a moment. I open the door and a cold breeze knocks the air out of me and gives me clarity. I don’t deserve them. They deserve better. 

Let me know your thoughts on this piece in the comment section. What do you think happens next?

Also don’t forget to check out my previous story here. The Photographs follows Cassandra as she makes an odd discovery within the pages of an old photo album.



11 thoughts on “The Pillow: Flash Fiction Friday

  1. Hi Jen, I think he walks out into the night, sees the garbage can is still on the curb so he pulls it into the fence, sees a broken water spout and decides to fix it, remembers his wife asked him to plant the perennials so he plants them, builds the playground set for his daughters. Maybe through this process he realizes they still need him. 🙂 I’m feeling hopeful today. LOL ~WB

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww that’s a lovely idea for him! I asked my partner the same question, what happens next and he said he doesn’t think he would leave his family. Its so nice to hear hope when this character is so full of self-hatred. Thank you for taking the time to let me know your thoughts, I enjoyed the image of him realising his family will always need him 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. If this were a Hollywood movie, he’d be planning to leave his family so that they can be happy without him but an alien invasion would occur right as he opens the front door. He’d be compelled to stay and protect his family and through the ordeal they’d all fall in love with one another again. Haha. Probably not where you were going though!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m loving all of these creative responses! It really does show how different we all are, as people and as creatives. It’s amazing to hear alternative endings that are so far away from what I’d ever imagine.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved the conciseness of your story and I’m wondering how often a version of this story plays out in real life.
    I noticed from the comments that you ignite your reader’s imagination — every writer’s dream.
    It also made me remember how readers gallop ahead when they are reading and wondering — also cool.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Terry, thank you so so much, you always leave such lovely feedback 🙂
      I wonder the same thing, especially in terms of fathers who work tough jobs and miss out on their kids’ golden years. It’s a fine balance.
      It is nice to see other writers and readers thoughts on what he would do. What do you think he does?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My conclusion would be too sad to repeat. The way you wrote that story, there did not seem like there was much hope.
        A few years ago I got a few comments about the direction my stories took at that time. Everyone loves a happy ending, but sometimes the characters won’t let you. Do you go for the Disney ending or do you stay true to your characters? I still don’t know the answer to that one.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Mine too, so don’t worry about that. It is difficult because as you say, a lot of people would prefer a happy ending. But in reality (and in fiction) sometimes that happy ending just doesn’t happen. I would say, be true to your characters as well as yourself. Disney has the happy endings covered, we can explore the multitude of other human emotions while they do their thing!

        Liked by 1 person

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