A Life In Ruins

0B2F934E-FA4D-49E2-BFB8-305EEE2EB749My life is in ruins, he thought.

His life, a life he’d worked so hard to make successful, was, indeed, in ruins. As he drove along the road that skirted the ocean, he couldn’t quite fathom what had led him to this place, this sense of desperation. He was tired. And angry. And, most of all, he was sorry. Sorry for all of those he loved. Sorry for the disappointment he knew they were feeling.

No, it wouldn’t be disappointment. It would be shock. No one could have predicted this. It would be like when they interviewed people on the news who have just found out that their neighbor is a serial killer. “I can’t believe that he could have done such a thing,” they’d say. “He seemed like such a pleasant person. I would never have imagined….”

We all have secrets, he told himself. Some bigger — and badder — than others. But what he did was truly unforgivable. He couldn’t stick around to face the shame and the humiliation. Those he left behind would be better off with him being out of the picture.

And so he got in his car and left, heading where even he did not know.

(200 words)

Written for Sue Spaulding’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt. Photo credit: Anurag Bakhshi. Also written for the Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver prompt, which is “ruins.”

First Line Friday — The Estate Sale

spider webSpider silk clung at the doors, over the windows, across everything she had left behind. The change in her auntie’s usually pristine home was not only swift, but dramatic. Looking around inside the old house, Susan couldn’t believe how grubby looking the place had become in just the three months since she last paid a visit to her auntie.

She always knew her auntie was a bit eccentric and she would sometimes tease her about her eccentricities. But now her auntie was gone and had left her the old Victorian house and all of its furnishings. And while some might consider the house and its content to be quite valuable, Susan wasn’t so sure. Her eccentric auntie’s eclectic tastes led her to purchase and fill her home with what Susan assumed to be a lot of cheap junk.

Susan decided that she would hold an estate sales and see what she could get for her auntie’s possessions. She hired a cleaning service to come out and make the old place spic and spa and then arranged for an appraiser to come out and assess the value of the house’s contents.

“Holy shit, are you serious?” she said to the appraiser when he presented his report.

Written for the First Line Friday prompt from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. And for the following one-word prompts: Daily Addictions (swift), Your Daily Word Prompt (dramatic), Ragtag Daily Prompt (grubby), Word of the Day Challenge (eccentric), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (tease), and Scotts Daily Prompt (value).

Tale Weaver — Breaking New Ground

99CD6FA0-E1E1-463E-8A29-C0C0E51C773BFor this week’s Tale Weaver prompt from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, we are asked to consider the idea of going into the unknown. I was thinking about writing a piece of flash fiction, maybe some sci-fi or fantasy post, but then I thought about four times in my life when I felt, at the time, I was stepping into the unknown.

My first job after graduating from college

After spending sixteen of my first 21 years in school, I graduated from college and entered the workforce. Not some paper route thing or making ice cream sundaes part-time at the local ice cream shop. I’m talking about a full-time, grown-up job. I was hired as a management trainee at an insurance company and I had no idea what to expect. I ended up becoming a “senior manager” and spending ten years with that organization.

Getting married

I was a wild and crazy guy and I loved being single. I remained single until I was 32 when I married the girl I’d been dating for two years. Learning to share yourself completely with another person, especially when you start late, like I did, was a whole new way of life. Fortunately, I adapted. And so did she.

Becoming an empty nester

Kids take a lot of time, effort, energy, and attention, and my wife and I spent most of the first 25 years of our lives together dedicating ourselves to raising our two kids. Then one day, they were both out of our house and I suddenly wondered what, aside from our kids, my wife and I had in common. That was scary. But it turned out to be a period of relationship rediscovery and enrichment. After a while I hardly missed not having our kids around all the time.


I had, for my entire adult life, defined myself by what I did for work. And then I retired. For the first time in almost five decades I didn’t have a job. No boss, no coworkers, no subordinates. No meetings, no conference calls, no business trips. So who was I? What was I supposed to do with my time now that I no longer was working? Talk about stepping into the unknown. Well, it’s been about three years since I retired and I have discovered that there’s much more to me — and to life — than what I did for a living.

I’m sure there have been times in all of your lives when you felt like you were stepping into the unknown. I’d love to hear from some of you what your “into the unknown”experiences were.

Tale Weaver —Doing Enough To Get By

F43E6E98-F799-4F52-9E65-99B249580648Larry walked up to Doug’s office and handed him a poster. “We’re having a new motivational program, Doug. And I’ve got some good news to share with you.”

Doug took the poster and tossed it into the trash can. “Doing your best? Seriously? What is that, another stupid slogan for Melania Trump to promote?” Doug said.87543BF4-4F7F-4F73-941B-72454134825D“Management just wants people to do the best work they can,” Larry said. “Don’t you always try to do your best?”

“Come on, man,” Doug said. “Doing your best takes way too much effort and is highly overrated. I remember about ten years back, you know, when I was young and naive. I really worked hard and did my very best work. I was burning the midnight oil, working weekends, not taking my earned vacation days. I was dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s. And then, my friend, it came time for my performance review and I got ‘meets expectations’ and a two percent salary increase.” Doug paused and took a deep breath.

“So I said to myself, ‘fuck this shit.’ That next year I left the office every day at 5 pm. I didn’t take any work home with me, didn’t work on weekends, took all of my vacation days, and did the bare minimum it took to get the job done. And do you know what happened, Larry?”

Larry shrugged his shoulders.

“I’ll tell you what happened, Larry,” Doug said. “Come time for that year’s performance review, I got ‘exceeds expectations’ and a four percent raise.”

“No shit,” said Larry.

“Damn straight, Larry,” Doug said. “So forget all this ‘doing your best’ and ‘be best’ bullshit. My advice for you, Larry, is to keep your head down and do just enough to get by.”

“Interesting,” Larry said. “Oh, I almost forget. You know that good news I mentioned? Well, I just got a promotion. Turns out that I’m your new boss.”

Written for this week’s Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver prompt, where we are asked to “explore the notion of doing your best.”

Time To Write/First Line Friday — The Setting Sun

152DC6B8-37B0-4D98-9D0E-FDE09C543217“Summer died that night,” Amanda said to her son, Clint, who was staring blankly out across the lake as the sun was slowly setting.

“You mean that night two years ago, the last time we were here at the lake house?” Clint asked. “We’re doing okay you and I, aren’t we, Mom?”

“Yeah,” Amanda said. “We are. But I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was a night just like this one.”

“It was a hot, sticky night, I know that,” Clint said. “I still can’t believe she texted you. What kind of shithead would do that?”

“She was never one who could deal with confrontation,” Amanda explained. “In fact, for a successful editor of popular romance novels, she was abysmal when it came to communicating how she was really feeling inside with real people.”

“But to send you a text telling you that you that had to kill Summer, the wildly popular heroine of all of your novels, in your next book,” Clint said, “I mean that’s just cold.”

Written for Rachel Poli’s Time To Write Picture Prompt and for the Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie First Line Friday prompt where the first line is “Summer died that night.”