Flash Narrative: Beside the Other One

Note: For this week’s flash narrative, I take inspiration from 1) micro-fiction writers extraordinaire  Pam Parker and Robert Vaughan to write a piece of exactly 100 words, and 2) for the voice, the first work of literary fiction I ever read (as a high school freshman) that challenged me to think beyond my comfort zone: William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. You can read Hattie’s original entry here: April 15, 1921. For background information regarding Flash Narratives, go here .


 April 15, 1921: Beside the Other One

I walk the auto road to town in the cold, dusty wind. No rides come. Papa wears the nightshirt I sewed for him, the blood washed from the hem where I sewed my finger. He is operated on at 10:30 a.m. Afterward he sits up, not having had much ether, and smokes his pipe and dozes off while we talk. Nell, Billy, Boyd and I take Papa’s limb and foot, cut off four inches below the knee, to the cemetery. We bury it beside the other one, which we moved there from the farm, now that Papa is a Catholic.

photo of Mary and Ed Whiting
Mary and Edward (Papa) Whiting, August 29, 1920 (Edward’s 72nd Birthday)

12 thoughts on “Flash Narrative: Beside the Other One

  1. Powerful piece, Lisa. You have some strong imagery, and a “grave” topic. I also love Faulkner, and relish that you have used the influences of his character Hattie to create this flash in a similar vein. Isn’t it a blast to flash? Warning: addictive!

    • Robert, thank you! I am definitely becoming addicted to writing flash (one addiction I won’t fight, lol).

      I need to re-read Faulkner soon. I remember so clearly struggling through the voices in As I Lay Dying, only to be encouraged unfailingly by my amazing high school teacher who wasn’t afraid to push us, and then–Bam!–somehow I didn’t have to struggle anymore, and I fell in love with the writing.

    • Thanks, Pam. Hattie’s voice is very much like that, not all of the time, but mostly. On the day of her father’s death, she begins her diary as she always does: with the weather. I wonder how much of that was a function of the time period?

  2. Wow. In such a small amount of words, Lisa, you created a story full of surprises. I didn’t expect the amputation, and certainly not the trip to the cemetery. This phrase alone, Nell, Billy, Boyd and I take Papa’s limb and foot…, stopped me in my tracks.

    Great piece!

    • Christi, thanks so much. I realized at the end that I needed to choose a title that wouldn’t give away either the amputation or the trip to the cemetery. I’m glad that the suspense seems to work.

      A couple of days before this entry, Hattie wrote about sewing the nightshirt for her papa and sewing her finger and “getting so sick.” My dad told me that when the first limb was buried at the farm, Hattie thought it brought ghosts, so she convinced her father to be baptized so that they could bury it in the Catholic cemetery.

      What a character!

  3. A small change from the original post: “No cars come” changed to “No rides come.” (WordPress is a perfectionism’s dream, lol)

  4. Really enjoyed this, Lisa. I’m also an fan of flash fiction but have gotten so sucked into poetry lately…I suspect it has something to do with avoiding rewriting my 2nd novel. Maybe I better get off my duff…

    • Pam, I am working on updating broken links and images from older blog posts and this one popped up. I just now added new links to your and Robert’s sites. Happy travels! 🙂

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