Other stories for this prompt

Absent. The perfect word to describe the situation.

Paul and Maria Strickland sat at their kitchen table eating breakfast, as they did every day. Forks scraped against plates as they lifted their scrambled eggs to their mouths, chewed, swallowed. All in silence. They'd been married for twenty years, eating in silence together for fifteen. Eating in silence was the only thing they ever did together anymore, except take care of their son, Mark.

The boy watched them from the den, where he'd taken to eating alone as he watched TV, a tray attached to the armrests of his black Quickie...

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The episodes were getting more frequent. I'd forget where I was. Friends looking at me strangely as I carried on conversations finished ten minutes ago. Losing my new phone. Girlfriend called off our holiday, fed up of getting ignored. The tests showed it wasn't epilepsy. I felt strangely calm as though it was meant to be.
During my time away I lived a different life, on a different plane. Soon I knew it would be my permanent home.

I could hear dad's voice at a distance, feel mom's hand on mine. Fear.

I was slipping away in the hospital bed....

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He was absent. Again. The kid would only show up on test days - on which he performed well enough. But that wasn't the point. All the other students showed up every day, and worked earnestly. And taught each other. And applied the concepts. He would pass the exams but forget all the material down the road. It would be like most of the bright students - playing with ideas. Treating it all as a show - as a game. Show up to perform. Wasting their talent. Lacking direction. Lacking any real purpose. Where was the kid going to get...

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Absent. That's what I was called by my fifteen year old daughter. The absent father. She did not know the truth, I worked undercover. Danger. Security. Empathy. Love. I had it all but I had nothing for my own family. That isn't true, I thought about them in the spare moments, pulled up images in my mind. Reflected on those special times tucking Beth into bed while she slept, unaware I'd be staring at her, a light in the hall illuminating her face.

I knew Beth thought I didn't care. I know because that's how I felt about my own...

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He sat right at the front, but would never once look up at the board all while knowing full well the snippy teacher would think him rude. He would only doodle inside his beat-up notebook he'd kept since seventh grade, and I would never know what exactly it was he was so intent on drawing.

It's a project, he would say.

He is not here today. He and I do not interact much, but I know he is beautiful. He is beautiful and I have loved him since I laid eyes on him. I have loved him and loved...

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Mom by Anglea

Absent. That's what mom has been for the past three years since the day the front door slammed shut on her and the four carrier bags of belongings. That's all she took, her makeup and her best pair of shoes. Crocodile skin. Horrid looking things but they seemed to mean more to her than the family.

Kathleen, the youngest still kept an eye on the front path most evenings just in case mom returned. Rest of us knew that very unlikely as her latest boyfriend had been very rich and mom had always been a gold digger.

We lived with...

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Absent for years and then he shoes up and wants to pretend he was never gone anywhere. Catch up, he says, get back to how things used to be.

Used to be, I told him, we,d wake up at dawn and start working. Then the drought came and the animals starved and died and then Pa snapped his back falling down from the hayloft. And then Ma just about folded in on herself until she was just this little thing that the wind could have picked up and taken away, and then one day it did.

But you wouldn't know,...

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Absent. The roots were absent but you could still see them. When you burn a stump, you often end up with a chunk of its heart that doesn't turn to ash. The interesting thing is how the fire always seems to follow the roots, no matter how deep they go, burning away every trace of them. Sometimes, even a year later, a fire can rekindle from deep in the earth where it was banked in some hidden location. Looking down from above, you can see the faithful reproduction of the root system only it's just air. Hollows that disappear into...

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A Sad State of Affairs
It is three o’clock in the afternoon and she has kept the same position since breakfast, writing in her journal, nursing each fresh drink, drawing it out so that her budget (small) will see her through until she is forced to give up her seat. She is in no hurry to leave, having nowhere else to go, no pressing appointment – except with home, and the house is depressingly quiet and yet still too full, inhabited by a long line of hours waiting impatiently to be filled, the space between now and then too vast...

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Absent. Gone gone gone, baby gone. She's gone again. She's away. She's fled, she's left the scene. She's vanished. You want to call the cops, hire a bounty hunter, marshal the town, grab the pitchforks, light the torches, whatever it takes, to drag her back. You would do so much, you know you would.

It's the future you can't get a hold of. You know the past and you want to scratch the eyes out of the present, but you don't want to see what's ahead. Just bring her home. This is all. Anything now, you'll do anything. Come back....

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About the prompt

Originally displayed on:
December 15, 2010


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