Recent Posts

Sunday, April 23

The Clock

"The Clock"
Short Fiction - Literary
by Fernando Benavidez

Who says you can't go back? When I met Anna, I knew anything was possible. I felt I could do whatever I wanted, even control time. At my age, bars were out of the question, so I liked hanging around things that made me feel younger, not so grey. I found an antique shop where I visited frequently and where Anna worked. Not that Anna was old; in fact, I was ten years her senior, but she sold antiques in the shop she inherited from her dead husband, and that's how we met. I liked to visit that shop on Wednesdays after lunch, mostly browse, sometimes buy an old lamp, find an old gun for my collection maybe, look at old books, and then go home early. Even though the clouds looked like they couldn‚t decide whether to rain or not, that particular Wednesday was different; it was a little greener than usual, luckier, I'd say.

Anna was a Greek goddess. The pearls that hung around her neck were brilliant against her olive skin. She wore dark blue clothes that set off her eyes, a hazel I'd never seen before. Her hair was in a fat ponytail, a bunch of grey wires tamed by a tan rubber band. More than beautiful.

I bought a clock from her, an old nineteenth-century piece that belonged to the wife of a Mexican soldier in the Mexican-American War. Anna told me that María, the soldier's wife, waited for her husband for months and months, so eager to see her only love, she eventually went crazy. She stared at the clock, watching the slow movement of the second hand eat away at her sanity, hardly thinking about food or water, haunted by the possibility that Alfonso was dead. María eventually lost all sense of time˜she would sleep in the day and stay awake all through the night. She believed that the clock could transport her to a time before her husband was sent off to war, when they were together and happy. María would tell these crazy stories to her neighbors, how she could wind the clock back, transport herself momentarily, relive the past with Alfonso, then end up in the present, eventually, away from her husband once again. She died believing that she saw Alfonso one last time by moving the hours back, winding the clock in a way that she‚d swore she‚d done so many times, knowing she‚d always end up in the same sad place without him. Of course, this silly legend inflated the value of my purchase, but I didn't care. Hearing Anna tell that story made the clock worth every cent.

Weeks passed, and I kept coming back to visit Anna at the shop, and she didn't seem to mind. I finally built up the courage to ask her for a date, some dinner, and perhaps a play at the community theatre. She accepted my offer more than once, and then we just saw each other every day. Two people connected by the purchase of that clock. "There must be some magic in it," I would tell her, "it brought us together."

She agreed, keeping the clock's myth alive, the legend. I was never happier, and Anna felt the same.

Anna died three months later of cancer. At her funeral, I met her son, a medical student who flew in from New York, and her daughter, a writer, who came down from Boston. I didn't tell them about the magic of the clock or how we'd met and fallen in love. They were just happy Anna had had a friend after their father died, they said. After they were gone, I went home and cried, staring at the clock, remembering the bright yellow of every minute we spent together, the green days with purple skies.

If I just wound back that clock, I knew I could find my Anna, go back to when we met and live that time all over again, relive that moment at the antique shop when she sold me the clock. I tried for months and months, winding it as far back as it would go, with no success. I began losing track of days, staying awake through the nights. It wasn't until my son brought me here, to be taken care of, that I got to see my Anna again. They said as long as I wasn't a danger to myself, they'd let me keep the clock in my room. It all happened beneath the orange skies of winter--I met Anna for the first time at the antique shop and fell in love over and over.

Fernando Benavidez is originally from Brownsville, a small border town in south Texas. He earned a B.A. in English literature from St. Edward's University. Right now, he's finishing up his M.A. in American literature at Texas Tech University where he is also a volunteer editor for the university literary journal, The Iron Horse Review. He plans on pursuing a PhD concentrating on Chicano literature.

Thursday, April 20

FM Bulletin: The "Two Lights" Short Fiction Contest

FM Contributer, Jason Evans, is holding a "Two Lights" Short Fiction Contest.

The challenge is simple. Using the photograph above for inspiration, compose a short fiction piece of no more than 250 words. All genres are welcome.

The prizes are:
--1st Place, a $25 Amazon gift certificate + a signed 8x10 print of the "Two Lights" photo or any other photo from the Gallery
--2nd Place, a $10 Amazon gift certificate + a signed 8x10 print (see above)
--3rd Place (if I get at least 10 entries), a signed 8x10 print (see above)
I will judge the entries and announce the winners on Friday evening, April 28th.

E-mail your entry to jevanswriter at yahoo dot com no later than 8:00 p.m. (eastern time), Thursday April 27th. Please include either a link to your website/blog or a short bio with your entry.

More details here. Sounds like fun!

Tuesday, April 18

Twenty-Five Grand

“Twenty-five Grand”
Short Fiction - Crime
By Kelly Parra

Danny “The Bull” Demarco owed her twenty-five grand. Zana Blake wasn’t leaving until her tab was paid.

She stepped across Techno Hole’s threshold, one of Frisco’s popular night clubs. A blast of new wave music assaulted her ears. The club’s accumulated body heat hit her like a slap. Her gaze veered to the second floor. DeMarco’s lair.

She cut across the dance floor. An over-the-hill clubber planted an arm in her path, smiling a grin packed full of straight white teeth. Dentures-R-Us.

She knew the come-on was because of the dress. This baby had “Kick-butt and take no prisoners” written all over it. Just the way she wanted it.

Zana leaned in close enough for him to have a whiff of her peach nectar lotion. Her reward, an overload of sweat mixed with an God-awful cologne--and whispered in his ear, “Get Real,” before she brushed him from her mind.

Making her up way up the stair case then down a dim-lit hallway, the blaring music dimmed. The sudden thump of rushing feet made her frown. Then--boom--she was knocked on her ass by a runaway blonde.

Crap. She caught a glimpse of dark eyes and a pale face, before the blonde disappeared wearing a hot pink dress.

So much for kicking butt and taking prisoners.

On her feet, Zana tugged her dress in place. Shook off the irritation, and turned the corner to DeMarco’s rooms. Inside there was no sign of “The Bull”. An odd deodorizer floated in the air. Across the expanse of carpet, she caught sight of two months of hard work--a masterpiece of color, intricate lines, and soft strokes.

It was time for the pay off. “DeMarco, it’s Blake. You know why I’m here.” From the hallway she heard a soft hum and a clink of...glassware?

She followed the noise to a closed door. A slash of light came from under the doorway. Placing her ear against the entry, the hum was more distinct. Along with the rumble of water and still the clink...clink...clink.

She knocked. “DeMarco?” Nothing.

Tired of the games, she shoved open the door. Her hand slapped to her mouth, blocking the scream tearing through her throat.

DeMarco sat slumped in a Jacuzzi. His bull head cocked back, eyes and mouth wide. A large knife stuck out of chest. The jets rumbled under his bare arm, causing the wineglass in his hand to hit against the bathroom wall tile.


“I came to collect my fee and found him dead. How many times do I have to tell it?” Zana stared at two cops. One good looking spiffed up in jeans, T-shirt, and a leather jacket. The other cop sporting cop attire--a boring beige suit. A real bad cop, good cop partnership.

“As many times as I want to hear it,” Bad Cop said.

Just call her Prime Suspect Numero Uno.

The club swarmed with crime scene specialists. Most of the crowd had been questioned then released. A handful of patrons and employees waited to leave.

“I told you--”

“A blonde in a pink dress. Got that.”

“Who’s gonna stick around after murder?”

Bad Cop glanced at his partner. The signal.

“Ms. Blake, what was this fee for?”

“He commissioned me for a painting.”

Bad Cop raised his eyebrows. “You’re an artist?”

“How much did he owe you?” Good Cop wanted to know.

Crap. “Twenty-five.”



Good cop whistled. Bad cop’s eyes narrowed.

“You’re not going to find my prints anywhere. I want to be released or you better give me a phone call.”

Across the expanse of dance floor, she caught a flash of pink and jumped to her feet.

“Ms. Blake--”

She booked it across smooth floor. A puff of blonde hair peeked out from behind a couple of women. One dark eye peered from over a shoulder--widened--then disappeared. The runaway blonde was on the run yet again.

“Stop that blonde!” Zana scrambled as fast she could in three-inch heels.

Curses erupted behind her.

The blonde tripped, falling at Mr. Dentures’s feet. On the floor, she screeched, “You tripped me!”

Mr. Dentures shrugged.

Zana placed a high heel on the blonde’s back. “You’re not going anywhere, Blondie.” She caught the whiff of Mr. Dentures’s cologne and froze.

He smiled.

Zana’s eyes narrowed. “Your cologne.”

Mr. Dentures’s smile slipped.

“It smells just like Demarco’s European bubble bath splattered all over the bathroom.”

The cops appeared. “I think you have another suspect.”


Blondie ended up being Demarco’s on-the-side lover. After finding the body, she’d ran because she was scared, and…married. Dentures confessed. He had happened to be a lover too--a jealous one. He was cuffed, read his rights and arrested. As for Zana. She was out of twenty-five grand.

Bad Cop strutted over. “I got a six pack of cold beer calling our names.”

Her lips twitched. “What the hell.”

Sunday, April 16

A Conversation, in Whispers, Between Two Graduate Students in the Renaissance Section of the University Library

"A Conversation, in Whispers, Between Two Graduate Students in the Renaissance Section of the University Library"
Short Fiction - Humor
by Fernando Benavidez

"They found a piece of shit."

"Who did?"

"These guys from the Center for Rare Artifacts and Author Peculiarities."

"The C.R.A.A.P?"

"Yeah, I think that's them."

"Aren't they the ones who published that bestselling book of famous eighteenth-century author grocery lists and love letters or something?"


"So why would they be looking for a piece of shit?"

"Because it's not just any piece of shit, it's an artifact. Plus it's Shakespeare's."

"William Shakespeare's?"

"Who else?"

"Wow, so they actually found old stuff that really sucked and never got published or what?"

"No stupid. They actually found a piece of his shit buried behind his old house in Stratford-on-Avon. They were digging, looking for a supposed underground library he had where they say he hid some of his incomplete works or something, but they found an old underground sewage hole instead, with shit that was petrified over the centuries I guess."

"But how do they know it's his?"

"I don't know--maybe by its size or something."

"Was it big?"

"They didn't say, but they were still doing some tests on it to verify. You know, analysis."

"What kind of analysis can you do on shit? It's just shit."

"Yeah, but it's Shakespeare's shit. I guess they weighed it, examined little pieces of it under the microscope to see what he ate, carbon dated it. You know, interpreted it--shit like that. I mean, I guess, I don't really know. I've never tested shit or known anyone who has before."

"Who told you all this?"

"I read it. I think it was in last week's New Yorker--special Renaissance Author's edition. I read that shit all the time. I think they even had a funny cartoon about it."

"Really? A cartoon about Shakespeare's shit? That's classic."

"Yeah, I don't remember what it was, exactly. Some funny shit though."

"So what are they doing with it after all the testing's done?"

"I guess they could probably sell it on ebay--I don't know."

"Or, you think maybe they'll put it in some museum in New York, or London, some place like that?"

"Well, they didn't say they had any plans for where the shit'll end up, but if Shatner got twenty-five grand for his fucking kidney stone, and he's still alive, I'm sure this piece of shit will make lots of money."

"You really think so? Who'd buy a piece of shit though?"

"It's not just any piece of shit man, it's Shakespeare's piece of shit. The guy I'm doing my dissertation on."

"Okay. But, who would actually buy Shakespeare's shit though? I mean, I wouldn't buy Salinger's."

"That's because he's still alive, dumbass. Anyway, I don't know, I'm sure it'll go for a lot though. I mean, I'd buy it if I had the money. They're saying it's the greatest discovery of our time."

"No shit?"

"No shit."

"It's even sparked a whole movement of shit hunting. Whole teams of archeologists are getting together with literary scholars from Oxford to search for shit from other authors. I think Milton's shit is next on the must-have list. They said Chaucer's would be impossible to find though--even with the best computers and the most advanced Geo-GPS that they could use to pinpoint the shit. It's too long ago. But if somebody does ever find it, holy shit. That'll be the oldest and probably the...granddaddy‚ of all the shits in English literature."

"That's fucking amazing. I mean, what they can do with technology nowadays."

"They're starting to look for shit from American authors too, here in the states. They said they might be tougher to find though, since they took their shits when there was already modern plumbing. Experts say that's how shit gets lost."

"Fucking amazing."

"Yeah, the big publishing companies are all over this. Stephen King's already gotten his shit frozen in a box that if opened before he dies, will release some virus in the form of a fog and like, kill the perpetrator or something. Dan Brown's got his in some super-secret underground room where they store all of their authors‚ shits. It's all locked and coded up beneath some old church, and only three people know where it's located.

We should save ours˜our biggest one, like as our own investments."

"Where--in the freezer?"

"No. I mean, we should get our own capsules to put them in--you know?"

"They're expensive and they only sell them to already published authors."

"Then freezer bags. Fuck it--I'm doing it. That way, when I finish my first novel, you know, I'll already have all my shit together, so to speak."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Yeah, all they'll have to do is publish me, market me, and put my shit up for auction on ebay when I make it big. They can say: Mr. Jones created this piece of excrement when he was writing The Honeydale Massacre. That shit'll sell."

"Yeah, probably more than The Honeydale Massacre."

"Eat shit."

Fernando Benavidez is originally from Brownsville, a small border town in south Texas. He earned a B.A. in English literature from St. Edward's University. Right now, he's finishing up his M.A. in American literature at Texas Tech University where he is also a volunteer editor for the university literary journal, The Iron Horse Review. He plans on pursuing a PhD concentrating on Chicano literature.

Saturday, April 15

Happy Easter From FM

Wishing everyone an awesome Easter
and if you don't celebrate the holiday have a great time with your families! =)

Thursday, April 13

FM Bulletin: Misc Books and Press

Fellow FM Contributer, D.T. Kelly, let us know about an independent company called Miscellaneous Books and Press.
"Miscellaneous Books and Press is an independent company dedicated to publishing smart, witty, delightfully quirky and sometimes poignant literary fiction and nonfiction by writers more in love with their craft than working the corporate mainstream.  We are especially interested in insightful writing that lights the shadowed and miscellaneous corners of reality in unexpected and engaging ways."

MBP is currently accepting submissions for The Best Weblog Writing Ever for their first Spring 2006 anthology.

Thanks to D.T. for sharing! Sounds pretty cool, guys. Check it out if you're interested!

Tuesday, April 11

The Wall

"The Wall"
Flash Fiction
By Jeff Neale

The wall is complete, impenetrable. Built out of necessity, construction began a long time ago with the first brick. Slowly over the years, as new bricks were added it took form.

There is security behind the wall, a safe place from outside intrusion.

What lies within the protective wall is priceless, but damaged.

Some have tried to steal it by going over or through the wall, but all have failed. The owner simply laughs at their efforts.

There was a time long ago when someone else owned what now lies behind the wall. Eventually, through abuse and neglect, it broke into pieces and the original owner took it back.

What once was open now lies hidden from view.

"Will you ever let me see and hold what is behind the wall? I promise not to harm it," I said.

"I cannot take that risk," the owner replied.

"Not even for me?"

"Not even for you."


"Because I will never allow my heart to be vulnerable or broken again," she said.

Sunday, April 9

Conversation With a Friend Over Coffee in a Yuppie Book Store

"Conversation With a Friend Over Coffee
in a Yuppie Book Store"

Short Fiction - Humor
by D.T. Kelly

Don’t be funny.


Don’t be funny. I want you to write a serious story for once.

But that’s not what I do.

So, change what you do. It can’t be that hard.

It’s not like changing your underwear. There’s more to it than just saying ‘I’m going to write a serious story now’.

You’re always so dramatic. I want a story that doesn’t contain absurdity.

But, life is absurd.

You can’t do it, can you?

Do what?

Write something that focuses on a serious theme.

Sure I can. Remember “The Lesson”?

Okay. So you’ve written one serious piece in your life.

And what about all my earlier works?

You mean the ones you won’t let me read?

Oh, yeah. But take my word for it, they’re not absurd.

Okay, so you’ve just argued that you can do it, so do it.


Because; you’re always complaining that your writing seems stagnant lately. Branch out into the unknown.

Technically, it’s not the unknown. I mean there--

Ass. Just do it. I’ll give you a starter sentence. Ready?

Hold on. Yeah, go ahead.

Okay, here goes. 'It all started with a bear.'

It all started with a bear?


A bare what, light bulb? bare ass? What?

A bear. You know, a grizzly. Roar. A bear.

Ok, so it’s a grizzly bear.

Well, it can be any type of bear you want.

But it can be a grizzly bear.

Yes, geez. It can be a grizzly.

Can it be a talking grizzly?

No, dammit, it can’t.

Can he have special mind powers, like yogi bear, that can make people give up their picinic basket?

Sigh. No.

I know, I’m sorry. Okay. I’ll start this now, if you want.

Really? You’re seriously going to do this.

Yeah, let me see what I can do here.

Okay. Good. You won’t regret it. Hey, I need more coffee, want one? I’m buying.


Plain, right?

Hot and black.

Yeah, plain.

No, not plain. Pure.

Oh that’s right, you’re a purist.

I am! Forgive me for actually liking the taste of pure coffee.


Whatever. Do you want me to do this?

Yeah. Tell me, do you prefer vanilla ice cream over chocolate?

Yes, actually.


To each their own. Now go.

All right.

Okay. 'It all started with a bear.' Hmm. When my mom saw it through our living room window she screamed. No, that sucks. Hey. I got it.

(Minutes Pass)

Here. I told the woman at the counter that you’re a purist and she said she never met one of those before. I think she thought I said puritan.

Shall I show her my scarlet letter?

Better not. I don’t feel like getting arrested.

Yeah, me neither. Thanks for the coffee.

Welcome. How’s it going, you have anything yet?

I do.

Well? Aren’t you going to share?


Why not?


What are you, in fourth grade? ‘Because’ isn’t an answer.

Sure it is.

Says who?

‘Says who?’ Now who’s the fourth grader?

Gotta fight fire with fire, dearie. Share, dammit. I want to hear.

Fine. 'It all started with a bear. Sam knew he was in serious trouble as soon as he spotted the mass of fur in the river ahead of him. Worst of all, the bear looked hungry.' That’s all I have.

Good start.

I thought so.

Any idea where it’s going?

Of course.





Back to fourth grade I see.

Gotta stick with what works.

You're such an ass.

I've never claimed otherwise.

True. So, you think this will be a good one?

A good what?



What? Why not?

Because it's not absurd.

You're absurd.

Exactly my point.

You're impossible.

Well, which am I? An ass or impossible.


An impossible ass?


Sounds like a title for a plot-driven porn movie from the seventies.

Starring Jack M. Hoff and Buck Driver.

Oh, so now it's a gay porn.

I never said that.

But you listed only male names.

Fine. Muffy McLight is in it too.

Muffy McLight? Sounds like a McDonald's value meal. 'I'd like a Muffy McLight, supersized please, with a diet coke.'

I think I have to go.

Getting hungry?

You're sick.

Okay, so let's sum up. I'm a purely dramatic, sick, absurd, impossible, heathen ass.


And you expect me to write a serious piece?

Good point. Never mind. Keep writing as you do.

I knew you'd see it my way.

Friday, April 7

Meeting Coriolus

"Meeting Coriolus"
Flash Fiction
by lejnd

It's funny, the thoughts that come into your mind when you're dying.

I watched the water and blood escape down the tub drain in counter-clockwise circles and thought of my high school physics class and angular momentum. The teacher said it was the earth's rotation which caused liquids to drain counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern. The Coriolis Force, he called it. Back then it amazed me that some unseen force influenced something as insignificant as water draining.

I know better now. The Coriolis Force is weak. Oh, it still exerts its influence under perfect conditions. The problem is perfect conditions don't exist in the real world. The physical dimensions of the vessel and the location of the drain affect the liquid far more than any unseen Coriolis Force.

My veins are almost empty and so is the tub. With the last of my strength, I reach my hand, the one without the three deep gashes on the wrist, and stop the drain. When I pull my hand back, the water and blood resumes swirling counter-clockwise.

Wednesday, April 5

In Print

"In Print"
Flash Fiction
by emeraldcite

He was dying to see his name in print.

In fact, Jack dedicated himself to finishing his masterpiece no matter what the cost. The manuscript took on a life of its own, just as the corpses in his work.

He would skip meals, nap for only an hour at a time. He even stopped reading the newspaper, one of his favorite sources of entertainment.

Mary, his wife, left him. His brother called daily offering to stay with Jack until he made it through this rough patch. Jack was thin, but he was almost finished. He turned down his brother's offer.

On that day, he awoke from his first real night of sleep in weeks. He walked out to the kitchen and unfolded the day's newspaper. He read it from front to back.

And there, he was finally in print.

Section D, page four. The Obituaries.

Monday, April 3

Fade Away

"Fade Away"
Flash Fiction
by Anne Frasier

My world is tiny.

They took my car away, promising to come and get me whenever I need a ride. I wait, but they don’t come. I sit in this place surrounded by idiot old farts who stare blankly at the birds behind the glass. Stop staring at the fucking birds! I want to scream. But we don’t talk. We don’t look at one another, such is the depth of our shame. Because, let’s face it, pissin’ your pants ain’t cool.

They roll in a new guy. Some decrepit mess who will only add to the aroma. He looks scared, arthritic fingers nervously tapping the plastic arm of his wheelchair.

I don’t like old people. I fucking hate old people.

“Ian?” The guy leans forward. “I thought you died.”

Who is that ugly pile of sagging skin? Somebody I know?

“It’s me. Martin.”

Martin. My old band mate. The bass player and kid of the group. Now I notice that his arms are solid tattoos. This is such a trip. This is so freaky.

“Remember that time at First Avenue?” he asks. “When you dove off the stage and broke two ribs?” He starts to laugh, but after a couple of gasps seems to think better of it.

How can the memory of youth hurt so much? It’s more pain than I can stand. I don’t answer him. I look away. I stare at the yellow bird.

Sunday, April 2

Winner of the Flash Flurry Doorway Contest is...

Jeff Neale!!

Why keep you in suspense, right? Congratulations, Jeff!! You'll be featured in the right column of FM for one month. Lucky guy, you. ;D I'll email you with the details this week.

Thank you all for contributing, and just in case you want to know how the winner was decided, I'll share.

When looking through the entries I searched for voice, concept, and originality. Well, you all have voice! Let me tell you, wow, I am impressed with everyone's talent. And the concepts of all the flash are awesome. It was really tough choosing the top 5 I felt had a strong, original concept. Each entry (and writer) has a distinct strength in it's self. But having read the entries over and over I started to lose a little perspective so I then asked the assistance of one reader and one published author (in fiction and short story) who hadn't read any of the entries until I shared the finalists. They were to tell me the top 2 that really stood out to them, and Jeff's flash, "Passing Through," was among both of their choices. So again congrats to Jeff and for everyone who shared. I noticed in a few emails this was a first time flash experience for some of you and I congratulate all of you on having the courage to share your work. As writers, we know the first steps can be a little scary. =)

This was definitely a fun time and I hope you all had fun as well. I will try and hold a contest every 2 months or so. Please continue to visit FM and share your wonderful stories with us. Thank you! =D

"Passing Through"
by Jeff Neale

"It’s time for you to pass through the doorway," the Voice said.
"I’m frightened."
"Nothing to fear."
"I am safe here. I am afraid of the cold and what lies beyond. Don’t make me leave my world."
"All have an appointed time."
"But . . ."
Crushing pain in my chest.
Moving through a tunnel toward a bright light. There are beings waiting for me in the light.
Then loud, unintelligible voices.
"Congratulations, it’s a boy!"

Saturday, April 1

Doorway Flash by Vampran

Doorway Flash
by Vampran

Near the Meiji Shrine, just two blocks away from the busy Sangubashi Train Station there is an older, less visited shrine with a renowned doorway. The doorway serves as an impromptu gathering place for those in search of a forgotten truth.

Huddled in the tiny doorway along side the impassioned zealous is the superstitious Mr. Kitamura. He has never sought out any forgotten truths, but he often places mounds of iodized salt in the doorway to ward off evil spirits.

Doorway Flash by Terry Calvin

Doorway Flash
by Terry Calvin

Scuffle, scuffle, flip, flop. His slippers make their comfortable music day after day up and down the tiled halls. Scuffle, scuffle, flip, flop. Sounding so like a beating heart. Steady, safe, constant, ignored as long as it keeps on beating. But the briefest hesitation in his rhythm near my office doorway and I am brought crashing back from my journeys to other worlds I'm creating, with a painful abruptness equal to the yelled words. "Charge paddles. CEAR!"

Terry teaches Creative Writing in The Senior Education Program at Tarrant County College in Arlington, Texas. Has her own business, seven children, seven grand children and a darling husband that allows her the time to write and yes, he wears floppy slippers. :)

Doorway Flash by Chandra Tracey

Doorway Flash Entry
by Chandra Tracey

Her hands tremble. She sees his car in the driveway. "I can't do this," she whispers, fighting back tears. Her fingertips grip the dirty doorknob and pause, listening for signs that he's home. She turns the knob and pushes the squeaky door open. She waits, glances around the living room. The tears hit like a tidal wave. She leans into the doorway, slides down gripping her knees. "Why him?" she sobs repeatedly as her head sinks into her aching chest.