Finnian Burnett

Storyteller

Last week’s Flash-mo picture didn’t inspire us, so my wife went searching for something else and came up with this fantastic painting by Frida Kahlo.

We both wrote very different stories based on the picture. Here’s the first draft of mine. I know it still has a couple tense issues but I’m focusing this month just on output, not editing.

On Her Mind

He was always on her mind, always with her. As she earned her doctorate, became a full professor, mentored students, won awards, he was there—always there. She accepted it was her imagination—she’d always been depressed and finding the right balance with her meds was an ongoing battle. Hearing his voice as she accepted an award didn’t scare her so much as it just drew a sign of resignation. Of course, he’d be here, telling her she didn’t deserve it, she wasn’t good enough. When she got tenure, she heard him howling with laughter. Stupid girl, he said between gasping braws of laughter. Stupid, stupid girl.

In her office at the university, she’d glimpse him in the darkened windows behind her desk. Stupid, he’d snarl sometimes. Too stupid. At home, she’d see him throwing plates, reminding her of the way he’d thrown his dinner at her when he was displeased with it. Some days, the invisible burning scars of hot pasta sauce seemed to run down her face in searing strips of pain.

In the classroom, he stormed across the back of the room yelling, are you ready to make daddy feel better?

Kind students would question her when she went silent. Are you okay, Doctor Stagg? And she’d always manage a smile. Yes, of course, she’d say, before returning to the lecture.

On Christmas, he pounded on the door of her house, his old house, where he’d lived before she sent him to jail. Go away, she’d screamed, sure it was another vision, another trick of her mind.

But he slammed through the door and rushed her in the kitchen, his arms encircled her, and suddenly he was real, so very real. Stupid girl, he’d said. And she pulled a knife from the drawer, her mother’s favorite knife, and as she’d dreamed of so many times, plunged it into his heart.

Later, she whistled as she dug a pit in the backyard, and after that, she never saw him again, not in the windows of her office, not in the classroom, not in her home, not anywhere.

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