Heads or Tails

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #163 for July 9th, 2010

In her right hand a woman holds a loaded gun, in her left, a coin that just came up ‘tails’…NOW WRITE…


It had come to this.  Fourteen years of an emotional rollercoaster.  Even now her stomach churned at the drop that was about to happen.  Her heart raced unsteadily, knowing the action that was supposed to follow.  Her mind had devised the plan, but her heart had initially rebelled.  Rationalisation overturned emotion and the cogs began to turn.  The gun felt alien in her hand; its weight unnatural.  The coin in her left hand was as lead.  Its outcome was predetermined before she turned it over in her hand.

She felt like Desdemona, turning the tables on Othello, standing beside their marriage bed.  He stirred in his sleep and she involuntarily recoiled, wrapping her left arm protectively around her ribs and stomach.  She thought of the two young children who had grown in the vault of her womb, cradled and nurtured.  Her hand circled her belly as if to create a magic circle, yet it hadn’t been able to protect her from the abuse.  Vicious blows had landed repeatedly, frequently; anger lashing out and striking her shielding arms and exposed ribs from the hand of the body that lay in front of her.  It was never the face.  Clothes could hide a multitude of received sins.  Once again she circled her belly.

She placed the coin beside the sleeping form; tax for the ferryman.  With a bitter sense of relief she placed the muzzle to his temple and pulled the trigger.

11 responses to “Heads or Tails

  1. This week’s story was prompted by a news article here in Australia where a woman shot her husband after many years of domestic violence. The prompt made me think of why someone would go to such an extreme end.
    This piece is brief as the idea of you write until it is finished, and this was finished.
    It has been a struggle to write these last few weeks and nothing of note has been forthcoming. Thanks to those who do see something worthwhile. Must stop making excuses for my writing and just write.
    I know that this piece could have been developed in many different ways, but in the end, I’m happy with what I have on the page. I like that its brevity can suggest so much more and allow the reader to fill in some of the blanks.
    I have a second attempt at the prompt

  2. This one is very different, the imagery is a lot more straightfoward, the feel is very different. I quite liked your portrayal.

  3. To pull that trigger she needed to assign her actions and moral responsibility to something as simple as the toss of coin. I really liked this piece as it sums up everything that flash fiction is about, cheers.

  4. Very well done, short and to the point. I especially liked “tax for the ferryman”. It gave the piece a grim finality, the point of no return.

  5. I like the way you described her feelings towards doing it, her head and heart disagreeing. Quite emotional!

  6. This one is much more straightforward than the next, so between the two I probably like the other one, but then again there’s something very direct and worthy about this story. I see you say it’s based on something real but it speaks as something that has probably happened many times and will happen again, which is tragic and just realistic. I like your writing even as I wish the event never happened.

  7. i really like how you approached this topic. nice work!

  8. I could feel her hesitation even though the “outcome was predetermined.” Nice tight story.

  9. My philosophy is even if every prompt doesn’t “speak” to you, per se, the practice is invaluable. Your imagery is wonderful — love the coin was as lead, equating it with a bullet. You have a compelling writing style.

  10. I think I prefer this one to the other one. I’m not quite sure why she’d flip a coin when she’s already made up her mind, but it was a good visual image to use the coin as Charon’s payment. Very well written.

  11. The whole story was well written from beginning to end. Short and direct. It flowed beautifully. I loved it and the ending: “She placed the coin beside the sleeping form; tax for the ferryman.” That was brilliant.

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