Friday Fiction – Counting

It’s the dawn of a new era. The good ship Fictioneers, still proudly boasting her full complement of sails, billowed by a strong wind of inspiration, now has captain Rochelle Wisoff-Fields at the helm. The gallant crew musters on deck for another day’s work and the sailing looks good.

You can blame Doug for my early posting today – he lured me into rebellion and I wrote this yesterday morning. It took a lot of pruning to get it down to 100 words – I hope the meaning and the voice are not too lost as a consequence. If the comments suggest the meaning is unclear, I may have to post an explanation at the bottom, we’ll see how it goes, I guess. I’d love to hear what you think.


He’s looking at me. There are approximately 8 million grains of sugar in a 1lb bag. How do I know that? And this jar holds, maybe, a third of a pound. He’s wondering what I’m thinking.

Let’s say a quarter. That’s 2 million grains. But it isn’t full. Ha, half full or half empty? After what he just told me: almost empty and the bottom just fell out.

There are a million grains of sugar in the jar, then. Each one of them a reason to leave him. But all I can say is

“I need some time to think.”


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

35 responses to “Friday Fiction – Counting

  1. Dear Jen,

    The voice remains, clear and sharp, as does her hesitance. The desolation of the “We need to talk” location, the mind driven to contemplation of details that matter not a whit, the unutterable feeling of loss as she considers her situation. I say go, don’t think, get up and walk out leaving him the bill and his own bewilderment.

    I lured you into rebellion, eh? Well it was a good thing because that means i had a hand in some small way in this story of yours. Excellent work.



    • Hey Doug! Yes, it’s all your fault I wrote this early, so you can take the credit or blame for the result! I was asking myself why you’d be staring at the condiments, and I realised there had to be some reason you couldn’t look at the person you were dining with. All came from there.
      I’m glad it still worked shorter – you have it exactly, so I’m hopeful others will too!

  2. you created an exceptional mood and tone as well as insight into the speaker.

    there must a million ways to leave your lover… Paul Simon

    • Thanks so much WV. I often find that cutting involves losing either some of the voice or some of the story and I didn’t want to compromise either here. I’m glad it seems to have worked.

  3. Lovely piece, Jen. I can only echo what’s been said. Love the “grains of sugar” metaphor.
    If you go to the FF page and plod through my instructions you should see the Linkz tab with the blue froggy face. I didn’t realize your story was posted until Doug told me.
    You wouldn’t want to cheat the group out of a good read, would you?

    • Thanks Rochelle – I was waiting to link until the story actually posted (automatically, while I was asleep), so it should be up now. Of course, I could just let Doug advertise on my behalf…

  4. There’s a stunned kind of distraction in this piece, beautifully capturing the essence of betrayal. Nice work.

  5. Trudy

    That’s great, I love the internal dialogue. I’m hoping the ‘time to think’ turns into ‘take a hike’ once it’s sunk in!

  6. Hi Jennifer,
    Great internal dialog here. You really take us inside her head. Hope things turn out sweetlyl for her! Ron

  7. This is a masterpiece Jennifer. A nice peek in the mind of a girl desperately trying to distract her mind from the situation she’s in. Trying to become comfortably numb if I may?
    You described the inner interlude with great finesse. This is going to my personal collection of all time favorite blog posts.

  8. Finally! Someone who writes about how real people’s minds work in a pinch.

    • I was having a conversation the other day about the Booker Prize shortlist and in particular a book written in stream of consciousness. I’m not sure I could ever go that far, but this was an interesting attempt at looking at real thoughts inside a very confused head.

  9. A good illustration of how the heart and mind are sometimes only loosely connected. Enjoyed the imagery as to where it was going. PS — love those back of the envelope calculations.

  10. Russell

    I agree, this is one of your best. I’ve heard to taking things with a grain of salt before, but a grain of sugar is a first for me.

    I recently had a couple of short stories published by a UK eMagazine. Here are the links if you’re interested.

  11. Very well written. All the reasons to leave, but there is always that single grains that make us stay…

  12. Might as well just say I agree with what’s been said rather than try to re-write it in my own words. Very realistic. You used your words as precisely as a doctor uses a scalpel.

    • Thank you, tea. I’m delighted it worked for so many people. Not an easy one to condense into 100 words this week. And not an easy prompt either, it’s cool to see what everyone’s done with this one.

  13. Gut-wrenching. Ditto Doug and other above comments. It works and it works well.

  14. The voice and the meaning come through perfectly (though I am left wondering ‘how DOES she know that?’ haha). Her distraction and return time and time again to the sugar was a nice device.

    • Merci, Brian. I’m not sure how she does know that, but I guess we all pick up useless facts and this is one of hers. Maybe she’s a Friday Fictioneer and this story is set next week… oooh, spooky temporal paradox for you to wrap your head around!

  15. SAM

    Oh yes. I like the way you weaves this tale around the sugar jar. What a unique take, and that longing in the end? Wow! Powerful.

  16. All I can say is…after all that calculating in her head…if she decides to leave him, I hope she walks out with that sugar container under her coat…a souvenir to remind her of the decision she made. Her brain worked too hard to leave it there.

  17. summerstommy2

    Sometimes putting off the inevitable is so easy. You have captured the persona’s dilemma well here Jen.

  18. You’ve powerfully depicted her intense emotion through her inability to look directly at the painful situation. A masterful story and only 100 words!

Feedback feeds the muse. Join in the conversation here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s