Friday Fiction – What Doesn’t Kill You…

Another great FF photo to inspire us this week, this time from Fictioneers Regular, Claire Fuller. I would love to hear what you think, but I’m unlikely to get much reading time over the next few weeks, so feel free to skip it if you think that’s unfair.


What Doesn’t Kill You…

Alfie could build anything out here. “Anything except a good marriage,” his wife, Betty, said. They were together 54 years, though, so he got something right. 54 years without an accident: not on the unguarded saw bench, not with the safety-less nail gun, nor the open wiring above the sink.

I once asked Betty if she worried about it. “Safest place he ever goes,” she replied. “No smoking in a workshop.”

She caught on early to what Alfie called the “Cancer Craze” about smoking. Alfie said coughing was just a reminder of mortality. He was right, but so was she.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

32 responses to “Friday Fiction – What Doesn’t Kill You…

  1. Yes, smoking kills… We tend to forget that compared to all the less risky thing. Harsh end there

    • I realise I could offend a lot of people here, but I’ve never seen the appeal of smoking. Alfie probably started at a time when it was considered healthy, but these days no one goes into it unaware of the risks. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Good story Jennifer. Loved the comment about it being the safest place he ever goes. Think there’s a transposition at “I asked once Betty”. Nie one.

  3. For not knowing how to build a marriage, they did well. Good title, too. Just very well done overall. Hope you’re having fun.


  4. I love that of all the dangers in the shop it is smoking that was the greater killer. Sandra already pointed out the transposition or so I also assumed. Great story and ending.

  5. How clever you are, very well done, enjoyed this story very much.

  6. I love this line: Alfie said coughing was just a reminder of mortality. I can see both their character so clearly. Lovely writing.

    • thanks Claire, and for the glorious photo too. I’m pleased you could see Alfie through that line, especially because it was longer pre-edit, so I’m glad it remained clear post-.

  7. Helena Hann-Basquiat

    I thought the timing of the line “54 years without an accident” right after the line about the marriage was deliciously double-edged — I really thought you were making a crack about the marriage — no accidents there…
    Very clever ending.
    I’m not writing this week, but I’d love it if you’d drop by my blog for a second anyway, I posted a big announcement today

  8. Loved this story The harder it is for a smoker to partake the better off they are — I thought it was fascinating that they were married 54 years — it adds another interesting layer.

  9. I enjoyed this story. This was a couple who found out the secret of giving each other enough space.

    • Indeed – in my experience sometimes we don’t see that the things which make our relationships work are the very things we grumble about. I imagine Betty grumbling about how long Alfie spent in his workshop, but with an indulgent smile on her face because she knows it made him happy, and as you say, gave them both their space too. My grandparents had a similar relationship about his study.

  10. camgal

    Truthful and realistic I would say, and that many years of marriage takes a lot of hard work 🙂 well done.

  11. The juxtaposition of killer equipment and smoking is a good one. Nicely done.

  12. Both right, but only she can have the last laugh.

  13. You’ve written a clever story in so few words: great characters, powerful message, humour, and clear unstated plot. Brilliant, Jennifer.

  14. Dear Jennifer,

    A double edged sword and many layers in your story this week. 54 years does not a good marriage make. It might just mean that they’re comfortably trapped.

    Well done as always.



    • What an interesting take, Rochelle. Just shows what cutting did, as she was originally more clearly affectionate. That’s how I see her, but your comment is absolutely right and a perfectly valid reading of the story as it stands. Thanks for sharing this viewpoint.

  15. An interesting take on marriage and the risks we take in life-some we see ,others are not so obvious but are definitely killing us physically or emotionally everyday!54 years is a long time-so it must been quite an ordeal for the wife but what a way to be right!A well written piece Jennifer:-)

  16. What a great piece. Neatly told, tightly wrapped. Well done.

  17. Great story – really liked the last sentence. Well done! Nan

  18. Jennifer,
    this is some deep stuff. He avoided all the obvious dangers, but it was the long, slow one that got him. Isn’t that the case so many times? Great story.

  19. Life is full of dangers – smoking, saw bladesn nail guns, wiring, marriage. Somehow they made it all work long enough.
    Great story.

  20. Well done, Jen. Sounds like he got several things right.

  21. Ironic and a reminder of how unjust life is sometimes. Well done

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