FF – In the Undergrowth

Today’s picture is from Connie Gayer. If you are interested in joining in the Critique subgroup, check out the info here.

Plague remains in the Pendergast household (there is little more heartbreaking than a baby who has lost his voice) and it’s Sebastian’s birthday, so might take me a day or two to join in, but I welcome your comments and feedback.


In The Undergrowth

They walked, because there was nothing else to do but walk, and they spoke, because both were more comfortable chattering than silent. But they spoke about the views they saw and about the weather, about the wildlife they caught glimpses of and the route they took. They spoke and chattered, but they never talked.
What they had done travelled with them, the proverbial elephant though they were no longer in a room; the metaphorical snake, that stalked close but invisible and would one day, she felt sure, rise up out of the undergrowth and bite them squarely in the ass.



Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

36 responses to “FF – In the Undergrowth

  1. Dale

    How wonderfully written this was. I reread it thrice to bask in the words… (and the sentiment is woefully true in so many couples…)

  2. Dear Jennifer,

    C-Nothing negative here. You left me wondering about the elephant in the room. “They spoke and chattered, but they never talked.” This worked very well.
    It sounds like you’ve got your hands full. Sending healing thoughts your way.



    • Thanks for the healing thoughts, and the C-comment. The piece grew in a sense around that line you picked out, so I’m glad it worked for you. As for the elephant… I don’t actually have a fixed idea for what it is, so I will wonder along with you.

  3. C – “What they had done…” , without a hint of what they had actually done, was a good way of leaving it to the reader to insert their own imagination. I imagined them digging a grave in the dessert to bury a “body” and walking back . My imagination influenced by the Prompt picture and nothing else 😉

    • Oooh, I do like that and it was definitely an option in my mind, but one of the reasons I left it vague was that I couldn’t decide what it was! Thank you for taking the time to read and critique for me

  4. Intriguing piece, cryptically written.

  5. I am a big fan of metaphors.. and the thing I really liked was the way you used italics on talked… since you added the C I would have liked would be to “name the elephant”, a clue of some kind. Maybe giving a hint on the relationship or something like that. On the other hand I have always said I like open-ended stories so maybe that’s what make me think. Anyway, I did not put a C on mine, I saw it afterwards… but as I wrote before I love constructive feedback.

    • Great – join in with the C group next time if you like, and thanks for your comments here. I realised the mystery could split the crowd as it were, but the truth is I didn’t leave a clue because I wasn’t sure myself. Not an excuse, just an explanation. Thanks again!

  6. C – I like the illusion of normalcy in the beginning with a sinister ending. The profanity “ass” helps jolt the reader out of complacency. Not that I have any problem with profanity. It was just so well placed in this piece.

  7. What did they do? I really want to know.

  8. A lot of us chatter without saying a word! Great take on the prompt Jen! 🙂

  9. Dear Jennifer,

    Happy Birthday to Sebastian! Nice story. I’ve lived it, so i know whereof i speak.



    • I knew you’d left bodies buried in the desert, Doug! Great to see you hear, I hope it means there’s a story for me to read when I make my way back to the linky, but either way I hope all is well with you. And thank you for the good wish for Sebastian. He’s getting big!

  10. I loved this one, Jennifer. A lot going on under the surface with these two. Our grandson, Corbin, will turn 8 on the 15th and I will hit the big Six-Oh on the following day. November is a busy month.

  11. I loved all the metaphors, exquisitely composed.

  12. C – beautifully written. I love the repetition of certain words, which somehow suggests walking and walking and walking to me. And I really like how we have no idea what they’ve done – much better than if you’d told us. My only issue is that there is two or more of them, but at the end only one ass – which is odd! Although I know that ‘bite them in the asses’ just wouldn’t work.

    • Ooh, you liked the repetition. That’s good, because I ran out of words for “spoke” and I wondered if the repetition would be a bad thing. Yes, I have in mind them travelling a long way too.
      And I totally agree about the ass / asses issue. I wondered when I wrote it, but asses just seemed odd, and I didn’t want to say “bite her in the ass” because I wanted them in it together. Hmmm…

  13. ps – I love this ‘C’ thing. I’m going to enjoy FF so much more.

  14. I tried to do the c thing when I posted but failed – next time, maybe.
    Really enjoyed the story and the implied backstory – the woman is certainly in the £ seats here.
    Some observations. I would delete the word ‘But’ in the second sentence. The following sentence gives the meaning. And (stop me if you want) replace the ; with a , after ‘no longer in the room’. I think maybe it’ll read easier. And it gives a verb to the subject ‘the proverbial elephant’.
    I think it’s a lovely story and definitely how we men can be.

  15. It’s like the beginning of “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” The payback is scary.

  16. It works for me. C-nothing much to say critique-wise. I really like the walking and speaking, not talking. The walking adds the aspect of running away from that thing that will bite them, whoever they are, and the speaking numbs the screams in their heads. To me, it’s sometihing they’ll be ashamed of, could be deception, not helping someone close, running from responsibilities… but it could be anything. It’s the kind of story that stays with you and makes you wonder. I love that.

  17. I enjoyed this – as many others said, the speaking but not talking was an excellent line. But a tiny criticism if I may, the final sentence doesn’t need “They spoke and chattered” as this is inferred, and using “spoke” again jarred for me.
    Very nice piece though, with much to ponder about their actions, their reasons and their relationship.

  18. I see the metaphor of couples who never really communicate or share anything. What’s ahead is either a very shallow existence together or crippling problems that could have been foreseen. Maybe that’s the elephant in the room after all.

  19. I love the irony of this deep story about superficiality.

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