At our first get together, the members of my writing group agreed to write a response to a prompt during the two week interim between meetings. This was the prompt we chose:
Write a story in 26 sentences, using the letter A to begin the first sentence, B for the second, and so on through the alphabet ending with the letter Z.
When we met again yesterday, I was amazed at the many different responses and styles a simple prompt produced. Serious, funny, dark, poetic – we had it all!
I told my writing group that I wouldn’t be sharing my ABC story on my blog, but I have since changed my mind. (It’s my blog, so I can do that, right? Right.) So here it is, an offering of flash fiction for your enjoyment:
A secret is a lonely burden. Because humans are by nature both social and deceitful, a secret shared will not remain undisclosed forever. Careful deliberation regarding the trustworthiness of a confidant can reduce the risk of exposure, but silence is the only way to ensure a secret remains hidden.
Do not tell anyone.
Every day of my life I honor the wisdom of those four words. For years, I have lived alone with the terrible reality of my offense. Gradually, I have become accustomed to the ever present weight of guilt pressing on my shoulders, but never have I found a way to ease the regret that consumes my heart.
Horrific dreams plague me. I am not religious, though I fantasize about kneeling in repentance before a priest and receiving absolution for my sin. Jet black ash covers my soul, too dark, I fear, for simple words from a cleric to wash away.
Keeping my secret aged me prematurely. Lines formed early around my lips and eyes. My hair was silver before my fortieth birthday. Nothing I tried, no beauty cream or miracle vitamin, could erase the guilt etched on my brow. Often I wondered if others could see the shame that covered my face like an ugly mask.
Perhaps they did notice, but something – fear? good manners? – made them reticent to speak of it directly. Quite frequently I was sure they were watching me, seeking the proof of my lies while they pretended to speak casually to me all the while. Remarks about the weather and other idle chatter were thin veils for their intent. Slyly, they cast their lines as they fished for the truth among topics of everyday concern. Try as they did, I never allowed myself to be snagged by their lures.
Until today, I never imagined I would willingly reveal my sin. Vengeance had spurred me to commit a most unspeakable act, and to confess would result in imprisonment, or even death. While I still fear the reckoning to come, I cannot allow another to pay the price for my brutality.
“X marks the spot,” I mutter to myself as I draw two intersecting lines over the location of a hidden grave on a hand-drawn map. Years of pent up remorse and pain find release as I write the first line of my confession.
“Zoe Abraham died a premeditated death by my own hand on July 2, 1987…”