Friday, January 6, 2012

Story a Week 41 - What I've Done

Hello everyone!  This week's Story a Week is a flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig.  Basically, you hit shuffle in a media player and take the song title and write a story based on it.  I got "What I've Done" by Linkin Park.  I think that made it easier, since the title is pretty generic and kind of thought provoking in itself.  He put a 500 word limit on it and I'm coming in at 484 words.  I hope that you enjoy it.


"Truth be told, I'm not proud of it.  They say that people do what they need to do to survive, but I don't know if I can live with this.  Sometimes I think that it might have been better to have just lost everything than to do what I've done.  I don't even want to talk about it, but I feel like if I keep it bottled up any longer that I'll explode.

"There are times, of course, that I forget about it.  There are times that, when I look at how my family is thriving after the crisis, that I think that it may have been worth it.  Those times are rare.  When I lay in bed at night, next to my beautiful wife... even the warmth of her body next to me isn't enough to keep those feelings away.

"Sometimes I get so angry at myself for it.  Sometimes, while I'm driving alone in the car, I'll yell, 'You would have lost everything, you fool!  You have to do this to keep your house and your family together!'

"I know that I'm not the only one who has done the same thing that I have.  I know that I'm not alone, but that doesn't console me either.  I don't know that anything can console me.  Being a part of that group shouldn't make anyone proud.

"My family doesn't know about it, of course.  My wife doesn't ask where I go, or where the money comes from.  I don't think that she wants to know.  I'm afraid that if I tell them that they would leave.  I did it for them, to have them leave now would be the end of me.  It would have been all for nothing.  They can't know about this.

"Maybe that's why I'm telling you all of this.  You're a stranger to me.  It can't hurt to have someone else know.  Someone has to know.  I just can't keep it to myself any longer.

"You won't judge me, right?  You can't judge me.  You don't even know me."

The man stood there for a moment.  He just looked at me with desperation, anger and fear in his eyes.  I said, "Um, I just wanted a coffee, man, not your life story."

He looked confused for a moment, then down at his clothes.  He sounded sorrowful as he said, "I still can't believe that I got a second job as a barista."  He sighed, then blurted out, "That will be $4.55."

I handed him a fiver and told him to keep the change.  After I got my coffee, I hurried back to my car.  My wife asked me, "What took you so long?"

I replied, "I just heard the saddest story.  I feel bad for him, but I think he did the right thing."

My wife was obviously confused, but I just shook my head and we drove away.


  1. Very nice, enjoyed it, it kept me wanting to read more, and I could easily picture that ending and the looks on the couples faces as they drove away. Very fitting for this challenging time we're going through too, the feelings that people have as they re-invent themselves and the ways they generate income. I hope those that are doing that feel proud and creative and accomplished, not "less than" but more than because they stepped outside their comfort zone! no small fete!...thanks for the great story!

  2. Thanks, Jude! I appreciate your feedback. Personally, I would feel proud to provide for my family during a tough time. Luckily, I have a good job, so I don't have to worry about that. However, I do think that some people feel like this, which it too bad.

  3. I am one of them, like he is. Don't you judge me!

    Good story, even if it was painful for me to read. Bastard.

  4. Thanks for writing something with a bit of humor. The rest of us took this assignment very seriously, perhaps too seriously!

  5. I know I didn't take mine :)

    "Um...just wanted a coffee, not your life story." BURN. I laughed. That probably makes me a mean person...

  6. I was thinking something like drugs or prostitution. You know, something respectable.....

    Nice twist ya got there.

  7. A lot of people are scrambling for jobs in this economy. I'm glad your guy got a job and is able to support his family. Even though he has regrets, I'm tempted to say he's lucky.
    But that's without knowing what he did.
    I would have listened to his story. But then maybe he might have had to kill me.
    good job!

  8. Wow, that was not what I was expecting, but in a good way! I liked the twist at the end, took away some of the heaviness of the situation. Good job!

  9. Thank you everyone for the nice comments! I really enjoyed writing this story and I'm glad that you all liked it!

  10. Definitely a story for our times and a reminder that ... everybody has a story.

  11. That's it, I'm not sending you in for my coffee anymore! ;) So fun to read the comments after. I'm proud of you and love you!