FlashFic: Secrets

Keeping Secrets

Photo by tmorkemo on flickr.com

The tree is decorated by the twins, carefully balancing the ornaments so it looks just right. They still speak the strange language they invented in childhood, the one no one can understand. When someone offers compliments, they nod and continue. Trying to help only gets you a slapped hand.

Dad is watching the game on the television. He sits in His Chair, the recliner molded to his body, the chair no one dares sit in. The Packers, nearly undefeated, are headed for Super bowl greatness, he’s sure of it. Shush, don’t bother him, dammit. He’s watching the game.

Aunt Grace and Uncle Darren are on the outs again. Every time he speaks, her mouth twists, making her ugly. When he reaches out to her, she shies away. “Not here,” she hisses. “Not now.”

Aunt Grace goes to the kitchen. “How can I help?” “No,” says Mother. “Out out, shoo, Grace. I have everything under control. No, don’t touch that, just get out.” Mother’s voice is firm. She never lets anyone into the kitchen. Grace knows that, but storms out.

Aunt Grace plops onto the sofa to watch the game. She hates football. I always wonder what Mother is doing in the kitchen which she doesn’t want people to see. Uncle Darren tries to sit next to Aunt Grace. Grace gets up and sits in Mother’s chair.

The only sound in the room is from the twins, their odd language spoken softly. Silent Night. Silent Day here. The only disease that runs in our family is secrets.

Inspired by a #storystarters, the last line, by Clifford Fryman


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14 thoughts on “FlashFic: Secrets

  1. cookme25 December 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm Reply

    Sounds like fun times! Loved the story Jess, so mysterious.


    • JC Rosen December 24, 2011 at 6:11 pm Reply

      Yeah, fun – most families have some drama from time to time. Really appreciate your comment, especially the “so mysterious.” That was a delicious little morsel to read.

      Merry Christmas!

      Take care,


  2. adampb December 23, 2011 at 11:30 pm Reply

    Lots of complexity running up and under, through and over the family like tinsel.
    Merry Christmas
    Adam B @revhappiness


    • JC Rosen December 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm Reply

      Oooh, that was a gorgeous use of language and image! I’m so glad I wrote the story, if only to get to read that comment about it. Thank you, Adam. Hoping Christmas is happy for you and your family.

      Take care,


  3. johannaharness December 24, 2011 at 7:09 am Reply

    Ah! Methinks some secrets are best kept hidden.

    Thanks for this, Jess!


    • JC Rosen December 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm Reply

      Hiding secrets is possibly one of the trickiest things to do well. It may be the brightest choice, though. Yes, I’m speaking from my own experiences there, so I may be biased. Just a bit. Thanks a bunch, Johanna, really appreciate it.

      Merry Christmas to all at Chez Harness!

      Take care,


  4. Quirina December 24, 2011 at 8:08 am Reply

    The complexity of relationship dynamics, the issues that we are loaded with from our pasts, are all laid out on the table, for all to see under the strain of Christmas. Well written exposition!


    • JC Rosen December 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm Reply

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. You’re right, it’s all laid out on the table, whether we speak of it or not. We know where the secrets lie, if not what they actually are. Add those dynamics and issues and it’s a powder keg just waiting for a light.

      Hoping your Christmas is explosion-free!

      Take care,


  5. Daniela December 24, 2011 at 4:52 pm Reply

    Jess sounds good and fun too


    • JC Rosen December 24, 2011 at 6:21 pm Reply

      Grazie, Daniela. Very kind of you to read and leave a comment. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

      Take care,


  6. Richard Bon December 25, 2011 at 10:38 am Reply

    I think most families leave a lot unsaid and have dynamics like those in your story. Nice Christmas snapshot.


    • JC Rosen December 29, 2011 at 9:30 am Reply

      Oh, no doubt there’s a lot unsaid – and many have an Uncle Larry who drinks a little too much and says it all! My family didn’t have one and I always wondered why it was so quiet during special events. Maybe I was missing having an Uncle Larry? Thanks very much for reading and for your thoughtful comment, Richard.

      Have a great holiday!

      Take care,


  7. John Ross Barnes December 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm Reply

    It’s been such a whirl around this last week I just now found this.

    I feel I need to learn to leave more unsaid in my stories, as you do so wonderfully in this and others. It’s all still right there, but without banging the reader over the head with it as I often feel I do.

    Great story! it so well illustrates those undercurrents felt but not said in most families.

    Thanks for this, Jesse.


    • JC Rosen December 29, 2011 at 9:39 am Reply

      A high compliment, John. Thank you. Writing within the format of a flash forced me to take a hard look at my word choices and the pictures I drew. I learned the way to tell a full, satisfying story – for me – was to apply implication. Often, I do so to such an extent the reader is left not quite knowing who did what (such as “Witness”). I may have my own understanding of what happened, whodunnit, but I’m always surprised when a comment is written with a clear understanding something different took place. It pleases me to no end!

      I’m glad this little story worked for you. The image was so clear to me. I think you’re right in that most families have those undercurrents which are often barely under the waterline during times of stress. Ahem, I mean the joy of coming together to celebrate, of course.

      Take care and happy 2012,


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