HOMESICK • by Mickey Hunt

Thunder rumbled again from the southwest.

The broad, two story house with its warm porch light might welcome him. But if a runaway had knocked on his front door long after midnight, his dad would greet the unlucky boy with a shotgun. So, Raiden turned around. Better to be harmless. Better for a gun to be pointed at his back.

The door opened behind him, and Raiden expected at least a suspicion laden question. Instead he heard a sigh. A plump, grey-haired woman in a loose, white nightgown stood there, her face turned down to the side.

“Hello ma’am. May I stay in your barn tonight? Me and my horse, Jasper. He’s tied to your paddock back there.”

She unfolded glasses and slid them over her nose, but she still avoided eye contact. Silence stretched on long enough that Raiden thought he should leave, so when she asked, “What’s your name?” he jumped a little.

He told her. She gave no sign, but backed out of the way. He didn’t know what else to do but step inside. The front room glowed golden from one table lamp and smelled of rose water. It was tidy and clean, but stacked full of knickknack curiosities like a Cracker Barrel store.

A rough voice at the top of the staircase said, “Who is it?”

“Raiden Hancock,” the woman said weakly, as if she had lost hope of being heard.

The man leaned on the handrail as he crept down the stairs. He straightened at the bottom, flicked on an overhead light, and looked Raiden over. “What’s the problem?”

“I just need—” Raiden began, but the woman broke in.

“He asked if he could stay the night in an empty bedroom,” she said. “It’s going to rain. Can he keep his horse in a stall?”

Raiden wondered if she told a lie on purpose.

The man wiped his hand over his whole face, top to bottom. “How old are you? Sixteen, seventeen?”

“I’m fifteen.”

“Why are you out like this?”

Raiden wouldn’t answer.

“Listen, I’m calling the sheriff. Your parents are worried. Where are you from?”

“I ran away from home.”

“Why?” the woman asked.

The man glared at her. “Does it matter? Sometimes your kindness is annoying.”

“The why is, my dad planned to ship me to military school because I wouldn’t help slaughter the pigs. He already bought me a bus ticket.”

“I see,” the man said, not committing himself either way.

The woman took the man’s hand, raised it to her lips, and gave it a soft kiss.

He had not resisted any, but stared in sudden shock. “Come with me, please,” he said and gestured to a side room, a sitting room. She went in, and the man started after her, but came back. “My name’s Harold. And she’s my wife, Norma Jean. She’s a nice lady, but… she has problems. I hope you understand. Want something to drink? A soda? Glass of milk?”

Raiden shook his head no.

“Okay.” He pointed to where Raiden was standing. “Don’t go anywhere.” He slid the door closed.

Harold did the talking. Maybe he did all the talking. All Raiden heard was his voice and periods of silence.

He wandered around the front room. A vase of pink and yellow roses on the mantle piece reflected itself in the wide mirror. Photographs in gilt frames covered the walls and the upright piano, many of the pictures containing a young Harold and a blonde, curvy woman wearing tight dresses, like an old-fashioned movie star. Both of them were smiling so hard it must hurt. Her sad eyes reminded him of his own mother’s, and he had to shake off missing her already. The photos of horses grabbed his attention, tall fast horses with small men perched on top wearing caps and costumes.

The man droned on and Raiden put his ear to the door.

“We don’t know anything about him. He can’t stay in the house with us asleep. I won’t sleep at all. Your mom’s jewelry is in that bedroom. He could steal it, slip out, and we’d never see him again.” There was another short spell of silence and then the man said, “How could I forget the miscarriages? They weren’t anyone’s fault. Not yours, not mine.”

Raiden leaned away from the door and heard a sound he had been anticipating: his horse Jasper yelling. Raiden went outside and called to him and then walked to the fence. He stroked the horse’s shoulder. Jasper was thirsty and hungry. A tall horse on the inside of the paddock startled him as it stumbled close by in the dim darkness.

The woman came out, leaving the door wide open, and shuffled up to Raiden. “My husband said you could sleep in an extra bedroom, and I’ll show you where things are in the barn. But we have to phone your parents in the morning.” She avoided looking at him as before, but she’d been crying.

Raiden frowned. “Did he really say I could sleep inside the house? I’d rather stay in the barn with Jasper, if you’ll loan me a sleeping bag.”

She glanced straight at him for the first time and flinched. It lasted only a second, but Raiden felt he knew the look. It was the same his mother had given him when he decided to run away. He hadn’t said a word, and yet his mother knew.

In a mournful dove’s voice Norma Jean said, “If your parents agree, you can live here and work on our property. You can go to the school. We don’t keep pigs.” It seemed like she had more to say; instead, she rocked back and forth, her eyes glazed.

Raiden peered toward the house. Harold was standing in the open doorway, watching them. A strong breeze began thrashing the trees and the first raindrops of the storm dripped down.

She stopped rocking and said, “I don’t want you to leave.”


Mickey Hunt is old enough to receive Social Security, but he recently took a couple undergraduate literature and writing classes at the public university in Asheville, North Carolina where he lives. The Harold stories originated from photographic prompts, including a boy sitting on a pony and a woman pushing a lawnmower while wearing her nightgown, eyeglasses, and a headscarf.


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Every Day Fiction

  • Paul A. Freeman

    I enjoyed the style of this one. It had a Steinbeck feel to it. Wasn’t too keen on the ending though. I was expecting something more thought-provoking.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    I enjoyed the style of this one. It had a Steinbeck feel to it. Wasn’t too keen on the ending though. I was expecting something more thought-provoking.

  • MPmcgurty

    I agree with Paul Freeman above. The writing was lovely, except for a few hiccups that may have bothered only me. The ending was too abrupt. I also thought the woman was rather one-dimensional. I suspect she is in more “Harold stories”, which I’d be interested in reading. Lots of little speculative nuggets here. Not sure short fiction is the best medium for this style.

    • Mickey Hunt

      Thanks for your thoughts. Since with a flash story I’m always chasing perfection, I’d be interested in the hiccups you experienced. Norma indeed is rather static. It’s Harold who’s the dynamic (changing) character, or at least that was my intention.

      • MPmcgurty

        For me, the hiccups included “smiling so hard it must hurt” (tense); a horse that “stumbled close by in the dim darkness” – horses can see very well in the dark and I’m not sure what “dim darkness” is; “…raindrops of the storm dripped down”; “In a mournful dove’s voice…”.

        Word choices, mostly. Again, they may not have bothered anyone else. With the quality of writing in whole, though, they stood out to me.

        • Mickey Hunt

          Okay. Thanks. I’ll think about them. The idea of “stumbled” is to suggest the sound of their hoofs, because the horse wasn’t seen. The slip into present tense represents a shift in the boy, who enters the picture in his imagination. Dim darkness has some light, so it’s not total darkness. Word choice maybe too “poetic” for a story.

    • Mickey Hunt

      As for the abrupt ending, I see the last line as a clarification and summary of what’s going on with Norma from the beginning. And then to Paul’s comment about the end maybe not being thought provoking enough, the end points to what’s driving Norma, the emptiness in her life as a result of the miscarriages, which she hopes to fill with the boy. Or, is this all in my head and not on the page?

      • MPmcgurty

        No, I got what you were driving at, almost as soon as the conversation behind closed doors landed on miscarriages. Norma wants a child in the house; maybe Norma believes that fate brought the boy to her door. I think that’s a fine story. The last three paragraphs (although I liked the middle one) were anticlimactic. I can’t speak to Paul Freeman’s thoughts, but for me the ending was too plain, too matter-of-fact, too abrupt for such an otherwise lovely story. Norma’s pretty talkative all of a sudden, planning to ask Raiden’s parents – one of whom was ready to send him off to military school – if the boy can live with her. What if Norma simply said to the boy, “We don’t have pigs.”

        I’m curious about something. You say you have “Harold stories”, which I found a bit surprising. I thought you’d have “Raiden stories”. No? As you publish them here or elsewhere, I would love to read them.

        • Mickey Hunt

          Thanks. I’ll see if I can let you know when and if they come out. Or even maybe you’d like to read them and offer a few thoughts. I have one more or less ready. It’s flash length. As I mentioned, the stories were written as a classroom exercise. The teacher had the students develop a detailed profile of their main characters using the prompts, and then she asked us to have our characters interact with one another. It was a great device. Yeah… endings.

      • Mickey, that was totally on the page and exactly how I interpreted it. I thought the ending was fine. Longer review coming shortly.

  • MPmcgurty

    I agree with Paul Freeman above. The writing was lovely, except for a few hiccups that may have bothered only me. The ending was too abrupt. I also thought the woman was rather one-dimensional. I suspect she is in more “Harold stories”, which I’d be interested in reading. Lots of little speculative nuggets here. Not sure short fiction is the best medium for this style.

    • Mickey Hunt

      Thanks for your thoughts. Since with a flash story I’m always chasing perfection, I’d be interested in the hiccups you experienced. Norma indeed is rather static. It’s Harold who’s the dynamic (changing) character, or at least that was my intention.

      • MPmcgurty

        For me, the hiccups included “smiling so hard it must hurt” (tense); a horse that “stumbled close by in the dim darkness” – horses can see very well in the dark and I’m not sure what “dim darkness” is; “…raindrops of the storm dripped down”; “In a mournful dove’s voice…”.

        Word choices, mostly. Again, they may not have bothered anyone else. With the quality of writing in whole, though, they stood out to me.

        • Mickey Hunt

          Okay. Thanks. I’ll think about them. The idea of “stumbled” is to suggest the sound of their hoofs, because the horse wasn’t seen. The slip into present tense represents a shift in the boy, who enters the picture in his imagination. Dim darkness has some light, so it’s not total darkness. Word choice maybe too “poetic” for a story.

    • Mickey Hunt

      As for the abrupt ending, I see the last line as a clarification and summary of what’s going on with Norma from the beginning. And then to Paul’s comment about the end maybe not being thought provoking enough, the ending points to what’s driving Norma, the emptiness in her life as a result of the miscarriages, which she hopes to fill with the boy. Or, is this all in my head and not on the page?

      • MPmcgurty

        No, I got what you were driving at, almost as soon as the conversation behind closed doors landed on miscarriages. Norma wants a child in the house; maybe Norma believes that fate brought the boy to her door. I think that’s a fine story. The last three paragraphs (although I liked the middle one) were anticlimactic. I can’t speak to Paul Freeman’s thoughts, but for me the ending was too plain, too matter-of-fact, too abrupt for such an otherwise lovely story. Norma’s pretty talkative all of a sudden, planning to ask Raiden’s parents – one of whom was ready to send him off to military school – if the boy can live with her. What if Norma simply said to the boy, “We don’t have pigs.”

        I’m curious about something. You say you have “Harold stories”, which I found a bit surprising. I thought you’d have “Raiden stories”. No? As you publish them here or elsewhere, I would love to read them.

        • Mickey Hunt

          Thanks. I’ll see if I can let you know when and if they come out. Or even maybe you’d like to read them and offer a few thoughts. I have one more or less ready. It’s flash length. As I mentioned, the stories were written as a classroom exercise. The teacher had the students develop a detailed profile of their main characters using the prompts, and then she asked us to have our characters interact with one another. It was a great device. Yeah… endings.

      • Mickey, that was totally on the page and exactly how I interpreted it. I thought the ending was fine. Longer review coming shortly.

  • S Conroy

    I enjoyed the style a lot too. Wasn’t quite sure what to make of the ending.

    • Mickey Hunt

      I’m glad you liked the style. I’m aiming for economy and vivid detail, both. Plus inference rather than outright statement. See my comment above on the ending. The title applies to the boy and to Norma, who is sick for a home that includes children.

  • S Conroy

    I enjoyed the style a lot too. Wasn’t quite sure what to make of the ending.

    • Mickey Hunt

      I’m glad you liked the style. I’m aiming for economy and vivid detail, both. Plus inference rather than outright statement. See my comment above on the ending. The title applies to the boy and to Norma, who is sick for a home that includes children.

  • Tamera Norwood

    It’s a solid story, and I like the plain words and clean sentences. I don’t have a problem with the ending, which is sort of Steinbeck-like. It may not be the ending someone else would have written, but who saw the ending to The Grapes of Wrath coming either?

  • Tamera Norwood

    It’s a solid story, and I like the plain words and clean sentences. I don’t have a problem with the ending, which is sort of Steinbeck-like. It may not be the ending someone else would have written, but who saw the ending to The Grapes of Wrath coming either?

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Since you’re eager for feedback, Mickey, here are my thoughts on the ending.
    The rocking had me a bit flummoxed. Norma was rocking back and forth on the balls of her feet, I suppose, though rocking I associate more with a rocking chair. Then the name ‘Norma’ gave me visions of Norman Bates dressed up as Mother in a rocking chair. Add to this Norma saying ‘I don’t want you to leave’, and it all seemed a bit sinister.
    Perhaps dispense with the rocking and have a final paragraph something like: ‘We want you to stay,’ she declared. ‘You don’t have to leave.’ To me this sounds closer to what you intended.
    * ‘declared’ would give Norma more strength, I think, than a word like ‘pleaded’.
    Anyhow, as I said earlier, this is a great piece of writing. I liked it very much.

    • Mickey Hunt

      Thanks for your thoughts. Maybe a better ending will come to me sometime when I can look at the story fresh. It might be some small amendment. When you picture Norma, consider Harold’s favorite movie, “The Asphalt Jungle”.

    • Trollopian

      Funny, “Norma Jean” didn’t make me think of Norman Bates’ mom, but rather of Marilyn Monroe, who was born Norma Jeane Mortensen. I briefly wondered the significance of the pictures of a young Harold and Norma, the latter “a blonde, curvy woman wearing tight dresses, like an old-fashioned movie star,” but couldn’t hit on a connection. I actually liked the many ambiguities in this story.

      Flash fiction is meant to be read quickly, and so I tend to judge it from the gut: Did it grab me? Did I want to keep reading? (Instead of “Oh Lord, is this really only 1,000 words?”) This passed with flying colors. So despite our varying interpretations, count me with Paul as a thumbs-up.

      • Mickey Hunt

        The story plays with the idea of what Marilyn Monroe might be like had she survived into old age.

        • Trollopian

          Thanks, Mickey, for assuring me that I’m not unobservant. (But also not observant enough.) A half-excuse is that, though I very much like old movies, I have never seen “Asphalt Jungle.”

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Since you’re eager for feedback, Mickey, here are my thoughts on the ending.
    The rocking had me a bit flummoxed. Norma was rocking back and forth on the balls of her feet, I suppose, though rocking I associate more with a rocking chair. Then the name ‘Norma’ gave me visions of Norman Bates dressed up as Mother in a rocking chair. Add to this Norma saying ‘I don’t want you to leave’, and it all seemed a bit sinister.
    Perhaps dispense with the rocking and have a final paragraph something like: ‘We want you to stay,’ she declared. ‘You don’t have to leave.’ To me this sounds closer to what you intended.
    * ‘declared’ would give Norma more strength, I think, than a word like ‘pleaded’.
    Anyhow, as I said earlier, this is a great piece of writing. I liked it very much.

    • Mickey Hunt

      Thanks for your thoughts. Maybe a better ending will come to me sometime when I can look at the story fresh. It might be some small amendment. When you picture Norma, consider Harold’s favorite movie, “The Asphalt Jungle”.

    • Trollopian

      Funny, “Norma Jean” didn’t make me think of Norman Bates’ mom, but rather of Marilyn Monroe, who was born Norma Jeane Mortensen. I briefly wondered the significance of the pictures of a young Harold and Norma, the latter “a blonde, curvy woman wearing tight dresses, like an old-fashioned movie star,” but couldn’t hit on a connection. I actually liked the many ambiguities in this story.

      Flash fiction is meant to be read quickly, and so I tend to judge it from the gut: Did it grab me? Did I want to keep reading? (Instead of “Oh Lord, is this really only 1,000 words?”) This passed with flying colors. So despite our varying interpretations, count me with Paul as a thumbs-up.

      • Mickey Hunt

        The story plays with the idea of what Marilyn Monroe might be like had she survived into old age. Monroe had a small role in “Asphalt Jungle,” and she dominated the screen. The crime story ends tragically on a horse farm in Kentucky.

        • Trollopian

          Thanks, Mickey, for assuring me that I’m not unobservant. (But also not observant enough.) A half-excuse is that, though I very much like old movies, I have never seen “Asphalt Jungle.”

  • weequahic

    1. Asheville, eh? Carl Sandburg retired there. The Lincoln biographer had doubts when first invited, but stayed to like it.

    2. Mickey, notice the effect you had on the people who commented. They, we, not only liked the story, but felt it, were on your side, regardless.

    3. A touch of Steinbeck, yes, and something of Jack Schaefer (“Shane” and loads of short stories).

    • Mickey Hunt

      I love the Steinbeck comparison. I read him a lot many years ago. I’m a westerner, too, having grown up in Washington state. My grandfather said he once met Steinbeck downtown Portland. Some writer guy traveling with a dog.

    • Mickey Hunt

      O’Henry stayed here from time to time. His first wife died and he later remarried a North Carolina girl. She lived in Weaverville apart from him while he wrote in New York until his death. At a library sale I found a copy of his complete works that she had signed. Sarah Coleman Porter.

  • weequahic

    Asheville, eh? Carl Sandburg retired there. The Lincoln fan had doubts when first invited, but stayed to like it.

    Mickey, notice the effect you had on the people who commented. They, we, not only liked the story, but felt it, were on your side, regardless.

    A touch of Steinbeck, yes, and something of Jack Schaefer (“Shane” and loads of short stories).

    • Mickey Hunt

      I love the Steinbeck comparison. I read him a lot many years ago. I’m a westerner, too, having grown up in Washington state. My grandfather said he once met Steinbeck downtown Portland. Some writer guy traveling with a dog.

    • Mickey Hunt

      O’Henry stayed here from time to time. His first wife died and he later remarried a North Carolina girl. She lived in Weaverville apart from him while he wrote (and drank) in New York until his death. At a library sale I found a copy of his complete works that she had signed. Sarah Coleman Porter.

  • First, I liked this. The mood, the atmosphere, the literary feel to it, and the characters – their pains, their losses, and just maybe they’ll all find what they’re looking for, now that they’ve found each other.

    There were a few things that for me bumped the story from 5 to 4 stars.

    The first was the title. Who is homesick? The second was the name Raiden. The story starts with the mention of a second thunder, and the thunder god is running away from home, on a horse, in modern times. I couldn’t get grounded in what the story was doing until too far along.

    Which is my third… nitpick(?) The missing tension. Partly because, I believe, I’ve become accustomed to a story starting with the character of main focus. If it’s Harold, he might look out the window, see a bolt of lightning, then notice the kid tying up his horse.

    I realize that’s a POV shift, and you may not be able to have that final conversation without Harold having super hearing… But in Omni maybe you could? Anyway, I’m not suggesting rewriting, only stating what made me pause. Because the story wasn’t truly about the kid, his problem didn’t drive the story.

    He needs a place to stay.
    He gets a place to stay.

    The tension is with the couple:

    She wants the kid to stay inside.
    Harold doesn’t want him to stay inside.
    He’s allowed to stay inside.

    Still missing tension.

    Course, this is me reading with a traditional mindset. Given the literary tag, pretty much everything I wrote goes away, because of what I mentioned initially. This is about the people in the story, their pain, their broken pasts. Each of them.

    And that’s what makes a story like this one great. Because it accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish. And it does it wonderfully.

    • Mickey Hunt

      Thanks Dustin for the comments. I’m enjoying the conversation. Yeah, the main tension is with the couple. And the boy thinks he might be greeted with a loaded gun. The title may be too obscure. I guess everyone in the story is homesick in one way or another. (Aren’t we all?)

  • First, I liked this. The mood, the atmosphere, the literary feel to it, and the characters – their pains, their losses, and just maybe they’ll all find what they’re looking for, now that they’ve found each other.

    There were a few things that for me bumped the story from 5 to 4 stars.

    The first was the title. Who is homesick? The second was the name Raiden. The story starts with the mention of a second thunder, and the thunder god is running away from home, on a horse, in modern times. I couldn’t get grounded in what the story was doing until too far along.

    Which is my third… nitpick(?) The missing tension. Partly because, I believe, I’ve become accustomed to a story starting with the character of main focus. If it’s Harold, he might look out the window, see a bolt of lightning, then notice the kid tying up his horse.

    I realize that’s a POV shift, and you may not be able to have that final conversation without Harold having super hearing… But in Omni maybe you could? Anyway, I’m not suggesting rewriting, only stating what made me pause. Because the story wasn’t truly about the kid, his problem didn’t drive the story.

    He needs a place to stay.
    He gets a place to stay.

    The tension is with the couple:

    She wants the kid to stay inside.
    Harold doesn’t want him to stay inside.
    He’s allowed to stay inside.

    Still missing tension.

    Course, this is me reading with a traditional mindset. Given the literary tag, pretty much everything I wrote goes away, because of what I mentioned initially. This is about the people in the story, their pain, their broken pasts. Each of them.

    And that’s what makes a story like this one great. Because it accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish. And it does it wonderfully.

    • Mickey Hunt

      Thanks Dustin for the comments. I’m enjoying the conversation. Yeah, the main tension is with the couple. And the boy thinks he might be greeted with a loaded gun. The title may be too obscure. I guess everyone in the story is homesick in one way or another. (Aren’t we all?)

  • Chinwillow

    I enjoyed the story as it has that old time flair of writing style akin to Zane Grey but I think the flow could have been better and in flash it’s sometimes hard to lace things together because of word count restrictions.
    For instance, I would have liked a hint of the pigs,, before he told of the slaughter, or the military school…or the miscarriages..It appears to me these things just pop out of nowhere. For instance, Harold could have set up the tragic miscarriage by say “I know,Norma how much you long for a child.How can I forget about the miscarriages” or, ‘My folks bought me a bus ticket to the military school because I don’t have the stomach for slaughtering the pigs, so I ran away.” For me it sets up thought flow. I agree with the “hiccups that MP mentioned..Horses don’t stumble unless they are lame and they’call,whinny or nicke’. I’ve never heard one yell. This seems like a good start to a short story or even a novel…Maybe moving in with this couple seems like a good idea but…. the horror unfolds since he arrives on a dark and stormy night..Just some observations from my humble perspective… Keep up the good work

    • Mickey Hunt

      We got a huge collection of Zane Grey. I’ve only read one of the books, “Writers of the Purple Prose”, I mean “Riders of the Purple Sage”. [Just a poor little joke.] As for “stumble”. In my experience in cantering through woods on rough trails, a horse will sometimes break rhythm when they put a foot on a rock or in a depression. I thought a lot about the verb to use in that place and “stumble” seemed best because the sound of the word imitates a sound of a unnoticed horse passing in the semi darkness. Rhymes with rumble. “Yelling” is the boy’s perspective. He hears the complaint.

  • Chinwillow

    I enjoyed the story as it has that old time flair of writing style akin to Zane Grey but I think the flow could have been better and in flash it’s sometimes hard to lace things together because of word count restrictions.
    For instance, I would have liked a hint of the pigs,, before he told of the slaughter, or the military school…or the miscarriages..It appears to me these things just pop out of nowhere. For instance, Harold could have set up the tragic miscarriage by say “I know,Norma how much you long for a child.How can I forget about the miscarriages” or, ‘My folks bought me a bus ticket to the military school because I don’t have the stomach for slaughtering the pigs, so I ran away.” For me it sets up thought flow. I agree with the “hiccups that MP mentioned..Horses don’t stumble unless they are lame and they’call,whinny or nicke’. I’ve never heard one yell. This seems like a good start to a short story or even a novel…Maybe moving in with this couple seems like a good idea but…. the horror unfolds since he arrives on a dark and stormy night..Just some observations from my humble perspective… Keep up the good work

    • Mickey Hunt

      We got a huge collection of Zane Grey. I’ve only read one of the books, “Writers of the Purple Page”, I mean “Riders of the Purple Sage”. [Just a poor little joke.] As for “stumble”. In my experience in cantering through woods on rough trails, a horse will sometimes break rhythm when they put a foot on a rock or in a depression. I thought a lot about the verb to use in that place and “stumble” seemed best because the sound of the word imitates a sound of a unnoticed horse passing in the semi darkness. Rhymes with rumble. “Yelling” is the boy’s perspective, a personification. He hears the complaint.

  • I had difficulty understanding the year of this story. The boy is running away on a horse, it appears to be a rural setting, but then the reference to Cracker Barrel slips in.

    Farmers don’t keep pigs, they raise them. I can’t fathom a boy raised on a farm so out of tune with farming life that butchering a pig (pigs) would not be second nature.

    I had additional trouble with a rural father who would take the attitude that since you wont help with the pigs I’m sending you to military school and him having the amount of money available tor such an expensive venture.

    I couldn’t correlate a strong breeze that could thrash trees but the rain would simply drip down. (And it can’t very well drip up can it?) Pelting rain, yes. Dripping indicates to me from the edge of a roof or a gutter.

    The word “glanced” was used twice in three paras.

    Mournful dove’s voice? It needs something more akin to “hopeful” after all she is looking forward to him staying.

    The next to last para needed to be stronger. Wording such as “was standing” and “began thrashing” are examples.

    I think an elderly country man would say something like, “I’m Harold (last name)” I’m not sure their names are even needed.

    Asking for a sleeping bag to sleep in in the barn didn’t work for me.

    The boy didn’t know what jockeys are?

    Try reading it without the final para. We already know she wants the boy to stay.

    • Mickey Hunt

      Hello Jeff. You analyzed my story like I try to do. I missed the repeated “glanced.” I’ll look for a replacement for one of them. Another word change I might make is subbing “killing” for “butchering”. When a thunderstorm approaches in the South, the rain first arrives in a few heavy drops. “Drip down” is a simple alliteration. I’d argue with some of the other points, but, I don’t know, it would seem weird. Your comments are what I’d hope for in a solid critique. Thanks!

      • Hi Mickey, thank you for taking my comments in stride. Jeff

        • Mickey Hunt

          I love a good critique

    • Mickey Hunt

      I fixed one of the glances, and with the fix strengthened the ending some. EDF was good enough to make the change for me.

  • I had difficulty understanding the year of this story. The boy is running away on a horse, it appears to be a rural setting, but then the reference to Cracker Barrel slips in.

    Farmers don’t keep pigs, they raise them. I can’t fathom a boy raised on a farm so out of tune with farming life that butchering a pig (pigs) would not be second nature.

    I had additional trouble with a rural father who would take the attitude that since you wont help with the pigs I’m sending you to military school and him having the amount of money available tor such an expensive venture.

    I couldn’t correlate a strong breeze that could thrash trees but the rain would simply drip down. (And it can’t very well drip up can it?) Pelting rain, yes. Dripping indicates to me from the edge of a roof or a gutter.

    The word “glanced” was used twice in three paras.

    Mournful dove’s voice? It needs something more akin to “hopeful” after all she is looking forward to him staying.

    The next to last para needed to be stronger. Wording such as “was standing” and “began thrashing” are examples.

    I think an elderly country man would say something like, “I’m Harold (last name)” I’m not sure their names are even needed.

    Asking for a sleeping bag to sleep in in the barn didn’t work for me.

    The boy didn’t know what jockeys are?

    Try reading it without the final para. We already know she wants the boy to stay.

    • Mickey Hunt

      Hello Jeff. You analyzed my story like I try to do. I missed the repeated “glanced.” I’ll look for a replacement for one of them. Another word change I might make is subbing “killing” for “butchering”. When a thunderstorm approaches in the South, the rain first arrives in a few heavy drops. “Drip down” is a simple alliteration. I’d argue with some of the other points, but, I don’t know, it would seem weird. Your comments are what I’d hope for in a solid critique. Thanks!

      • Hi Mickey, thank you for taking my comments in stride. Jeff

        • Mickey Hunt

          I love a good critique

    • Mickey Hunt

      I fixed one of the glances, and with the fix strengthened the ending some. EDF was good enough to make the change for me.

  • I’ll start my comments with the writing. Aside from a few minor nits (that have been mentioned), I found the writing to be clean and rather polished. Not many wasted words, and the author paints an easy-to-see picture.

    The dialogue felt realistic. I love that the conflict was between two minor characters and not the MC.

    As far as the title, I think it works in several ways. We are starting to see the boy become homesick for his mother already. And I think Norma is homesick for perhaps a home she never had. With children. Perhaps Harold feels this sense of loss as well–at the very least, for his wife. And perhaps this is why his mind changes.

    As for the ending, I really liked it. I didn’t find it abrupt. I found the last line to be powerful. She’s finally stating that she is lonely and wishes for that family she’s never had. Other’s may want more out of the ending, but it was plenty for me. I know how difficult it is to write a good ending in a flash piece, and I thought this one was spot on.

    This story was deeper than most flash. It said a lot without being obvious. It was thought-provoking and entertaining. Easy 5 stars for me. Thanks for sharing Mickey. I think the story is excellent.

    • Mickey Hunt

      I may frame this review. Thanks.

  • I’ll start my comments with the writing. Aside from a few minor nits (that have been mentioned), I found the writing to be clean and rather polished. Not many wasted words, and the author paints an easy-to-see picture.

    The dialogue felt realistic. I love that the conflict was between two minor characters and not the MC.

    As far as the title, I think it works in several ways. We are starting to see the boy become homesick for his mother already. And I think Norma is homesick for perhaps a home she never had. With children. Perhaps Harold feels this sense of loss as well–at the very least, for his wife. And perhaps this is why his mind changes.

    As for the ending, I really liked it. I didn’t find it abrupt. I found the last line to be powerful. She’s finally stating that she is lonely and wishes for that family she’s never had. Other’s may want more out of the ending, but it was plenty for me. I know how difficult it is to write a good ending in a flash piece, and I thought this one was spot on.

    This story was deeper than most flash. It said a lot without being obvious. It was thought-provoking and entertaining. Easy 5 stars for me. Thanks for sharing Mickey. I think the story is excellent.

    • Mickey Hunt

      I may frame this review. Thanks, Scott.

  • Check out Mickey’s other story, DEPRESCIENCE, well worth reading.

  • Check out Mickey’s other story, DEPRESCIENCE, well worth reading.

    • Donna Cannone

      That story is a great one. One of my favorites!

  • Tim

    Great work Mickey! I enjoyed it!

  • Tim

    Great work Mickey! I enjoyed it!

  • Erika

    Good and quick read! I would be interested to read more about Raiden. Mick- have you written more about him?

    • Mickey Hunt

      Raiden is a character created by another student in the writing class, so, while he appears in a couple other of my stories, he’s not my focus. It was interesting that the other students sometimes in their stories took Harold in directions I wouldn’t have gone with him, but that was part of the fun of the “exercise”.

  • Erika

    Good and quick read! I would be interested to read more about Raiden. Mick- have you written more about him?

    • Mickey Hunt

      Raiden is a character created by another student in the writing class, so, while he appears in a couple other of my stories, he’s not my focus. It was interesting that the other students sometimes in their stories took Harold in directions I wouldn’t have gone with him, but that was part of the fun of the “exercise”.

  • Matt Bradley

    That was a good thoughtful story. I enjoyed reading it.

  • Matt Bradley

    That was a good thoughtful story. I enjoyed reading it.

  • Netty net

    I like the story how he found some one who take him in; great story.

  • Jane Hollis Bullington

    I am not critiquing this as a scholar, only a reader. The story ended, and I wanted more. I want to know about the miscarriage; I want to know if there were other children; I want to know if the boy called his mom; I want to know more. I was caught up in the characters and wanted to know more about their lives, and their histories. Thanks, Mick.

  • Becky

    Just a teaser. I already was getting interested in the characters and direction of the story, but over so quickly. I know that is that format here, but wanted more.

    • Mickey Hunt

      Thanks Becky. It may be a compliment to the story or a criticism of the limits of flash fiction. Or both.

  • Jennette Mbewe

    I enjoyed the story, except I kept expecting something bad to happen. Like the people were going to let him stay and then we find out they plan to eat the boy. Sorry. That’s just where my brain was going with it. I suppose the way she was reacting made me think that something sinister might be going on until we overhear the man talking about the miscarriages.

    • Mickey Hunt

      Eat the boy. Haha. You must have seen M. Night Shyamalan’s new film “The Visit.”

  • Donna Cannone

    Thanks Mickey for another great story. The ending definitely left me wishing for more! I think this would be a great series, or as someone else mentioned, they could easily become the main characters in a novel. I also agree about the mournful dove’s phrase. It had me thinking of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” (I hope I am not hearing that in my head today!) If you could phrase that differently, I think it would help to strengthen the ending. I look forward to reading more about these characters.

    • Mickey Hunt

      Thanks Donna. I don’t think Norma has lost the feeling she always has, the same one as represented in the earlier phrase “…the woman said weakly, as if she had lost hope of being heard.” This seems to be the voice of the Mourning Dove. Always sad. She’s in perpetual mourning about the loss of her children in the womb. Harold heard her, maybe for the first time in years, but I think she believes Raiden will leave before morning. What’s an alternate way of describing (or ending) this, I wonder. Now I’ll have to listen to that song you mentioned.

      • Mickey Hunt

        Later… I don’t think that Prince guy has the slightest idea of what a Mourning Dove sounds like